There Are No Mistakes In Art

pen artThere are no mistakes in art is my motto whenever I teach an art class. Unless you’re in school and taking an art class for a grade, there are no mistakes in art.

Does that make you feel better? I hope it does!

Because I’m afraid the latest slew of projects and kits available are making people think art is a lot harder than it actually is. For instance, my favorite rant: the zentangle.

When the zentangle first came to my attention it was a square on a piece of paper and a pen. You started randomly drawing lines, curves; maybe you added some dots or dashes. That’s all. You could get really wild and start with a circle. You could get totally carried away and be the guy who sold his zentagles on styrofoam cups.

What it wasn’t supposed to be was an entire business line with specially trained zentangle masters (I don’t know what they are really called) with classes, special books, and special tools.

Someone took a very simple art form and turned it into something way too complicated. I’m sure more than one person looks at the books, magazines, and other supplies available for creating zentangles and thinks creating them is a complicated endeavor. But don’t be fooled. All you need is a pen, some paper, and a square.

As I wander the craft stores (and I wander them a lot) I am dismayed to see the many things companies have complicated. So many easy crafts have become corporate-fied. They’ve stripped away the creative part and left a little bit of the finishing so you have something to show. They walk away with the money, and what do you walk away with?

Maybe some people are happy doing things this way. If the clearance bins at the craft stores are any indication, I think many are not.

The fun of art lies in the entire process, not just the finished product. From the first idea, to the first errant paint blob, to the laughs and groans that go along with it, the piece at the end holds those memories. Perfect or disaster, looking back at it will make you happy because of the adventure. And none of the steps along the way were mistakes, they were lessons.

Do me a favor and pick up a pen, a piece of paper, and draw a square. Start doodling in that square. Draw a zentangle that way. Then repeat. Don’t buy a kit!


Review: Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

tricky 22The first book I’ve completed in 2016 is Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich. I’m happy to report that Stephanie Plum is still up to her old tricks.

This time around she’s hunting down a frat boy who’s running her ragged. Sure, he’s king of the Zeta’s, but all the rumors can’t be true about the worst fraternity house at Kiltman College. The dead bodies are just a coincidence, right?

Her personal life is in disarray. Morelli calls of their relationship. Ranger steps in to fill his spot. Stephanie and Lula find a serial killer among a bed of snakes. Best of all? Lula manages to turn crafty to save them all from the fleas. Bedazzled flea collars anyone?

Evanovich manages to keep up the shenanigans in number 22 without becoming boring. There’s still magic in the best love triangle ever. Lula and Stephanie are the greatest bumbling detectives. All the supporting characters still know their places and how to keep us in pieces.

The only thing getting old: cars blowing up. Surely Stephanie can hold onto a car for an entire book. Having them self-destruct repeatedly every volume is getting tedious. It’s not even interesting nor entertaining any longer. Instead, I read it and think, “meh…another?”

Still, I cannot wait until number 23!


Garden of Bleedin’ by Susie Kline

The third entry in the Halloween writing prompt is by me.
“I’m glad we don’t have to drive,” Melissa slurred as she clung to John. The effects of the smokey Halloween punch were hitting her. Or was it the bloody zombie shots? Shaking her head, she concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.
Tugging on her arm, John pulled her off the sidewalk, “It’s quicker through the garden. Let’s go that way.”
‘I don’t know…” she looked at the Garrity’s haunted garden and wasn’t sure she wanted to walk through it in the dark. Especially at midnight on Halloween. 
Of course, she knew it wasn’t really haunted. The skeletons and ghosts had been collected for years by the Halloween-obsessed couple. Motion-detection props were scattered about, ready to scare the unaware. Still, in the dark, on a misty, partly cloudy night, with the moon playing hide and seek…
“Where do you think Peter was all night? I kept missing him.”
“Me too, it was strange. He’s usually better at the hosting gig.” John wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pressed her toward the garden entrance. “Remember when you wouldn’t miss a haunted house? It will be like the good old days.”
“I’m older now, I really know what goes bump in the night,” she shrugged away and headed down the narrow path. “Keep close though, I still need protection!”
At that moment an owl hooted to her left and eerie laughter peeled on the right. Farther off in the garden multiple moans filled the air. Caught off guard, Melissa tripped and landed face first in the lap of a mummy.
“Oh, hon, are you alright?” John bent down to help her to her feet. “What are you doing?”
She pressed her hands all over the torso of the mummy. “This isn’t a prop,” she began tugging at the bandages.
Within minutes the bandages were off and Peter Garrity stared blindly at them.

