Meet the Maker - Jane Ammon

A few weeks ago I introduced you to one of my best friends, Leah Kilcup.  I also want to introduce a woman and friend who inspires me, Jane Ammon.

Before you meet Jane, you might be asking, "Why are you doing these interviews, Jenny?"

My why behind these interviews is to inspire creative individuals like yourself to see and know that your work matters even if you are not a full-time professional artist.  Especially if you are not a full-time professional artist.  

You, my friend, are still an artist.

You might be a full-time mama who steals away your creative time before the sun comes up.  You might be a full-time business woman who pours herself into her work, comes home at the end of a busy day, drops her briefcase on the floor, jumps into her sweatpants, and takes a few minutes to paint at night from her kitchen table.  Our, you might be a full time retiree whose kids are now grown and the house is now empty, and you want to explore creativity with your new-found free time.  

I believe that no matter what our role, it's important that we answer the call to create because art has the magical ability to make us feel alive.  I'm inspired by women who make the time to honor that.  I want you to have the opportunity to meet these makers too.

So who is Jane Ammon?

Jane is a photographer, writer, and teacher who lives in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.  I met her a few years ago after being hired by her husband, Erik Ammon, to illustrate his 2 childrens' books, The Rabbit Who Wished He Could Fly and The Lost Squirrel.   Through a series of 1 on 1 coaching calls, she helped me find my own creative "why" of encouragement.  (You can read more about that here.)   

One thing I admire most about Jane is that she emanates authenticity and light in her work.  She speaks from her soul and listens intently to others.

She creates and listens.  You can't help but want to do the same. 

I hope you'll give her a listen below.

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

Hi Jane!  Let's get started.  How would you describe *you*?

Whew, a loaded question, huh?  Well I’m devoted, quirky, natural, and full of mercy.  I’m a listener, a creator created by our creator, and I’m madly in love with being alive.

What does a typical 9-5 look like for you?

Well it depends on the day!  During the college semester, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I’m up on campus doing what I love:  teaching future teachers about how to educate students with special needs.  On Mondays and Wednesdays I’m in my home office working on writing, creating or allowing myself to rest.  Weekends are spent being a Mom taxi, reading books, playing games with my family or photographing amazing families!

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

What is your favorite way to unwind?

A cup of coffee with one or more of my a table, or in the living room, or at a coffee shop or outside on my patio.  My best unwinding happens when I get deep and real with my people or in prayer/meditation.

What about photography makes you feel alive?

When I make people feel heard.

Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon
Interview with writer and photographer, Jane Ammon

When did you first pick up photography?

I picked up a camera for the first time in 2004/2005 after our son was born.  I started my photography business in 2009 after we came home from China with our daughter!

Your creative outlet seems to be primarily focused on photography, but do you have other creative outlets that you enjoy?

I love to write, especially letters to others...sometimes in actual handwritten letters and many times as blog posts to my community.  I always write with the intention of sharing my heart.  I also love to paint my “gratitude monsters.”  I make them into notecards to send letters to people!  Basically making notecards of any form makes me happy!  Knitting also ebbs and flows in my life as well.

How do you keep your creativity flowing?  Do you have any favorite creative books or podcasts you could recommend?

I keep it going through reading and podcasts as well as talking to other artists.  I love the book “Crossroads between Should and Must” by Elle Luna.  I am also a die hard Brene Brown fan, so all of her books keep me grounded and inspired.  My favorite podcast is “On Being” with Krista Tippet.

You’ve mentioned to me how important it is to have a supportive family in your creative corner.  Can you elaborate?  Who are "your people"?

My people are the backbone of my creativity.  My husband, Erik, is my number one fan and he is always encouraging my creative work.  I also rely on my dearest friend Lisa.  She and I talk 3-5 times a week about life and making art.  Our children, Connor and Maddie, continue to be my deepest inspiration as they are always interested in how my creative process works.  And my wonderful gaggle of friends (artists and not artists) are my constant flow of strength.

What creative work, pieces of art, or photographs are you most proud of?

I’m the most proud of my personal projects.  The first one “The Clothes They Came to Us In” was my first gallery show and that was life transformative as it taught me that I am, indeed, a writer and a poet.

