their work and words, interviews, blogs, images, hints, tips, websites
and more...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Watch for Interview #6--Fred Crowley!

I'm delighted that Fred's agreed to be our next interview; I've loved his work on Flickr for ages. 

His people are so wonderfully real, so human; you feel as if you're sitting right there at the next table, having a coffee at Panera's. 

Fred uses strong graphic elements, like the red lamp and gold wall, above, and the panda on the patch, below--you will be inspired, I guarantee!

There's nothing Fred can't draw...his animals are superb, his life drawings so real they almost pop off the page.

His paintings may surprise you, too--they've got a Japanese feeling that's abstract at the same time--gorgeous!  We'll be sharing a couple of those too, with Fred's permission. 

Can't wait, eh?  I want to check a few details with him, then we're off!  (I can't wait either...)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wonderful lettering book...OOPS.

I LOVE this book, Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering: A Mark-Making Workbook for Crafters, Cardmakers, and Journal Artists, which someone here recommended!  Gorgeous and inspiring, and included some of my favorite calligraphers, as well as instruction on how to make some of your own lettering tools.  It's beautiful, and thank you!

It's also the SAME book as Modern Mark Making; from Classic Calligraphy to Hip Hand-lettering.  Different title, different binding, same book.  DRAT.

(Once you click the text link above you can use the "look inside" option--which I should have done, yes!)

So I put my brand-new copy up on Amazon at a reduced price; if you'd like it, check it out!  The link above should get you there.

Developing the Journaling Habit

That's one of the big topics in the poll in our sidebar (and feel free to vote, it'll stay up!), so I'd like to throw that open for discussion!  Correspondents, readers (friends, Romans, countrymen), lend us your...ideas!

Mine, of course, is that I carry a journal of some sort wherever I go...I even have tiny ones in the glove boxes of both our vehicles.  (There's always a pen, pencil, ballpoint, whatever, with me, of course, or I can FIND one.)

I'm READY.  It's handy.  So I take time to do it.

Spring at the Westlake Ace Hardware store...J. had gone in to shop for something, and I opted to wait by the flowering plants and sketch!

And then, I think of tiny bits of time as gifts.  If I'm waiting somewhere, if I have a few minutes, I take time to sketch in my journal, and perhaps make a few notes about what's going on.  It doesn't take long...

How about you?

Sketchbook Project Update III - Trees

Please click all images to enlarge.
It's time to celebrate trees :)

Walk with us to the 10th hole. It's
423 yards from the back tee to the green. The cart path runs along the edge of the woods.

Now that it's winter and much of the greenery has died back, I can see standing water not too far into the woods. This, along with the variety of trees found in a mere 423 yard stretch of land is a clear sign that this section of the neighborhood can be classified as a Bottomland Hardwood forest.

This type of forest usually borders a swamp and may be temporarily flooded should we get a whopper of a hurricane and the river reaches flood stage (not a warm and fuzzy thought!)

Here are all the trees I've identified so far. The illustrations are of two 'new-to-me' trees. I feel like such an explorer when I find a new flower, shrub, vine or tree. I don't care that Carl Linnaeus, or another botanist, may have named named it long ago - it's my discovery :) That's what I sooooo love about nature journaling! Even better is now that I've drawn it, it's mine.... forever in my heart :)

I never would have guessed Witchhazel comes from a tree! I always imagined witchhazel to be an herbaceous plant. A student of nature, that's what I am :)

These trees live on or near the 10th hole.

So many trees, not enough pages :) There are only two more spreads left in the sketchbook and I have other goodies to share. So, to all the trees that didn't make it into this book..... Patience, I'm working on it :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MORE evolving pages--gouache comes in handy!

Sometimes our sketches just don't get it for us.  I was at a family birthday party, where I normally sketch, and these little guys just didn't work.  They were too pale and wimpy, Aidan didn't look anything like Aidan, and these sure weren't the best Finn drawing I ever did.  The dog was actually the thing I was happiest with, on this page, and it was still just pale on that tan paper.

