photo 5


You are used to seeing quick drawings of dogs here on this blog, as they are the creatures nearest at hand, and I am comfortable drawing them.  Whether lying still in their beds, or romping around the house or yard, they are just fun to doodle.  People, on the other hand, are difficult to draw, at least for me.  I am reminded of my failures in drawing class (so acutely brought to my attention by a haughty graduate student who may have been a decent artist but had much to learn about teaching).  And so usually, I will admit to avoiding drawing people.  There is so much more to the world, yes?

But yesterday a wonderful opportunity came around that I couldn’t resist.  The folks at Modern Makers have been creating little sparks of magic all over town lately, bringing art out into the community, breaking down traditional silos that exist between different avenues of art.  Dance and Draw was the latest of these events where the Cincinnati Ballet had a few of their dancers on hand for artists young and old to observe, draw, sketch, photograph.  No fancy costumes, just some music and the beautiful, graceful lines and shapes created by the bodies of these amazing dancers.

ballet 3




We drew them while they warmed up and then they performed a few basic* routines for us. (*basic to them, extraordinary to us)

ballet 2


The event was extremely well attended by artists of all ages.


sketchers 3


My friend and fellow sketching devotee, Christina Wald went with me and we sketched and sketched and sketched….


sketchers 2


My nerves over drawing people soon melted away into the gesture drawings of the dancers.  They weren’t holding poses, just moving.  At this point, it’s the job of the artist to capture the essence of these movements.  And so for a few pages in my new sketch-journal, I did just that.  First with some toned paper and white crayon…


photo 1


And then, onto my beloved watercolors.


photo 2

I used dried paint from my palette so my lines weren’t any one color, rather a combination of the colors on hand.


photo 3


After the ballet dancers finished we were treated to a lovely improvisational dance by a dancer from CCM and her musical partner who created music in response to one another.  It was captivating!!  She was a joy to observe and to sketch!!


photo 4


I was a little sad I didn’t have my ‘good’ camera with me to take better source photos for longer drawings later, but the upside of this is that I drew more than I thought I would.  And I can always mine some of the images Christina managed to capture with her camera!

Last night was just one more example of the vibrant ‘creative class’ so very much alive and well in our Queen City, who just a few years ago was criticized for it’s stodginess and lack of luster.  I love what’s happening here in this town and am glad to be living here for its renaissance.  Bravo to Modern Makers and to all the partnerships and collaborative groups around town working so hard to put together evenings such as Dance and Draw.  I had a blast and can’t wait to do it again!


The New Book

I’ve been putting together some instructional videos for my Taos students in order to get everyone ready to hit the ground running when they arrive in June.  Since the latest volume of my own Illuminated Journal is nearly completed, it’s time to do up a new one.  So I did just that in today’s video.  Here are the results! I like to have a pocket for ephemera to land in.  Since the brand of book I use doesn’t come with a pocket (and the brands that do come with pockets don’t have the paper I like) I usually make one myself.  Here I used an old paint cloth

The pocket

Each precious volume acts as a container for a specific time of my life, and so each book gets a quote of intention, something that speaks to me at the time.  Looking back over old volumes, the quotes really seem to set the tone of an entire journal.  With my fine art leaning toward the oceanic world lately, I picked an ocean quote.

the quote of intention

Lastly, I collaged the cover.  Every book is different and I always have fun putting together the covers.  I never know what it’s going to turn out to be, and I never have any intended plan for things.  Here’s the latest!!

The cover


If you want more information on my process of putting together an illuminated journal, sign up for the Taos trip!!  You’ll get access to some beginner level instructional videos I’ve made to get you started and then in Taos we will get to the real work of filling the pages with your adventures!!  For more information, click HERE

In other news…

Bogard_Amy_Murmuration (Once We Flew)


The above work entitled, Murmuration (Once, We Flew) (oil on paper, found frame, fish bone) has been accepted to be part of the 50/50 Art Show and Sale next month at Covington Arts!  I’m thrilled to be a part of it as the sale always draws a crowd and there is a nice shuffle for purchase by the attendees.  If you are local to us, and would like a one-of-a-kind gift for your Valentine, this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening out with some wonderful art, and maybe even purchase a piece or two!

