DIY Aluminum Star Christmas Ornaments

DIY Star Christmas Ornament

If you have a few aluminum pie pans left over after Thanksgiving for recycling, here is a simple DIY aluminum star Christmas ornament to make with them.

What you’ll need:
a couple of empty aluminum pie tins
thick needle
embroidery thread (red or green)
a small phillips screwdriver
hammer (optional)

First, cut off the bottom of the pan from the sides. This will leave you with a flat, circle of aluminum. Using a pencil, draw a star on it. Cut the star out with scissors.

Take the phillips screwdriver and either using your hand or the hammer. Tap a hole around the sides of the star like below.


Turn the star over and tap a second row of holes around it on that side.


Turn it back over and tap any other design you would like on the star.


I tried to make a holly pattern on the above star and daisies on the lower star.

Homemade Star Christmas Ornament

Thread the needle with green or red embroidery thread.  Thread the needle through the top hole of the star, make a loop for hanging on the Christmas tree and knot and tie a little bow. Trim the thread ends and there you are!


Hang the stars around the house, on a hanging light like I did or on your Christmas tree.


It’s a fun way to recycle your used aluminum pie tins.


Have you made any homemade Christmas ornaments yet?

Have fun creating!

Painted Magic Wand

Painted Magic Wand

I love making things and collecting things. Sometimes I’ll see something and think to myself, I could make something out of that.

That’s what I thought when I found this piece of cactus wood. I was thinking of maybe making a mobile out of it. But then I was moved to paint it.

And then when I picked it up, it felt like a magic wand. I’m sure it’s filled with creative energy. 🙂

cactus-wood5 cactuswood-1 cactuswood-2 cactuswood-3 cactuswood-4 cactuswood-5a

It’s for sale in my Etsy Shop.

What have you made lately? Anything cool?

New Digital Doodle Art Prints now available

Day & Night My Love's Delight II canvas wall art
Day & Night My Love’s Delight II giclee print on canvas, 11″ x 11″
Spin Around the World Canvas Wall Art
Spin Around the World canvas giclee print on canvas, 11″ x 11″
It Was A Magical Night Said Mr Owl canvas wall art
It Was A Magical Night Said Mr Owl giclee print on canvas, 11″ x 11″
Calling Forth Dreams whimsical colorful print
Calling Forth Dreams, 14″ x 11″, canvas print

I’ve started listing some of my new Digital Doodle Prints on Etsy.

I love combining my Photoshop skills with my art! I’ve taken my original paintings, scanned them and then posterized and enhanced them with digital white doodles in Photoshop.

I print them on a natural white canvas paper which has texture to it so they look like a real painting. They are unstretched canvas prints. I really love the look of them.




Be inspired – Secret to Life as an Artist series

What fuels your creativity? For me, it is nature, pattern, texture, color, swirling lines, symbolism, contrast, duality, energy, animals, flowers, forests, mountains, peacefulness, play, joy and….my list could go on and on.

This is my Secret to Life as an Artist series and one principal to live by is “be inspired .” Fuel your creativity with this inspiration.

We are all creative beings. We are all artists! Be inspired everyday. Here’s a little creative wording to remind you about fueling your creativity.

This is my latest original painting. It’s titled “Just Ride and Fly.” It was inspired by my mountain bike, by my love of swooping down a trail and feeling the energy of movement, by the mysterious, trickster raven, by the forest and the flowers and the rain clouds.

© Lindy Gaskill, “Just Ride and Fly”, 24″ x 30″, acrylic on wood.

And if you like to draw and sketch, fuel your creativity at these two sites> and

A painted mailbox project

This mailbox came back into my life recently and I am thrilled to start using it as our family mailbox for our Prescott home.

mailbox back

I painted this mailbox back in 2001 for the Creative Department where I worked. The project was to create a mailbox that could be used for the employee of the month. The special person would put it on their desk for a month while they were temporarily spotlighted. I was chosen, or maybe I volunteered, I can’t remember, to paint the mailbox.

This festive box had a flag that could go up or down so the person would know whether they had something fun left in it that they could pickup. How fun would that be? To arrive in the morning at your desk and find some goodie left in the mailbox. Delightful messages or fun presents and sweet treats. It was a wonderful idea and well received by my co-workers.

painted mailbox side

I worked there for a couple years and when I left, I thought I would never see the mailbox again. I remember feeling a bit sad about that.

mailbox moon art

People come and go in a business and there was no exception with this company where I  worked. Things and processes change. Mailboxes get stored away.

But a few weeks ago, I reconnected with someone from my old workplace and to my surprise she mentioned she had the mailbox and asked if I wanted it back. I said yes!

painted mailbox

Oh sunshine! Brightest day, send the mailbox my way!

mailbox sun

Below the sunshine on the mailbox it says, “You Shine!” I love that.