HOWEVER.  I normally make my own journals and I just haven't had time--this is the last one I have on hand, and I hated to waste a page!  I didn't want to erase them, either...so days later, I was sitting in the parking lot at the library, waiting while my husband ran in.  The snow cliffs, pushed off the parking lot by the snowplow, were impressive, so I tured to that page and sketched them in, in ink.

Later, back home, I added some gouache, and decided to just let the paint outline the earlier sketches.  It's a weird page, but I like it!  It captures something of the progression of our days, as well as of our journal pages. 

I used a white Gellyroll pen to add the text at lower right that balances the snow at the top...
Gouache (opaque watercolor) is a terrific journaling tool, particularly on toned paper.  Like white colored pencil, it really makes things pop.  That's what I used on this little journal, one of the rare ones I haven't made myself.  (It came from Moon Moth Press on Etsy, and I enjoyed using it, very much.  This one had the interesting green Bugra paper, and some lovely smooth 90 lb. Arches hot press watercolor paper, which was a pleasure to work on.  Check them out!)

Gouache worked rally well in the field, painting my favorite crumbling barn.

Several of our correspondents use gouache--you'll see a lot of it on Roz Stendahl's  pages, for instance.  You can find her blog entries, always a wealth of information, on the subject of gouache, HERE.

I made my own little traveling set by filling an old Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set with gouache from tubes.  Let it set up a few days, and I was ready to go!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evolving pages...

I get fascinated by the oddest things...a couple of these misshapen bits of wood surfaced when we built my little shed/studio . I have no idea why they look this way, but they're knotty and bumpy and seem to have branches or roots growing sideways out of the branch.  I THINK it's redbud, perhaps part of the root system--so had to sketch it, paying attention to detail as much as possible, but trying to keep it clean.

I drew this carefully with the fine medium gray Stabilo pen...I like these but sometimes wish they were waterproof.  This time I decided to take advantage of their liftability and blended the shadow areas with clear water and my waterbrush.

Detail of root piece, after touching the fine lines with clear water.

I was working with a fine, gray watersoluble pen it was so nice and luminous...it just seemed like the rest of the page should be open and airy as well.  I decided not to use color at all.

The date follows the shape of the root piece, and I kept my notes and header minimal.  The block of text at lower right balances the airy header.

The amazing bit of wood is definitely the star of this journal page!

Now, maybe someone can identify it for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Favorite materials and supplies page

I updated this page with more of my favorites--you can find it HERE, or just look at the top of the blog!

(And incidentally, turns out I'm not wild about that bottom waterbrush.  Doesn't hold much water, and I find it awkward to use.  NICE point though...)

Correspondents, feel free to chime in and do a post on YOUR favorites--I can add it to the page so it will be handy.

The Sketchbook Project - Update II - Birds

Click on all images to enlarge
Here is why I love the 17th hole at our golf course :)

The Wood Storks in foreground weren't listing to the left.....  I must have been holding the sketchbook at too much of an angle :)

I love the crows in this spread :)

I had no idea that crows would hang with Ibis.  I see this all the time - in trees, feeding on the fairway..... never fighting over territory.

Certainly can bring a smile!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview #5--meet Laura Frankstone of Laurelines!

Laura Murphy Frankstone is one of the most inspiring artists I know...dedicated, adventurous, incredibly talented, intrepid, honest, loving and very human.  I've gotten to know her through her work, through her blog, Laurelines, and through our hundreds of emails through the ups and downs of life. 

I was fascinated by the goals she set herself with her sketching--you can see many of these on the blog. I'm delighted she agreed to be part of the book, and of this blog--and even more that we're friends.  One of the best things about doing these interviews--aside from getting to know these artists better!--is looking through their art and sharing it with you.  Gorgeous journal pages...

Soooo...meet my friend Laura Frankstone!  Here is her intro:

I've been pulled in two directions my whole life: images or words?  paint or write? I finished college with  a degree in English literature and a minor in art history, though I started in studio art and French literature! As a post-graduate student,  I took two terms at art college in Scotland and dozens of university studio art courses in the US. I've always managed,in my working life, to keep a connection to the visual arts, whether as art reporter and newspaper art critic, or while holding various arts administrator positions for state or municipal organizations.

