Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for January, 2010

Dreamboard: Full Wolf Moon

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

This month I’m going after what I want. I’m teaching myself to trust my own intuition. I’m figuring out what I need and how to get it. I’ve had this quote on my desk for a few months now.

“Now you must go out into your heart, as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins.” –Ranier Maria Rilke

It seems a bit scary, but it’s mostly about the creative journey. I’m responsible for my work and my process. Only me. It’s like a journey I take on my own. I like to travel by myself, so I’m kind of excited about this adventure.

*8 Things: Highly Handy Websites

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Rachelle’s tradition of *8 Things is one of the highlights of my week in the blogosphere. I know I just did a linky post yesterday, but I couldn’t resist this one.

*8 Highly Handy Websites (not blogs)

1. TeuxDeux. I have this open constantly. I log in, open Gmail, open TeuxDeux and open Facebook. I feel super productive and love checking things off my list.

2. ThinkMap Visual Thesaurus. This is a subscription site, but you can do a basic search for one or two words right on the home page. I love the map that shows the relationship between words.

3. J-Archive. Because it’s fun. And who knows when you might need to know what Alex Trebek said on the September 14, 1984 show of Jeopardy. Seriously.

4. Tastebook. A place to corral all my recipes from all over in to one handy site. Then occasionally I print the ones I use most often and put them in my beautiful binder that I ordered from them months ago.

5. Flight Stats. Okay, maybe you don’t need to track flights nearly as often as I do, but it’s handy when you do.

6. Empty Easel. I always learn something from this site. Plus, it’s nicely designed. (Sadly, this is rare for sites that market to artists– you’d think those sites would consider visual appeal, wouldn’t you?)

7. A trip planner for going by bike. Which streets have big hills? Where exactly does a bike lane end? Bike routes are clear and easy to find with this site. I also keep up with my mileage on

8. Want to know when Mr.T guest starred on Silver Spoons? What year Alice Walker won the Pulitzer? Who Joanne Woodward was engaged to before she married Paul Newman? Wikipedia is your answer. I can’t make a list like this without including it. I’ve won so many bets because of it. And that’s useful.

More happiness.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

My decluttered bulletin board. Where I found my list of these things.

A few of these are things I meant to mention months ago– I’m decluttering and found my list.

Such wisdom– it’s worth reading again.

Abby’s photos. She captures Portland so beautifully, and I’m always amazed by the stuff she seems to find.

I seem to need to read this at least once a week– just as a reminder. And then, there’s this too.

And my soulsister Jenna is so smart.

Another chunk of wisdom from a mermaid.

And this is from ages ago, but it still makes me want an iPhone.

Gretchen Rubin is a genius, and she’s friends with Jacob Collins (my art hero). Those are Jacob’s paintings included in her post.

Carry On Only + Painting: Option Two

Monday, January 18th, 2010

So we’ve covered my version of oil paints + travel. If you have any suggestions or a better way to do it, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line, or leave a comment.

But sometimes you need another option. Maybe you’re going to be gone longer, or you’re actually going to need makeup, or you know you just aren’t going to have tons of painting time, but you still want to keep your options open. That’s when you choose option two.


I’ve always wanted to love watercolors as much as oils, but until recently, I’ve never been very happy with the results I was getting in watercolor. However, all of that changed in the past year and I no longer consider watercolor the ugly stepsister to oil.  Here’s what made that happen.

  • This brush. Yes. A brush. When Marcus and Peter at my friendly local art supply store showed me this brush and told me it would change my world, I was skeptical. Especially since it was $30. For a brush. But for the record– Peter, you were right. I love this brush. My work is better because of it. Seriously. (And since it’s a travel brush, the tip is protected very nicely.)

    Love. There are no words.

  • Watercolor blocks. In postcard size and larger. I don’t have to tape paper to a board, I don’t even have to carry a board anymore. My paintings are secure until I remove them from the block, so they dry flat and the corners don’t get damaged in transit. And good paper doesn’t dimple. Which makes me happier with my work.
  • This watercolor set. 12 good colors, a mixing tray in the top with space for a couple of extra colors, this set is about the same size as my cell phone, has lasted for more than a year without a refill and the pigments are satisfyingly vibrant. It comes with a little brush that works nicely for detail. This set is in my purse right now– I carry it everywhere.

    I cleaned it before I took a picture. It was really messy.

    With cell phone for comparison.

