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Documenting the Quad Cities Project Details

Interstate 74 Bridge by Adria Black Art

The Quad Cities

Every year in January, I sort through my various art-related interests for a project to kind of focus on for the year.  For 2017, I decided to tackle a rather large project.  Atizle and I have been exploring various parts of our local area, the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois.  The Quad Cities is a unique area with the Mississippi River joining two states (Iowa and Illinois) through jobs, businesses, economies, tourist attractions, and local events.  The Mississippi River plays a huge role in how this community operates, as well as connects with one another.  And my project for the year is to try to document these experiences and explorations through the Quad Cities that Atizle and I take together through photography.  The Quad Cities is traditionally defined as Rock Island and Moline in Illinois, and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa.  However, there are numerous small towns that play into this area as well such as Colona, Illinois; Milan, Illinois; Silvis, Illinois; Dixon, Iowa; Eldridge, Iowa; and Buffalo, Iowa.  There are also several small cities that tend to get left out of the traditional grouping such as LeClaire, Iowa and East Moline, Illinois.

During this project, I am looking to capture the parts of the Quad Cities that make this community so special and unique to those who live here, have been here to visit, and those who have lived here in the past.


Documenting the Quad Cities Project

This project is a series of photographs focusing on the traditional Quad Cities areas, as well as some of the smaller communities that don’t get as much recognition in this area.  My goal with this project is to compile a collection that can later be printed into a coffee table style book with information about these areas and specific sites within the community that make the Quad Cities so special to those of us who know this area.  This project also allows my daughter and I to explore the area a bit deeper than we have before and to find new locations that we love and enjoy.  I want to document a large range of topics within this project, from unique restaurants and foods that have originated here to landmarks in the area to sights along the rivers than connect our community (such as the Mississippi River, Rock River, Green River, etc).


Finding Connections

I seek to deepen our connections to this fabulous community that we live in.  I want to showcase what makes our little spot in the United States so very special.  I want to highlight the way that these communities, small towns, and cities have worked together to create a beautiful thing that has the ability to mix urban beliefs, suburban beliefs, and rural beliefs and still function together as one amazing community.  Farming has a huge impact on our local area, as does the Mississippi River, and the cultural offerings of the Quad Cities.  The Quad Cities is an amazing art and cultural community from music, such as bluegrass, and various art forms, and the Quad Cities is also a melting pot of different ethnic traditions from Native American Indians to German and Polish heritages to Mexican and other Hispanic origins to African heritages to Asian origins.


Working Cattle Farm in Midwest by Adria Black Art
A glimpse at all the machinery, equipment, and structures that make a working cattle farm in the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa). Photograph by Adria Black Art


These photographs and art prints are designed with the purpose of showcasing these connections that Quad Citians make with this amazing community that we live in.  It is a glimpse into a very unique world where all three of these categories of people (urban, rural, and suburban) can come together, form lasting relationships, and create a fabulous community.  We live in a gorgeous area and I seek to showcase some of that beauty that you might not have discovered if you have been here (or live here) and also to give you the opportunity to capture a peek at some of the beauty that may be around you, going unnoticed within your own area.


Photography Background

When I was working on my Bachelors in Photography at Southern Illinois University (in Carbondale), I took a class called small town documentary.  And I loved it.  The whole premise of the class was to find a small town in rural Southern Illinois (there’s a lot of those there) and to spend the whole semester documenting the town you chose through photography and written notes.  One of the requirements for choosing the town that you would work in for the semester was that it could not have a Wal-Mart within 30 miles, I believe.  I choose to document an amazing town called Coulterville.  And it such a cool experience!  I was able to go down into a working coal mine and experience a working auction house and all kinds of really cool things that I would not have ever done otherwise!  So when I was trying to think of the major project that I would focus on for this year, I was reminded of this class from my college experience.  However, I didn’t want to document another small town.  I wanted to increase the scale a little bit more to create a larger body of work that I felt would affect more people on a larger scale.  That’s why I decided to document the entire Quad Cities area.  By the way, we have four Wal-Marts in the local area.  So it’s definitely a bit larger than the college project!


Local Area Connections for Learning about Our History 

I also loved the idea of taking my daughter (3 years old) with me to experience this really cool area that we live in.  It allows us to show some of the places that have really made an impact on the people who live here.  It also creates connections and helps you to relive some of those special memories.  When you see a picture of a cornfield, you may remember doing the corn shucking (what was that called) in highschool for some extra money in the summer or when you see photos of the Mississippi River, these photos may call to mind boating with your family or going to Buffalo Beach in the summer and looking for various shells along the beach.