Here, Laura explored various aspects of page design, art and text, and materials, including Daniel Smith's Lunar Blue.

Always, I painted and drew.

My deep passion for drawing began when I was 3 or 4 years old. I'd drawn my 7 year old brother, complete with polka dots for freckles and big semi-circles for ears--- and I thought it looked just like him! I was absolutely beside myself with joy! My sustained sketching ( as opposed to drawing)  life began with my first travel journal in the early 1990s.  Since then I've filled many sketchbooks, many in the nature of problem-solving or brainstorming about my art, many related to travel, others to my family life in Chapel Hill.  My sketchbooks are heavily weighted toward imagery, with text serving mostly as captions and mostly in my travel journals.

From a recent trip to Norway, combining art, color, and notes...

 Lately, though, thanks to this book and to your wonderful work as a model, I've been really combining writing with imagery---but the imagery is more free-associative than illustrative of the text. I LOVE this method---it suits me to a T!


And, on to our interview:

Q. Do you consider what you do a journal or a sketchbook? 

A. I‘ve decided that I make either pretty taciturn journals or occasionally pretty wordy sketchbooks! I have a very strong verbal side to my personality and when I write, I tend to write at length. I have been a journal writer since I was a young girl, especially in times of stress and dislocation. Since I started keeping regular sketchbooks a few years ago, I stopped doing intensive journal writing. There simply isn’t enough time to do both at the level I like to work on. I find , though, that the writing I do for my blog Laurelines fulfills a journal function and allows the writer side of me to come forward. My travel sketchbooks fall more within the illustrated journal category.

Q. Do your sketches inform and inspire finished works?

A. Sometimes, but not often. I sketch and paint for different reasons.  My paintings, when I can find the time and inner resources to do them, come from a deeper emotional and intellectual part of my psyche.

Q. Why do you do it?

A. I love the way sketching puts you vividly in the moment, in the place, in the world. There’s a connection between my heart, eyes, hand, brain, and what (and often whom)  I’m drawing that is profound and precious to me.

Here's a photo of our intrepid Arctic sketcher on the Norway trip!
Flowers from a trip to Turkey a friend arranged...couldn't be more removed from the chill of Norway!

Q. How do you feel about sharing your work, in your blog or elsewhere?  I know we’ve talked about it becoming almost an obligation—any ideas on how to avoid that trap?

A. I can be a bit diffident about sharing my work, so my blog has been a good thing.  My paintings are shown in a local really good gallery. I’m a real perfectionist, so I won’t show unless I feel my work is the best I can do at the time. And once that criterion is met, I’m glad for the work to be seen.

Maintaining my blog can feel burdensome at times.  This is my sixth* year of blogging, so it’s no surprise that I have periods of fatigue and frustration.

When I’m in one of my burnt-out phases, I blog very lightly for a while and that usually takes care of the problem. In the beginning of blogging, people tended to post daily or, at least, felt they SHOULD. Now, many bloggers, myself included, post weekly and that is more reasonable and doable.  Not only is it hard to post daily, it’s impossible to keep up with your favorite blogs on a daily basis!

One of Laura's early sketches of her lovely daughter Kate...
Q. Thoughts on the benefits?

A. There are so many! First is the very thing that sometimes chafes: the pressure to produce. Practice makes perfect, as we know, and producing art to share with others publicly can accelerate that process.  Looking back at my earliest posted work, it’s clear that my drawing technique has improved a lot over the past five years, as I’ve drawn on an almost daily basis and blogged the results.

Also, for me, writing is a major way of finding out what I’m thinking and feeling, so the writing part of blogging is surprisingly self-illuminating.

A hugely important benefit of blogging is the way it connects you to a whole world of other artists, interesting and accomplished people in many fields, supportive readers, and events in the art world that you would otherwise know nothing of.

