Raw-Art Journal Cover-to-Cover

After years of keeping a journal, I decided to try something new–to make an art journal from the ideas, sketches, and fun parts of my journals. Instead of keeping notes, images, sketches as I do in my journal, I made this one deliberately, cover to cover.

Here are some of the images.

The front cover is made by covering Arches Text Wove with gesso, writing in it with a corner of a credit card, then adding India Inks in black and brown. After drying, I used purple pastels and another coat of gesso. When it was completely dry, I rubbed it–hard–with a cloth. It looks like leather. I’ve never been able to make purple come out well with a camera, and this is no exception–the band looks blue, although it is the same purple as in the cover, which is a good deal more subtle than it looks.

Book Cover with buttoning closure band © Quinn McDonald, all rights reserved, 2009

Found Art starts as a photograph. It’s of something ordinary, that I can see something in. I then print the photograph and alter it using colored pencils or watercolor pencils. You can see the after and before right under it. On the right is a great way to keep your journal writing secret, if you aren’t keeping a journal for fear someone will find it. Write, cut into strips, weave the strips into a design.

Found Art ©Quinn McDonald, all rights reserved 2008-9

This is what the original photo looked like.

Photo of vine on brick wall, © Quinn McDonald, all rights reserved, 2009

The second spread has raw art on the left that serves as a pocket for an accordion journal. The opposite page has found poetry on it.

Raw art on left, Found Poetry on right © Quinn McDonald, all rights reserved 2009

The next spread has found poetry on the left and a gate-fold page on the right.

Found poetry on left, gate-fold mountain page on right, pierced and inked

The gate-fold is pierced so there are patterns on the front and back. It is also inked, raw-art style and one of the lines serves as a guideline for journaling. The image is done on both sides.

The next spread is another version of found poetry. I cut a page from a book, circled the words that created the poem, colored in the rest of the page. I then cut holes in the page and applied it to an inked and painted journal page.

Found poetry on left, Rorschach on right. © Quinn McDonald, all righs reserved 2009

The right side is a Rorschach-like paint blot. I cut out the sides and placed them next to each other. There is a fire-like design in the interference gold and the blue part.

The closing band is held onto the back with a button that I attached while sewing the binding into place. There are two buttons sewn into the paper of the band. To keep them from pulling out, I lined the ends of the band in Tyvek–an polypropylene paper used in Fed-Ex envelopes and house insulation.

The fun parts were the gate-fold and the accordion-fold book that make up the entire book. The whole book isn’t shown, but you can see it on Flickr.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist who works at the intersection of words and illustration to create raw-art, available to people who think they can’t draw but want to create art journals.

Rainbow in the Desert

It doesn’t rain often, but when it does, it’s dramatic. This afternoon the sky turned charcoal gray, the mountains close to the house looked white instead of smokey brown, and a cold wind was followed by rain. Because it was late afternoon, the sun hit the drops just right and created a double rainbow.

The first one is easy enough to see, the second one looks like it is touching the street light closest to the front of the picture.

Rainbows in Phoenix

Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist who teaches business communication.

Happy Thanksgiving–Alone or in a Crowd

Whether you are alone, in a crowd (but not part of it) or loving a lot of company and noise, Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s also Theme Thursday, a day of links to fun and interesting place. So I’m combining the day of listing things I’m grateful for, and links to find them.

Daniel Patterson's image of wild Mexican turkeys in the Tucson, AZ area.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, one without presents but not without stress. But we all have much to be thankful for, from big blessings to tiny flashes of insight.

Two years ago, I was alone on Thanksgiving. It felt strange, but not unpleasant. I spent the entire day in silence, working on art projects, feeling what it is like to be alone with just your thoughts. It wasn’t an exciting day, but it was memorable. I didn’t eat turkey, I wasn’t part of the imagined vision of national celebration. I felt removed from the mainstream, but intensely happy to have a day to sink into my art.

