Featuring Magazine #2 to Give Away

Collage © by Michelle Reuss, in Featuring magazine.

The second issue of Featuring magazine is out.  (Here’s the review of the first issue) I’m a fan of the magazine–from the smooth A4 size (see the size chart for the European A-size papers and how they keep getting cut in half), to the saturated colors and delicate, airy page design all the way to the coated paper cover that looks liquid-glazed.

The articles are leisurely, allowed to develop in a natural way that shows a curiosity about life and art. It’s rare to see a magazine that allows a story space to breathe, but Featuring does and I love the magazine for it.

In this issue are a mix of fascinating articles–an interview with Michelle Reuss

Josie George’s cleverly thought-out article on flash-fiction (Twitter-length stories) is also beautifully photographed.

who is open and clear about her detailed 2D and 3D work as well as her disability; a detailed article about blogger Tammy Garcia (DaisyYellow) and her irrepressible art ideas; a poem/journal about Coming Home by editor-in-chief Marit Barentsen that feels both familiar and far away.

There are 74 pages of beautifully-designed, carefully edited articles. Yes, I’m partial to flash fiction and artists who use maps in their work, and there are two articles on those topics, too.

You can buy the magazine on the Featuring website, (about $11.00) or you can leave a comment about why you want the magazine, and I’ll give one copy away. I bought two, just to make someone happy! Since I had the magazines shipped from Europe, I’ll be giving the magazine away to someone in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada.

NOTE: DJ Huff is the winner of the magazine! Congratulations!

-Quinn McDonald is an art journaler who is writing a book about the inner critic and your inner heroes.

Same Creativity, Different Approach

Ask 10 people what creativity is, and you’ll get 10 different answers. That’s as it should be–individual approaches call for separate opinions.

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people”
– Leo Burnett.  Burnett was a giant among advertising writers in the 1960s. His company was among the top 10 advertising agencies in the world. He was a word collector–he kept a folder of words, phrases and analogies in his lower left desk drawer. He used them to create iconic images such as the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and the Marlboro Man.

* * *
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”
– Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang.

* * *

Charlie Mingus

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”
– Charles Mingus, influential American jazz composer and double bassist. Composer of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

* * *

François-Marie Arouet, whose nom de plume was Voltaire. Image; Musee Carnavalet, Paris.

And just for frequent commentor Pete:
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation”    – Voltaire

* * *
Feel free to add the definition of what creativity is for you.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is writing a book on conversations with the inner critic.

Tomorrow: The new Featuring magazine is out, and I’m going to do a giveaway!

Writing a Book, Writing a Blog

My inner critic is in full throttle as I write the book on, well, the inner critic. There’s a lot of work to be done, and it needs focus and concentration. The same is true of my blog posts–it takes hours to come up with the idea, refine the concept and write the post. The blog posts have taken over much of the time I need for the book. There is also my other work–the business training classes and creativity coaching that feeds me both literally and figuratively.

Coffered and painted ceiling at Onyx Expressions, Albuquerque NM

I enjoy writing the blog and I am not giving it up. I will be cutting down to new posts on three days a week–randomly. Good ideas don’t always work on schedule. On three other days a week, I’ll be posting interesting quotes I’ve found–funny, profound, inspiring–and a short comment. They can be used for art journaling, commenting, or just nodding and smiling.  On the one other day–Saturday–I will continue to post links to past posts that you may have missed as well as outside links to interesting posts on other blogs.

If you have an interesting blog post you’d like me to consider–send me the link

Coffered and painted ceiling at Onyx Expressions, Albuquerque NM

and a few words why you like it. And of course you can include one of your own as an interesting note. The way to contact me is above the photo at the top of the page, under “Work With Quinn/Contact”

I hope to continue to give you interesting reasons to stop by, whether it’s quotes or an article. And of course, I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening in the book.

As always, classes will be posted in the navigation bar above the photo on the page.

–Quinn McDonald is writing a book on the inner critic and the inner heroes.

Work or Play?


All work and no play makes Bart a troublemaker.

Creatives are often told “You are so lucky! You get to play all day!” Most artists begin to grumble at this–creative work is just that–work. But many creatives love their work deeply, are dedicated to exploring the limits, and also have fun when they can chase an idea.

Play can be work. Design, the right use of color, critiquing your own work–that’s work.

Work can be play. You lose yourself in what you do, and the lightness you feel is the sound of success landing in your heart.

There is always the struggle is you are pricing your work. Then play doesn’t get paid enough and work that doesn’t work is overpriced. Creative exploration is work and play.

What do you do in your studio? Is it work? Is it play? How do you decide?

—Quinn McDonald sometimes can’t tell work from play. If she plays with it long enough, it starts to feel like work.