  • Pens. Many pens. On our last trip, I packed two pair of pants, two dresses, a skirt and 17 pens. I used them all. Drawing pens, writing pens, brush pens, Sharpies. You can never have too many pens. (Okay, maybe 17 is a bit much.)

  • Watersoluble crayons. Short on time, but still want to remember the colors in the shadow behind that tree? Keep these in your pocket next to that watercolor block, sketch it out really quickly, then once you’re back in the hotel, fill in the rest with the “real” watercolors. The crayons add a layer of depth that I get easily in oils, but sometimes miss in watercolors. Most of the paintings that I’m happiest with start this way. And I can capture what I’m seeing without testing the patience of my traveling companion– who isn’t really known for his patience. :)

The important thing to remember is that you don’t need as much as you think you do. Even with 17 pens, all of this stuff fit in a bag about the same size as my 1-quart Ziploc bag. I confiscate small plastic cups as we travel (especially from planes) to hold water, and I’m set.

Everything. All together. See? You have room for this.

I also carry it with me everywhere– even when I’m not traveling. Sitting in Starbucks, waiting for a bus, at the dentist’s office– many happy paintings have happened simply because I had my stuff with me and had a few extra minutes.

Stay tuned for part three: when I explain my packing process for everything else, by popular demand.

Things that make me happy at the moment…

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I’m having so much fun with these creative assignments and with fun-a-day.

I’ve been singing this song constantly since Emme posted it on Monday.

How did I live without this TeuxDeux list?

I got a Powell’s gift card for Christmas and this week, I finally settled on a book. Every poem in here is a complete jewel.

I’ve been massaging my ears– and it works. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

I’ve seen this a few places, but I love it every time I see it and feel like this list would be incomplete without it.

What’s making you happy lately? Do share.

Carry-on only + Painting: Option One

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Disclaimer: This works for me when I fly, but TSA is a fickle beast, so no guarantees, ok?

I love to travel. Maybe not as much as other Guillebeaux we know, but I love to travel. I’m more of a luxury traveler than an adventure traveler, so I’ll leave the guest houses in Mongolia and the bus trips through East Africa to him, and I’ll stick with my kind of adventures. The Creme Brulee kind.

I also love to paint. And these things don’t always work together so well. For four years, while we lived on a ship in West Africa, I sacrificed my love for oil paints, because a certain captain (Hi Jurryan!) wasn’t that excited about me having turpentine or other highly flammable substances in my cabin.

Obviously the TSA isn’t that thrilled about it either. But there are work arounds. So this is what I do. Again, your mileage may vary.

Cat included for scale. And because she wouldn't move.

This suitcase must hold everything. Clothes, books, iPod, makeup, and painting supplies. And it does. Every time. People are always amazed that I can travel for three weeks, to two different climates, and take formal wear using carry-on only. I’m always amazed that anyone would wait at a baggage carousel after 15 hours of flying.

Of course, I have my priorities. I’ll wear the same black dress to dinner four nights in a row, but I’m taking my art supplies. I’ve established a tried and true method for this, and I’m going to share my profound packing wisdom with you. This may take a while, so I’m breaking it up into at least two posts.

Option one: Ideal for a short trip to a place with lots of nature and time for painting. For example, on a trip to Sedona, Arizona with the family, I knew I was going to have some downtime for painting when we went on a hike. I knew there were going to be amazing views that I couldn’t easily capture with a camera, and I knew I was going to be in casual clothes all day with little need for makeup. So I filled my obligatory Ziploc bag with oil paints instead of eyeshadow.

Tips for making this work:

