Art Journal Freedom: Book Review (and Giveaway)

book1Note:Β  The three people who won the random drawing for Dina’s book fromare Shannon Ganshorn, Annettte Geistfeld, and Ann M. Philli. Congratulations to all of you!

Dina Wakley’s book is great. I could end the review there, but it wouldn’t tempt you enough to buy the book. And this is an art journaling book you should own, whether you are a beginner or an experienced art journaler.

I’ve taken classes from Dina, and I love her dedication to her art, her insistent encouraging to try new things or delight in familiar ones, and her easy way to bring out ideas and share them freely.

A few weeks ago, when I went to her book signing, I asked her just to sign the book (rather than sign it to me specifically) as I was planning on giving it away. But in the course of doing projects to review it, I got a bit enthusiastic, and splashed paint here and there and maybe dribbled a bit of gesso on the pages as well. So the giveaway book will be a fresh new one, but it won’t be here for about 10 days or so. If you are the winner, please be patient.

book2Details of Dina Wakley’s book: Journal Freedom: How to Journal Creativity with Color and Composition.
Publisher: North Light. Paperback, 128 pages long.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Symmetry and Asymmetry
  • White Space, Continuance and Closure
  • Proximity
  • Dominance and Repetition
  • Color Basics
  • Contrast with Color
  • Color as a Composition Tool
  • The Power of Black and White
  • Putting it All Together

On the table of contents page, there is a QR code that will take you to bonus content from Dina. A nice touch.

What I like about the book: It’s a real how-to, with basic creative art instruction. Many art journalers are self taught, and don’t want to go to school to learn color theory, the rule of thirds and other pedantic necessities. The genius in this book is that Dina teaches all the things you need to know to create beautifully composed pages by doing exercises that are fun and manageable.

book3She keeps the tone light and fun, and takes you along in a logical pattern that makes you want to learn. Her signature silhouettes are there, and in addition to seeing several ways to use silhouettes cut from magazines, you learn placement and balance.

I mean this next statement in the best possible way: Dina’s book is all hers. She doesn’t aggregate the work of 20 people, she teaches what she knows. I find it refreshing. Yes, it is nice to see different interpretations of an idea, but in this book having just one artist explain composition and color through her own work is a really good idea. It keeps lessons simple and allow the reader to try out personal ideas without having too many examples to choose from.

What I didn’t like: I kept a list and when I was done, I squinted at it to see if it was my preference, or an objective critique. The things I would have done differently would have made the book not Dina’s. So I am going to be happy that Dina’s fingerprints (colorful ones!) make the book what it is. I’m glad I spilled gesso on it and get to keep it.

This is more than a reference book, this is an enjoyable project and reference book.

Giveaway: If you want to win the book, leave a comment. I’ll be giving it away on Saturday morning, so you have time. And yes, partly that’s a stall to wait for the ordered book to arrive. The rest of it is that I am up to my armpits in paperwork this week.

Quinn McDonald loves seeing books with so much heart and soul of the artist on every page.

108 thoughts on “Art Journal Freedom: Book Review (and Giveaway)

  1. Hi–I am 62 years old & have thrown away any journal I haver ever written & thrown away my Art Journals ( as never good enough for anyone to get their hands on). I have just started following your Blog’s & the various Blog’s for which you have set links. In 62 years you can believe I have ‘dabbled in many art-forms. I have recently started my first never-to-be-thrown-away “art journal” thanks to your Blog’s coaching. I would love to win this wonderful book by Dina! So many more unique ideas on art but more importantly on the joy of journaling. Keep Blessing us with your Posts. Thanks Jone

    • Thank you for keeping your journals. They are a window onto your journey, and for generations to come, they will explain what life was like right now. No history book can do that.

  2. I’m relatively new to Art Journaling (Thank you Quinn for getting me started!). Dina’s book looks like it’s full of wonderful inspirations! If it’s anything like yours, it should be a lot of fun to go through and play with the techniques.

    • Anyone who makes journal covers from altered placemats is right on target for art journaling! Dina’s book teaches universal art concepts while concentrating on art journaling. And it really works.

  3. This looks like a great book. I’m not familiar with Dina’s work, but I really love the look of the pages that you share in your review. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Have just done a Dina workshop ‘My Facebook’ which has fired me up to continue drawing faces…me who could never even draw a house that didn’t look like a child’s drawing!! Would love to win this book please as am sure it will be full of good ideas and heard great things about it!!!

