Expressive Therapies Summit



My workshop was yesterday, 2-5pm and was amazing! I will post all about it soon. On Thursday I went to a great all day workshop about “Story Cloths”, really fascinating and intense. I have a new appreciation for the power of a small piece of fabric. My fingers hurt from sewing by the end of the day, but the story cloth I made at the bottom of this post is my favorite thing I made at the workshops I went to. Yesterday morning I went to a fun workshop about Found Objects and Art Therapy. The first photos are of the two creatures I made, a genderless alien named Zero and their side kick called 911. The last thing I did was put glue sticks on the top of Zero’s head as antennae. One fell off, but it was fun using the glue gun sticks as objects, which the workshop leader noted when I shared my piece. I had Zero talk for me.

It was an interesting process, as I expected to have a lot of fun, but you never know what will happen in workshops. At the beginning we were invited to pick an object out of a trash can the facilitator had filled with found objects. I took two, the old phone and the luggage tag window that I cut in half to make Zero’s eye glasses.

It was like waiting for cupcakes at a very long dinner, as the workshop leader had a lot of power points and discussion for over an hour and a half before we got to make our pieces. It was interesting but it’s hard to sit and listen that long when you have an object you know you’re going to be transforming and you’re itching to make something.

I noticed from the beginning I was really frustrated. The whole process was funny to me because I felt extremely anxious, probably more about my upcoming workshop but it felt like the anxiety was in the art making. I started with the round cardboard ring that is the face and the round thing that is the bigger eye on the left. I was trying to hang it in the middle of the circle using tape so it would be like a mandala. At some point someone brought in yarn and the black rope I ended up using and I decided to just glue the cardboard to the top.

Going to bed. I will update this tomorrow. Next goal is to make this website more than a blog, now that I finally have time and don’t have to be obsessing over my workshop!

Day Before Workshop!

All blog posts related to this workshop will have the category that you can search, “Altered Books Gender Identity Workshop”.

I am excited for tomorrow’s Altered Books and Gender Identity/Gender Diversity Workshop that I am fascilitating at the Expressive Arts Therapies Summit Conference from 2-5pm.

I will be posting materials for the workshop, used in the workshop, and for workshop participants and others to have that have not been fully covered or to continue any topics about altered books as art therapy and gender identity and diversity.

I am going to be “showing” more than telling, in terms of directives that are useful with clients using altered books and directives about gender identity and both.



The main focus of the workshop can be summed up as:

Let’s play with gender, and let’s acknowledge and celebrate the gender spectrum. Your altered book in progress is your personal gender story unfolding.

I will try to post photos and images to these posts when I have time and hope to post photos from the workshop itself, which I will be writing up to submit to the new Trans Bodies Trans Selves book…

Altered Book Project Continues

These photos are both recent and some are of pages that have already been altered again. I thought I was going to post photos of the book every time I did something new in it, but that was too ambitious.

It’s “Inktober”, so I’ve been posting daily on 2 different Instagram accounts, and still obsessively working on Sketchbook Project 2019, AND, just the other day, I got inspired to go back to a very old project, which I will write about in a different post.

It’s the tried and true ADHD pyramid of priorities with art and work. The top priority is preparing for the workshop I’m doing this Saturday, finishing the outline and the timeline of it, the structure for the 3 hours, making the questions page and other pages for reflection and directives. Because that has gotten so complicated, I’ve gotten distracted, or distracted myself with other things, and suddenly I seem to have a multiplicity of art projects going on, from drawing bees and insects to obsessing about coloring in boxes with a black permanent marker that is just the right thickness to doing things in this book.

The book is actually important for the workshop. Once I got the idea for the directives involving the book, I of course decided to do them myself.

The first task is to choose or make three creatures from whatever materials you want. There will be a few little animals to choose from and plenty of materials to make little creatures. One creature represents your masculine part, one represents your feminine part, and one represents your non gendered or gender neutral part.

