Mar 14 2017

Art Journal Pages

My very good ART-ing friend, Janne, recently visited from Norway and while she here she inspired me to make a new journal. And I’m so glad I did! It feels so good to slap some paint down without any inhibitions or expectations. To experiment and play. To write down random thoughts and words. To collage in little scraps of doodles I’ve been piling up not knowing what to do with them. Below are the pages I have done so far in my new book.

art-journal-pages-2017-b art-journal-pages-2017

Mar 2 2015

300 Days of Creating – Progress Report

This 300 Days of Creating project has been unbelievably motivating for me! I’m realizing that every day I have a goal to be creative. Even if it doesn’t end up happening, it’s on my mind and something that is present. I’m also realizing how much I love looking back to see what I’ve already accomplished and the progress that’s been made. And THAT in and of itself is incredibly inspiring!

I’m going to attempt to do a monthly progress report here on the blog. Next month I might try to be a bit more detailed about certain pieces but for now, I’m just going to show the pics.


To date I’m at 24/300 days. And there are 304 days left in the year. That means I have a little wiggle room to meet my goal, but not much! When I calculate it out I think I can only miss approx. 2.5 days a month from here out. Oy!


As you can see, my counted days range from photo shoots to art journaling to painting to doodles. I’m not setting any boundaries . Just focusing on being actively creative! How is the project going for you??? Are you staying motivated?

And again, it’s not too late to start!!! There are still 304 days left in the year! 😉


Feb 2 2015

300 Days of Creating Progress Report

Well, I have to say, this has been a REALLY GOOD challenge for me.
I’m already more intentional to be creative knowing that I can’t get behind.
And, along with it, I’m FEELING more creative!
Below are a sampling of a few of the days so far…

7/300  Thinking a lot about the lack of snow up in our poor mountains, makes me sad.

8/300 If all I get done in a day is a sketch, then I count that.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 7.26.43 PM
9/300 Love this wonky guy. “Angst Expressed”

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 7.27.17 PM
11/300  I decided to make and  keep a journal of the 300 Days of Creating as well as my 2015 Goals.

If you want to see more, follow along with me on Instagram (allendesignsstudio).
Also, check out the hashtag #300daysofcreating to find others who have joined me in this challenge!
And, it’s not too late to join! There are still 331 days left in the year!!!

p.s. if you want a pdf copy of the 300 Days of Creating lettering from above, make sure to sign up for my mailing list as that will be included in the next newsletter 🙂

Jan 22 2015

new goal: 300 days of creativity

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone seems to be doing these wonderful and inspiring 365 day art challenges.
Everyone that is, like these amazing artists- Pam Garrison, Jennifer Orkin Lewis, and Sonya Penn.
Through much thought, I’ve decided to “KIND OF” jump on the bandwagon!


I really try to set goals that I think I can achieve. With travel and life, I figured there would be NO STINKING WAY I could actually meet the 365 day challenge. Therefore, I’ve decided go for a 300 days of Creating challenge. Attainable and yet still challenging.

michelle allen doodles

The 300 days of Creating can be made up of time spent doodling, painting, crafting, sewing etc. Just as long as I’m creating something. Cause to be honest, I can go weeks without doing anything creative. Then I almost fear it as though I’m fearing a workout. Scared I’ve lost my touch and not knowing how and where to start again. I’m hoping that with this challenge I will be in better “creative shape” and that I will have a more productive and artistic year.

sketchbook cat
These pictures are all samples of what I’ve counted towards my 300 days so far.
Please feel free to follow along with me as I document on Instagram (allendesignsstudio)!
silk screened bird art
Better yet, JOIN ME!!!

Let’s have fun together!
Use the #300daysofcreating hashtag on Instagram or let me know in the comments below so I can follow you. 🙂


Oct 6 2014

The Artist’s Garden

as some of you may already know, cause you follow me on instagram (allendesignsstudio), i was asked to paint a violin for a charity event put on by the Vancouver Symphony & Orchestra.
i had told myself earlier this year that i wasn’t going to say “yes” to any additional charity pieces through the rest of the year. but, when the violin came up, i just couldn’t say no.
i LOVE music. and who wouldn’t want to paint on such a beautiful instrument!

symphony fundraiser violin
here she is as she came to me.

some of the progression.

violin_art_charity_3 copy
i played the flute in 6th grade and i sucked. i really wanted to be good at it.
i practiced. and practiced. a lot. (my mom may disagree, but it felt like it was A LOT)
i had no rhythm. nor patience. so i quit.

if you look closely, there’s a string missing. that would be due to my lack of stringing-an-instrument-skills!

violin_art_charity_6 copy
i was determined to paint a rose. i’ve wanted to for a long time and i just decided i was going to work at it until i got it.
roses are HARD! in the end, i’m pleased with how it turned out. happy with myself that i pushed through the good hour of frustration that it took to paint and repaint till it actually looked like a rose.

violin_art_charity_4 copy

i love how this turned out. it’s playful yet serious. free yet organized.
Playing it Forward auction Nov. 1st.

