Category Archives: Change and Transformatiom

The Larger Life in Christ

For just a moment, imagine that you are at the entrance of a circus tent. Your curiosity grows. The colorful tent and surrounding signs bring a smile to your face. You hear excited children running past and smell the hay on the ground around you. You feel the pull of the big tent and the impending thrill of seeing tight-rope walkers, dancing elephants, and lion-tamers. Very exciting, right?

And in many ways, creating an art journaling page based on a circus design layout relies on creating visual excitement using enlarged images, bright bold colors, and big text elements. I like that it is called a circus layout because the whole point of the design is to make the art journaling page fun and delightful! It differs in distinct ways from the lined and blocked layout of a Mondrian design (of previous Unit 2) as the circus layout allows greater freedom in how and where you place your lines, text, and images.

In this unit, I will share with you the secrets of a circus design layout.  We will examine the visual elements involved and then use the circus design to create your art journal entry based on a verse from the Old Testament.

The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength.

Psalm 138:3 (The Message)

There is no doubt about it, living a life of social distancing, face coverings, and stay at home mandates requires a special type of inner strength. I think most will agree that, at times, living life at a distance can be very challenging and sometimes lonely.

The psalmist tells us, however, that you are not alone! And how you decide to work through the frustrations does not have to remain a mystery. You see, as a new creature in Christ, that strength or resolve to work through feelings of being alone is promised to you. In fact, one key to your spiritual growth, among others, is not only acknowledging the source of this inward strength but going the next step and relying on it for every situation you face. Let’s take a closer look at the verse from Psalm 138, King David writes: The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength. (The Message)

Take your time. Think about it. As you read the verse, which of the words or phrases seem to “pop off” the page or catch your attention:

  • You calling out to God?
  • God stepping in?
  • Realizing that you are never alone?
  • God making your life larger with a stronger inner resolve?
  • Living a meaning and purpose despite the face coverings, distancing and social mandates?

Once you recognize what is important or meaningful to you in that verse, ask yourself: Did any images or words flash through your mind? What images and words will you include on your art journaling page? Write them down.

Now, let’s get going…

An art journaling page that uses a circus layout is all about large! Large text. Large images. Large blots of color. These elements connect on your art journal page to visually express your inner awareness of life. That is, once you put all the pieces together, you will be able to step back and see clearly the concrete and unique connection to God’s Spirit in your life. Although many struggle with expressing that connection, there is an easy way using 5 steps to accomplish this feat.

First, fill the whole page with either a circus tent shape or a happy bright sun with rays theme. Here’s one hand drawn example with steps 1 – 3:

Don’t worry if it the lines are not perfect. You will use each space to fill with images, color, and text.

Adding big bold color spaces in Step 4.

Step 4. Select a space and fill it in with a word, image, or color that you previously wrote down during your time of meditation. For example, I imagined that, like the Lord, I want my inner man to be strong: a heavy weightlifter lifting barbells. So, I’ll begin by filling in my backdrop with strong bright colors and large text (strength and courage) then place a large image of a heavy weightlifter in the foreground in front of the sunburst. Pretty easy and cool, right?

The colors I chose are the colors of the fictional Wonder Woman character. Her outfit uses ruby, blue, and gold. The colors suggest a brighter and braver world. I’ll use ruby and gold for the sunburst and blue for the weightlifter.

How ‘bout you? What are your three favorite colors? If you’d like to find out more about colors in the Bible, Jacob Olesen’s website will give you a good  starting point for your research.

Adding large type text in Step 4.

Before adding the figure in the foreground, I placed the words courage and strength in large capital letters to fill the space above the ball shape of the sun. I placed them at an angle to each other to suggest movement and excitement. I chose white as the text color as if the letters had been “etched out” of the background.

The secret to the circus layout is: big and bold.

Step 5. Add your selected image to the foreground. You can draw in a figure with pen, crayon, or acrylic paint. You can also choose to find an image from a magazine and then paste it in. In this step, I found a clipart silhouette from online creative commons and then resized it to fit the image frame.

Try a different visual theme with Psalm 138:3 “The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength,” and see what new surprising results you can achieve.

Change the colors and see what happens. Does it make you feel happy? Does it give a deeper insight into the type of large connected life God wants for you?

The circus layout allows a freedom of expression especially when art journaling. Add this along with the Mondrian inspired page design to your art journaling toolbox and you have two very powerful visual art communication tools at your fingertips. Use them this week to start your daily journaling time. Find out what God has in store for you!

Looking forward to Unit 4 and trying out the Multipanel page design for your next art journaling page!

Dr. Buck / Visual Communication Artist-at-hand / Christian Life Coach / As God gets bigger in our lives–we get stronger!

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The Work of Your Hands

“I like the idea of art journaling” noted Carla in her recent online group post. But like many of the new members to the bible journaling group, she wasn’t sure where to begin. She explained “I look at the blank journal page and remain clueless.”

I could sense the exasperation in Carla’s posting. She went on to write, “Most times, I just tear the page out and feel frustrated. Any suggestions?”

And Carla is not alone in her feelings about journaling or any creative endeavor. Many of my students over the years expressed the same sentiments. And when returning to college in my mid-30’s, I also faced formidable hurdles. Like Hans Christian Anderson’s ugly duckling, I had yet to realize my true skills, calling, and giftings. I felt only the awkwardness of being among other learners that were somehow similar but different than me. Under the direction of my design instructors, however, I would soon learn the language of graphic design, adopt the tools, and begin my conversation and connection with the visual world around me.

Knowing what I know now, at 70 years of age, I want to share with you one of the tools that made life easier for me as a developing visual communication artist and, today, remains a go-to guide when beginning any new layout project like an art journaling page. It is easy and quick and will get you beyond the first unnerving creative stage with which most visual artists struggle—the blank page.

To quickly conquer the space of an empty art journaling page requires a guide or tool that can aid you in setting the necessary visual boundaries. Thankfully, graphic design offers a way to approach your blank journal page with six different types of well-established and acknowledged page layout designs. Each one has its own visual appeal. And, over the next six weeks, I will describe, explain, and explore each of them with you as we layout selected text from the Bible. The six layouts include: 1) Mondrian; 2) Circus; 3) Multipanel; 4) Silhouette; 5) Big Type; and 6) Alphabet Inspired.

In this unit, let’s take a look at the first of the page layouts. This layout is based on the work of the artist Piet Mondrian. He was a Dutch painter and theoretician. And according to Wikipedia, is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. In his later work, he used simple geometric elements such as the line and square to guide his work and to express his concern with the nature and appreciation of beauty.

As you can see from the example below, Mondrian relied on the space that his lines created as they intersected each other. He carefully filled his spaces with bright bold colors.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

If you apply his work to your art journaling page, it acts as a great starting place. Any or all of the blocks can be filled with colors, images, photos, hand drawings, anything glue-able, along with text. Animation can be incorporated for online or virtual display. Kind of, cool, right?

So, let’s take a closer look at the Mondrian type of page layout design and then try it out for yourself! As you prepare your journal page for this type of layout, take your pencil, pen, or marker, and lay down some lines. (For this exercise draw 4 vertical lines from top to bottom and 3 horizontal line from left to right). You can use a ruler, if you like, but free hand is just as good.

Remember it’s your journal and your creative expression will be unique. For a demonstration, watch the video for Unit 2 posted on the Art Journaling Workshop Group as well as the storefront pages at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/679452726298555/ or https://www.facebook.com/LivingLifesWay.

Once you get your lines down, take a moment to rest and enjoy your creation. Don’t get in a hurry; this is an important moment. Allow God’s Holy Creative Spirit to stir your inner creative spirit; this is one of many ways that you can co-create together.

Example of Mondrian Freehand Grid Layout

Most importantly, be accepting of your individuality. The Book of Ephesians (2:10) tells us that as new creatures in Christ “…we are God’s handiwork….” You have been made by God in an incredibly special way with a particular mix of gifts, skills, and abilities. Let God’s light shine through and on those giftings as you use the works of your hands and meditation of your heart to glorify Him. Think about the following verse and what it means to you personally:

Therefore, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature, old things have passed away; behold, all things are made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV Personalized)

DIRECTIONS Step 1. Draw four vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines. Step 2. Pick three colors and fill in three separate boxes that your lines created. Step 3. In another space, write the words: New Creature. Step 4. Fill in as many or few of the boxes with old photos, different colors, and thoughts–whatever comes to your mind. How ’bout a selfie? It’s your choice. Allow your creative spirit to feel the free flow of expression.

