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Dangle Valentine

Hi Everyone,

Since it is February, and Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought I’d share my favorite Valentine’s Day card with you, and explain how I created this Zenspirations® Dangle Design: 
I started by drawing the line art with Sakura's Pigma Micron 01 pen on Strathmore's 400 series drawing paper. Here are raw scans of the two different designs I drew, and then combined to create the card. First I did the Dangle Design:
And then I drew the columns for the sides:
(I later finished the Columns and used them for other designs— which I’d be happy to share if there is enough interest. Please leave a comment if you'd like to see another post like this showing the evolution of a design.)
Next, I opened PhotoShop, flipped the Dangle Design horizontally, took out some of the Dangles so I’d have room in the center for text, and then added the columns from the second illustration to support the ‘rods’ . 
Next step was to add the text, and the color, which I also did in PhotoShop:
Then I scanned a bunch of gems, and put them on top of the design to show my Art Director where I wanted them to go, and 'voila'-- the finished card!
I was really pleased with the final product… it’s printed on pearlescent stock, with a LOT of special processes. In addition to the gems, which are applied by hand, the glitter, foil and embossed accents are gorgeous. I wish you could see it in person— it’s a show stopper! Since it is five years old, I think this is the last year that Design Design (my card licensee) will have it in the line. It is a pricey card ($7.95), but here is the link if you’d like to order one.
The LOVE design was the original embellished Dangle card, but those of you who have my first Zenspirations book might recognize the line art from the back cover:
And I have good news to share with our international readers: several of my books have been translated into other languages. So far I know about French, German, Korean, Chinese, and thanks to the talented designer Anna Coll from Madrid, there is now a Spanish version of the first book!
Since many of my illustrations are actually words, I was delighted when Anna asked me to create Spanish versions of the title and some of the key interior 'word-art' illustrations. Anna not only translated the text, but also hand-lettered some of the illustrations. She says that the Spanish version of the book is available here, and “at all the best bookstores around the country, such Casa del Libro, Fnac, Corte Inglés..." Anna also shared that calligraphy and ZIAs are hot trends in Spain. I'll have to ask her if coloring is as popular there as it seems to be everywhere else...

Speaking of coloring, the Valentine’s Day contest deadline is Friday, February 5th, so don’t forget to download the FREE LOVE DESIGNS I posted in last week’s blog, add color and your creative touches, and then post in the Zenspirations Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. Here is the link in case you need it:  
Can’t wait to see what you do! 
Stay Zenspired,



Open Your Heart to Possibility

Hi Everyone,

Before I started Zenspirations® in 2009, I spent most of my career in the greeting card industry. So as February approaches, I naturally start thinking about Valentine’s Day (the second largest card sending occasion in the United States!), and the underlying message of the holiday—L*O*V*E. Love is as essential to our well-being as the air we breathe and the food we eat. 
Everybody wants to be loved... but to me, love is not just a feeling, it's an intangible force that surrounds and uplifts us. 

When you open your heart to possibility and look through the eyes of love, you'll see potential instead of limitations; competence instead of mediocrity; hope instead of indifference; radiant beauty instead of imperfection. Look with love, and you'll see past someone's character flaws to the spark of holiness inside their soul. 

Let love envelop you... Let love flow through you... Let love connect you... Let love make you whole.

There is a light inside each of us; when we are able to reach out to others in love, that light shines more brightly. Today, let the love in your heart shine forth in all the brilliant colors of the rainbow. 

Yesterday I polled members of the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group, and asked what kind of free download everyone would like for Valentine’s Day. Of the 129 responses, the majority requested a card with an inspirational saying about love… so here it is!

Click here to download Let Love Light the Way.

I also created a coloring sheet for those who prefer the larger format. I designed it so you could write your own text if you want-- and I can't wait to see what you all create!

Click here to download the LOVE Coloring Page.

As usual, I’ve made folders in the FB group where you can post your finished designs. Here is the link:  As an incentive to share what you do, I am offering to make a name-sign for you or someone you love. You can pick the style: Dangle Monograms or Brush Lettering. I will draw two winners at random: one from those who post in the Facebook group, and one from those who leave a comment on this week's blog. (Yes, you can do both). For every design you post-- or comment you leave-- by midnight on Friday, February 5th, you will be entered into a random drawing to win. If you post one design, you’ll have one chance to win; if you post five designs, you’ll have five chances to win. I will pick a second winner from everyone who leaves a comment on the blog this week (only one comment from each person will be counted). So if you would like a chance at winning a name-sign, leave a comment and/or post your finished designs.

Wishing you a week filled with laughter, love and light...

