an all time favorite Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ¬†inspired this two page spread for Elizabeth’s BACK TO SCHOOL theme over at Art Journal Journey…magpies-nest-teach-inspiration

I challenged myself to use colors I don’t often use and found a napkin along with some of my mother’s old paints that helped move me in that direction…


not totally comfortable with my color matching my favorite heavy gesso came to the rescue once again…magpiess-nest-distracted-by-dried-paintthen I got distracted for a bit by my paint tray noticing a small corner of paint sticking up… sure enough the layers of paint peeled out easily and yes I did save those bits for what I am not exactly sureūüôā …magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-rainy-day-fun

then it was back to trying to make my pages work on a lovely rainy day here in Virginia…


it was fiddly fun cutting and pasting thin pieces of napkin to carry the design from one page to another (that napkin was too good to cover up completely)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-teach-right-page

it took me awhile to get some matching turquoise and greenish yellow for my painted pages…


some Adirondack BOTTLE stamping ink applied with a wet wipe worked for one part since a lot of my Tim Holtz DISTRESS STAINS seem to have lost their color over time…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-teach-art-journal-pages

a little more doodling with my gold paint pen and my pages are complete (tricky to photograph on a rainy day)…

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Songwriters: Graham Nash
Teach Your Children lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Spirit Music Group


joining in again for Elizabeth’s Art Journal Journey BACK TO SCHOOL challenge with a two page spread in an altered book of mine that surfaced in my recent clean up…¬†magpies-nest-lucilles-memory-book

¬†Lucille Borschke’s school memory book was given to me by a friend that found it in a thrift shop…¬†


she thought I could make use of the vintage photos and bits of this¬†and that in it…¬†

seems Lucille was a local girl that attended Notre Dame Academy in Washington, D. C. back in the late 1920’s and her favorite subjects were History, Religion, English and French…


one of the group photos along with an old dictionary page were what got me started and¬†a couple of rubber stamps came in handy too (FOREVER stamp not shown in photo)…magpies-nest-stamps

the ridged paper on the right is from light bulb packaging (I¬†noticed when my pages were finished how nicely it worked with¬†the background in the photograph) and the postage stamps were from a letter front included in Lucille’s memory book…

with my father being in the military we moved quite a bit when I was a young girl at all times of the year which made being the “new” girl in class an added adventure… I was quite chatty and made friends easily… I am grateful for memories of a sweet and colorful childhood…

basket case…

before making another run to the local charity shop I snapped a photo for posterity…magpies-nest-appalachian-style-baskets

a couple of years after the birth of our middle son I took a basket weaving class and caught the weaving bug which lasted a fair number of years…


I sold¬†lots of handwoven Appalachian style¬†baskets (along with dried flowers) at a wonderful fall festival each October taking more classes and broadening my repertoire over the years…magpies-nest-colin-patty-works-of-the-heart-1991

that was then and as we all know things change…


joining everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover¬†for T Stands for Tuesday…

“And that is how change happens, one gesture, one person, one moment at a time.” -Libra Bray


…a couple of kids…

with September whizzing by I did not want to miss the chance to join in with Elizabeth’s fun theme of BACK TO SCHOOL over at Art Journal Journey…


while clearing and organizing I have had lots of ideas on the theme and finally took some time to play…magpies-nest-butterfly-atc

not sure how I know this Will Cobb/Gus Edwards song exactly but I couldn’t get the chorus out of my head…¬†that along with an ATC I created some time ago were my inspiration…


here is some of what went into this spread: ¬†it began with spray painted book pages… stenciling with super heavy gesso… adding bits of monoprint paper, forget-me-not origami paper and deli print paper used to clean up the plastic doily used for stenciling along with some computer generated words on the right… the white flower trim was something that surfaced in my clean up as well


“School days, school days Dear old golden rule days Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic Taught to the tune of the hickory stick You were my queen in calico I was your bashful barefoot beau And you wrote on my slate, “I love you, Joe” When we were a couple of kids.”

Bountiful September…

before too much more time passes I wanted to join everyone over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth’s T Stands for Tuesday to say hello…


my focus is still on purging and clearing out while we continue with some home improvements…


consequently I have not been on the computer much at all…


‚ô•~ hope you are well and enjoying your September ~‚ô•~

“Wherever you are, be all there.” -Jim Elliot


Terminus Tea…

some of you might remember that our son set out on 11 April from Springer Mountain in Georgia walking north on the Appalachian Trailappalachian-trail

encountering all kinds of weather (even¬†some slushy snow for Mother’s Day)…


the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in America with more than 2,000 miles of trail and 250+ shelters…

magpies-nest-colin-szymkowicz-on-the-atthe overall elevation gain¬†makes it¬†equivalent to climbing Mount Everest 16 times…colin-szymkowicz-enjoying-the-walk

each year a couple thousand people try to hike the AT from beginning to end in one season…magpies-nest-colin-at-new-hampshire1

only a few hundred ‚Äúthru-hikers‚ÄĚ as they are called manage to finish the entire hike…Magpie's Nest Colin Szymkowicz Maine

we are extremely happy and excited that our thru hiker reached the northern terminus on 2 September and had some fun at the top  (his trail name is Deuces so it is special that he completed his quest on 2 September)Colin Szymkowicz Deuces has Fun at the top 2 Sept 2016

he said this photo was inspired by the Queen’s Guard (you have to imagine the black bearskin hat and red uniform…our boy has a great sense of humor!)…