Saturday Drift

Saturday is a good day to drift into creativity. I’ve left you some links to explore while I’m off on my own creative dig.

Mess up a journal page? It’s OK. Here are four ways to fix it or live with it.

Speaking in public is hard for most people. Whether you have to talk to your co-workers or to a room full of people, here are some tips to make the conversation work.

It’s Saturday. Change up that cereal-for-breakfast to a ham cup containing an egg and . . .

Every artist needs room to think and room to grow. Create a space for yourself.

–Quinn McDonald is running around the countryside this Saturday.


Your Map, Your Life

The first time I got on an airplane, I took an atlas with me.  I had studied geography in school (does anyone do that anymore?) and didn’t want to miss any of the details.

The Map of the Idea I Had Last Week. Ink, acyrlic gold ink on watercolor paper. © Quinn McDonald.

We rose above the clouds–magic! The clouds looked solid enough to bounce on. The clouds cleared away and I looked down–and was horrified. Everything was the same color. Rivers were not blue, there were no state lines, and while I knew each state wasn’t going to be the color of the atlas, I did think it would look a lot more like a map.

From that day forward, I was in love with maps. This was long before GoogleEarth, so cartographers were still drawing on paper, creating a reality that we all believed.

I began to make my own maps. Of my house. Of my neighborhood. And then I began to make imaginary maps, of places I had never seen and had never been. Seeing that there were no lines on the earth gave me the freedom to leave the cartographer idea behind and make up new ideas.

Lately, I’ve been creating imaginary maps. Sometimes they have lines and descriptions, names that describe my emotions (Sea of Doubt, Scattered Thought Islands, Outlet Inlet). Sometimes they are blank. Because each time we see our lives, we see them in different context, with different emotions and information. There are no lines. There are no markers on most of our lives.

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.   —Alan Alda

-Quinn McDonald is still on the road of discovery. Sometimes she has a map, sometimes she makes it up as she goes along.

The Crafty Inner Critic

Our inner critic is no fool. Playing on fear is how s/he gets our attention. Fear reactions are deep and visceral and often feel like safety, when often they are simply more fear. A reaction to fear is anger, and to anger doubt. You can see where that leads without much explanation.

When I saw the image with Marianne Williamson quote on Facebook, it made me smile. We are also afraid of love. Love is work. Love is commitment. Love is not guaranteed. If we fail, it will hurt.

All that is true.

Love can hurt if we fail at it.

But fear hurts when we succeed at it.

—Quinn McDonald has felt both love and fear, so she is writing a book about the inner critic.

Favorite Journal Discoveries

Yellow pepper, on the way to red. Watercolor on paper. © Quinn McDonald

Yesterday’s post started a whole rush of good ideas about keeping multiple journals for different reasons.

  • Cut up your old business calendars/notebooks for recycling in new journals
  • Keep a journal online, in a different language, to give space for the different aspects of your personalities.
  • Keep ideas in a small journal you carry everywhere. Expand them later.
  • Fiber work can be a journal, too. So can quilts. Don’t be shy, experiment!
  • Make your own journal–after you have completed some pages to get it started.
  • Work in several journals at once so you can dry pages without having to stop creating.

Today, I thought it might be fun to add some tips I’ve discovered to make my journal more interesting or fun to work in.

Date every page of your journal. It’s better than numbering pages, it lets you track growth and changes.

Storm warning. Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

Leave the last few pages of your journal empty. When you are having a bored day, use the dates to create a list of interesting ideas you had in the book. It will make it easier to find that special page if you have an index to check.

Make a mistake? Don’t paint over it. Figure out how to fix it, then re-do it on the next page. You’ll create a problem-solving how-to and gain pride in your work, not anguish over mistakes.

Want to show your journal to someone but have some pages you’d rather not show? Punch holes in the outer edge and use a ribbon to tie the pages together. People won’t untie without asking.

Brass doors at old movie theater, Phoenix.

I’m a writer, so I keep writing journals. Every month or so, I “harvest” phrases, metaphors and ideas and “distill” them into separate pages. It keeps me from hunting aimlessly for that phrase I liked so much.

Keep one journal for color swatches, alternative uses for and reviews of products you use regularly and lists of color names (for markers, yarn and paint). Take the journal with you when you go shopping. You won’t keep buying your favorite color over and over again. Instead, you’ll see what you have already and what you need to add. Stick coupons in this journal.

Keep a bin with leftovers, scraps big enough to work with. When the bin threatens to get full, organize a round robin with your friends (or Facebook friends) and swap scraps. Instant inspiration!

What are some of your favorite tips for keeping your journaling fresh?

—Quinn McDonald is an art journaler. She is writing a book on inner heroes and inner critics.


