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Monday, November 28, 2011

More personalizing journal covers!

Reader Sandi Hester sent us a terrific image full of inspiration on the subject, and I just had to share it with you!

Just LOOK at all these ideas!  If you want to know more (and I know you will!), check out Sandi's blog at http://paintingtheword.com/2011/02/05/handmade-journals/!  Lots of talented folk out there...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Personalizing Journal Covers

Recently we were talking about ways to personalize journal covers...specifically, commercial journals.  This is an old Pelikan journal I used to use almost exclusively before I started binding my own...I had a whole stack of plain blue books with the deep black cloth spine, but they all looked just the same. 

I decided to make them not only my own, but more useful...I chose some of my favorite images from each book, scanned them, and made a photomontage in Photoshop.  Then, as you can see, I collaged it to the front of the book along with other elements, like ribbon and such, and added color and a bit of text, protecting all with a layer of acrylic floor wax (works great and is non-sticky!)

I added the date as well, so I know at a glance what time period each journal covers.  

I don't like journals that are too thick and chunky, handsome though they may be, so this works great for me.  It opens easily and flat, and doesn't have anything to break off or get in the way.  All the journals slide easily into my bookcase without anything to hang up, too...

Soooo...what do YOU like to do?  If you'd like to share an image, send it to me at kate.cathyjohnson (at) gmail.com and I'll do a composite post soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Early Morning Again

Mornings are getting darker and darker and in this semi-darkness I cannot seem to find my sketchbook or pen in the place where I left them the night before. So I grab whatever was on the table - to note first visitors to our home-made bird feeder and neighbor's cat out for a hunt. And later I glue or tape these little notes in my sketchbook - if I can find them of course in a day light ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Asilomar, California - by Gay Kraeger

Every November Christina Lopp and I teach a class in watercolor journaling at Asilomar in Monterey, California.

One of our students brought a roll of webbed drywall tape. She shared pieces with the class. I used some on this page. I painted over the tape and then removed it. I really like the texture it gives the page. I am going to search in my basement and find a roll of the stuff, (I know there is some down there) and carry it with me all the time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As I've noted before, I use my journal in about all circumstances, including dealing with life's ups and downs.  Yesterday we were delighted to get GOOD news, a definite upper, and though my pen ran out of ink before I could sketch either Joseph or his doctor,  I caught the other patients in the waiting room and the distant Kansas City skyline, out the window.

PSA zero, he's cancer-free!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"The End"...

Does anyone else have trouble getting to the end of a journal?  Mine become friends, in the weeks we spend together, and I have trouble facing that last page...

Sometimes I go back in and fill in corners or pages I've inadvertantly skipped...or toned paper I didn't use at the time because I didn't have opaque media with me.  

I've actually tipped in extra pages of lighter weight paper to let me work longer in a particular book. 

But eventually, I get to the back of the book, and that's what this is.  

Quite often I'll use that inside back cover for notes to myself, as you see above.  Something I meant to look up, recommendations for video-shooting aids, observations, phone numbers, measurements, whatever...but eventually, I have to get ready to let go and move on to a new book.

Soooo...I took this one to our local Art Crawl Friday night and entertained myself by sketching the gallery owner, good friend Molly Morgan Roberts, whose shop showed up last month in this image:

I was her featured artist this past Friday night, and it was a GOOD crowd...as you can tell.  But of course I've got bits of four Mollys in there too...can you tell which ones are her in the top image?  

This was a great way to finish up this journal, which I really enjoyed...

And now on to the next one, full of possibilities!  

Funny, I don't have as much trouble STARTING a new journal as I do letting go of one that's become an old friend.  I once set one aside for almost  years before I was able to finish it--it had been a traumatic time for me and I just wasn't ready.  I sketched and journaled, all right, but not in that particular book...

Anyone else have that problem?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guess Who is Interview #16?? It's Sandy Williams!

...after a bit of a hiatus in which I've been WAY too busy, we'll have Sandy's interview upcoming soon!

One of Sandy's projects is to record in her journal the flowers that bloom near her Niles, Michigan home...the profusion of blooms makes this the project of more than one season, and more than one year, of course, and her Flickr set makes you wish you could hold the book in your hands and luxuriate in those colorful pages.

Her observations on the wildlife around her are lively and interesting, and always seem to tell a story...here are two of the kinds of squirrels that feed nearby.

I often think of Sandy as the poster child for the benefits of journaling, and of courage and perseverance as well.  She developed a serious vision problem a couple of years ago, and she records in her journal the long road back.  The illustration above was done to show her doctor just what it is she sees.

I've known of Sandy's work for some time, originally on Flickr and other online sites, but later as a member artist for my book--you'll love her story there.   

In her journals she mostly works in watercolor pencil and ink, but her gouache work must be seen to be believed...it's wonderful!

Please visit her Sound of Wings Etsy shop to see these and others--what a marvelous Christmas present these would be!

So watch for Interview #16, coming soon!


Meanwhile, be sure to check Sandy's Flickr site, her website and her STORE  there as well as her online classes on using gouache


I'm not fond of shopping, but I was REALLY needing some new fall stuff...my experiences the last year or so avoiding shopping by ordering online hadn't been a great success, so we hit the thrift stores last weekend.

WOW, FTW!!  I got all this, plus a brown sweater and a blue velour hoodie that wouldn't fit on the page, for just over $25!

Just had to do a Liz Steel and sketch my new wardrobe by way of celebration.  BIG smile...and I'm warm and comfortable, AND they fit.

Give it a try...sketch your clothes, your shoes, a collection of ANYTHING--maybe art supplies, cooking tools, travel kits, books, gardening tools...whatever suits your fancy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

An 11.11.11 Thank You

Please click to enlarge

This shell will always have a special place on our bookshelves. It's a memento from my Dad's Basic Training days at Parris Island.

He wrote the date on the shell. I can see him walking the shoreline of Port Royal Sound and finding this treasure as he contemplated his next steps into WWII.

I've been wanting to preserve the shell as a journal sketch for the longest time. I can't think of a better day... a more special day than today... to honor it forever :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Keeping busy...

We got a big order for one of the little history books we publish, so J. spent the weekend binding books!  I had stuck the sitcker from our red bell pepper onto that page, so just played a little having the other colors harmonize!

Taking care of health concerns; J. had a couple of moles frozen off a few weeks ago, and has a couple of others to remove surgically.  This was the first one...and hooray, it was benign!

The doctor thought it was interesting that I sketch about everything...but he was a good sport about it, and let me stay in the room.  Good thing it was minor!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sandy Williams -- I surrender, for now!

Where did the summer go!? The time and the garden seem to have gotten away from me!

Sandy Williams , An Uninvited Guest

We recently had an uninvited guest, one who evidently followed our cat home.  Fortunately, an odiferous situation was avoided!

Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson

by Gay Kraeger

My business partner and I got a last minute invite to hear a presentation by Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson. He was featured on the Ken Burns PBS special on National Parks. He certainly made history come to life for us. We were all transported back to 1903 to learn about the buffalo soldiers in Yosemite park. It was great!
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