Language of Flowers Mail Art & where I've been!

Here's the story of my long absence! Even though the blog has been quiet for 3 months, I've actually still been here. If you kept this space bookmarked and are reading this post, I'm both amazed and grateful. Truth be told, the work of moving to a new home in November coupled with a health issue kept me away from my blog. The move left my art supplies boxed up for months. The rest of the house got unpacked but the studio space required so many decisions. I was just not up to making them. And since my creative art making process is what I really enjoy sharing here, I found I was not blogging either.

Fortunately, the health issue has been sorted and . . .  the studio is almost all unpacked! I have a new Doctor, one that listens, who recently told me he was not worried about me, but would continue testing my liver every six months. I have a chronic liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH, which is a common and often “silent” liver disease. There are no specific treatments yet, but losing weight has been found to be helpful to shrink the fat cells that aggravate the liver. I'm happy to say I'm down 15 lbs since September and my cholesterol is down too. I had to give away a huge bag of clothes (too baggy) and I'm now fitting easily into clothes that used to be too tight! I have another 15 pounds to shed but I'm not worried about it. Removing wine or any alcohol from my diet has been a huge help in losing weight - plus that is best for my liver. When I have bloodwork and another ultrasound in June, I'm anticipating an improvement in the health of my liver.

Now, in regards to the Mail Art, which is what I really want to talk about most here . . . this is what happened. Knowing how I work, I thought a deadline would be most helpful to get me to started creating again. I've continued being creative through photography during my absence (see my photo journal at blipfoto) but I instinctively knew that to get myself doing collage or mail art I would need a deadline. This is where two of my art buddies, Joanna Urbani and Jewels Welch stepped in to help me (follow those links to see their mail art). They have been exchanging mail art with a theme every month. I have been enjoying their creations! So I slyly asked them if I could join in their exchange . . . . well, they both enthusiastically wrote back that they'd be more than happy (VERY happy!!) for me to join in with their Mail Art/postcard fun. Whoo hoo -in like Flynn!

Queen Victoria in her wedding dress -note the headpiece

Jewels gave us the theme of the Language of Flowers. Choose a flower, look up the meaning, decorate a postcard and an envelope to share the meaning of the flower without using the name. Then the mail art recipients could have fun guessing the flower. My friend Cheryl who lives near me in Sarasota gave me the idea for my flower. I told her what I was doing and she reminisced about planning her parents wedding anniversary. Cheryl had looked up the meanings of the flowers that were in her mom's original bouquet, as she was reproducing it for the occasion. One flower in particular she told me about, I already had growing in my yard!

I created the collage sheet above from photos I had taken, to use on the card and envelope.

my card above

attached to the back of the card

 I researched on the internet (fun!) and created an information sheet about the history of the orange blossom, then enclosed it inside a small envelope attached to my card.

one of the envelopes 

back of the envelope

  I sent three mail art envelopes  one to Joanna, one to Jewels and an extra one to Cheryl for her friendship and inspiration! My Flower is the Orange Blossom. It has the most heady and wonderful sweet smell. We planted a Hamlin Orange tree here at our new home in January and so enjoyed smelling those flowers as we walked by! Now there are little green oranges that we are hoping will continue to grow and grow . . . check out Jewel's blog post and Jo's blog (post to come) for their Mail Art on the language of Flowers : ) A huge thanks so much to both of them!  xo lenna

Love is the flower you've got to let grow.
  ~ John Lennon

my life: 2012 . . .

. . . a kind of 'year in review' for me using animoto to pull it all together into a video slide show.
The direct link:

for a full-size screen, click on the small white rectangle in the bottom right corner!

A photo of me *by debra pettinato-ross* on Siesta Beach on Christmas day!

I have not returned to blogging here on a regular basis yet, as you might have noticed!
I wanted to suggest if you missed my posts here, you can find me on blipfoto almost every day. Blipfoto is an international photo journal site. You can look at my journal here. The idea is to post one photo a day taken on that day and then write about it, if you wish. Since my main creative activity recently is taking photographs, I have gravitated towards sharing them there . . . instead of here, at least for now! You can sign up for a free blipfoto account and be able to comment, or just visit and read as often as you wish. Not much art is going on here yet as my supplies are only minimally unpacked. I think that should change in the not so distant future but there is a lot going on here at our new home (work to beautify) and I am allowing my art studio to unfold in it's own natural time. 

