Category Archives: Thoughts, News, Whimsy

Wild Art Dolls Have Arrived!

As of this morning, all of the Wild Art Dolls articles have moved back to this website. Whew! That includes the free doll patterns.

(I will update the GIFs as full-size PDFs, later. Meanwhile, you can rescale GIFs to print, full-size. In most cases, my cloth doll patterns were designed to fill an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.)

If you find any broken links, broken images, or text that doesn’t make sense, let me know in a comment at the broken page (or wherever things seemed to break).

I have temporarily removed the voice recordings from the doll art pages. They were in an old format that most computers can’t recognize. I plan to update those recordings, later.

I’ve restored the site’s Search form and the Categories list to the sidebar of this website. That should help you find anything you’re looking for.

Also, I’ve removed old “featured images.” That should resolve the problem where stray graphics were turning up in odd places.

Next, I’m planning to move all of my mailart-related articles back to  Those articles were at, and they’re even more outdated than the wild art dolls articles were. (It’s difficult to believe I’ve been online about 20 years…)

So, this next part of the “back to the garden” project (as I’m calling it… a Woodstock reference) may take considerably longer.

Meanwhile, I appreciate your patience as I shuffle files, fix broken code, and all that non-art technical stuff. It will be worth it, when this is completed! (<– That’s become my mantra. LOL )

And, one more thing… you can download free, printable coloring pages by Coloring Group members — including me — at the Free Coloring Pages page at

Construction – or reconstruction – in progress!

The site update project…? It’s now at the Totally Messy stage of things, and it may be like this all summer. I’m merging some of my other art sites with this one.

For the moment, is offline. is online for the moment, but I’ve just imported all of its articles. This means some of my categories are duplicated, garbled, or otherwise weird. A few articles may be, as well.

Update: The files have been moved and updated. If you see a broken link on any of my doll-related webpages, let me know in a comment. Thanks!

And, of course, I’m working on this (again) in the middle of major changes in my life… including a move. As of this morning, HT and I aren’t sure if we’re staying in Florida, heading back to New Hampshire, or doing something else altogether. (The marriage is fine. The question is about the best location for our respective careers… at least until winter.)

So, I appreciate your patience as I reorganize, restructure, and generally tweak this site (and others) and make a one-stop resource for mixed media art… and a whole lot more.

Creative Inspirations – Quotations

Quotations inspire me.  They always have.  When a quotation sparks my creativity or makes me smile, it’s like the person is at my side saying, “You can do it! Go for it!”

So, as I’m taking a course in online videos, I created this video with some of my favorite quotations as well as some photos that seem to highlight what they mean to me.

Creative Inspiration – quotations

The photographs

The following photographers’ pictures appear in this video.

Ali Taylor, UK – Rushing water

Ariel da Silva Parreira, Mexico – Iceberg; lights on road (Rauschenberg quote)

Asif Akbar, India – Brick wall; old (green) building (Anne Maybe quote); Temple (Picasso quote); bicycle photo (Jeff Beck quote); opening and closing graphics

Christophe Libert, France – Runners leaping hurdles

Flavio Takemoto, Brazil – Spectrum of colors (Thurman quote)

Justyna Furmanczyk, Poland – Poppy in field

Leonardini, Ukraine – Butterfly photo

Remiguisz Szczerbak, Poland – Open window (Ebert quote)

Zanetta Hardy, USA – Autumn leaves

The quotations

“The voice our our original self is often muffled, overwhelmed, even strangled by the voices of other people’s expectations.” — Julia Cameron

“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” — Martha Graham

“I don’t think you have to do anything to make your life into a work of art — it is one. What you have to do is observe it, be aware of the weirdness, beauty and artistry that occurs every day.” — Anne Maybe

“What you do instead of your work is your real work.” — Roger Ebert

“When you are doing what is right, it all starts to click and fits into place. It is not that you don’t have challenges, but you have the tools to meet the challenges.” — from ‘Manifesting Your Heart’s Desire’ by Fengler & Varnum

“Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” — Pablo Picasso

“The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.” — David Bayles & Ted Orland, in ‘Art and Fear’

“As long as there’s something original going on, that’s all that really matters.” — Jeff Beck

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” — Robert Hughes

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t ask what the world needs. As what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

Music (sound track)

The music in this video is ‘Back to Back’ by Father Rock.