Apr 27 2013

hello China!

yes, i’m here in China again.
at least twice a year.
i can’t believe this is my 10th year of coming here. am i really getting that old?!



i’m working on lots of new designs. pretty darned excited about them!
after 10 yrs., i still get completely blissed out in the development process.

seeing two dimensional art become three dimensional is just downright fun.

table setting: plastic wrapped dishes (that you still end up rinsing in boiling hot water), ashtray (ugh, so many smokers here in China!), toothpicks, tissues (instead of napkins. always) and peanuts (quite common appetizer).

fish soup.

i love the farmland here. small areas with lots of different crops, sustaining the areas nearby.

something new to me on this trip- riding a high speed train. 200 MPH!!!
a little nerve-wracking. glad i’m still here to write about it. 🙂

more china travels tomorrow. xoxo-m

Apr 9 2013

random bits of my life

lots of change going on in my life right now.
some of the change has me smiling ear to ear with the cheesiest of grins.
and some of the change is giving me a pit in my stomach the size of a grapefruit.

on the fun side- we’re slowly redecorating our close2myart/allen designs studio!
allen designs studiopainting some walls, rehanging & organizing clocks.
we’ve been in this space 1.5 years and haven’t really done much in terms of decorating.
so we’re all really excited about cozying it up a bit.

alexis & austinAlexis and her boyfriend… nice hair, eh?… like i’m one to talk 🙂 
another big thing… my oldest daughter turned 18 yesterday!
i seriously CAN NOT believe that she’s that old and that i’m THAT old!

succulentfinally got me-self a few succulents.
they’re doing their job and  making me happy every time i walk past them.

artist michelle allenand the not so fun-
my graphic design gal quit and i’ve been scrambling trying to figure out what to do.
i’m holding off hiring someone, which has me taking over her tasks along with my own everyday ones.
all along just trying not to screw anything up!
it’s been a good opportunity to reevaluate our needs in the studio.
as hard and stressful as it is, i feel like it’s going to be a blessing in disguise.

art fortune cookiefound in our fortune cookie a few days ago.
so true. so true.

Apr 2 2013

hand lettering & artist’s open studio tour

this year clark county, washington will be having it’s first annual artist’s open studios tour!
not sure of the dates, but it will be happening some time this fall.
clark county open studios

here’s a little logo hand lettering artwork thingy that i’ve been working on.

hand lettering open artist studio

not positive if it will be used or not but it’s been fun nonetheless.
open studios color web



and how about you?
been doing something fun?
ever participated in an open studios tour?

and btw, never ran yesterday… bad girl!
but did finally give in and shower. it had been several days and my husband was ready to kill me!



Mar 18 2013

dinner party & healthy snack

this weekend involved many things.
some really sad, that i don’t want to go into right now.
and some happy.

flowers & wineit was our turn to host our dinner group.
there are 4 of us couples and we rotate houses.
we try for once a month but realistically it ends up being quarterly by the time our schedules all line up.

and let me just say… all the other ladies are AMAZING cooks.
that’s how i choose my friends! shhhh. 😉

curly girl cardthat being said, when it comes to our turn i always majorly stress out.
i want to bless them the way that they’ve blessed me.

hence the perfect reminder in the curly girl design card!
and it did hold true. of course.

healthy snack rawraw healthy snacksone of the things i made where these made by girl inspired healthy coconut date truffles.
probably not very lo cal. but healthy & yummy nonetheless.

dinner group table setting
dinner groupthe table setting i kept simple as to not overwhelm myself.
flowers & candles that was it.

i have a habit of wanting to shoot for the moon and then being disappointed in myself when things don’t end up perfect.
any of you do that?

in the end, it’s really about the conversation & the people.
which both, as always, were wonderful!

are you in a dinner group?
do you do themes? games? conversation starters?
if you’re not in one, maybe it’s time to start one…

Mar 11 2013

the theme is green

it’s late and i’m tired.
besides a few short breaks, i’ve been sitting at this computer all day long.
but i’m on a roll and figure i might as well finish it off with a blog post!

