What You Get Is What You See

In the last section of Raw Art Journaling, I use photographs as a starting point. I find something in the photograph that wants out, and let it out with pencils, markers, paint. You can do the same thing with words. Look at the photos below and use them as the starting point for writing. A photographic journal prompt. In this case, I wrote haiku, although you can use it as a journal prompt for a nature journal as well.


Water: smooth. Danger?
Frozen, biting, hot and cold.
Holding time in check.


Earth waits for water
Water waits for freshing wind
Wind waits for no one.


Light years cool fire’s heat
Less in the burning desert
Even the moon is hot


Dust hangs in the air
Reflecting heat and cactus
Glass is dust, is air

Haven’t bought the book yet? It’s time. Here’s a free shipping bonus!

Get free shipping on Raw Art Journaling at www.shop.mixedmedia.com! Just use promo code RAWART2011 at checkout to get free shipping in the US.  Of course there is fine print, but not a lot. Here it is:

The Fine print:
*Code RAWART2011 is valid until December 31, 2011 at 11:59PM EST. Free shipping offer on US orders only. Price discounts are available for a limited time on some items. Please note that discounts are not available on products that ship directly from the manufacturer: see product pages for details.

–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling.

Book Launch Success–Thank You!

Thank you for everyone who showed up at the book signing. Thanks for buying a copy of Raw Art Journaling, too! It was a good time–a great evening of friends, strangers, excellent questions, good food.

People gathering at Changing Hands bookstore for the book launch

Thanks for all your good wishes, your generous comments, your thoughtful questions. And yes, thanks for buying the book. I  don’t want to overlook that part!

I’ll get back to regular blog posts tomorrow, but I didn’t want to have spent a lot of time asking you to show up and not thank you right away. Tonight was a very special night for me, and one I will remember with joy and warmth for years to come.

Hot night, cool food!

Give-Away on Book Launch Day!

August 1 Update: Congratulations to the winners of the stuffies: Linda Darby and Donna McGuigan! I had to draw two winners with all these great entries! Please send me your addresses and the inner critic stuffie will be on the way!

It’s July 27–the day I’ve been watching since November of 2009, when I started writing the book. Tonight is the book launch, so today we are celebrating with two giveaways! First, you are invited to the book launch party. If you are in the Phoenix area, please join us at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe. It’s at the SE corner of S. McClintock and Guadalupe, in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s. We start at 7 p.m.

Dessert includes fruit skewers, chocolate chip cookies, and Rice Krispie treats–a favorite I made when I was younger and doing a lot of writing, pretending to write a book. Oh, and there are M&M candies–in my logo colors with “QuinnCreative” printed on them. I couldn’t resist.

OK, now for the giveaways. First, on this blog: I’m giving away an inner critic–that voice in your head that reminds you of all your faults and lacks. This inner critic stuffie is perfect–s/he has a mouth that zips shut. Tired of listening to the constant stream of  criticism? Zip the critic’s mouth shut, and you’ll feel better immediately. Leave a comment and I’ll choose a winner at random. The photo is a representation–I’ll pick a color for you. Rita Ackerman of Tattered Past made these to order, and they are all different. (Click on the link and you can see a variety of them.) The one in the photo is mine, I’ll choose one just for you. Drawing is on August 1, so check back on that day for the winner (I’ll contact you, too.)

Second: Over at Tales of Studio Mailbox, there is another giveaway. T. J. Goerlitz made a video of a project from Raw Art Journaling and is giving away one copy of my book and nine goody bags for mixed media and journaling fans! You know how giveaways always say “Canada and U.S. only”? Not true this time. I’ll ship the book anywhere in the world. Leave a comment over at T.J’s blog and you could win the book!

It’s been a wonderful time writing the book, I’ve met so many interesting people with great stories. I can’t wait to see the art people make after reading the book.

Skewers for the Rice Krispie treats. I wanted to thank everyone who bought the book.

I’ve opened a Flickr group (Raw Art Journaling) for people who want to post their work and take a look at other people’s work. After you join the group, you can post up to five images a day. With 47 exercises in the book, I’m hoping to see some varied and interesting results!