The second personal project that went to a gallery show “Into The Light” is another of my proud creations because it gave me the opportunity to tell the stories of brave women I admire.

I’m also really proud of my current personal project which is a series of self portraits I’m working on through the year.  I’ve created a group of women (anyone can still join!) and I send them prompts of self portraits to make every two weeks and then I make one too with them. It’s been balm for my soul this year.

Interview with photographer and writer, Jane Ammon
Interview with photographer and writer, Jane Ammon

What tips would you have for anyone wanting to carve out creative time for themselves?

I think it’s the best gift we can give ourselves, to create something everyday.  Creativity is not about art.  I firmly believe all of us create something each day.  Opening the door for a stranger and making eye contact creates connection.  Singing loudly in the shower creates joy for you.  Writing in your journal creates a release.  Holding space for someone in struggle creates peace.  Do any of these and you are a creator.

You offer photography courses and creative classes.  Tell us a little bit more about them.

I do!  It varies, sometimes I have Intro to your Camera classes in my home and sometimes I have journaling classes online, it really varies from season to season for me.  Right now what I’m focusing on is 1:1 mentorship for women who are in the beginning of their creative business, to help them find a solid place to start.

I hope to turn my self portrait prompts into a class or a book within the next year!

Interview with photographer, Jane Ammon


Where can people connect with you?

Jane, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  You kindle a creative spark within others, including me.  xoxox

. . . 

Be sure to follow Jane on one the channels above, and let me know in the comments below how Jane inspires you!



Meet the Maker - Leah Kilcup

I had a blast participating in our YouMatterJournaling project together.  I want to introduce you to one of my dearest and closest friends who participated in the project as well.  We've been friends since we were toddlers.  Leah has seen me at my both my best and my absolute worst, and I appreciate her friendship more than I can express.   She is a bold, saucy, beautiful creative who inspires me to no end, and I think you'll enjoy meeting her too.  Take a gander at her journal pages.  (Who knows...  This might be the start of a new interview series!)

Hello, Leah!  Let's start with an introduction to yourself:  How would you describe you?

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup

I have a hard time describing myself because I have so many different interests and ideas and thoughts.  I think “creatively, eclectic, and passionate” best describe me.   

What keeps you occupied during the day/week?

My husband and kids first and foremost keep me extremely busy, but I also am a teacher of massage therapy.  The unique world of bodyworkers keeps me constantly on my toes figuratively and literally!

How do you like to unwind? 

I absolutely adore with all my heart a hot bubble bath and a good book!  But then there are days where digging in the garden and attacking weeds or cooking in old pots and making a mess in my kitchen gets me unwound.  But one of my favorite cure all’s is driving and listening to good music.  (Usually some good old seventies/eighties rock)

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

How did you get started with journaling?  Why is it special to you?

When I was 10 years old my aunt bought me my very first journal with the cute little lock and key.  I would pour into that little book all of my frustrations and dreams about life.  It was like a wildfire and it just took off for me.

Being the youngest of three daughters my journal became a place of safety too.  It was almost like it had become a beloved friend to me.  There were certain years when I journaled that were very pivotal.  The journal I wrote when I was 15 years old is probably one of my favorites because 15 was the year that I first fell in love, the year that I started to really discover who I was, what I loved and what I hated.  Another year of journaling that was pivotal was the year that I met my husband when I was 21.  I absolutely love reading that one because it makes me cackle at how devious I was in hooking him.  😉 I think looking back on journals can be hard but it can also be a thing of learning.  It reminds us that we have come far and grown.  

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

How has journaling helped you?

Journaling has helped me through hard struggles.  I have these prayer journals I do where I will literally pour out my heart.  The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.  It’s a prayer to God each time I journal.  Sometimes the innermost workings of our heart cannot be conveyed into words, but I have found that when I pour my heart out onto paper it allows my heart to unravel.  

Journaling has also helped me to laugh as well.  I have started writing about things that make me happy or bring me joy.  I’ll find old photographs and write about that moment in time and what it meant to me.  It has allowed me to grow and really come to know myself and to really see what God has made me to be!  

What materials do you use?