I’ve had people ask if I paint custom mailboxes on commission. Unfortunately, I don’t but I do create paintings on commission. Email me at if you would like to arrange something.

100 Blog Topics for Artists

This is a blog post of 100 Blog Topics for artists. It is for artists who are trying to come up with ideas for what to write about.


I’ve noticed I’m not blogging as much as I have been in the past and it’s partly because I’ve been having a hard time thinking up topics to blog about. So I thought maybe there are other artists having the same problem and could use some help with Blog Topic ideas.


There is so much more one can write about than ones latest art piece. Remember people are reading your blog because there is something about you and your art that inspires them. People want to know who you are and why you do what you do and what you’re about. Sharing photos with your writing is nice because most people are very visual and enjoy looking at images. It also breaks up your writing so it’s not so hard on the eyes when reading.

You should also have a strategy for blogging. This Copyblogger post will help you figure out your goals: 10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing.


Below are 100 things to blog about. I’m going to use some of these ideas myself.


So here goes:

1.  Share your latest painting and something you like about it or want others to know about.
2. The gallery where you show your art
3. What inspires you to create?
4. When did you know you were an artist?
5. Blog about how you price your work
6. What’s unique about your color palette?
7. Who are your art mentors?
8.  Who are your favorite artists?
9. Share art videos you’ve made
10. Share an art lesson

11.  Share an artist interview of an artist you admire
12. Blog about all the places your art is online
13. Where can one purchase your art?
14. What are your favorite art tools for making art?
15. What are your favorite museums and galleries?
16. Have you ever done an outdoor art show or planning to do one? What’s it like?
17. Your top favorite art and design websites or blogs
18. How do you unblock when creativity gets stuck?
19. Your favorite color and add lots of photos with that color
20. What’s your art studio like?

21. What classes or art workshops have you taken or like?
21.  When did you know you were an artist?
22.  Talk about mail art or tiny art
23. Share types of art you like, for example oil, pastel, collage, sumi painting, mixed media, functional art, eco-friendly art, raku pottery
24. Tell your artist story or artist journey
25. How do you cultivate creativity?
26. How do you know you’re on the right path?
27. Who is your favorite author?
28. What is your favorite art book or book in general?
29. What do you think of social media? Are you on Twitter or Facebook?
30. What do you think of online art galleries?

31. Do an art giveaway
32. Share your latest idea or dream.
33. How do you title your work? Is it important to title your work?
34. What is your favorite title of one of your pieces of art? How titles affect someone’s view of art or a certain painting
35. Share how nature inspires you
36. Share images of where you live or where your studio is located
37. What work are you most proud of?
38. How to hear your clearest voice in making your art
39. Art and Letters
40. How do you follow your intuition as an artist?

41. Blog about your pets that hang with you in the studio
42. Who are the greatest supporters of your art and how do you know them?
43. How does your family time, social life, etc. affect your art time in the studio?
44. When did you decide to start taking your art seriously?
45. Tell us about artists you liked as a kid, or someone you admired
46. Show us your work from your early childhood or when you emerged as an artist
47. Tell us about whether you have an artist community you belong to
48. How do you market your work?
49. What music do you listen to in the art studio?
50. Tell us what you are trying to improve on as an artist

51. Share the other artist’s work that you most admire
52. What’s your most important lesson you’ve learned?
53. What do you do when you’re not in the studio? How do you spend your free time?
54. Do you like to travel? Share photos relating to your art sightseeing tours
55. Share your sketch book
56. Blog about preliminary drawings or sketches you do before you start a painting
57. How do you create texture or depth in a painting?
58. What was the first art show you participated in and what did you show? Or a current art show.
59. Share Awards you’ve won in the past or recently
60. Share press articles. Who has featured your art online or written an article about you. Share it.

61. Do you collect art? Whose art do you collect?
62. What is the role of art in society?
63. Art and health and how they are related
64. Art therapy and it’s use. Have you done art therapy on yourself?
65. How has art inspired or helped you?
66. Do you like to experiment with different art media?
67. Artist support groups and how to form one.
68. What things do you have up in your art studio that inspires you?
69. Share art marketing tips.
70. Share how to frame your work.

71. Show how your work looks hanging in a clients home or on your wall or bookshelf
72. Blog about your art e-newsletter and how to sign up for it.
73. What and from who are some of the artist newsletter that you receive?
74. Time management. How do you spend your day or time?
75. What art projects or craft projects are you doing besides your main form of art making.
76. Share and define your art goals
77.  Trading art or bartering with art
78. Inform your collectors about sales. Share exhibits, galleries or stores that have your art for sale
79. Has your art been featured in a book, an article, on a product, in a film? Share it.
80. How do you work?  From a photo, a sketch, out of your imagination?

