Tag Archives: collage

Another Look: Art

Welcome to a new installment of Another Look!  This post is designed to share a handful of goodies from my archive while I’m recovering from my surgeries.  I hope you enjoy these links, whether you’re seeing them for the first time or have seen them once before.  Today’s category is Art!  Just click on the name of the post to link over…


Collage Basics: Less is More!


Drawing a Blank? Prompts for Writers & Artists

My Art Journals

Still Drawing a Blank? More Prompts for Writers & Artists


New (Heart) Art!

From collage and photography to art journals, my work includes a variety of media and materials.  Which artistic mediums and materials (including those not shared on my blog) are your favorite?

Warm regards,

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My Summer Fun Collage is in Somerset Studio Magazine!

somerset_coverI was pleasantly surprised last week when I received a contributor’s copy of the July/August 2012 copy of Somerset Studio magazine.  One of my collages appears on page 121.  I love how this piece turned out, and am so pleased it was selected!


The central image is from my collection of vintage images, and I adore this photo.  It reminds me of some of my dear art friends and of all the fun we have when we get together.  We share, listen, create, explore and LAUGH, and I’m so lucky to have these wonderful women in my life.  I wrote the text on the collage with them in mind.

“Merriment sparkled in the summer sky. Their hoots and howls of laughter floated on the breeze and brightened the day, like the twinkling stars that light the night…”

I’m definitely a fan of mixing text into my artwork, which is no surprise since I’m big into art journaling.  This collage also features some of my other “collage standards” like a clean, uncluttered layout, a limited color palette, a variety of materials, and a “frame”.  If you’d like to read a post on my Collage Basics please click here.

Here are a few simple shots of the collage – photos I took with my iPhone before the collage headed out the door to the publisher.


If you come across a copy of the July/August issue of Somerset Studio I hope you enjoy taking a peek of my collage. I sure had a wonderful time dreaming it up and creating it!

Warm regards,

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“Mark of Wisdom” Collage


I love using a variety of materials in my collages, and this new collage – featuring a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson – is certainly made up of a variety of materials.  New, old, smooth and rough textures, a photo, text, and even foreign language text!  I used one of my own nature photos as the central image.  I’ve thrown a bit of everything into this collage, including bamboo “clips”, metal tape, netting, and masking tape.  And though the materials and textures are varied, I think the overall composition is harmonious.

In addition to using a wide range of materials, I enjoy using found objects in my work, and in this case I found three smashed, scratched, and rusted bottle caps that became three of the main decorative elements for the collage.  I found them in a parking lot, tucked them into the cup holder of the car, and eventually worked them into this collage.  I’m often drawn to damaged, imperfect things.  Things with history.  Things with character.  And though most people wouldn’t have even noticed the mangled bottle caps, or would consider them rubbish if they did see them, I saw their beauty and potential and snatched them up off of the gravely pavement.  Proof that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure…


Curious about how I made this collage?  Here’s an overview:

Print an original nature photo onto photo paper, trim to your desired size. Print quote onto cardstock, trim to desired size.  Tape along all four sides of both the photo and the quote with narrow silver metallic tape.  Use a tracing wheel to add texture to the silver frames, then distress these frames by peeling up some of the edges, and by adding black metallic rub-ons.  Slide bamboo “clips” onto one corner of the photo and quote.  Set the image and quote aside.

Glue pale green handmade, textured paper onto your substrate/base.  (I used an 8′ x 10″ canvas panel as my base.)  Tear a strip of text, and glue along the left side of the collage – top to bottom.  Attach a 5 inch-wide piece of yellow netting over the text, allowing enough length to wrap the excess around the top and bottom and secure to the back.

Punch four holes in each of three found, flattened bottle caps, and stitch an “x” pattern onto each one using black embroidery thread.  Attach the bottle caps to the collage using Pop-Up Glue Dots.  Attach the photo and quote to the collage using Pop-Up Glue dots as well.

