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Review: Pilot Frixion Color Stick

I picked these up on a whim from the post back-to-school sale clearance section at my local Walgreens. The 4-pack of orange, pink, green, and blue are regularly priced at $7. I saw the price and did a double take and said out loud, “LOL, whut?”

I’ll start with the good. The ink in these flows really well, it’s a “ball” pen but writes like a rollerball. All in all it’s a comfortable feeling pen. The ink flows and it feels really smooth on all the paper I have used them on. Erasing was a breeze.

The cap posts and is replaced with a satisfying click. It stays put once capped too. I’ve been carting around the orange in my FodderstackXL and the cap stays put, despite my sitting and moving around all day. It hasn’t fallen off. The pen lacks a clip, so you need to have a pocket or case to carry these around.

So far so good. I like these little pens a lot. Now for the bad.

These look cheap. When I say cheap, I mean, like Bic sticks, or those old blue Papermate stick pens I loved in HS. I mean cheap AF. Despite the glossy hard plastic and slick clear cap with integrated eraser they exude cheapness.

The exterior tube is the refill. I had wondered if I could pop out the refill and slide it into another pen body that looked less cheap. Just take it from the inky mess I made, you cannot. The body is very sturdy, again, my fat butt has been sitting on one for weeks, and it has yet to break crack or even curve.

These are sturdy little pens that look cheap and are sold at a stupidly high price. I really enjoy writing with them, the colors of the ink are great- muted and not overly bright. They erase cleanly and feel good. However these are not $1.50 pens. The 4-pack would probably sell better at $4 or $5.

I picked these up with my own cash money from the clearance section. I got a steal of a deal- I paid 79 cents for the 4-pack, totally worth it. I should have purchased more.

Review: Zebra Sarasa Grand

The Grand is a refillable pen body made for Zebra’s Sarasa gel ink refills. It will hold almost any gel ink refill- from Pentel to Pilot to Uniball.

The Grand is available in 5 colors, black, navy silver, copper, and gold. The clip on all colors is chrome. The lower half of the pen is metal cased in a thick layer of glossy metallic lacquer. The top half holds the clip and a translucent window. It could be argued that the window is to view the ink level but it is far too high to tell you when the ink is low, and thus useless, but looks nice.

Overall, I find the Grand quite comfortable. It’s narrower than the Pentel Alloy and heavier. The weight is toward the working end and as a result the balance feels good to me. The glossy lacquer is going to be slippery for folks with sweaty hands, but works great for me. The clip is sturdy and grabs onto my lapel and holds on. The Grand has made it as a DayJob go to pen because the clip is fabulous.

I picked up mine in the clearance section of my local Walgreens for… 75 cents. They only had the copper (aka Rose Gold?) color which is really a dull metallic orange-pink. At 75 cents it was cheaper than a regular Sarasa. Regular price is about $11 almost everywhere. IF you don’t like the Sarasa refills you can get the Sarasa Clip refills via Jetpens, ranging from about 75 cents each to $2 a refill. You can also buy boxes of Pentel or Uniball refills on Amazon. Essentially, you have options of refilling this pen body.

Thinking: Washing Notebooks

A few months ago, hell maybe it was a year ago now, I washed one of my Field Notes. It was an orange Unexposed. Unexposed is one of my favorite editions. The bright colors and reticle grid make me happy.

Sadly the Unexposed covers are garbage when it comes to water resistance. The notebook was a pulpy mass when it emerged from the drier. The cover had shredded into tiny pieces of paper that glued themselves to my clothing, it was especially attracted to my black khakis I wear for work. I had to wash the entire load again.

The book lodged in my pocket and as the washing machine and drier tumbled it’s paged matted together and formed a ball inside the pocket. What was left of the cover glued itself to the interior of the pocket. I had to peel the book from the cotton pocket liner. I flattened the book the best I could, the damp pages tearing if I touched them with too much force.

I had to look, I had to see what information I had lost. Fortunately, it was a recently started work notebook. So only 3 or 4 pages had been filled. I’d lost little.

In the past, I’ve been insistent on using waterproof inks. My love of the Signo 207 and other Uniball pens is well known. Much of the reason I love these pens is that they have great waterproof ink in them. Most of the ink in the washed Unexposed was gone. It had migrated to the rest of the paper, tinting it a pale blue-gray. Here and there you could see where I had written with a waterproof ink. (I can’t show you, as it was a work notebook.)

Each time I washed a notebook I lean more towards using waterproof inks, not for their archival qualities, but because I want my books to survive the wash. I’ve washed maybe 4 notebooks in my life, and dramatically, each time I do, I feel a deep sense of loss. The sense of loss is ridiculous and a bit silly. Most of my notebooks don’t have important info in them, merely notes for blog posts, story ideas, and reading notes. Even my work notebooks don’t have important info in them, those are comprised of to-do lists and paperwork I need to fill out.

