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A Double Celebration

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day, and got to spend time with someone you love.                                       
I have a good friend who has a double celebration on February 14th, as it is also her birthday. This is the card I made her:
Another good friend, who shares my love of putting pen to paper, is celebrating her birthday today, so I made her a card too:                                                                                                                                             
I can’t decide which I like better— the bright background or the paler one— if you have a strong preference please leave a comment to let me know. If you include your birthday, maybe I’ll surprise you on your special day.
Last week I was in Lancaster & Philadelphia, and it was COLD!!! I saw snow for the first time since I moved to Florida more than 23 years ago… it was beautiful, but I’m glad to be back home where the temperature is well above freezing.                                                                                                                                      
Since I got home I’ve been concentrating on creating the graphics for my new website. It's almost ready to launch, and I thought you guys would like a ’sneak-peek’. This is a screen shot of the home page:                           
And here are close ups of some of the buttons:                                                                                                
This next button is my favorite:
The site is built in Wordpress, and will have a real shopping cart. It's mobile friendly, and is supposed to load a lot faster. Best of all it will be easier to navigate— for example, the videos will be divided into sections (i.e. lettering, patterning, coloring), so you can find the type of tutorial you are looking for. The blog posts will be also searchable by topics (i.e. Free Downloads, Dangle Designs, Remembrance). I’ve added a calendar, and a bunch of new images to the gallery, and would welcome your ideas of what else to include.                                  
Please leave a comment if you have thoughts on how to make the new site awesome… I appreciate your input.           
Stay Zenspired,



Milestone Celebrations

Hi Everyone,

As those of you who watch my videos know, I never leave the house without an assortment of Sakura's awesome pens... at a minimum I'll have 01 Microns, and several colors of the Koi Coloring Brushes with me. In addition to using the Koi Coloring brushes for coloring and painting 'on-the-go', I frequently use them to write names for people I meet. Here are a couple examples:



I also use the Koi Coloring Brushes to create background washes, as in the example below:

I created the wash, Dangle letters and Happy Birthday lettering by hand, and then composed the design in PhotoShop.

I especially enjoy creating "Milestone Messages" such as the ones below, which were drawn with Sakura's Gelly Roll Metallic pens:

And this week Zenspirations celebrated two milestones: on Saturday, thanks to Carol Kimball, we hit 2,500 Instagram followers, and today Stephanie Sheeley Affield became the 2,500th member of the Zenspirations Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB group! Thank you ladies! Here is the design I created to thank all the Instagram followers. If you'd like to connect on Instagram, look for "Zenspirations". 

One of the very first people I connected with on Instagram was Gail Beck, who uses my pages as a springboard for her amazing creative undertakings. I am often awed by what she comes up with, and am delighted to feature her incredible work in several of my books. Happy Birthday Gail! Hope today is the start of a colorful, creatively satisfying, year.


I’m in Lancaster this week for product development meetings with Fox Chapel/Design Originals, the company which publishes my Zenspirations® books, and Wellspring, the company which publishes my new line of Coloring gifts & stationery products. Lots of great ideas are being shared! I got to see some of the prototypes, and wanted to give you a ‘sneak peek’ at the journal and post-it note folios.

I can't wait to see the finished designs... I'm hoping they'll be ready by the Stationery Show in May.

In closing, I want to congratulate the winners of the last contest; Monica Perez won the drawing of all the people who left a comment on the blog, and Genna Stead Wangsness won the FB group drawing. Ladies, please let me know which style you'd like me to use when I create your namesigns. 

Although the contest is over, you can still download the Valentine designs if you want to make something special for someone you love. And please consider sending a Valentine note to someone you know who has recently lost a loved one, or is going through a challenging time... every day is a great day to let someone know you care!