Many Journals, One Author

A skeletonized prickly pear pad. They can dry out and crumble and they can be pressed and preserved.

Last Saturday, when I joined a group of other artists I’d never met, we brought items for show and tell. There was an art quilt pillow, and a banner, and jewelry made of polymer clay and cactus webbing. I brought two of my journals–an experimental one and a sketchbook and passed them around. One of the women asked if I kept more than one journal at a time.

“Yes,” I said, “I do different things in different journals.”

“Isn’t that confusing?” she asked.

I’ve heard this question before, and I know it is difficult for someone to look at the linear idea of a journal–one page a day, perhaps, and see the effort scattered over a number of journals.

From the sketch journal: ink, sparkling H2)s on Arches Text Wove.

It’s hard for me to grasp the idea that everything fits in one book. I have a nature journal so I can check when the figs were ready last year, when the oranges bloomed, when the migrating birds first arrived in my yard.

Then there is the writing journal, the morning pages journal. Private and focused, it’s for my stream-of-consciousness thoughts, and long descriptions of ideas, dreams, and working through the problems that return and need to be processed and re-preprocessed. It’s one I’d never pass around.

There used to be a dream journal, but it burned in the roof-fire and collapse of 2003. There is a sketch journal and an experimental journal with mistakes and triumphs in it. Mostly mistakes. It’s important for me to remember not only the mistakes, but how I fixed them, or what the idea grew into.

Then there is my daily notebook, in which I keep business call notes, to0do lists and addresses so I can remember where I taught, what I taught and when. And names of people I meet in class, people who stay or fade, and may eventually work their way into the phone list.

None of them really belong to others, the contents seem to be happier separate. There was a time when all the information was in one book, with dividers, color coded. I gave it up when I let go trying to control my life. It worked well, both the separate journals and control.

Do you keep separate journals, ideas books? Do you keep different projects separate? Do you work in more than one medium? At the same time?

Quinn McDonald keeps many journals for many reasons. She’s writing a book to keep her inner critic out of the rest of her life.

The Cat and the Bag

Like most cats, Buster loves paper bags. He likes plastic bags, too, but those are for licking. Paper bags are for pouncing on, climbing into and creating cat-forts.

Buster, in a calmer mood.

Buster is a rescue cat. He was mistreated before we got him, and although he’s been with us many years, he still fears having something grab him by the neck. He wears a collar, but that took 18 months of careful work. Despite that, he loves being a lap cat and is the most fearless foolhardy of our cats.

After I emptied the groceries from Trader Joe’s, I dropped the bag on the floor. Buster was in heaven–he crawled into it, he rattled around it, he jumped on top of it, slid down the length, and stuck his head through the handle. In the split second before it happened, I knew it had been a mistake to leave the bag handles intact.

Buster now had his head through the bag handle, and while there was plenty of

Buster loves watching bacon. Just in case you drop some.

room, he was wearing the bag, and for Buster that meant the bag had him by the neck. Old fears roared to life. Buster headed down the hall full-tilt, the bag in pursuit. I tried to grab the bag as he went by, but that made it worse–now I was lunging for him. At least in his imagination.

As he came by again my comforting voice was lost in the bag rattling and flapping. The sliding door screen simply popped off the track as he burst through the open door and started a frantic lap around the pool. I hoped he wasn’t going to fall in, it’s too cold to voluntarily jump in, even after a cat. The pool towels were still outside, so I grabbed one, and when Buster made his second lap of the pool, I dropped the towel over him and scooped him up. He was so terrified he wet himself, the towel, and me.

In a second, I had the bad off his head, and sat down with a wet, shivering, terrified cat. With the bag gone, Buster did what Buster does when someone is holding him and saying calming things to him–he began to purr. In a few minutes his heart rate settled down and he let me give him a sponge bath. Particularly because I kept the bag of cat treats in view, and rewarded him when we were done.

After the drama, I began to think about his reaction. At first I thought, “he knows that bag won’t attack him; he knows it’s not alive.” But then I realized that I do the same thing. Well, not with a bag, but with old memories that still scare me. Given a trigger to set off anger, fear, or shame, I run around emotionally, not capable of calming myself, not caring what I do as long as I try to outrun the painful emotion.

The solution, of course, is to stop running, sit with the emotion and notice that it no longer has a hold on me. It never did. All I needed to do was pull it over my head. But calm thinking and planning is not what happens when old triggers are pushed. Panic and frantic emotions take over. At that moment, we need a calmer, cooler head that can see the bigger picture to hold us, comfort us and assure us we are safe. And until we learn to do that for ourselves, we will be no smarter than Buster.

–Quinn McDonald learns something every day, even if it’s from Buster. She teaches what she knows through coaching or writing classes.