Quick dose of inspiration

a drive into the countryside

Yesterday I made my way back out into the countryside, an irresistible thing to do this time of year, this time headed northwest of our Queen City to Oxford, where I once spent a few years as a student.  My dear friend, fellow musician, artist and 2013 Taos Sketch Trip participant Astrid invited me to see the remnants of a show brought to Miami University recently by artist and sketcher Prashant MIranda.

fine arts miami

Mr. Miranda “has been chronicling his life and travels through his watercolor journals for the last two decades. He balances his work between the need to document what he sees in front of him and the madness that comes out of his head.”  (quoted from the show’s postcard).  We were disappointed to be made aware of this show and his visit too late to meet the artist himself, but were able to see facsimiles of the pages of some of his books at one of the small galleries.  His approach of chronicling both the seen and the felt, as it were, is familiar to mine and it’s how I approach my own sketchbooks.

prashant 11

prashant 10

The display offered views into a number of his books and I was pleased to see that he doesn’t seem to stick with just one kind of book, but rather mixes it up and jumps between varying kinds of books with different papers.




prashant 8

prashant 7

prashant 6

prashant 5

I do love a creative approach to lettering and there was plenty to be seen in his lovely work.

prashant 4

prashant 3

Real flowers meet drawn flowers in the pages of a journal.

prashant 2

This page below seemed to be a from a repurposed book of some sort.  The effect was to make his drawing that much more time-less, which I believe journal drawings are to begin with.  They at once capture time and move beyond it.

Prashant 1

Astrid and I noticed that while some of Miranda’s drawings were quite involved and specific, others were simply doodled impressions of the moment, and were equally, if not more so, effective in capturing a glimpse of time and space.  The approach to his crowd of brightly dressed people below is an example.  Simple, yet, not so simple really.  I have found that that simplicity comes from years of distillation practice.

prasant 9

If you are anywhere near the Oxford, Ohio area in the next couple of weeks, the show goes until Nov. 12.  And while it is composed of scanned/printed images of his sketchbooks and not the ‘real thing’, they are still lovely to lovely to explore.  I hope to run into Prashant Miranda on a sketch crawl someday on some far flung travels and tell him in person how much I enjoy his journaling work.

If you like the idea of keeping a travel journal and don’t know where to start, or need a jumpstart in your own practice, do consider joining me in Taos, New Mexico, USA, next summer for a week of diving into the Art of Keeping an Illuminated Journal.  Keeping a travel journal is a wonderful lens thru which to view the world, as the work of Mr. Miranda is a fine example!!




on our way

“Try to walk as much as you can, and keep your love for nature, for that is the true way to learn to understand art more and more.  Painters understand nature and love her and teach us to see her.  If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”  ~Vincent Van Gogh

If you have stopped by for a hot cup of coffee or tea with me here in recent days, you may have been met with a seemingly abandoned virtual space that a moment ago had been quite warm and lively.  I assure you, I am back at home here now, and all issues have been resolved.  Change is hard in virtual spaces and now I believe all T’s have been crossed, and I’s have been dotted so that there should be no more interruption.  Suffice it to say, I am deeply grateful for a hosting service that has real human beings who occasionally actually use a telephone to conduct their business.  This is a gift.

“Autumn is coming fast, and that makes nature more serious and intimate still.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

This past weekend we took a small trip into the countryside of eastern Ohio where the Appalachian foothills begin to heave the land.  We have had a lovely bit of autumn here, but knew it could be fleeting.  It was a Sunday, so our Amish friends were tucked away in their Sabbath doings, but reminders to mind our speed on the road were still evident.

Watching out for our Amish driving friends on the road

We started our time there with a quick stop in Locust Grove, Ohio where there is an old fashioned dairy bar where one can grab a bite of lunch for a song.

a small dose of lunchtime junkfood

And across the street from there is a lovely enigmatic seller of special stones, The House of Phacops.

A dose of magic in the country

House of Phacops

We have always been welcomed kindly by the gentleman who runs this establishment.  When the kids were little, there were always little bits of magical quartz to be had that fit nicely in small, eager hands but didn’t ruin the wallet.


On this particular day, we were greeted by one of the shop cats who is gifted with one green eye and one blue eye, which I believe makes her some kind of magical creature.

fossil kitty 1

fossil kitty 2

fossil kitty 4

fossil kitty 3

She rolled and turned over and lolled in the sunshine, as kittens should do on a lovely fall day.

fossils display

The collection of fossils and stones at House of Phacops is known all around for it’s quality and often parts of it can be found on display in other places at Natural History Museums.  Ohio may seem boring to some, but there is evidence just under foot of a long ago sea bed.

But we mustn’t let the day get away from us staring at rocks.  It was time to continue our journey….

long and winding road

quilted barn

Buzzards roost ahead

With our tummies full of Dairy Bar fare we were ready for the real reason for the drive in the first place; the hike up to Buzzard’s Roost Rock, a lovely, none too difficult hike up to one of Ohio’s nicest vistas.  And so we trekked…..

up and up and up

It was an uphill climb much of the way and so it was good to keep my eye to the ground and watch out for little treasures along the way.

tiny shrooms

They were everywhere, as forest gifts are, if we just take the time to seek them out.

tiny shroom


little blooms

mosses 2

At one point, we began to notice ancient boulders, strewn along the path, obviously thrown there by now long forgotten Giant Folk on the ridge top above….

