Monday, August 4, 2014

A Special Kind of Blog Post::My Art Journey

An Art Journal Page Mapping my Artistic Journey Since 2001

This is a special kind of blog post today ( also, long winded).  I was asked by my friend Corinne Rollet better known as Coco to join in with a group of other online artist to share a little about myself and my creative process as an artist.  Art seems to have no boundaries and this is certainly shown to be true in this particular blog hop as the artists live all over the world.

I met Coco by visiting her blog at through the challenges at Stampotique.  We commented back and forth on each others submissions and before long a friendship was forged.  I especially admire her ability to write in her native tongue, French, and English perfectly.  I do speak and read French, very poorly compared Coco but her blog does help me to keep up with my French and learn new words when I read it.  Her art work is full of color and joy, a real pleasure to look at!

For the purpose of this blog hop I'm going to answer four questions about what I'm currently working on, my creative style, why I create and what my creative process is.

To begin with many people have wondered why my blog is called "Bolton House".  My husband and I moved here to New England (Bolton, MA) from Southern California in September of 2001 because of his job.  Joe is a computer geek and a Project Manager by profession.  I had had a career in Finance for nearly twenty years at that time and this was my big chance to retire and do all the things I'd been dreaming of doing!  When we first arrived here he traveled almost weekly.  Our family is all on the west coast so I needed to make new friends and build a life here quickly.  I was alone most of the time and decided it was a great opportunity for me to catch up on my scrapbooking.  I was using Creative Memories products so I decided to sell and teach for them.  Another thing I had always wanted to do was enter things at a Fair so I began perfecting my pies for competitions.  I won a couple of ribbons and next thing I knew I was writing a food column for a the local newspaper showcasing my recipes.  I started my blog to share photos and recipes with my daughter, Holland, who was still in college in Calif.  I called my blog "Bolton House" so I could keep track of where I lived when I developed my recipes, etc.  My daughter and her friends were my first followers.

As you can expect my relationship with Creative Memories didn't last too long.  I took classes every chance I got at scrapbooking conventions and CM frowned upon their reps using materials and techniques that weren't theirs so I decided just to do my own thing; I didn't want any restrictions on me or my students.  The more I took classes the more I wanted to use my products and tools in different ways.  The card making started when I was watching a Carol Duval show on DIY Network and she had this young guy named Tim Holtz demonstrating how to use a rubber stamp, ink and embossing powder.  I went out and bought my first stamp, which I still have, and some embossing powder along with a heat gun.  I purchased Tim's first video and started trying all the techniques he was doing at the time.  I entered one of my cards at a local scrapbooking store and won a contest.  Well, of course, I thought this meant I should start submitting cards to magazines like Stampington's Take Ten and The Stampers' Sampler to see if they would publish them.  I was literally floored when they published my cards!  Now they have published my work in 6 of their magazines over the years.  I am very grateful to them for their constant encouragement.

A face inspired by Britto

So....Question #1 ~ What am I working on now?

I am currently obsessed with painting, drawing and making collages with faces.  I try to do a couple of faces every week.  I did send some of these into Stampington and they will be featuring part of what I sent them in the Art Journaling magazine that will be released on Oct. 1, 2014.  I wrote an article for them last year and another for this magazine so I am currently working on developing my skills as a writer.  I'll be the first person to say that I am not a writer and never have been so this is a stretch for me and a challenge.  I continue to be on two design teams, Artistcellar stencils and the Craft Stamper magazine's online DT, so I blog about one of them on Tuesdays and the other on Fridays.  There is also a company that sends me developing products from time to time.  They allow me to play with their products, sometimes without directions on how they're used, I make things and then tell them what I think.  It is really fun and freeing.

Wild Woman in Paris made for a friend visiting Paris for the first time

Question #2 ~ How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I always tell people that I don't do "pretty".  I love looking at the exquisitely beautiful things that others create but that is just not my style.  My style is eclectic, whimsical and quirky.  That's pretty much how my brain works too.  I don't use many products in the traditional way which gives me unusual textures, this also makes my art different from others.

Zettiology card using scraps and a potato for a background stamp

Question #3 ~ Why do I write/create what I do?

I do not claim to be a writer.  The things I write in my blog and in articles are usually to explain where an idea came from and how it was executed.  I love to teach people the things I've learned in classes to encourage them to take classes when these artists come to their area.  In the event that they don't have that opportunity they can at least see what some of these techniques are and how they can do them themselves at home.  My favorite thing to do is to teach people how to do things that they previously thought were too hard.  None of my information is my own, I learned everything from someone else and I'm eager to share and acknowledge where it came from.  Like King Solomon said in the Bible "There is nothing new under the sun".  I wish everyone could find an artistic ability within themselves that brings them joy.  I create things because it brings me joy and provides joy for others.  Sometimes I am in my studio just laughing out loud at my "whimsical" art work, I'm putting in print what most of us are already thinking.