81. What are the top questions people ask me about my art
82. Do you make art prints? What kind, reproductions, giclees? How to buy, what type of paper do you use, is it archival? Why you’ll like it.
83. What advice do you have for other artists just starting out?
84. How does one become a collector of art? Where to start?
85. ACEO – Art Cards Editions and Originals
86.  Do you have any relatives that are artists? Who are they and how do they inspire you?
87. What is a diptych or triptych? Do you make them and how do you hang them on the wall, next to each other or staggered?
88.  Tell a funny story about your art
89. Garden art
90. Art schools, did you go to one, do you know some you could recommend, do you think they’re necessary?

91 Art Critiques, how to do one, how to get one, who to go to, how do you feel when someone critiques your work?
92. How do you finish a piece? Do you spray it with a coating, leave it plain?
93. How to care for art pieces.
94. Art trends you’ve notices or read about. What do you think of them?
95. Art competitions, have you been in some, or are submitting work too?
96. Share a poem, quote or saying that inspires you.
97. Donating art to charity, which piece and what is the charity?
98. What it’s like to part with a favorite piece and what piece you would never sell.
99. What impact do you hope to leave as an artist?
100. Spirituality and art


You choose which ones you would like to use and if you have some other ideas and topics an Artist could blog about, please share them in the comments!

Happy Blogging!



Here are some more topics to blog about:
101. Explain how to decorate with different types of art and color
102. How does art affect your mood. Color Therapy.
103. How does someone who wants to buy your art go about it? Do you have any special things going on for your collectors? For example, a free print with buying an original painting
104. More photos of you painting in the studio
105. Explain the benefits of having art in someones living space or work space
106. Tell us about the goals you accomplished this month
107. Show an example of what salon style of showing art looks like
108. Tell us about what is on your “to do” list
109. Create a gift guide and share it
110. Do a small painting a day and share it on your blog
111. Write about three things unique to your day
112. Write about 5 things you are grateful for
113. Art in everyday life that you see around you – like the bark on trees, or the way the moss grows on a rock
114. Share a video you made
115. Collections – I collect feathers, what do you collect?

See My Curiosity Cabinet

I came across a website called
There is a pdf one can get for free that is about 5 Ways to Rally Criosity, Delight & Dee[ Connnection into Your Creative Profession & Life.
in a nutshell # 2 was:
Keep a personal or professional curiosity cabinet
I had an ah ha moment when I read the words Curiousity Cabinet. That is exactly what I made one time but never had a word or title for it. I just alled it that old medicine cabinet filled with stuff! I LOVE my “curiosity cabinet.” I love the my curiosity cabinet finally has a name for itself. Curiousity Cabinet. Yay!
Here is a photo of it:

I came across a website called and there was a free download titled ” 5 Ways to Rally Curiosity, Delight & Deep Connnection into Your Creative Profession & Life.” Sounded fascinating to me, so I downloaded it!

In a nutshell # 2 was:     Keep a personal or professional curiosity cabinet

I had an “ah ha” moment when I read the words “curiousity cabinet.” I won’t go into what they meant by it because I was relating to the words in my own way.

“Curiousity cabinet” is exactly what I have hanging in my art studio! But I never had a word or title for it before. I just called it that “old medicine cabinet”! I LOVE my “curiosity cabinet.” I love that my curiosity cabinet now has a name for itself. Curiousity Cabinet. Yay!

I think it’s fun to see what people have in their art studios so here is my curiosity cabinet. Maybe it will inspire you to make one too.


I found this metal medicine cabinet when I lived in New York City back in the late 90’s. It was in a junk pile on the sidewalk. One cool thing about Manhattan is that you can find some pretty cool stuff left out on the street for the garbage collector. It was in pretty good condition with a mirror on the front. It was a bit rusty and needed a good coat of paint. So I took it off the heap and brought it home.

I covered it with blue paint and stamped it with black texture and painted yellow swirls on the sides.


I started filling it’s interior with photos, keepsakes, knick knacks, souvenirs and inspiringl items! It sure filled up fast. Here’s some photos of the individual shelves.

The top holds my handmade Christmas ornament that I call “Gift Giving Spirit Woman”. I made a bunch of these back in the early 90’s. On the right is my treasured “Fava Bean” pastel by New York artist Amelia Foster, and then there is some cool driftwood I picked up on beach combing excursions.


The next shelf holds my black and white animal collection started when I got the black ceramic pony made by my mom when she was little. I treasure that little guy. Now I have a rabbit, a couple little skunks and a panda to go with him.


Next shelf down holds my small buddha collection. That got started when I inherited some of them from my great aunt.


And then on the bottom shelf I have my blue dog postcard from when I went to the exhibit in NYC. Blue Dog is made by the artist George Rodrigue. And there is the little girl art who reminds me to “do art” that my friend made for me. And the painted yellow ceramic rabbit is one I made in an art therapy class along time ago and the glass paperweight is from my mom.