I love using old photographs from my childhood.  I also have fallen in love with watercolor pencils, pencil, and good old Ink pens.  There’s also a thing I like to do, where I will print out a photograph onto regular paper in black-and-white. I’ll paste it into my journal then watercolor over it in fantastic swirls and sparkles.  I like to think of it as painting emotion into a memory!

How many Journals would you say you have?

Over 27 journals.  I would say more but some I have started, then lost.  I have moved about eight times since I’ve been married, and I know I’ve lost a few over the years.  I like to pretend that maybe somebody has found a few and is enjoying a good laugh over them.

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals
Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

Do you keep the journals from ages ago, or do you ever purge or burn them?

I have kept all of my journals, even the embarrassing ones filled with love poems to old boyfriends.  I think it’s important to hold onto certain things as a reminder of how far we’ve come.  However, I have burned a few angry letters I’ve never mailed in a symbolic way.   I went through a very traumatic time in my life two years ago.  My husband and I were betrayed by very dear friends.  As we began to heal from the encounter I  journaled all of my anger and hurts.  I poured them into this little book like a woman on fire, and when I was done I couldn’t bear to open it.  It was like I was able to exercise the demons, and that book only represented hurts that I no longer needed to visit anymore.  So one day I actually misplaced it, and I’ve never found it since.  I believe that it was God helping me let it go.

Meet the Artist Interview - Leah Kilcup Journals

What tips or pieces of advice do you have for anyone who is into art/illustrated journaling?  

Just have fun!!!  I think that if you approach it as a way to help you grow, it truly will.  Also, don’t take yourself too seriously with your art or compare yourself to others styles.  That journal is a little piece of who you are and it is precious!  

What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about starting?

Just do it!  Treat yourself to a coffee date at Barns and Noble, find the journal that just makes your heart happy when you hold it, and do it!  

Where can we connect with you?

You can harass me on Facebook and Instagram under @kilcupkreations.  I’m totally open to new friends.


Be sure to give Leah a follow.  Let me know how Leah's work inspired you with your own journaling adventures!

Our 4th & Final Gratitude 52 Interview: Sophie Thurlow

For our fourth and final Gratitude 52 Journaling interview, I'm thrilled to introduce Sophie Thurlow to you.  Sophie hails from England (across the pond for most of us!).  It was so great connecting with her this past year.  I admire her genuineness, her tenderness, and her love of animals. 

gratitude journal - sophie thurlow

Welcome, Sophie!  Please introduce Yourself.  What’s your name?  Your profession?  Your biggest passion?  How would you describe your personality and your interest in art?

Hi, my name is Sophie Thurlow and I live in a small village called Sandford in North Somerset, England.  I’ve just started a new role as a part time, charity shop manager, for a local hedgehog rescue centre, but I am also an artist too.  I love being creative, I NEED to be creative!  I’m quite a behind-the-scenes kind of a person. I love my family, my pets and my home.  I’m a wife, a mother of two children and owner of Milo our Miniature Schnauzer.  I’ve had a passion for art from a very young age.  I spent my childhood copying pictures from my books or my birthday cards.  I particularly enjoyed the drawings in the series of Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem.  As I grew up, my parents took my sister and I for days out to National Trust houses around England. Whilst there, I would spend ages studying the beautiful portraits in the houses, trying to work out how they had painted the clothing to make them look so much like the velvet, or silk, that they were wearing.  Beatrix Potter also had a big influence on me.  I loved visiting her home, Hill Top, in Cumbria and seeing the different rooms and items that were featured in her much loved, little children’s books.

What made you decide to join the Gratitude 52 Journaling project?

2015 was a tough year for us as a family.  We’d had a few health scares during the year and were going through a period of uncertainty.  I was feeling quite overwhelmed.  One day, I was looking through Pinterest when I stumbled upon Jenny’s ‘Say No to the Naysayers’ journal page.  It really made me laugh, and I discovered her blog through that Pin.  It was then that I saw that she was looking for people to join her in her Gratitude 52 Journal project.  I had never taken part in anything like this before.  I didn’t even have an Instagram page at that point, but I felt it was just what I needed to help me to re-focus and connect with other artists around the world.

What did you learn from this challenge?  How were you surprised by it?

