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Tuesday
Apr212015

Celebrating Milestones

Hi Everyone,

Sometimes you start something on faith, not having any idea where it will take you. When I embarked on writing a weekly blog one year ago, I had no idea what an important part of my life it would become. I never dreamed that I would discover heartfelt connections to a community of compassionate, creative people who share my passion for making a difference in the world. Although I haven’t actually met most of you (yet!), I feel I know you through the comments you are kind enough to leave about what I post, as well as the artwork and insights you share. Making the commitment to spend every Monday night working on the blog has helped me find my ‘voice’… certainly my posts have gotten longer! Most of you haven't seen the image I created for my first weekly post, so I thought I'd share it tonight.

 

The image was accompanied by these words: "I believe that each of us is on this earth for a reason... and that we each have the power to help make the world a better place. We can each exercise the power of kindness; the power of compassion; the power of reverence and, most importantly, the power of love. Remember, a single loving act can transform the world!"

Transformation is a concept that really resonates with me. As those of you who are regular readers know, the tag line for Zenspirations is “Live by Inspiring Others to Fly”, and one of the ways I try to do this is by sharing suggestions of small things we can all do to make a difference, and encouraging those I share with to then share with others. I'd love to know how you try to inspire others; and I hope you'll join me in trying-- and sharing-- an idea I have about Celebrating Earth Day 2015.  

To commemorate Earth Day 2015, I thought I'd plant some roses this week. One bush will be planted in honor of my friends’ twin babies, who were born this afternoon; one will be in celebration of a special anniversary, and I’m going to plant a third in memory of my friend Leigh Edwards who died unexpectedly earlier this month. What I plant will not only beautify my little piece of the world, but I hope the flowers will always remind me of the special people in my life. I got this idea from my friend Ketra, who planted Lady Banks roses in memory of my husband, and sent me this beautiful photo of them last month.


SoSomeday, when the roses I plant in Leigh’s memory are in bloom, I plan to take a photo and send it to her husband and children to let them know that she is being remembered with love.   

As this is the 1st Anniversary of the weekly Zenspirations blog, I want to THANK YOU for being part of the Zenspirations community, and for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I read everything that you write, and greatly value your opinions. It means a lot to me that you not only respond to what I’ve posted, but read what others have written… I was especially touched by the comment that Kate Adderly left for Jill Therriault this past week… so Kate, this is for you… please let me know where to ship it. :-)

 

To THANK everyone who reads the Zenspirations blog, especially those of you who comment regularly, I wanted to do a 1st Anniversary ‘Give Away’. I asked Sakura and Strathmore, manufacturers of the pens and paper I use to create most of my art, if they would supply prizes for this special celebration—and both companies generously said yes!

But before we talk about a new give away, I’d like to give you a recap on the Cover Conundrum blog from two weeks ago. There were 123 comments—more than I’ve ever gotten before! Overwhelmingly, most people would prefer to see the dove on the cover of the Expressions of Faith book. There were 91 votes for the dove versus 24 votes for the angel. Although the dove was the clear winner, it was practically a tie between the 49 people who voted for the left dove and the 47 people who voted for the center dove. Only 12 people voted for the right dove, so I’m taking that one off the list. Assuming my publisher agrees, there will be text on the cover: 59 people would like to see text on the cover versus 39 who voted for no text. And lastly, what I should work on when I finish the Birds & Butterflies and Expressions of Faith books is unclear—50 votes for Trees and Leaves and 54 votes for Heartfelt Expressions. I guess I can't go wrong either way! 

And now for the winners: Terra Bos was the first name I drew, and Jen was the second name I drew. Congratulations to you both! Terra, I have your e-mail address since you subscribe to my blog; Jen I’m not sure how to find you! Even if you subscribe to the blog, I don’t know which of the 2 Jens, 2 Jenns, 14 Jennifers, 4 Jennys and 1 Jeni you are! Please e-mail me at joanne@zenspirations.com, or leave a comment letting me know how to find you. 

Not knowing how to reach Jen has led me to make a change in how to manage the give away. Rather than my putting all the names in a box and drawing one at random, I decided to try Rafflecopter as a way to pick the winners. At the very bottom of this blogpost you’ll find a Rafflecopter icon; if you click it you’ll be guided through the process. I tried it on ‘preview’ and it was pretty easy to do, but I’d really appreciate knowing how you liked using Rafflecopter, and whether you think we should keep using it.