I love the inside of the front because of it’s eclectic collection of mementos.


Here’s some close ups. This is me, loving on a dog. When my parents took that photo I’m sure that’s when they knew I was going to be an animal lover.


A co-worker made this silly hand head cartoon.


There are ticket stubs from some of the exhibits I saw in NYC. And then I got this little flyer at a club that says “Now that you live in N.Y., start living like you’re in N.Y.” I like that one. And then there’s the cool magnet that a friend sent one time.


So that’s my curiousity cabinet. Now that you’ve seen mine, go make one of your own. If you do, I’d love to see it!


Have fun!

~ L.

Some of My Favorite Etsy Shops

I was just reminded today that not everyone knows about I was talking with someone and they hadn’t heard of it. So I explained what it was. I’m sure my enthusiasm was shining through because if you know me, you know I love browsing Etsy! It’s fun to see what other creative people are making! is a place to find handmade items! It is the best place for finding all things unique and creative! To give as gifts or to just take a minute and be inspired by all the lovely items!

Go take a look yourself at and you can see some of my fav shops below.


The feature I used on Etsy to create this widget is called a “mini”. If you log into your Etsy Account, scroll down and look under the “Promote” section where you see “Etsy Mini”. From there you can create a widge with either items from your shops or items of your farorites. You can pick how many columns and items to put into your widget. Then you can cut the code and paste it into your website or blog. For this WordPress blog the javascript code for websites and blogs didn’t work. So I used the Flash code which it says is used for social networking sites. So if one doesn’t work, try the other.

Another feature on Etsy is the “pounce” feature at . It shows either just sold items on Etsy or shops that are waiting to make their first sale. If you want to make someone’s day, find a shop that hasn’t made a sale yet and be the first person to buy something from them! I think Pounce is a great feature and you can see a lot of cool stuff that way too.

Have fun!

Whimsical Peace Tree Paintings

This time of year is a reminder to me to hold Peace in my thoughts and prayers for others and the planet. I’ve been feeling the peace and quiet around our house because we have lots of snow in the yard. It feels quiet and still in the morning.

Peace has been on my mind lately.


I find it very peaceful to look at the snowy trees.

Snow-TreeAnd the snow on the mountains.


I hope it snows some more because it feels peaceful to watch it fall. Especially those big, fluffy flakes.

I’ve been sending peaceful thoughts out into the world. Peace. Maybe that is why I’ve decided it is a good name for my whimsical aspen trees in my Magical Woodlands series. I like the name. Peace trees.

Peaceful and joyful and their colorful tattooed bark radiates happiness.

Adventure Awaits, 5" x 5", acrylic on canvas, sold
Adventure Awaits, 5" x 5", acrylic on canvas, sold

And I made some bookmarks using the images from a few of my Peace Tree mini paintings.

Raven Bookmark by L. Gruger
Raven Bookmark by L. Gruger
Bike, Peace Trees and Ravens Bookmark by L. Gruger
Bike, Peace Trees and Ravens Bookmark by L. Gruger

You can purchase bookmarks in my Etsy Shop.

I made some magnets too. Made from the individual squares that are featured on the bookmarks. I love them. I can never have too many magnets on my fridge.


So I decided to give some away as a free gift when you buy 3 bookmarks up until Dec. 8th from my Etsy Shop. You get to pick which magnet you would like. Fun!

I hope you’ll get some of my Bookmarks to use as stocking stuffers or a small gift for the readers in your life or even get some for yourself.

I just love making things with my artwork. What have you been making lately?

Peace to you.

12 Steps to Making a Christmas Ornament

Every year the Tumalo Art Co. artists make or paint handmade Christmas ornaments. It has become a much anticipated tradition and I look forward to it each year.

Usually a couple trees are put up at the gallery and ornaments are hung from it.


This year, I’ve painted white ceramic stars and snowflakes with a spiral shape. People who know me, know that I adore the spiral. So I thought it appropriate to put it on my ornaments. To me, the spiral represents energy and growth and I like that it is on a celebratory ornament.

This is how mine came out.

Christmas-OrnamentsAnd this is how you make them in 12 steps.

1. Purchase the ceramic shapes at Michael’s craft store and paint a coat of white gesso on them in the shape of the ornament. The gesso will allow the acrylic paint to adhere to the ornament and not come off.


2. Paint a layer of acrylic paint in bright colors on them. Allow to dry. It reminds me of frosting cut-out cookies.


3. Outline them with black acrylic paint.


3. Next is actually a couple steps. Use my signature method of creating pattern and texture. Use wax paper and coat it with a thin layer of black paint. Scrape into it with your finger nails, making patterns. Then turn it over onto the colored surface of the ornament and press lightly. Let dry. Cover with a thin layer of a lighter shade of the acrylic paint so you can see the black pattern through the paint. Let dry.


