Monday, March 28, 2016


Life here at the Quill has taken several unexpected turns, some have left me crazy busy while others have sent me off in a tizzy.  There was the sale of a house that turned out not to be a sale of the house that I spent weeks emptying, donating, selling, packing, and storing only to find out 4 days before closing that it fell through.  The sale that wasn't a sale after all created a ripple effect of needing space back in my own home for things that were going to need a home so.....I had to pack up, sort, donate, sell, downsize and move my studio BUT before I could do that I had to empty the writing cottage by sorting, storing, selling, and donating what was in there in order to move the studio.  Then there were issues with my moms health and well being to focus on.  Now a major move for a family member where I am once again emptying, sorting, packing, selling, and donating a lifetime accumulation and all the memories and emotions that go with that.  I seem to be caught in a vicious cycle!

I have heard it said that what we do here on earth prepares us for heaven.  While I know it's not a literal job I let my imagination roam as my hands were busy and I thought to myself, "Oh no!  I am going to be accumulating loads of stuff that has to be sorted and distributed!"  Then I wondered what exactly I would have to sort and distribute since there will be no earthly goods?  The most amazing thought came to me...I could accumulate prayers and distribute blessings!  Wouldn't that be an amazing job?

My silly ruminations really helped with what was fast becoming a bad attitude about having to be responsible for other people and their possessions.  These tasks fell to me not as burdens but as blessings to those I am doing the service for and to those who are receiving the distributed goods.

Life does not always go as we plan, it can leave you crazy busy or even in a tizzy, just remember, accumulate those prayers and distribute those blessings because whatever He has you doing right at this moment is an amazing job!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016


"I always picked her wildflowers..."
(Photo Transparency, Collage, Acrylic Paint, Ink, Encaustic Medium)

Soon after we crossed the creek and just before we topped the rise of the hill where the farmhouse came into view I would shout out "STOP! Let me out here and tell her I did not come!"  I would slide out of the old Ford Falcon near the Horton's tipsy old mailbox and sit on a roadside rock listening to the tires pop and crunch over the old dirt and gravel road.  My signal to begin my surprise appearance being the sound of car doors slamming greetings being hollered to and fro from car to porch. I could hear her feigned disappointment at my not being present and I would grin. This was our game. I knew  that she knew that I was there anticipating my arrival as much as I anticipated seeing her.
(BEFORE, the above photo shows the collage and painting before adding the encaustic medium)

I would abandon my perch and slowly meander up the rest of the rise and around the curve secure that the aged stone wall and roadside bramble hid me from view.  I would study rocks for fossil shapes, listen to bird calls, think names of trees, weeds, and wildflowers just as she had taught me.  I zig-zagged across the road plucking wildflowers, grasses, weeds, and leaves all the while arranging them in a bouquet as I went. Sometimes I was lucky enough to find a feather to tuck in as a special adornment.
(DURING:  the above photo shows the very scary part of encaustics, covering up the collage with the wax.  Yikes was I nail nibbling here until the wax dried and cleared so I could see the final result.)

Once I had gathered a good sized bouquet I would trot up the road and slip behind the sweet gum tree at the edge of the yard to see if she had gone inside. With the coast clear, I would tiptoe across lawn and up the front steps crouching under the open window to listen for her voice. She would always say, "I sure wish Nay would have come."  With a gap toothed grin I would spring for the handle on the screen door, throw it open, and march in, hand behind my back and screech, "SURPRISE!"  "Bet you thought they left me in Little Rock didn't you Granny?"  She would grin back and say, "They gee! You did surprise me, I thought they left you at home!" 
(AFTER:  After a bit of scraping back and fusing I got the soft dream like memory effect I was after!)

On my way to bury myself in her embrace, where her cherry red apron would cradle my cheek and her feather soft kiss would brush the top of my hair, I would present her with my gift of hand picked wildflowers.  She never failed to ooh and ahh over them as together we placed them in a vase and set them on the kitchen table.  Our game never ceased, it carried over into adulthood where I would slide out of the car, sometimes accompanied by one or both of my children and we would pick her wildflowers as I told them the story of a long ago little girl who liked to trick her Granny.

I still pick her wildflowers, only now she views them from heaven.  I still put them on the kitchen table and before leaving the farm I leave them on her final resting place and I hope she knows that "Granny's Girl" has been there to surprise her.