Anyway. Don’t wash your notebooks, It makes a mess.

SSS: How to Make a Journal of Your Life

I’ve written on here about How to Make a Journal of Your Life (HtMaJoYL) in the past, I’m a fan of the simple stripped down journaling style Price promotes, as well as his anything goes attitude toward journaling. Boiling it all down to one line- if it moves you, put it in your journal.Price how2Journal

In more depth, Price suggests writing, photography, rubber stamps, drawing, doodles, and taping in flowers and other stuff you find on your travels. Each chapter of the small book details Price’s philosophy surrounding these various techniques. His philosophy leans toward simplicity with a focus on observation and recording those observations. He also suggests using pens and markers and not worrying about mistakes as those are part of the process.

An additional part of the HtMaJoYL process of journaling is to use whatever materials work best for you. Price used Sakura Pigma pens, but he also used rubber stamps he found along the way, and clear scotch tape.

You’ll notice that even in his writing he follows a simple philosophy of telling a story. Each image or line of writing tells a story about the artist or author recording it. What you chose to record in your journals reflects the story of who you are. This is probably the biggest and best take one can get out of the book- to record whatever reflects you.

The final part of the book includes some of Price’s journaling and then finishes off with areas for the reader to begin journaling.

Next week I’m going to explore Art Journals & Creative Healing. No link for it this week, I want to make sure that my thoughts are up so you can make an informed choice before purchasing the book.
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SSS: Art Heals

Art Heals by Shaun McNiff was my “filler quote” book in graduate school. It is a collection of his writings on art therapy. If you are able to filter through the copious amounts of woo woo and heaps of frou frou* there is a great deal of good stuff within the covers. I chose chapter 7, Aesthetic Meditation for my focus this week. It hinges nicely with a new class I’m developing that uses what McNiff describes as “creating a dialog with the image.”** In the McNiff (and other expressive art therapists who use the studio art approach) approach one looks at their own art, and talks to it, creating a conversation with the image, and allowing themselves to create a story about around and from the image. art healsWhat is aesthetic mediation? In short it is a way of looking at art and more expansively at the world around you in a mindful meditative manner. When engaged in this sort of viewing you are engaging all of your senses and making yourself almost hyper aware of what you are looking at. In addition to really deeply looking you also make yourself aware of all of your senses and focus on what you notice. You are immersed in the object.

This is not an easy state to be in, McNiff likens it to sitting meditation, which is a practice one develops over time. One simply doesn’t sit down and begins meditation for an hour*** they work their way up to it.

Further what McNiff explains in this chapter is that we can use our finished images to contemplate and relax ourselves. How many of us have opened up the pages of our art journals, caressed the lumpy bumpy pages and remembered that sense of release as we created the page? I know I have, over and over and over again. Not only are my art journals a place to release pent up feelings but they are also a place to return and contemplate my day and relax myself.

While many of McNIff’s articles are written with the therapist in mind, many in this book are not. If you are an art therapy student this is a great book for filling out those papers where you need a few extra lines to get  you up to the page requirement. He’s got a quote or thought for every art therapy need.

Next week I’m going to reflect on the book “Wabi-Sabi” by Leonard Koren.

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SSS: Shut Your Monkey

This week’s SSS is the amazingly fun book “Shut Your Monkey” by the entertaining Danny Gregory. If you aren’t familiar with Danny Gregory, quickly run over here and check out his blog. He’s the guy behind the book Everyday Matters  and The Creative License, and Sketchbook Skool. This 160 page volume is designed in a wonderfully fun way. Much like Gregory’s other books it’s filled with art, but this includes images of crudely drawn monkeys and a great deal of Gregory’s lettering. In short it is a quick and fun read.SYM

Gregory breaks down the inner critic/monkey in a way which many therapists will recognize as the ubiquitous “negative self talk” he also explores some of the classic methods of combating negative self talk- but with a fresh perspective. His perspective is purely pointed at creatives. Rather than telling people “You are an artist, “or “I give you permission to create,“ He explores real and creative manners for the artist to scoot past their inner monkey/critic/demon and start making art. He avoids all that paternalistic bull shit so many in the art journaling community* perpetuate onto one another and gives real working tools for creativity and getting work done.
SYMI’ve long railed against the garbage spewed by so many in the AJ community that rather than empowering others to create, ties their fan base to them in a never ending cycle of enabling rather than empowering. I’ve struggled to put a name to this phenomenon for years- boiled down it is a mix of enmeshed enabling and a need for encouragement of the fans… I digress on that topic, I could rant forever and this is about Shut Your Monkey not my issues with art journaling teachers who perpetuate enmeshment rather than empowerment.

Next week I’ll rant and write about Shaun McNiff’s “Art Heals.”

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