“Frame” the collage by taping each side of the collage with two layers of masking tape.  Treat each corner with a diagonal layer of masking tape as well.  Accent the masking tape frame with black and gold metallic rub-ons – apply with your finger using a light touch.  Finish the collage by signing in the corner, and by applying a blank sheet of cardstock to the back to cover what you’ve wrapped around to the back.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the materials or my creative process, dear readers.  I always love hearing from you…

Warm regards,

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My Art Journals


Art journaling – also known as visual journaling – is a combination of written word and visual art.  It’s a creative marriage made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.  After all, it combines two of my favorite things in the world: art and writing.  And though there are guidelines and suggestions for this practice, there aren’t any rules.  Everyone one seems to do it a little differently, which is part of the magic: it’s exactly what you want it and need it to be.

Not only is art journaling an incredible form of self-expression, it’s also a snapshot of your life that develops one page at a time.  It’s a great creative exercise, and also a respite – a safe, constructive way to process feelings and experiences in an often-chaotic world.

I talk about my art journaling classes for at-risk children fairly often, but haven’t shared my own journals yet – this post is a bit overdue! Here’s a peek at some of what I do with my journals – both inside and out. Some of the journal customizations are similar to those I make to my travel journals, and some are unique to my regular art journals.

My Journaling History & Influences

I’ve been keeping diaries and journals since I was a young girl, but my first “official” art journal was created in college for one of my art classes.  I picked up art journaling again in 2002 when I accepted a job in the art and craft publishing industry.  Surrounded by massive amounts of incredible practices, techniques, and artwork I quickly adopted some as my own.  Art journaling and collage soon became two of my creative staples, and I’ve created/completed 13 art journals since 2002.

Many of the creative elements I’ve incorporated into my journals were learned from the late Janice Lowry, artist and journalist extraordinaire.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to take classes from wonderful teachers like Kelly Kilmer, Juliana Coles, and Quinn McDonald.  I’m a lucky girl!

My Favorite “F Word” – Frugal

One of the best things about art journaling, aside from it being very portable and easy to do, is that it’s a low-cost option.  Art can be pricey, but art journaling is an affordable option for nearly everyone.  If you have a simple journal, a writing implement and a glue stick you’re good to go.


Sure, there are many other things you can use to add visual interest and excitement, but those are all icing on the cake.  And while scissors are certainly recommended, even those are optional if you’re open to tearing paper.

The more of a scavenger you are, the more interesting your journal will be.  Candy wrappers, fortune cookie “fortunes”, aluminum foil, and paper doilies from the bakery can all be repurposed and re-used in your journal.

The Journal Itself

I prefer to work in a large hardcover journal with unlined white pages.  Because everyone is different it may take some experimentation to find the size and type of journal you like best.


Though I’ve tried fancier, decorative journals, I generally opt to cover the entire front and back of a plain journal with my own decorative elements instead.  Most often I collage a variety of things onto the cover, and then seal it all in with multiple coats of water-soluble Polycrylic.


Some of my journals have a rectangular piece of fabric on the book’s spine.  Sealed in with the polycrylic, the fabric is both decorative and functional since the fabric adds extra stability to a book that’s frequently handled.


It’s important to include your name and phone number on the inside cover, just in case you misplace your journal.  (Hopefully a good Samaritan will return it if it’s found!)  I also usually glue an envelope on the right side of the inside cover.  I tuck movie tickets, fortune cookie “fortunes” and other tidbits in the envelope.


Another practice that’s just for fun is including the start and finish date of the journal on the inside flap.  It’s interesting to see (at a glance) how long it took me to complete a particular journal.

Because I do a fair amount of collage or gluing of memorabilia in my journal I remove some of the blank pages before starting to work in the book.  This allows the book to close properly even though materials are added.  I usually remove every third or fourth page. I save the blank pages I remove for later – they make great scratch paper!



Materials – The Bits and Pieces of your Life

When it comes to the materials that can be used, I like to keep my options wide open.  Traditional art supplies are used along side candy wrappers, pieces of aged newspaper I’ve picked up off the ground, pictures cut from magazines, emails and news stories I’ve printed, and more.  If it appeals to me, or is somehow relevant to my entry, it’s fair game.  I do try to keep my materials as “thin” as possible, so my journals close and lie flat, but I don’t shy away from layering.