Increased Cultural Awareness

I also want to highlight local area businesses, because we have a really awesome small business sector in the Quad Cities.  From the mom and pop shops that grown immensely in their time here such as Happy Joes, Azteca, Hungry Hobo, and Whiteys Ice cream to the awesome ethnic grocery stores that help connect our various ethnic communities within the Quad Cities.  It is truly these places that bring us together and build our local community.


I want to hear from you!

What are the things in the Quad Cities that define this special area to you? When you describe the Quad Cities or have visitors what are the places that you have to tell them about or take them to see/visit? What simply defines the Quad Cities for you? And if you’ve moved away – what are those things that you miss whenever you think about this special place? And if you’ve never been to the Quad Cities, tell me what images are brought to mind when you think of the Midwest?


Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear from you.
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Grand (Re)Opening of Adria Black Art

I'm so glad you're here! Have a cupcake!

Welcome to the Grand Opening of Adria Black Art!

I’m so glad you’re here! My daughter, Atizle, and I made cupcakes to celebrate.  Please, won’t you have a cupcake?

I have been blogging for the last five years over at The Hippie Art Studio, and I finally decided to take the plunge to create a new site.  I really can’t believe it has been five years!  Wow!  The Hippie Art Studio was a fun hobby for me, and it really helped me define the artforms and mediums that I truly love to work with.  But I feel like it is time to move on.  I have finally worked up the courage to dive into this WordPress world and create something for my art, and my business, that will have longer lasting impact that my little blog over at Blogger.

Tidbits about Adria Black Art

Just in case you are new to this little corner of my world, let me tell you a few things about myself.  I love creating art but my art habit is often focused on current obsessions.  So while I do spend a lot of time in my art journals and with my photography, I am also known to create spray-painted paintings, write poetry and stories, brain dump in my bullet journal, create miniatures for doll houses and fairy gardens, create scrapbook layouts, and whatever else may currently tickle my fancy.  My goal here is to inspire you to find the beauty around you that has been going unnoticed and to create gorgeous pieces of artwork that you simply fall in love with and bring you joy!  I hope you will join me on this new adventure.

Sending you love and light on your current adventure.

Want to know more about the person behind Adria Black Art?  Click here to go to the full About Me page.

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3 Ways for Using Underutilized Monthly Pages in Your Planner

April Bullet Journal

This post originally appeared on The Hippie Art Studio in 2016.

One of my favorite parts of my bullet journal is my monthly spreads.  You can do so many different things with the monthly spread in your planner from documenting memories to creating a collection of doodles or even printing small photos to fit into the squares of each day

Document Your Days in Less than 5 Minutes

I use my monthly spreads to track any highlights, milestones, or special memories that happen throughout the month.  These small little notes help me to journal for my Project Life spreads or everyday snippets to my regular scrapbooking layouts.  You could create mini albums or even incorporate these notes into your art journal pages!  These monthly spreads are the juiciest part of my bullet journal for other people.  Basically – this spread in my bullet journal can give you a glimpse into our lives for that month.  In the video below, I show you a peek into how my completed monthly spread for March looks, as well as my bullet journal setup for April.

Add Creativity into Your Day

I’ve always been a fan of grid based art journaling.  When you deconstruct your page into a grid, it gives you multiple tiny little boxes that you can treat as small pieces of art.  A popular trend that I see on Instagram a lot is to doodle inside each day of the monthly spread for various Instagram challenges.  You can easily create a collection of your own personal doodles through this method in small amounts of time.  It’s also a great way to try new techniques or mediums without “wasting” expensive materials and paper. Below is a page from an old art journal that I used this same technique with to document my memories and play with some new art supplies.

Art Journal Calendar page to document memories - The Hippie Art Studio

Capture Quotes and Inspiration

Another way to fill in those blank boxes of your monthly spread would be some handlettering inside each box.  This is a great way to catalog your favorite quotes or the random quotes you find on Pinterest throughout the month.  Or you could just practice lettering each individual letter of the alphabet!  There are a ton of different options for these monthly spreads if you feel like you are not getting the bang that you desire out of these pages.

