Taking A Side Track

Okay, so I took a little side track recently . . . . and it was a good thing!  One of the artists I stalk on-line, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.   She is a full-time artist, crafter and maker. Every weekday morning I start my day by going to four blogs and www.balzerdesigns.typepad.com is one of them. She paints, art journals, sews, carves stamps, makes cards . . . . .  I don’t think there is a craft she hasn’t tried!  Her enthusiasm is simply contagious.  She taught at Whim So Doodle located in St. Petersburg, Florida this past weekend.  I have stalked them on-line too, they bring in a great line-up of teachers throughout the year. Julie’s previous engagements at Whim So Doodle have never fit with my schedule . . . . .  until now!

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She came down for three 1-day classes.  I didn’t have anything scheduled, so I immediately talked myself into taking the plunge and signing up for all three classes – lettering, reduction painting and gelli plate printing. I love doing all of this . . . .  it was totally applicable to my art journaling. . . . . like I need an excuse!

The lettering class was great. I find lettering very relaxing and meditative. It was all about developing your own style of font, the guidelines for creating a layout and how to use your lettering in a more illustrative way.

The Reduction Painting class is a technique that Julie uses all the time in her work and she was gracious enough to share. The technique was very  ‘freeing’, but with everything new, we were all overthinking it! The results provided layers that created depth to our pages along with wild patterns to use as focal points. Not well explained, sorry . . .  I guess you had to be there!

Then the Gelli: Beyond the Basics class was a whirlwind of techniques. We all created samples of each technique. Everyone had their favorites and everyone had their  . . . . well lets just say . . . .  least favorite! So there was something for everyone!!

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And let me not forget, Whim So Doodle!! What a great store with wonderful staff. They have a great big area for the store with a wide variety of arts and crafts supplies. Then they have a smaller room off to the side which is their fabric room, O . . . M. . . .  G!! I am such a sucker for colors, patterns, texture! As I selected a yard of this and a yard of that . . .  they asked ‘so what do you sew?’. I laughed and confessed that I am a collector of fabrics. I can’t imagine cutting into these little beauties . . . . but I will work on that!

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For me, this is as good as going to a spa . . . .  or chilling on the beach.  I love the process of letting go and opening up to learning something new.  Nothing here was finished work or particularly fabulous, but the process was spot on!!  And as always, there was a journal. I had to take notes somewhere, right?!?!

In addition, downtown St. Petersburg was lovely. A great place to walk around, with plenty to do from museums to water sports to a stroll along the bay. The restaurants and bars in the area were really nice!! My favorite bar was Saigon Blonde. The restaurants I enjoyed included the Mill, Oak and Stone and Red Mesa Cantina – all fabulous. If you ever get the chance for a little weekend get away, it’s a great spot!

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