As for actual journal entries, the sky’s the limit!  You can write a typical “Dear Diary” type of entry, draw, doodle, write a list of things that make you happy, write about something that pisses you off, create a collage page from pages ripped out of old magazines, do a bullet point list of your daily activities while on vacation, create a self-portrait, set goals, sketch out/list ideas for an upcoming project, and more.  Whatever you find fun, helpful, cathartic, and inspiring – that’s what your journal should include.


India ink doodles on top of a loose grid of masking tape.

Self-Portrait materials include a photo-copied photograph, paper, wire, thread, printed ribbon, staples, glassine envelope, foreign postage stamp, label, gold paper frame, and a lock of hair.


A magazine images, black gesso, and silver pen.


Caran d’ache water-soluble crayons, black ink pen, cork stamp, black ink pad, metallic gel pens.


Magazine images, black gesso, gold wings, feather, copper foil tape, copper pen.


Watercolor paper, black marker, caran d’ache water-soluble crayons, black writing pen.


Pencil, black pen, gray card stock, pastels.


Watercolors, black pen.

Magazine images, decorative paper, black pen.


Black pen


Metallic gray textured paint, color copy of  first self-portrait’s heart, Sharpie marker, sunflower images, silver gel pen.

Questions?  Comments?

Do you art journal?  Are you interested in taking it up?  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments – I’d love to hear from you…

Warm regards,

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Galleries & Published Works

Hi y’all!  Happy Tuesday!

Just wanted to take a moment and invite you to check out some of the pages here at my website.  For example, my Galleries page and my Published Works page.

You’ll find images of my artwork in the GALLERIES, including photography, collage, and mixed-media. Here are a few examples of images that live there – won’t you visit the rest?


This photo of the Rock of Cashel (in Ireland) is in the Travel collection.


This pink water lily image is in the Nature collection.


This glass bottle image is in the Man-Made collection.


This piece, made in memory of my Aunt Bobby, is in the Collage collection.


This up-cycled metal can project is in the Mixed-Media collection.

If you visit my PUBLISHED WORKS page you can see where I’ve had my art and writings published – and in many cases you can click on the work’s title to see a scan of the tear sheet (magazines) or can link over to the website my work appears on.  Projects range from collages and cards to Memory Jars (love that one!) and more!  So please take a peek.

Here are a few projects/articles you might particularly like – I hope you’ll also take a peek at the others:

Fictitious Family Album

Sowing the Seeds of Inspiration

Time in a Bottle (Memory Jars)

You may also visit my About page to learn more about my background, my Art Program page to learn how you can help me provide art education and supplies to at-risk public school children, and my Contact page if you’d like to email me with any questions or comments.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!  Don’t forget to save your chocolate boxes so you can make your own version of my Heart’s Desire project!

Warm regards,

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Book Review & Giveaway: Doodle Sketchbook by Dawn DeVries Sokol


If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a big fan of art journaling.  In fact, I’m so enthusiastic about art journaling that I volunteer-teach it to at-risk public school children.  I believe art journaling – the unique combination of writing and visual art – can benefit everyone:  women, men, children, and adults.  It was a pleasure, then, to receive a copy of the Doodle Sketchbook, by Dawn DeVries Sokol, to review.  Not only will I share a bit about this wonderful book with you, I’ll be hosting a giveaway with my review copy!

Let me start off by saying that while this book somewhat slanted towards boys, isn’t just for boys.  (Dawn agrees, and actually addressed the book’s name in this blog post)  If I wasn’t sharing the wealth and hosting a giveaway with the copy I received, I’d happily work in this book’s pages.  The Doodle Sketchbook: Art Journaling for Boys is perfect for anyone who wants to start journaling – particularly those who might not know where to begin, and those a wee bit intimidated by a blank white page.

Intended for a younger audience (ages 8 and up), some pages might not apply to an adult that uses the book – like Favorite Class Subject or Ode to High Tops.  However, an adult can either indulge his/her inner child, or use a particular spread of pages for some other type of art journaling – like collage.