Stay Zenspired,



Dangle Valentine

Hi Everyone,

Since it is February, and Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought I’d share my favorite Valentine’s Day card with you, and explain how I created this Zenspirations® Dangle Design: 
I started by drawing the line art with Sakura's Pigma Micron 01 pen on Strathmore's 400 series drawing paper. Here are raw scans of the two different designs I drew, and then combined to create the card. First I did the Dangle Design:
And then I drew the columns for the sides:
(I later finished the Columns and used them for other designs— which I’d be happy to share if there is enough interest. Please leave a comment if you'd like to see another post like this showing the evolution of a design.)
Next, I opened PhotoShop, flipped the Dangle Design horizontally, took out some of the Dangles so I’d have room in the center for text, and then added the columns from the second illustration to support the ‘rods’ . 
Next step was to add the text, and the color, which I also did in PhotoShop:
Then I scanned a bunch of gems, and put them on top of the design to show my Art Director where I wanted them to go, and 'voila'-- the finished card!
I was really pleased with the final product… it’s printed on pearlescent stock, with a LOT of special processes. In addition to the gems, which are applied by hand, the glitter, foil and embossed accents are gorgeous. I wish you could see it in person— it’s a show stopper! Since it is five years old, I think this is the last year that Design Design (my card licensee) will have it in the line. It is a pricey card ($7.95), but here is the link if you’d like to order one.
The LOVE design was the original embellished Dangle card, but those of you who have my first Zenspirations book might recognize the line art from the back cover:
And I have good news to share with our international readers: several of my books have been translated into other languages. So far I know about French, German, Korean, Chinese, and thanks to the talented designer Anna Coll from Madrid, there is now a Spanish version of the first book!
Since many of my illustrations are actually words, I was delighted when Anna asked me to create Spanish versions of the title and some of the key interior 'word-art' illustrations. Anna not only translated the text, but also hand-lettered some of the illustrations. She says that the Spanish version of the book is available here, and “at all the best bookstores around the country, such Casa del Libro, Fnac, Corte Inglés..." Anna also shared that calligraphy and ZIAs are hot trends in Spain. I'll have to ask her if coloring is as popular there as it seems to be everywhere else...

Speaking of coloring, the Valentine’s Day contest deadline is Friday, February 5th, so don’t forget to download the FREE LOVE DESIGNS I posted in last week’s blog, add color and your creative touches, and then post in the Zenspirations Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. Here is the link in case you need it:  
Can’t wait to see what you do! 
Stay Zenspired,



Open Your Heart to Possibility

Hi Everyone,

Before I started Zenspirations® in 2009, I spent most of my career in the greeting card industry. So as February approaches, I naturally start thinking about Valentine’s Day (the second largest card sending occasion in the United States!), and the underlying message of the holiday—L*O*V*E. Love is as essential to our well-being as the air we breathe and the food we eat. 
Everybody wants to be loved... but to me, love is not just a feeling, it's an intangible force that surrounds and uplifts us. 

When you open your heart to possibility and look through the eyes of love, you'll see potential instead of limitations; competence instead of mediocrity; hope instead of indifference; radiant beauty instead of imperfection. Look with love, and you'll see past someone's character flaws to the spark of holiness inside their soul. 

Let love envelop you... Let love flow through you... Let love connect you... Let love make you whole.

There is a light inside each of us; when we are able to reach out to others in love, that light shines more brightly. Today, let the love in your heart shine forth in all the brilliant colors of the rainbow. 

Yesterday I polled members of the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group, and asked what kind of free download everyone would like for Valentine’s Day. Of the 129 responses, the majority requested a card with an inspirational saying about love… so here it is!

Click here to download Let Love Light the Way.

I also created a coloring sheet for those who prefer the larger format. I designed it so you could write your own text if you want-- and I can't wait to see what you all create!

Click here to download the LOVE Coloring Page.

As usual, I’ve made folders in the FB group where you can post your finished designs. Here is the link:  As an incentive to share what you do, I am offering to make a name-sign for you or someone you love. You can pick the style: Dangle Monograms or Brush Lettering. I will draw two winners at random: one from those who post in the Facebook group, and one from those who leave a comment on this week's blog. (Yes, you can do both). For every design you post-- or comment you leave-- by midnight on Friday, February 5th, you will be entered into a random drawing to win. If you post one design, you’ll have one chance to win; if you post five designs, you’ll have five chances to win. I will pick a second winner from everyone who leaves a comment on the blog this week (only one comment from each person will be counted). So if you would like a chance at winning a name-sign, leave a comment and/or post your finished designs.

Wishing you a week filled with laughter, love and light...