  5. I once had a two-hour-quick workshop with Dina, back in 2009 in Holland… and the spray ink techniques she showed me made me shift focus from scrapbooker to art journaler. She’s such an inspiration to many!

  6. Quinn I stumbled on this post through a on art journaling. When I got here I saw a picture of a book and thought, “Hmmm, I already have this on my Kindle.” So I went through and guess what? It’s YOUR book I have on my Kindle! So I’d love a chance to win Dina’s book, and I am so glad to have found my way to your blog!

  7. The photos you have shown indicate a really amazing inspirational book Quinn. Thank you for reviewing the ibook and bringing it to my attention. I would love a copy but like Jain I feel I am too far away. It is nearly 10am on Easter Friday here. May everyone’s Easter be a time of joy and revival in their art scene and life.

  8. yes, I’d be grateful for the book WITH ” HOW TOS ” …I appreciate the chance to win. blessings upon you & your heart , as you ever bless those around you.

  9. I would love to win Dina’s book!!! It’s one of the books on my Amazon wish list, and after your review it is now at the top of the list!

  10. It looks like a great book! So many art journaling books I’ve seen make me feel overwhelmed by the supplies and time needed to complete one piece. This book makes it feel more approachable to me.

  11. Your words are always meaningful to me – they seem to strike the right chord at the right time. I am just getting into art journaling and would love to win the book. Thanks for the opportunity!

  12. I know people alter books, but…new ones as they come into the house? lol I’d love to add Dina’s book to my ever growing stash of unaltered (ok, maybe some have had their own accidents) books.

  13. Ohh, I would love to see this book – please and thank you so much – I really appreciate the giveaways. And enjoy your blog anyway – they are just an added bonus to reading along! Thanks, Quinn!

  14. I keep trying to start a journal but freeze up after starting a page. It is funny that I can make individual pieces of art just fine but cannot warm to journaling. So obviously I would like to have at least one book on journaling and this looks good. I like what you said about it guiding but leaving room for personal expansion.

  15. The title doesn’t really say as much, or sound as interesting, as the subtitle that I like a lot better. Would love to look at this boo… πŸ™‚

  16. Thanks for the lovely review of Dina’s book. I met her in Savage Mill, MD when she was teaching at The Queen’s Ink. I would love to own her book as it sounds so interesting. Maybe I’ll be the lucky one this time. I work in a school and am off until next Wednesday so I am excited for the break and time to “play” in my studio.

  17. While I have not had the privilege of classes IRL with Dina (actually Dina taught some classes 2 hours from my home but I could not afford to travel there, stay in a hotel, etc.), I have done a little online learning with Dina. Love, love love. I would so love to win this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

  18. I pre-ordered this book, so for the first time in my life, I hope I do not win. I do have to comment that I totally agree with you. I am brand new to art journalling, but I own all of Dina’s stamps and could not wait to read her book. It was not a disappointment. I could not put it down. Her step by steps make everything look so easy, and makes it seem that even a newbie can create. It’s a great book!

  19. I was about to buy this book, but then we got our tax return/bill so I’ve had to put off any purchases for a bit. Maybe I’ll get lucky!

  20. I love how full your reviews are. I think a paint and gesso splattered book is a sign of a good art book, much like I think it tells you a lot about a recipe book.

    I have this on my wishlist. It looks wonderful. I will cross my fingers and toes! πŸ™‚

  21. Like everyone else I would like to have a copy of this book. Your review gives Dina’s book a very independent quality. I like that too. Thanks for the opportunity.

  22. Ah. What perfect timing. We moved (major downsizing last fall) and I’m just now getting out the art supplies. Would love the kickstart!

  23. I love getting inspiration from books like these! Lots of them I read right before falling asleep and have very vivid, colorful dreams. It’s creativity to the max! This is a great giveaway, and I hope I win…thanks!

  24. The book looks fabulous and inspiring – hopefully as inspiring as your book was for me. (It got me over my fear and into my art – THANKS! BTW)

  25. I started following Dina’s blog a few months ago and am loving her work. I look forward to reading her new book, whether I win it or buy it!