Creative Contents

160 pages long and filled with both color and substance, the doodle sketchbook includes several journaling prompts designed to get you busy art journaling.  Dawn begins with how to art journal, covers tools and attachment methods, and then moves on to prompts. Prompts include things like My Colors (your personal color palette), I Like to Eat… (journaling your favorite foods), and Globe Trotting (where in the world you’d like to travel).


Small, portable, and sturdy, this book is easy to carry around and makes a great gift.  Give the Doodle Sketchbook to someone on your gift list along with a glue stick, some pens, and a small pair of scissors, and you’ve got a sure-fire winner – a gift that will introduce (or re-introduce) the recipient to a fun form of self-expression.


Who Will Win?

One lucky person will win a copy of the Doodle Sketchbook, and it’s been signed by the fabulous Dawn DeVries Sokol! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter – one entry per person, please.  I’m also throwing in a 5 pack of Painters Opaque Paint Markers to add to the fun!

I will draw the winner a week from today, on October 25, 2011, and will announce the winner’s name in the comment section of this post – so please check back.  Not sure what to say in your comment?  Perhaps you can thank Dawn for sending me a copy of the Doodle Sketchbook!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this book review, dear readers.  Good luck and Happy Art Journaling!

Warm regards,

*Full Disclosure: I received one copy of The Doodle Sketchbook: Art Journaling for Boys for review purposes.


Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, books, giveaway, inner child, inspiration, writing | Also tagged , , , 36 Comments

Words to Live By collages


Three of the words I strive to live my life by are love, generosity, and kindness, and I decided to make a series of collages featuring these words.  The collages serve as both affirmations and reminders, and they were fun to make!  This is my most recent Design Team project for crescendoh.com (Studio Crescendoh), and it features the Best Life Alphabet Stamp Set.  Please see detailed photos and the instructions below.

Directions for one collage: Begin by crumpling a piece of tissue paper into a ball, then open and smooth out the sheet.  Using a glue stick, apply glue to the surface of your collage base.  (I used an 8” x 10” canvas panel for my collage base)  Lay your sheet of crinkled tissue over the top of the collage base and press down evenly, ensuring the tissue paper adheres to it.


Trim all but ½“ of the excess paper from around the edges of your collage base.  Wrap the remainder around the sides to the back and glue the tissue down with a glue stick.  Apply a layer of color to your collage surface by rubbing a chalk-finish dye inkpad over your tissue paper base.  Use a light touch, and build your color slowly.  I used Fresco Chalk-Finish dye inkpads.


Create the center of your flower by using a stamp or cutting out card stock in a solid color to your desired size.  I used a lily root purchased at a Korean market to make flower centers by brushing black India Ink onto the cut ends of the root, and stamping onto watercolor paper.


Create the petals of your flower by drawing oval petal shapes onto thick cardstock.  Cut the petals out.  Fold and bend the petals if you’d like them raised and rippled, which provides more texture to the collage.  Arrange them to your liking before attaching the petals to the edge of the flower’s center with Terrifically Tacky Tape.


Cut a flower stem and leaf out of green cardstock.  Position these pieces as desired on the collage base, and then glue down using a glue stick.  Position the flower’s head at the top of the stem, and affix it to the collage using Pop Up Glue Dots.


Cut lengths of ribbon for the top and side of the collage, leaving enough excess to wrap the ribbon around the back.  Attach the “top to bottom” piece first.  Next, stamp your word of choice onto the piece of ribbon that will run along the top of your collage before you affix it to the collage. I used black StazOn ink and the Best Life Alphabet Stamp Set capital letters.  Affix your stamped piece of ribbon to the collage.


Accent the edges of your collage with Metallic Rub-Ons in black.  Affix a button or buttons to your collage with Glue Dots or Terrifically Tacky Tape.




I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at some of my collage techniques, dear readers.  Please feel free to share some of the words that you live by…

Warm regards,

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A New Collage: BABY


Collage is one of my favorite art forms, and the recent birth of my newest niece, Bryn, inspired me to create a baby-themed collage.  Though I have yet to meet this new baby (I’ll be flying out to see her soon), she was on my mind as I sorted through my art supplies in search of the perfect elements to use.