Stay Zenspired,



Hi Everyone,                                                                                                                                                   
Being in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Day is an incredible experience. The entire city celebrates Dr. King’s legacy, and his moving “I have a dream” speech is widely broadcast. As a writer who hopes my words will not only provide comfort and inspiration, but will be a force for good in the world, I have long been attracted to Dr. King’s incredibly powerful messages. One of my favorite MLK quotes is: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

I pray that when I encounter injustice I will not stand silently by awaiting someone else to do something, but will have the courage to take action myself. The strong pull I feel to social justice comes from Deuteronomy 16:20, which I lettered in one of my morning journals: 
And months later, in a different morning journal, the subject came up for me again: 
But tonight, in Dr. King’s honor, I wanted to share a few quotes about Dreams. I did the piece below last year on Martin Luther King Day:
If you don't have a dream worth devoting your life to, I encourage you to think about this:
I believe that dreaming is an essential part of the human spirit, and that our souls grow as we work for our dream… the more passionately we believe in our dreams, the brighter the light of our souls will shine.               
CHA and the Atlanta Gift Show were both AWESOME… but after 10 days on the road I’m glad to be home. 
I’m also glad to share a note I got from Philip Fleet, president of Trim-a-Rim, about the contest we ran two weeks ago:

"Hello Joanne,

Thanks again for gathering feedback on your blog about black & white Trim-A-Rim borders for coloring. I was blown away by how enthusiastic, creative and talented your coloring fans are...and also how generous they are to share their time and input... very inspiring for sure!

There are 43 Comments so far on that blog entry. Of the 37 people who responded to at least some of the Trim-A-Rim questions (the other 6 were "Here's Part 2" follow-ups and Word of the Year input alone) here's a tabulation of their feedback to the 4 questions:

Q1)  Would you be interested in a black and white version of these designs that you could color and embellish?

35 (95%) said Yes to Q1 -- and most were very enthusiastic YES! :), 
1 said No because too busy, and 
1 did not answer this question (although I'd assume Yes based on their other answers)

Q2)  If so, which designs would you most like to have a coloring version of? 

#1 (by pretty wide margin)  = Open Leaves
#2 = Hearts
#3 = Large Scallops
#4 = tie between Fish and Birds & Leaves
#6 = tie between Patterned Leaves and Bubbles
#8 = Triangles

Q3)  Would you prefer to have line art to color for the Trim-A-Rim border only, as in the 3 examples above, or would you like to have something in the center that you could print out at the same time and then cut out and use on a different project, as in the sample below?

Both = 30; Border only = 5; No answer = 2

Q4)  Are there other themes you’d like me to design for use with Trim-A-Rim? If so, what themes are at the top of your wish list?

Most frequently mentioned = Inspirational words and quotes, birthdays, holidays, special events, flowers, doodles/tangles/dangles

FYI, the black & white versions of all 9 of your Trim-A-Rim borders are now uploaded to our website and available for free download and printing in all 3 variations (Full size on one 11"x17" sheet, Full size halves on 2 letter-size sheets, and Mini on letter-size paper.)
Since your blog family really likes the idea of the additional center art, let's discuss that once you've had a chance to get settled back in after all your travel.

And now to the lucky winners of our Trim-A-Rim loot! :) ...

Prize Group A)  2 winners selected at random from all those who gave Trim-A-Rim feedback, and each will receive:  Your choice of a Mini or Full-size Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the 9 colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for your chosen size. 

Winners =
Jamie Torres 
Jean Chaney

Prize Group B) 2 winners selected at random from all those who posted inspiration samples to the albums (and each border submission = 1 entry, so several people had multiple chances in this one).  These winners receive:  Both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for both sizes.
Winners = 
Wanda Radler
Cathy Pemberton

Bonus Opportunity selections:
These were the folks whose designs were selected as inspiration samples.  In addition to published credit, they'll each receive both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, plus print-outs of all 9 of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders and the full-color borders (a total of 36 border sheets), as well as several border print-outs of their inspiration sample(s). 

This was HARD!!  It's been really fun visiting your group page over the past few weeks to check out all the cool border creations, and I really wanted to choose nearly all of them, but had to draw the line somewhere, so here we go...

Terri Brown (have already contacted Terri re: the Permission to Publish and shared her wonderful Leaves border version with the 3D gradient effect on our FB page...our fans LOVE it!)
Alison Clement
Mary Anne Fellows
Leitha Hunt
Puneet Sekhon
Sephra Travers
Genna Wangsness
Kristen Zeitler
Can you please ask all of the winners to contact me at

I’m glad that I wasn’t the one having to make the selection this time! I second Philip’s rave review of your awesome work. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to collaborate with so many talented people… I really love seeing how differently everyone interprets my illustrations. One of my dreams is that my work will help inspire others to discover their own creative voice, and that a shared love of this type of creative expression will enable us to build a connective, compassionate, caring community.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I’d love to know some of your dreams— you can share by leaving a comment, or by posting a picture of it in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. Here is the link:                                                                            
Stay Zenspired,