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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


The very first time I wrote an article about my life as an artist and an art-related topic, was last year for Somerset Studio. And I couldn't be more thrilled! I have had the honor and pleasure of having many of my creations in several of the Stampington magazines (... hey there Stampington ladies! Thank. you.), but you know, being the "With One Palette" feature in Somerset Studio and speaking about art, surely has to be celebrated.

This has been a huge step in my artistic journey, and mind you, not only because of the magazine feature. Being able to "speak" to many kindred souls about my love affair with colors, on such an important magazine in the industry, well, was just surreal. Because I've waited so long to embrace this career and life I was meant for, and tears of joy keep rolling when I think I finally did. Because I really really love what I do, and I put my soul into it. Because seeing this article, it looked like all the hard work, pain, sweat, tears of many years trying to figure out what I had to do to answer my "calling", seemed to disappear in a single second, and I was there, with an open heart and eyes full of wonder, ready for the next steps of my journey.

Should you fancy, you can read the intro of my article below- I scanned it for you, it's small yet readable.

"As it usually happens with all of my mixed- media paintings, I try to paint a feeling, an idea, or a positive affirmation that popped in my head that will become, again and again, food for thought and a tool for healing and inspiration for myself and other people as well. That's the power of color and art!".
Monica Sabolla Gruppo.
Monica x

Cotton Sachets for Valentine's Day.

I've already shown these sachets but the pics are new :) More can be seen  here.
I thought I'd share them again for my new followers (by the way, helloo! Nice to see you here!) and just in case you missed them!

They are cheap, fun and quick to make, and have many uses.
I make these with different "themes" and use to wrap gifts or food to give, plants too, to store papers, journals, even shoes and bits and bobs in my suitcase when I travel! In this case, I don't handstamp onto cotton, so they are washable (I have experimented with mine and found out the handstamped ones are washable only with cold water, no soap, no soaking- but I recommend to always test the behavior of your inks before washing the finished piece!!).

... Ready to be filled with pretties and sweetness!

On a side note- for those who missed it, I remind you can always find me blogging about my life, happenings, my work, news, recipes, artists insights and all in between on my other blog, Life is a Painting.
Have a good rest of the week!
Monica x

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Project Life.

I seriously fell in love with Project Life (a simplified way of memory keeping, a simple approach to scrapbooking, developed by Becky Higgins) after seeing Pam's and Alisa's books. The first one is how it should be, with all the proper page protectors and binder (even if she doesn't use the complete ready made kit); the latter is a different take on the same project.
I really wanted to give it a go, but refrained myself for some reasons, the first of which is surely I cannot add yet another project to my already full plate. Moreover, you can already find me sitting at my worktable or office desk all day long. I definitely don't need something that keeps me sitting there for more hours than I have to in my long working days!

This year my word is "move".  Besides meaning changing posture or position (something that I really really need to do for my back and general well being), "move" suggests starting off, prompting to an action, and dislodging from a fixed point of view. Sooo you won't be surprised to hear that I decided to join the Project Lifers out there and start!

My book won't be stylish, won't be an art or scrapbook journal. Or better, it will be artful in a very simple way. As I crave for simplicity in my own life, my Project Life Journal must reflect that.

I keep my PL limited supplies into my portable inspiration station!

Simple kraft paper to prettify the ugly cover of a normal composition book.
No pressure to make it perfect, no stress to decide which supplies to use to obtain a certain look or which size I have to print my photos, no more stuff to buy, no fixed number of pages and lines of text. 
I opted for something so very me, a simple composition book, covered in kraft paper. Super cheap ( so I can use my piggy bank money for art supplies, books or just fresh flowers!), super plain, super easy to bring along with me wherever I want.

I use washi tape or normal adhesive tape to speed up the process. I need it to be quick, not stressful. And yep! I always write my journals with a pencil :)
I'll just keep going daily, weekly or simply monthly, it doesn't matter. I already work under deadlines all year round, and I want this project to be very relaxing. It's all about keeping memories in a creative way, for me. I want to just move in that direction.

