Sunday, August 01, 2010

Mom's weekend away - a weekend with Donna Downey

So, several weeks ago, Darrell and I were sitting around talking about how frustrated I was with how slllooooww my laptop had become. I had some money in my Paypal account from the recent sales of some baby carriers that weren't being used, and I was weighing my options - buy a netbook for a little under $300 (which I had the money to do right then); buy additional SDDRAM (local memory) for my laptop in the short-term attempt to speed it up some (the cheapest option); or wait and save up more to buy an Ipad, which I REALLY want (and I REALLY wanted one even IF I did one of the other two options).

Right then, my sweet friend Deanna called, SO excited she was almost jumping through the phone, saying something to the effect of, "I'm SOOO excited, and you're the ONLY person in my life who will understand WHY I'm so excited!!!!!!" :-) How can you NOT be excited when she tells you THAT?! She proceeded to tell me about an awesome weekend of workshops she was going to attend in July at a scrapbooking store in Valencia, CA, with Donna Downey. WAIT - YOU don't know who Donna Downey is????!!! Are you KIDDING me?! :p See, that was the problem with everyone ELSE in her life. But see, I KNEW who Donna Downey is, and I love Donna Downey (maybe not QUITE as much as Deanna...I think Deanna ALMOST might have actually peed on her she was so excited to meet know, like how dogs...nevermind...bad joke). Anyway, both Deanna and I have loved Donna's work for years, own her books, have followed her blog, etc. In fact, even when my sister and I opened our business last year, and our initial web designer asked for websites we loved for inspiration, Donna's was the very FIRST on my list - I love even just looking at her website!!

So immediately, I'm asking - "What? When? How? Where? How much?" And the irony - the cost - is just slightly below the amount sitting in my Paypal account that very moment. But what about my electronic gadgets???? My initial answer was "No. Just can't." But then I got off the phone and got ON Donna's website. And remembered how much I love her. And love her style. And wanted desperately to learn FROM her. And so I asked Darrell how much he would hate me if I spent my money on it, and was gone for the weekend - especially since I was already going to be gone a weekend in August for the scrapbooking retreat he gave me as my Mother's Day gift (to which, by the way, I had NO IDEA what I was going to take to work on...b/c I honestly haven't scrapped in SO LONG). And he said the golden words..."If that's what you want to spend your money on..."

So I called the scrapbooking store (Remember When Scrapbooking, Valencia, CA - AWESOME STORE, in case you're ever near there!) to inquire if there were any spots left. The initial person I spoke to actually wasn't sure and said she'd have to call me back. A few nerve-wracking minutes later, she called back and said there was ONE spot left - and it was MINE. OH MY GOSH - I was going to get to spend a weekend with DONNA DOWNEY!!!! And with Deanna! Do you know how long it's been since Deanna and I have had the chance to hang out for any decent period of time to just create and have fun?! A very very very long time!!! (Kids and distance tend to do that.)

Fast's Friday, July 23. Deanna gets to my house...we load up my car and head out, anxious to get there. The Friday night workshop, the Art/Inspiration Journal (a Donna Downey classic - and one we were SO excited about!) started at 6:00 pm. We left my house around 2:00 pm. Even with L.A. traffic, we thought 4 hours would give us plenty of time. Well...we didn't count on a brush fire. After sitting in traffic forever on the freeway, we were both hungry and had to use the bathroom, so I used my navigation system on my phone (thank GOD for that!) to request a detour around the freeway - we were like 14 miles from the store, yet it was giving us an arrival time of like an hour and a half! We got off on surface streets and stopped for sustenance and relief, then headed towards the store. Turns out? Everyone else in Southern California also got off the freeway and got on the surface streets. We didn't get to the store until 7:30 p.m. - an hour and a half into the 3 hour workshop. We were SO bummed.

But Donna is just as down to earth in person as she is on her blog, and she helped us jump right in. We were THRILLED to receive our very own inspiration journals and get started in them. This is how Donna works - (mind you, we were spared, since we had just arrived) - "Now that you've all gotten comfy with your workstation and your supplies and everything...I want you to get up, take your journal with you, and go to someone else's workstation. Pilfer through their stash and USE THEIR STUFF. If they have a brand new stamp set that's never been used and you want to open it - open it. If they have a package of flowers that's never been opened - open it! Go for it!" LOL I loved her immediately!!!! She is just SO "outside the lines!"'s my very own Inspiration/Art Journal (I think I'm gonna call it an art journal...b/c to me, an inspiration journal is filled with more, well, bits and pieces of things that inspire me; whereas this is more of an art journal, filled with my attempts and trials/mistakes at different art techniques, as well as a JOURNAL of emotion put down in the form of art).

It is a beautiful, fabric art journal with LOTS of blank white pages, tags, envelopes and such inside just waiting to be filled with my creativity!! And the awesome thing, besides the fact that we got to work some in it that night, is that every Wednesday, Donna does a video on her blog showing herself doing a page in HER art journal, demonstrating different techniques so we can follow along and keep on learning! I'm SO excited to have my very own that I've already done a layout in it (though it was one about heartbreak, as you'll soon see). are the pages we worked on that night in the workshop...