Elsewhere online

You can see this video (or share it with others) at YouTube:

I’ve also created a Squidoo lens for this video:  Creative Inspirations – Quotations

The Art of Making Art

One of my recent oil sketchesRecently, someone asked if the art of making art is putting it together.

That’s a good question… with two different answers.

Oh, I could say, “Art is what you make it,” or “Art is where you find it.”  That’d be the flippant reply.

However, the genus — the germ of the inspiration — of the art isn’t quite that easy to find.

Process v. Product

For some people, art is in the finished product. They aren’t thrilled with what it takes to get there, but they become experts at technique just so they can see the original idea manifested as a finished work of art.

For others, art is in the process.  They find delight in every step of creating the art, or at least in the happy discoveries.

When their art is finished, maybe they keep it, maybe they don’t.  For them, the joy of the creative process was the real reward.

And, some artists enjoy both the process and the delight of seeing the completed work.

It’s a “shades of grey” kind of deal.

How I work

I’m a process person.  For me, nearly half of the creative process is how different the world looks to me, as I’m working on any related to art.

I notice more colors. I appreciate the light and shadow in the landscape.  Even if I’m watching a movie, I’ll notice how the director used color or lighting to emphasize something in the plot.

Older movies such as Dr. Zhivago and Queen of the Damned did that very deliberately.

Zhivago is quite stark and an interesting history.  Look at how the scenes favored black and white, until something emotional and/or dramatic was about to happen, and the color red is used.

Queen is over-the-top and gruesome, but the colors made it worth watching.  Notice the limited palette of colors at the beginning, and how each plot step adds another color to the scenery.  There are some exceptions to that rule, as you’d expect from the quality of the film.  I saw that movie twice, just to study the use of color in it. (If you know me in real life, I do not usually watch gruesome/vampire movies.)

As an artist, I’m less interested in the mechanics of a technique than in how that technique inspires me to try something new.

So, I might work with materials in ways that’d make a purist turn pale.  For me, it’s about the energy and inspiration, not the technical details.  I’m only interested in the technical aspects as far as they’re absolutely necessary to achieve my goals.

Generally, those goals include:

  • Creative exploration,
  • The expression of the initial creative vision, and
  • Achieving that “in flow” experience that accompanies moments in which my entire focus is on art and beauty.

Keep going

If I pause to contrast the work in progress with some precise finished image, I’m lost.  That’s where the inner critic rages forth, ready to rip my efforts to shreds, point out my shortcomings, and convince me that I’m not really a very good artist, after all.  (That’s when I re-read The War of Art, and recover my sense of creativity.)

However, that’s me. That’s what it means to be process-oriented.

Others’ opinions

I’ve talked with other artists who always have to hold that precise, finished image in their minds, and work steadfastly towards it.  For them, the process is a sometimes-inconvenient means of achieving what they want to create.

So, for me, the art is in putting the art together.  It’s in the process.

That doesn’t make me more or less of an artist than the person whose entire focus — and joy — is in the finished work… or someone in-between those two extremes.

Vital reading if you’re an uncertain artist:

Art as emotional education

This morning, I read an interesting quote from David Brooks, “While our scholastic education is formal and supervised, our emotional education, the one we glean on our own from artists and musicians, is more important to our long-term happiness.”

I had never thought about art (and music, which I include in “the arts”) as emotional education. It’s an appropriate concept, and especially important and vital in an era when values are shifting away from merit-as-price-tag and status-based evaluation.

It’s also important as we consider even more budget cuts in our schools, and how we can resolve deficit-related issues that are (or will be) affecting our daily lives… such as what our children are taught in school.

Unless we ensure that art remains in people’s educations — particularly future generations’ — they may lose sight of the importance of the arts.

Vatican-ColumnsThat’s already happened, and it’s one reason why so many artists struggle to survive as full-time artists.

We’ve fallen far from the time when influential families (such as the Medicis) made certain that their communities had access to the very best art possible.

Then again, a quick glance at the actual art incorporated in architecture confirms that this has been a growing issue for centuries. When we have to mandate 1% for art, and similar programs, and compare that with the amount of visible, permanent art in the buildings we revere from the past… well, the contrast is startling.

petroglyphs_venezuelaWhether we’re talking about the pyramids, cathedrals, or caves in France, the conversations almost always return to the art that’s part of them.  In structures such as the pyramids and cathedrals, that art was permanent.  It wasn’t entirely art — such as paintings and free-standing sculptures — displayed there, it was an integral part of the structure.

That’s an appropriate analogy for what’s happened to art in our society, and our values.

