Between a Rock and a Hard Place . . .


Although I have certainly been in this position a number of times in my life, I have never illustrated it until now . . .

It’s fun to interpret old sayings like this in watercolor, and sometimes, when you spend that much time with an idea, solutions start coming to the forefront.

Here is what I have been struggling with for a long time:

I named this blog “Art-Full Life” because I wanted it to be a sort of magazine – with short articles and items that chronicle the goings on in a life devoted to creative endeavor.

Many blogs are being “put to sleep” by their authors in favor of Facebook, Instagram, etc.

I get that those are easier and faster formats, and therefore, I also post to them much more often than I publish blog posts.

I honestly do not like Facebook at all – mostly because when I go there, I am assaulted by news I did not want to get, things I did not want to see, and political diatribes I did not want to hear.

I do enjoy the Artist’s Journal Workshop Group on Facebook very much, but to get there, I have to go to my Home page where the Newsfeed is, and take a chance on seeing a snake killing a rabbit or something equally disturbing, which wrecks my day (several days, in fact).

I post to Instagram a lot. I follow only photography and art that I want to see, and take a look at my newsfeed almost every evening.

But Instagram is not about verbal content, learning and talking about things, like a blog.

I LIKE reading good blogs and am grateful for the creative folks who have not abandoned theirs. They are a replacement for the magazines that used to be creatively inspiring.

I think THIS is a good blog.

Therefore, I would like to publish more often.

But, here’s the rock and hard place thing . . .

If you have subscribed to this blog, you get an email when a new post is published. The email is sent out through MailChimp. The mailing list is a nice size and only about half the emails get opened (MailChimp tells me that).

But if I do not send out that email, readership is severely down.

So, the dilemma comes from the concern that you might send somebody too much email.

And that has kept me from accomplishing what I want this blog to be – a creative magazine or news channel kind of thing – with conversations.

I come up with short subjects a lot. I discover new stuff almost everyday that is worth sharing. But most of this never gets to you because it is lost by the time I publish a BIG post.

As I was painting my Rock and my Hard Place, I made a decision.

I am going to make this blog what I want it to be, and I am going to send out an email with a link every time I publish a new article.

If anyone does not think the blog content is worth getting emails for, they can Unsubscribe easily at the bottom of any of the emails. If a person does not want to be bothered by what I have to say, I won’t miss them. (That is not meant to sound harsh – it’s just true.)

But if you do want to be onboard for a lot more of my take on living an art-full life, just stay subscribed if you are, or sign-up on my mailing list (top of sidebar) if you are not subscribed, and you won’t miss a thing.

If you follow me on Facebook, I post only notices of new blog posts, and some of my Instagram photos. But remember, that only about 4% of what I post actually gets out to my Facebook followers, so you could still miss blog posts.

And now . . . for some of that art stuffI want to share . . .

I am doing garden clean-up (VERY early this year!)

One of the most joyful things about this job is finding the baby shoots coming up from the mulch . . . this is new baby Sedum . . .


Took some pictures because I want to paint these in my garden art journal.

Learned that this green is almost impossible to duplicate.

On my way to trying, I tested every green that might be close and mixed some of them. I tested them on what I call the “back door” pages of my journal.

This is something I have always taught my journaling students – do your experimenting on the last pages in the journal. The benefits are that you have the results there for reference, and they are done on the same paper as the rest of the journal, so you can trust them on your “good” pages. (My journal is a Stillman&Birn Beta journal).


In all this green testing, I pulled out tubes of watercolor that are OLD because they had colors that were hopeful.

They were also dried out and hardened in the tube. This has always driven me nuts because I have always bought the really expensive artist quality paint and this is a waste of $$$.

I don’t know why this never occurred to me before, but I am glad it finally did . . .

I cut the tubes with a scissors.


After using a bookmaking tool to spread the tube metal a bit, I was able to use a water brush to use the paint as I would from a half pan.

Not graceful, but not wasteful either!

Happy trails til next time. I am off to a very nice art show today.

By the way, check out the post previous to this one. I did not send out an email on that one and most people did not see it.





  1. Jessica, if you invest in a bottle of gum arabic, even the hard dried up paint can be revived. A couple drops of the gum, spritz with water, have a cup of coffee, poof. It will also return gloss to paint that has dried too long on an unused palette. Though once the paint has reached the so-dry-it-cracks-apart phase, you need to toss it.
    Also, if you can get the cap off, sometimes a few drops of gum arabic into the tube, recapping, and squishing the tube a lot can revive the contents without sacrificing the tube. (i have had uneven success with this approach.) And if it doesn’t work, you can always cut the bottom off and get at the good stuff anyway.

  2. Love your blog posts! Thanks for continuing them. Your sunny outlook brightens my day and I so enjoy all the art tips and suggestions. I forward many to my sketch group buddies. Thx again. ~ST

  3. Jessica-
    I always love getting a “posting” email from you, and I learn a lot. So, thanks for offering us even more!

  4. i always am happy to see a notice from you in my inbox, and i always enjoy reading your blog. thanks, thanks, thanks!!!