4. Paint a white swirl on them using your acrylics.


5. Dip a piece of string in black acrylic paint and coat it. Spiral it onto the surface of the ornament and press lightly and remove the string. Fill in the painted black areas that might not have adhered to make spiral shapes.


6. Cover the white with various colors that stand out from the background color. Don’t worry about covering up the black spiral shapes. You can touch them up in the next step.


7. Go over the black spiral to make the color stand out more.


8. Add shading in lighter colors on top of the background color to create some depth. Also dip some string in the black and make some squiggly marks onto the surface of the ornament. Do the same with red. This creates some surface texture too.


9. Cover up the squiggly marks lightly with paint so they look like they’re just under the surface. You can leave some showing to add variety.


10. Add some white dots to make patterns.

11.Tie some ribbon on them.

12. Coat them with 2 coats of gloss varnish. I used gloss Delta Ceramcoat varnish that I found at Michael’s. It paints on as a white film and then dries to a clear hard coat. It’s used for exterior or interior finishes.

An optional step I do is write on the back of them with a gold metallic pen the word “Joy!” or “Peace and Joy!” and date and sign them L. GRUGER.

And there you have it. They make beautiful ornaments for your tree or hang then in your window to decorate a room.

Mine are for sale at $20 (+ $3.00 shipping) each. Email me if you would like one.


Peace and Joy!

~ L ~

Our Backyard Garden in Bend, Oregon

A couple weeks ago we went on Bend’s Backyard Farm Tour. It was really fun. I think there were about 18 backyard gardens to go to. There was a handout and map to follow. We hit about 7 or 8 of them before we had to be somewhere else.

Backyard farmers are a happy bunch. They love sharing their knowledge and the fruits of their labor. I got some great seeds from one farmer. We talked to a Master Gardner for quite awhile at one community garden here in town. And we came away with lots of ideas.

We got really inspired. Greg got especially inspired. So much so that he came home and started building a solar greenhouse over two of our raised beds so we can grow food as long as we can into Fall and Winter.


He build a cool door that lifts up.


The door has a natural wood handle.


He dug down into the earth between the raised beds to make more head room for when we go in there.


He added twinkly lights to the ceiling and we can sit in there and pick veggies, even when it’s dark out. We added wood chips to the path too so we don’t get muddy.


I’m thrilled. Maybe by next year, we’ll be in the Backyard Farm Tour as one of the stops. Maybe. People do.


This is Greg surveying his work. The solar part of it hasn’t been built yet. It will have tubes with water in them that will get heated by the sun.


This is what we see from our back deck. I love the below shot. Those are aspen in the background that will turn a beautiful yellow as Fall progresses.


Happy full moon and sweet smell of fresh pine!


Art with Texture

I love texture in a painting. I thought you might like to see my work up close and see some of the texture I put into it. I’m often asked how I get the pattern in my paintings that you see in the background.


My process involves using wax paper that I paint and then scrap into with my fingernails, and then press onto the painting. I let it dry for a bit and then run it under the faucet to take some of the paint off with water.


It involves many layers of paint.


I use embroidery thread dipped in paint to get the swirls patterns like you see above. And I like putting the white dots in my work too. They show paths of swirling energy.


To see a video where I’m demonstrating my art process, see my youtube channel. Below is one of my art videos.

To see more of my art, visit my website.

Painting and Making Whimsical Recycled Garden Art

One way to bring a little color into your home is to make colorful garden planters using paint and recycled washing machine drums.


I painted the one above last year. It’s great for cactus because they don’t need much water.

I made a bright flower motif one this year.


I’ll show you the progression of one I decorated with a cactus design below.

I started with an empty washing machine drum that I cleaned up to look like this.


Next I added a layer of color using oil paint and let it dry.


Then I used black paint and sketched out my design from some drawings I made beforehand.


Then I started filling in with color what I’d sketched.




I’m able to get different shades of color by adding white or other colors together. For instance, the green is made with a yellow and blue mix. One shade has more blue in it and one has more yellow and white in it.


I tried to add a little dimension to it by layering some lighter shades over the darker shades.



Then the fun part comes in when I get to add the details. In this case the needles on the cactus and the border along the top.




I especially liked the little cross needles on the below cactus.


This one was a fun one to paint and I especially like the way it came out.


While I was painting whimsical garden planters, Greg was making this rustic chair. The back is made from palm stems that he recycled when he trimmed the palm trees. He had to cut the barbs off each stem or else one would get their clothes stuck on them.


The stems will eventually turn brown as the wood dries. We like the green color though, so he’s thinking of staining the legs and arms a green tint. We’ll see. Either way, I think it came out really cool and it’s comfy to sit in!