So now, on to the Give Away! I’m delighted to be able celebrate this milestone by giving away three different things: a Calligraphy Prize, a Drawing Prize and a Coloring Prize. There are, however, some eligibility requirements that I need to let you know about. First, I regret that we are not able to do any international shipping. Second, in order to be eligible to win one of the prizes you must be a blog subscriber. If you don’t already subscribe, you’ll be able to subscribe through Rafflecopter. One of the things I like about Rafflecopter is that you can ‘earn’ additional chances to win one of the prizes by doing additional tasks, such as liking my Zenspirations by Joanne Fink Facebook page, following me on Pinterest, following me on Instagram, or leaving a comment letting me know which cover design you’d prefer to see on my Kickstarter book. (More about this below).

If you do all of those things you’ll have five chances to win one of these three wonderful prizes:

CALLIGRAPHY PRIZE (valued at $75.00):

This prize includes what is shown in the photo above.

Sakura of America provided:

set of 6 Pigma® Calligrapher 1mm                           

 set of 6 Pigma® Calligrapher 2mm                             

set of 6 Pigma® Calligrapher 3mm                            

Pentouch Gold                                                                  

Pentouch Copper                                                                   

Pentouch Silver                                                                     

Pen pouch

Strathmore provided:

A 9 x 12 pad of 400 Series Drawing paper                              

A package of 10 Parchment Cards and Envelopes             

 

COLORING PRIZE (valued at $50):            

This prize includes what is shown in the photo above.


Sakura of America provided:

A 10 piece set of Gelly Roll® Moonlights®                                              

A 10 piece set of Gelly Roll® Metallic                                                     

2 Black Glaze pens                                                                                       

Pen pouch

Strathmore provided:

A 9 x 12 pad of black ArtAgain®paper, 24 sheets                                              

A 9 x 12 pad of Smooth Bright Construction paper (includes 6 colors), 30 sheets                                  

 

DRAWING PRIZE (valued at $60.00):

 This prize includes what is shown in the photo above.

Sakura of America provided:

A six piece color set of 05 Pigma Micron pens, which includes black, blue, green, red, purple and brown

An eight piece set of black Pigma pens which includes 6 Microns (005, 01, 02, 03, 05, 08), a Pigma Brush and a Pigma Graphic

A three piece set of black Pigma Professional Brushes in black (small, medium and large)

Pen pouch         

Strathmore provided:

Two 9 x 12 pads of 400 Series Drawing Paper 

Whether or not you want to enter the give away, I'd be grateful if you would share your thoughts about the cover of the book I'm about to self-publish (another milestone to celebrate!). It’s taken me MUCH longer than I had originally anticipated, but I’m almost done with the revisions, and will be able to send it off to the printer very soon. The last big decision I have to make is whether to stick with the original cover design (gold foil on black), or to go with a softer, full-color cover design. Here are the two options:

Please let me know which you prefer and WHY you prefer it. 

Here is what the back of each version will look like:

I’d welcome any other comments about the covers (or anything else that is on your mind). As a reminder, unless you have a truly unusual name, please sign your comment with your first and last name, or your first name and your e-mail address. That way I'll be able to find you!

And now, here is the Rafflecopter icon you can click in to enter the Zenspirations 1st Anniversary Give Away: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck, Happy Anniversary, and thank you for celebrating this milestone with me. 

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

 

Tuesday
Apr142015

Loving Letters & Caring Cards

Hi Everyone,

Since April is National Card and Letter Writing Month, I want to devote this week's blog to the wonderful and meaningful art of written correspondence. I started out my career as a greeting card designer, and of all the different products I design, greeting cards hold a special place in my heart. I love the variety of imagery, color and sentiment, but most of all I love knowing that I'm creating a tangible way for people to show they care. 

One of the advantages of being a greeting card designer is that I get samples of the cards I design... as you'll see from this photo of the card wall in my office, I never have an excuse for not having a card on-hand!

 

And yet, even though I have a studio full of greeting cards, and even though I know how a card can touch the heart of someone I care about, I don't always remember to send them. That's why I love National Lettering Writing and Card Sending month... because it reminds me to reach out and connect with family, friends and others who have made a difference in my life.

If this appeals to you, you might want to check out Write_On (http://www.writeoncampaign.com/), which is a campaign to promote joy, creativity, expression and connection through hand-written correspondence. This year they gave away 5,000 letter-writing kits (which included one of Sakura's awesome Gelly Roll pens!). They have also posted some wonderful reasons to write a letter: http://www.writeoncampaign.com/reasons-to-write/. I hope you'll join me in writing letters and sending cards this month... I plan to send out notes thanking people for the unexpected kindness they have shown. 

Although they won't be ready until next month, I'm getting really excited about notecard collections that I've been working on. Thank you again for sharing your ideas about this new series; I listened and hope you like the finished designs. They will be launching at the National Stationery Show in NY next month. Here is a 'sneak peak' at the "Written in Stone" collection...