* I wish only the best for you and your families * I hope you are happy, healthy and doing well * Smiling and laughing and creating! *

My very best to you and yours 
xo lenna

The greatest honor of a lifetime is to be who you are.
~ paraphrased from Joseph Campbell

beach, clouds (amazing) and nia

I took these photos over the last two days locally on the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida. Sometimes when I take photos from far away, they come out of my camera with a painterly quality.

Aren't the clouds amazing? You can click on any photo for more detail if you wish. 
The photo below was my blip for July 5th on blipfoto (my photo journal).
The following photos were taken at today's Nia class on Longboat key.
Nia is a sensory based movement practice. What better place to practice than on the beach?

As you may note, I played in Photoshop with these two -fun!!

warm wishes of good health and lots of sunshine to you! 

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. 
~ Theodore Roosevelt

"Creating a snapshot of the world in a day"

I read about this global project on blipfoto where most days, I share a photo of something from my day on my very own blip journal. This project is called ~ please go there for the full story. Blipfoto had me wanting to participate with the opening line in their blogpost: A global documentary project is aiming to create a crowdsourced snapshot of the world.
If you cannot see the short video I've embedded below about the project, please go here: I hope you join me!

Les arbres sont la creation de la terre pour parler au ciel.
Trees are the earth's effort to speak to heaven.
  ~ Tagore.

365 photos

I hadn't been adding photos to my journal at blipfoto for quite a few weeks; until recently I was stuck at December 31st, 2011... I just did not feel like it, perhaps some sadness was still with me after my father's passing. But recently, I got the urge to start adding photos again and decided to do what is called a "back-blip" -uploading and filling in photos taken but never uploaded- to my journal during January & February. One of the blipfoto rules is you are only allowed to upload one photo to the day you took it. One slice, one memory, of that day in time. During this process of catching up and adding photos to my journal I uploaded my 365th blip! This is *celebrated as a birthday* on blipfoto! For most people it would represent a year of daily entries, but for me it was more like 14  months : ) But that's okay - there are no rules about time!  Ta da! Here is my 365th blipfoto journal entry taken from my art class with Bill Buchman:

You can read more about it on my journal entry for January 23.
I am still catching up . . . not uploading for every day that I missed, but just for days with photos that are important to me or special in some way that I want uploaded to my photo journal.

Thanks for visiting! I have changed my comments here back to a separate page instead of embedded and I hope that makes it easier for you, I heard it was troublesome at times. I am sorry if the new captcha code (prove you are not a robot) is harder to do (I find it is) but unfortunately I don't have any control over that. I need to leave comment moderation on in order to keep phishing and spam off of my sites. They still try to leave it sometimes, but this way I can catch it and no bad links are posted!

creative every day

I am not going to post what I do creatively every single day . . . but I thought it would be a great idea to do this some of the time. At least good for me, and especially as I embark upon this new (old?) journey. Today, I'm electing to share my creative every day activity with you and hope that you'll enjoy it too. I took many photographs while on a walk with my two dogs this morning and then played with the photos, using layers and filters in Photoshop elements. A leaf floating on water . . . in more than one version!

click for a larger version

I used this one for my blipfoto . . .

This was the original! 

More photos from our walk can be viewed here. Thanks for your notes of support!
; ^ ) lenna

time to tweak

I came to the conclusion the other day that I did not want to or could not, for any extended period of time, do one specific thing everyday as a challenge for myself. I started off last December by giving myself a daily challenge of taking a photo and uploading it to Blipfoto. This was a great, creative challenge for me. For 200 days in a row, I took at least one photo per day and uploaded it to my account on blipfoto -December 19 to June 25. I did this fairly happily without any breaks. Since June 25, I have continued to take photos almost daily and upload them to blipfoto, with the difference being that I've given myself permission to not "have to" upload every day. It is a different experience for sure, but better for me (less pressure). I still enjoy it very much, continue to be active there and have now reached 252 days of uploads.