Have you made something lately? Would love to know what you’ve made.

Happy creating!

Going Bananas in Baja

Last year we transplanted some banana trees in a new garden in front of our casita. It was one of the last things we did before we headed back to Oregon last year.


Before we arrived this year we wondered how much the garden had grown.


Everything really took off and especially the banana trees!

I didn’t know much about how bananas grow before we had banana trees. So I thought you might like to know more about them too.

First there’s a pod that develops. I swear this one was not there yesterday and now today it is. The pod grows very fast!


Then comes some long flowery bud-like things off the top of the pod.


They attract lots of bees.


Then they start forming bananas.



It makes a long stem with the pod at the end. I’m not sure how it gets this long. It sheds petals and grows new flower buds similar to the first photos.


The bananas are small but there’s lots of them!


We chop the bunch while they’re still green and hang it off the patio to ripen. Within a week, we have lots of little yellow bananas that taste wonderful!


It’s pretty cool.

Oh, and this planter box I painted last year is a recycled washing machine drum. In another blog post I’m going to show you more planter boxes I painted.

A couple weeks ago we met a man who did some welding for us and he had a few spare washing machine drums at his shop. I asked him and he gave me two. One I painted with bright flowers and one with cactus. Stay tuned for pics.

Enjoy your weekend!

My Little Red Bird Print is in an Etsy Treasury

Birds of a Feather Etsy TreasuryBird Treasury by Holacards Etsy Shop
by Holacards Etsy Shop

My little red bird print,  “She Felt the Sum Beaming”,  is garnering some attention over on She’s in a beautiful bird Treasury picked out by the Hola Greeting Card Company. Hola Cards makes fun greeting cards and many of them have spanish sentiments on them. They’re very unique and they’re not printed, they’re made by hand! That’s what I love about Etsy…the unique handmade items that an independent artist is making just for you! Love that! ♥

More Colorful Art Bookmarks and Inspiring Things

I did a blog post about my colorful, whimsical art bookmarks back in November but I’ve made a few more so I thought I would share them with you.

My bookmarks are printed by me on a heavy fine art paper card stock and coated with 2 coats of satin acrylic varnish which protects it, brings out the vivid color and gives it a smooth finish! You can buy them at the Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon and at my Etsy Shop online.

A new one is my raven bookmark. I wanted to make one that was more masculine compared to my others. These images were taken from 3 of my raven paintings. The top image is titled “Basking in Moonlight”, middle one is titled “Two Ravens Protecting the Moon” and the bottom image is taken from my painting titled “Two Ravens Sit and Reflect III”.

Raven Bookmarks
Raven Bookmarks

Then I made a bookmark with my whimsical birds. I used three of my favorites. Top image is titled “One Lived in an Enchanted Garden”, middle is “Singing a Fiesta Song” and the bottom image is “Shimmer and Shine”. It is more pastel in color and feels lighter visually than the others.

Whimsical Bird Bookmark
Whimsical Bird Bookmark

Then I have another “Dream Garden” bookmark and I think it is my favorite of all.

Dream Garden Bookmark
Dream Garden Bookmark

On this one I’ve used images titled “Flying Toward a Slice of THe Night”, middle image is “Meditation Garden” and the bottom one comes from my painting titled “Namaste”. All three images are calming to me and just make me feel happy when I look at them.

L. Gruger Bookmarks
L. Gruger Bookmarks

I really love my bookmarks. I might have already done a blog post about this but I just wanted to share some more photos of them.

Bookmarks on my fridge
Bookmarks on my fridge

I’ve always been one to have inspiring things surrounding me. I think it started when my folks put up a huge cork board in my bedroom on one wall when I was a kid so I could tack up my drawings and things that I found that I liked to look at. I just like to have inspiring things around me. It sparks something inside…it taps into creativity that is waiting to soar!

My art studio is surrounded with things that I like and I have my bookmarks hanging about, taped here and there. I like things that dangle and make tinkly music or reflect light or if they do both, that’s even better!


I have fun things on my window sill, like my Gnome “Oleg”.

The Knome "Oleg"
The Gnome "Oleg"

And the magnetic words that I can play with inspire me.

Magnetic words in my art studio.
Magnetic words in my art studio.

What 3 things do you have sitting about that inspire you?

Part 3: One Artist’s Journey – 20-30 yrs old

This continues my 5 part series about my path as an artist. Part 3 is between the years 1979-1989.

In 1981, I graduated from college with a Bachelors in Fine Art from Washington State University. There was a professor in college who sat me down and made me decide if I wanted to take the academic Fine Art route or go the way of Commercial Art.

Me at 21.
Me at 21.

Thinking I needed a way to make a living, I chose the Graphic Design curriculum. So I had a lot of different basic art classes in college such as drawing, painting, printmaking, art history, photography and I had an emphasis in graphic design, so I mainly studied design and layout and advertising. I decided I could do my Fine Art on the side.