The encaustic piece featured in this post was inspired by this fond memory.  The photo transparency is one I took of the cattle gate at the farm where her Flowering Almond bushes bloom every spring.  Loving what I am learning from Ivy Newport in her Whimsical Portraits and Dreamy Landscapes online class!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


It has been one of those weeks, you know, the kind where everything you touch seems like an epic fail...from the loaf of bread that would not rise, to the near death experience of a wrong mixture of chemicals while conducting a mixed media experiment, to ruining not one but two hand painted loving crafted journal bindings, and last but not least taping what you thought was a tutorial only to find out the camera was on the fritz!  Small potatoes in light of all the things going on around our world today, very small, nearly invisible, really and truly.
 (Yes I know I forgot to paint the birds other foot, doing that as soon as I am back in studio)
(This was initially supposed to be for a class but I think I have had enough of this particular project)

While I alone cannot clean up the mess this world is in, I can try and repair some of the mess I have made by my own  hand.  I began by spending quite a bit of time in prayer for the worldly mess I cannot handle before tackling the wee smalls in my studio.

After removing all the bindings and pages from the journal covers I was left with two empty shells with no idea what to do with them.  At 4:26 this morning I abruptly awoke with a seed of an idea.  I immediately got up and headed into the studio to see if I could make it work.  I spent time drafting a pattern, sewing, ripping out, resewing, ripping out again, resewing again, until I finally had a prototype ready to test.  It is not perfect, it has some flaws, but I love it anyway, my new iPad carrying case.

If only all the epic failures in our world were so easily repairable by just simply removing all the ugly parts and being able to begin again.  I have spent time drafting a plan of prayer only to see it ripped out of place again and again, its truly a test of faith and endurance when one only feels like throwing up their hands and giving up.  My project is not perfect, nor is our world, they have their flaws, but I love them both anyway.  I refuse to let evil overshadow all that is good and decent and kind.  I now carry the world at my fingertips in my new carrying case which allows me to keep abreast of all that goes on outside of my small sphere but its the world I live in that I carry in my heart and prayers for peace on earth and good will towards all mankind.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7


Monday, November 2, 2015


"Necessity is the mother of invention"
38 days of my summer were spent exploring woodlands and waterways from simple streams and babbling brooks, to winding rivers and large lakes, to salt marshes and a deep wide ocean.  Each of these places inspired my creativity and the desire to create in that environment.  Each journey I would pack a little kit of supplies that I thought I might use.  First there was the plastic shoe box but it was too small, then there was the plastic boot box but it was too large, then there was the little brown leather train case but it was too bulky, then there was tote bag but it was too jumbled.  Necessity became my mother of invention.  I had a problem, finding the right amount of supplies in a ready to go traveling container that was flexible in function so I could easily change out media to suit my creative needs, this encouraged a creative effort to meet my need and solve my problem. 

Using two old book covers I designed a small travel size art journal and a book size traveling art kit that will fit in a small back pack:

I used vintage Victorian scrap to collage the fronts of the books with a nature theme:

An old broken harness buckle from my grandmothers farm found in the barn:

A plant press is tied to the front of the book for my nature gathering:

Underneath the plant press is another small nature collage using a vintage French post card and more Victorian scrap:

Pockets hold collage materials and little fabric pieces I can glue, paint, or stitch on:

The next section holds some loose dyed papers to use as collage or paint bases plus a piece of stitchery I am currently working on:

Behind the papers I have clips to hold journal pages while working on them if needed in a windy outdoor setting and a mini paint palette made from an old acrylic cd cover: 

Lastly the back section is constructed of compartments that hold supplies: basic water colors and acrylic paints, small tube of gesso, medium water brush pen, washi tape, sketching pencil, black sharpie, white gel pen, glue pen, water soluble graphite pencil, kneaded eraser, pencil sharpener, 2 spools of thin wire in silver and copper, folding scissors, thimble, needle, and 6 colors of embroidery floss: 

NOTE:  The tubes of water colors were gifted to me and this was the first time I had ever used this brand, I don't recommend them, horrible clean up if they get on your skin, its like permanent marker and the texture and spread-ability is not great.  These will be replaced immediately. 

The only thing that would not fit into the kit were a small set of water color pencils so I packed those in an old Faber Castell pencil tin.

I wanted a small art journal to work in as well as the loose leaf papers and fabric projects:

Hand dyed sketch book paper pages bound into an old book cover:

More Victorian scrap, handmade fabric leaves, and scrap bits decorate the cover:

The Handy Man and I took a 4 day weekend this past weekend and I was able to test out the kit:

My attempt at a young male Cerulean Warbler:

Perfect traveling companions!