On May 1st, I discovered and committed to Julie Balzer's Art Journal Every Day. For a while there I was working in both my art journal and taking and uploading a photo, every day. whew! I have just finished four months of doing something in an art journal almost daily -or at least trying to. I really loved doing this and produced so much art. It really threw me into working in an art journal, something new for me, as well as doing something artistic and creative that was just for me. Since I am often doing art for other reasons -swaps, teaching samples, submissions . . . art for ME was an an unusual and wonderful experience!

September 1st rolled around today and I realized I was not ready to commit to working in my art journal every dayI remembered I had saved a link to a website where the challenge was to be creative everyday - making a piece of art (any kind), cooking, dancing, singing, knitting, taking photos -whatever, anything creative! I found the site: creative every day and it definitely appealed to me. Low pressure and I did not need to post about it everyday unless I wanted to. So! I have committed myself to this. I feel good that I have committed to a challenge that will encompass all the things I like to do and not leave me feeling over committed or too frazzled. I may keep a journal about what I'm doing or I may just keep a pact with myself. Does that make sense? To celebrate, a photo I took of Asia today, in the back yard, just for fun. I also made a delicious butternut squash soup for dinner!

filling fast . . .

Just some photos I took yesterday while the sun was shining. Today we had rain. I think my friend Frieda in Scotland granted my wish and sent some of her rain my way! ; ^ ) I can't remember the last time it rained here in sunny, sunny Florida. With all new the plants we have that are trying to get established in our yard, some natural rain (instead of Steven or I with the hose) is so welcome. Anyway . . . yesterday, in the sun, I noticed just how full my art journal is getting. I only began on May 1. Click on any photo for more detail.

The pages are kind of wobbly from all the stuff I add, but I think its interesting . . . 

You may have seen the one below on my blipfoto account? This is where I add one photo a day. Sometimes photos of my art sneaks in there . . . I have almost made it to 200 "blips" or daily photos -amazing! That is Frieda's doing too!! She found blip & told me about it.

I like the way the leaf ribbon trim sticks up! So, it looks to me like I can probably fill this journal up by the end of June . . . and Frieda asked on blipfoto if I would go on, through July? Why yes, I definitely think so! I'll just have to find another journal as there won't be any room left here. It is a creative habit now, like blipfoto. I want to work in it and have learned just doing a little bit is okay. Then maybe I can fit it all in and do everything I want! ; ^ ) lenna

Garden Postcard Tag swap

garden PostCard Tag 2322, originally uploaded by creativelenna.
Above is one of 5 garden themed Postcard Tags I created for a swap hosted by Lisa of Collage Stuff! This wonderful company is the sponser of this swap. I have found it to be a great resource for collage items of all kinds. Lisa gives great service and has wonderful products. Plus you can join in her swaps too!

For this swap we were required to use the new postcard tags shown below from Collage Stuff. No problem there for me! I found them intriguing. I sewed a piece of my fabric paper with a flower theme to the front of the tag . . .
 And later colored the back with Dye-Na-Flow and a sponge.
I added some prima paper flowers, also carried at Collage Stuff . . .
hey! I got that little green leaf there too! 
And I finished them off with fibers and fabric!

Because I always take lots of photos while creating, there are lots more photos with explanation on how I made these tags if you look in this set on my flickr account. That is, if you'd like to see more! Once there, you can click on the slideshow button above the photos if you prefer to view them larger. I am really glad to be using more of that huge piece of fabric paper I made!! I found the original blog post where I wrote about making it, dated about 14 months ago here: Fabric-Paper. I would like to try again sometime with a smaller piece of fabric  . . . well, maybe after I clean off my work table, it is a total disaster! 

I have been creating so much there is just stuff everywhere and my actual workspace is getting smaller and smaller! I will have to attend to it before I create next.