One of my Master boards and the cards made from it featured in Take Ten magazine

Question #4 ~ How does my writing/creating process work?

We all have our own style and habits in the studio.  My biggest creative habit that might differ from most is to work on a large sheet of water color paper and then use the "messed up" paper as the base of other projects later.  I like the randomness of using whatever appears on that paper and then building something on top of it with whatever I have on hand.  I call them "Master boards".  Most of my projects are challenge driven.  Either online challenges on the sites that I follow or magazine challenges with deadlines; if I don't have a deadline who knows when it will get finished.  Very few of my projects are planned out, most develop as I go along.  I do try to create something every day in my studio.  Any "mistakes" are placed in my color coded recycle boxes to be re-used as a flower or a gessoed background later.  My writing process is just to respond to whatever is needed to impart an idea.  If it is for a magazine they tell me what they want and how many words they want and I just follow their guidelines.

A tag made for a Craft Stamper Challenge

I would like to encourage everyone to take a chance with their art work.  I have a sign in my studio that says "Do. The. Work."  If you want to have your art published, send it in.  If you want to sell it, put a price on it and open an Etsy shop.  You have to take a leap of faith.  Jump and build your wings on the way down.  You never know what it will lead to and what doors will open for you without even asking.  Just try.

My sincere thanks to Coco for this opportunity to express myself.  Now I am supposed to tag one of my favorite artists whose work I admire and I know just the person!  She'll be sharing her story and art next Monday, August 11th.  I am tagging my friend and fellow Design Teammate at Artistcellar, Jackie P Neal.  Jackie's blog is called Creatingwithoutcrayons.  Pop on over to be inspired by her joyful use of colors and stencils.  While you're there take a look at the produce from her gardening efforts.....absolutely amazing!

 I apologize for such a long and rambling post.  Thanks for your visit.  I'd love to hear from you.

 Hugs ~ Renee


  1. Great post, Renee! I loved reading about how you got into creating and blogging, and your creative process :)

  2. Dear Renee... At first thank you for your kind words about me, my work and my ability to write both in French and in English, you made me blush.. ^_^
    Now, it was so great to read you!!! A big thank you for sharing so generously and sincerely with us your fantastic art journey from the beginning of your blog (by the way, I LOVE your last page to illustrate it, big smiles here, such a wonderful idea and page ooh!!!). I tell you again how much I appreciate your great experience and your clear and lovely share of things, as well as your wonderful whimsy creations and faces!! Also your repeated advises and incentives to free our own creativity haha (you should have an happy surprise very soon with me I hope!..shhhhh :~o). I keep into mind your way of storing in different colour boxes your recycled masterboards and papers, this is a fantastic idea! Love to you and hugs from Ardêche, your friend Coco.

  3. Long winded? No way! I love reading about you- I especially love the early part about that "young guy" aka Tim Holtz! Who knew!heehee
    Your art is incredible and I am so glad that you share your tips and techniques! How else would I ever learn to use the products you use and think outside the box?!!
    Thank you so much for sharing my cool friend! ")

  4. Wonderful post! Art is a journey, isn't it?!! I love your art and how it's your own! Gorgeous!

  5. Renee
    I am so glad I stopped by even though it is (what I call late) in my corner of the world.
    A wonderful insight into you, your art and your creative life in general and not too long winded, definitely not.

  6. I am in love with every piece you have made. What a pleasure to learn about you. A perfect post.

  7. No apologies needed for a "long and rambling" post, Renee, for you ARE a writer--you just don't know it yet! Loved seeing some pieces here I have not seen before. I am a longtime fan of your work and a longtime friend. I wish I could remember where/when I first encounter your "Bolton House" blog, but am an avid reader (yes, I did say reader!) of your blog and admirer of your creations. Thanks for sharing here.

  8. This was so much fun to read! A great peek deeper into your style, where you've come from, and where you are going. I adore that saying "Jump and build your wings on the way down!"

  9. Yes, Renee, aside from hearing about you from Jackie (of course she talks of you often) I had first seen and admired your work in magazines. Loved reading your history, your creative habits, etc. You have certainly explored art in a festive way. You are so kind to share with and encourage others to create. Cheers-Darlene