In that time, I thought of things I was grateful for. Non-traditional things–the ability to make it through a day alone, without a TV, with just my own meager art supplies.

Today, I’m presenting a list of links that are also reasons to be grateful. I had a rocky start with gratitude journals, but I’m a fan now.

I’m grateful that there are still wild animals on the face of the earth, and that the internet makes it possible for someone on one end of the earth to watch a pond at the other end.

I’m grateful that I found the intersection of art and words as my heart’s delight. If you are a book artist, enjoy pages of inspiration. Don’t miss the Pittsburgh Art Collective books. Beautiful!

I’m grateful that I can see the works of a lot of other artists–of all skill levels. And participate in showing mine, if I like. You can display your art on Illustration Friday, too. It’s great to see what others are doing.

Chris Dunmire runs the Creativity Portal. No matter what your outlet, the portal will help you find more and more interesting articles, projects, and interviews with creative folks.

Five Most Recent  Theme Thursdays: * * *  Creative Play 11. 19.09 * * * Creative Play 11.5.09 * * * Creative Play 10.29.09 * * * Creative Play 10.22.09 * * *  Creative Play 10.15.09 * * * Creative Play 10.8.09 * * * Creative Play 10.1.09* * *  Creative Play 9.24.09 * * * Creative Play 9.17.09* * * Creative Play 9.10.09 * * *

—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also wonders what you would like to say that you didn’t?


Selling Your Art: Writing an Ad

Ads help your clients understand your work. If the client doesn’t understand your work, they won’t  buy it.  If the client can’t understand your ad,  they won’t understand your art and you won’t make a sale.

Sell your features AND your benefits (Image: ehow.com)

Several years ago, there was a trend for artists to use their pets in the ad. The reason? A pet supposedly made the artist seem more appealing, interesting, human or fun. Generally the pet’s name was included as well as a title, “Chief Tester,” or “Canine of the Board.” I never thought this was a good idea. Adding an element you aren’t selling requires an explanation, and that’s a waste of valuable ad space.

Rule #1 for art ads: Show your art. It’s what you are selling. If you do pet portraits, paintings, or other artwork, you can put your pet in the picture. Otherwise, leave your pet out of the picture.

Rule #2: Give the clients a reason to like your work. Close ups of your art is best. If your art is functional, showing it in use is also a good idea. Clothing is almost always shown on gorgeous models so you can imagine yourself looking that wonderful if you wear that item.

Rule #3: Talk to your audience. That means you have to know who your audience is. Hint–it’s not “everyone.” Use words, references, and ideas your audience knows and approves of. If your target audience is young women between the ages of 16 and 30, skip the references to Woodstock, Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy and fountain pens.

Rule #4: Keep the copy simple. The best copy includes the features of your product (characteristics that make it special) and the benefit to your client. (Benefit is how your product will make the user’s life easier). I know it might sound obvious that a waterproof purse lining will not absorb spills from your water bottle, but the reader may not be thinking about that.

Rule #5: Include your contact information. Give the reader at least one way to see more of your work (store hours, website) and one way to reach you (phone number or email.) And include the name of your business as well.

Rule #6: Show the price. This is controversial. Many artists believe hiding the price keeps clients from rejecting it before the artists speaks to them about it. I don’t believe this. If the client is shopping by price alone, and will eliminate your piece only because the price is too high, the price will always be too high. I’ve tried it both ways, and I get more sales if I show the price.

Yes, ad writing can be complicated. Yes, there are a lot more rules. But if you follow the ones above, you’ll have an ad people will understand. And that’s a big step forward.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist and a trainer in communicating clearly. She has a business site and an art site. (c) 2008-9 All rights reserved.

See You at Art Unraveled 2010

Art Unraveled is an art retreat held every August in Phoenix.
In 2010, it’s going to be August 3 to 10, and I’m teaching two classes! (See the whole Art Unraveled schedule)

Phoenix Sunrise

Coming to AU is exciting! I’d like to make it easier for you if you are taking my class. I’ll provide most of the supplies. All you need is what you are already bringing for other classes–a variety of pens or pencils, your journal, a pair of scissors or X-acto knife. Aren’t bringing any of that? Then show up with a big heart, a sense of adventure, and your imagination.

I’m a creativity coach, so there is a lot of that going on in class. It’s deep, meaning-making work with fun and sharing.

Raw-Art Journaling For Perfectionists
August 4, 6:30 – 9:30
Started 50 journals and never filled a single one? This is the class for you.

If you are a perfectionist, you know how hard it is to work deeply and playfully. Perfectionists start with high hopes, and then get discouraged because their work is not exactly what they had imagined.

Notorious procrastinators, perfectionists start 50 journals and finish none of them. You will make many journal pages, and keep the ones you like. No one will know about the rest.

You will learn how to choose a journal that suits your needs, how to use your own ideas to write in and create abstract designs of your own invention in your journal. You’ll feel better about yourself and your prefectionism, while laughing and working.

No previous art experience needed.

Raw-Art One-Sentence Journaling
Monday, August 9, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be a time drain. Learn to keep a journal with just one sentence a day, two if you are ambitious. In this technique class, you will learn how to keep an interesting journal that you look forward to working in.

We’ll play word games, make magic word tickets, invent new names for our many different selves. You’ll learn Haiku writing and how to fight negative self-talk. You’ll also learn how to use words and abstract designs of your own invention to turn a regular journal into a raw-art-journal. This is a technique class, so you will experiment on different size sheets of paper.

No experience needed.

See more information on my website, Raw-Art-Journals.

Creativity Whisperer

Cesar Millan may be the Dog Whisperer, but his method works pretty well for the unruly, leash-tugging creative urge. You know that creative muse–the one you desperately want in your life, but that disappears around the corner and won’t come when called. When it does show up, it runs you ragged. You are off to buy materials and supplies, while your muse stays at home, piling choices on your studio table, and running you ragged with ideas, projects and commitments that you can’t manage.

You are in charge of your own creative output.

The Dog Whisperer has a formula. If you’ve watched the show, you already know what it is. It’s on his website: “Through my fulfillment formula exercise, then discipline, and finally, affection.  As the human pack leader, you must set rules, boundaries, and limitations and always project a calm-assertive energy.”

The “calm-assertive energy” comes first. It’s not about being a control freak, it’s knowing that you are the calm leader of your creative energy and your studio. If you are in control, the studio is not running you and you aren’t searching for pieces of a project. You aren’t forever using the excuse that you have a coupon and heading out to the craft store. You are centered and know what your project is.

You set the rules, boundaries and limitations for your studio. Here are some good ones to start with:

  • Know what your project is.
  • Know what your project is not. If you are going to create a journal page, don’t worry about creating the whole journal.
  • Leave the studio set up so you can begin. Nothing saps energy faster than having to spend an hour cleaning the studio and another finding what you want to work on.
  • Put extra materials away. It’s distracting to see unfinished project lying around.
  • Set a time to start and be there to start the project.
  • If you have an appointment, set a timer to remind you when to stop. You can’t work deeply if you keep having to check on the clock.
  • Keep a paper and pencil around to take notes as you work. Once you get to the studio, you will immediately think of “work” that needs to get done before you start. Stay in the studio, make a to-do list. The laundry will still be there when you leave.

The rest of Millan’s ideas work just as well: exercise, discipline, affection.

Exercise is a way to burn off tension in your body. It makes room for creative ideas. While you are exercising, a part of your brain is problem solving. That’s good for your brain and your body. Allow that to happen often, and you will approach a project with eagerness, without a lot of the adrenaline energy that’s exhausting.

Discipline is not punishment. Discipline allows space and time for deep, meaningful work. Discipline allows you to turn off the phone, shut the computer off and head for the studio. Discipline is a set time to work without guilt or fear. Discipline is consistency–knowing what is going to happen. It’s not a wild streak of cleaning the studio one day and spending three hours looking for just the right piece of paper. Discipline is an approach to creative time that includes knowing what will happen–you will work meaningfully, for a set amount of time, on a regular basis.

Affection is allowing yourself to feel good about yourself and your work. Affection is allowing yourself to try and fail, to try something different, to follow a thought or idea until it works or until you know why it doesn’t. Affection for yourself is allowing your growth at your own rate, not at your best friend’s rate. It’s taking the “just” out of your vocabulary, as in, “I just painted this scene.”

Just as Cesar Millan projects a calm, assertive pack-leader image to his dogs, you can project a calm, assertive creative leader image to your muse and your studio. You’ll be surprised at how well it works.

Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who works with visual and performing  artists to help them find, manage and develop their creativity.

What Is It?

You see something great. You take a photo. You look at the photo and without context, you have no idea what it is.

Here is my “What is it?” shot. Description below the photo.

Looks like . . . .

It’s a frosty mug of ginger beer, beer partially frozen. The shot is taken with the mug placed on a white coaster. The camera was held directly above the mug, pointing down into the mug. Yep, on my desk. Drinking while working. This ginger beer is non-alcoholic though.


Don’t Write for Free: Your Talent Deserves Pay

More and more often, I’m seeing writing jobs that pay so little it would take three assignments and two months to buy a pack of gum.

Part of the reason that those ads work is that there are desperate people who want to be writers. They buy into the idea that not getting paid is an “industry standard for beginners,” and give up their work for nothing.

I’ve never met a plumber, grocery store or car lot that does that. If I asked for a car for free to “prove their worth” they’d laugh at me. They can go bankrupt in different, more inventive ways.

Yet writers agree to write for free for experience and exposure every day. Stop doing this. The more writers offer to write for next to nothing, the harder it makes it for the rest of us. Many people don’t know good writing from bad, so it comes down to a matter of money. Anyone who can click a keyboard and is willing to get paid per view is offered a job. I know about supply and demand, but I also know that the internet is still largely words, and if you want to stand out, you have to know how to write well.

The same companies that tell advertisers that they get millions of views and that the Internet was the next big market for their products, calmly turned around and tell writers that there isn’t any proof that writing works, and the person to take the hit for doubt had to be writers.

I’ve answered several internet ads for writers, but have yet to find one that pays decently, let alone well. One wanted me to produce a series of restaurant reviews, 8 per week (who eats out that much?) and write a 200-word review, with picture. The pay? I get to be published. I can publish myself and not pay myself, neatly cutting out the middleman.

Now my articles are getting picked up all the time, to fill the blogs of other writers, who are desperate to meet their goals. One such place offered to pay $0.12 per day, but they own the copyright. That was based on click-throughs per article, so I’d have to write a huge amount to make minimum wage.

As a writer, who has made a living from writing for most of my adult life, I’d like to pass on encouragement and a warning. Get paid for your work. Do not work for free. When you give it away, no one will respect you in the morning.

And the warning: Writing well is hard. You have to know grammar. You have to be able to think analytically. You have to be able to reason logically. Just because you can keyboard your thoughts doesn’t make you a good writer. Get paid what you are worth. Walk away from scams, underpayment and empty promises. You’ll respect yourself in the morning.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007-9 All rights reserved.

Theme Thursday #25: 11.19.09

It’s Theme Thursday and that means it’s time to do something fun and creative. For altered book artists, go take a peek at GoMakeSomething, who has a list of elements to add to altered books, each with a how-to link, including one for 350 ideas for altered books, as well as how to do a layout for one.

Colored pencils from metu.edu.tr

Altair Designs provides you with different geometric patterns, a brush, a color selector and a few auto-fill in tools. You can color in designs, save them, email them, and see other people’s work in a gallery. Surprisingly enjoyable; a great way to explore color combinations you’ve been wanting to  work on.