I now know what I am going to do as far as my daily projects: Art Journal Every Day and Blipfoto every day. I figured it out by talking about it here. I am going to continue to work in my art journal every day if I can because it is really so good for me, I love it and I am getting in a groove. I am going to try to do a photo a day too if I can because that's really so good for my photography skills and my artist's eye. But, I am not going to post every single day about my art journal. Right now I worked in it yesterday and I also worked in it today but I have not posted anything about it yet. I would like to post later tonight, but if not, I will do it tomorrow or the next day. I will add my art journal work to flickr too if you follow there. As for blip, I would like to allow myself to not post a photo a day! When you have been doing it consecutively as long as I have -since december, it is hard to quit that. But it really would be okay if I only posted a photo there, let's say every other day. I'm just trying to sort out how to do everything I want to do to keep growing as an artist. 
Thanks ever so much for listening!!!
Your being here, reading, listening, responding, sharing your feelings mean a lot to me. You are appreciated! :^ ) lenna 

May 28 art journal every day

Above is the final scan. Can you imagine that is is how the circles finished up?!
Remember, this is how I left that spread last:
Yesterday, I layered and tweaked the left side with the circles quite a lot . .. 
adding white paint with my fingers
drawing more circles with watercolor ctrayons
getting them wet
really getting them wet! 
adding splatters of metallic ink (copper)
finding more of the leaf tissue paper and covering most of the page
After messing around with the watercolor circles, I found more of the tissue paper with the green leaves - its amazing I found any! Added that to the left side of the spread over the circles and then some below the bird. Originally, it was only above the bird photo on the right, embedded in my fabric paper. I add very a light stamping of mesh with 'peeled paint' distress ink and used my fingers to spread some bright gold Lumiere paint on the page. This was all done on May 28 for Art Journal Every Day with Julie balzer.

My student Beth asked me in a comment, "What will you do at the end of this May challenge?"  That is such an excellent question, Beth! When I started this project I told myself I'd commit for the month of May and see how it went. That was really Julie Balzer's suggestion and a good one. I listened, since this whole thing is her idea! I am totally hooked on working in my art journal every day now that I have been doing it a few weeks. I think I've only missed 1 or 2 days this month. My need to do more hands-on creative work is what brought me here because earlier this year I felt I was doing only some and not enough. I was itchy for it. Most of my time was spent writing lessons for my online classes, helping students, organizing, writing, preparing and orchestrating my creative swaps - I wasn't doing as much art as I wanted to.

I am now! 

So somehow, I am going to keep this project. I may have to make myself post about it less frequently because truthfully, even though I love to write and show you photos of my process --this is what takes time, more than making the art. It is like writing a mini tutorial every day! I'll figure it out. I am also still doing a 'photograph a day' project on blipfoto  and I'm up to sharing 169 days of photos since december 4 . . . you can see my daily blips in the top right hand sidebar of this blog -just click and go. I may let that slide a bit, not do it every day? We'll see. I will most likely have to let something go because doing 2 daily projects and writing about them takes lots of time. This is my full-time work -making art, then writing, teaching & sharing about it, plus organizing creative exchanges. I do have the time, my children are grown and I'm only 54 years old! I'm also very much of a "get an idea, okay let's do it" type of person; I like doing things and accomplishing things  . . . . I usually want to do more than I really can comfortably for too long. But, I always seem to be able to figure out a balance and make things work.

Thank you for listening to my rambles! Again I'm very glad you are here and have been enjoying what I share.   Happy Sunday, xo lenna

Chloe and the 100 photo 'blips'

Chloe, originally uploaded by creativelenna.

Sunday, March 20th, 2011 was the day I hit 100 days of photo uploads and journaling on Blipfoto, wow! They make a celebration out of it on the site, announcing your 'blipday' and even giving you a balloon! I would say most members there try to do a special photo for that day. As one person remarked when I said my 100th blip was near, "oh, the pressure is on!" ; ^ )

For my special "Blipday" journal entry, I did not use the photo of our sweet Chloe above, even though she is so cute. Nor did I use this one I worked on in Photoshop, even though it was interesting . . .

I did not use either of these two  . . . 

Asia, me & Chloe,  in my parent's side yard

Playing with Photoshop and a picture of Asia . . .
The rose is from my mother's garden and appears again here!

And I did not use this one . . . . 

or this one!