What will people spend money on, as an innate, knee-jerk reaction? A quick survey of the “impulse items” at the grocery store check-out line reveals what appeals to us as a society: Candy, and publications featuring unhappy gossip.

sketching-monalisaIn most households, “original art” is grade-school work temporarily housed on the front of the refrigerator.

Commercial reproductions of art (paintings and photos) aren’t the same as original art, but they’re better than nothing.

I’m not sure what it will take to restore original art — in general — as a valuable part of our everyday lives.

Yes, one can argue that some art sells for astronomically high prices, particularly at auction.   However, that art is generally purchased by people whose educations — at the finest schools money can buy — as well as their home environments, taught them the value of art.

In today’s economy, when we propose additional art education in our schools, the retort is, “Yes, but who’s going to pay for it?”

My flippant response might be: The arts need a bailout (or a resurgence) more than companies realizing the logical consequences of mismanagement.

In fact, we don’t just need a resurgence of the arts… they may be vital to our future survival.

When we look at world and local headlines, the emotional toll of violence is clear.  The logical (and very emotional) response to violence is, “How could anyone do that…?”

Perhaps some of those acts of violence are committed as carelessly as some people — oblivious to the love and care of a gardener — trample plants and flowers to create a “shortcut” to where they’re going.

It gets back to education.  It’s not just telling people that art is valuable, it’s showing them its emotional value.  And, it goes beyond a one-hour-a-week class.  This kind of appreciation for art must begin in the home.

However, I’m also mindful of what’s practical. This won’t be achieved overnight, and probably not in one generation.

newgrange-250w-pdphotoWe have to start somewhere.

In an economy defaulting to one-income households — which were the norm when I was growing up — perhaps we can take the time to volunteer as artists in the schools.

I’m aware that this sets a dangerous precedent, and school administrators may then expect art and art instruction to be provided, free of charge.

I’d counter that argument with the popularity of concerts.  Because we are exposed to popular music daily on radio and TV — free of charge — people continue to place a high value on concerts.

My point is: To recover the perceived value of art, particularly the visual arts, we have to begin somewhere.  We need to educate people — starting with children — about the importance of art, not just as art but as Brooks’ said, “emotional education.”

It may take a generation or two to even begin this project.  However, it’s a vital project not just for artists but for our society.

You could volunteer at

  • a Scout troop,
  • a community center,
  • a daycare center,
  • a church, or
  • a school.

It could be a weekly or monthly commitment — for as long as you’re able to — or a one-time event.

Whether you teach others to create art or about the arts, or take a child (your own or neighbors’) to an art gallery or museum, or read a book about art with your book club or your family, start now.

It’s not just about art, it’s about emotional education.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Teddy Roosevelt.

Photo credits:
Vatican columns – Sorina Bindea, Romania
Petroglyphs in Venezuela – Franklin Carrera, Venezuela
Street artist – Valentina Jori, Italy
Newgrange carvings – Jon Sullivan, US (

You can reprint this article (and its illustrations) on your own website if you like, as long as the article remains intact and has a link back to

Freebies – zine, posters

Aisling's BlogDid you get your free issue of Astarte’s Mega-Zine? It’s a $9.95 value and it really is free… you don’t have to buy anything. Learn more about this free, full-size art zine at my webpage with links.

Also, I’ve updated the dada page so that you can download my favorite posters from  (I’m not thrilled with their domain name, but I love several of their posters.)

Musing Over Chicken Bones

Aisling's BlogI just learned that, if you soak chicken bones in vinegar for three days, they become flexible. [use #10, here]

Now, I’m wondering if you rinse and dry them, do they become rigid again? Would baking them help? Hmm…

If that works, can you bend the bones into weird and wonderful shapes, and let them set that way, for jewelry? I have no idea, but it sounds cool.

Taking it a step further, can you bleach them and carve on them, scrimshaw style? Will this work for other inexpensive bones that I can ask for at the meat counter of the grocery store?

This is how an artist’s brain works, sometimes. Will I ever actually test these theories? Maybe. Probably not. So, I’m sharing them with you, just in case they spark your creativity.

Focus, professionalism and clutter

Aisling's BlogLast night, I made a list of what I want to do in the life I’d like to lead. In order of importance: painting, travel, fabric art, and writing.