My 20’s were about moving out on my own, starting my career in the graphic arts and having fun. I was a bit of a hippie child, we called it being a granola head. I liked earthy stuff…art, music, being outdoors, hiking, camping, road tripping.

I was doing more graphics work in my personal time then fine art projects. I designed my dad’s wine label for his wine making and did the graphics for my mom’s political campaigns. I was working as a graphic production artist to support myself. My first full-time job out of college was as a paste-up artist (production artist) for a weekly newspaper in Seattle. After a couple of years doing that, I freelanced on my own and then wanting to build up my portfolio, I got a job for McCann-Erickson advertising agency as a production artist and soon after moved into the position of Production Art Manager. All along the way, I was doing my fine art and making paintings!

I enjoyed being a production artist because I got to use my hands to make stuff. Cutting and pasting and using an exacto blade to paste up ads, brochures, posters, mock-up packaging, you name it! I learned typesetting and the printing industry. I liked that I could leave my job at the office and spend my free time making art if I wanted to.

I experimented with different mediums. In 1987-88, I was experimenting with pastels. I remember doing some colorful interior scenes with furniture, sofas and chairs. But I didn’t like them much.


My journal says, “I didn’t like them at all… I cut them up in strips. I wove them. I made patterns from them. It was all experimental for me…as most of my art is…one idea feeding off another…then I dabbled in art furniture.”


My art furniture was painted with acrylic and I collaged pieces of paper with oil pastel colored on it. Then I would coat the entire piece with a varnish which would protect and seal it.

funiturestoolI liked the furniture and sold a number of pieces. I made multiple stools and I have one today in my art studio. I painted lots of different items, from mirrors, coat racks, chairs, lamps, to rocking horses but then I was onto something else.

It was during this time that I had a fondness for anything with a Southwest flavor. I started painting big acrylic cactus paintings which I did till about 1991.

I’ll show you the cactus paintings and my acrylic “What’s it all about” collage painting series in Part 4 of the One Artist’s Journey posts next Thursday.

If you’re interested in functional art furniture, I found a few links of some artists doing exactly that.

Hand painted furniture and other artistic creations by Reincarnations>

LaLoba Designs has some decorative handpainted furniture with a rustic southwest look>

Suzanne Fitch makes beautiful hand painted furniture>

Here’s some fun, funky art furniture I found>

An Etsy artist, Artwork by Jo has some unique things>

The Funky Art Guy has an Etsy Shop that has really fun colorful, whimsical pieces of art furniture>

Or this blog on two partners taking furniture and making it into functional pieces of art >



The Way of Art and Healing

Meditation Garden by L. Gruger
Meditation Garden by L. Gruger

I have always felt art has the power to heal. At one point in my life I thought I wanted to be an art therapist. Art Therapy is a form of therapy that uses art as the tool for helping people heal. The wikipedia definition says, “Using their skills in evaluation and psychotherapy, art therapists choose materials and interventions appropriate to their clients’ needs and design sessions to achieve therapeutic goals and objectives.” I talk more about this in my One Artist’s Journey, Part 3 blog post coming up on February 4th. I didn’t become an art therapist but I still believe in the powerful connection between art and healing.

I believe art can have a healing impact on the artist, the viewer and really the whole planet, as art is in every culture all around the world! There are stories that attest to art having the power to heal the body, as well as the mind and spirit. I just read a story about art and heart health. They talked about the connection of participating in creative activities such as the making of art, using music therapy and relaxation techniques to help lower a cardiac patients stress and anxiety which can reduce the liklihood of a cardiac event.

I think we are all creative and desire wellness. Christina Grant, Ph.D, a holistic healer located on the Monterey Peninsula says ” The two desires, participating in creation and maintaining wellness, walk hand in hand.


You too, can tap into your inner creative being, and lift your spirits, release energy, maintain your wellness but it first takes a longing to reveal your creativity in a physical form, whether making marks on paper, writing, with clay, food, color, photos, metal, jewelry making, paint on canvas, wood sculpture, fabric, scraps or paper mache. It’s almost endless, the types of materials one can use to make something. And then it takes an action, a movement toward making something! I have some other blog posts under the tag “Go Make Something” that you can read and maybe be inspired from. Creative visualization is an expressive means of creativity as well! Imagine yourself doing art, being well, achieving your goals, living your dream. This is all creativity!

I like what Shifra Stein says on her Living Artfully website about being in the presence of serene and calming art. How being in it’s presence can connect you to a spiritual level of being and that can help one relax and be less stressed. I like it when I hear people talk about my art in that way. That they are calmed or energized or feel happy when they look at my paintings.

