6 Instagram Artists You Should Follow

I’ve become quite the Instagram addict, but not for the reasons you may think. There are so many talented artists sharing their works-in-progress and sketches and paintings, it’s a cornucopia of inspiration. Here are a few artists I’ve discovered via Instagram and why I love what their sharing. 

(I’ve provided links to view their streams via your browser, so you can check out their work even if you don’t use Instagram.)




Dita Toolkit is an amazing portrait artist that can work magic with graphite pencils. Not only does he upload artwork nearly daily, he’s gone out of his way to post tutorial photos and share the work followers have created via his teaching. 



Aaron has a very distinctive drawing and illustration style that I just adore, and he posts everything from post-it doodles to finished paintings. I love his sketchbook shots and minimalist facial details paired with huge, complicated guns, awesome fashion, and spiky hair. 



Khuon Nguyen is another genius with a pencil. His art ranges from detailed portraits to superhero doodles (which makes the comic book lover in me squeee), cute animals, and nerd girls in glasses. He also posts little tutorials to help you along, and posts colored work (I suspect he uses a tablet to paint on the computer, but can’t be sure). 



Ana Bagayan makes me want to draw girls with big eyes. She’s currently on a UFO and alien kick, and has even been known to doodle an alien girl while stuck in traffic. Her large oil paintings of girls in fantasy landscapes are awe-inspiring with her command of technique and color. You can also find girls with wings, baby animals, and thought-provoking scenes. 



If I could paint hair half as good as Stella Im Hultberg, I’d be a happy, happy girl. While she seems to paint women’s faces, there’s such depth of emotion and mastery in execution that you can’t help but be captivated by her work. She posts paintings in-progress, giving you a peek into her studio and work, which can be great fun to watch progress. 



Sienna’s works are quirky, odd, and beautiful. Her step-by-step photos really show you how each layer and bit is added, going from drawing to finished piece. I love seeing the inner workings of her mind via her art and day-to-day photos. 


So those are my favorite new discovered artists so far. Have you stumbled on some great artists? Share in the comments; I’d love to find some new inspiration, and hope I’ve helped you find some new people to follow as they share their art via this new network. 

Watercolor Inspired

When I clicked play on a video posted on Traci Bautista’s blog last week, I had no idea what I was in for. 

The video chronicled the combined efforts of Traci and an artist I’d never heard of, Stephanie Corfee. I watched as Stephanie doodled in watercolors with confidence, creating a bright, colorful piece of art that Traci then incorporated into a doodle of her own. 

I was hooked. 


So it’s no surprise that, after finding Stephanie’s book on Amazon, I pulled out a pad of mixed-media paper and my small collection of watercolors and started to doodle. 

I didn’t think I’d make anything nearly as stunning as the work that inspired me. I’m not all that experienced in using watercolors, having abandoned them soon after I started art journaling for acrylics, but I wanted to give this a try. 

It happened by accident, really. An afterthought when I collected supplies to work in my Smash book on the couch. I soon found myself consumed by the doodles, playing with color and shape and line in a way I’ve never done before. I’ve come a long way with my confidence with a brush, and just, well, had a ball. 


I think these have become my new zentangles! With a waterbrush, it’s just as easy for me to create these as my little drawings in a sketchbook. I plan on scanning them in and creating cool prints with them of some kind. Oh, I’m in love

Count these as my journal pages for Monday and Tuesday, okay? 


Do Something Unexpected


I keep meaning to write longer posts, but have been working steady on my story for National Novel Writing Month. And as I'm still awake and at the computer at 12:30am, I think it's time for me to re-evaluate my time management as there is so much I want (and need!) to say. 

Above is the canvas you saw in yesterday's video, the one I splashed paint and water on. It wasn't a technique of any kind, rather, not one I've seen. But I've been thinking, lately, outside the box when it comes to how I approach creating art, and breaking the rules is, well, fun

A few years ago, I dropped my copy of Wreck This Journal in my pool. It was hard. There was, as you'd imagine, a certain amount of resistance. I had, in my hands, a book. And while I'd gotten over the bump of altering books for artwork or ripping out pages for collage fodder, throwing an entire book into a pool -- on purpose! -- frightened me. 