Stay Zenspired,



Hi Everyone,                                                                                                                                                   
Being in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Day is an incredible experience. The entire city celebrates Dr. King’s legacy, and his moving “I have a dream” speech is widely broadcast. As a writer who hopes my words will not only provide comfort and inspiration, but will be a force for good in the world, I have long been attracted to Dr. King’s incredibly powerful messages. One of my favorite MLK quotes is: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

I pray that when I encounter injustice I will not stand silently by awaiting someone else to do something, but will have the courage to take action myself. The strong pull I feel to social justice comes from Deuteronomy 16:20, which I lettered in one of my morning journals: 
And months later, in a different morning journal, the subject came up for me again: 
But tonight, in Dr. King’s honor, I wanted to share a few quotes about Dreams. I did the piece below last year on Martin Luther King Day:
If you don't have a dream worth devoting your life to, I encourage you to think about this:
I believe that dreaming is an essential part of the human spirit, and that our souls grow as we work for our dream… the more passionately we believe in our dreams, the brighter the light of our souls will shine.               
CHA and the Atlanta Gift Show were both AWESOME… but after 10 days on the road I’m glad to be home. 
I’m also glad to share a note I got from Philip Fleet, president of Trim-a-Rim, about the contest we ran two weeks ago:

"Hello Joanne,

Thanks again for gathering feedback on your blog about black & white Trim-A-Rim borders for coloring. I was blown away by how enthusiastic, creative and talented your coloring fans are...and also how generous they are to share their time and input... very inspiring for sure!

There are 43 Comments so far on that blog entry. Of the 37 people who responded to at least some of the Trim-A-Rim questions (the other 6 were "Here's Part 2" follow-ups and Word of the Year input alone) here's a tabulation of their feedback to the 4 questions:

Q1)  Would you be interested in a black and white version of these designs that you could color and embellish?

35 (95%) said Yes to Q1 -- and most were very enthusiastic YES! :), 
1 said No because too busy, and 
1 did not answer this question (although I'd assume Yes based on their other answers)

Q2)  If so, which designs would you most like to have a coloring version of? 

#1 (by pretty wide margin)  = Open Leaves
#2 = Hearts
#3 = Large Scallops
#4 = tie between Fish and Birds & Leaves
#6 = tie between Patterned Leaves and Bubbles
#8 = Triangles

Q3)  Would you prefer to have line art to color for the Trim-A-Rim border only, as in the 3 examples above, or would you like to have something in the center that you could print out at the same time and then cut out and use on a different project, as in the sample below?

Both = 30; Border only = 5; No answer = 2

Q4)  Are there other themes you’d like me to design for use with Trim-A-Rim? If so, what themes are at the top of your wish list?

Most frequently mentioned = Inspirational words and quotes, birthdays, holidays, special events, flowers, doodles/tangles/dangles

FYI, the black & white versions of all 9 of your Trim-A-Rim borders are now uploaded to our website and available for free download and printing in all 3 variations (Full size on one 11"x17" sheet, Full size halves on 2 letter-size sheets, and Mini on letter-size paper.)
Since your blog family really likes the idea of the additional center art, let's discuss that once you've had a chance to get settled back in after all your travel.

And now to the lucky winners of our Trim-A-Rim loot! :) ...

Prize Group A)  2 winners selected at random from all those who gave Trim-A-Rim feedback, and each will receive:  Your choice of a Mini or Full-size Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the 9 colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for your chosen size. 

Winners =
Jamie Torres 
Jean Chaney

Prize Group B) 2 winners selected at random from all those who posted inspiration samples to the albums (and each border submission = 1 entry, so several people had multiple chances in this one).  These winners receive:  Both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for both sizes.
Winners = 
Wanda Radler
Cathy Pemberton

Bonus Opportunity selections:
These were the folks whose designs were selected as inspiration samples.  In addition to published credit, they'll each receive both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, plus print-outs of all 9 of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders and the full-color borders (a total of 36 border sheets), as well as several border print-outs of their inspiration sample(s). 

This was HARD!!  It's been really fun visiting your group page over the past few weeks to check out all the cool border creations, and I really wanted to choose nearly all of them, but had to draw the line somewhere, so here we go...