Murder on Mockingbird Lane by Dee Gatrell

Murder on Mockingbird Lane by Dee Catrell

Image courtesy of gameanna at

The second entry in the Halloween writing prompt is from Dee Gatrell.

“What a fun party that was,” I said to my husband, Larry.

“Yeah, but I’m glad we don’t have far to walk. We both have a bit of a buzz going.”

I giggled and pulled up on the skirt of my belly dancing costume. “Where were Fred and Janet? I thought they were invited.”

“Don’t know. Curt didn’t say anything about them. Maybe they’re ticked at us after we invited them to make that crazy movie with us. You know they are…”

“What the hell is that lying there?” I let go of my skirt and fell on what looked like a mummy.  It wasn’t a mummy.  I stared into the open eyes of…”Fred. It’s Fred. Help me up. My god! He’s dead.”

Larry reached down and felt for a pulse. “Go back into the house and have Sherry call for an ambulance.”

I ran, tripped twice more before running into the house screaming. “Call the police! Get an ambulance! Looks like Fred is dead in your front yard.” My skirt was ripped and my knee was bleeding.

Donna looked at me. “What happened to you? Did you kill Fred? Where’s Larry?”

“He’s with the body. Hell no I didn’t kill Fred. Why would I?”

Chuck looked at me. “Because Janet thinks you were having an affair with him.”

I chocked. The man was six inches shorter than me, was homely as sin and didn’t have any sense of humor.

Everyone rushed out the door to see the body. I ran up to my husband and grabbed his hand. “Is he really dead?”

“I don’t know. Bend down and touch him.”

That’s when Fred sat up and yelled, “Got cha!”

And I fainted.

Decorated to Death by Amy Mata

Decorated to Death by Amy Mata

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The first entry in the Halloween writing prompt is from Amy Mata.

“So what did you think about Celia’s costume?” I asked George as we took a shortcut across our neighbor’s yard. “She made it herself when she couldn’t find a transparent nun’s habit at Target.”

“I just think there’s a time in everyone’s life when they need to cover up more than they show, and Celia hit that time about twenty years ago,” he answered. “I drank twice as much as I should have just so my vision would be out of focus.”

“Since I couldn’t wear my contacts with this wacky eye makeup, I haven’t been able to see clearly either. I guess it’s for the best.” I grabbed his arm as I nearly tripped over the plastic pumpkin at the edge of Celia’s elaborate Halloween presentation. The night was black as a Halloween cat in our rural housing development, the only illumination coming from the orange lights trained on the display. “Look at these decorations. She goes all out.”

We stopped and turned our blurry gazes on the tableau. “She keeps adding more. I swear there were only two mummies out here when we walked over,” George said, pausing and looking above us. “Wow, would you listen to that owl. He must be out hunting mice tonight.”

“There were only two. That’s odd. How did the third one get here, and why did she put it on the damp ground?” The owl took that moment to swoop low above my head, and I was so startled that I tripped and fell on top of the mummy.

“George,” I gulped, my heart pounding. “I don’t think this one is stuffed with crumpled newspaper. I think it’s stuffed with a body!”

Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Fun–Too Scared To Play?!

Witches cackle. Monsters stalk. Vampires skulk. Werewolves snuffle. Cauldrons bubble.

Writers look for inspiration.Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Fun–Too Scared To Play?!

Here’s some from Linda Reilly. Check out her writing prompt.

You and your significant other are leaving a Halloween party held at a neighbor’s house. You have a bit of a buzz on, so when you see the mummy sprawled on your neighbor’s lawn,  you’re sure it’s a Halloween gag. Giggling, you stumble toward the mummy, only to find . . .

Take it from there, and have fun !!

Send me your flash fiction story of 1000 words (to or less and I’ll publish it here on the blog. I’ll publish one a day until they have all been shared.

Have some bloody fun!

An Ache for Home

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home is copy

Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula HawkinsI loved The Girl On The Train. Seriously loved it. I loved it so much I had to take a reading break when I finished to let it soak into my psyche.

Rachel rides the train back and forth to London every day, becoming obsessed with a certain house. In her mind, she has a fantasy created about the perfect couple dwelling within. They are gorgeous, well-off, and adore each other.