Colin Szymkowicz reaches Maine Terminus 2 Sept 2016

in this photo you get a better idea of what the weather conditions were like that day¬†(a bit brisk …¬†his trusty backpack has been with him every step of the way)…at-energy-snacks-snickers (1)

you may remember the Snickers photo we took before he packed his food boxes… there is a tradition on the trail that says your last Snickers bar is your trail fortune as¬†there is a word on one side of each bar…Colin White Blaze Trail fun

he got “Goofball”…

since I am combining this update with my T Stands for Tuesday post I thought I would include a favorite photo of Colin with our traveling tea cup when we met him in Waynesboro, Virginia back in June…Colin Szymkowicz Woodsman

it took lots of planning and preparation not to mention stamina and determination all along the way… ¬†we are excited and very happy for Colin… he is camping in Acadia National Park for a few days and will be making his way south to Virginiaūüôā



the silence of growing things

ever since I was a young¬†girl I have had a strong connection to nature…

Magpie's Nest Eastern Black Swallowtail in our garden

there were years when being a full time gardener was my saving grace helping me through difficult times…Magpie's Nest Silence of growing things

I do not garden as much as I used to for various reasons but my Love of nature is still strong…Magpie's Nest Thyme in the garden

these pages were inspired as I came across some get well cards sent to me in 2003 (I know!!! I am working to alter my saving ways with most of the cards now in the recycle bin but the card front which is the centerpiece of my right hand page highlights the natural wonder of herb gardening so I decided to do another spread)…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz AJJ Aug 2016 NATURE's WONDERS

many thanks to Gill for hosting the wonderful theme of NATURE’S WONDERS for Art Journal Journey this month…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Enjoy the Moment

there is boundless creativity and inspiration on the AJJ challenge blog month after month ~‚ô•~ special thanks to Susi and Valerie for keeping the fun going!!!

Helianthus time again …

a local cut your¬†own farm (Burnside Farms) planted¬†over 30 varieties of “cutting” sunflowers (Helianthus) on about six acres in successive crops to ensure at least six weeks of blooming flowers…Magpie's Nest Burnside Farms Sunflowersour August tropical heat and humidity kept me indoors a good bit and I almost missed them…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz BEES

very happy that I made time to visit last Wednesday which was the last low heat and humidity day we would have for awhile…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Sunflower Paloozasuch a delight to see fields of flowers again this year

Pollinator habitat¬†with so many cheerful blooms…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Morning Sunflowers

these two little girls were having lots of fun frolicking in the fields…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz two girls frolicking

I took a quick photo¬†of the flowers I cut¬†before I left the farm (the sun bleached out the deep red of the top of my parasol)…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Parasol cut blooms water

the cut blooms last a long time if you watch the water level…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Sunflowers and Figs

we are still waiting for our replacement carpet in the sun room as we had a bad experience with the first toxic foam padding that ¬†smelled horrible even after a week of airing out…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz sunflower hair

we soon realized we could not live with it…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz sunflower lady reflection 1

so we are back to the concrete floor for now and have ordered new carpet and padding with low VOC which is what we should have gotten in the first place…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Front and Back¬†we got excited rushing things a bit settling for what was quickly available…¬†

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz morning light

joining with¬†T Stands for Tuesday and wishing you a happy day…

Magpie's Nest Sunflower Lady

I also created a digital sunflower piece for Art Journal Journey’s NATURE’S WONDERS theme which ends on Wednesday…

swan song…

finally the red rosin paper art journal I started back in October of 2013 is complete (more about how my gesso and monoprint pages began when¬†you click the link above)¬†…Magpie's Nest Red Rosin Monoprint cover

I made a TAP transfer ironing it on cotton using a German swan image (swans are a favorite of mine¬†for lots of reasons)…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Red Rosin Journal Cover

adding bits of tea dyed lace and part of a flimmerstern along with a sweet spray of vintage flowers (some of those blooms also appear on a few pages inside the journal)…Magpie's Nest Swan book cover finishing touches

