Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Christmas Story...of a sort


I am one of those people for whom Christmas wears a veil of sadness; while there are bright lights and music and excited plans everywhere (though God knows not so much this strange, sad year), I celebrate the Solstice with as much peace and beauty and sacredness as I am able.  

The Light returns...and December 26th always comes.

Modern Christmas music...meaning, in most cases, anything after 1900...makes me cry.  Like all of us for whom Christmas is more a time of sadness than excitement, I have my reasons.  I try not to inflict them on others.  I regret that my beloved Joseph has to live with it, with me and my need to hibernate, and bless the man for doing all he can to make it easier for me.


I miss the celebrations we used to have at Fort Osage National Historic Site, sharing simple, handmade gifts, decorating with pineapples, a traditional symbol of hospitality, live evergreens and candles and no glitz.  We sang 18th C. (and earlier) songs. We made our feast of foods that might have been available 250 years ago, and it was beautiful.  And it didn't trigger my memories.

But I promised a slightly more current Christmas story, didn't I?

Many years ago, when my first husband, Harris, and I lived in a small bungalow in the city, he gave me the perfect present.  Other years, Christmas had been a bit crazy, splitting our time between his mother in southern Kansas, and my dad and his new family in Independence.  Christmas Eve one place, Christmas Day in the other, no matter what the weather.  We were torn, as most families in that situation can be, and exhausted by the demands and expectations.  

Bless Harris, he didn't drive, and for some reason he always wanted to do his shopping on Christmas Eve...so that meant me sitting in the car somewhere for hours while he braved the crowds, looking for the Perfect Gift.  

One year I'd said I really needed a muffler...I meant a long, warm scarf, but he remembered images of women with hands tucked inside a fur muff, and he wouldn't be satisfied until he had searched every store in downtown KC.  (Needless to say, fruitlessly!  Muffs went out 100 years ago or so...)

But this year, his mother was gone and seeing my dad was less fraught.  We'd bought a pretty little bungalow in the Brookside area, and had room for a tree--he'd had a lousy childhood and I always tried hard to give him the best Christmas possible, with home made cookies, fruitcake, decorations, and all the traditional trappings.  He hadn't mentioned braving the crowds on Christmas Eve, and I was very grateful--that would have been gift enough!

An old friend who knew what he'd gotten for me that year took me aside and said "get your face ready for Christmas morning...you're going to be really disappointed."  And I wondered what on earth...?

But Christmas morning came, and he shyly handed me a heavy box, messily wrapped...and when I tore it open there was no need at all to "ready my face."  

He had bought me an electric typewriter, a beauty of a machine.  He knew I wanted to be a writer, after years of workig for others in stressful jobs--and he helped make that dream possible.

He knew me.  And he gave me love and hope and the future I grew into.


Remembering this story always makes me smile, when I think of all the jokes about husbands buying their wives a new frying pan or blender or whatever, instead of the lingerie or perfume or God knows what they "should" be buying.  And how angry the wives are fully expected to be.

Ladies, I wish you all an electric typewriter, and love.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Website Redesign--a Work in Progress...


I'm redesigning the banners for the class pages, as well as redoing my whole website (erk!)--and I'm trying to use art that was actually IN the class (though I think the backlit self-portrait may have snuck in there--not sure!)

I work in ink and wash a lot and really love it--I've got some pieces that were done long after the class was finished, but I think to be fair I probably ought to stick with mostly what was in the class itself, what do you think? I want to give people an idea of what they're going to learn, and although the technique is the same, the art is different. 


This one, for instance, is not in the class, but I loved how it turned out...

I've redone the banners for all six existing classes, and the banner for the main page, with no end of simplifying and rewriting and overall housecleaning of the whole site.  My wonderful webmistress Sonya Morgan at Morgansites.com is endlessly patient and creative!

Deleting CDs from the catalog since we can no longer make them ourselves and Cafe Press quit years ago...the ones I have remaining are in my Etsy shop, Cathy Johnson Art,* and when they're gone, they're gone.  We're changing over to downloadable as we have time--and of course some already are!

*Remember there is still a lot of original art there, as well as prints.  I've bogged down listing new things, but I WILL get badk to it.  Please take a peek...