Eventually we find out that Rachel is intimately acquainted with the neighborhood because she once lived there, just a few doors down from her fantasy house. She lived there until her husband divorced her and replaced her with his pregnant mistress–now his new wife.

Rachel is an active alcoholic, drinking on the train, drinking in the station, drinking in the streets. She’s a hot-mess. At first glance, you want to shake her and tell her to get her shit together. Then she starts to grow on you. You see a little more humanity in her. A little more you…

Rachel’s life takes a turn when she wakes one Sunday on the far side of a blackout. She’s bruised and aching. Flashes of what might have happened scare her. The front page of the morning paper terrifies her. Her fantasy woman is missing and the husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance.

But Rachel knows something about the missing woman…something she saw on one of her trips…there was another man…

I came across this book by accident. I read it because it was compared to Gone Girl (which I reviewed here), which I liked but couldn’t relate to the characters much. I thought it might be the same with The Girl On The Train. That wasn’t the case. But I will share that there are pathological characters in this book.

This is a book that begs to be re-read. It needs to be savored, but you want to read as fast as possible to get through the story.

The moral of the story: things are never as they seem.

Aaron’s Socks Are Done!

Aaron socks 4I finished Aaron’s socks! He’s been asking for black and red socks for quite awhile and I’ve been stalling. I didn’t want to knit socks for growing feet. That’s senseless!

I have knit him socks before: tube socks knit from Red Heart Super Saver yarn. As you can imagine, they are indestructible. I swear I still see him wearing them once in awhile. They will grow old with him. They will survive a nuclear disaster!

Aaron socks 3Once I found black and red sock yarn at The Fold in Marengo, I got his socks started. There were a few false starts. It had been awhile since I had knit a pair of socks so I was a bit rusty. Luckily it all came back to me!

I knit socks toe up, two at a time on one circular needle. I used Opal sock yarn for this pair. I started with 12 stitches, cast on with Judy’s Magic Cast On. I leave a long tail and knit the first round with the working yarn and the tail. Then I knit each double stitch separately in the next round to get a nice rounded toe.

Since learning Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, I do nothing else. It looks great. It’s easy. You don’t need a hundred stitch markers. There’s no flap. If you haven’t tried this heel, get her book and learn how. Trust me, you will love it!

These are just plain socks. I knit plain until the heel is complete, then knit a 2×2 rib. Aaron only wanted 4″ ribbing and that’s what I did.

I have enough yarn to make Jim a pair. I’ll be whipping those up soon. I used 2 skeins so I could pull from the center of each as I knit. The Opal wasn’t very cooperative though. Every time I went to pull, there was yarn barf. I manage enough yarn snarls on my own without the yarn contributing to my mess! Plus the yarn doesn’t have a nice feel to me.

But Aaron loves them and that’s what matters! I’m off to work on the summer vest/cardigan I’m knitting for a knit-a-long!

My First Tablet/Card Weaving Project

I started weaving earlier this year when I got a rigid heddle loom. I’ve made several things and really love doing it. But, I heard a rumor that looms reproduce. Like all other crafts, you cannot have just one. Isn’t it funny how that works? (And if it doesn’t work that way for you, you need to tell me–and all the crafters like me–how you have such discipline.)

1 card weaving bThere are a million different ways to weave, of course. And the next kind to grab my interest was card (it is sometimes called tablet) weaving. You thread your fiber through the four corners of your cards and turn them to create a pattern.

Thankfully the internet is full of resources and I was able to get up and started quickly. I got my inkle loom at The Fold in Marengo, Illinois. An inkle loom isn’t a necessity; you could use a rigid heddle loom or a backstrap loom. Even c-clamps and a table will work in a pinch as long as you get proper tension.

1 card weaving aI went with the inkle loom because I like the idea of having two projects going at once. I’m worried about getting proper tension on the inkle loom because my hands are pretty weak from rheumatoid arthritis and you need to really pull on the peg to get it tight. I seem to be doing ok. I won’t know how it really looks until the band is done and off the loom.

The hardest thing about the card weaving is it’s a different movement than with rigid heddle weaving. So I keep getting messed up! I forget to pass the thread through. I forget to beat the thread. It’s a mind game!

But I love it. I can’t wait to get better at this!