I got out one of my button jars to have a lookie look and found a button with¬†hanging threads that seemed perfect…Magpie's Nest book binding

after deciding on the smaller poking tool I did a simple in and out tied binding… if you are interested in what’s inside the journal I have links to each of the spreads here

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Swan Song art journal

sharing this for Gill’s wonderful¬†NATURE’S WONDERS theme at Art Journal Journey…

true wonder…

earlier this month I created a page for Gill’s Art Journal Journey’s NATURE’S WONDERS that I shared hereMagpie's Nest BEFORE true wonder pages

more often than not I work on a spread rather than just one page but this time was one of those times…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz page in processI stamped two Lynne Perrella stamps on the white thin layer peeled from a napkin adhering them to the page with matte medium adding color with a toothpick (the black highlights are Tim Holtz¬†rubons that I also used on the Wonder page)…Magpie's Nest TRUE page

one of the things I enjoy very much about working over text in my collage backgrounds is what reveals itself without even trying… the rays and the French word for sun/soleil above are a good example

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz TRUE Wonder journal pages

nature truly is a continuous wonder ‚ô•

August Visit to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens…

between scorching hot summer temperatures and all of the upheaval with our home improvements it had been four weeks since we last visited the aquatic gardensMagpie's Nest Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens wildlife

instead of a packed parking lot like at the end of July we were one of just a handful of visitors bright and early on Sunday…Magpie's Nest Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens August Panorama

even though there were fewer blooms than earlier in the summer the lotuses (loti) did not disappoint standing tall in the morning light with pearls of dew sparkling like diamonds…

Magpie's Nest Morning dew on lotus leavesthere were lots of handsome lotus pods with their rattly black seeds…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Lotus seed heads

and a fair number of fresh buds too…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Loti all stages

the bees seemed extra busy…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Bees

this visit the tropical ponds really captured my attention…Magpie's Nest Tropical lily pond

the plants in these ponds have to be overwintered in greenhouses each year since they are not natives…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Victorian water lily in bloom

we were lucky to catch the big Victoria amazonica water lily¬†in bloom as it only opens when it is cooler in the mornings and closes in the midday heat…Magpie's Nest Fred on Head water bottle

in the photo above you get an idea of how tall the loti are this time of year… surpassing Mr Magpie’s 6 foot 7 inches (measurement INCLUDES¬†the FRED water bottle on his head)…

Magpie's Nest Praying Mantis and Dragonfly

each visit to this national park is a delight with beauty and wonder at every turn (this was our fourth visit this summer)…Magpie's Nest early morning loti

with dew soaked shoes we headed back to Virginia by way of PAUL’s ¬†and had a yummy bite to eat…Magpie's Nest PAULs Tysons 11

joining everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover for T Stands for TuesdayMagpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz golden lotus painted background

and offering another digital piece combining my photo and artwork for Art Journal Journey’s NATURE’S WONDERS theme ~‚ô•~ thank you for your visit

nature’s wonders

NATURE’S WONDERS is Gill’s theme for Art Journal Journey this month…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Passion Flower

oh how I enjoy nature and always have growing up in a household with parents that honored and preserved nature as much as possible…Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz lotus collagemy father was known to have annual feuds with sparrows that were relentless in their attempts to build nests in his Purple Martin houses… he cared alot about the Purple Martins who were great at eating mosquitoes returning faithfully to the garden each year…

Magpie's Nest Red Rosin Monoprint Journal Cover

 I created two more pages in my red rosin monoprinted journal

Magpie's Nest BLOOM supplies Lynne Perrella

PaperArtsy’s lovely Lynne Perrella stamps were fun to play with¬†adding another favorite Tin Can Mail butterfly wing stamp for the background..

Magpie's Nest Bloom right page

it was a bit of a challenge to incorporate one of my 5 x 5 collages onto my already monoprinted pages trying to match the paints I used earlier…Magpie's Nest Bloom left

the final touch was adding some pressed flowers using matte medium under and over them on the pages with a couple of rubons too…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz BLOOM red rosin pages

I like how the words I used in all of the spreads flow like a bit of found “poetry”… they evolved after working randomly with no ¬†theme for my journal (all it needs now is binding and a cover):

Keep moving forward…¬†


Keep close to nature‚Äôs heart…¬†

Pull Love closely around you and snuggle into its bliss…¬†

What we think we become…¬†


The present moment is a powerful goddess…¬†


 -Patty Szymkowicz

blossom and grow…

a recent photo of mine of a passion flower and some pink fairy roses

Magpie's Nest Passion Flower Roses

layered with the pages of an old ledger using lots of filters to create a digital piece for¬†Art Journal Journey’s NATURE’S WONDERS¬†theme…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Passion Flower Roses so many variations

flowers are an endless source of wonder and joy for me…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Blossom and Grow collage

“Every flower blooms at a different pace.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄďSuzy Kassem