Q. A few years back you set yourself a monthly theme…tell me what you gained from that.

A. I wanted to gain fluency in drawing, primarily as preparation for spending a month drawing in Paris---a long-held dream that came true in October 2006. I wanted to hone my eye and hand in drawing all sorts of things, every day of each month----animals, trees, gardens, people, architecture, **color? and so on. I wanted to be ready to hit the ground running ---and drawing---the minute I got there, not wasting a minute of that precious month. And it worked! By the end of that year, 352 posts later, I was so glad to have DONE it, but, whew,  I knew I would not need to repeat the feat.

Laura's animal sketches from one of her goal series are like an education in themselves!

Q. Your drawings of your mom were wonderful, and I loved the story about how pleased she was, and how the sketching and talking were important to both of you.  Do you feel up to writing about that?

There have been two occasions in the past couple of years when drawing became a true lifeline to me in situations of great personal stress. One was during the protracted, frightening labor and delivery of my daughter’s first child and the other was during the last months of my mother's life.

I walked into my mother’s room at her nursing home after the two -and -a -half -hour trip from my home town and found that tiny, frail woman burrowed deeply, deeply under her bedcovers, for all the world as if she were trying to burrow herself right out of this life.

I burst into tears. I tried to talk with her, but she was not interested in talking. After a while she turned over and lay on her back, slightly inclined in the hospital bed. I took out my sketchbook and my pens and pencils and just started drawing as we began to make halting conversation.

As I drew, our conversation grew more comfortable and I began to ask her questions about her childhood. Though I had heard the stories many times before, there was added poignancy and meaning in her recounting them now, on the very verge of her death.  She enlarged on events I was familiar with and I asked questions I hadn’t thought to ask before.

As we talked, I kept drawing. I’d asked her if she minded if I did and she said she did not. At the end of the day, I almost didn’t show her what I’d done. Her vision is very limited at the best of times. I didn’t think she could SEE the drawings and I wasn’t sure she’d approve of the way I’d rendered her. But I asked if she wanted to see them. She did.

She looked and looked, asked for me to turn on all the lights in the room, asked for her strong reading glasses, looked and looked some more.

Finally, she said she LOVED the drawings. I think she had come to think of herself, after her many hospitalizations and then her placement in a nursing home, as invisible, powerless, and lost. Unwittingly, I had given her back her self.

Q. When you travel, do you choose a destination because you want to sketch there?

A. Sometimes I choose a destination solely because I want to sketch there, sometimes I choose a destination because I know I will love it---and the sketches will follow. My stay in Brittany during the fall of 2009 was an instance of the former. My recent trips to Iceland and coastal Norway are cases of the latter. Since I love to travel to places that appeal to me visually and emotionally, it’s a safe bet to say that I’m also going to love sketching them.

A kiosk in Paris

Q. How do you prepare?

A. I often adjust my traveling palette according to what I think will be the light and colors of the place I’m going to. I research the culture and topography and natural world of the region I’ll be spending time in, but I don’t look much at the work of contemporary artists of that region or country---I want my reaction to a place to be as purely mine as it can be.

Q. You’ve taken several classes (or tried to, what with your mom’s illness!)—why?  Do you enjoy the in-person interaction?

A. I’ve taken a couple of workshops. I’m not a frequent workshop attendee, but there have been a couple of cases when I’ve wanted to learn specific techniques or a new medium. I thought it would be more efficient to go and look and listen and learn up close,  than to try to figure things out on my own.

I like meeting other people, of course, but I generally don’t like working in a group setting, so these types of experiences are of limited value to me, as it turns out.

 Q. Anything you’d like to add about keeping a journal as an artist?

Sketching in a museum

A. I have, on and off, kept a kind of notebook in my studio that is full of thumbnail sketches, color experiments, and personal narrative, too. This is is a great way to wrestle with technical and other problems, cheer yourself on, document your process.  Recently, I have incorporated these inner discussions into a large journal that relates not just to art, but to my whole life. It's been revelatory. This puts my art as the central focus of my life, which is my current, pressing goal.