I’ve learnt that I’m not keen on drawing vehicles!!  Seriously though, it has given me the opportunity to draw things that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to sit down and draw.  I’ve learnt what subjects I enjoy drawing more than others. I was also quite surprised at how my art developed over the year.  Taking part in the Gratitude 52 journal has made me look at the important things in life too.  Don’t miss out on those important little things in life because you’re too busy looking for the bigger things.  As I’ve heard it said ‘sometimes it’s the little things that are actually the big things’.

How has your own art and journaling style developed as a result of participating?

I feel it certainly improved as the year progressed.  I had never previously thought about putting a quote with my artwork but I loved researching various quotes linked to the prompts and working out how best to illustrate them.  I could feel my imagination cogs whirling into action again.

What were your favorite materials to use?  Did you discover that you were drawn to other materials more than others?  

I tried to experiment with a variety of materials.  For one entry I needle felted a picture of a sheep onto fabric and then stitched this into my journal.  In another entry I used Derwent Inktense pencils to paint onto strips of fabric to represent the patterns on my favorite items of clothing.  It was fun to use threads to stitch my art into my journal.  I also particularly enjoyed using my Faber Castell Polychromo pencils and my Winsor and Newton Watercolours too.

gratitude journal - sophie thurlow

What was the most difficult part of the project? What did you overcome?  

There were a few prompts that I found a challenge.  I wanted to express gratitude for my late Mother, who passed away in 2009.  We had a very close relationship and I really wanted to do her justice, so it took me quite a while to come up with an idea of what to do.  The prompt for Thanksgiving was hard too as that’s not part of my British culture, but I looked at it a different way and found a quote about being thankful and illustrated that instead.

How did you fit it in with your schedule? 

Being a busy wife, and mother, it was hard to have a definite schedule, but I set aside any free time to sit and draw, usually when everyone else was busy with homework.  It has made me reflect that, going forward now, I will be setting aside specific time in my diary for my art and creativity.

Describe a page or two of which you are most proud.  What do you love most about those pages?  

I think that my favorite pages are those where there is a lot of love and feeling behind them.  An example of this was my page ‘Dancing on the feet of my Daddy’.  Although this may not have been my best page artistically, it was one of my most heartfelt pages.  It brought back to me those little, happy childhood memories of being loved and cherished.  

Prompt 28 was all about first memories and I looked back to when my passion for art began.  I came across a drawing that I had done when I was around 9 years old, of a character from one of my Brambly Hedge books.  I decided to stick this little picture into my journal and finish illustrating it with a garland of wildflowers that featured on one of my Brambly Hedge plates.  It was wonderful to continue to illustrate this drawing 32 years later!  I’m also proud of the pages where I’ve felt that my artwork reflected just what I wanted to say.

Describe your creative setup: did you have a special Gratitude Journal space to create?  

My creative space was either at our family table in our conservatory, where during daylight hours it is a lovely, bright space to work in or, in the darker, colder evenings I’ve worked in our lounge near to our log burner fire to keep cozy.  It’s suited me very well because it meant that I was still around my family, whilst doing what I love.

Who did you meet and connect with as part of this project?  

Firstly, Jenny, it’s been fabulous getting to know you as part of this project and the advice and support that you’ve given to me has been so gratefully received.  It’s also been wonderful connecting to the other Gratitude 52 Journal participants, in particular, Shelly V (@artsycrafty7) and Leigh Ann Simpson (@uhsart) who would regularly leave me encouraging comments on my posts. Through our pages, we shared little insights into each of our lives and through those pages I felt that connection, even though I am miles away in England.  As I’ve posted my pages through Instagram, I’ve seen my Instagram followers grow steadily too, connecting with other artists and people with shared interests and beliefs.

How has gratitude journaling made your life better?  

It’s meant that I’ve made that time and space to reflect on the good things in life, and it has helped me to develop and find out who I am as an artist too.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to journal and express themselves artistically?

I would say firstly, don’t be afraid of that blank page and just experiment.  Try out different materials, techniques, surfaces and styles.  Have fun and don’t worry if some pages don’t turn out exactly as you wanted.  It’s a learning process and it’s through trying that you understand who you are as an artist.

What else would you like us to know about you?

I feel that art and creativity is a God-given gift to me and I want to use this to some purpose.  I have a deep love for this beautiful planet of ours.  I’m currently working on a project linked to the environment and all the amazing and diverse creatures that we share our little green and blue world with.  I am looking to create various art pieces where some of the proceeds of sale will go towards benefiting wildlife in need, starting with the hedgehogs at Prickles Hedgehog Rescue in Cheddar.  My most recent pieces are artworks of beetles which I am planning to turn into prints and cards.  Once completed, these will be available to buy through my Etsy Shop that I have recently opened and am gradually stocking with items.

How can we connect with you?

I would love you to come and follow my art.  If you are interested to see more, you can follow me here:

I’ve just set up an Etsy shop  where I am selling my new art work. As well as art, I also love to crochet, sew and knit and my shops Bobbin and Bodkin on Folksy and eBay where I sell the creations that I’ve made using various other materials.

If you would like to see more about what Prickles Hedgehog Rescue do in Cheddar, please see their website Thank you for reading and spending this time with me.

gratitude journal - sophie thurlow

Thank you so much for sharing, Sophie! 
And thanks to all of you who have either participated in this project or stayed along for the interviews. 

If you're not already signed up to my Blog Newsletter and you'd like to receive future interviews and fun tips like these in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my email list below:

Keep creating and enjoying this one precious life you've been given!



Gratitude 52 Journal Interview #3 of 4: Leigh Ann Inskeep-Simpson

Here is our 3rd Gratitude 52 interview, with Art Teacher and journaler, Leigh Ann Inskeep-Simpson. 

gratitude journal - leigh ann simpson

Happy to have you here, Leigh Ann.   Please introduce yourself.  What’s your name?  Your profession?  Your biggest passion?  How would you describe your personality and your interest in art?

Hi everyone!  I’m Leigh Ann Inskeep-Simpson.  I am a high school Art, Art History and Photography teacher.  I love to paint, draw, teach, garden, photograph, walk in the woods, play with my dog and eat chocolate.  I would say that I am optimistic, a good listener, fairly quiet and friendly.  When I was in elementary school my neighbor was an artist.  I was best friends with her daughter.  I thought being an artist was the best thing ever.

What made you decide to join the Gratitude 52 Project?

As a teacher I assign “Art Journals” to my students.  There are times when I get stuck and don’t know what to suggest they draw.  I promised my Art 3 and Art 4 students I would draw as often as they draw (once a week). It was good for me to have new inspirations.

What did you learn in the last year with your journaling? 

I learned that sometimes it’s really hard to be on the receiving end of a prompt!  “How am I supposed to draw_________?”  I often struggled with what or how to draw the prompt.  I was surprised at the way others in the group interpreted the prompts.  Their way of looking at the prompt made sense… it just wasn’t what I had thought when I first read the prompt for the week.
gratitude journal interview - leigh ann simpson

How has your own art and journaling style developed as a result of participating?

I have been doing Art Journals for three or four years.  In that time my drawings have gotten more realistic, and I draw more quickly.

What were your favorite materials to use?  Did you discover that you were drawn to other materials more than others?  

Most of the time I use pencil, but there were times I wanted to use ink, colored pencils or watercolor.  Some weeks I just want to shade with pencil.  Other times I need color.  It’s nice to be able to use whatever media fits the mood.

gratitude journal - Leigh Ann Simpson

What was the most difficult part of the challenge? What did you overcome?  

Oh wow, there were definitely times that I felt like things were too personal to share.  But I shared anyway.  “Your Salvation Story” was a prompt that I wasn’t sure I could tell or share.  My husband passed away in December too.  I wanted my Instagram friends to know… but didn’t know how to tell them.  My journal pages told the story in a way that I felt comfortable sharing.

How did you fit your weekly gratitude journaling in with your schedule?  

I usually drew on the weekend.  I liked the fact that the prompts came on Friday.  I could get them drawn on the weekend, but if I didn’t I still had time.  I know there wasn’t a deadline, but I always tried to get them completed in the same week they were given.  My schedule is typical of a teacher - really busy from late August until the first week of June, then pretty open until school starts again.

gratitude journal - Leigh Ann Simpson
gratitude journal - leigh ann simpson

Describe a page or two of which you are most proud.  What do you love most about those pages?  