As someone who doesn’t have a lot of appointments that I need to keep track of, I love finding creative ways to add a bit of play and memory-keeping to my life.  If you have any other tips and tricks for being creative with your monthly spreads in your planner, I’d love to hear about them – so leave a comment down below!

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Bullet Journal March 2016 Setup

March Bullet Journal Planner Setup

This post originally appeared on The Hippie Art Studio in 2016.

Welcome to another installment of my bullet journal series. Today, I’ve got a peek inside my current bullet journal setup for you. A vital part of my bullet journal process is using brain dumps to empty my brain. I never realized just how true the idea of “Mommy Brain” actually was until I had my daughter. Since her birth, I literally cannot remember anything for more than a couple of minutes, which is not nearly long enough to complete any sort of action. I spend the majority of my time trying to remember what I doing. That’s where Brain Dumps come into play.

What is a Brain Dump?

A brain dump is simply writing down everything in your head.  It allows you to write down every single task, event, idea, or to-do that you can possibly think of.  Once you get these things written down, you can then process your brain dump into lists and take actions to start getting things done.  A very handy tool when you are just starting to do brain dumps is the GTD Trigger List.  I don’t use the GTD Trigger List very often anymore, but it was definitely a benefit when I first started doing my brain dump sessions.

Basically a brain dump is a way of processing your to-do list through free writing and free association.  Some people do a big brain dump weekly, while others use this technique daily.  I often use brain dumps to figure out my priorities for the week and ways that  I can batch tasks together.  For example, if I need to create 3 video previews for the week, I know that I need to schedule an hour or two to complete those tasks all at once.  I also batch writing tasks, errands, photo shoots, and video editing and voice-overs.  Doing a brain dump helps me to process all of my to-do’s into real action and progress.

Making Brain Dumps Part of Your Routine

Brain dumps are part of my Monday planning routine, although I continue to use rapid logging throughout the week to do mini brain dumps each day.  The brain dump that I do on Monday pretty much sets the tone for my week.  I will also migrate any open tasks from the prior week (or weeks if I haven’t done it already).  This allows me to see what things I may have rescheduled due to life (and kids…).

Scheduling Based on Location

Once I’ve done my brain dump, I break tasks into location where these tasks completed at.  For example, I may need to do one task – laundry – at home, while another task is easily done in the car while I’m waiting on my step-daughter.  This helps me to accomplish my to-do’s, because I spend 12 hours a week at the office, 10 hours a week in the car, and I only have a couple of hours a day at home before family time starts in the evenings.  One of the reasons that I try to take advantage of each location is to make the most of any free time that occurs.  For example, I spend about 10 hours a week in the car for my step-daughter, waiting for her to finish her classes and activities.  So I like to make use of this time to work on certain projects such as planning, writing, and some lettering exercises that require few tools and materials.

Scheduling Based on Kids and Distractions

Another benefit to brain dumps is that I can take note of things I need to do when my 2-year-old daughter isn’t around (or is napping) and things I can do when she’s active (and wanting my attention).  I only have a couple of hours each day that I can work on tasks while she’s preoccupied so I have to make the most of this time.  Most of the time when she’s napping, I’m filming videos for YouTube or editing videos or working on making art, and then I schedule the other related tasks my underutilized free-time when I’m waiting in the car.

March Bullet Journal - Monthly Goals Page
A peek at my monthly goals page for March. I played around with fun lettering and border, and also included a mix of personal and business goals! All of these goals came from various Brain Dumps, which turned into a collection of Monthly Goals.

Brain Dumps for Idea Generation

Brain dumps also allow ideas to marinate over time for me.  A note can turn into a collection that sparks a whole series, blog posts, videos, or even art projects. That random thought that keeps popping up, but you keep forgetting or putting off gets captured on paper.  This act alone can often encourage you to finish it off so it quits nagging at you.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on brain dumps.  Do you like to do them?  Are brain dumps part of your regular planning routine?

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Pebeo Mixed Media Paint Experiment

Pebeo Mixed Media on Wood Panels

This post originally appeared on The Hippie Art Studio in 2016.

Learning about Pebeo Mixed Media Paints

Pebeo paint display at Michael's store

I love to experiment with new medias and toys just as much as any artist or crafter!  Recently on a trip to Michael’s, I discovered a display of Pebeo Paint.  The sample on the display looked like glass. The sample was textured and yummy looking and also glossy and smooth.  I just couldn’t stop touching the sample piece that are part of the display.  I just couldn’t wait to get some and play.  The effects of these paints simply fascinated me.  I just couldn’t resist buying a small mixed media discovery kit so I could check it out.  I did no research before hand on how to use this new stuff and simply pulled out my art journal and started to play.

