Artist Date ~ A Walk Down Memory Lane

Hi Friends!

Warmhearted greetings! I hope that you are healthy, safe, and cozy today in your little corner of the world. I am still feeling wrapped in the warmth of last week’s Artist Date. It truly was a walk down memory lane, in the sweetest of ways!

One of the joys of my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for retirement) is creating one-of-a-kind, handmade cards. It’s always such fun to surprise family and friends with these tiny pieces of my heart. My joy was doubled each time I mailed off a handmade card to my parents in Arizona. They felt like tiny, ‘paper hugs’ and kept us close in spite of the miles between us.

Every time I visited my parents in their lovely, desert home, I noticed my cards on display in places of honor ~ on the fireplace mantel, on top of my mom’s oak, rolltop desk, and in my dad’s Lionel train room. I often stopped to peek at my little works of ‘heart.’

Two years ago, when the time came to help my parents move back to our area, they surprised me with a very special gift. My mom filled a package with all of my handmade cards. What a treasure! I carried this very special package in my backpack on our flight back home to Illinois. Then I gently placed the package in a sunny, yellow, archival box on a shelf in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. I looked forward to opening it when the right moment came along…

My first Artist Date of The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster felt like the perfect time! I gently carried the yellow box upstairs and enjoyed a sentimental walk down memory lane, as I carefully spread all of the cards on our dining room table. Although the sun was streaming in through the lace curtains, I’m certain that it was these ‘paper hugs’ that warmed my soul. There were so many handmade cards of all kinds created over six years. The insides of the cards were also decorated and filled with sweet sentiments and notes with news of the week.

My earliest cards were created right here at our dining room table using a Big Shot and a few embossing folders and dies. I can still remember the joy I felt as a brand new card maker!

My passion for patterned paper, dry embossing, buttons, and twine grew with each tiny creation. I only had black ink and blended chalk for a bit of soft color. With a lifelong love of lettering, I was so excited to collect sentiment stamps!

Early on, I adored dry embossing on patterned paper creating the feel of vintage, patchwork quilts. As my collection of stamps and dies grew, I was so grateful to set up a dedicated, creative space downstairs in our unfinished basement. Oh, how I loved carrying a big cup of tea (to warm my hands) down to my new Paper Garden studio!

I hung dried Hydrangeas and herbs from the ceiling rafters, added task lighting, tables, a rag rug, and music. Antique wooden boxes held many of my supplies. I felt so blessed to have a space to be messy and play for hours and hours. Newly retired, it was so nice to have ‘a place to go’ each day! Eight years later, my little Paper Garden studio is still a very special blessing in my life.

Wreaths, wreaths, and more wreaths! You will find a wreath on our front door, in the dining room, in the guest room, in the kitchen, on the deck, and on our garden gate. Simple, grapevine wreaths are my favorite. Soon they began appearing on my cards, embellished with die cuts and stamping. Die cut sentiments on my cards became a new passion. As my ink collection slowly grew, I loved to match ink and paper colors.

I was so inspired by Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. Oh my! Separate stamps for each tiny bit of foliage, flower, branch, container, tuft of grass, and creature provided endless possibilities. Watercolor markers, watercolor paper, and a No. 4 round brush let me create tiny vignettes to my heart’s desire. I grew more interested in light and shadow and composition. I will always remember sitting in my parents’ desert garden watercoloring tiny, desert scenes. I was inspired by Nature’s color palette, as we hiked in the Sonoran desert, and the colors of my Midwest perennial gardens for so many cards. I could feel my creative heart expanding as I stretched my skills. That year, I began packing a few art supplies whenever I traveled. There was always space for this precious cargo in my backpack… and I needed it with me! 🙂

Pure Innocence stamps and dies melted my heart and are still such fun to create with! They bring back memories of playing with paper dolls as a child. Creativity should feel like play! I began to pack die cut images, watercolors, Distress inks, and patterned paper for paper piecing whenever I gathered with creative friends for our monthly   paper crafting ‘Crops.’

Creating tiny cards and tags using die cuts, watercolors, dye inks, and Prismacolor pencils always makes my heart smile! They add the perfect touch tied onto a bouquet of garden flowers or fresh, baked treats for friends and neighbors.

My mom shared her passion for gardening with me so long ago. So, naturally, I love to add florals to her cards! Watercolors, layered stamping, and ink blending brought these colorful blossoms to life.

It is always fun to include my dad’s favorite things on his cards! Tools, antique telephones, classic cars, toy trains, and vintage motor scooters make him smile. I love the way he studies each card to figure out the techniques I used. 🙂

Over the past two years, I have taken great delight in hand-delivering so many handmade cards to my parents. It’s such a blessing to actually watch them open each card and smile! Their apartment has a growing display of my latest little works of ‘heart.’