  • take the paint out of the metal tubes. Go to your friendly local art supply store and buy these little plastic tubs. They come in packs of twelve. They’re leakproof, reusable and they hold a suprising amount of paint. Alternatively, you can save the little canisters that you get samples from at Sephora– they tend to leak a little more and they don’t last quite as long, but they’ll work, too.
  • limit your palette. For this trip, I took three primaries, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and white. With 6 small little tubs, your Ziploc bag is much less likely to raise questions.
  • mineral spirits– go with a no-odor clear product like Turpenoid or Gamsol. Also in a little tub with a tight seal. I used this sparingly on the trip and cleaned my brushes with baby wipes. If I’m painting a lot, then I make a quick trip to an art supply store and buy a small bottle once I arrive. Use common sense and caution. It’s flammable, yes. But so is hairspray.
  • Masonite boards cut to your preferred size. A few years ago, I went to The Home Depot and bought a giant piece of masonite for less than 10 bucks. I batted my eyelashes and the guy that sold it to me cut it using their giant saw. It took him less than five minutes and I got 8 boards in 8×10 size and 10 in 5×7 size. Yes, I had to gesso them myself, but then I had more control over the process. Canvas doesn’t pack well– you can dent the work too easily. You can also buy gessoboard or hardboard at your friendly local art supply store. (Now that I don’t have a car, this is the option I choose. It’s not so heavy.)
  • Three brushes. A bright, a flat and a filbert in size 4, 6, and 8 are really all I need when I’m traveling. Sometimes limiting myself leads to work I’m happier with, since I get overwhelmed with choices.
  • Baby wipes. Cleaning brushes, getting paint out of your jeans, wiping out that tree you’re not happy with– I never pack enough baby wipes. They go in a small ziploc bag with the masonite.
  • Small strips of cardboard and large rubber bands. Drying time is tricky. In Arizona, it wasn’t a problem, but if you fold the strips of cardboard around the edges and place the paintings face to face then the cardboard keeps them separated and protects them from smudges.
  • Important: Oil paint is simply pigment ground in linseed oil. Completely safe. So if asked, never use the word “paint.” Paint raises automatic red flags– just say it’s “color ground into linseed oil.”

Another important rule about packing light– you must use everything that you put in the suitcase. If you don’t use it, you don’t get to pack it the next time. I made that rule, so that I would always carve out painting time in every trip.

Stretch Specifics

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Now that you have the general idea, here’s where I get really brave.

I wrote out all my goals very specifically (I really feel like it makes a huge difference.)  and since I’m sticking my neck out this year, I might as well tell you what they are.


my life list

As an artist, I’m going to stretch by completing 12 oil paintings and 100 watercolors, practicing a new skill each  month, completing and posting 9 dreamboards, creating art for FUN-A-DAY everyday in January, completing the toy series and beginning to explore a new idea, working from inspiration– small successes and excitement,

As a marketer, I’m going to stretch by seeking out new opportunities for shows and sales, building relationships, creating notecards for sale, maintaining basic bookeeping for my art, and investing in myself.

As a “health nut”, I’ll stretch by keeping a journal of good things, training and completing a century ride (yes, 100 miles on a bike), eliminate sugar from my diet for 4 weeks, maintaining a regular exercise program and holding crow pose for 3 breaths.

Building community, I’ll stretch by planning a visit to see my family in the spring, going to a wedding in Canada this summer, hosting Stitch group at my house regularly, calling faraway friends once a week, finally finishing The Artist’s Way (don’t ask how many times I’ve started it), and attending Squam by the Sea. (Squee!!) Donations accepted via Paypal.

The big focus of the year is finance. I want to make $2k per month by the end of the year. I want to be able to write that without breaking out in hives. It’s a big goal for me, and I‘m terrified think I can do it. Maybe

Overall, I want to build my confidence, strength and self-reliance. I’ll cultivate bravery, joy, gratitude, and enthusiasm, in my work and choose to be healthy, creative and friendly. I’ll work with intention and out of inspiration.

I guess I should get off Facebook then, eh? :)


Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

It’s 2010. Maybe you heard?

As is the annual tradition, I’m telling you guys about my goals here. GOALS, I HAZ DEM.

Since last year was the year of Self-Discipline, and we’ve seen how that worked out, I made an effort to be gentler with myself this year. 2010 is the year of Stretch for me.

Stretching is natural– instinctual. But, then sometimes to stretch you put your body in to positions you never thought possible. This year is about sticking my neck out, growing in new ways, being flexible, but also getting stronger. All things that come with stretching.

As I’ve learned in yoga, when you stretch one side of the body you’re strengthening opposing muscles. So when you stretch your calves, you’re strengthening your shins. (It’s a bit of an oversimplification, I know, but work with my metaphor for a bit.) Also, I have illustrations.

So if I “stick my neck out”, then I stretch my neck and strengthen my voice. Also, when you stretch you let go to get a deeper stretch, so if I let go of my fear then I’ll accomplish more this year.

I’m going to strengthen my core, or my own intuition. Or I’m going to trust my gut more.

I’m going to open my heart and take more responsibility on my shoulders. I’m going to strengthen my legs for perseverance.

I’m going to stretch.