I printed a pic of my art journal spread about my little word for 2013.
I bet some of you too have heard of PL and wanted to start, but maybe you've thought (as I have) that you didn't have time, you didn't have memories enough to fill in a book. Well, my life is absolutely not what most of the people consider exciting, but to me it is- I love it and want to remember and celebrate it!! I live a very quiet, domestic life, meditative, in contact with nature, and I rarely go out to eat, and never to parties, events etc. but I can still fill in pages and pages and pages anyway. In my PL journals, I'll celebrate the everyday, my feelings, my ideas; I'll keep tickets, anything I refuse to throw away like little notes, lists, adhesives, tags, business cards etc; my PL will record this life as I see it through my eyes, my lens, my mind, my senses.

In my journal, I celebrate simple things as my pile of finished artworks, my brand- new watercolor tubes, cheery faces (tulips) and my pink hyacynths sprouting up! Yay!

I keep into my journal an envelope with tags to add here and there. These are from the Preserve Labelling kit by CK and by my friend Catherine at Bumpkin and post-its by Kirstie Allsopp.
And you- are you a Project Lifer?
Monica x

Valentine's Clay Tags.

"Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love".
Hamilton Wright Mabie

My friends and readers know that I love Valentine's Day (and I collect vintage Valentines!).
Quoting my article in the current issue of Somerset Holidays and Celebrations, " ... Most of all, I like the idea of a season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love"! That's why I always love creating for Valentine's Day.
This year unfortunately, my job and life are very demanding- so I simply made some clay heart tags to add to little sachets I'll fill with chocolates. Of course, you can use these to wrap you cadeaux or add to a bunch of flowers. Whatever you'll do with them, it's sure to be loved :)
These tags make great handmade ornaments for a Valentines tree too!

To make the red ones, you can have a look at my free tutorial. Cut heart shapes instead of circles, and stamp a real doily on the front. Then let air dry and paint with red acrylic paint. Let dry again. VoilĂ !

I handsculpted a heart shape from clay for the one below, and inserted a tiny piece of rusty wire to make a loop. Then let dry. Then painted it pink, let dry again, and glued down some text on it with vynil glue.

"Heart swollen with love",  in italian :)

 This one is cut out from clay with cookie cutters in two different sizes. As simple as that!

You can add a batch of these too.
Have a terrific weekend everyone!
Monica x

Friday, January 25, 2013

So simple...

Love is simple, love is kind, love is eternal, love is always and everywhere- no time, no space, no limits. Love is unselfish, unlimited, pure, patient, benevolent, compassionate. Love has wings, gives you wings. What if we all just. loved?
Monica x



Monica x

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do What is Calling You.

I really believe in the importance of sharing inspiration... so I usually give meaningful gifts.
I have already shown a sneak peek of this canvas, but hadn't mentioned it was a gift for my husband.

I'm not the only one in our little family to fill my pockets with lots of dreams... but somehow it looks like he never really worked on them, because you know how it goes. Being the breadwinner is exhausting for your heart and soul most of the times. But if not now, then when? I'm pretty sure many of you, too, were struck by this quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach. 
Hence, with her advice in mind,  I painted this little reminder for my husband...

... so he can remember each day to listen to the inner whispers; to that private, inner calling he has tucked away in his heart...

... to follow his heart...

Little messages are hidden here and there.

Vintage, flocked wallpaper helped adding texture.

While I was painting, I noticed that the ledger paper I had used to collage the background, showed the same date of that very day. It was Wednesday, October 31st, 2012. And the ledger read Wednesday, October 31, 1888. I so love when this happens.

On the edge of the canvas, I wrote the Do What You Love declaration.

And you? Have you ever thought of that? If you don't do what is really and deeply calling you now, then when?? (Quoting Sarah Ban Breathnach here :))
Monica x

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make your own Mixed Media Valentines.