Terri Brown (have already contacted Terri re: the Permission to Publish and shared her wonderful Leaves border version with the 3D gradient effect on our FB page...our fans LOVE it!)
Alison Clement
Mary Anne Fellows
Leitha Hunt
Puneet Sekhon
Sephra Travers
Genna Wangsness
Kristen Zeitler
Can you please ask all of the winners to contact me at

I’m glad that I wasn’t the one having to make the selection this time! I second Philip’s rave review of your awesome work. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to collaborate with so many talented people… I really love seeing how differently everyone interprets my illustrations. One of my dreams is that my work will help inspire others to discover their own creative voice, and that a shared love of this type of creative expression will enable us to build a connective, compassionate, caring community.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I’d love to know some of your dreams— you can share by leaving a comment, or by posting a picture of it in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. Here is the link:                                                                            
Stay Zenspired,



Creative Connections

Hi Everyone,

I’m having a blast at the Craft & Hobby Show in Anaheim, California, and wanted to share photos from the ‘Make-it, Take-it’ project I led for Sakura this weekend. I provided pre-printed Zenspirations® images, and I showed how to color them with the awesome Koi® Coloring Brushes. Below is a montage of the lovely piece that Johnna Moore from Scrappy Camper Sisters did. 

And here is one by Jackie Cyr:

My friend, renowned decorative painter Debbie Cole,  tackled a star design:

And here are step-by-step photos of one of the demo pieces I did. Notice the glitter accents in the top left photo.

Best of all has been getting to visit with some of my creative friends:

Attending CHA is a creative dream... although there are so many things to see, and so many people to connect with, that it is hard to know what to do first! CHA is an amazing place to discover new things-- not just the latest design trends (coloring books and paper flowers are huge!), but new ways to connect creatively. For example, last year at CHA, social media guru Jennifer Priest introduced me to Instagram... and this year Jennifer's uber-talented daughter Katie introduced me to Canva, and helped me create the photo-montages that I've shared tonight (thanks, Katie!). 

Through Instagram I have connected with fellow creatives all over the world-- and find the images and photos they share to be an endless source of inspiration. I try to post a photo of something I'm working on once or twice a week... so if you are on Instagram, follow Zenspirations to see what I'm up to. If you aren't on Instagram yet, I'd recommend giving it a try... like Pinterest, it is a visual feast for the creative soul.

Stay Zenspired,



Happy 2016!

Happy 2016 Everyone!

Hope your new year is off to a great start, and that you were able to greet 2016 with a hopeful heart.               

I celebrated New Year’s Eve by trying out some new tools… the 2016 was done with Derwent's metallic colored pencils on Strathmore’s awesome Art Again black paper. I still prefer my Microns, but I do like the effect of the blended metallic pencil on the black paper. I suspect that I’m not the only one who spent time coloring and creating over the holidays… WoW! The Trim-A-Rim border designs that were posted in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group this week are FABULOUS! Hope you are having fun with them.                                                                                                                                                        
As I spent time this week trying to select my first-ever ‘word of the year’… I realized that this is no easy task! In order to pick a word to guide your personal growth, you have to understand not just where you are and where you hope to go— but also what is preventing you from moving towards your goals. Thank you to those who shared their 2016 Word of the Year; I loved getting a glimpse into your hearts and goals. In appreciation, I hand-lettered all the words which were shared:
I know that once I decide what word to use I will want to put it where I can look at it every day… and I'll probably create multiple versions in different styles to make it fun and interesting. I wanted to invite you to create and share a visual interpretation of YOUR word. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece-- just a way of drawing your focus to the word you choose. To help you get started I thought I’d share a few layout ideas. Below is the first sketch I made; it has a framed area for the Word of the Year.
Next I did a circular version, also with a frame to make the word of the year stand out. In honor of the new year, I’m making this available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for you to inscribe your word of the the year, and then add your own special touches.
Click here to download your free copy of the 2016 Word of the Year Color, Create, Pattern, Play page. I’d love to see what you do… hope you’ll post your design in the album I’ve set up in the FB group. Here is the link:  

There were a couple of people who chose two words, and below is an example of how you can put two words in the frame. 
For those who don’t like the idea of a frame, here are a couple of ideas on how to highlight your word:
and even an idea on how to color it:                
One of my goals for Zenspirations is to build a compassionate, caring and connected community of creative individuals who are committed to kindness and spiritual growth. Starting the Facebook Group in 2015 really helped; as we stand on the threshold of the new year, I feel so blessed to be a part of this group!                      
In closing tonight I wanted to share a piece I did while I was trying to narrow my options down to the one word I’ll focus on this year. This week I managed to narrow it down to one letter… All the words in the piece below start with the letter C— and I didn’t even include Color or Create! Trying to pick only one word is TOUGH… and i will let you know next week what my final choice is.                                                                      
I’ll be writing my blog from Anaheim next week, where I’ll be attending the Craft & Hobby Show… I’ll be doing demos and make-it, take-its at my favorite pen manufacturer, Sakura of America, and also at Fox Chapel/Design Originals, my awesome book publisher… if you’ll be at the show please stop by to say hi!                         
Stay Zenspired,