be your own lightbe your own light inspired self portrait

i’m currently in the middle of a 4 week ecourse, Be Your Own Light,
created by the talented and inspirational Vivienne McMaster.
and i am loving it!
the daily prompts, the creative play, the treasure like hunt for light.
i’m taking pictures that i would have never considered taking before.
this is the kind of thing that makes me HAPPY, HAPPY!

allen designs studiopicked up this old aluminum locker for the Allen Designs/Close2myArt studio last week.
okay, junk makes me happy too!

crocheted earrings portland artist
crocheted earrings by moss handmade, a gift from my husband.
we’re preparing to celebrate our 20th year of marriage in the next few weeks.
wow, how time flies.
perhaps there are many things that make me happy…

green smoothieslastly, i’ve finally jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon.
thanks to the dear Lacy Like.
it’s been 2 weeks of eating healthy (no sugar, bread, pasta, preservatives) & daily green smoothies.
i was feeling really great until yesterday, where the wheels felt like they were falling off the bus!
since then i’ve been having the overwhelming urge to go out and get myself some spicy cheetos & a milkshake.
i have barely, BARELY i tell you, kept my self control.
i’m trying to last 30 days.
we’ll see.

Mar 8 2013

Dangling Doodling Giveaway!

To celebrate the beginnings of Spring and Easter we are giving away
a free Sir Hop Dangling Doodling with every order on!

Sir-Hop-Dangling-Doodlingoffer good through April 1st.

tulips beach retreatmmmmm. seeing these flowers and how happy they make me,
is telling me i need to go buy myself a little bouquet to enjoy over the weekend!
#selfcare #prettythingsmakemehappy

Mar 4 2013

in the meantime

today was a busy day, full of lots of interruptions & deadlines of sorts.
i was determined to get my exciting adventure post done, but it didn’t happen.
IMG_3284in the meantime i’ll show you a peek at what i’ve been working on.

IMG_3301more letters!

a couple questions for you, if you don’t mind.
do you collect any letters or numbers?
do you buy them as gifts?


Mar 2 2013

hello there, i’m baaaaack!

once again, i CAN NOT believe it’s already been 2 WHOLE WEEKS since i blogged last.
time just starts flying by with lot’s of exciting things going on…
and, i think i get overwhelmed by the blog and where to even start!

art studio michelle allen

so, here i am.
with the goal of being consistent.

art supply bag travel creativejust over two weeks ago i received a surprise invite to one of the most amazing adventures EVER!
one in which i packed my up my art bag. (above)

gathering of my art tribeand also involved pretty goodness as shown above.
i’ll be going more into that in the next few posts.
not quite enough time right now.

allen designs clocksthe studio has been crazy busy, thank the Lord.
above you can see how we just went from having hardly any inventory to having a ton!

coffee meet up vancouver wa torquelet’s not forget the coffee meet ups.
i’ve had quite a few opportunities of late to get more involved in my community and in other artist’s lives.
this makes me soooo excited!
more on that later as well.

hope you are having a lovely weekend.


a good reminder for us all. and oh so true.

LOVE this artists’ studio tour!

Feb 15 2013

valentine winner!


i loved reading everyones valentines traditions/plans!
thank you for playing and sharing!
i used random number generator to choose the winner and here she is…

contest winnercongratulations Angie! email me your address and we’ll get your package out to you asap!

artsy fartsy valentine cardthis was the card i gave my husband. perfect eh? he laughed.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 7.56.26 AMand the breakfast we went out to at byways cafe. yum.
valentine work party

Feb 3 2013

love bandit bunny

my art studio has been kind to me as of late.
painting & sketching up a storm.

love bandit bunny©2013 Michelle Allen, Love Bandit. Acrylic, graphite and ink on paper.

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 4.42.17 PMthe initial sketch.

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 4.41.59 PMand in process.

painting palettemore art in process.
not really sure what all this art will end up being used for.
but i’ve got some ideas… we’ll see.

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 4.42.55 PMoh, and can’t forget these cute new joli jewelry earrings i recently acquired.
LOVE her pieces!

looking forward to this week and getting lots done.
hoping the same for you!

Jan 29 2013

doodles & more

we’ve been busy around here-
busy scheming what our 2013 adventures will be.
i think this is going to be a big year for allen designs/close2myart as well as for myself.
lots of exciting things brewing!

doodles and sketchingand art is a very big part of it.
yay for me!
how about you, do you take time to list out your goals & dreams?
i’ve had times when i don’t and, honestly i can tell a difference in how i live each day.


Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 9.41.26 AMreceived this beautiful gift from my sweet friend Janne and i just LOVE it!
isn’t she so talented,

books i’m still reading…
and will probably be reading till my next trip to China!
some things just don’t make the priority list unfortunately.