Also in February, the 2nd to be exact, the class I’m offering in partnership with Diane Debevec at Women Writing for a Change has been met with great interest!  We are a slot or two away from selling out, last I checked, so if you are interested, do get in touch with us via the link and join us for an afternoon of Illuminated Journaling practice and techniques! I’m excited to work within the WWfaC technique base and to incorporate writing practice into keeping the illuminated journal!  With St. Bridgid as inspiration, we will have much subject matter to draw upon.




st bridgid


Rumor has it there may even be some collage exercises happening to get the creative juices flowing!!



Ginger Small has also been hard at work.  She and I have started a Society6 page with a few Ginger products available for sale.   These too, have been met with great fanfare by Ginger enthusiasts.  If you are a fan of Ginger and would like to see a favorite image of hers upon a mug or a phone case or some such, just drop me a line!  I’d be glad to upload more images as time goes on!

Some folks love when Ginger is all bundled up for a winter’s day, (much like today!) and have invited her for cocoa.

Ginger comes to cocoa

Others appreciate Ginger’s love of the ocean and a lovely tropical breeze.  The perfect scene to keep your mind off your computer work, yes?




Speaking of the ocean, this continues to be where my art brain resides, and therefore, some of my sketchbook resides there as well.  It’s difficult to stay primed in our illuminated journals when the wind howls outside and the snows cover most anything that might normally be of interest.  At times like these, look to your imagination, (Ginger drawings), or online for seemingly magical (but very real indeed) creatures of the deep… (this one I drew from a photograph)

Weedy SeaDragon


…or perhaps no further than your windowsill for a find from last summer or the last time you were at the beach.  Around here there are always bits of this and that laying around, usually with a magnifying glass to notice the details.  Here’s a page I did with a  few of these finds. (not from a photo)



No matter how you are keeping your sketchbook alive, I’d love to see it!  There are just over 6 weeks left to sign up for the Taos trip happening this june.    While we may have a few slots left for latecomers, signing up before this deadline is the only way to guarantee at room at the inn as well as a slot in the class.  Part of the magic of this course is spending a week at the magical, mystical Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  While there is more than enough room for a conference at Mabel’s, they do open any extra rooms after our deadline to people who may not be attending a workshop but want to lodge at the inn.  And so, after March 15th, much will be left to chance.  If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to message me in an email and I will answer them for you as best I can.  I hope you can join us!

As my mom would say,”that’s all the news that’s fit to print”.  And so it is.  Stay warm dear readers.

Grateful for The Mountain


The New Year of 2014 began in much the same way others do.  Lots of discussion and notions regarding things we want to do better, more often, etc. and one such project that caught my eye online was one of the “365 Days of Gratitude” projects floating around.  (There are a number of them).  This particular one focused on the fact that many folks these days carry a camera around with us in the form of our phone and that we might try to utilize this tool to create a greater sense of gratitude in our daily lives.  And so, I quietly began to collect an image or so a day and started a saved blog post here that I would, in theory, share at the end of each month, or perhaps the year, filled with images of what makes me grateful.  And I came to some interesting conclusions fairly quickly.   

The first conclusion is that I already have a gratitude practice.  A practice firmly in place in my day to day, and hour to hour life.  Waking up to “Thank you for this day. Thank you for my health this day. Thank you for work that brings me joy.  Thank you for my family and friends.” is a far better approach to daily life than my now (mostly) long gone inner chatter of negativity.  These statements didn’t even have words wrapped around them until I started really paying attention to my inner dialogue and after years of working to re-wire this dialogue, I am grateful to have a different attitude about life overall.  This gift has been long and independently fought for over the years.  I already HAVE a gratitude practice.  So pinpointing things to be grateful for was a piece of cake.

My next conclusion began to make this project a little more daunting.  I came to the realization that I actually don’t use my phone as much as I might have thought I did. (actually a good thing)  I’d come to the end of a wonderful day, chock full of things that I was not only grateful for, but fully present for as well.  I wasn’t taking the pictures to put into my gratitude post!!  Which leads me to my final conclusion.