You can also use the empty spaces to write in any insights that you gained as you meditated on the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17. You are God’s design specially laid out for His good works.

Last step? date and sign your art journaling page. Now, share your design and thoughts on our workshop page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/679452726298555/ . If you have any questions, you can email me at: artjournalingworkshop@outlook.com

Looking forward to Unit 3 and discovering the Circus layout!

Dr. Buck / Visual Communication Artist-at-hand / Christian Life Coach / As God gets bigger in our lives–we get stronger!

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Getting Ready

In my thinking, there is nothing better than crayons and a piece of art paper. The smell of the crayon always brings back the best of memories and the feel of art paper is genuine and satisfying to the touch. Both sit in my art room at eye level and both remind me that they are but simple yet essential tools for turning imagination into concrete creations.

Over 25 years of training transformed me into a visual communication artist. I am trained to evaluate both raw sensory data and human perception. I find that the need to communicate visually covers a wide range of interests, peoples, and venues–art history, design fundamentals and history, philosophy, film critique, photography, human behavior, curatorship, and journalism. My 3 favorites? graphic design, photography, and Christian life.

Basic Art Journal tools: Color, Glue, and Paper

Throughout my transformation, my artist toolbox continued to grow. And for a while, I put aside the tradition pencil, paper, and glue to be captured by the emerging digital world of art and technical artistry. As it happened, in the early ‘90’s, I taught my first Adobe Photoshop 1.0 class as a teaching assistant,. 

Later, advanced studies broadened my visual communication toolbox even further with research, with theories, and perspectives. In this online workshop and seminar, I will share with you the ones that proved in many ways most interesting as well as rewarding.

My workshops and seminars are offered on both an individual and small group basis. On this page, you will find short descriptions along with links for both the free and paid courses that are designed to engage your creative spirit and spark your imagination. Whether you are a hobbyist or emerging Christian professional, I hope that you enjoy the offerings and share the links with others.

ML Buck, PhD / Visual Communication Artist / Christian Life Coach

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Stronger than Lions

With this post, I am extending an exclusive invitation to Christian women to come with me on a 12-week digital journey. The destination? A place where journaling, visual communication, and your inner artistic spirit intersect. If you are a younger woman just starting out on your life’s journey and seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, this place is created with you in mind.

Starting Tuesday, September 29, 2020, my Facebook page will open as a meeting place. This is a place where we can gather for the purpose of art journaling, for sharing creative thoughts, and expressing God’s goodness through the works of our hands.

The goal of the workshop is singular: to challenge you with a journaling prompt based on a Bible verse. It provides a time to reflect, rethink, build, and strengthen the gifts, skills, and abilities God has given you. It offers a place to receive encouragement, to look beyond the visible in practical tangible ways, to become stronger than lions in your Christian walk. Perhaps, more importantly, it can be the place where your life’s calling and purpose comes into sharpened focus.

It all begins with a weekly Bible verse prompt. During the 12 weeks you will be able to share your thoughts in the comments area. I find that just the simple act of sharing with others oftentimes breaks the chains of anxiety and worry that hold back creative work. And, I make it fun and easy by focusing in on just 3 areas of interest: people, places, and pets.

In addition to the workshop’s prompts and comments, every week through December I will illustrate, explain, design and create using techniques from the field of visual communication arts. These techniques are great no matter your level of experience. The techniques are also great for working through any creative mental blocks and keeping the artistic flow moving.

At the beginning of each week, I will use this blog (Living Life’s Way) to share my thoughts and provide a starting point for our discussions and creative work. As time allows, I will also include a link to a YouTube demonstrating a mixed media technique that you can try out for yourself. Of course, as the Spirit leads, we can always Zoom and meet !