Pebeo Mixed Media Supplies
All of the goodies that come in the Pebeo Mixed Media Discovery kit.

The Effects of Pebeo Mixed Media Paints

The different paints give you different effects. The Fantasy Prisme paints create a look that mimics stone, marble, or precious metal. Once dry, these paints have a shiny, hard finish with an enameled look. The Fantasy Moon paints create an opaque, marbled effect on almost any surface. The Fantasy Moon paints create a hammered, textured appearance with a pearlized, smooth finish with a glossy, hard finish. Pebeo’s Vitrail is a solvent based, transparent paint for creating brilliant stained glass effects. The colors of the Vitrail paints are dense and very transparent.

Pebeo Mixed Media Paint Experiment

In this video you can see what my experiments led to.  I did discover that I should not use this in my journal as it is oil paint (or oil based), and it seeped through my mixed media Canson paper within several minutes.


Tips and Resources

I’m still learning and experimenting with these cool products but there are some great resources that I highly recommend you check out if you, like me, think these products rock!  First – Pebeo makes an online free magazine that highlights artists that are using these products.  Plus there are a ton of great videos online on YouTube (you know you can learn almost anything on YouTube…).

Pebeo Mixed Media Paints on Wooden Panels

Since my first round of play, I have done some minor research and gotten some tips from some lovely people on Instagram.  I’ve watched some YouTube videos to get some idea at what I’m actually trying to do.  Then I decided to create another series of pieces on wood panels. I first prepped the wood panels with gesso, and I applied some modeling paste with stencils.  Once everything was dry, I started to layer up the Pebeo paints. You can check out the video below to see how those wooden panels ended up coming together. My next step on experimenting with these products will be to use the Carne Relief.  I originally bought it when I bought my mixed media discovery kit, but for whatever reason it didn’t work, it was like all dried up and wouldn’t even come out of the tube.

Pebeo Mixed Media Paint on Wood Panels

I’d love to hear from you if you have any experience with these lovely paints.  Please leave a comment below about any tips or tricks you have found with them!  Even if you’ve never used these Pebeo paints before, let me know what you are currently experimenting with.

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Bullet Journal 2016 February Setup

February Bullet Journal Setup by Adria Black Art

This post originally appeared on The Hippie Art Studio in 2016.

I’ve been using a bullet journal for several years on and off.  This year, since my Word of the Year is Focus – I want to really work on daily plans so that I can focus on getting at least my top three goals completed each day.  Last month, I did okay at daily planning, but I’m hoping by simplifying some part of my process that I will do even better this month!

February Bullet Journal Workspace
A peek into my art studio and where I spend my planning time throughout the day.

Why I Plan

Let’s take just a minute and discuss planning.  There is magic in the act of putting your intentions down on paper.  Somehow things just seem to happen once you write them down.  This applies not only to your big dreams and goals, but also to your daily tasks!  That is why I’m working on making daily planning part of my routine.  I’m a very busy Momma to a lovely 2 year old, and planning helps me to remember life’s little moments (through my monthly calendar and daily notes), while also letting me get stuff done so I can actually focus on my daughter.

February Bullet Journal Why I Plan
I take the time to plan so that I have more time for this little monster child!

When I don’t write stuff down, it all builds up in my head until my head feels like it’s going to explode.  I will get more frequent and downright horrid migraines if I don’t get that crap out of my head.  That’s one reason that I love brain dumps as part of my daily planning sessions.  It gets all that junk that is bouncing around in there out of my head and onto paper so I can actually start crossing it off!

Another reason I plan is that it actually helps to increase my focus.  The act of planning helps me figure out what my top priorities for the day are, and planning helps me to break those priorities into action steps so that I can actually get them done without feeling overwhelmed!  Now, let’s take a peek at how January worked out for me in my bullet journal and what February is starting to look like.

Changes, Experiments, and Lessons Learned.