I really liked the “Role Model” prompt page, mostly because I really like my role model, my professor and friend, Joanne Stichweh.  I usually send Joanne a photo of my drawings, paintings and collages.  When I had lunch with her she said that one of the drawings looked suspiciously like her.  That really made me smile!

gratitude journal - Leigh Ann Simpson

Describe your creative setup:  did you have a special Gratitude Journal space to create?  

Oh my, I draw sitting at the computer.  It’s a mess!  Papers, mail, grocery list, glass of water and the dog medicine.  

With whom did you meet and connect?  

I connected with Sophie (@sophiethurlow), Shelly (@Artsycrafty7) and Barbara (@scrappermamo).

How has gratitude journaling made your life better?

I tend to look for more things to be grateful for.  I am more aware of the blessings in my life.

What advice with you give to someone who is trying to journal and express themselves artistically?

Keep at it!  The more you draw, paint or collage the better you will become.  Share with others!

What else would you like us to know about you?  

It’s been quite a year, new dog, one son graduating high school then going to college, my other son getting a job, my husband passing.  Glad I have visual reminders of everything!

How can we connect with you?  

My Instagram is @uhsart.  My website is

Thank you so much, Leigh Ann.  It seems as though 2016 was a tough year for many people; I'm honored to have you share your talent and heart with us through your journey. 

. . .

Which one of Leigh Ann's pieces speak most to you?  What are you thankful for today?

Our 4th and Final Interview of this series will be up in a couple of days, so be on the lookout for that!

Gratitude 52 Journal Interview #2 of 4 - Shelly Vaughan

I am super excited to introduce our 2nd Gratitude 52 Journal guest, Shelly Vaughan, to you.  Shelly is from Kentucky and a fellow encourager.  I love her magical and playful images; I think you will too.  Curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy her interview below.

g52 gratitude journal - Shelly Vaughan

Hi Shelly!  Welcome to the Gratitude 52 Interview series.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

g52 journal pages - Shelly Vaughan

My name is Shelly Vaughan, and I am grateful to introduce myself as a Domestic Engineer, which means I am a Wife, Mom, Home-School Teacher, and Homemaker, and I love my career!  I graduated with a degree in counseling which I definitely use in all those rolls.  My husband and I have a ministry called WordOutreach International, and we enjoy the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus with many folks around the globe.  

One of my biggest passions is probably encouragement.  I love to encourage my family in their goals and dreams, and I enjoy encouraging others in our home through hospitality.  Big crowds or parties are not my thing, but I love sitting with a small group of friends, or better yet, one-on-one with an old (or new!) friend, a cup of tea in hand, and talking about things that really matter.  I guess that’s one reason I have always loved art – because it’s a way to express your heart without having to make a speech.  I’ve seen how the beauty of art has encouraged people, whether it's the artistic display of their favorite dessert, a hand-painted card just for them, or the cozy decor of a guest room that makes them feel welcome. 

What made you decide to join this project, and what did you learn?  

Joining the Gratitude 52 project was motivated out of a need for something to help me get back into sketching/drawing/journaling on a consistent basis, as well as knowing how important it is to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness, and this was just the perfect fit.  Of course, I was excited to learn more about Jenny’s techniques … my mom introduced me to her art several years ago, and I find her style inspirational.

What did I learn from this project?  Well, my goodness, so much!  First of all, it showed me how many blessings I often take for granted, like clean water and shoes.  It was convicting and encouraging at the same time - to regularly be grateful for all of the Lord’s blessings, even when dark times come.  It was also wonderful to see others work. I wanted to try new things, like using bolder colors (can’t wait to try gouache!), drawing things I never had before (dragons are magical!), and how to add lettering to a journal page in a way that accents the artwork (I’m loving white ink, now).  Seeing others be bold in sharing about personal struggles and joys, it motivated me to not be so self-focused, and to be willing to be open with others … I was impressed with the folks who participated - not just their talented artwork, but their lovely hearts! 

How has your own art and journaling style developed as a result of this project? 