As beautiful as this exercise is, and as enlightening and eye-opening it might be for some folks, for me there was a clear indication that this exercise itself was leading me away from the mountain…..

In Neil Gaiman’s now famous 2012 commencement speech at The University of the Arts, he speaks about checking in now and then with how you are doing things and making one clear determination:  Is what you are doing causing you to walk toward the mountain (your goal) or away from it?  I adore this metaphor and have Taos Mountain in my mind whenever I check in to see in what direction I might be headed at any given time.  While the notion of wide-eyed, well-practiced gratitude is something that leads me TOWARD the mountain, the keeping track of the specifics regarding my most grateful moments quickly became something that would lead me AWAY from the mountain.  This was quickly and clearly evident as I would get to the end of the day and fret over not having taken a snap shot that day.  Ridiculous, right?  And so I’ve decided that in this post, I’ll share with you what I have collected up to now, and then leave the exercise at that.  I’ll simply go back to what was already working for me.  That said, I will also enjoy and applaud the daily gratitude efforts everyone seems to be into sharing these days.  It’s infectious.  And beautiful.  And I really believe it changes lives.  It has for me.  I am just not very good at taking pictures all the time!

So here are a few things for which I am truly grateful….. I’d love to hear how you keep track of your blessings.

Friends always willing to gather for a few tunes.


Tony clearing snow off of the cars after a storm.


Healthy feet to carry me on my runs where my best ideas are driven forth.


Mr. John Skelton, who drives over 2 hrs to teach classes at the Riley School of Irish Music each week.


Friend time and Puppy kisses


The courage to make a painting


The power of one small lightbulb to keep the bitter cold at bay

photo 3


Two healthy dogs


A banner trip to the library


My job and a new friend there


Ceili band practice


a magical warehouse frozen in time


Eggs in spite of the cold and gray.  Thank you, girls.


Magical gifts to enhance my letter writing practice

jan 14


A visit with Lu



photo 3


jan 20

A dear friend who is cancer free!

jan 15

Home made soup

photo 2

Kids still willing to be kids.

photo 1-1


And a few others of note…..

For folks who support and delight in the adventures of Ginger Small, a long awaited day to spend with a dear one who lives just across town (we didn’t take a single phone pic, we just enjoyed each other’s company), my son who swings by every so often to walk the dogs, for my own room in which to work.  I could go on and on.  And if you follow my twitter/facebook self, you’ll see other things I might take notice of.  But I suppose at the end of the day, I lean more luddite than technoholic.  This suits me just fine.


Frames 4


Over the weekend, at the suggestion of an illustrator friend, I visited a warehouse sale at an old factory that once made wooden frames.  This cache of handmade frames had been sitting for almost a hundred years, and now the new owners of the building needed them to go, so some new modern enterprise might grow there.  And so, they held a rummage sale of sorts.


frames 1

These frames were of all shapes and sizes, most of them ovals and oblongs and other semi-circular shapes, and there were thousands upon thousands upon THOUSANDS of them.  It was overwhelming.  I chose a few, with an eye for tiny frames that might be put to service in Ginger Small’s Tiny Art For Tiny Spaces gallery

Frames 3


…and some perfectly circular shaped ones which I will use as portals into my watery work going on in studio.  One frame in particular is quite large and I’m excited to create a canvas made just for it.

frames 2


Having sat so long forgotten in a warehouse, these frames need a bit of tidying up, but I have found that with some sanding a bit of gilding, one can make something of them after all.



Bogard_Amy_Murmuration (Once We Flew)


(above:  Murmuration (Once We Flew), 2014, 4.5″X6.5″, Oil on Paper & found objects)

This sale will happen again, Sunday February 16, 1-3 pm at the Mohawk Building, 2145 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214.  If you are around and want a bit of an adventure, you should go!

