Learning Adobe Illustrator

I’ve wanted to learn this program for years. I’ve tried all kinds of tutorials but just couldn’t get comfortable with it until I signed up for some Atly classes by Alma Loveland. They are perfect for me. I took her beginner and patterns classes and that gave me just enough help to start to fly!

I’ve found my perfect art medium. So often my critical eye stops me from enjoying my paper and paint – I see too many things wrong that I just cannot fix. Illustrator lets me adjust everything until I’m totally happy with my work.

My current project is a custom portrait of each family member for his or her birthday – and that’s plenty of practice since we have 5 children, 4 in law children and 18 grandchildren. This month is crazy – about 2 portraits per week. Good practice.

Here’s are the portraits I’ve done so far – in order. You can see progression. Practice, practice, practice.


sylie web-01grace web 2-01



cooper web 2-01JJ web 2-01lisa jump web 2-01Taylor web 3-01

amanda web 2-01


Julia turned 16 – so I made her a book

I love all kinds of mixed media art, but lately I’m slightly obsessed by making books. I’ve made 5 or 6 this past year.

My most recent handmade book project was for my granddaughter Julia, who turned 16 in January. I wanted hers to be feminine with a vintage flair.

Here’s my process:

I started with a good quality heavy weight “toothy” paper. I used Mohawk via felt cool white 80 lb cover paper. But any heavy weight paper or cardstock will work.

Next comes paint. I picked a simple color scheme:


Then I applied acrylic craft paints. Sometimes I squirt paint directly onto the paper and drag it with a plastic card.

This time I squirted and then brushed with a wet brush to give a modulated surface:


I like an interesting background so I sprayed inks through masks, added papers using gel medium (like modpodge) and then stamped with some white paint.




The colors turned out a little too bright for Julia’s style, so I “frosted” them by painting a diluted layer of gray or white paint over the pages.


Finished backgrounds:


Shaping the pages –  I used an old book kit I bought, along with some of my own ideas to cut the edges into fun shapes. Then I punched holes so I can bind the book with rings.


I trimmed the pages to make graduated sizes.


and then distressed and inked the edges.  You can distress by scraping the edges with a scissor blade or a distress tool.


At this point, I had a nice blank book, ready to fill with photos.

I like to create fun ways to display multiple photos by folding paper, making pockets, etc. Here are some ideas:

The photos on this page unclip and open out



Julia trading cards?




These pictures flip down





Embellish, embellish, embellish



The finished book – happy 16th Julia!


Dress designing

My time is limited, but I love to make beautiful things.

This year, three precious granddaughters will be baptized. I decided to design and create a special dress for each one. The first will be for Taylor. She’s a sweet, kind, beautiful, athletic girl. I’m so glad she was sent to our family!

Here’s Taylor in her dress – all ready for her special day next week.

My girls

I painted these girls as part of a book project with a friend.

I kind of got to know them as friends – very silly.

I wanted to collect and save them in one place, because we gave the book away to someone very special.


The Lioness at the Gate

In the 2010 BYE Women’s Conference, Sister Julie Beck described mothers as the ‘lionesses at the gates’ of our homes. I love this imagery!

A few weeks ago we had an experience at home that emphasized this idea. Here’s the story:

Last summer we adopted a little make kitten and the grandkids named him Chewy.

About a month ago, Chewy started looking fat. First I thought through his diet and decided we weren’t over feeding him. He’s an outdoor cat and very active.

But he just kept getting bigger and bigger.

I then realized I had to think through the “he” part of Chewy. Could he be a she?

Time for embarrassment, because I used to be a zoo keeper and should know better than to accept someone else’s word for this.

Quick check – Chewy is a ‘she’ and we have kittens coming. Oops!

A few weeks later Chewy presented us with three darling kittens. We marveled at her ability to know just what was needed to protect and care for her kittens. We had to coax her into a box in our laundry room – she was determined the kittens needed to live on the sofa on our deck.

When the kittens were about two weeks old, we left town for a few days and left our 26 year old son in charge. He came over every day to check on them and one day invited some friends to come see the kittens. They took the darling babies out of the box and spent a few minutes holding them.

Chewy did not like this! She made her wishes knows, so Jamie put the kitties back in the box and shut them in the laundry room. Later that night he want to check on them.

No kittens in the box!

Our laundry room isn’t that big. Where could they be?

This is what he found:


Chewy is the lioness at the gate!

She had picked up each kitten, jumped from the floor up to the washer and carefully climbed in to settle her babies in a safe place – away from all those scary people.

Chewy knows what it means to be the lioness at the gate. She was NOT going to let anything hurt her babies.

I wonder if we are as vigilant. Our homes are so porous today. Scary messages and influences seep in through TV, internet, and music. Are we being careful enough?

Last week I gave a talk in BYU Women’s Conference on inner beauty. I focused on some of the negative messages women and girls receive through the media about their self worth and beauty. It’s a dangerous world out there! I’ll try to put up a post soon about some of my thoughts.

For now – Chewy is my inspiration.