I think this project confirmed to me how much I enjoy the medium of water-color pencils … and I definitely want to pursue getting better at using them.  The most fun I had was when I drew animals, so that also was a discovery for me.  I’ve always enjoyed landscapes and still-life objects, but now I want to get better at depicting animals.  That’s probably why I’m so drawn to Jenny’s work - as well as some of my favorite artists being children’s book illustrators. 

What was the most difficult part about the challenge?   What did you overcome?  

The most difficult part of the project was  putting my work out there for others to see… it was a bit intimidating.  The positive and encouraging feedback from others was sweet and so very appreciated!  The other challenge was just making the time to do it.  Most weeks, I tried to fit it in on Sunday afternoons - after church and lunch. Our house is usually quiet, and we all work in our own little worlds.  I really looked forward to those peaceful moments away from everything else. 

Describe a page or two of which you are most proud.  What do you love most about those pages? 

My favorite pages would probably be the ones with the little mice.  It was fun to kind of create little characters that showed up now and again throughout the year, and I was happy with the page layout of each of those.  I was also pleased with the page about eyesight … I feel that the depiction of the horse’s eye and the simple lettering made for a thoughtful impact.  The hardest page to do was the "1 good thing page"  My heart was so full of emotions that week, and I had a very specific message I wanted to put on paper but really wasn’t sure how to do it.  It may not be the best artistically, but it was the page that was the most cathartic, and, I hope, a little magical.

g52 gratitude journal shelly vaughan
g52 journal pages - Shelly Vaughan

Describe your creative setup.  Did you have a special Gratitude Journal space to create? 

Mostly, the journaling took place in my art room. We live in a log cabin in the country in the Bluegrass State, and we have a little room on the end of our house that looks out over our pasture and horses. There’s an easel in one corner, a little sink in another, a project table in the middle, a small cabinet full of my favorite artsy-crafty supplies, and lots of natural lighting.  It’s probably my favorite room in the house, although we also have a school room which is where I spend a lot of my day … many of the pages were created in that room, fit in around teaching math, history, science, etc. 

Who did you meet through the Gratitude 52 Community on Instagram?  What did you enjoy most about the connections?

Well, it has been a joy to “meet” some of the artists who participated - and continuing to be inspired by them through their Instagram pages!  I’ve really loved the little snapshots of England life with Sophie Thurlow’s page.  I enjoyed the professionalism and open-heartedness of Leigh Ann Simpson.  And Sharon Grace’s beautiful pages encouraged me to take up bible journaling and “artsy” Planning … It’s so much fun!  I especially enjoyed when Jenny posted videos of her art in action. 

g52 gratitude journal pages - Shelly Vaughan

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to journal and express themselves artistically? 

g52 journal pages - shelly vaughan

Advise for others who want to journal:  Like most pursuits in life, it takes doing it consistently to see results. In home education, I have discovered that one of the best ways to learn is to copy the masters – in music, in writing, in art.  Then, you can develop the skills that let you discover your own special, unique style.  It’s okay to look at others work for inspiration.  "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!”  Then, you can discover what is unique about your own style, and pursue that. 

How can we connect with you?

My Instagram is artsycrafty7, you can find me on Pinterest under Shelly Vaughan, my Facebook account is here, and our ministry website is (My husband has a podcast encouraging from the Bible and highlighting our international friends and their work overseas if you would like to hear about places like India, Korea, Japan.  And coming soon: a podcast called “Happily Ever After” for ladies only!  My mom-in-law and I sharing about practical helps in our calling as wives.) 

We love having friends come to visit, so if you’re ever traveling through Kentucky and need a little get-away, come on over to “Serenity,” where you will be happily greeted by our two loving guard dogs, and the tea kettle is always on … relax to live harp music while you swing on the front porch, or hit the trails with one of our equine friends!  It’s peaceful and you won’t be lacking material for sketching and journaling!  Although you may need to nudge one of our feline friends off your lap first.

g52 gratitude journal page - Shelly Vaughan

Thank you sharing your experience and journal pages, Shelly!   We need to take you up on that visit-to-Kentucky offer.  Sounds splendid.  

Be sure to connect with Shelly on her Instagram page.

And a gratitude reminder for you on this Sunday evening:

"Be in love with your life.  Every minute of it."

. . .

Which one of Shelly's journal pages is your favorite?