Category Archives: Art Journal Journey Challenge Blog

darkness to Light…

I have missed art journaling and playing along with my favorite challenge blog friends over at Art Journal Journeymagpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-progress-1

Valerie’s brilliant theme this month is “Light and Darkness” which is something I think about quite a bit having experienced a fair bit of darkness in my life (mostly in the form of loss)…


we all have to face it at some point (I used a fine tip black Sharpie marker for highlights around the gold)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-dark-to-light-closeup

I have also been blessed with so much beautiful Light (couldn’t help but notice the difference in the Light in my photos)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-progress-3

this journal page began with what was left from a sheet of Christmas stamps (those little snippets always seem too nice to throw away)…


“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” -Madeline L’Engle

October dresses in flame and gold…

magpies-nest-october-right-pagethe free image of the rose lady had been patiently waiting in one of my art journals which is a thin book with glued together pages that I started back in January (still plenty of room in this altered book)magpies-nest-october-poem-simple-abundance

after seeing this October poem in one of my copies of Simple Abundance I knew where my pages would be headed next (the book is inspiring on many levels with lots of quotes and uplifting reading… it is also my favorite go to book when I am doing found poetry which is different than just using verse like I have done here)…magpies-nest-october-left-page

we had some record breaking hot temperatures for a few days and now our Indian Summer has gone and left us with crazy wild winds and much cooler temps so the poem fit that nicely too…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-october

pieces of two different napkins along with some smeared gesso using a plastic pallet knife finished two more pages for Valerie’s Art Journal Journey Indian Summer – Golden October – Autumn challenge

Autumn in Everything…

happy to have some time in the middle of our beautiful Indian Summer days here in Virginia to share two spreads that I created over the last couple of weeks…magpies-nest-autumn-grows-pages

these pages were inspired by an ad for a ballet performance that I clipped from The Washington Post and I just happened to have a stencil that I wanted to play with too…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-autumn-grows

I liked these pages so much I did not want to cover them up but I eventually forged ahead and had fun adding gold paint along with the Robert Browning quote…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-autumn-gold

now for something a little different… these green and gold pages were an attempt to step outside my comfort zone using colors and collage in a different way…


I am still not crazy about the end result but thought I’d share both spreads with you since I had Valerie’s Golden Autumn theme in mind for Art Journal Journey this month when I created them..


“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” -Joe L. Wheeler

crisp in the fall…

the music lady I put together awhile ago waited patiently in one of my art journals until I figured out what was next for her (she was from a catalog and I gave her the music dress)…


I am joining Valerie’s Art Journal Journey INDIAN SUMMER-GOLDEN OCTOBER-AUTUMN challenge…


purple paint and yellow glaze along with spiderweb washi tape helped bring my pages to life…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-crisp-in-the-fall-left-page

the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that I saw in a magazine appealed to me so I printed the words with our computer…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-crisp-in-the-fall-journal-pages

the border on the bottom of the left page along with the leaves were cut from assorted junk mail…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-crisp-in-the-fall-journal-pages-oct-2016

one of Seth Apter’s rubber stamps (on the right) along with some extra brushes of yellow glaze gave a nice finishing touch to my pages…


summer has flown…

the talented and prolific Valerie chose INDIAN SUMMER-GOLDEN OCTOBER-AUTUMN as October’s Art Journal Journey theme which sends my mind in lots of directions…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-golden-redbud-leaves

just when I think summer might go on forever it turned cooler which is perfect for open windows and warmer clothes...magpies-nest-glow-of-october-rainy-day

we finally got some much needed rain too…magpies-nest-flown-rubber-stamps

soon I will give up running barefoot around the house and get out my cozy slippers…

autumn makes me think of golden leaves andmagpies-nest-sunset-plane-heading-to-dullesgolden sunsets so I added lots of gold to my scraped paint pages which was tricky to capture in my photos…


the WONDER page on the right began with an index card that I had made awhile ago…


~* Happy October *~

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”~ Jim Bishop


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 sure 🙂 …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…

…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.”

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 ~♥~ 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

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 ~♥~ thank you for your visit