Then you use the altered book to create at least three environements, one for each creature. I will have Velcro and other things that aid in being able to move the creature to different places in the book if you want to. I got this idea from working with a client who took a turtle and put it in various places in their book. I also had another client who took a tiny plastic baby and made little beds and resting places for it in different places in their book.

The above page is made with model magic on a plastic container, glitter paint, skull beads and part of a bracelet – the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. I made it after some other places, so I’m not sure yet who would stay in this little boxed in nook.


This is the cover of the book. It has an old fortune cookie message from over ten years ago. I used to have a photo of my then dog underneath it, as a message that happiness was him and he was right there. I put it on the cover and then decided to remove the photo of my dog and then put glitter tape on it and a piece of a choker necklace that was broken. I’m not sure what else I will put on the cover…

This is the inside of the cover of the book. In it is a short letter I wrote to my child self about the state of gender in 2018 and what she might be shocked about and the good and the bad. That is another possible directive to try in your book, write to your old self and answer questions or what you might have wondered about as a kid. Snoopy was a big part of my childhood and kind of a hero, whose gender kind of didn’t mean much as his personhood was dog and imagination more than male anything…

This page had my 1974 self asking questions about gender roles and things I remember thinking about. In the gender coloring book one of the questions on the list is “What is your gender story?” It’s a great question I’ve thought about but not put into words as one’s “story”, so that seems like a good one for reflecting on and giving people to think about answering or making a part of their book after the workshop, as the question is too big to fit in with all the other things I’m planning for the workshop. In a way makign the creatures and turnign the altered book into the “Validating Environment” is in itself telling your gender story in a non linear way.

This little creature is a fairy, very tiny one, that I’ve had in my studio for a long time. I picked her to represent my “feminine” creature. I had some judgments of myself for doing so, but I like her. She is magical and can fly and has powers. Being so little, she has powers people forget about, because everyone is focused on wanting to be taller and big things are what get attention, big gestures, big statements, big paintings. One thin I associate with the United States is an obsession with bigness and large things. When I lived in Japan I noticed how it was the opposite and things were smaller.

There is power in tiny things. Being a small short person my whole life, I have noticed that people treat you differently and address you differently too. Nobody says cutesy things to a stranger if that person is tall and imposing or just not little. Anyway this fairy has abilities to see things in little places and notice all the teeny things that people do not see because they are focused on the biggest and loudest thing. I made her a little nook out of model magic and used glitter tape and glitter and glittery beads, like she is on a leaf, even leaves are a term for pages of a book… She is smart and speaks many languages and can be almost invisible and observe things others cannot.


I did this page a week ago, covered it with silver washi tape and drew on it with paint pens. It’s not an environement, just a page completely covering the original one.

This space above is the envirnoment for my penguin, the creature I chose as my “masculine” creature. There is also a snake at the beginning of the book in the envelope with the letter. It’s an extra creature and I’m not sure what it represents. I picked the penguin without any logical reason, but I do find penguins interesting, and the males of certain kind have to stand on the egg and just stay there for days, like in the March of the Penguins, while the female penguins go off to get food and are gone for days swimming and travelling, moving and doing while the males stay huddled in a group, not going anywhere, just in charge of keeping the egg warm. When people point to nature when talkign about gender it is funny that there are many situations involving very different gender roles than human typical old fashioned ones, such as this reversal with the penguins, which now plays out on city streets where you see father parents out with babies. Maybe based on these creatures, the feminine part of me is the part that goes places and does stuff and the masculine part sits and meditates and is still. Or maybe this directive is just designed to turn out that you make three creatures and it feels like you’re putting gender on them, then it’s hard to tell if they now seem gendered because of that or that you intuitively chose them…

These are some other earlier pages from the book where I had fun covering most of the page and using mixed media…

Online Art Exhibitions: The Sketchbook Project

I am currently involved with a two online art exhibitions. This post is about The Sketchbook Project.