Quinn McDonald is relieved that she no longer has to type the full title and launch date in her bio line. Quinn is an amazon.com best-selling author, and happy she wrote the book.

Sumi Ink, Big Brush

Just for a few days I have to quit working small. I like to work about 4 x 6. Lately I’ve been trying squares of 6 x 6. I love the square format because I’m fussing with grids. To break the spell of squares, I picked up a big Chinese calligraphy brush and an ink stone. Ink and brush are an ancient combination that create spare and simple art. The results make wonderful handmade cards.

Sumi ink and a big brush

With a little practice, the art of sumi-e yields wonderful results. You can leave them black and white or you can add a touch of color. You can buy the ink, or you can buy a stick of sumi-e ink and a grinding block.

The ink stick looks lacquered. It is. Rub the short end against a wet grinding block until you have a puddle of ink. If you live in a hard-water area, use distilled water in a spray bottle to create a deep black ink.

Good ink smells of incense, or at least soot. It’s made from plant charcoal, and some ink sticks smell better than others.

If you buy the fat brushes traditional for this art, soak and rinse the brushes. They are stiffened with fish glue to help them keep their shape in transit.

The basic strokes are simple: hold the brush upright, start with the tip of the

Leaves and stem in sumi-e style

brush, then push down, drag, then lift up as if it were an airplane taking off. That’s a leaf. A stem uses the tip of the brush pushed down and dragged, then pushed again.

The rest is practice. 15 minutes a day yields good results in about a week. The minimalism is soothing. The suggestion of the completed piece is all you need. Your mind does the rest. Creativity doesn’t have to use a lot to make itself known. Simple works, too.

–Quinn McDonald is keeping her excitement in check–the book launch is tomorrow night, 7 p.m. at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe. She is spending half her time worrying that no one will show up and the other half that there won’t be enough food. She also believes this is normal.

Online Class: Raw Art Journaling, The Book

Thanks to all of you who have asked if I’m going to teach an online class from the new book. YES! It starts on August 14. Best of all, I’m being hosted by Jacqui Graham’s very cool group, Artists of the Round Table. It’s a Yahoo Group, you do have to join to take the class.

The class will run for 10 weeks, covering a section of the book each week. You’ll have opportunities to do the exercises and post your work online. I’ll post comments as a creativity coach, not a critic.

The class will look like this:

Raw Art Journal syllabus for Artists of the Round Table Group

There are two sections for each week–a portion to read (the square with the week number and date), and the homework–the part in the colored arrows.

The class will stay up beyond the time of the class if you want to catch up. I’m very excited to be teaching this class.

Best of all, there are only two requirement for the class: Sign up for the Yahoo Group, and buy the book. (That link takes you to my website, clicking the link will take you to amazon.com and give me a few pennies for sending you there.)

There is no additional charge for taking the class! If you want your book signed and live in Phoenix, please come to the book launch on July 27, 7 p.m. at Changing Hands bookstore. You can buy the book while you are there! Changing Hands is at the NW corner of S. McClintock and Guadalupe in Tempe. 6428 S. McClintock –it’s in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s. Phone: (480) 730-0205. There will be desserts, and we’ll be making permission slips!

Quinn McDonald is an instructor in art topics and business communications. She thinks there are a lot of similarities between the two. Creativity is an important part of innovative communication.

Want a Critique? Don’t Ask Your Creativity Coach

Yes, I’m your coach.

No, I won’t comment on your creative work.

This is hard to understand, because I am not only your coach, I’m your creativity coach. There are several reasons, so let’s get the one you most suspect out of the way:

1.  It doesn’t matter what I think. What if I tell you your creative project is horrible and I don’t like it? Will it destroy you? Why? Because one person doesn’t like it? What if I say it’s wonderful? Will my opinion validate you? What if I tell you it’s wonderful and then it doesn’t sell? Does that make me wrong? Does it make you wrong? Will you quit doing your creative work? That’s the worst choice. So my opinion doesn’t matter. Not about the meaning-making of your work.

