Blog Index
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Freedom Isn't Free

Hi Everyone,

I feel incredibly blessed to live in a country where we are free to choose who we marry, where we live, how many children we have, the type of work we do, and so much more. We are free to choose our faith, our friends, and what we do for fun. We can choose where we shop, what we eat and how we dress. 

When I think about friends in other parts of the world who are not free to make these choices, I feel even more blessed. But the freedom I cherish comes at a price; and today, on Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude those who gave their lives to protect us and defend our right to be free. It is in their honor that I created the piece below, and I'd be honored if you want to add your own patterns and colors and share it with someone you love.

Stay Zenspired,




Gradient ("Ombre") Watercolor Washes

Hi Everyone,

I recently discovered an easy technique to create beautiful gradient watercolor washes using only two tools; a Koi Coloring Brush and a water-brush. The swan below was drawn with a Pigma Micron 01 on Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper; the two washes were done on Canson 90lb watercolor paper. 

For those of you who are interested in creating designs by hand, and then modifying them digitally (which is how I do much of my finished design work), I'll explain how I combined the gradient washes and line drawing to make the 'Ombre Swan' design below.

I scanned the drawing and washes, and then in PhotoShop I put each wash on a layer underneath the drawing. I 'knocked out' the white background covering the sea & sky, which allowed the top wash (the blue one) to show through in the sky section. Then I erased the blue wash from where it covered the sea, which allowed the orange wash on the layer below to show. This gave me an orange sea, blue sky and white swan.

Using PhotoShop's 'hue & saturation' tool I changed the orange gradient wash to a different shade of blue/green for each wave. Lastly I changed the opacity of the white swan so just a bit of the gradient wash comes through. I left the edges of the washes so you can see them.

If you'd like to watch me create a gradient wash, check out the 5 minute video Sakura posted called 'Easy Ombre; A Gradient Tutorial by Joanne Fink'. You can find it by clicking the 'Watch Joanne's Videos' on the top left corner of the Zenspirations website, or you can go to YouTube: Please share the video.

Creating a gradient wash is SO easy and SO much fun-- let me know if you agree by leaving a comment-- or even better, please send me photos of what you create. I look forward to seeing a rainbow of inspiration in my in-box (!

Hope you have a wonderful-- and colorful-- weekend. For those in America who are celebrating Memorial Day, please consider making a card of appreciation and sending to someone who either has served, or is currently serving, our country. Hugs and hand-made cards are great ways to show gratitude.

Stay Zenspired,




Faith, Friends & Family Fun!

Hi Everyone,

This weekend my children and I got to celebrate two very special events with friends & chosen family: a baby shower for my friend Gladys's grandson, and the Bar Mitzvah of family friend Sam Fender.

While the events were very different, they were similar in core ways. Both united friends & family in the timeless traditions of their respective faiths; both overflowed with love and pride. I wanted to share a sketch I did which illustrates how faith, friends, and family are the roots which allow us to grow in love.

Since I love to give hand-lettered gifts, I also thought I'd share what I made to commemorate these two special events. The piece I did for Sam in honor of his Bar Mitzvah incorporates two of his greatest loves-- the violin and Jerusalem. All the elements were hand drawn and/or painted, and then scanned. I composed the finished design in PhotoShop. 


Since I never leave home without a pocketbook full of pens, it was easy to make a quick hand-lettered gift at the baby shower. Since I didn't know the baby's name, I hand-lettered the parents' names while they were opening their gifts (lots and lots of diapers!).

I started by writing the names on black paper with a silver Gelly roll. I like to use silver for what I call the 'skeletal structure' of the letter, because it blends so nicely with all the other colors.

Next I started adding weight with Sakura's amazing metallic Gelly roll pens. I wanted a rainbow effect, so I switched colors every couple letters. 

I finished just as they were opening the last gift... and took a quick photo to share before giving the parents-to-be their name-sign. The metallic on black is very dramatic-- and shimmers when you hold it in the light.


If you know someone who likes to letter or draw, please share this with them. There is something extra special about commemorating a lifecycle event with a hand-made gift... and that's the love with which it is made. 

Until next time...

Stay Zenspired,



New Zenspirations Dangle Design Video!

Hi Everyone,

In November I filmed some new Zenspirations videos for Sakura, and they just let me know that "Zenspirations Dangle Designs for Lettering & Handmade Cards" has just started airing this week!

So if you like to Dangle as much as I do, grab a Micron and some paper, and join me in creating something unique and 'Zenspiring'. I'd really love to see the Zenspirations Dangle cards you make after watching this video; you can e-mail pictures to me at 

If you like the video, please post a comment-- and, of course, I'd be delighted if you'd share with others you think would enjoy it.

Happy Dangling & Stay Zenspired,



The Art of Remembrance

Hi Everyone,

Mother's Day is a happy occasion-- I awoke this morning to balloons, plants, chocolate covered strawberries (yum!) and heartwarming cards. I delighted in talking to my Mom & Dad, my in-laws, my children & several friends. For me, it was a lovely day. But today was not a happy day for one of my friends, whose mom died recently. My heart goes out to her, and to everyone who has lost someone that was once an integral part of their lives; this piece is for all of you.

When you lose someone you love, holidays can be painful; but being able to remember special times is a way to keep the legacy of love and treasured memories alive. Please take a moment today to share a special memory you have in your heart... and please share this piece with someone you know who has recently lost a loved one.

Stay Zenspired,