And here are a few close ups:


Those of you who are on Instagram may have seen the first collection I finished: Swirls. Below is a photo of the printouts I made when I was trying to narrow 12 designs down to 10. If you are on Instagram, and would like to connect, my user name is Zenspirations. Here is the link: https://instagram.com/zenspirations/.

I hope I've 'Zenspired' you to put pen to paper and write to someone you love... or someone you just met... or someone you'd like to get to know better... or someone you miss... or someone who is going through a rough time... or someone you haven't seen in a long time... or someone, well, I think you get the idea. I'd love to know who you write to... so please leave a comment to let me know. 

Speaking of comments, WOW! I am totally overwhelmed by the wonderful response to last week's blog post! I guess you guys must like to color because there are more than 120 comments (which is more than double the number I usually get). I've read each and every one, but haven't had a chance to finish tabulating the results yet, so I won't be able to announce the winner until next week. But as a thank you for your patience, I'm going to draw two names instead of one-- so when they are printed I'll be sending out two sets of the new Zenspirations(R) coloring books... and I'll let you know next week who the lucky winners are.

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

 

Tuesday
Apr072015

The Cover Conundrum

Hi Everyone,

When I was in Philadelphia last week I was delighted to discover that the local Michaels had a display with several of my books on it.

Even more exciting is that Michaels is going to include some of my new Zenspirations(R) Color, Create, Pattern & Play books on an end-cap later this year. I've been working on four new titles: Birds & Butterflies, Expressions of Faith, Trees & Leaves, and Heartfelt Expressions, two or three of which will be on the endcap.

 

This is the cover concept for the Birds & Butterflies book:

 

The Birds & Butterflies cover concept has been approved, and I'm almost done with the drawings. The Trees & Leaves cover has also been approved, although I haven't started on the interior drawings yet.

 

But the book I'm really excited to draw is Expressions of Faith, which will be a combination of scripture and my own sentiments. My first concept for this cover was a cross design. 

 

Unfortunately the cross design didn't get approved. I suspect the buyer wants a cover design which would appeal to people of all faiths. The two concepts currently under consideration are an angel and a dove flying in front of a rainbow. Before creating another cover design I would REALLY appreciate your thoughts on which direction to pursue. Here is the angel my publisher likes:

 

Below is the sketch I drew for the dove concept:

Although this is not a final, here is a more finished sketch that I painted tonight.

As always, I would really appreciate your input, and to encourage you to leave a comment with your thoughts, I will draw a name at random from everyone who leaves a comment this week, and that person will get copies of the new books as soon as they are available. (They'll be in the stores for October, but I am hoping to get my samples in September).

Here are the questions I'd like you to answer:

1. Do you enjoy coloring?

2. Would you rather see the angel or the dove on the cover of Expressions of Faith?

3. Would you like there to be text on the cover of the Expressions of Faith book, and if so, what text?

4. What book do you think I should work on after I finish the Birds & Butterflies and the Expressions of Faith-- the Leaves & Trees book or the Heartfelt Expressions book?

5. If we go with the dove/rainbow design, which dove do you like best (left, center, right)?

Here is a larger version of the center dove:

And here is a larger version of the dove design on the right:

I'm open to your ideas, so feel free to leave any suggestions along with your five answers. I'd appreciate your sharing this with friends & family who enjoy coloring and want to be involved in helping to finalize the new books. I'll announce the winner next week.

Until then...

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

 

Monday
Mar302015

Reflect & Renew

Hi Everyone,

As a faith-based artist, few things give me greater pleasure than creating designs to celebrate religious holidays. This week, I wanted to share some of the Easter and Passover designs I have been working on.

I was honored when our local Jewish newspaper, The Heritage, asked if they could feature one of my images on the cover of their Passover issue. I sent them several options, and this is the design they chose:

Jerusalem is an appropriate theme for Passover because the Hagaddah (Passover Prayerbook) ends with the line "Next Year in Jerusalem". Here is a close up of the design:

Another theme which truly expresses Passover to me is the Exodus, when God parts the Red Sea. I combined the parting of the sea with the Jerusalem scene in the design below.

 

For Easter, I've been working on a series of crosses with the text "He Is Risen". The design below was originally created as a greeting card.

I like the tone-on-tone background, and the way I was able to write the word Believe on the cross, but since I love dangling, I also wanted to experiment with a Zenspirations® Dangle Design cross. Below is my Dangle Cross in progress. 