I am looking forward to many more happy artful explorations with this kit!

What are your favorite take along art supplies and how to you carry them?


Monday, October 26, 2015


The little waif wandered about the woodlands on a pleasant autumn day.   The sky was blue, the air soft and cool, and the leaves were turning vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange.  Fuzzy grey squirrels flitted hither an thither chattering away as they gathered up their winter store.  Wee birds twittered high above her head, pouring forth a sweet carol of joy.  All the earth seemed lovely; and the light heart of the child beat in joyous unison with the beauty of nature.

("Woodland Waif" Mixed Media Art Dress by Sandy Babb)

On she sped, pursuing with fleet footsteps the twirling leaves raining down on a gentle wind, making a game of trying to catch them, pausing every now and again to pluck a late blooming wildflower whose beauty and fragrance allured her.  She thought the beauty of these fading things should adorn her wee plain dress of bark,  little cap sleeves were fashioned from leaves and wildflowers were tucked into the mossy hem of her gown.  

Soon she tired of chasing leaves on the wind and began to follow the windings of a rippling brook, flinging pebbles, and laughing to see the white foam dash up or dropping her remaining prize leaves and blossoms to sail as a fleet.  She gathered pretty pebbles and added them her hem of moss, her version of sparking jewels.  Pretty toadstools  growing near the bank were plucked and added to her garment as well.

The snapping of a twig overhead and a soft thud at her feet captured her attention, there before her lay the perfect gathering pocket for her fine forest frock, a small birds nest attached to the twig.  Saddened by the loss of a place for her bird friends to rest, she invited them to travel along with her, thus happily the hours glided by all unheeded and twilight shadows began to deepen

The brook's winding way had led her deeper into the forest; above her huge trees arched their boughs, dark with intertwined branches.  Around her was a tangled undergrowth of shrubs.  She began to grow weary.  It was now quite dark: the rising wind sighed among the pine boughs a song she was accustomed too, her nightly lullaby.  With no bed but the dead leaves, no pillow but the moss tufts, she made herself comfortable and fell asleep where she dreamed of what tomorrows woodland adventures would bring.

I will be having my own little woodland adventure later this week and I can't wait to share you with you my new woodland gear!


Friday, October 16, 2015


(Custom Artwork "Song Birds" 16 x 20 mixed media canvas)

I feel so very bad for my poor neglected blog and pinkie swear I will get back in the swing of posting.  I have been super busy in the studio trying to learn to do video taping/editing and developing a couple of online classes as well as submitting some teaching proposals, making custom art, playing in my art journal, writing, and finishing up some personal art projects.  I have missed my blog friends so very much and apologize for not keeping in better touch.  I am finding that I need to find a better balance between all work and no social media or social media and no work, any suggestions?

In between all this work, there has been quite a bit of joy...the Handy Man and I just celebrated our 35th Anniversary, the grands all had birthdays and are one year older, happy, and healthy, the Handy Man and I made a commitment to spend several weekends camping, kayaking, hiking, and day tripping to have some relaxing quality time together over the summer and have had some fabulous fun and laughter, we will be closing out the season with one last trip soon.

I am will be spending the next few days working out a plan for some open studio time to host an intimate workshop here in my home studio.  I have yet to get all the fine details worked out and am still waiting for confirmation of a fabulous artist who I am hoping will join me in teaching the two day workshop.

I wanted to find out if there is any interest before I go full tilt ahead in my planning.  My thoughts were that this would be a weekend workshop, most likely a Friday and Saturday with four students in attendance.  My studio comfortably accommodates four with individual roomy work surfaces and room for myself as well as another teacher.  Keeping the workshop small will ensure lots of individual attention for each student.  The work shop will include a make and take project, a class kit with everything needed to do the project, demonstration techniques, lots of tips, and bonus lessons from another guest artist.  Also, morning and afternoon snacks as well as lunch will be included in the workshop package.  A bonus of a free goody bag will be gifted to each student.  The class fee has yet to be determined as I await a response from the guest artist but will be kept as reasonable as possible.

So, if you live in the area and are interested or are traveling through my area, or just want to plan a get away for you and three of your friends for an artful adventure here in The Natural State I would love to host a workshop for you!  If anyone is interested I would love to here from you.

My clock says I have been social enough, I need to pack some orders up to ship out this morning.  I hope you all enjoy a beauty filled weekend!


P.S.  To see daily postings of art & nature here at the Quill, you can follow along on Facebook.
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