Consider making handmade Valentines this year! Your Sweetheart and girlfriends will be thrilled to receive something unusual!
This one below is very simple to make... I made it last year especially for my own Valentine, but I know he doesn't mind if I give you the instructions to make your own.
If you keep similar colors in your batch, it'll be quicker, and you'll end up with several pretties to surprise your loved ones with, even if you don't have plenty of time to spend in the craft room (or on the kitchen table :))!

Here are the simple instructions to make it.
1. Tear an old book page (or ledger, sheet music, old love letter etc.).
2. Glue it onto a small canvas with vynil glue. Let it dry overnight, weighted down, or carefully dry with the hairdryer to speed up the process.
3. Cut out a heart shape from batting. With the sewing machine (or by hand), and using red thread, sew decorative stitches all around.
4. Sew a scrap of burlap or jute, a felt heart (find these in craft stores) and a button in the centre of the heart. Leave loose long ends, to draw interest.
5. Glue the heart down onto the canvas with hot glue. 
6. You may want to add text cut out from an old book. 
7. With the help of a hammer and a nail, practice two tiny holes at the top of the canvas (put a piece of wood underneath!!). Using pliers, insert a rusty wire handle.
8. Let your Valentine be messenger of your love and friendship by writing a sweet message on the back. Handwritten notes from the heart are always greatly appreciated.

You can add a little sachet filled with chocolates. I made one with a piece of net (muslin or burlap work well too), just folded in half and machine stitched all around. Leave the top open to be filled with chocolates in matching colors.
Monica x

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Let it Snow!

Nothing is more magical than snowflakes falling! It's always like being a little girl again.

" I stood at the tall window, barely reaching the sill; the glass fogged before my face, so I had to keep moving or hold my breath."

from An American childhood, Annie Dillard.
Monica x

Friday, January 18, 2013

Inside my Handmade Organizer.

I am in love with my handmade organizer/planner. It's perfect for my needs, and adds beauty to my days!
I made this in 2009, as I couldn't find anything I liked in the stores (I always end up using only a small part of the store bought planners/ agendas, and find they're tremendously lacking in note/ideas/blank pages). What I really like of this organizer/planner is that it is perpetual- you have to just change the calendar, and you can keep it forever! The slipcover is washable too, which is a bonus for sure.
The inside of the original one needed to be improved and prettified, but I had never found the time to- until last week! 

I have had this vision since I made it... at that time, though, I had just started to paint affirmation girls and inspirational mixed media pieces, and I couldn't find the right ones to use. Now I have plenty of them ;)
I kept the dividers of the old planner, except this first one that is actually a normal cardboard piece cut to measure. I printed some of my paintings, and cut them to perfectly fit the binder. The first painting I see when I open my planner in the morning reads "FLY, the wind will be with you". Such a gorgeous start to my day, uh?

I have my planner divided into sections.

The rear of each cardboard is covered in vintage wallpaper. I used fabric tape to cover the ugly plastic tags that came with the original dividers.
I used normal paper glue (Coccoina) to glue the pieces together, and I let them dry overnight weighted down (in case you're wondering yes! I was itching to see the whole thing finished, but I patiently waited until the next morning, so the dividers were perfectly dry and flat!).

I chose meaningful paintings for the different sections:
"Spread your wings" for projects...

"Follow your dreams" for the most intimate section of my planner, where I actually jot down ideas for very big projects and dreams that dwell in my heart.

"Quiet your mind" (not shown) for things I have to do... and "Blessed" for my list of daily blessings, that will eventually find their way to my Gratitude Journals.

"You're meant to fly" as gentle reminder to myself.
I'm thinking of adding one more for the address section, with an appropriate inspirational message/painting about friendship.

I definitely don't need an agenda, a simple (complimentary) calendar is enough for me. Cut it to fit, and handstamped the months on it.

I have included different types of sheets for different uses- blank, ruled and squared.

Of course I keep here some comforting pictures dear to my heart and a few cards from my dearest friends.

Also, mini Post- its...

... and a small assortment of business cards and adhesive tags, and a pencil.

Now I hope it won't take me 3 years to make a changeable slipcover for the summer months! :)
Monica x