  26. what’s the reason I can’t keep a journal? I find if I do the idea on paper with details, etc. like the rest of you folks, it seems as though the ida gets translated THERE instead of on my silk. ay suggestions? I really admire all the journals I see, but maybe this ole brain just does not work that way

  27. I love her work too. I haven’t seen this book yet, so I am anxious to get a copy of it. I love all books about art journaling though. Everyone has such different ideas and techniques to share. I enjoy going through them again and again to find new stuff. πŸ™‚

  28. Yes, I absolutely would love to win this book. I’m always looking for new tips, tricks and techniques and am sure there are several between these covers.

  29. Since starting to read your blog I’ve started to make longer notations and comments in my sketchbooks. Not quite ‘Art Journaling’ but move in that direction. Your posts are inspiring, the Grateful Journal idea really got me thinking. I would love to have this book.

  30. I am just beginning to explore my creative side and am teaching myself. I have begun exploring in inks and have fallen in love with them. I would love a chance to win this book and explore other new areas and start my first art journal.

  31. I love working through art book exercises – and especially those all from one artist and their view of the world. I am more of an ink and watercolor artist and rarely spend much time thinking about layers. But you made me want to learn more about composition from this artist.

  32. This book sounds great for beginners like me. I’ve always loved art and art projects and the idea of an art journal sounds right up my alley. From your review, this book sounds like a great opportunity to learn some great techniques to spark my own creativity, which needs a little jump start. I would love to win a copy. Thank you for generously offering to give one away to a lucky winner!

  33. sounds amazing! As far as I know, Dina never comes to Denver to teach, so I would love to take a class from her via her book. I would have liked the one you “messed up” with gesso, too.

  34. I have been painting for many years but have often wanted to bring more of myself into my art. I love the combination of words and painting and want to explore those possibilities in my work. I came across your blog randomly and have enjoyed what you have to say. All your information is helping me take the first steps to my true expression. Thank you for sharing . I would love the opportunity to win this book, it is on my must have list.

  35. I would rather read a critique based on your preferences than one that attempts to be objective. I thought that was the whole point!

  36. Wow! Who wouldn’t want that book after your review. I’m glad you didn’t stop at the first sentence. Please put my name in for the drawing. Thanks.

  37. Thank you for sharing this book with us. I would like to start art journaling. I own a gallery and am a potter. I have always wanted to be able to illustrate my thoughts better. This book just might get me on the path to creatively journaling my thoughts.

  38. I’ve been hoping to get this book since it came out. I have just recently started a journal book and need help! Thanks for opportunity to win it.

  39. Hi Quinn….Greetings from Dallas, where your creativity posts are part of my early morning reads. I’d love, love, love to win the art journaling book you are giving away!

  40. I’ve not started art journalling but it’s so tempting. This sounds like a book for me to work through, thank you for the review; it’s going onto my birthday list but I’d certainly love to win it. You so often have provocative & objective things to say & I find them coming back to me at odd moments. It was through Glenda Waterworth that I heard of you.
    Thanks for all you do.
    Paula (PEP)

  41. I’d love to win Dina’s book. I want to own it so bad. Ive been so lucky to take 3 classes with Dina. I had her sign my copy of the Somerset magazine she was featured in. Thank u for the chance to maybe win! πŸ˜‰

  42. I would just adore this book as my only reference is off the internet which is great but you just can’t beat the feel of a book to spill paint and gesso and ink on !!!

  43. I’m glad Dina posted this link on FB as I’d not come across your blog before and have spent a happy half hour exploring it, as well as adding it to my expanding reading list! I love your approach and think I may need your book as I am finding myself with a journal full of backgrounds and not finishing them off.
    That said I’d love to win a copy of Dina’s book. I so nearly bought one when I was in one of her workshops recently and then spent the money on stencils instead and have been wondering ever since if I made the wrong decision – and it does look rather fabulous. Thanks for the opportunity.

  44. Hi Quinn from Australia! I was fortunate enough to meet Dina at CHA in Chicago last july – woww what an inspiring, down to earth gal –
    I would love love love love love to win this book!!!

  45. Hi Quinn…I’m still enjoying and reading all your posts, one of the few I read in its entirety. I like the art related ones of course as I’m a “newbie”, but I do so enjoy your coaching ones and always get something from them. Thank you for that…and the opportunity to win the book.

  46. Because of the time difference across our worlds,I think I may often be the first person to read your loverly words everyday! The computer pings within minutes of me waking up and you posting! Not a reason to get the book particularly,but I would love it please! All my art stuff arrived in a box yesterday from my epic move and change of life,so apt timing!xxxx

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