I remember a vacation one year, in Florida, where my mother dropped the book she'd been reading into the pool while floating along under the bright sunshine. The book, 'A is for Alibi,' was put in the microwave and tossed in the dryer for a few cycles, but was never the same. And maybe I was afraid that, by throwing my journal in the pool, it would never be the same. 

It wasn't. It was better

When I was sitting outside with fluid acrylics and a spray bottle, I knew I needed something more. And then the sprinklers came on. Why not put the canvas under the sprinkler? It would work much better than the little mister I have, and aren't canvases made to have wet media thrown on them, anyway? 

And so, while I was playing outside with the new camera, my brother experimenting in his own way with filming (I have taken him on as my student as a way to re-learn all the things about creating video I love), I thought throwing paint at a canvas would make for a wicked visual. And then, I eyed my water jar next to me and thought, wouldn't throwing this at the canvas be fun? 

If you can get outside, or in your garage, or an unfinished basement, or somewhere, do it. Go buy a cheap canvas from Michaels or Hobby Lobby or Big Lots. Open a tube of your favorite paint and throw it on there. Pretend your Jackson Pollock or Aelita Andre. Then, fill your water jar, position the canvas upright and throw it on there. Let it get all messy. Let it drip down and make spatters. Run your hands over it. Turn it different directions. 

Do something frightening and unexpected. 

I double-dog-dare you. 

{two amazing lessons on one adventurous night}

The cover for my new (next) journal is drying, and the sun’s casting a warm glow over my little area, so I thought I’d pause from picking the PVA from my fingers and finally sit down to write this post.

It’s a week late, as in the events in it happened a week ago, about 30 minutes from now, but I haven’t really been in the mood to write it until now. Forgive me if I ramble, or get deep; I’m writing this as I think, more like telling a story to a friend rather than writing a concise blog post.

Then again, I treat this blog as an open letter to a friend, or to myself, beginning with art six years ago.

There’s this thing in Phoenix called First Fridays. I heard about it pretty soon after I moved here in October, while searching for artful gatherings near me. It’s described as America’s largest self-guided art walk, with galleries and shops opening their doors to a wandering public looking for a good time and great art. There are vendors at several points along the way, and a free trolley helps you get around.

Last Thursday, I was watching Up. And you know the beginning, the part that makes you cry? It also made me realize that the way I was going, I’d have dreams painted on all my walls and never have done one of them. So I decided there and then that I was going to do First Friday. I’m usually hesitant about such things, not because I don’t like crowds or adventures, but rather know I’ll pay for a long walk and physical activity the day, or days, later. A nice little Fibromyalgia parting gift.

But I was going to do it. I had a back-up Vicodin in my pocket, and packed my purse with my journal, a handful of art prints, my wallet, and digital camera. I also packed my younger brother, K, in the car, and we drove to the Phoenix Art Museum to park and catch the trolley. I don’t really know the area, so I figured this would be the best way to go.

So we grabbed a map and stood in the crowd waiting for the East trolley. And that thing was packed as tightly as a Japanese train during rush hour (I presume; I’ve only ridden the Japanese train system during their 9pm rush hour, so the earlier ones could be lighter. Then again, I doubt that very much!). We were the first two to have to stand, and so we rode on down to Roosevelt holding onto the gold bars running above the seats that were smudged with fingerprints.

We didn’t really know where to get off, so I suggested the second Roosevelt stop. Why? Because it looked close to stuff. So we waited and soon were released from the trolley in a gush of human traffic, running into those collected on the corner. We were bombarded by hand-outs and fliers from all sorts of people, our hands quickly stuffed.

But it wasn’t until we began wandering down 5th Street that we really realized where we were.

A magical, awesome land.

I don’t really know how to describe it other than to show you photographs K took, as he lifted the camera from me sometime on the trolley (note: I wish I had the names of the artists pictured here, but since I wasn't paying attention, I didn't grab cards from all of them). Which was fine, as I was jumping after everything. There are little coffee shops (one sold coffee and crapes!) and tiny galleries where the owners sleep in the back rooms. Giant covered front lawns cluttered with mismatched picnic tables. Back lots with more art to see or bands to hear.

People were selling paintings and prints, jewelry and sculptures made from found objects. One woman had several hula-hoops with ribbon wrapped around them. The night was warm and all around us, conversations blended into that rich background that makes you feel more alive just through knowing there are others around you. You could close your eyes or look up at the stars and just feel the creative energy saturating your clothes, your very bones.