This 12-week workshop is based on my training in communication arts, education, life experiences and ministry calling. My undergraduate work was in television and radio broadcasting which along with my advanced degrees shape the work that I do today as a 180 advisor or consultant. (You can read about the latest ministry development in my previous post: Knocking on Heaven’s Door). Teaching is my life’s calling and ministry gift. It does have a touch of serendipity, so I enjoy it greatly and am very thankful that God has allowed this open door as part of my Christian life coaching ministry.

Over the last forty years, God has refined my purpose and calling. He used the many art awards my work received to draw my attention, to lead, and guide me through my life’s journey. My work has been displayed, published, purchased, printed, and copied. I still have my first piece using 2 pieces of construction paper, scissors, and glue. It is an amazingly simple piece and I keep it to remind me that most times simpler is better.

I hope you give this 12-week workshop much thought and accept the challenge as a young woman in Christ toward developing a deeper richer Christian life using art journaling. I pray that the work of your hands be blessed and increase.  And may God use this workshop and our time together to reveal, to establish, and bring to focus His purpose and calling in your life.

Put the date on your calendar now–9/29/20! And, share this invitation with your best girlfriends. All are welcome. And remember: As God gets bigger in our life, we get stronger!

Dr. Buck / Christian Life Coach / 180 Advisors

Please note that no previous art or writing experience is required to join this workshop. To get started, all you need is a computer and access to the Internet. A cell phone camera will come in handy to record and upload your work to Facebook.

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Knocking on Heaven’s Door

A few months ago, our Pastor encouraged us to think about ways of how the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate could be a blessing. He suggested that God could and would open a door of opportunity for anyone that asked.

As I sat before my laptop screen listening to his message, I felt a nudge inside of me. I wondered if it were possible or even appropriate for a 70-year-old retired professor of communication arts to even consider such a challenge.

The thoughts came: What would a door of opportunity look like? What would it sound like? Who and what would be on the other side of that door? Oddly, the thoughts made me nervous and yet excited. With raised eyebrows, I questioned: Was this challenge really meant for me?

Six months later, I am now a 180 Advisor and Virtual Learning Coach. I am glad that I accepted our Pastor’s challenge. The challenge, however, was not without an inner fight and resulted in many a long nights, bleary eyes, and weary bones.

Perhaps, it’s best to start with telling you what a 180 Advisor is and what it is not. A 180 Advisor is not a pyramid scheme, a swindler’s dream or confidence game. Rather, I find it to be an activity involving both extreme mental and physical efforts. It can draw both the best and worst out of me, so, keeping my eyes open and catching myself from the temptation of bulldozing others out of my way remains high on my must-remember-to-do list.

The name 180 Advisor came from John, my daughter’s beau. John’s work involves helping businesses through financial crisis. He told me that there exists a huge difference between a 360 degree and a 180-degree turn. One leaves you going in the same dizzy direction headed toward crisis whereas the other, 180, means a turnabout, a shift, a complete change in the direction and thought in which one is engaged. I adopted the name immediately and asked his permission to become one of his 180 agents. John agreed.

This excitement helped to balance the anxiety that had recently crept in as the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate had closed all my avenues of social interaction. Our library volunteer manager wrote an exceptionally long and sad goodbye as the City closed our library’s doors. My Homeowners Owners Association banned all public meetings. The distance to my family and neighbors’ homes grew longer with the passing of each day. And, although, the broadcasted public announcements continually reassured me that I was not alone and that separation did not mean isolation, I could not help feeling I was on my own.

It was in this gradually growing state of mindfulness that I answered my cell phone on that early April morning. The person on the other side of the phone greeted me with her familiar term of endearment “My sister,” and went on to ask: “how are you? I was wondering if you had time to talk.” And talk we did. And I’m glad we did. I still have the notes I took during our conversation about teaching and teachers and developing online training because of COVID-19 and the need to shift from classroom instruction to online using computers and the Internet. The pivot was shaking the field education like a 6.0 earthquake.

A few weeks ago, I gave my first online Zoom presentation to a university in Florida. It went very well. I felt like a 180 Advisor—that I am making a difference. And, best of all, I have been invited back next month to provide additional faculty training in online pedagogical practices for educators. This was not an opportunity that I could have foreseen. It is, however, a personal turnaround for which I am grateful and thank God for opening this door of engagement. I had forgotten most of my training in education and so it forced me to reconnect to theory and to practice and, most importantly, people.

In addition to my consulting work, I am also opening a new series of art on my Art Journaling Facebook page connected to my blog here at Living Life’s Way. Over the last seventy years, I’ve learned a lot about life and the 3P’s—people, places, and pets. And, apparently, a need exists for older Christian women sharing life experiences with younger women in those areas! — (we’ll talk more about that later).

The opening verse is taken from Philippians 1:11 (TLB). “May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.”

My hope is that younger women everywhere can learn from both my successes as a new creature in Christ as well as the hard-earned lessons from my missteps as God’s new creation.

God’s blessings and peace!

Dr. Buck / 180 Advisor / Virtual Learning Coach

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The Heart of a Family

heartNot too long ago, I posted a text message to thirteen of my immediate family members. The text included a simple greeting and acknowledged the challenge of living with heart disease. The text message read:

…as you already know, some of our family members regretfully suffer with heart conditions. Heart disease is known to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The disease is currently rated as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It affects all ages but particularly adults according to researchers at Cedars Sinai Hospital, Beverly Hills, California.

Based on my 20 years of training as a researcher, I would like to share with you some of the information I found concerning heart disease: trends, care, and current treatment protocols. I will provide informational links from top ranked medical centers and other related agencies over the next few weeks on my Facebook social media page.

I believe that knowledge is power. I pray that this knowledge will help us better understand the disease and support those affected by it.

As my family continues to face the challenge of a life-threatening disease, my hopes are reinforced and strengthened through our love for each other and our confidence in God. A confidence revealed through a gentle word or embrace, a home cooked meal or encouraging phone call. As my older sister often remarks: Dear Christ have mercy on us as we try to be of help.

The following link may be of general interest to many and sets a foundational footing for the information on heart disease that will follow over the next few weeks.

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/video-library/video-detail/c/coronary-artery-disease-risk-factors-and-prevention.html

Mb/11/2019

 

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Found Treasure

Xmas2018The first sign of Christmas holidays began a few weeks ago. The temperature dipped, sweaters and jackets worn, and colorful light displays hung. Directly across the walkway, my neighbors had finished decorating their courtyard with strings of lights swirled around two of their palm trees. Blinking lights hugged the framework of windows and doorways. The holidays had arrived.

Last year, I spent most of the holidays at my brother’s house enjoying turkey, gravy, stuffing, a fresh apple pie, and decorations.He’s received several city awards acknowledging the beauty, design and layout of his Christmas-themed lighted yard. My favorite was the electronic mailbox that opened by itself revealing a letter addressed to baby Jesus. It was regarded as the best display by most of the neighbors and their kids.

This year, I made the decision to spend the holidays at home, put up some decorations, and, when possible, avoid public travel. I chose to go minimalist this year with decorations. I wanted to create a small display in my kitchen area that celebrated family and friends. My creative engine started to engage. Handmade decorations? Green and red floral cutouts? Glittered paper balls? Gold papered garland?

As I looked through the bins of decorative papers, paints, stencils, and wrapping accessories, I noticed a red, shoe-sized box in the guest bedroom closet. It was a box that had followed me through the various apartments, rented houses and rented rooms over the past ten years. I was surprised that it had made the trip and all the wanderings with such little wear and tear!

With the box open and sitting on the guest bed, I pulled out the items one by one. The cardboard container was full of old Christmas cards and letters sent to me by family, friends, students, and colleagues. The senders wished me well. Some of the cards described in short fashion the joy, the work, or the interests that we had shared between us.

Each card was a reminder of a special and unique relationship. My first-cousin sent his best wishes the Christmas before he passed. Colleagues sent family updates after we graduated from our doctorate program. Family sent photos and annual news letters. My daughter celebrated moving into our new place. And, my son sent a picture of an alpaca from a farm they had visited just before the holidays. There were many more cards filled with holiday cheer from friends and church members I’d come to know. My smile grew broader with each found treasure. I decided to string the cards like garland across my patio sliding door. Without a doubt, the holidays had arrived!

Yesterday morning, sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee in hand, I watched as the garland of cards sparkled in the morning light. And, I did not hesitate in my answer to: What did I learn this week? I learned that love holds up throughout the years; the cards acted as a reminder.

And, in response to the lesson I learned this week, I wanted to create a special greeting to honor all of the well wishes sent to me. I am also very grateful to all who sent their greetings of joy over the years and kept me in their prayers. God bless you greatly. Thank you for sharing your love with me.

Additionally, I wanted to try my hand at a mixed media project. The pencil drawing at the top of this post is a thumbnail of the concept. Below is the completed mixed media journal entry with text. The title of the piece is: Found Treasure. The theme is celebrating Christ and love.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good year! Mb

xmas-card

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A Walk with Kingsley

A week before Thanksgiving holiday, I received an unexpected knock at my front door. It was Charles, a neighbor who lived just one courtyard over to my west.  As I opened my door, I noticed that he  held a dog leash loosely in his hand along with a small disposable waste bag. Kingsley, his small cocker spaniel companion dog, however, was absent from his side.

“I’m going on vacation,” said Charles with a squinted look of anxiety mixed with anticipation in his eyes, “and wondered if you might be interested in sitting Kingsley.”

“Yes, of course,” I replied excitedly, “I’m available Saturday early afternoon before the holiday. Would that work?”

Dog sitting has been a hobby that I’ve enjoyed as I’ve gotten older. As a young girl and later young woman, however, dog sitting was not always my top choice of things to do. I had been bitten as a young girl of  7. I did not know the dog; it was a stranger; and so was I. During a visit, the dog snuck up from behind me and sank its fangs into the back of my left thigh.

Not much attention was given to the bite as it was a neighbor’s dog, not a deep bite, and the bleeding stopped after a few minutes. Once home, my mom washed it out with soap and water, applied a bandage, and kissed my forehead then sent me on my way. Although inspected, cleaned, bandaged, and comforted, the bite continued to be sore for sometime. I’ve never quite got over the animals first response to me and my inability to clearly communicate.

What I noticed immediately about Kingsley, however, was that he was not the type of dog that used his teeth as first response to strangers. I was glad to learn that he liked fur brushing and petting better. Our first walk together went very well, however, I learned that his second defense was stubbornness.

As we walked together, I in lead position, Kingsley followed behind me by three steps. We walked well together until I passed the first small bush to my right. At this point, he stalled. “Come on, Kingsley. Come on, good boy!” I said gently with a short quick snap of the leash. He replied by sitting, front paws dug into the ground beneath him.

Kingsley had gotten it into his mind that he was on his own. Freedom had made him stubborn. The garden had become his kingdom. I tried to reign him in with a few clicks of my tongue. Evidently, tongue clicking was not in his vocabulary. For despite the many times as I clicked, there simply was no response except for the strong pull on his leash to the right.

“Come on, Kingsley. Come on, boy!” I said with a slightly quicker and stronger tug. Kingsley remained distracted; he had forgotten that our original plan was to walk around the gated community of approximately a quarter mile. Although it took several tries to communicate with Kingsley my desire, he eventually showed himself as a smart and gentle animal.

Through our walks together that week, I learned that like Kingsley, there are those things around me that can distract, detour, and even disturb me from my objective. Some distractions are lovely: the smell of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the birds; these should be especially appreciated when life seems to be racing. And then again, some distractions should be simply ignored.

Once Kingsley realized that I was communicating my need to move along, I was very thankful for having him at my side; it was like having a good friend and companion. After Charles picked him up, I wanted to do a mixed media project that would present the wonder of a walk with a good companion.

What does companionship look like, what does it feel like? I’ll use one of my monoprints as a background; add some pattern and texture; an object; and, see if I can capture the element of companionship that only a dog like Kingsley can offer. The title of this piece is: A Walk With Kingsley. The theme is companionship in life. The thumbnail at top of page is a rough draft of concept. Here is the journal entry with text:

 

Mb

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