The second day, I think our first workshop was a workshop on different resist techniques, which was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of new things. I love playing with paint and glue and embossing powder and this was right up my alley!! I even got to play with something totally new to me - alcohol inks - definitely going on my wish list!!!! These were used on the final picture - the acrylic page - so awesome!

Oh - and a quick photo of Donna and me - this was actually not taken until late in the day on Sunday - which is why I look so completely exhausted!!!!

The Saturday afternoon workshop was the first of two fabric-scrapbooking workshops. Fabric scrapbooking is one of the reasons we love Donna. Who else does could combine our two favorite loves - fabric and scrapbooking - into ONE?! Deanna and I were both in a very happy place. Donna was quick to point out at the beginning of both this and the Sunday workshops that her goal was NOT to have us complete ANY project - but merely to give us the tools and techniques to be able to take them home and work on them ourselves! I loved that! (And I have a scrapbooking retreat coming up in a couple weekends, thanks to my awesome hubby, that will be the perfect time to continue working on said projects!)

This is a 6x6 GORGEOUS turquoise vinyl album, and we primarily worked on applying Donna's line of iron-ons to the pages. We did a little bit of distressing and watercoloring, but not too much - we simply ran out of time. I can't wait to finish the little mannequin lady that goes on the front of the album - she's just too cute!!

Finally, Sunday's workshop (the longest) was another fabric scrapbooking workshop, using an 8x8 canvas album. It was an incredible workshop, using gesso and acrylic paints, stamps, a technique called "drippage," where you drip either airbrush paint or thinned acrylic paint down an already-painted page; lots of different mixed media, including embedding book text in the page with gel mediums; using india ink with dip pens to write over acrylic paint; and my favorite - using modeling compound to create major dimension!! We didn't have time to paint the modeling compounded pages, but I will definitely get around to it. It was a super fun class, and I left feeling SO exhausted but SO high!!! (Note - not a single one of these pages is totally finished!)

This page below, embedded the book text and did the painting, but Donna then used it as an example by stamping it and watercoloring in the stamp. I completely love the stamp and have since ordered it from her site!!

The following are some of the stamps I got while there - all designed by Donna herself. LOVE THEM!!!!

Sadly, a couple days after returning from my mountaintop experience, (it took me that long to get back into the loop online), I learned that a dear friend was going through the loss of her baby. Having been there myself almost 4 years ago, it broke my heart to see her in that same place. I couldn't sleep that night, after learning about her loss, so I did what I now had the ability to do - I got up, and while I prayed, I also expressed my angst in my new art journal. She loved the page as much as I do.

On a MUCH more positive note, a friend of my sister's saw the photos from my weekend, and requested that I make some sort of art piece for a friend of hers who is making a big move in her life, and who happens to love birds, birdcages, and the colors in the painting/collage below. Last night, after a trip to Michaels for supplies, I just couldn't wait to get started, and so after ATTEMPTING to go to bed, at 1:30 a.m., I was as bad as a kid on Christmas Eve and could no longer wait. I got up and after putting away all my new supplies, I went to work...and by 7:30 this morning...I was done with my first real piece of artwork!! I was so pleased with how it turned out, I almost wanted to keep it for myself! LOL I used lots of mixed media here - from fluid acrylics to stamping, heat embossing, fabric for the big flower, glimmer mist spray, embedded book text with gel medium, beads, book text for the flower stem, mosaic tiles, heavy body acrylic paint with glass bead medium, a metallic rub on, mulberry paper flowers, paper ephemera, metallic leaves, and wire. (I think I hit it all...I used a LOT of stuff on here!)

I had a really hard time capturing the true colors of the piece with my most of the pics, the big flower came out looking much brighter than it actually is. It's really much more like this color, but with a slight shimmer to it. It's very pretty, with a mixture of pearl seed beads and gold beads in the center.

I love the look of the copper-embossed bird over the bird cage, with the added dimension of the mosaic tiles!! I just love lots of dimension!!! I'm a very touchy-feely girl when it comes to stuff like this, and I like to have lots of stuff to FEEL!!!

So...sorry for the novel...but didn't know quite how to sum up such an unbelievably amazing experience in any shorter way!!! Hope you enjoy all the pics! To see Donna's amazing work, visit her website at - and since they just had the semi-annual Craft & Hobby Association trade fair, she has some awesome new stuff coming out in the next few weeks - can't wait for it to be available!!!!


Crafty Mom said...

Once again, I'm so glad you joined me on the weekend away! Loved every minute of it (except the sitting in traffic, of course). I'm inspired to get working on a canvas! And I can't wait to get my hands on all of Donna's new stuff, too!

Sally said...

Your art piece looks great and I'm sure the recipient will love it! I'm glad you've been able to get your crafty groove on again lately, too :-)


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