Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Varied Style of Art

Now that I have more time for art I am trying out different techniques and styles. It seems every art magazine or book I pick up, every art blog I explore and every youtube art video I watch sparks new inspiration. So many materials and so many styles. Right now I am focusing on three particular styles.

The first is the art journal style of Vicky Papaioannou using a moleskin sketchbook and various techniques and materials as a tissue paper background covered with a gesso wash, distress paints or gelatos to color the background and art stamps for the focal point image. Quotes or feelings become the launch pad for layouts.

The second style I've been exploring you've seen here before and that's creating paper doll layouts using Julie Nutting stamps. These layouts can also be part of art journaling since the ideas and quotes can reflect what's going on inside my heart and soul.

The background in this layout is a very light pink and doesn't pick up when scanned and the ground is more green than it appears here. I wasn't satisfied with the stamping in the quote but it's all a journey toward better workmansip and more creativity.

The last style is a mixed media canvas. I've done these before but I'm coming up with more ideas and a more focused style for these art pieces.

I used gelatos to color the flowers and really liked the way they blend and their creamy consistency. Definitely a medium I will continue to use.

This is definitely a stage of art experimentation. I'm up for the challenges and accepting of the mistakes which are part of the process. Even those layouts or canvases that don't come out the way I want are fun to create. Because it's not about perfection it's about improving and loving what I do!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Today is my first day of full retirement! Working two days a week since July I have had a taste of the free life and now I can eat the whole pie! There are many different art media and techniques I want to try on my way to developing my own style and possibly starting to sell some of my art. I still want to work on a technique to incorporate art with poetry because if I don't find a way I might have to re-title this blog--The Artsy Crafter.

Right now I have switched from doing those art journal pages to a new way to journal using quotes I find in magazines and paper doll art.

I'll play around with several ideas for awhile until I land on something I can develop into my own signature and see if poetry can be a part of it.

In the meantime I will take some time to relax and enjoy my new found freedom while making art, sipping tea or wine, sitting and walking in the crisp autumn sunshine, and generally just enjoying myself and creating!

Friday, October 16, 2015


A lot of people I know dislike autumn because it makes them depressed. Everything around them seems to be dying--the flowers wither, the leaves turn brown and fall to the earth leaving naked branches crooked as an old woman's fingers. Bird flee for warmer temperatures in the south and a variety of animals seek refuge and restoration beneath the earth. But much as I hate the winter that follows, to me autumn is a season of joy and renewal.

Maybe it's because most of my life I have either been a student, a teacher or a mom sending her children off to a new and exciting school year, but autumn says new beginnings to me and it is my favorite time of year. It might also have something to do with being born in September so fall is when my own physical life began, but that's too metaphysical for me to ponder amid the flourishes of such brightly colored leaves, clear blue skies, warm sunshine and cool breezes. 

I'm also feeling fresh and ready for new beginnings as I have only 2 more days of work before I am fully retired! I waited years to be retired and have time to write. I have a new poetry collection that just came back from an editor ready for me to dive into. I am also starting a new collection of connected short stories. But writing still seems to sleep on the periphery despite these projects ready and waiting for me.

Art journaling has taken over my creative time, particularly art journal layouts using the supplies and techniques shown on Vicky Papaioannou's youtube tutorials. She is amazing and her layouts, cards and tags sing with joy and color! I have come to love working in moleskine sketchbooks. I like their size and the heavy pages.

I had this idea to do a layout using an owl image and the concept of wisdom. It seemed to fit neatly into the idea of that huge yellow-golden harvest moon that appears this time of year. This was fun to do. Originally I used gelatos for the background but it came out too light. I needed a deeper blue but without going to black. I sprayed the pages with some Dylusions spray ink in dark blue and black and it darkened it but was too dark. I took a roll of paper towels and rolled it over the whole layout and voila it turned out perfectly. One of those happy little mistakes all artists make.

Since I love fall and we are still in the midst of this glorious and colorful season I was prompted to do another layout using this cornucopia image from a cocktail napkin. Since autumn is my time for new beginnings and starting over I saw the cornucopia as a symbol of the abundance that awaits us all if we just open our eyes to the possibilities that surround us.

We took a trip to the wineries yesterday and stopped at a farm stand where I bought apples to make an apple crisp and beets to roast in the oven. I am embracing autumn and hoping to make it linger a while before the snows come!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Monday, September 14, 2015


Life has finally settled down and I am returning to my roots.I'm still working 2 days a week but only till mid October and then I will be completely free. Having 5 days a week to follow my heart has been a blessing.