I'm not sure if I'll letter Believe in this one, too, or leave the center blank. As always, I'd value your opinion-- please leave a comment to let me know what you think. I'm open to using a different word if you have an alternate suggestion.

 

Since many churches hold sunrise services as a way of recognizing that by sunrise on Easter mornning Jesus no longer lay in his tomb, I wanted to try a design which incorporated a sunrise... the piece below is just a sketch, but I think it is detailed enough for the concept to come across. 

 

One of the things that both Passover and Easter allow us to do is to take time to reflect, to savor, and to renew ourselves spiritually as we embrace the true meaning of the holidays. Both holidays are celebrated with festivities, food, friends and family... but there are many people who don't have friends and family nearby, and face spending their holiday alone. I know first-hand that holidays are especially hard when you've recently lost a loved one, and wanted to reach out to you-- my wonderful Zenspirations blog readers-- with a special request. If you are hosting a Passover Seder or an Easter Dinner, would you please consider inviting someone who may not have anyplace to go to celebrate the holiday with you? Reaching out to others can make a huge difference in their lives-- and in yours.

Wishing you and your family joyous holidays; may they be filled with hope and happiness, laughter, light and love.

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

Tuesday
Mar242015

Celebration Journaling 

Hi Everyone,

I really appreciate the enthusiastic response to last week's blog "Joanne's Journals". For those of you who inquired about the Moleskin journal with the pre-printed boxes, they are called 'Art plus Storyboard Notebooks', and are available in two sizes: 3.5" x 5.5" and 5" x 8.25". If you would like to buy them on Amazon, here are the links: 

Since there were so many enthusiastic comments about my meditative journals, I will work on planning a Zenspirations® Guided Journal project for everyone who expressed interest. It may take a little time, because I need to finish the last few pages of my Kickstarter book (When You Lose Someone You Love) before tackling another project. Since I'm not sure about the timeframe, if you are interested please send an e-mail with the subject line Zenspirations® Guided Journal Project to me at joanne@zenspirations.com, and I'll let you know when I have the first project ready. In the meantime, I hope you'll do some meditative journaling on your own.

Tonight I wanted to share another type of journaling that I really enjoy; I call it 'Celebration Journaling'. It's my way of helping celebrate and commemorate special occasions. Unlike my meditative journals, my Celebration Journals are usually quite colorful. 

After I letter a celebratory message, I photograph it and either e-mail it to the person I made it for, or post it on their Facebook wall. 

I made the piece below to help my friend Peggy Whalen celebrate her birthday last year. I wrote in one of Strathmore's ArtAgain black journals using Sakura's awesome Metallic and Moonlight Gelly Roll pens.

Sometimes instead of Celebration Journal Pages, I create Celebratory Messages such as the ones below, which I made for my friend Greg Minuskin. Greg is a world reknowned pen-man, who specializes in restoring and re-tipping fountain pens for the calligraphic and collector communities, so I decided to add a pen into his birthday greeting.

The next design I created for my cousin to give to her roommate... which gave me the idea of what to write about this week (thanks, Ashley!). I used a frame I drew when I first started doing Zenspirations a few years ago, and added the text digitally. 

Celebration journaling and messaging is a great way of connecting with those you love, and even if you aren't a lettering artist it's fun to create custom messages for friends and family. Something I've been having a lot of fun with recently is Instagram. I have been enjoying looking at all the colorful and creative images that people post. The 'Happy 1st Day of Spring' message was my Friday morning journal entry, created specifically to share with my Instagram friends. I liked it so much I decided to share it with my blog followers, too.

Below is what I posted on Instagram. I'm finding it challenging to work within the square format that all Instagram photos are cropped to... but I'm starting to learn what works. My Instagram name is Zenspirations: https://instagram.com/zenspirations/. If you are on Instagram too, let's connect!

Before signing off this week, I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their favorite scripture verses... I'm planning to base some of the designs on the ones which get the most requests... which leads me to an apology and another request. The apology is  because I forgot to ask a VERY important question-- which bible version do you use? NIV, ESV, King James, something else? And the request is-- if you are interested in having me use one (or more!) of your favorite scriptures as part of my new line of notecards, it would be REALLY helpful if would you please write out the exact wording (with punctuation and reference) of each scripture you'd like me to consider. It doesn't have to be five... just share the ones you really love (could be two, could be ten).

In terms of the giveaway, I will still draw a name from those who commented last week, and will draw a second name from those who leave a comment this week. This week's prize will be a box of the scripture notecards (once they are printed) and a personalized Celebratory Message of your choice-- it can be for you or someone you love. 

So thank you in advance for sharing your favorite scriptures... and you can still win this week's prize even if you didn't leave a comment last week.

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne