Tag Archives: journal

State of the Weekend

It’s been a crazy few weeks. I had to help count inventory a while back for the DayJob and it threw me for a loop. I’ve been trying to get back on track ever since I was sick and having my schedule screwed up really just put me back to spinning my wheels in the rut again. This weekend was a good one for getting me back into the flow of things. Jane and I met and had a good cuppa at one of my favorite places, Atomic and then we took a walk in the park here in town. Where I sat and sketched and we talked about PioP, which is shaping up to be really really cool. I can’t wait for the reveal of what it is. It’s going to be awesome.
This is the first sketching I’ve done in awhile. I could make a lot of excuses but I won’t. Honestly life has been flying at a million miles an hour and I find that instead of sketching or arting I make a few notes in my journal or veg out watching Hulu* at the end of the day. Fortunately though those notes are all forward progress, important tidbits of information. I’m looking forward to sharing those with you once everything is in place.
I picked up a copy of Kerri Smith’s new book, “Finish This Book.” I’ll have a review on it here soon.I’ve also picked up a bunch of new fountain pens, some inks, a brush and a few other odds and ends. Hopefully this week I’ll get to writing up a bunch of reviews. That means I’ve got Thursdays covered. Hopefully I’ll be back on track with my blogging as well as my journaling. I've also been attempting to practice some "ultra light weight" journaling/sketching. It's centered around my Midori Traveller knock off. I"ll get a post up about that too. Lots of good stuff is in the works.

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Journal Flip: Moleskine #4

Thisis Moleskine #4 I filled it up while I was in Buffalo, NY attending a funeral for a family member and shortly after. A visit to Buffalo is always interesting.


Anyway, the idiots have been thumbing down my videos again. It's driving me nuts. It just reminds me of the need to thumb OTHER people's videos up. If I like a video I always thumb it up. I figure it does something to restore some balance to the positivity of the world.

Anyway, go check out my vids and give them some love.


Honesty, Authenticity, Truthiness and Resonance

When I was in school everyone talked about wanting to make "honest work." The new buzzword for honest work is "authentic." We could spend days over glasses of red wine and mugs of coffee (as we did in college) talking about what this means. In the end it all boils down to, "I want to make work that resonates deeply withing myself and has deep personal meaning." End of story.

Or is it?

I think the truth of all the discussion and thinking on these topics is that essentially we're afraid of what we put on the paper/canvas/board/ or in the journal. Many of us make work and hide it away. It's why the art journal is so perfect, at the end of your art session you close the covers and never ever have to confront what you made again. Simple right? Except you're missing out on a  prime piece of the art journal process- learning from what you've put down and thus from yourself.

I think that fear is why we also buy into what the industry pumps out for us. It's far easier to follow the industry's recipe for success than to forge our own path and style.

Maybe the real question we need to ask ourselves is, "How do we move past the fear and into creating our work? How do we learn from ourselves to create work that resonates deeply?"

It's this hard work that an art journal is intended and supposed to help us explore. If you never look back at your pages and be critical of them (without gessoing over them) and learning from those pages what are you missing out on. If you focus on nothing but making pretty pretty pages I think you're missing out on a very important part of art journaling.

Here's a challenge: Go through your art journal, either the current journal you're working in or a recent one. Use a sharpie, write on the margins of a page what you'd change on that page. If you are too chicken you can use a post it note. If you get bold, draw right on top of the page with your sharpie.

Out of the Can Thinking

I've been watching some old episodes of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home on Hulu. I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS. PBS being one of the few channels that came in and was approved for me to watch. I credit a lot of my enjoyment of cooking to both my Mom and ravenously watching Julia Child's shows.

One of the things I notice as I watch J&J:CaH is that Julia rambles on quite a bit about how Americans are afraid of their food and how the diet industry is winning out over taste. Secretly, I could watch these shows over and over again.

Julia has a good lesson for us, and it applies to art. We can't let the industry win in dictating what we want and how we want it. Child's recipes for successful tasty dishes included fresh and basic ingredients combined in ways to create layers of food, she poo-poo'd using canned foods and already made stuff. She stated over and over, "It's not hard, the recipe is a guideline!" Art and art journaling are no different. We should be demanding the basic ingredients and supplies we need to make our art and not canned supplies. After all it's not hard to customize and create your own stuff if you only

Dede and Eveline are a prime example of taking a recipe and making it their own and taking it to entirely new heights. Dede put out a challenge to Eve that she make Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas without using his voluminous list of supplies. Eve took up the challenge as did Dede. their results are nothing short of spectacular. Out of the can thinking at it's finest.