In January, I experimented with the addition of a weekly layout as a way to track the tasks that I accomplished each day.  These tasks were my “Big 3” tasks and goals that I decided were my priority for each day.  While I did love being able to review all the these I accomplished at the end of the week that moved me forward in my bigger goals, I found that by adding this extra step to my planning process resulted in me simply not filling them out.  Plus, my daughter was sick for the last two weeks in January, which probably didn’t help with using these weekly layouts.  Therefore, I decided for February to just nix them and move back to using strictly my daily pages for planning.

February Bullet Journal Changes
Some of the changes that I have made in my bullet journal for this month: nixing weekly layouts and dumping almost everything into daily pages again.

Another thing that I’m switching up for February is playing around with having an editorial calendar spread so that I can have easier access to the content that I am creating for my blog, YouTube, and other social media outlets (like Twitter and Instagram).  I created a spread that divides each page into two quadrants that gives me enough lines for two weeks on each page.  I also divided these weeks into four separate sections, one for each of the social media areas that I’m focusing on creating content for (Blog, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter).  I made sure that each week had 7 lines, so that I have each day of the week represented and can make notes on what content I’ve created for each platform on that day.  So far, I really like seeing everything altogether in this fashion, but this spread may need additional tweaking for next month.  We will see how it works out!

Finally, I’ve decided to allow myself some leeway with color coding, at least until I can find my highlighters that are currently MIA.  Last month, I did pretty good about coloring for about half the month and then it completely dropped off (I’ll continue to blame my daughter being sick, despite the fact that it just added another step that put me off this whole planning process).  Instead, I’m going to outline the boxes in black pen this month for my monthly tracker and daily time tracker (with written notes on what I was doing), and then color code it later – probably at the end of the month because that’s how I am.

That’s pretty much my setup so far for 2016.  I’m sure it will continue to evolve and change – that’s one of my favorite parts of the Bullet Journal system, it can work for you however you need it to!

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Bullet Journal 2016 January Setup

January 2016 Planner Setup

This post originally appeared on The Hippie Art Studio in 2016.

I’ve been using a bullet journal for several years on and off.  This year, since my Word of the Year is Focus – I want to really work on daily plans so that I can focus on getting at least my top three goals completed each day.  With this in mind, I did an entire Bullet Journal setup for 2016.  I’ve pulled my notes from the last several months into various collections to help organize my daily notes and lists.  I took a lot of inspiration from Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Boho Berry in designing my layouts for my bullet journal spreads.

January Daily Planner Pages
January 2016 daily planning pages in my bullet journal

Daily Pages

I always have long running lists of everything i need to do and then I rarely get my whole list done and end up migrating it and migrating it and migrating it until it is no longer relevant.  So for this year I decided to include a monthly spread that I can make memory keeping notes on and also a place for special quotes and phrases I want to remember.  Then I have a weekly two page spread for the things I have accomplished each day.  My daily pages are then able to be my running list and brain dumps.  I’m also incorporating a time tracker onto my daily pages so that I can see exactly how I am spending my time (and where I’m wasting my time!).

I’ve also started a color coding system so that I see certain categories quickly.  I’m using these colors

  • Blue – Administration tasks, Routine tasks
  • Green – Financial stuff or money related
  • Yellow – Important stuff I cannot forget
  • Pink – YouTube and Blog stuff
  • Orange – Other forms of social media
  • Purple – personal stuff
January Bullet Journal Collection Pages
Here you can see two of the different collection pages that I use in my bullet journal. I created one collection for all of my Administrative Tasks for the month. The second page is for an Instagram challenge that I had decided to take part in for the month.

Collection Pages

I created a variety of new collection pages for the New Year so that I can be a little bit more organized in my notetaking.  I’ve created a spread for forward planning for my YouTube channel and my blog posts, as well as my admin tasks for the website.  I also have a page for each of the Instagram challenges that I’m trying to take part in for the month.


I also created a tracker, which I’ve used before in my bullet journals but I haven’t incorporated it for quite a while.  I broke up my categories into personal, blog/social media, and financial things that I want to track.  My personal goals are to write 1000 words each day, to work on my Create Fearlessly Project daily, and to clean and declutter for 15 minutes a day.

Video Flip

I also filmed a complete video flip through of my January 2016 Bullet Journal setup. You can definitely see the ways that Boho Berry and Tiny Ray of Sunshine have inspired my use of my bullet journal this year!

That’s pretty much my setup so far for 2016.  I’m sure it will continue to evolve and change – that’s one of my favorite parts of the Bullet Journal system, it can work for you however you need it to!