Jan 6 2013

happy new year & art monograms!

happy new year to you!

we spent our holidays up at mt. hood and were blessed with tons of fresh snow!
it was awesome!

 these were my pieces of art i made for my family exchange and also an exchange i do with a group of other artists.
i’m thinking i might do more of these they were so much fun.

well, i’m off to georgia tomorrow for the atlanta gift show.
not my favorite thing to do.
i’m totally a home-body.
but necessary in my line of work.
the upside… i get to see awesome friends like these- april, leigh & kelly rae!

Dec 6 2012

always & always

this is how empty our allen designs/close2myart warehouse was until a few days ago!
we finally got a shipment in so if you’ve been waiting for things to be available on our website or in one of our store partners, it’s your lucky day!

love hand lettering!

don’t love painting the sides of canvases quite as much.

this piece is finally done, i’ll post finished pics tomorrow!
it’s a claude monet quote. don’t you love it!?

currently, i’m really loving playing indoor soccer a few days a week.
my skills are majorly lacking…
actually, i really suck.
but the workout and the girls i play with are fully awesome!

hope you are off to a great day.

Nov 30 2012

recycled vintage ornament wreath DIY

i made this vintage & recycled ornament wreath probably 5 years ago.
it is my very favorite christmas decoration to pull out every year.
although, not the easiest to store away. 

angel is by renowned american folk artist debbee thibault.

for this project you will need:

a good 3-4 hours!
glue gun & plenty of glue sticks
styrofoam wreath (i used a 17″ flat not rounded one for mine)
lots and lots of ornaments, different sizes all the way down to minis if possible 
and fabric 

1. start by wrapping your wreath with strips (anywhere from 2″-5″ strips will work) of fabric and securing, fabric to fabric, with hot glue.

2. at this point you’ll want to tie a ribbon around the wreath for hanging.

3. then began hot gluing ornament after ornament on the top first, then move to the sides of the wreath. i started by gluing larger ones first saving the smaller ones to fill in the gaps later.

**make sure as you’re going along that it sits flat on your table as that is how it will hang on the wall.
**i tried to apply glue on as many sides that I can,  giving it as much security as possible.

 this is a wreath i made for my momma a few years ago…

have fun!
and i’d LOVE to see yours when your done!

Nov 26 2012

crocheting, decorating and shopping

i hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving!
i am so very thankful for each of you reading this.
for your comments and words of encouragement you’ve gifted me with over the years.
you are the BESTEST!!!

this weekend i began pulling out my christmas decorations! yay!!!
this normally wouldn’t be happening for at least another week or two.
maybe i’m maturing and getting better at this time management thing…

check out this gorgeous granny square crocheted bag!
alison, who i’ve worked with for the past 15 yrs made it for me for my bday.
i am so in love!!!
the colors are gorg.

so, after gazing so fondly at her workmanship…
my girls and i decided it was high time we learn how to crochet.
…i’ll keep you posted.

went to a bazaar.
loved these. can’t find the artists’ card anywhere. boo.
super cute tho eh?

happy monday to you!

Nov 19 2012

my weekend in pictures

had our last weekend of studio sales.

alligator picture frame, one of my faves. 🙂

finally cleaned my brushes that have been sitting in water for…
um… too long!

started a new painting.
even though i have 3 others sitting here that still aren’t finished.

and soccer games in the cold & rain.
(mine is on the right)

a productive & fun weekend.
and you?

Nov 13 2012


life has been B.U.S.Y. around here!
a good busy.

i hosted a baby shower for sweet Katy in our studio.
can’t wait till her precious one arrives.

i LOVE having a chalkboard wall!!!
makes for fun and inexpensive party decor.

had our first of two studio sale weekends.
AWESOME to see so many of your faces.
many thanks to all of you who made it out!

love our ginko trees!
even when they lose their leaves. 

trying desperately to find time to make art.
because ARTISTS make ART. right?
as do- writers write, singers sing and so on.

don’t forget to enter in our Close2myART GIVEAWAY!!!
i assure you- better chances than the lottery and it’s free to enter! 🙂

Nov 2 2012

china- hiking, sculpting, eating and art-ing

hiking in china is a new experience for me!

i absolutely LOVE doing things i haven’t done before.

on occasion, pushing through that edge of fear that tempts you to hold back and play it safe.
those are the times i feel so completely alive.

this hiking was a little different than i’m used to.
it involved a concrete & rock path for miles and miles.
climbing well over a 1000 stairs to the summit.
i can’t imagine how long it took them to hand build these trails!
no one can call the chinese a lazy group of people, that’s for sure!

the “hello” finished.

a new clock design in the making.

oh yes. lunch is served!

exciting new project i’m working on.

art journal pages in progress.

i’m currently sitting in the HK airport waiting for my flight home.
a good cup of coffee warms my belly.
i’m a happy girl.