Today I found an interesting blog titled the Healing Power of ART . It is so nice to find a community of like minded souls. I love that about the web.

Manhattan Arts has an art competition that promotes art and healing called Celebrate the Healing Power of Art 2010. “Celebrate The Healing Power of Art” is an international project that celebrates Art’s tremendous healing benefits. Renée Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International, presents an online exhibition of positive art that uplifts the spirit, plus profiles and writings to inspire and promote Art and Healing causes. I will submit some work to this project and see what happens.

Maybe you will be inspired to go make something! Let me know if you do.

Birds and Gardens by L. Gruger
More Birds and Gardens by L. Gruger

Writing My Artist Statement

I have an artist statement. In fact, I have multiple versions of it. I usually have one that I use on my website and one that I use for my promotional materials. And then I will write one for a specific show that I am having such as the one I’m working on for my show in January at the Black Butte Ranch Lodge in Sisters, Oregon.

My artist statements seem to be evolving and changing. It reflects my growth as an artist and I keep all the versions so I can look back on them and see where I’ve been.

This past spring, I was reading my artist statement and felt like it could be modified. I really felt like I needed to give it more thought and really understand what I wanted to convey with it. I wanted to do some self-study. I guess you could say I wanted to get in touch with my message and my art in a different way.

So I went searching online for some resources. One is on the Chicago Artists Resource site. The EBSQ website has some info. I found a Squidoo Lens about it where you can find lots of great links! I found a couple different websites that offered help with writing it. One is by Molly Gordon. She has a website on Authentic Promotion and talks about writing your artist statement with the idea of thinking about it as a nourishing stew. I like this idea because I like to think in metaphor. One’s artist statement is rich with ingredients that you share with your guests.

Another website is by Ariane Goodwin who runs the SmARTist Telesummit. She has a website and e-book titled Writing the Artist Statement. This is the one I ended up purchasing. Writing my statement from her book was a process and I really enjoyed it. So much so that I became one of her affiliates. I took a lot of notes and did a lot of writing as I went through the book. I came up with sentences like:

Painting refreshes my spirit

Painting wraps me in color and a language not heard but felt and seen

I think art can be healing, like a breath of fresh air can rejuvenate one’s soul

The process asks you questions and you answer them without caring what others will think or thinking too hard yourself about it. In looking back at my notes from Question # 8, I wrote this:

#8. Art comes to life in my studio. …It flies. It floasts with fun. The color swirls and moves. The energy is contagious. It invites you in. It beckons you to come play with it. It wants you in it’s world. It says have fun! LIVE! Be engaged. It tells me to have fun.

So as I answered the questions without caring what others might think, I found sentences and thoughts about my art that I hadn’t expressed before. Then at the end of the process I ended up taking all the thoughts and words and snippets of sentences to form a cohesive artist statement. It does take time. But I accomplished my goal. I had a revised artist statement and one that got me to think about my art and process in new ways.

You can read my current online version of my art statement here> Postcards and Travel

I do love to travel! But since my purse strings are tight right now, I decided to join This is a website where you send and recieve postcards from all over the world! And a great way to discover new places to travel! I find it very inspiring. It’s fun to see the stamps and images from the cards and getting a hand written message from someone.

I also love getting mail. Real mail that you get in the mailbox. It is like getting a little gift when you get a letter from someone. Somebody took the time to address it and write a note. It’s special! So I get little gifts of messages from people all over the world…people sending me a postcard! How fun is that?

I also like to make original Art postcards occasionally and love to send them out into the world that way. On one’s Postcrossing profile you can specify what kinds of postcards you’d like to receive. There are a lot of people collecting different kinds of cards, for example, cityscapes, animals, humorous, art, etc.

My first postcard received was from Finland

FInland postcard of witchThen Portugal.

Portugal ObidosRussia next.

Russia Heart Postcard

And then Brasil.Brasil Tucano Postcard

All the postcards I received have a little note written on them, either about themselves or their homeland. On Postcrossing you can track your postcards travel time and where they came from  and where they’re going to. There’s a map showing how the postcards travel and it updates itself automatically. It’s fun to watch. It’s a pretty neat system.

I hadn’t thought of traveling to Portugal before. But in reading about it, it looks like an interesting country. What are some of your favorite travel spots? Anybody have some recommendations?

I’m looking forward to receiving more postcards and  wondering where they will come from next!

Whimsical Snowflake and Birdhouse Christmas Ornaments

The Tumalo Art Co., the gallery where I exhibit my art in Bend, has put up three ornamental Christmas trees for the artists to hang their handmade ornaments that they have for sale on.

I made some mini whimsical snowflake paintings…


and painted some tiny birdhouses as my ornaments.
They look cute hanging in a tree outside our house.


I brought them down to the gallery today and hung them on the Christmas trees.


nov09-closeup-treeHappy Holidays!