Then, I listed what I’d need for each. Okay, travel involves a ticket and throwing stuff into a suitcase. But everything else…

I was astonished to realize that I need the least stuff for painting, then for fabric art, and… well, my hoard of writing-related stuff is obscene. I can’t even list it all. I have boxes & boxes of cool articles and notes that I’m saving, “in case I ever write about this.”

Hello, that’s what a good library is for.

I also looked at all the sewing stuff that I own, with the idea that I’ll use it for fabric art someday. By contrast, when I was making quilts & wall hangings professionally, I’d buy a few bolts of fabric, use them up making quilts, give away the scraps, and then go buy more bolts… and the occasional accent fabric or two.

When I’m actively working in a field, professionally, I tend to use up everything that I own. I don’t keep clutter.

In fact, I’m currently reducing how much stuff I use for painting. I’m looking at the number of tubes of paint I use, and how many of those colors could be mixed from other colors that I own.

In other words, the more professional (and productive) I am in a field, the less clutter I own, related to it.

This is on the heels of spending a day and a half looking for my glue gun, to complete the project for Go-Make-Art.

It would have been better if I’d just tossed out the old glue gun and spent the $1.99 replacing it when I needed it again.

(Okay, that’d be wasteful. My point is, I own too much clutter when I can’t find my basic tools to produce art that I claim to be professional at.)

More De-Clutter Inspiration

Aisling's BlogPart of making more time (and space) for art involves being absolutely ferocious about decluttering. I like this article by Merlin at 43 Folders, in which he says, “If the stuff that you accumulate doesn’t help get you closer to the life you want to have, it’s simply not worth keeping. Period.”

I look at all of my stuff and how much of it is about the life that I currently have.

I look at how much I justify with the idea, “Well, if I use this stuff to make something, and then I sell it, I might make the money that I need to live the life that I want to have.”

And then I spend a week (or two or three) making whatever-it-is. I spend money on additional supplies that I’ll only use half of… and then the rest of those supplies go into my boxes, with some idea that “I might need this some day.” (I really hate buying supplies twice… especially if they aren’t things that I use in art that I’ll keep.)

I drop everything else that I’m working on, to get whatever-it-is completed and out the door. I throw it on my blog, or into etsy or eBay.

And then it doesn’t sell. Or, it sells for less than the hours that I put into it, even at minimum wage. Or, I just break even on the supplies, period. The time is gone, forever.

Hello, why do I keep doing this?

I think that I have to be even more harsh with myself. I may need to wholly eliminate anything that I’m working on with some idea that it’ll make the money that I need.

I think that I should start living the life that I want. I need to trust that the wherewithal will show up, or I’ll see opportunities within the context of the life that I want… not the life that I’ve had enough of, thank you very much.

When I’m creating something, if it’s not something that I’d want to keep/own myself, maybe I shouldn’t be making it. I need to quit looking at what other people are doing, while I’m thinking, “Sure, I could make something equally as good, and then I could sell it at a profit, too.”

Whether or not I can make something well is not the issue. It’s coming down to the energy in whatever-it-is, and if I see real value (as opposed to “that’s nice,” commercial value) in it.

Even “cute” art needs to be taken off my to-do list.

If it’s not about painting and making fabric art (quilts, wearables, wall hangings, very artsy dolls/figures), I think that it has to go away.

In a comment at the article linked above, someone named Cora said, “I got out a few sheets of crisp paper. I imagined my day and then my year, and wrote down the stuff I thought I’d need. Then I wrote down all the things I planned to achieve that year, and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, even things I really wanted to do or new things I wanted to learn. If it was unlikely I’d pursue it in the next 12 months, I just let it go — stuff might be outdated by then anyway.”

I think that I’m going to do that, but for six months (in keeping with “The 4-Hour Work Week”), and see what I end up with. That’d be interesting.

Sunrise and Faerie Rings

Aisling's BlogThis is a time of year when I see so much beauty around me. I can only capture it in photos, because it’s too hot outside–even in the early morning–to paint en plein air. But, I’m taking a bazillion photos to use for work in my studio. I take most of my photos in Bush Park (yes, that’s its real name), which I drive through twice a day.

Here’s the sunrise this morning:
[Sorry, images are missing temporarily, since moving this blog from Blogger.]

This afternoon, on the way home from taking HT to the bus stop, I stopped at the same parking area and took the next photo just a few feet away from the location, above.

That’s a faerie ring in front of the tree… an almost perfect circle. It’s huge. The smallest mushroom is about three inches across. I saw it from the road, about 40 feet away, and immediately pulled into the parking lot to take pictures.