Q. How many do you have now?

A. I don't know numbers. I have dozens and dozens of journals and sketchhbooks, going back to my childhood, some of them. I do sometimes go back and reread them. It is so interesting to see what the leitmotifs of one's life are. Reading my old journals makes me see recurring patterns and overarching meaning in my life---and that is a great gift.


I hope you've enjoyed this interview, expanded and tweaked and illustrated with many more images since the book manuscript was finished.  And thank you, Laura!  Sharing your work and your insights with our readers was a treat!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lettering for your journal?

How important is this to you?

Does anyone have a favorite book on hand lettering?  We've seen some wonderful examples already, and that was one of the big winners in our poll at right., on what our readers would like to see on this blog (by the way it will be open for a year, so vote any time you like!)

I'm practicing my own brush lettering because I like the contrast between words and images, and how they can complement one another.  Sometimes I had a colorful or harmonizing header, sometimes not...

It can be a lovely design element, providing balance as well as adding information--several of our correspondents use it to wonderful--and varied!--effect.  Color, style, position, of your letters can all work when designing a pleasing page.

We featured this one in THIS POST, along with a few suggestions for further reading in the comments, but what's YOUR favorite?

This one looks interesting--has anyone used it?  (You can click on the image to get at the "look inside" feature on this one.  It's got a lovely cover, but it's fun to poke around, too!)

Do you use lettering on your pages?  Do you want to?  Do you feel it adds to a page or detracts? Do you care about what your letters look like, or are you just interested in making notes on what you see, think, feel?

Let's open this for discussion!

* NOTE: I've added Roz's link from her comment below so you can click on it directly...don't know if you can make live liniks in comments, but here it is:  http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wound_up/2008/11/calligraphy-from-traditional-to-funky.html?cid=139517498

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sketchbook Project Update 1

I was 3 spreads from finished on the 13th and knew an all-nighter would be in order. On the 14th, Art House Coop sent an email out changing the deadline from January 15th to the18th. Trust me, I was dancing around the studio after I read that email :) It seems bad weather everywhere was interfering with participants getting to the post office/delivery services and those companies getting packages delivered!

On the 18th, book in hand, I made it to the post office by 3 pm and sent my child off to Brooklyn, NY. My finished pieces of art become my children. They certainly carry a chunk of my soul.  Anyone else feel this way about your creations?

 The text around the edges of this spread reads:

We have lived in this neighborhood since May 2010. It borders a tidal creek and there is a golf course. It's such a treat to walk the cart path on holes 17 & 18 as the marsh borders these holes. Every day brings something wonderful to see and experience.

Please walk with us. I want to show you my favorite sights. I want to show you the things that fill me with wonder - it's like being a child all over again for me.

Nature. There is nothing like it!

Please click on image to enlarge

More to come :)

Interview #5--up next, Laura Frankstone of Laurelines!

You are going to enjoy the interview with my good friend Laura...she's wonderfully talented, and has led a fascinating life.  She's traveled the world, lived in exotic places, stayed for a month in Brittany, went to Norway twice in the winter and brought back amazing paintings and sketches.

found on the Champs Elysees

She's honest and engaging, and if you haven't bookmarked her blog, Laurelines, you'll definitely want to!  Don't miss the galleries and sketchbooks you can open on the left side of the page.

A woman listening to jazz

From Laura's recent amaryllis series.  Gorgeous exuberant images!
Everything is fair game for Laura's elegant brushwork, bold pencil strokes and discerning eye, from birds nests to icebergs, from tonight's dinner to Paris fashion, from her beautiful family to family pets.  Amazing stuff!  (you can see more of the Amaryllis Series HERE.)

The banner at the top of this post is from my Ink and Wash CD--Laura was kind enough to allow me to use her work in the section called "Ink and Wash Inspirations," along with some of my other favorite artists!

They include:

Roz Stendahl

Chris Buchholtz
Gabi Campanario
Enrique Flores
Julie Oakley
Casey Toussaint
Ronell van Wyck
Liz Steel
Nina Johannson
Martha McEvoy

* Those in italics either have been interviewed on this blog or will be in coming weeks!  They're book artists--though the others may turn up as guest interviews later on...