Nov 1 2012

hello november!

i can’t believe it’s already that time of year again!
the girls in the studio are already busily decorating and meticulously setting up our studio
for what will be our best & biggest studio sale yet.
we’re going to have some crazy good deals!
hope you can make it.
we’d love to see you. 🙂

(if you’re local and wouldn’t mind, please help us spread the word. we would deeply appreciate it.) 

Oct 18 2012

recycled rose

just getting ready to head to the mountain for an allen designs / close2myart staff getaway.
we’re in need of some time to recharge before our busy holiday season begins.
thankfully, a season that we at the studio, all LOVE.

 i made this rose from a vintage melon ball scoop, a water handle thingy and a rose from an old S&P shaker.

okay— off for some fun. yay!!!
see you in a few days. xoxo-m

Oct 3 2012

art studio tour part 1

i figured i’d start of my home art studio tour with some instagram (close2myart) shots.

notice how well i take care of my brushes???
there are probably 20 of them just sitting in that water there.
the really bad part- they are still there 2 days later!

quite the eclectic collection of pieces here.
i’m a sucker for other people’s junk.

i’ll be back tomorrow with my art studio tour -part 2.
hope you are well  my friend.

Sep 25 2012

art studio sewing corner before & after

another project i’ve had on my to-do list for quite some time is my sewing corner.
the other day i woke up and just decided that it was going to be THE DAY.
i jumped on my bike and rode down and bought some primer & paint.
and set to work.

the white shelf is from ikea.
the yellow one was an old one i had sitting around that i finally spray painted happy-yellow.

SO much better!

now off to decide which sewing project to take on.


Sep 23 2012

nesting & decorating

i don’t know if it’s fall coming on-
but i’ve totally been in the mood to finish some projects and cozy up the house.
(once again, sorry for my bad phone quality shots) 

i was about ready to get rid of this piece and decided i might as well try painting it to see if i’d like it any better.

ahhhhhhhh.  much more to my liking.

found this awesomely old tackle box at an estate sale the other day for only $3!

the wall BEFORE

i can see lots of future chalkboard-art being done on that wall by us all.

hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.
that is… if everyone hasn’t given up on me and there are still people reading this blog! 


Sep 14 2012

A letter wall & coffee

i’m on a roll now.
two days in a row!

just realizing that both these pics are of coffee. oy!
obviously coffee is a big part of my everyday.
this picture was really to show off my new headband i made at CW that i’m LOVING!

coming back from CW i’m inspired to get a few projects done that i’ve been lagging on.
one being this “A” letter wall…
which i finally hung!!!
and crazy as it was, it only took me about an hour-
and that included putting hangers on a few of them and drilling some holes.
i don’t know why i procrastinated so much.
maybe fear in wanting to make sure it was perfect?

i don’t know. but i’m TOTALLY STOKED to have yet another project done!!!

p.s. sorry about the picture quality. i’ve been totally lazy about getting my camera out. so these are all from my phone.

Sep 13 2012

hello whatever craft weekend!

i’ve, once again, been away from this blog so long
that i really don’t know where to start.
i guess i’ll begin with the most exciting thing i’ve done since my last post.
and that would be- i went to kansas for meg duerksen’s craft weekend!!!

(some chalkboard art i did before the weekend began)

meg and i have been blogging/internet friends for years,
so when she started doing these craft weekends i knew i had to go!
her house is FULL of gorgeous creativity and color and what she’s doing is really cool.
i also totally wanted to meet up with her in person.

all the beds are adorned with beautiful vintage quilts that you totally want to dive right into.

so much eye candy that i probably spent over an hour just taking instagram shots.

several fun crafts and a trip to some antique shops and this crazy awesome barn filled with treasures.

oh, and let’s not forget the delicious food that the lovely kimberely made for us several times a day!!!

 i had an amazing time meeting new friends and making fun crafts!
if you want to see more pics check out my instagram (close2myart).
Aug 15 2012

blooming birds painting

if you’ve been following me on instagram (close2myart)-
then you’ll recognize this piece i’ve been working on over the past few days.

quick sketch with black acrylic paint.

some color added.

MORE color added.

getting closer…
still missing the a lot of the details.

and finished!

this piece of art will be used as a giclee and also a bag design in the near future.
it measures 24″ x 18″ x 1 3/8″

these colors make me HAPPY!
i’m thinking it could possibly use a couple of words in the red on the sides, any ideas?
maybe “sweet love” or “love captured”?