Tired of explaining your project progress  to your peers? Here’s a jargon generator that creates empty, meaningless phrases for you. The advantage is that these phrases sound important. Who wouldn’t want to empower cross-market e-platforms?

Thanks to frequent commenter Pete Harbeson, we have a map quiz with a twist. The maps are shown, complete with colors, demarcations and scales, but there is no explanation. Using only the information shown and your basic knowledge of, try to guess what information the map shows. It’s not about geography, it’s about information.

More on found poetry: Logolalia is a site dedicated to artists’ collaborations. The link points to an artist who is working through a page of a book a day, looking for found poetry. It’s visually and poetically interesting.

And finally, TinyBuddha gives you simple advice for a complex life. In this link, 7 keys to happiness.

Five Most Recent  Theme Thursdays:  * * * Creative Play 11.5.09 * * * Creative Play 10.29.09 * * * Creative Play 10.22.09 * * *  Creative Play 10.15.09 * * * Creative Play 10.8.09 * * * Creative Play 10.1.09* * *  Creative Play 9.24.09 * * * Creative Play 9.17.09* * * Creative Play 9.10.09 * * *

—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also wonders what you would like to say that you didn’t?

Resume Ignored by Online Application Sites? Here’s Why.

You’ve filled out hundreds of online job applications, and have never heard from an employer. You are beginning to feel rejected, unloved and unappreciated. Why doesn’t anyone call back? The reason may be in your resume and you haven’t noticed it.

This cartoon appears 1websurfer.wordpress.com's site for Aug. 18, 2008.

I’m going to start with the assumption that your resume is neat, truthful, printed in a simple font, no smaller than 11 points, no more than two pages covering the last 10 years, and that it is spell-checked and proofread. No “manger” for “manager,” no “it’s” when it should be “its.”

There are two areas that will get your resume ignored–fast. One of them is the “Objective” statement. Anything vague  gets you rejected. “I’m looking for an exciting job to advance my career,” is an example of a sinker. So is “Powerful executive with 20 years of increasing responsibility available for lateral applications of bricks-and-clicks viral e-marketing,” or anything else that looks like it comes from a jargon generator.

The objective is not a PR statement–the purpose is to get your hired. You will need a new one for every job you apply to. Hate the idea? Then get used to longer unemployment.

Your resume is being scanned for key words every time you submit it. If you don’t have the right key words, your resume will be shot into the shredder. What are the magic key words? Read the ad. The job description contains the key words. That’s why you need to change your objective for each job. Because the key words change. Look for nouns (titles, duties, responsibilities), not verbs (action words). You’ve probably been taught to create a “results oriented” resume. They don’t work anymore. Everyone “generated top results,” “managed profitability” and “won industry-wide awards,” and the scanner is not interested.

The new resume flies in the face of reasonable writing, but right now, just for resume, nouns are winning the eye of the scanner. And they are the nouns in the job description the scanner is looking for. A match gets your resume in front of a real person. Until that happens, you won’t find a job.

The second mine-field is the words you use to describe your job responsibilities–especially if you are changing fields or job levels. Your resume is about your past. If you use words that link you to your past job, you won’t find the new one.

For example, if you were a financial writer and want to be a trainer, don’t describe yourself using financial language. “Wrote extensively on retirement plans, 401(k) investment options and high-yield portfolio management” are words that classify you as a financial writer. Instead, read the ads for a trainer and use those keywords to describe your old job. No, don’t make it up. I’m talking about using a different vocabulary to describe the work you did.

If the training ad is looking for someone who “develops training programs and is familiar with adult learning practices,” you might want to say you “developed stories to train adults to prepare for retirement,” or “Wrote material to familiarize adults with practices that provide a secure future.” Those aren’t wonderful sentences, yours will be better because you have more job description to choose from. The point is to use the key words for your future job to describe the past. So you can move out of the past and into a future–or at least get a job interview with a real person.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She is a trainer in business communications. © 2009 All rights reserved.