2. You are paying me to coach you. Critiquing is a different service. Most clients think that once they’ve hired me as a coach, I can provide many services–adviser, researcher, conscience, authority-figure-to-fight-with, editor, marketer, problem-solver, and idea-provider. I can, but I probably won’t.  As your coach, my major service is to keep you in action in service to your own creativity. To give you a clear place to take a stand. To let you discover who you are and what your purpose in life is. I don’t give advice. It’s a bad idea. It gives you the idea that I’m responsible for your decisions, when I am not. You came to me because you were stuck in one place. Discovering your next move is your work, and I support you in that. I will toss out ideas for you to consider, but they aren’t advice. They are generally perspectives you can’t imagine yourself, but you will.

Yes, I provide marketing communication, editing, writing, problem-solving and idea-providing to businesses. And I charge them for it. All those services are separate, and my non-coaching clients pay for them.

3. I’m a coach, who understands the slippery work of creativity. I know about the danger of discouragement and the spike of “making it” and the long stretch of creative fear in the middle. I’m not an art/music/film/fashion expert. If fashion listened to me, there would be no 5-inch spike heels, none of those silly platform stilettos without heels, and none of those ankle boots that make women look as if they had ahoof instead of a foot. There are many things that work well, and become hugely popular, even if I don’t understand them or think they would be financially successful.

4. Writing is not about getting published. This is the hardest to understand. I am a writer. And writing is not about getting published. Writing is about writing. A born writer won’t quit, even if I tell them their story stinks. That’s how I know they are writers. Writers want to say something, even if no one listens. Being a writer is a struggle, and that’s the part I’m supporting and making accountable. The rest is details.

5. Because you need to build confidence, not gather encouragement. That’s the heart of the reason. You hired a coach to be able to create a change, work through change, live with change. Or learn why you can’t and live with that. There is a difference between what makes meaning and what will sell, and both have merits. That’s your work. I can’t do it for you. All the stories, the examples, the agreement in the world won’t amount to anything if you don’t do the work. Ah, and that’s the horrible truth. . .I won’t do your work. I can’t do your work. Doing your work is how creative people succeed and live their lives. It’s all about you. And I know that.

Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who helps people through change, re-invention and transition. Her book Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art has made it to the #1 slot on amazon.com’s Mixed Media division and #3 in Creativity.

Name Your Own Color

It’s time for another Michelle Ward Street Team Challenge. Last month, she asked us if our color palettes changed from season to season. Living in the Sonoran desert, where the temperature is currently on “broil” I instead compared the colors and styles I used when I loved on the East Coast and then when I moved here.

This month, in Crusade #53, Michelle asked us to find colors we had blended ourselves, and give them new names. I love exploring color, so I picked up my three Daniel Smith watercolor paint sticks–New Gamboge (yellow), Quinacridone (red), and Ultramarine (blue) and renamed them to Arizona colors. Our sky is huge and bright blue, so the blue became Arizona Sky.

The yellow is a dusty, dry color that matches the color of our horizons when the dust storms move through, so it got the name of our dust storms: haboob.

The red is the color of a the juice of a saguaro fruit. The fruit is pressed out of the very seedy pod, mixed with sugar, fermented, and then used by the Tohono O’odham in a ceremony to call forth the clouds that bring rain.

But that was just renaming the colors I used. The real task was to create blended colors and name those. Below is an acacia tree –from which we get gum arabic, among other things. The tree was painted with the three color sticks above. No other colors were used. The three colors I used are primary colors, and every other color can be made from them. The greens were mixes of yellow and blue, sometimes more yellow, sometimes more blue.

The sand and underpainting of the trunk were an orange mixed from yellow and red. I then added blue to the orange and made brown, added a bit more red and made the trunk and stems.

The re-named colors are: in the top of the tree: Sun-Shot. Over to the right, the tender green is April Morning. In the center, the leaves in shadow are July Shadow.

On the right edge, the dry, tired green is Sun-Blasted. The trunk is Bent Trunk, and below the tree, there is Hot Sand.

What a great challenge! Thanks Michelle, for your unending imagination and inspiration!

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, is newly released by North Light Books.