Watch for Laura's interview at the first of the week!

The Art of Collage (Designing the Page)

Imaginary Trips' Parisian Cafe Collage

Hi, there! I'm Laure Ferlita. I'm so excited to be one of the artists in Kate's book. (Thanks, Kate!) I host Imaginary Trips, and we often work on collaging bits and pieces of art into a cohesive whole. Designing a collage page can be a fun way of combining several quick vignettes from a holiday/vacation, a walk around the neighborhood or simply different days of the week.

Even on Imaginary Trips, you don't always get a great seat at the cafe or perhaps your view is blocked. Other times, you may be moving so quickly that all you have time for is to snap a picture and promise yourself you'll paint it later. You arrive home to open all your images only to find that what you thought was going to be a super shot didn't translate into such a great photo after all.

It's quite fun as well as a challenge to weave unrelated elements together to tell a new story! By using brief moments wisely and/or utilizing the "good" parts of photo images from a holiday, we can often come up with an interesting journaled page. It may only have meaning to us, or it may be entertaining for the viewer, depending on our goal for the page.

The image above is a collaged page that combines elements from 4 images in and around Paris. Together, they appear to tell a "story" of a bored bistro waiter and a cat near a Metro sign when in fact the waiter was very busy, the cat was no where to be found and the bistro sign was on the other side of the city!

Some of the guidelines I use to create a collage page:

  • Use like colors even if they are not in the actual place or image you’re adding to your journal. In the example, the colors repeat in the red signs as well as the waiter and sign post. The cat and the wall are similar in color too.
  • Ff you’re working from photos, remember, this is your artistic journal you’re working in—it doesn’t have to look like the photo! Interpret the image as you remember it!
  • Repeat similar shapes where possible. The rectangle of the Metro sign and Bistro sign echo each other. The long pole of the Metro sign and length of the waiter repeat each other.
  • Keep the time of day consistent (day or night). The greens of the trees in the background of the Metro sign give you the impression of daylight as does the light around the waiter.
  • Keep strong directional light consistent (cast shadows). 
  • Remember to play and have fun—these are guidelines and not rules!

There are several ways to approach a collaged journal page. You can wait until you're home from vacation and pull bits and parts from various photos, you can start a page and let it develop on its own as you travel around, or create a "theme" for the page. Look for unusual signage, people wearing hats, animals you see, flowers, birds, windows, etc. The ideas are endless!

I hope this will inspire you to try your hand at building a few collaged journal pages! For more tips, please download a pdf on collaging here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Work fast--revisited!

So this is how it evolved...notes, information, more sketches.  I loved getting out the binoculars and seeing the robins and starlings drinking and bathing in my neighbor's rain gutter.  HAD to add that to the page!

Is it finished?  I guess we'll see...

The MCBA Visual Journal Collective—Third Annual Portrait Party

Left: A montage of participants at the Portrait Party. Image ©2011 Ken Avidor, used with permission. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

On Monday, January 17,  twenty eight people drew portraits of each other, created printing masters, printed using a photocopier, and then bound 35 books commemorating the event. You can read about The MCBA Visual Journal Collective Third Annual Portrait Party on my blog (with photos of some of the action).

I'm posting a notice here to draw attention to the fact that if you are a journal keeper and you know other journal keepers you can get up to a whole lot of fun in an evening!

The idea to hold our first portrait party in 2009 came to me when Danny Gregory introduced me to Rama Hughes' blog The Portrait Party. I thought it was a great idea—a fun way to get all sorts of people to practice sketching. Since I'm also a bookbinder I thought it would be even more fun if we also made an editioned book of the event. (I pretty much look for any excuse to make a book!)

When you are a journal keeper and you know other journal keepers, and you are a bookbinder you can get up to a whole lot of seriously dangerous fun in an evening! (What do you think the Founding Fathers were doing with all those broadsides!)

I hope you and your art group will consider doing something like this in the future. (I'll be posting a short video on binding the style book we made, and also writing a more detailed explanation of the pre-event prep, over the next month or so. I hope that this post and that information will help encourage people to try this.)