The art and craft industry responds to demands, but as it's a big slow and lumbering machine full of people all trying to get the NEXT BIG IDEA and thus the next big paycheck. The lumbering machine hears about art journaling, tries to figure out what it is, there are big IMPORTANT meetings in board rooms to try and figure it out, there are more meetings in board rooms, and hapless cogs in the machine are sent off to investigate ART JOURNALING. They know nothing about it, they watch a few youtube videos, read a few blogs, and maybe a few of the more intrepid cogs join AJNing. They take some notes, maybe even dabble in a little art journaling and finally something like the Smash Book is born.

Now, thousands of people will be introduced to Art Journaling via the SmashBook. It might even be a decent product, but it's not what I consider a true art journal. It's an interesting concept and an interesting way to finally grab hold of a potential market. Hey, it's even got it's own special glue stick, color coordinated tabs, and a hundred other things to buy to go with it. ARGH!!!

Go simple, buy yourself a sketchbook, a cheap one, a few markers, maybe a cheap set of acrylics or watercolors, and start splashing shit around on the page. Try stuff, watch some videos on youtube get a few recipes but for goodness sake don't be afraid to only use it as a guideline.


Art Journal Essentials: How to Books

The following 3 books are what I consider must have’s for people new to art journaling. The techniques are basic but explained well and these books suggest that you experiment.

Danny Gregory’s The Creative License. He includes interviews from a wide range of people and suggests a simple set of tools- pens, watercolor, and journal with a sense of documenting the simple and everyday items around you to appreciate the moment. Danny Gregory has a great blog that he no longer updates as much as he used to but is a great resource.

The Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric Scott and David Modler. This is a comprehensive guide to techniques that you can use with pretty simple materials. Again observation is mentioned here, as well as writing and creating texture and visual interest. This book works much more in the abstract realm than Danny Gregory. These guys run a neat blog too.

Diana Trout’s book Journal Spilling is another favorite of mine to suggest to people just starting out. She gives you a serious list of tools to use in your art journal, all using simple materials that are inexpensive. Additionally she’s got a set of youtube videos that go along with the book as well as a blog. I’ve reviewed her books for the zine and I’ll report that article here at some point.

What you’ll notice about these 3 books is that they suggest simple materials and gathering your own materials to use in your journals. These books avoid pre made materials that you can buy at the craft store. This makes your journals 100% your own. It’s this sense of unique that I think people look for when they create a journal. These books all foster that spirit and not the “cult of stuff.”


Cult of Stuff part 2

The initial anti-cult of stuff response is, of course, that you need less, but the more reasoned response is that you need to find the media that is most suited to you in your expression.

For years I used a fountain pen. I set it aside for a set of Sakura pens and then for a set of Pitt pens until 10 years later I’m back at the fountain pen. Why? It works for me. I like how it works; I love the lines I can get.

I also use acrylic paint, watercolors, as well as various other tools. Why? They work for me and I like the effects I can get.

It took me awhile to figure out what I liked and how I work. Even still a break from my usual pen and ink work to make gelatin prints to liven things up. A workshop or a class at Michael’s, AC Moore, or your local community college can really shake things up and get you out of your creative rut. What about finding an art buddy? Someone you can head to a coffee shop with, or walk the park with, or sketchcrawl that pretty town you’ve never bothered with?

It’s a lot easier to head to the craft store and buy some premade ephemera and slap it in your journal than it is to trek to a coffee shop you’ve never been to isn’t it?

I’ve been there.

My point is that we need to get back to the process part of art journaling. Step away from the scrapping aisle. Head to the “fine art aisle.” Look at all the stuff there. Student Grade. Artist Grade and the more recently introduced “Professional” grade*. Here’s the thing, none of the stuff in that aisle is going to make much sense until you get dirty with it. Sure you understand pencils, colored pencils and pens but what about those tubes of paint? Where do you even start? Head to YouTube, Google, or ArtJournaling.ning.com search through for some technique videos and tutorials. The internet is crawling with great (and shitty) advice.

  • Try to avoid buying supplies on a whim**.
  • Buy student grade if you aren’t sure you’ll like this media***.
  • Don’t start with a full contingent of mediums and additives.

Make a promise to yourself that you will sit down with that one material and experiment with them in every way you think possible and a few ways you didn’t think were possible. Make notes. Get to know that material.

Get curious. Perform mad science in the pages of your art journal.

Ask yourself this question: What would happen if I did this? How would this respond to this?

Now that you know that material inside and out, add to it. Layer your spray inks over watercolor, and acrylic over that, glue down some ephemera from that coffee shop you tested out last weekend.

Now that you’ve read all this, you’re thinking, “I don’t have time, I just want results.” Here’s my answer to that, “You need to make time to experiment. You can’t get results without putting in a lot of time. If you take short cuts the only thing you’re doing is cheating yourself.”

When you decide a media isn't for you get rid of it. Craigslist and eBay are wonderful tools for getting rid of stuff you don't want anymore. Also consider donating unused art supplies to a school for use in their art room.

