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Roben-Marie Smith

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Life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidents, but rather, it's a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite sublime plan." ~ from the movie, Serendipity

Entries in serendipity studios (6)


Art & Soul in Paradise

What do you get when you cross 4 artists, a few art supplies, and a tropical island?  Some amazing collaborations, sunshine and happiness!  What an insane combination! Last month I had the opportunity to invite 3 friends {Rae Missigman, Sandi Keene, and Roben-Marie Smith} to our home in the Cayman Islands. Whenever we weren’t on the beach, we were spread out on my dining room table, talking sharing, painting, creating.

Roben-Marie and Sandi shared the idea of “art journal collaboration” where we all sat around the table, quickly gathered a few supplies to use, than as we listened to a song on our playlist, we each began an art journal page.  The idea was to work instinctively, without planning out the page ahead of time.

Once the song was over, we immediately handed our art journals over to the person on the left and began to create on the journal in front of us during the next song!  Sort of like a musical chairs idea but with your art journal!  We could add to, cover up, or build on anything on the page. I loved the freedom this exercise gave me and once the initial stress of having to “create on demand” passed, I was able to loosen up and just let my pen, brush, or whatever I had in my hand flow!  After we went round a few times {there are no rules here} we each ended up with amazing masterpiece in our journals.  I love that we each have expressions from each other in our journals now.  This was a great warm-up but we continued to do it throughout the week just to see what we could come up with! And even now when we get together, we still do some type of collaboration, even if we are just doodling in each other's books!

Here are a few samples of what was left behind in my own art journal:



By day, I had a blast playing tour guide for my friends.  If you ever travel to Grand Cayman, there is one spot your shouldn’t miss – Stingray City.  We took a charter out into the North Sound and had an awesome day of swimming with the stingrays and snorkeling.  Sandi took my picture below from her perch on the boat and I just love it!

{photo cred: Sandi Keene}

The week was full of many firsts, including an evening called “Open Canvas.”  We took a big, brave step and signed up to paint in public at an event that featured about a dozen artists who set up easels under the moonlight.  It was a beautiful starry night in a lovely location.  We met other artists, ate and drank, and overcame all inhibitions.  It was very vulnerable at first, but before we knew it, we forgot about the onlookers as we got deep into our artwork.  I never thought I would be able to do it but now I wish I had more opportunities to paint in public. Here’s a few pics of our evening – forgive the poor photography but we were using camera phones in the dark!


Here's what I managed to paint that night - love my Carribbean Ladies with Attitude!

It was a magical week and we ended it on a high note with a beautiful sunset.  We decided we would all paint the sunset as it was setting and we used sea water in our water colors.  Symbolic of our time together . . . the sea, the colors, the art, the friendships.  I am so blessed to have these people in my life and to be able to share my special place with them!


Art Pops {by Roben-Marie}

I had the pleasure of being asked to create samples for a new product by my friend, Roben-Marie Smith.  Roben-Marie is a wildly talented Mixed-Media Artist who has taken some of her art work and incorporated it into little "pops" or cards.  As an artist and a scrapbooker, I always love when a product can crossover and be used for both.  When my package arrived, I instantly knew I was going to have a hard time settling on what to do with these little babies!  The possibilities are endless . . .

Art Pops come in sets (pictures at the end of this post) that are the perfect size for Project Life type journaling.  The quality is outstanding, the colors are vibrant, and they have a lovely matte finish so they are easy to write and paint on.  After much playing around, I decide to settle on a project where I could use all of the cards together and create a little book. {Of course, one of the packs are named after me - so I'm a little partial!}

My inspiration came from the cards . . . when I look at them, they just make me happy.  So that's where I started:

I added the word "happy" to this 4 X 6 card and used it for the cover.  I decided to add some soft gel medium to add texture and layers, which the card took very well.  As a mixed-media artist, I love how art work "feels" as well as how it looks.  Roben-Marie's cards are so beautiful and can easily be incorporated into your own art work.  You can see how the gel medium added a beautiful, bumpy finish to the smooth card. It's as if it came printed that way:


I created the cover using a Tim Holtz distressed book cover and the pages are made from a variety of Roben-Marie's different cards and some scraps and tags I had on hand. Here are some examples of how versatile these Art Pops are:

You can sew on them and attach a smaller (3x4) card to the bottom of a 4x6 card and make a pocket:


 I also love how some of the sets are left blank in the middle for journaling, and, as shown below, I cut out the center of one card to make a frame for my photo:



The colors are spectacular in these Art Pops and both sets work well together.  Because there are so many colors in her artwork, you can use any scraps of paper for matting or place your pictures directly on Roben-Marie's cards.  They add just the right amount of "pop" to make your pictures stand out. The quality and weight of Art Pops is perfect for art journals and scrapbooking.