If you do host a portrait party and bind a book consider making an extra copy of the book in your edition. Donate that copy to MCBA for their library. It would be great to have a series of portrait party books residing somewhere, inspiring people. (We did a pamphlet book for our 2009 book, same size paper; just drew in each other's journals in 2010; MCBA has a copy of the 2009 and 2011 books.)

Still not convinced a portrait party would be doable—let me just say this, it sure brings the page alive and makes sketching a shared reality when you crank out a book in an evening. So you ruin someone's mouth; who cares that you can't get his nose quite right—you observed your model steadily for a space, and captured that moment. It won't ever repeat, but you've got the evidence. And of course there is conversation, journal sharing—and cookies are good too.

Here's my final pitch: making content (in this case a portrait party) and creating an editioned book in an evening is a great way to encourage and nurture a whole new generation of journal keepers, sketchers, and book artists. And it nurtures creativity in general. Go for it.

As for us, well we're doing it again January 16, 2012. Hope to see you there. Roz Stendahl (Journalrat)

Designing Pages

Often, I don't start out to design a page...it just evolves.  That's the case with these two recent entries.

I was feeling tense and anxious and needed to dump my anxiety someplace...so I just wrote those feelings out.  I chose water-soluble ink for the page on the left, and the next day when I was feeling much better, I washed over the words with clear water.  It reminded me of storm clouds--rather apropos!

I added diagonal streaks of rain and a bit of extra watercolor to obscure some of the words, then added the descriptive caption at the bottom of the page!

I'd gotten some grease on the page on the right--NO idea how--so I wasn't sure about taking the chance with an actual image or anything I might care about.  I decided that was the perfect time to practice my brush lettering!  I just filled the page with all shapes and sizes...fun, and I am learning a little more control.

Maintaining Privacy when you want to

There are a lot of ways to do this--Hannah Hinchman, whose interview will appear later in this series, once recommended writing very, very small--I believe that was in her first book, A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal, still my favorite book on journaling techniques.

Liz Steel, who was interviewed HERE, sometimes glues a flap over a private bit, that way she can lift it if she wants and do more journaling right on the flap.

I used a paper CD envelope in one of my journals, as you see above.  I glued it down by the flap, so I could put things I wanted to see in the envelope; it will still open by folding it to the right, allowing me to maintain a bit of privacy if I wish and store favorite pieces of ephemera while I'm at it.

One of my students wrote her feelings out in all directions on the page, overlapping lines so eventually there was no way you could read them.  It was beneficial for her to use her journal to purge negative feelings, but she didn't necessarily even want to be able to read them later, herself.

I gave it a shot when I was frustrated with dealing with bureaucracy and it made an interesting page!

You can collage or paint over a whole page, if you really just needed to get it out of your system but would prefer not to preserve it for posterity.

Or you can photograph your pages and play around with blur or the soft focus in your photo-editing software as I did on the rainy image above, too...everyone has cranky days!

PLEASE, feel free to add your favorite ideas in the comments here!


We had robins up in the woods recently, flocks of them!  When we went out to the shed yesterday afternoon to watch the snow, they'd come down to the wild honeysuckle bushes to feast--these were right outside the door.

I grabbed my sketchbook and stood at the door as long as they were in the bush, working with a black Prismacolor colored pencil and just the shapes...they were all fluffed up with their necks pulled down into their chest feathers for warmth!  (Who could blame them!)

This is what the bottom left fellow looked like, just my rough sketch...

I shot a few photos, too, so I could zoom in for color details when I added watercolor later--never could really see their feet, though, they were keeping them warm, too.

I use my journals like a diary, and like a calendar--I can go back through years' worth and find when I saw the first robins (or those wintering over), when the first snow was, where we ate when we were in California, what we discussed at that meeting, who attended the sketchcrawl, when the tree fell on the van, and more.

And yes, this WILL be in my "fast sketching techniques" mini-class, I took photos as I went, once I was adding color! You can find the classes here: http://cathyjohnson.info/online.html
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