As I have been working on my 2019 Sketchbook Project, “Pictures and Words: Buildings and Birds”, intensely in the last few days and weeks, and during summer break, I have become more intentional about utilizing the “Community Space” aspect of the Sketchbook Project, to get more involved and be part of this “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space” that continues to expand. You can find what I call “side projects” and events on their website as well as past sketchbooks and an easy way to sign up and partipate. They sell materials as well, something for another blog post. The latest project I signed on for is the “Tiny Sketchbook Project.” I haven’t received my sketchbook yet, but they look like they are a few inches in size! I also love tiny very small and small works… TIny Sketchbook Project Link

This is their website: The Sketchbook Project Website

It’s defined as a “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space.” You do have to pay to get a sketchbook and pay extra to be included in the digital art library and exhibitions. I am grateful that one of my clients told me about it in 2013, as it is very fun and unique; also, I’m obsessed with sketchbooks and of course, altering books. The one thing all my sketchbooks have in common is the amount of working and overworking involved. It’s never a simple process for me no matter what…

(It’s a perfect project for my ADHD: While avoiding something too stressful, I hyperfocus on the sketchbook, and have added hyperfocusing on promoting and participating more. I will be part of their “Infinite Drawing” series, and have done a canvas for “The Canvas Project.”)

Here is the link to my latest Sketchbook, (2018), “Inner Landscapes”, from The Sketchbook Project:

I highly recommend participating in the Sketchbook Project! It’s a very democratic inclusive approach to art and exhibiting art. Anybody can participate. Here are the links to other years I’ve made sketchbooks; each year is completely different from the last year.

This one from 2017, entitled “Many Minds” is my favorite of the five completed sketchbooks:


This one is my 2016 Sketchbook, “When Objects Talk”. I mixed together two drawings series, one that involves comic strip art:

Here is my 2015 Sketchbook, “Marks on the Edge”, involving mixed media including yarn, fabric, sewing, colored tapes.

Here is my first Sketchbook, from 2014, “Mosaica for Khakasa”,worked on mostly in the fall of 2013. It’s the most complicated in terms of the process and times spent on it, as well as having things I do in altered books, like extra pages, changing the size of the page, and making windows. I also incorporated Chinese Funeral Paper and dried flower petals.

The Sketchbook Project is on all social media and easy to find. It’s home in Brooklyn is the Digital Art Library. The sketchbooks travel all over the United States and in Canada. I’m predicting they will branch out to other countries soon.


Picture and Words Project: Limbo

This post should have two photos, a drawing I’m working on, and what I wrote on the back of the paper.

I started this particular drawing at the beginning of August. One of the key ideas about drawing that I wrote about and is important to me is the not knowing how the drawing will end up or look, and trusting the process and the mystery and enjoying it. That is one thing that connects this drawing process to the Altered Books I’ve been writing a lot about. You don’t know what will happen next, or if you will cover what you’re doing now or how things will end up. The book just unfolds as you make it, like with drawing…

Here’s what I wrote while continuing the drawing two months later:

” I started this drawing in August. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up a drawing from a while ago. I can’t get back in it, or I don’t know if it’s perhaps finsihed. This drawing is very unfinished and I felt like going back into it. Sometimes when I use a lot of colors and all different pens, I get frustrated with there being too much color. Then I cover it with a dark color to get it to feel less chaotic. For some reason, this drawing didn’t give me the urge to cover it. I got the urge to fill it up and started on the left side but jumped to the far right side. I haven’t used this paper in a while. It’s think. Also it’s not smooth so you sometimes have to press into it. This drawing still feels like it’s about freedom. Anything can happen next time I work on it. Do I fill up all the white space of leave some of it alone? Is it another cityscape? Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. It’s a weird limbo. Maybe the title is Limbo. Then I look at it again and feel impatient. I want to finish it quickly. Then when I pick up a pen, I just draw and don’t care about it taking hours more. Would it look different if I spent 3 full hours on it instead of 15-20 minutes at a time? Not knowing is a big part of drawing for me. It’s none of my business how this will look. All I know is the now of drawing it.”