  5. A post from you is never boring. You always have something interesting to say. I was never an avid fan of Facebook and even less so now with all the ads and “stuff” I don’t need or want. I don’t even watch the news much…because “all the news I need I get on the weather report!” It makes life a little bit simpler. You are a welcome breath of fresh air. Thanks for continuing to post and send.

  6. I am subscribed to receive e-mail notification – I am glad and I like reading your blog. I will enjoy reading more. Thank you!

  7. So happy that you are continuing the blog, as it is one of the very best and I look forward to many more

  8. FB is dumb and often neglects to notify me of your updates, so I am more than happy to get e-mails. I don’t check my e-mail often, but I get caught up on your posts when I do.
    I, too, sometimes consider blogging a bit. I am sooo inconsistent though, that I think most people give up on me.
    I always enjoy your postings and your work.

  9. I have been a total fan, Dear Jessica, for more than a dozen years. I always read everything you post and for me, more would be well, more and very welcome. Thank you for your generous sharing of tips, ideas sketches, and especially your beautiful photos.

  10. I do wait to get emails and then I come read. It saves a lot of time! I did the Rock and a Hard place idea in one of the classes I took from you! Now that you have cut off the tube, can you pull back the sides of the tube and release the innards into a palette?

  11. I have always enjoyed your posts and usually read them the very day they arrive in my Inbox. My main interest in your blog is art, and leading an art-full life, but I don’t really care WHAT you write about—it’s always interesting! And, FWIW, I don’t like FB, don’t use Instagram, and don’t remember to check blogs (even the ones I really like) unless I get an email notice first.

  12. I read blogs. I hate Facebook. Sound bytes. What people had for dinner. Rants. Don’t like wading through. If I like and follow a blog, I read it. I can tell a story or read one there. I need to know how people do things, not just a photo of what was done.

  13. Jessica I always read your posts and I’ve learned so much from you!! I agree with you on Facebook but it’s almost a necessary evil these days. There is a lot of good with the bad so I keep up with it and scroll right past what I dislike. While I was reading your post about painting the sedum I thought…wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app for artists where one could take a picture of a flower, or anything really, and the app would reveal the colors to be mixed to match the color in the photo? Hmmmm……..

  14. Please keep the blog going. As far as I am concerned I would rather read it than get it on Facebook and I don’t use Instagram.I really look forward to your blog and would miss it very much. We have a long history!

  15. I welcome more blog notifications from you. I learn a lot.

  16. HI Jessica, I read almost all the posts. If I get behind on email, I don’t read anyone’s. I too would not check blogs without email. I am happy to see yours when they come. I follow FB for certain things and Instagram for others. I really prefer emails and blogs. The other thing I do follow consistently is Pinterest. But it is a time drain so I try not to check daily. Thank you for this post and your blog.

  17. Thank you so much for this outpouring of support, my dear friends and readers. It means a lot and I will continue to try to inform and maybe even entertain a little (grin).

    As for the dried up paint. Thanks for the suggestions about gum arabic, Nan. I will try that when I have a tube with any life left in it. These were rock hard and the tube could not even be squeezed. I suppose you could rip the tube back to get at more paint, Timaree, but you have to use it where it is because it is just a lump. Oh what an app that would be Dorothy! I know of something similar, but it could only pick the digital colors, unfortunately. There also used to be an iphone or ipod app (probably still is) that would listen to what song was playing wherever you happened to be, and tell you the song title and artist.

  18. I always open your email notifications, Jessica, and always read your new posts. I’ll be delighted to have more posts, and more emails won’t bother me a bit.
    Love your idea to open up dried watercolour tubes and use them like a half pan – brilliant!

  19. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one upset for days by disturbing images….I honestly thought it was just me. I, too, have stopped visiting Facebook because I see stuff I don’t want to see. I absolutely LOVE seeing that email that announces a new post from one of my favorite artists…we get so much junk, it is pure joy to see an email about a new blog post! So, please know you have a core group of followers who DO want to hear your voice. As often as you have something to say, we will be there listening! Blessings to you, Jessica!

  20. Jessica… even tho I seldom comment, I ALWAYS read your emails & visit your blog… it’s chucked full of great info, is always an uplifting read ~ a ray of sunshine.
    I NEVER go to FB or IG…. they annoy me for a myriad of reasons.
    I am faithful to blogs that are human, centered, inspiring… that have something to say, that are not covert selling campaigns ~ if you mention a product, I trust that it works… if you explain how you did something, I trust the info, the instruction.
    Your sense of humor is hysterical, your sensitivity to the universe & everything that it holds is very warming to any heart… so, I for one will definitely welcome more “Jessica” in my “Inbox”.
    I sincerely thank you for what you do for us. My studio’s a better place for having spent time with you in 2014….I thank you for that every single day.
    Suzi ~ from Central New York

  21. WOW, my friends. Thank you. All that lovin right back to you!

  22. I agree with what everyone is saying!!!!!! I love love love your blogs!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. This is my first comment but I have been reading your blog since “Whatever” and always enjoy it and learn something too. So keep up the good work!

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