This Artist Date brought back so many wonderful memories of the early years of my creative journey! It was a chance to reflect on the ways I have grown as a maker and a creative over the past several years. As I carefully tucked all of the cards back into the yellow box, I knew that a tiny bit of my heart remained in each card. It excites me to think of all of the new skills that lie ahead… just waiting to be explored!  🙂

I am so very grateful to be a part of The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster. It feels like one of the very best gifts that I have ever given myself! I wonder where this incredible journey will lead me next?

What are you busy creating at the moment?

Are you curious to explore any new creative skills?

♥ ♥ ♥

Hope you’ll share with us!

Thank you for stopping by today!

Our hearts are with all those affected by the terrible winter storms.🙏🏼❤️


Sending inky hugs!







23 thoughts on “Artist Date ~ A Walk Down Memory Lane

  1. I always LOVE your cards. So much variety and each beautiful in it’s own way. I’m lucky to get ready made cards sent out but I do send a few. I was just thinking of making some with fabric scraps when we had to leave the house due to power outage. Maybe I’ll get back by the weekend. 🙂 These are inspirational.

    • Oh, thank you for your very kind words, Marlene! It was so nice to look back at these older cards and to think about my creative journey. It actually helped to inspire me to keep creating!! It has been very challenging for me to feel creative during this deeply worrisome time for our world. It has been especially hard because I KNOW that this is a time when it is so very important to stay connected with the special people in our lives. Handmade cards would help to lift spirits during this time. Experiencing creative block has been difficult for me the past few months. Creativity is a special part of my self-care.
      This little ‘walk down memory lane’ was just what I needed to inspire me to do what I love ~ create cards to send more love into the world! I have set aside special time tomorrow to bundle up and head downstairs to my little Paper Garden. (It can be really chilly downstairs during the winter!⛄️) I’m planning to play with snowflake stencils and watercolors to create some pretty backgrounds for cards. I can feel the inspiration from my Morning Pages nourishing my creative soul again. It feels like such a blessing!
      Stay safe and healthy, my friend! Maybe you can do a little stitching to stay busy over the next few days. I’m keeping you in my thoughts, Marlene!💗

  2. I just purchased the Springtime Paper Craft Bundle from it’s and interesting resource and there have weekly freebies. Otherwise I’ve been doing some medieval calligraphy and illumination from time to time. I have some birth “record” pieces to get done and also a marriage “record”, these go into a frame or can be put in a scrapbook. I have been thinking about opening an Etsy shop, but so far only thinking about it.
    Have a happy Spring!

    • Springtime inspiration sounds just lovely, Aquila! It will be a perfect escape from the Arctic cold and deep snow. Your calligraphy and illumination projects will be a wonderful way to preserve these special family records! I studied calligraphy for several years long, long, long ago. I really miss the practice! It always felt like meditation to me. My favorite calligraphy blog is The Postman’s Knock. Lindsey writes wonderful tutorials for so many inspiring calligraphy projects of all kinds. You might really enjoy her blog!
      Let us know, Aquila, if you do open an Etsy shop! We’ll come visit! Heartfelt thanks for sharing all of your creative projects. 💕Very inspiring! Stay safe and healthy! 💗

  3. Your card making skills always leaves me in awe. 👏🏻I’ve been doing a little hand sewing which is not a skill I have or enjoy. I needed a project, and it was available so I’m working on it. We downsized several years back, and my storage capacity is not all that large or I could seriously become interested in card making. I’ve taken some classes in SC and always enjoyed them. Of course, those classes in general were not up to your level of card making. Your cards are really individual works of art. Beautiful, each and every one.

    • Oh, Judy! Your sweet words feel just like a warm hug! Heartfelt thanks, my friend!💕 These photos represent just a few of the cards as a beginning cardmaker. It was such fun for me to open the box and look back! Since I always make each card with the recipient in mind, the entire time I am working it feels like a little ‘visit’ with a loved one! 😊 I just love mailing them off or hand delivering them! It feels heartwarming for the recipient and the cardmaker. It’s a win-win!
      Judy, your gorgeous quilts have already taught you the skills that would make you a natural cardmaker ~ design, layout, color palette, piecing, layering, accurate measurements, and lots of patience! So many cardmakers add machine stitching to their cards. (Just don’t stitch on paper with your good sewing machine!) Someday I would love to find an older sewing machine just for the Paper Garden. I love the look of machine stitching and trailing threads on cards! The supplies for cardmaking do tend to take up space. However, if you know what style of cards you want to create, I think it *might* be possible to contain things in a small space. 😉
      Judy, many times I visited a unique, small shop in Arizona that sold both papercrafting and quilting supplies! It was so wonderful to look around at everything. Some of the patterned paper designs had matching fabric designs. They would be so sweet for making quilts, aprons, pillows, and curtains. They had a large workspace for customers with huge tables and lots of outlets for plugging in sewing machines. Sadly, shop is no longer there. You and I could have had such fun there together!
      This morning, GMA had a wonderful story about a group of Alabama quilters who have been making ancestral quilts. I must learn more about their stories and their hand quilted works of art! Check out the Gee’s Bend quilters!💕
      Thanks for being here, Judy. It’s always lovely to chat about our creative passions, my friend! Stay warm! Be well!💗

      • So true, Judy! I am planning to learn more about the Gee’s Bend quilters, too. They are passionate artists who are making a difference! 💗

  4. It was so fun to take this trip down memory lane with you! Really inspiring to see how your style evolved through the years as you experimented with new techniques. Your willingness to play and explore rewarded you with a diverse and gorgeous collection. Creativity should feel like play! Yes! Here’s to the Renaissance!

    • Thank you for coming along on my first Artist Date, Suzanne!💕 I’m still smiling from my little walk down memory lane. I have been in a bit of a creative pause for a while. All of the inspiration that I have been soaking up from Julia Cameron and our Creative Cluster artists has been so good for my creative spirit! Morning Pages truly nurture my creative heart, as well. I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ you at one of our Tuesday gatherings!😊
      Wishing you a creative week, Suzanne! Be well!💗

  5. I just found your blog, and am so happy I did. Your cards are lovely, and I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit. I’m also retired, a card maker/mixed media artist, and a HUGE fan of Susan Branch. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous creations!

    • Warmest welcome wishes, Nancy! I’m so happy that you found my blog, too! We are most definitely kindred spirits.💕 Susan was my inspiration for beginning my blog. You will find several posts about her in the blog archives. You will need a whole pot of tea while you look around the blog. 😊 Feel free to email me anytime through the ‘Say Hello’ page! I’m so glad that you stopped to introduce yourself today, Nancy!💗

  6. Dawn, you give and get so much joy out of life. Even in the difficult moments, you find the positive. It’s so refreshing. Thank you for sharing your joy, your parent’s joy, and for bringing joy to your readers. I have a box of my sister’s hand-made cards going back years. It’s fun to bring them out and see the evolution of the making and the brief notes inside. They’re little snapshots of life.

    Your cards are a beautiful reflection of who you are. xo

    • Oh, Alys! Your heartwarming words fill me with JOY today! I am so glad that you have a special box of Sharon’s handmade cards. One of these days, you should surprise her with a little ‘Walk Down Memory Lane’ together! I know that she would truly love looking through her handmade, heartfelt treasures with you, Alys, over a pot of tea.💕
      On our next rainy day, I’m planning to bring the sunny, yellow box of handmade cards to share them again with my parents. It has been two years since they last saw them. So, I think they will really enjoy all of the memories! Next week, my mom and I are going to watercolor some sweet MFT Pure Innocence images together. Then we will turn them into bookmarks to share with her friends. I savor every chance we have to create new memories together! It’s such fun capture these moments of joy in photos, too.
      Alys, have you ever read The Artist’s Way? I’m really, really, really enjoying working my way through Julia Cameron’s book with a fascinating group of artists of all kinds!! I am learning so much about myself in this 12-week (virtual) Creative Cluster. I think you might enjoy it, too!
      Sending huge hugs all the way to California, dear heart!💗

      • Dawn, I’m so happy you have this creative time with your mom. I love the idea of creating bookmarks from your work. I have shared those cards with Sharon once upon a time, but you’re right, it’s time once again.

        I had a copy of The Artists Way, but I didn’t get into it. My boys were still young, so perhaps now is a better time. I know it’s hugely popular with so many people. I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. I’m so glad it is bringing you joy.


      • I truly am enjoying my journey through The Artist’s Way, Alys. It is definitely a big time commitment, but so inspiring! It really is a blessing to meet with a lovely community of creative souls on Zoom each week. Kindred spirits, one and all! We are working on week 4 and I can already feel my creative juices stirring!😊 Heartfelt thanks for always being here, Alys, and adding California sunshine to my day!

  7. Hi Dawn!
    I just “met” you today on the “Artist’s Way” Zoom meeting. I have great admiration for the way you are able to speak your truth. During our meeting, I jotted down several “Quotes by Dawn.” I loved hearing about this particular Artist’s Date and I am so glad to have discovered your blog. I will be reading your lovely posts often.

    • A Very Warm Welcome, LuAnn! Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Aren’t our small groups amazing? I’m so glad that we finally connected tonight. Merideth has gathered the most wonderful group of kindred spirits. I feel inspired by all that I hear during our Tuesday Creative Clusters!
      LuAnn, if you search the blog Archives for The Artist’s Way, you will also find several posts I wrote while reading It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron. Can’t wait to visit your new blog, my friend! Sending warm hugs all the way to Topeka, LuAnn!💗

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