Meanwhile of course, the classes are all still available on my original website! The upgrade is a long way from finished...it will be much cleaner, simpler, and more navigable.

...and of course as always, your opinions are more than welcome.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Working on that website...

How odd, when you look at your old website through new eyes.  It came from a time when my freelance work was my ONLY income, and almost everything I did had to be a way to earn my keep.  Some worked reasonably well, some did not and fell by the wayside (I don't make 18th C. style jewelry any more!)

So as the years passed I added more and more--new books, classes, images, blogs, galleries, links...and it became a huge, confusing mess that had very little to do with where I am now--or who I am now.

The new version will be vastly simpler, and a great deal will just go away.  It no longer applies.  I'll maintain the catalog (which will also be simpler since we don't do CDs any more) and the classes, at least the self-directed ones for the present, but the rest will be cleaner, more focused, and a good deal more personal and less business-oriented.  I'm a good deal older now, and I have less energy to waste.

There will be a focus on whimsy, fantasy, spirituality, creativity, nature...and gratitude.

For I am more than grateful I can turn my focus in those directions...

Shedding those old skins takes time and effort...I hope it will be worth it.  I plan to have fun, while I'm at it.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


 ...it's way past time to update my website, and I'm drowning!  

I want simple, clean, streamlined, and NOT include everything but the kitchen sink!  I just kept adding and adding and adding over the years...

I don't feel like the same person I was then...well, all the cells in our bodies change every 7 years, so I guess I'm not.  My interests have changed, my energy has changed, life has changed around me, and I'm on a different path...

All's well, but my website isn't. Poor old dinosaur...

I think updating the text is about the hardest part!

Simplify, simplify...hail Discardia, there too!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A small ooops and an apology...

 I keep forgetting on this blog comments are moderated--I get a fair bit of spam, sometimes people selling things not even remotely related to art (or even those that are...this isn't a place for it!), sometimes politics, sometimes who knows what.  It had been quite a while since I went looking to see if I needed to let some through...ooops, sorry!

The comment section, of course, is meant for your reactions to my posts...and I want to see your response!  Thank you for commenting...nice to know someone's really out there.

Finding my way back...

...I've wandered off in some strange directions, and although I'd like to blame it on COVID, in all honesty I know it's been much longer than that.  My "dry spell" with my journal and art has been long and very strange.

Happy to say I seem to be finding my way back, new inspirations, more interest, more of a simple urge to document, to observe, to respond...

Recently, it was sparked by new tools, as it often is.  A new tool, a new medium, a new technique, and suddenly we NEED to try it...

My ever-so-creative friend Elizabeth Lifa Metz (check out her Etsy Shop, Conifer Crow, for some wonderful journals, classes, zines and other goodies!) posted about her new fountain brush pens, and my creative ears perked up!  They're made not unlike TWSBI fountain pens, but with a strong Lamy-like clip, and they are CHEAP.  As in 3 for $15.95.  Had to give it a try...

These were the "Wing Sung 3009 Piston-Filled Flexible Brush Tip Fountain Pen, Fine to Broad For Sketching, Drawing, Scrapbooking and Calligraphy Painting," (brand appears to be Lanxivi) on Amazon, though I'm sure they're probably available elsewhere.  

The pen works a lot like a TWSBI, with a piston fill, which I really like.  So far, I was just playing with one pen and Rose Mary, at the cabin.  To get darker values, I layered.

When I got home I filled another pen with black and punched up my sketch a bit.

This are the three values I'm using now...Noodler's Lexington Grey, De Atramentis Document Black, and the same ink diluted. 


S0 far my sticky labels aren't staying stuck.  They all look pretty much the same in the pen, so I'll have to come up with something.  Even though I just had the grey and black, I could see this was going to work!

I loved that you can get such a range of line width with a brush that you can't with a pen.  Yummy, textures!


I added just a bit of linework and that 2nd grey when I got home.  Nice that you can do less or more detail with these tools...

Look at the variety of line widths and effects possible! 

You could fill the pens with watercolors, as they show in their Amazon listing, but I chose three values of ink for sketching--as noted, De Atramentis Document Black, and the same diluted with their proprietary dilution solution, and Noodler's Lexington Grey. 