If you are new here, this is your first visit, please realize this is a (so far) 4 post rant on stuff. Feel free to head here to read the rest of my tirade. Also, please don't assume that I hate pretty pages or would sneer at your art. This rant is about empowerment not judgement.

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Art Journaling Essentials: Books for Beginers

One of the questions I get asked pretty often is what books I would recommend to someone just starting out in art journaling. There are 3 books I think are essential to anyone just starting out in Art Journaling.

First is Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World. I reviewed this for the zine and I’ll republish the article here at some point. But this book is all about looking at the world around you. It’s inspiring. It’s full of proposed action. Get it.

The second is Dan Price’s How to Make a Journal of Your Life. I haven’t reviewed this but will. It’s about opening up your perception of the world and learning how to look and to be in the moment.

The third is Danny Gregory’s Every Day Matters. I also should review this book. It’s about learning that life, every moment of it, matters and that we should take time to fully savor and enjoy it.

What you’ll notice about all three of these books is that not one of them is about technique. They are about enjoying your life, opening up your mind and looking at life and enjoying every day. None of the books recommend expensive materials; in fact Kerri Smith’s book is made to be used as a journal. Dan Price suggests you start out in a cheap pocket sized spiral notebook and Danny Gregory suggests a cheap watercolor set, black ink pen and a moleskine.

As I see more and more of the “cult of stuff” filtering into my precious art journal scene I am more and more drawn to “old school” art journaling- a black ink pen, a set of travel watercolors and a simple sketchbook. These 3 books are just that good old fashioned basic books on art journal, full of inspirational text that will get your art journal mojo going.


You can also buy Dan Price's book directly from him via his website.

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Review: Golden Coarse Pumice Gel

Golden Coarse Pumice Gel

I purchased a 6 pack of Golden Mediums about a year ago and other than using the gloss gels I haven’t used them. The list price for 8 ounces is $13.49 and it comes in a tub. In the tub it is gray in color and looks much like cement.

I used an old discount card to spread it on my binder’s board. It lays down a very thick and heavy layer. I found it pretty difficult to lay it down thin. As I was laying it down on the board I had moments where I didn’t think it would stick. It’s a very dry gritty material. It does stick. It helps to work slowly. Because it is so gritty I would recommend using an old brush or a metal palette knife to spread it.

When dry it still retains that cement like look which could make a very cool texture in a journal. It retains its flexibility so it could be used on a journal page with no issue. It can be used as a base much like gesso but keep in mind it’s very gritty and its surface is much like 60 grit sandpaper. It’s very rough. When coloring my pages it wore holes in the rags I was using to apply glaze and color.


(On the left is the Golden and the Right Liquitex.)

This is a very intense texture gel that can definitely make a statement when used on canvas or page. It took a full ounce to cover an 8.5×11 inch page completely. The deep crevasses and graininess of it is very neat. With color added it’s even more interesting.

Ink mix0088

 A quick comparison of the Golden Coarse and the Liquitex shows that the golden is muchmore coarse, the liquitex is more like 100 grit sandpaper where the golden is like 60 grit. The difference is noticable and visible.

Observation: Looking Back into Old Journals

I was looking through one of my older moleskine sketchbooks specifically the one I started writing in then I first moved to Massachusetts. One of the thigns that I wrote about a lot was simplicity. I had lived in a small 3-ish room apartment in the woods of Maine. My apartment was essentially 1 large L-shaped room, a half wall divided the kitchen from the living “room” and a wall with a doorway divided the kitchen from the bedroom. There was no door on the bedroom. The only room that had a door was the bathroom, which housed a shower stall, toilet, sink and a bunch of shelves. Total square feet of the apartment was maybe 600sq ft. If the walls had not been vaulted it would have been awesome.

When I moved to Mass the apartment I moved into wasn’t much larger. Over the years we moved from about 600sq ft to about 700 sq ft and now we are in a 1200 sq ft house, we’ve got about 300 to 500 sq ft we don’t use all that often. Sometimes I feel like it’s too much space and other times I feel like it’s not enough. I am really thankful we’ve got a garage and a basement, both of which feel decadent after years of living without a space to work on bikes, engines and greasy things that don’t belong on kitchen or coffee tables.

I feel like I need to revisit this simplicity concept . It’s not like we live extravagantly, simplicity is something I strive for, but sometimes I get caught up in ridiculousness and making things more complex than they need to be. I need to cut that out.

I tend to think of simplicity as going hand-in-hand with organization. As I look around my office I think perhaps I should start here and work my way out.

On a side note anytime I think of simplicity I have to think of my art and what materials I would work in if I could only chose a few supplies to keep with me. I have to say I’d probably go with pen and ink with watercolor. It gives me color and the ability to draw.

If you could only pick 3 art materials to use for the next 6 months what would you use?