Ink-Spray Map Journal Page

Working with pen and ink always brings about the idea of fusty, precise, maybe even overly-precise journal images. Ahhh, the joy of raw-art journaling! Raw art journaling is not about fusty, it’s about meaning making.

I wanted to create a journal page that would help me think about my life–how I’ve grown, what issues come up again and again, how I can continue to grow.

A map seemed perfect for that task. I’ve drawn several maps in my journal, but always after a trip, as a way to log what I’ve seen and where it was.

This needed to be less precise. So I filled several small mist bottles with about 10 drops of ink (re-inkers or India ink) and about 2 teaspoons of distilled water. Distilled water is important if you live in a hard-water area, like I do. Otherwise, the bottle goes from misting to dribbling in about five tries.

I randomly spritzed a page, so it looked like this:

Ink-sprayed water color paper. Let dry completely before working.

Then I sat down and began to divide up the colors into areas like a map–land areas, oceans, boundaries. I made up titles for areas, “Ghost Dance Lake,” which is the place for memories that will live in your heart forever. They can be good or painful, but they are with you. There is an area for “unformed ideas,” and “scattered drylands” for ideas that may still work, but are not in use.

Map in progress, with land masses and boundaries drawn in.

I made a group of splatters into “detail islands” (lower left) because I often don’t connect details well.

There is the Plain of Plain (left, top) a place of simplicity, which often looks big and flat and boring to me, but if you look closely, it is filled with interesting colors and texture.

I should mention that the top example, with no writing, is not the same as the bottom example, that I used to color in my life. I’d worked on the bottom one before I realized that I needed a “before” and “after.”

You can do this kind of map more than once. You can do it often and have it look different every time. You can use one color and talk only about intensity over time. Monochromes are great for mapping how long after a particular incident you still remember it vividly, or how long it takes till the incident really changes your thinking permanently or the feeling fades entirely.

Multiple colors can represent time or place or ideas. It allows you space to think things through and draw conclusions. All perfect raw art and meaning making for a journal page.

–Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler and creativity coach whose book Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art will be published by North Light Books in July of 2011.

16 thoughts on “Ink-Spray Map Journal Page

  1. WOW – talk about serendipity! I have been on a recent spray ink kick — having made my own alcohol inks w/ sharpie markers (too much time on YouTube – ha!). I am really loving the ‘faux lithograph’ effect I am seeing in the speckly appearance of the inks in overlap. I LOVE the idea of ‘random personal maps’ — thanks for the ‘free time idea of the day’!

  2. After reading this I just HAD to try spraying ink yesterday – having no misters (yet), I had to scour the house for something that would do instead, and I found a perfume sample itty bitty spray thing and it worked surprisingly well.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Quinn!!

  3. Oh, I’d LOVE to do a round robin with these! I was thinking that these would be something we could actually accomplish when we get together, Quinn!! Let’s try it!

  4. That game sounds like fun! Too bad I didn’t know about it this past weekend. We had to wait for a flight to get in at the airport and ended up taking turns thinking of words and the other had to guess one letter at a time to try to figure out the word. We had fun with it and I’m pretty sure the people in the cars next to us enjoyed it also!

    I think we might just start this game and mail it off to our 11 yr old nephew who has just learned about zentangles in school. It will be fun to see what he does with a doodle or two that we start! I just might start a few and send them out to friends to see what they do with them! I love this!

  5. I am such a process person, and I love this concept very much. As a kid I used to play a game with my brother. One of use would doodle a quick scribble on a piece of paper and then the other of us had to turn that scribble into a picture. It’s still a game that I enjoy today!

  6. I’ve made maps like this where I’ve drawn odd shapes and then named then, but this adds a new layer of appeal–starting with spritzed ink takes away ALL control. An interesting idea for those of us who are control freaks. I really like this idea, and I love the results you got. Love your “Ghost Dance Lake” especially.

    I’ll have to explore the most economical way to get ink since I don’t have any in my supply box.

    • It takes away most of the control, which I love so very much. You can probably use watercolor for the color and put it in a spritz bottle. India inks come in colors and are inexpensive, too. I used rubber stamp pad re-inkers, and they aren’t cheap.

  7. I love maps and will be giving this a try as well. Did you notice any difference with the re-inkers vs. India inks? I have some old Adirondak spray mists that are all clogged and I was thinking about adding some drops of those into smaller bottles with some water to get lighter colors. I’m so glad you mentioned the distilled water, I will definitely try that also!

    • You can get the Adirondack misters to work again by soaking the spray part in warm (not hot) water. It may take a few days. If you happen to have some fountain pen or Rapidograph (technical drawing pen) cleaner, even better. The mica flakes dry and clog it, but they can be loosened. But yes, you can use the Adirondacks and Mini-misters–works great! Use distilled water, for sure, around here. India Inks have more heft and soak in more slowly. It’s sort of the difference between opaque and transparent watercolors.

    • The best paper to use is watercolor paper. Spray both sides with plain water first, to make sure the paper doesn’t curl. I also like Arches Text Wove, now called Velin. It’s cream colored and can take huge abuse.

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