So maybe the moral of the story is if you're in a dry spell, just consider trying something new, kick back, play, get out in nature and enjoy yourself!


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Virtual Tours, Virtual Classrooms

Not that we're not all about overwhelmed by now with free this and free that, and a million and one webinars and classes, both free and paid, but perhahps you're in need after a few weeks of some fresh options!  It seems everyone in the world wants to offer what we can, during the Coronavirus shelter-at-home edict.

Tour National Parks:


Live cams of all kinds: https://explore.org/livecams/currently-live/decorah-eagles-north-nest?fbclid=IwAR0a9xzrXaU-AEaFQfkwQz2-fUqtkyZ34OolTAIUtylwMyd3Gw6jT41dwQM  Browse to find what you're most interested in!

And of course the Trout Cam at my beloved Bennett Spring: https://mostateparks.com/content/trout-cam

Art at home: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EVMQiHHKugF4RQ071DzimkSKn1AuiBNOJ-i6xs1mBts/preview?fbclid=IwAR2Y_Qx1vp2oy-pibip6NfJi37VQWRKLyDzKOf8fswcd_yjSgWXnvd-B7lc

15 Broadway plays to watch free: https://www.playbill.com/article/15-broadway-plays-and-musicals-you-can-watch-on-stage-from-home?fbclid=IwAR1mcBIYUqnt0BaWndyq6aICYC1IQJL2Dh22FdIO8_Hcolm6GmzHNU_eitc

Virtual field trips: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SvIdgTx9djKO6SjyvPDsoGlkgE3iExmi3qh2KRRku_w/preview?usp=drivesdk&fbclid=IwAR2tFDx8xjTYu-zvVZri3NuXm2tqnOka-ccyqtJ_-ufG_dw2epuyr0JAHU0&sle=true

Virtual Museum Tours: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours?fbclid=IwAR2Adoz4aPRy-CSPvvNNyG4IiM0rRABFyvqN_BulyBpM0u2B8TwTIu8Yyps

Virtual drawing classes from famous illustrators: https://www.fastcompany.com/90478307/stuck-at-home-take-free-drawing-classes-from-famous-illustrators?partner=rss&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=rss+fastcompany&utm_content=rss&fbclid=IwAR0G_dZZhrColfEveBnDhQVyHL-JHVVT7N4cQyol7Aaz4QwLwxN_Ji-vguw 

JUST IN, several tours of the Missouri Botanical Gardens from this site: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/missouri/virtual-tour-botanical-garden-mo/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=missouri&utm_campaign=newsletter

And of course my own free art videos on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/KateJosTube

I was collecting books and manuscripts online too, but seem to have lost them...if you have any favorites to recommend, please do!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

In these pivotal, overwhelming times...

As we all deal with this situation in whatever way we can--and who am I to judge what make you feel better, gives you courage, keeps you sane?--I find I am both heartened by the goodness and generosity and courage of my fellows, and overwhelmed by their offerings.

Not just the kindness of neighbors and friends, the offers of shopping or sharing, but the huge, global outpouring of offerings, opportunities, encouragement, information, classes. Novenas from Abbey of the Arts. A Virtual Retreat from Philip Carr-Gomm. Wisdom from my shamanic friends. Prayers from my Christian friends. Buddhist wisdom. Whimsy.  Music offerings.  Blog posts. Painting and drawing how-tos or sketch-alongs.  Information on home made masks. Gardening advice for those who have never gardened, and those who have. Herbal information. Exercises to stay in shape when the gym is closed.  Posts from doctors, nurses, researchers. Videos. Recipes. Humor, tragedy. The human condition.
So MANY want to do what they can to help. What we can. So many want to make what small contributions they can. I've made videos available to artists, and an eBook for those who want and need to keep a journal of these days--I am, a Pandemic Journal.  I've got half a dozen blog posts in the pipeline here, drafts waiting to be finished, photos found, published...and yet...

Are you feeling overwhelmed?  I am.

Perhaps it's time to step back and focus. Slow down.  Step away from computers and devices.  Pet a cat. Take a dog for a walk. Sew. Chop vegetables. Watch the sun come up again, tomorrow, as it will.  Breathe. Be.


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