I’ve been busy, busy, busy working furiously away on book, article and workshop proposals, grant applications, submissions and new artwork.  All that beavering away has left a little corner of my psyche quiet and observant.  I have found myself contemplating the vast difference one year can make to a person’s life.  I have found myself smiling happily to think of some of the wonderfully crafty, gifted and wise women (and men!) I have crossed paths with in that year.  I thought it might be fun to share a bit of the activities of those friends I am now sharing with, watching, and learning fabulous new things from.   Come on, share the love!

Copyright 2011 Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

A super blogger who came as a student to one of my workshops at CREATE Costa Mesa was Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.  A prolific mixed media artist and designer from New York, I have thoroughly enjoyed following her blog posts.    Julie was an absolute font of knowledge and wisdom, and we really enjoyed sharing different ways of doing things.  Julie has tutorials available on YouTube that zing with her wonderful colour aesthetic and unique style.  http://www.youtube.com/user/milkcannyc?feature=mhum

Copyright 2011 Joanne Sharpe

Another artist whose style I really admire is Joanne Sharpe.  Also from New York, Joanne and I met at CREATE.   She has a true gift for “I want that!” lettering styles and pen work that are instantly recognisable as ‘Joanne Sharpe’.   Joanne’s blog “Whimspirations” is full of utter vibrant deliciousness and is well worth a visit.

Copyright 2011 Pam Carriker

Taking pride of place as the first person from this new circle to draw me in, Pam Carriker’s work is soulful, thoughtful and tender.  She speaks from a place of spirit I will always respond to.  I have been drawn in by the threads of wisdom woven through her excellent book, Art at the Speed of Life.  We made friends on Facebook once it was known we would both be teaching at CREATE, and then had the pleasure to meet and be ‘newbies’ together in California.  I was bowled over by Pam’s quiet presence and gentle nature, and by the innate spirit in her beautiful and soulful work.  Pam has a number of thought-provoking videos on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/pamcarriker.

LIBER chronos 2011

My most recent leap has taken me into the heart of a very active group of book and paper artists from all around the world, ably shepherded by Peter Lussenheide of Germany.  He runs the Facebook group LIBER chronos (a closed group) that has opened doors of kinship with artists as far flung as Korea, Morocco and England, and many more places besides.  This group has quickly become a source of constant inspiration to me and shown me just how active a discipline the book arts are around the world.  You can see more of the spectacular work he exhibits at http://facebook.com/chronosroma.

I have been honoured and fortunate to welcome these friends into my circle.  Through their friendship and the growth that has come through the last year, my world has expanded far beyond anything I could have imagined.  And naturally, I’ve saved the best for last.  One face that has become part of my daily life, and into whose circle I have been warmly welcomed is Effy Wild.  Effy is the multi-talented, multi-tasking heart behind the Canadian Wild Precious Studio.  And if that isn’t an understatement, I don’t know what would be.  This incredible one-woman powerhouse operates from a place of such deep and open spirit that it is impossible not to be encompassed and embraced by the love pouring from the extraordinary soul residing within.  In finding Effy and her 130+ community, I found a truly enriching spirit circle.  Effy has an entire range of inspiring, engaging, entertaining and informative videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/effyswild.  Absolutely do check them out!

Copyright 2011 Effy Wild

It has been fun, educational, inspiring and eye-opening to welcome these new faces to my own circle of friends over the last year.  I’m looking forward to reaching even further beyond that circle in the year to come.