I quickly reconized the need to carry a water bottle, and bought one at the coffee and crepes place. K declined. And then, suddenly, we came upon a table covered in cupcakes, water bottles, and --

“Or any of this stuff!” the girl said. “We don’t take money, only trades.”

“And no cell phones,” the second one added.

K laughed. “People have offered you their cell phones?”


“What’s all that?” I asked. The first girl had a flashlight pointed at a pile of seemingly unconnected junk, random bits you’d find at the bottom of your purse.

“Things people have traded us.”

“Well,” I said, “Those cupcakes look delicious.” I quickly balanced my purse on the table and began digging through all the papers and fliers we’d already collected out of wanting to avoid confrontation, looking for the pile of prints I’d shoved in ‘just in case.’ I pulled out You Can Fly and handed it to the second girl. “Here. K, do you want something?”

“That bottle of water,” he replied.

“This is so cool!” the second girl said, once her friend shined the flashlight on the print. I smiled, K opened the bottle of water, and we continued on.

“I can’t believe my art just bought you that bottle of water,” I told K.

“I know. It’s awesome.”

And he drank half the damn bottle right there.


We stepped up onto the high patio of a print shop, where K looked through screenprinted t-shirts. I eyed the decorated flasks in the corner. Outside, on the patio, a DJ changed songs, the beat vibrating through the brick shop.

“These are cool,” he said.

“They’re screenprinted.”

We walked back out into the heat of April in the desert. As we hopped down, K said, “You should do that, Sam.”

“Right. With my little Yudu.”

“It would be really cool.”

I laughed into the night air.

We walked back towards the corner where a company was handing out free cans of something called Sun Drop. I took the offered drink, and so did K. As we neared the corner and the amber light of a streetlight, he held his out.

“I got diet.”

“Good,” I smiled.

We switched drinks and popped open the tabs. It wasn’t half-bad.


We entered a white building with chipping paint, deep red showing through the cracks. A fence inside guided us around to a gallery area, where paintings and pieces from all sorts of mediums stood freely or hung on the walls. Right next to the entrance sat a grey box with


stenciled on it. It was painted on all visible surfaces.

K laughed at the mirror and camera installation that showed your image over the word SUSPECT.

We went up a staircase to nowhere, descended, and headed back out.


Across the way, an open field boasted tented stalls of all sorts of things. K pulled out the camera while I explored one covered in pink. Another had hand-made jewelry that took my breath away and made me regret not pulling any cash out of an ATM before driving down. A display of brass stencils caught my eye, and as I went through them, I remarked,

“Wow. I had about 500 of these in Illinois.”

The owner sighed. “You should have put them on eBay!”

“They might still be in the garage,” I replied.

I grabbed a card after running my fingers over darling earrings, the pang of not being able to bring them home with me a pain that would remind me for next month.


We crossed the street to where a band was playing in front of a record shop.

As I walked through the latticed walls covered in paintings, I couldn’t help but feel small. Not in stature, but talent. And here’s where the first amazing thing of the night happened.

Instead of feeling hopeless and depressed, I felt empowered.

Why? Because seeing the work there, being in front of the paintings and saying hello to the tattooed artists who probably have jobs during the day and do this on the side, or struggle by on sales alone, showed me what is possible. I remember reading an interview with Pam Carriker, and the intro said, “She has 20 years experience in art.”

20 years? How can I possible think my art now can be compared to anything like that after only 6? Yes, some people succeed overnight. Others need practice and passion. I was wailing to Lia one night a year ago and she told me, “You know, it took Sabrina [Ward Harrison] 10 years to make any money off her books.”

And walking around, seeing those pieces, I realized I’m only in my artistic infancy. I’m just starting, drawing stick figures with my fingers in kindergarten. I have so much yet to discover and uncover in myself. There’s so many things I need to go through in order to get the rich stuff out. And I’m doing the best anyone wanting to be an artist can -- I am making art every day. A sketch here, watercolors there. Maybe some writing in my Harajuku Lovers composition book Lia sent me to fill with new Arizona dreams. Other days, I’m experimenting with the laugh and disregard of rules of a mad scientist.