I've been doing a lot more art and pretty much have become obsessed with it. Here is my latest art journal page following some techniques from Vicky Papaioannou. I am addicted to her youtube videos and watch them constantly--of course taking time out to apply the techniques to my own art.

I feel that art is part of my roots as I loved it as a child but in other ways I am returning to other things I love as well. For instance I've cooked dinner twice in the past week! Sounds like a little thing, but my husband Frank is the chef and while I was working he cooked every night. Now I am slowly going back to the kitchen and I love the earthiness of fresh foods and the meditative process of cooking, mixing, chopping and making a pile of ingredients turn into something yummy--kind of what I do with art materials!

Another odd change I'm making is in the tea I drink. For years I've been an imbiber of herbal and specialty teas but now I am going back to my old Tetley tea habit. I just feel very grounded now and am looking forward to having all my time to do the homey and artistic things I enjoy with no stress.

And so, as the art piece above says, "a cup of tea and a good book" is a wonderful pleasure and so I will return to mine.

Till next time--have fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Setting Myself Free

This world is a huge canvas of the most beautiful art. It seduces me, inspires me, calms me and makes me want to fly free!

I believe we each have a well of artistic sensitivity within us and we are obligated to seek it out and nurture it so that it blossoms into what it is meant to be. For me I am deep into the discovery of what my artistic style will become. I'm trying out and learning about all kinds of media such as paint, drawing, collage, colored pencil and lettering. It's a long and serene learning process and I am loving the time I have now to explore and grow as an artist--something I never thought myself capable of. provides enough streaming videos to learn any kind of media and be introduced into the variety of materials out there that an artist can use to create masterpeices. As I learn more and more, I am able to view my own art and see where the mistakes are, or where something needs to be deepened or tweaked and now I know of some ways to do that. I'm feeling much more confident as an artist but there is still much to learn.

Today I completed a new art journaling page that expresses what I feel right now--that we each need to find our personal soul-song and set it free in whichever creative path intrigues us. 

Here is the new page.

And now off to create something new!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, August 7, 2015


What a lovely day we've had. 

We awoke to cool breezes and clean air and a serenade of birdsong. Enjoyed a yummy breakfast of French toast and then took a walk in the morning air, fresh and invigorating.

After that we drove to Barnes and Noble and had a second cup of coffee while browsing art and cooking magazines. Feasts for the eyes and the creative spirits that dwell inside us.

At home I went about completing two collages I began yesterday. I worked on canvas boards, one 8X10 and one 5X7. I created backgrounds by collaging scraps of coordinated scrapbook papers and then painting over them.

For this piece I used a faom brayer to apply the paint and then stenciled and stamped some designs to integrate everything. I added a copyright free image from one of the Dover design books that you can get online.

I started this piece with the same collage method then used an art sponge to add paint. I stenciled some leafy vines and flowers to bring it together. Because art in itself brings out the child in me I returned to my love of paper dolls and used ideas and techniques from Julie Nutting's book "Collage Couture."

I added butterflies and some flower stickers. Not too happy with the face, but no worries. I live and learn. I will definitely be making more pieces like this. I think I'm in love with the process tedious as making the doll and the dress may be, it's slow work and meditative. A little background jazz rounds out the day!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Monday, August 3, 2015


Blending my two passions of art and poetry is a challenge as well as a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Right now I am reworking some poems into haiku that I can incorporate in my art. I'm also experimenting with different color combinations--some dark and think, others bright and light. The piece here originated with a poem I wrote for my next poetry collection:


Stones crunch and shift beneath my feet
Along the path that hugs the curves of shoreline.
The black ruffled surface of the river
Throws off silver reflections of sunlight
Diamonds scattered by a distraught lover.

The white heron wades in the mud
His slender beak
Stabs at unsuspecting insects
Emerging from winter’s frozen den.

Memories slip between the breezes
Remind me pain is transient
Fading in time
Like the ripe color of this fallen leaf.

I took the middle stanza and honed it down to a viable haiku. I really have worked this image over a number of times to get a poem I could live with. It so fascinating to go to the arboretum and watch the heron wading through the banks of the river, or into the water to go fishing.

I began with a lovely blank white page of my watercolor art journal and added pastel colors with stencils and collaged a few pieces of tissue paper. I used a script stamp to get some detail into the background. I made the heron with a stencil and molding paste and gesso.

 I'm looking forward to creating more art and poetry like this and hopefully an altered board book of haiku and art. I'm also looking forward to seeing your comments and thoughts on my process.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese