Two weeks! Yes, I have been away for two weeks. I went to Maine for a fabulous art retreat... by myself. I will do another post to tell you about that, but for this post, I want to tell you about learning experiences.

Every few years, I get an overwhelming urge to go get my Masters... in something. Something artsy. And I start scouring the internet reading descriptions from schools in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. But I can't seem to find the right curriculum. The fact that I can't really leave my kids, and I can't afford the tuition... I could find ways to argue those away - after all, there are some schools with low-residency requirements and scholarships... but I have no interest in writing a thesis or discussing art theory. I even looked into the cartooning school in Vermont which is supposed to be top drawer - but it didn't have the old-school style classes I wanted.

So I decided to create my own program. After all, it's not really the degree that matters, but the info and experience right? And thanks to the internet, I now have access to some fabulous people I have always wanted to study with. Here's my program so far...

Inktense pencil sampler by Sandy Bartholomew

Class #1 - You all know about the Inktense- from Soup to Nuts class with Jessica Wesolek, I've posted some of my art from there in past blog posts. That class finished up and I am proud to say it is one of the few that I was able to keep up with and actually finished all the projects. I adore Inktense pencils and have used them for ages, but I am now armed with some freaking cool tricks and color confidence I did not have before. Plus - it was fun! If you are intrigued by these amazing watercolor-like colored pencils that turn into super bright, permanent inks when wet... good news! Jessica is just about to start up a new session. You don't need to have fabulous drawing talent and this class would also be great for stampers and scrapbookers. So run over to the Inktense info page and sign up! Tell Jessica I sent you. :-) And while you are there, sign up for the Art Journaling in Paradise retreat! There are only a few spots left... I'll write more about that another time.

Making Waves by Sandy Bartholomew

Class #2 - The Mermaid Circus with Teesha Moore and Jane Davenport. I had always wanted, and intended, to go to ArtFest in Port Townsend, WA. Alas, I never made it and last year was the end of it all. Teesha is the mother of "art journaling" as we know it... layers of paint and collage, text, lettering, stripey dunce hats, creepy people... love it. This is the first time she has done an online class - so I jumped on it. Jane is a bubbly mermaid from Australia who has a ton of intriguing online classes. If you have been wanting to really learn to draw faces and figures and all that - Jane has classes that make it easy. This class is awesome fun - but has a lot of videos and homework. And the materials are not very portable. Those aren't complaints, just my minor excuses why I keep falling behind! I did a lot of Mermaid work on my retreat and I will show you more in a later post.

Class #3 - The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design with Rachael Taylor. This one is the serious, OMG-I'm-back-in-school-class. It runs in three trimesters throughout the year. There is homework and reading every day. Yep. I have fallen behind. If I can carve out some time to concentrate, I think I will be fascinated by the pattern design! My mistake? It overlaps with the Mermaid Circus class, and when that ends, my next class will start. What was I thinking! This segment deals with sketching and creating patterns, so I'm kind of OK. But then it will move on to using Photoshop and Illustrator more intensely. Then the business stuff...

Class #4 - Starts in a few weeks. It's Make Art That Sells! with Lilla Rogers. Lilla Rogers is an illustrator and an artist's rep and she really knows the biz. This class also has multiple segments and it covers everything from illustrating for the giftware market to fabric to kids clothes to childrens' books... and it has the added excitement and stress of trying to get her attention. She only reviews a small handful of work and she has a lot of important contacts. A few of these folks will be doing interviews in the class. She has a book out too called "I Just Like to Make Things" - I love the title because it's just so true for us artists.

As if I weren't overloading my plate as it is - she just announced she'll be doing a Global Talent Search, starting on May 14th! There will be assignments and challenges and the winner gets a two year artist's rep contract with her! OMG! OMG! I'd be absolutely insane to sign up for that right? Right? Insane. Ok, I'm on the wait list to hear when the sign ups open. Sleep is over-rated anyway.

I should probably count the iPad Studio workshop as well... Class #5. This one is waiting for me to come back and finish. I got so terribly distracted by multiple lawyer issues this winter... but now, with all the computer design things in the Surface Design class... and the horror of buying Illustrator for $500 (!?)... I am seeing the appeal of design apps for the iPad that cost less than $30 bucks! The iPad Studio class not only teaches you HOW to create art on the iPad, it gives you step by step instructions for using the best apps. Plus I just bought this really cool stylus that has a paintbrush on one end... I am such a geek, I know.

This last one (so far!) doesn't really count, but I have to tell you anyway. I'll be at the upcoming Zentangle Certification Training in Providence, RI in June. I've lost track of what number it is... I've been to quite a few of them, starting with #1! But this one will be the best training EVER! Why, you ask? Because my son ALEX is getting certified!!! Whooo-hee! Amy Broady's daughter, who is the same age as Alex will also be attending - they may be the youngest CZTs yet. My daughter, Lilah wanted to go too... but 6 seems a bit young and she'd never sit still. ;-) I get to roam around Providence with Amy and schmooze with the ZT innocents.

And speaking of Amy Broady... she made the mistake of telling me that she was retiring from teaching art and trying to decide what to do next... ooooooo! An art teacher and CZT searching for meaning in life... I convinced her to kind-of-sort-of take on the Zentangle for Kids blog!

Be sure to take a look at her amazing series of Earth Day tangled postcards here (strings) and here (pre-shading). And another adorable post about kids' interpretations of Lilah Beans, by CZT Katy Abbott... here.

And the very last thing I want to mention before I finally keel over and crawl into bed... this has to do with the title of this blog post. I decided NOT to rant on and on about something I discovered that upset me really REALLY badly. I'll just say that I learned that my art and ideas from my books were "borrowed"... extensively... in a book that was recently released by another artist (this has nothing to do with my own publisher). My horoscope last week warned me that these very upsetting incidents (that keep happening!) are an indication that "there is something I need to learn." I am desperately hoping that I do indeed LEARN something in one of the above classes that will make this crazy-making stop. There's just so much exciting STUFF going on I don't want to waste any more of my dwindling brain cells gnawing away at anything yucky!