 On the page below, I simply slit across the to of the journaling window and ahered the card to another card in the back to create a slot to slide a tag in.  I love the effect!


I never ran out of ideas, alternating the different cards and turning them in different directions.  They hold up well to stitching and the weight of adding ribbons and trim.

I'm really happy with my chunky, textured little book and I adore Art Pops by Roben-Marie!



Want some more?  Hop on over to Roben-Marie's blog {HERE} and find out how you can get your own set of Art Pops.  She also has links to some other amazing artists who have put their own spin on Art Pops.  Prepare to have your mind Popped!!!





Paper Paintings

I had the extreme pleasure of taking a class a few months ago with Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson.  If you haven't seen her work, give yourself a treat and go to her online gallery to see her amazing work.  Elizabeth creates collage pictures using papers that she has painted herself.  Being a texture person, I was immediately drawn to the bumpy surface and variety of papers used to create these paper paintings. During her class, she had each student paint a "simple" apple.

Here is my underpainting to start with . . .

And here is the completed project! Very Cool!

I was so inspired by this technique, I just had to try it again.  I started out painting various papers (sheet music, book paper, shopping bags, envelopes, art tissue and rice paper).  I used fluid acrylic then splattered and stamped and swirled designs in the paper. This paper is then torn into pieces and fitted together to cover the underpainting. There is something very relaxing and therapeutic about piecing together these colorful papers - almost like working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I love the process of how these paintings come together.

I decided to venture out a bit from the "simple" apple and paint a couple of little birdies on a wire.  The substrate is a 12x12 wooden cradle, sketched first and then painted for values only. Here's a few examples of the process . . . I {love} how they turned out.

My palette . . .

The underpainting . . .

The background progresses . . .

And the finished project . . .

Warning:  this is a completely addicting project!

Have a great week!


Mixed-Media Essentials Blog Hop!


The highlight of my month has been creating with a brand new rubber stamp set, "Mixed Media Essentials" by Roben-Marie Smith.  I was honored to have been asked to be on her Paper Bag Studios Design Team, and especially to be included with such an amazing group of talented artists (see list below).

When the stamps arrived, I couldn't wait to rip into the package and get busy!  Every design in the pack is so clever and reminds me of random doodles and scratch marks that are so common and useful for a lot of mixed-media artists.


I created several backgrounds and stamped each image over and over, then decided to start thinking outside the box.  My right brain really took over, especially when this guy emerged . . .

I love the whimsical aspect of these stamps and my "work" quickly became "play!"


It was easy to incorporate the stamps into my traditional artwork and I love the whimsy and playfulness of the images.

I love how perfect these images are in the backgrounds of my sketches and paintings.  They are great for creating texture and dimension or as the focal point of the artwork (shown in the tags below). The word stamps, "fly" and "wish" are also from Paper Bag Studios.

I've been thrilled to be included in this design team project and if you just have to have a set of these stamps of your own (and you know you do), you can purchase them from Paper Bag Studios here.

Leave a little love below in the comments section and become eligible to win one of three mixed-media grab-bag kits from Serendipity Studios! I hope you've enjoyed the designs!

Please hop on over to these other artists' blogs to see the amazing things they have created using Roben-Marie's stamps:

April Cole:
Carissa Paige:
Cynthia Shaffer:
Danielle Donaldson:
Jen Osborn:
Kristin Peterson:
Lorraine Bell:
Roben-Marie Smith:
Sandi Keene:



Taking the Zeta for a Spin!

Well, it took some research and a lot of help from facebook friends and artists, but I finally got my hands on a Stillman & Birn Zeta Series Sketchbook.

It arrived earlier in the week and I had to longingly look at without touching while I dauntingly completed my taxes.  As a reward, I got out my colored pencils and odorless mineral spirits and tested it out.  But first I just had to run my hands over the gorgeous, thick paper (180lb!)  It has a smooth surface but somehow Stillman & Birn has managed to create a bit of a tooth.  The paper accepts wet medium well with no warping.  When blending colored pencils, I use quite a bit of odorless mineral spirits. Other sketchbook papers tend to distort a little bit when wet meets surface.  While sketching in this book, I felt like I was spreading butter on hot toast . . . so smooth and creamy!

When creating faces, I add colors in layers starting with a base fleshy tone then adding the cool shadows and the warmer highlights.  This paper accepted layer upon layer and remained easy to work with - no shredding or lifting!

Other benefits to this sketchbook were that I had absolutely no bleeding through, even when applying wet medium on top for highlights - even in the binding!  I have had that problem with other books in the past, but the Zeta seems to absorb the wet medium and is tough enough to take it!  The finish is beautiful and the page behind is just as stable so I can paint right on the back.  I'm looking forward to filling this art journal!

I wholeheartedly recommend the Stillman & Birns Zeta series sketchbook (if you can find one!)  My understanding is that the hardbound and wirebound books will be plentiful and retailers soon!