And in the spirit of ‘frames’, here is an old favorite of mine by The Frames…





“What will today bring? I hold my breath, dive down. Come to the surface, gasping, empty handed.  I catch my breath, then dive again.  Maybe this time.  I reach for treasures in this underwater landscape.  Ones that only I can see.  Ones that, should I discover them, will be mine and mine alone.  I suppose this requires a certain kind of courage.  But courage and fearlessness are the the same thing.  Courage is all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”  ~Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

Back in the studio painting recently.  This is different than sketching something directly in front my eyes.  Different from the cataloguing that occurs in those day to day documentary exercises.  This is to act as cartographer of my own inner landscape.  To sit with not knowing the outcome of my efforts.  To trust that I am the proper vehicle through which these ideas and imagery should come forth into the world.  I’m diving, once again, into oceanic depths.  Why is this land-locked river-rat of a girl forever with her head and heart in the sea? I do not know. I simply must trust that what calls me there is worth listening to as I conjure paintings and whatever else needs birthing here in this magic workshop space I have hunkered down into for the winter.  I am surrounded by piles of lovely books with oceanic folklore and mythical stories from the land beneath the waves, as well as scientific guide books to the amazing creatures found there.  Have you ever noticed how a murmurations of starlings resemble the swarming behavior of fish?*

It may be a long while before much or any of this work is fit for viewing, but I do like to give you readers a peak into the process of things between proper Ta-Da moments. With temps being well below zero degrees F in recent days, my daydreams of dipping my toes into the ocean on a warm summer day are helping to maintain sanity.
Hoping you are staying warm and snug this winter, wherever you may be. 

The mores and the lesses of things

Depth by bird in the attic


It is that time in the wheel of the year when many of us are called to be a bit pensive about things.  To consider the seasons that have passed and what they had to offer to us and what gifts we gave in return, as well as to gaze through the telescope of time, looking to what’s in store in the days, weeks and months to come.  I find it’s helpful to select a word which resonates for me in the deep pockets of my heart and to keep that word at hand through the year, almost as a keel to keep me on course as I sail on….. Last year’s word was FOCUS and I utilized it with great care and reverence. But I don’t believe we give up on a word once it has served us for a year, it merely acts as an addition to the tool box of life.  And so this year’s word, DEPTH will work with last year’s:  Depth of Focus.  I like the sound of it.

As a reminder of these chosen word talismans, those in my creative circle sometimes trade word laden gifts.  Above is one of these crafted by Michelle Blades of Bird in the Attic Studio.  Her world of whimsy and wordsmithery is simply enchanting and I am tickled with my murky depths ornament.  A reminder to go deep in all that I do in this New Year on the calendar.

Along with a word on which to focus, I like to make a little list of the mores and the lesses to consider.  Much like Ye Olde New Year’s Resolutions, but with less room to fail, the mores are all the things I’d like to add to my day to day while the lesses are things I could stand to curb.



More and lesses, a list of potentials


One of these ‘lesses’ is the time I spend monitoring and engaging in social media, for both work and play.   Much has been written by many about just this thing and two of my favorite blogosphere heroes, Rima Staines and Neil Gaiman have recently shared their thoughts on this dilemma.  As I consider what depth will look like in my life and work I know that the bite sized information available at the candy counters of Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr and other such temptations acts as both a driver of work and connectivity, and a swallower of precious time and productivity.  Simultaneously. Of course this can be endlessly frustrating and one could chase one’s own tail for days on end trying to come up with a solution to the quandary of it all.  But I don’t think there is a solution.  Like all complicated systems that come with good and evil, there must come a balance and we must simply ride the pendulum the best we can, attempting to know truthfully how much is enough for each of us.

Canary rides the pendulum of time

As December roared through town, swinging at my head with engagements and obligations, flurrying and hurrying, I began to think very concretely about how not to fall prey to the insanity of it all and I realized that time off from the virtual world, as much as I love so much of what it has to offer, was key to an even keel personally and professionally.  Along the same lines, I have opted to listen to music without ads to keep the screaming part of the world at bay, and this has already made the first few tentative steps down into the artistic rabbit hole easier and more successful.  I plan to keep these minor (yet major) changes in place as this new year gets underway.  As it has been for so many years now, it’s these micromovements, set to the course toward what feels to be our true north which really make for sustainable change and growth.

I wish you more mores in your lives, and fewer of the lesses which cling to your backs as well.  Happy New Year.  May your blessings be bright and bountiful.