But I used a similar one and started playing a bit more in Photoshop. I combined photos I took of my mother's beautiful roses with the photos Steven had taken of me & the dogs. It started like this -

And after a few different tries I came up with something i liked . . . please view my finished journal photo here on blipfoto. It took some time to create, but it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed celebrating my milestone of 100 photos. I began Blipfoto in early December at my good friend Frieda's suggestion, but reached 100 blip entries pretty fast because I have uploaded a photo on a daily basis since December 18th. If you have read my writing about this before, you'll know that blipfoto is not something I set out to do, but checked out because of Frieda and then fell into it! It has been a great learning experience for me. On Blip, it's easy to see photos of and read about places all over the world. For example, I know a lot more about Frieda & Scotland now - I love it!

I have noticed though, that a lot of my creative energy is going into photography now so I may consider not uploading on a daily basis. At blipfoto you can upload ONE photo per day, but there are no roles saying you must! I could upload every other day, or 2 in a row and then none for a week. I simply got into the rhythm of taking photos every day and choosing one to share. I have been doing a few other creative things though, so I'll be back! Thank you for visiting, it is much appreciated. xo lenna 

family, zumba & blips!

My sister has been visiting since Thursday and it has been great to see her. This was taken the other night at my parent's house . . .

We do look a bit alike and don't you think my dad is proud of us? Kathy and I went to a Zumba class on Sunday and tried our best to keep up . . . it's Latin-inspired dance fitness with fast footwork -sambas, chachas, lots of hip-shaking, and I had not been to class for a few weeks. I used to teach Jazzercise, but that was about 20 years ago. Zumba is different! It's a lot of fun though, and we both did pretty well. I have been concentrating on weight training for fitness to get stronger but I think I'll add more zumba in for fun.

Today, Kathy & I went to a small Church Thrift Shop near my home that I found last week. I promised I'd return with my sister (she loves Thrift shopping) and of course I made Kathy pose in front of it!

I have been taking literally tons of photos since I joined blipfoto because of my friend Frieda Oxenham's recommendation. Blipfoto describes their site as, "The zero-fuss website that lets anyone join in and publish one photo a day. Record your life in pictures, improve your photography skills, or just keep in touch with your family and friends. Join the community now and start seeing the world in a completely different way. We warn you, it can get quite addictive...." -The last part is certainly true!!

I can't even count how many photos I have taken since December 4th, when I signed up for my own blipfoto journal. A lot! I have taken many, many photographs and learned so much. In just about one week, I will celebrate my 100th blip (100 days of photos uploaded) in that short amount of time! I have taken even more photos than I can share if you can imagine, but here are a few recent ones:

me, often at DeSoto memorial beach

Asia & Chloe xox

working with photoshop elements

These Capri pants are Thrift Shop finds!

My mom's special Iris - I asked my Mom where she got this Iris from. 
She laughed and said she got it from Home Depot here in Florida!! 
Amazing, huh? It only blooms for a day or two.

lots of beautiful photo opportunities -
and now I am really taking advantage of them.

with love, from lenna

You can dance if you want to

 I have to share a bit . . . It's been a while. I've been a little busy and not here as much, but it's because lots of good things are going on. Yesterday was my birthday and my mom got me the greatest card.

I just laughed!! It so sums up all the support my mom and dad have given me artistically over the years. They used to share driving me to many, many dance classes for years! The other day I told my mom the only exercise I did that day was "dance around in my studio" as a break from writing lessons. She smiled, and now I know why!

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. Steven took me to the Warm Mineral Springs in North Port and to the Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, Florida. Both places were interesting and fun and it was great to go on a "date" with my husband! I created a photo collage yesterday and uploaded it to blipfoto, my daily photo journal -click there to see it. Below are a few more favorite photos of the day.

Warm Mineral Springs
I am sure this looks excellent for those of you battling snow & cold!

The water is salty! It's very easy to float & relax in.

we enjoyed!!

The fern garden at Historic Spanish Point

what Steven found in the Fern Garden

walking at Historic Spanish Point

Steven taking a break!

In the Butterfly Garden

Historic Spanish Point
Thanks for your visits and comments! I am wrapping up my Vintage Note card swap at the end of this week, so check the blog for some wonderful eye candy. I received a beautiful package from Sharon Walworth today which I should get uploaded tomorrow and there are a few more still coming in!

Have a creative day!