Maybe it won’t happen today or tomorrow, but it will as long as I keep showing up. I love the paintings I do now. I love the paintings I did last year. And I can see, when looking between them, how much I’ve grown and learned. There’s a adage in the TV business that goes like this -- in order to get a writing gig in TV, you have to submit a spec script (a script of an episode of an established show in the genre you want to write for). And everyone tells you you don’t submit your first or second or even your fifth. You submit that sixth one, because every one before that was just for practice.

I’m pretty sure it’s the same for art.


Our finale for the night was the Firehouse, where artists from all over sell their artwork, jewelery, clothes, and other odds and ends. I walked around and felt like I had to do something. Like this was one of those moments I could either grab for or paint on my walls.

“How does one get to sell stuff here?” I asked.

I got a card. And an enthusiastic, “We’re always looking for new artists!” before we left.

And we were just about to turn and walk to the trolley stop when I noticed there was something pointing to the back lot. Hugging the side of the building was a path lined with roses and bushes growing over a lattice fence. We came out into an area with a stage and chairs and couches set out for the audience. Not knowing what we walked into, K and I took a seat.

Now, you know that feeling I had earlier? That push to go outside my comfort zone and do something? Collect stories instead of pictures on the walls?

I just knew it was going to get me into trouble, because not five minutes later, I was randomly chosen to go up on stage. This wasn’t a volunteer thing -- this was a, “We’re going to pick you and you’re going to do this, damnit!” kind of deal. And I didn’t know what we were going to be doing until I climbed up onto the stage -- and I can still feel the embarrassment tingling across my skin as I write this -- and found out...

Oh, you thought I was going to tell you, didn’t you.

I will reveal this: the second amazing thing that happened that night. A piece of advice for all you afraid to do things you feel in your heart in fear of being embarrassed or laughed at. For those moments when you feel like a moron and want to shrink and hide.

I’m pretty sure -- no, positive -- it is nothing bigger than participating in an orgasmic moaning competition on stage in front of 50 strangers and your little brother recording the whole damn thing on the digital camera he lifted from you an hour ago.

So next time you’re frightened to do something in order to save face or avoid embarrassment, think to yourself, “Is this more scary that what Kira had to do?”

Yeah. Didn’t think so.

And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I didn’t come in first, but wasn’t last, either, which is a plus. And the rest of the night, I was laughing and smiling because nothing could touch me after that.


My brother opted to keep my door prize. And the camera. He said, “I’m so showing this to mom when we get back.”

“Uhh...just as long as it doesn’t end up on YouTube.”

He gave me a wicked smile as we reached the corner where the trolley would be picking us up.

It was across from a Light Rail station.

“Next time, we’re taking that down here,” I said with a tight smile, still wondering how I could get the camera back. “Cause we could have stayed so much later.”


K gave me the camera after I revealed, as we sat on the trolley back to the art museum, that I had the dongle that plugged into the computer at the bottom of my purse.

He asked for it back two hours later.


The next day, I walked into the bookstore and gave my number to the guy there I’d been crushing on for a few weeks. After the night before, what was a little flirting?

(And if you’re reading this, why haven’t you called? And if you did, why no voice mail?)

Perhaps that’s the final lesson. That you can have all the practice in the world, get rid of the embarrassment from your life, but in the end, you’ve gotta own it. All of it.

So stop painting pictures on your walls and get out into the world.

It’s waiting.


{a little peek & taking inspiration and creating something new}


I am just finishing up a project and wanted to be able to share at least a peek of it before sending it off!

I’ve been inspired by a whole host of artists lately, and incorporated their techniques or basic ideas into this journal page. I wanted to show you how you can learn from someone else but make it all uniquely your own.

Ruth Rae creates the most amazing fiber artwork, an I just adore her work. There are a few pieces of hers in Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux, and I just had to try some stuff out! Above are pieces of muslin left over from my messenger bag alteration that I stamped on with Staz On ink. I would have never thought of this unless I’d seen her artwork with stamped images on it!


I’ve been totally inspired by Traci’s Art Journaling Daily posts, expecially this one, where we get to see her write! It got me pulling out my own dip-pen and ink, and I just spilled onto the page all that was on my mind.


Roben-Marie’s gotten me into the Liquitex Ink! And several books talk about painting with the dauber in the ink bottle. So I colored things in and was amazed at how cool the white bled into the purple.

The flower is a die-cut shape from sticky-back canvas. I seriously love that stuff and use it all the time to embellish my artwork!