Stones tossed from the top of the ridge by Giants

The ridge

…and yet I kept my eye on the jewels of the forest floor, guessing that no boulders had flown here for many aeons.

jewels on the forest floor

Soon the vistas began to open up and we could see traces of how far up we had actually ventured.

faraway farm

And so we sat to make a sketch or two.

drawing up on the roost

And to look for the Buzzards who surf the thermals just off the cliff face.

searching for buzzards

I did not capture any buzzards with my camera lens, but sometimes a sketchbook is enough.

Amy bogard sketch of buzzards roost

turkey buzzard



This I Believe

today's running path

The other day I went for a run around the green where my garden resides, safe from the deer and ready for this fall’s crop of greens and things.  It was a beautiful, but still too warm, afternoon and I found my thoughts drifting to thoughts of gratitude and abundance.

amberley green pond

I had just received my first batch of 100 postcards to continue spreading the word about the Taos trip.  They came from my go-to deisgn/ print shop folks down in Newport, Kentucky, Otto Printing.  (will link the website when they get it back up and running!!)


As luck would have it, my friend Kim Taylor, musician and actress, had just received her promotional posters for her CD release concert here in town and we spent the day painting the town with our adorable mugs.

Love's a Dog; Come To Taos!

It can be a bit disconcerting to do the whole self promotion thing, it always has been for me at least.  And yet, with two artists doing it together, it wasn’t as bad.  It’s just what we have to do if we want our work to succeed and see the light of day.  It was a bit like throwing wildflower seeds to the wind.  With a bit of that same wind in my sails, I then sent a few messages out onto the interwebs to see about getting the word out in other arenas I may not have tapped.  And I was overjoyed at the “yes”‘s I received from my fellow bloggers and online sketch-community members.

So then I went on that run at the green and I began to hear a bit of manifesto-talk in my head based on my experiences that day….

I believe there is room for more and more art in the world; that there can never be enough creativity, no matter how seemingly small.  I believe there is room in the world for more and more artists and their work, be they professionals or those who do it just for fun.  I believe that each artist’s ‘voice’ (be it musical, visual or otherwise) is important and worth nurturing and sharing.  Art is important. 

These beliefs run as a current through my work with Illuminated Journaling.  When I am working regularly in my own visual diary, things seem to make more sense to me.  I see connections between things over time which might have gone unnoticed had they not been jotted down as a quote, a thought, a little drawing of something I found interesting or beautiful.  My pages aren’t necessarily always pretty and even when they are pretty, they aren’t perfect.  And I like that.  I’ve learned so much in the pages of my own journals and that is why I began teaching the process (after many, many, many nudges from admirers of my years of doodling and collecting the evidence of my life’s journey.)

And as I ran, with my quiet snippets of manifesto rippling like waves through my mind, I was filled to the brim with gratitude.  I’m thankful for Kim, who has taught me so much about just Doing the Work – no. matter. what.  And for Danny Gregory, who along with Dan Price, was my first glimpse into what could be done in an illuminated journal outside of what I had been timidly accomplishing for years in my own little books.  Their beautiful work opened my eyes and challenged me to learn more and push the boundaries of my own pages – and my life.  I’m thankful for my port-in-the-storm husband Tony who offers me a different perspective on a daily basis and has become quite the sketch artist himself in recent years. For Julie, who along with Tony, is a crucial part of my Taos team, helping me make a go of next year’s trip grass-roots style!!  For new friends and followers in the twitterverse, facebookland and beyond, particularly Maitri at Dragonfly Cottage who make the online world a better and brighter place with their artful approach to life and work.  I could go on and on and on…..

My first batch of postcards didn’t last long.  30 of them are on route to Taos, being hand carried by Julie for delivery to Mabel’s and to Jody for distribution out there.  I gave a handful to Jo Diamantes, a three year Taos trip participant, amazing book artist and all around wonderful gal when I met her at her most recent art show (more on that here in a bit…) And then the mail arrived with a small paycheck for the sale of this little lovely:


So I ordered a second batch of postcards which will find their way to California, Maine, Wisconsin, Washington and beyond.  This has all felt like riding the perfect wave, a little dose of magic.

Artists need other artists.  The world needs more artists.  Everyone is some form of an artist.  We should all take an opportunity to see more art, make more art, live more artfully.

I met up with Jo yesterday at Mount Saint Joseph’s beautiful gallery for the Cincinnati Book Arts Society fall show.

cincinnati book arts show 

I only got a couple of snapshots of the show, so to get the full scope of it, you should just go see it if you are anywhere near this region.  But here’s a little taste….

There were a few of what we consider ‘normal’ books….

A few books

Along with some more sculptural interpretations.

book of thornw

And even a throwback to the time of scroll keeping.

The whole nine yards

It was all very inspiring.  As one who works in books as a primary chunk of my work, I have a fondness for the book arts.

Next up, I am off this weekend to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  A home away from home up on the inland sea of Lake Michigan.  Here I will visit my dear friend and fellow artist Michelle Miller Jorgensen who is expanding her artfulness to the stage.  Her most recent play is Steel Magnolias.  I can’t wait to see it!  LIke so many artists I know, Michelle is following her nose as to what the next creative act may be.  This is how we artists stay awake and alive.  If you are looking to expand your own creativity, if you need to spend a week in an inspiring place soaking up the inter-artist magic I’ve written about today, consider joining me next June in Taos New Mexico.  I look forward to hearing from you!!