I chose a vintage photo for my central image, but those of you who are artists and crafters could certainly re-create this project using a current photo.  This collage would make a lovely gift for new parents or grandparents, and the baby’s name could be spelled out instead of “baby”.

Similarly, you could create this collage using an heirloom family photo.  Perhaps a photo of an older relative when they were young?  This would be a lovely way to include an older generation in a new baby’s nursery.

Please read on for instructions on what materials I used, and to learn how I assembled my collage.


8” x 10” canvas panel
vintage ledger paper
vintage velvet ribbon in two widths (pink = 1/4’”, blue = 2”)
alphabet stamps
vintage photo
vintage photo frame
vintage buttons in two sizes
Terrifically Tacky Tape (TTT)

Assembling the collage:

Trim the ledger paper and vellum to 8” x 10”, and staple the two sheets together in each corner.  (Note: The vellum softens the look of the paper underneath it, so you may not need the vellum if your background paper is soft/subtle enough.)  Attach the ledger paper/vellum to the canvas panel with Terrifically Tacky Tape.


Cut a wide piece of velvet ribbon (blue) and affix the ribbon to the collage with TTT.  Then attach the hanging tags to the velvet ribbon using TTT.  The strings should then be stretched up and taped down.  (Note: Ensure the photo is large enough to cover the starting point of all the strings, or consider leaving the strings off of the tags.)  Attach the vintage photo to the collage using TTT, and attach vintage buttons to the four corners of the photo with needle and thread or an adhesive.


Finish the front of the collage by running narrow velvet ribbon (pink) along each edge of the collage, wrapping it around to the back, and taping it down.  If you aren’t going to frame your collage, attach an 8” x 10” piece of cardstock to the back to cover your ribbon ends and tape, and don’t forget to sign and date your creation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this vintage baby collage and the related instructions.  Please post any questions you may have in the comments section – I’d be happy to respond to your queries.

Warm regards,

p.s. If you’re new to collage, or need a refresher, please click here to see my collage basics tutorial.

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Collage Basics: Less is More!

Collage – meaning “to glue” in French– is an art form in which the artist gathers various items and glues them to the base of their choosing.  Though this particular artistic medium is many centuries old, it really moved into the mainstream art world in the early 1900’s when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque started adding a little “something extra” to their canvases.

Collage can be a tricky medium to master.  What materials should you use? What goes where?  How do you know when to stop gluing things down?  I’ve come up with my answers to some of the questions collage asks of us, and will share these collage basics below.  Photos of some of my collages will serve as visual examples.

Getting Started

Plan ahead:
I like to make a very rough sketch of my collage idea before I start the hands-on part.  Making these notes on design, materials and color will also help you remember what you’re hoping to create if you’re inspired weeks, days, or hours before you can actually sit down and create.

Decide on a base for your collage: Know this – you’ve got options. You can collage on something as flimsy as a blank greeting card or as dense and as immovable as a wall.  However, sturdy and portable are usually better options.  Some of my favorite collage bases include a rectangle of matboard, an old book cover, or a canvas.

Select some collageables: Gather odds and ends that appeal to you, including one to three images or elements that could be your main focus.

Stock up on a few different types of adhesive: Different adhesives work best in different situations.  I like to have a glue stick, photo mounting squares, Terrifically Tacky Tape, and Diamond Glaze handy when creating.

Design Tips

The Rule of Thirds is your friend

Wikipedia provides an excellent explanation of the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in visual arts such as painting, photography and design. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.  Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.

(To see the complete entry, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds)


This collage’s main image, the photo, is off-center.  It’s aligned along a vertical third.

Throwing away the rulebook

I use the rule of thirds in my work the majority of the time.  However, from time to time I do stick something smack-dab in the middle of the collage. It’s occasional, but it does happen. Once you’ve gotten used to using the rule of thirds, you’ll likely know when to deviate.


With the main image in the center, I matted it with the yellow, vintage photo envelope.


Size matters…

Ensure that your collage materials include items that range in size.  From small to large, you might have something as big as a postcard and as small as button.  Too many items that are the same size will result in an uninteresting collage that lacks finesse.


From the very small buttons and nail, to the larger shamrock image and the piece of fabric, this collage shows range of size. Variety in size also helps the viewer’s eye move around the collage.

Variety is the spice of life!

Your collage materials should also include a variety of textures.  Slick, bumpy, satiny – these are just a few adjectives you may want your collage to embody.  Paper, ribbon, buttons, glass, aluminum foil, dried flowers – almost anything that can be glued down is fair game!


Textures for this rose collage include tissue paper, fabric, paper, metallic tape, and glass.

Limit your color palette and be complimentary

Rainbows are beautiful but a chaotically-colored collage is not.  Best to limit the main colors you use to a handful, including neutrals like black, white, and metallics.  And remember to use complimentary colors when you want something to “pop”.


This collage’s palette, red, black, and silver, is striking but harmonious.

Give the eyes a break

Please, please, please – resist the urge to cover or fill every fractional inch of your collage with glued on materials.  Leaving some blank space for the eyes to rest (also known as negative space) is very important.  You may find it very hard to follow this suggestion, as open space sometimes makes us feel as though the work isn’t complete.  The line between “too much” and “not enough” is very fine, but with practice you’ll find it.  In the beginning, it’s best to err on the side of more negative space – you can always add more to your collage later if, after much careful consideration, you decide you’ve stopped just short of perfection.


Though the background is subtly textured and patterned there is plenty of negative space, which gives the eye a chance to rest.

I’ve been framed!

Whether you put your collage in an actual frame, or just use some of your materials to create a decorative border, consider adding a frame to your project.  It will add a little polish to your piece, and will tie everything together – whether your frame is made of decorative tape or varnished wood.

I like to use tape for a quick, easy, and inexpensive frame, as in the rose collage above.  Metallic tape from the hardware store and masking tape both work well. You can also find a slew of decorative tapes online and in stores.

Go Forth and Glue!

As I said before, creating a good collage is a tricky thing.  Finding the path to visual interest while avoiding visual overload isn’t easily done.  However, with a little practice you can do it!  Play.  Practice.  Have fun! Enjoy getting your hands dirty and covered with adhesive, and when you execute a successful collage give yourself a pat on the back.  Just make sure you wash your hands first!

Warm regards,

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Still Drawing a Blank? More Prompts for Writers & Artists


Back in September I published a post of prompts for writers and artists.  The post was popular among my readers, so here we go again!  Here are some more prompts that may help get your creative juices flowing again when they’ve turned to sludge.

For writers:

Grab a dictionary, and flip through the pages.  Stop in a random spot, close your eyes, and point to a word on one of the pages.  Jot that word down, then repeat this nine more times.  Write a short story of at least five hundred words that incorporates all ten of the words you randomly selected.  Alternately, you could play a game of Scrabble with a friend or family member and use ten of those words instead.

Write a scene from the perspective of a couple’s pet after they’ve quarreled.  Does this pet take sides and express a clear bias, or remain neutral?  Does he/she know a secret that one person in the couple is hiding and the other person is oblivious to?  How has the fight and/or the secret impacted the “silent” member of the family?

For visual artists:

Take a trip to your local hardware store and browse the aisles, keeping an eye out for an inexpensive item that interests you.  Washers? Sand paper? Wire mesh?  Make a piece of art incorporating this item, something that would pleasantly surprise the unsuspecting manufacturer of the item.  Variation: visit your local thrift store and find something junky that can be used artistically in a new way.

Visit your family’s photographic archives, and select an old photo.  Make a copy (color or black and white), and incorporate it into your artwork somehow, whether you work in watercolor, fabric, collage, or something else entirely.  I used this prompt to create the collage above, which is a housewarming gift for my father, and it features a photo of him as a little boy.

I hope you find these prompts inspiring and fun.  Enjoy!

Warm regards,

p.s. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, please subscribe today – you’ll be entered to win a drawing for a $25 Visa gift card!  The gift card winner will be drawn on 12/1/10, so be sure to subscribe by midnight PST on November 30th.  The lucky winner will be announced on December 2nd.

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