DJ’s amazing journals gave me the idea to use the fabric to hinge the pages (her word, and isn’t it just the perfect one?). So here’s what a spread looks like!

At the top is the positive of a stencil I was using. Dina showed me her way of using both the positive and negative of stencils when I played in her studio! You get double milage out of one application, and can get a new page started while working on another.

Inspiration can come from anywhere! What makes amazing art is taking that you’ve learned and putting it through YOU as if you’re a processor. Inspiration comes in and BONDS with who YOU are and is instantly transformed. By putting it all together, you begin to experiment and create something that not only pays homage to the artists and images that first fired you up, but synthesize a UNIQUE creation.

Don’t be afraid to use a technique you’ve learned or seen. Just make sure, when you use it, it becomes YOUR VERSION. That is why journals are amazing - they are safe places where you EXPERIMENT and PLAY and ultimately discover yourself!

From comments I’ve gotten in the past, I can safely say that my artwork doesn’t directly copy or rip off other artists. I used to worry about that in the past SO MUCH! But now I know I can take it in, play around, and create something wonderful.

I could really use the kindness and help of strangers today, as I finish up preparations for a major reveal and online workshop. If you like this content or any of my videos, please donate a little bit via the sidebar!


{things i'm digging this monday afternoon}

july 11

+ I've decided I want to start drawing every day again. I'm working in two little journals and rip the pages out and tape them in as extra pages in my regular journal. which is becoming more of a sketchbook filled with art and drawings and such. It's really exciting. This is yesterday's page, done while lying on the couch.

+ Zura has created an directory of all the great classes and workshops you can find online. Give it a browse and find something new to learn!

+ You've been following Connie's 30 Journals in 30 Days, right? My interview will be up on July 19th. :D

+ I got my copy of Dawn Sokol's Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls. It's AMAZING. Go over and check out my review to see how much I love it! And while you're there, grab a copy!

+ Have you noticed the new link up top there? That's right -- you can now grab the first three issues of my art journaling 'zine Page by Page as either a digital copy or printed 'zine. There's tons of great stuff in there!

+ I'm also now blogging daily over at Journal Girl Loves...., my tumblr of journal and creativity inspiration.

{aside: kurt halsey on a chilly autumn night}

In an effort to post more than just essays, here's a bit I found while searching for inspiration. After an unexpectedly early and busy day at work, I've taken to the couch with my journal to sketch out ideas for the two paintings I'm working on (and watching the Hell's Kitchen finale!). Brr! It's cold outside! Time to snuggle with the dogs!

Check out the redesign! I opted for a simple, hand-done design. 

Anyway, Kurt Halsey is hands down my favorite artist. I stumbled upon his work through icons on LiveJournal, and have been hooked ever since. His amazing drawings and paintings just radiate human emotion of all kinds. I even have some of his paintings hanging in my studio -- they were the first I ever bought. 

Go over to his site and check out his work, but not before you read this heartbreaking blog entry. Proof that even "real" artists have problems, and that making it your livelihood has its downside. 

{a inspirational find...}


I was lucky enough to visit Jenny Sweeney's little shop yesterday, where, after going to Bali with Anahata, she carries a lot of Papaya! stuff....which includes a few Sabrina Ward Harrison prints. I don't think the line's been "officially" released, but I got this gem to hang on my studio wall. You have no idea how amazing it is to look up from my journal and see this hanging there.

I also grabbed Papaya!'s 2010 weekly planner. Mmmm...More eye candy! And because of how much I spent, I got a cute assortment of Jenny's notepads and cards!

Here's some of Jenny's new artwork on Anahata's blog; seeing these in person is amazing, and I love this new direction she's going in. I'm so lucky to have such a talented artist living right here near me!


It got me working in my journal, experimenting with new colors and techniques. Does anyone else find that Zinc White smells a bit? I never really have used it, but it came in the pack of colors I bought, so I decided to try it out. I like what it DOES, just am uncomfortable using something that smells, considering I get it all over my hands. Help?

Thank you everyone for your comments regarding my last post, more specifically, me possibly writing a book! Hearing things like that really gives me a creative boost, and I'm seriously considering it, now! So thanks!

This week's vid will be Coptic Binding. I need a new journal, as my current one is about a week or so from being finished, and when I get this close to finishing one, I have to bind, bind, bind! I also have a cool idea for a file folder journal I want to share with you.

For now, I send to you my love and creative vibes!