Book Review: No Excuses Art Journaling

And yes, there is a giveaway of a signed book. But first, about the book.

Before I met Gina Rossi Armfield, her book, No Excuses Art Journaling, had me hooked. After I met her at CHA (Craft and Hobby Association Convention in Anaheim), I felt I’d met someone I’d known for a long time and crossed paths with again. She’s warm and happy to share her ideas. Over dinner, I got hooked on her style of art journaling and am having a lot of fun doing a “No-Excuses” journal of my own.

Cover of the No Excuses Art Journal.

Cover of the No Excuses Art Journal.

Her book is a flat-out, ingenious way to journal. There are easy step-by-step instructions. Take a book-size calendar, weekly preferable. Convert the datebook into a  journal by adding the journaling program (a free download) by taping it into the datebook. Add envelopes in each month, to store snippets you will want to use as you go along.

Gina also gives you monthly theme pages with quotes, ideas and prompts to put in the calendar for each month. You then add watercolor paper so you can draw, collage or paint, as you decide.

That’s just the beginning. Each month has a theme, there are tasks for each week. Feeling overwhelmed? No need. She just wants to make sure you aren’t bored. You can do as much or as little as you want.

I decided to use a watercolor sketch book and added sticky-note weekly calendar pages. This page shows some envelopes I made to hold painted leaves and feathers.

I decided to use a watercolor sketch book and added sticky-note weekly calendar pages. This page shows some envelopes I made to hold painted leaves and feathers.

To help you stay interested, she teaches you some techniques: how to carve your own rubber stamp, how to create collages, how to do contour drawings (so you can create sketches, which you also learn.

Jennifer Joanou's pages on seasons.

Jennifer Joanou’s pages on seasons.

There are hints to work with photo strips, the color of the day, getting in touch with your emotions and drawing the weather. Just when you think you are going to pop if you don’t grab a journal and get started, she gives examples of her own and from guest artists like Jenny Doh, Jennifer Joanou, Traci Lyn Huskamp, LK Ludwig, Susan Elliott–one for each month of the year.

"Nice Pair" watercolor marker and Gelli plate collage. © Quinn McDonald, 2014

“Nice Pair” watercolor marker and Gelli plate collage. © Quinn McDonald, 2014

Each artist chose a color palette to work with and answered a set of interview questions. You get an intimate look at each included artist and a view of their interpretation of the assignments.

The book is cheerful and peripatetic. You will want to use it as a reference, as a guide, as an inspiration.

Gina has offered to sign a book as a giveaway. Leave a comment, letting me know why her book would help you, and I’ll have a random drawing. Winner will be announced on Sunday–make sure you check in to see if you won.

This book will show you a fresh new way to create a fat, interesting journal while exploring your own seasons and landscapes. Oh, and Gina’s giving away the Inner Hero book today, too.

Quinn McDonald loves to read other artist’s journaling ideas.


51 thoughts on “Book Review: No Excuses Art Journaling

  1. I’ve just begun keeping a visual diary, and am voraciously looking what others are doing in order to get a sense of the wider possibilities–while the beginnings of my own style is starting to emerge.

  2. The word “Journal” immediately sparks my interest. I stumbled across this website today and was immediately hooked. It’s filled with a plethora of useful information. Why do I love journaling? Because, though it is unconventional, it is a most satisfying, unique, and intriguing art form. Rock on Journalers!

  3. Ohhh how exciting to have this book as a giveaway. Thanks Quinn! I’d love to have this book as a way of keeping ideas close at hand and for discovering many ways to journal.

  4. Ok, message from the universe time. Someone else mentioned this book to me the other day. Off to put it on my Amazon wish list in the hope someone might buy it for me for my birthday next month…. But thank you so much for the chance to win.

  5. I think reading the artists interview questions would open up my creativity to explore new directions. How awesome this book would be to win.

  6. This sounds exactly like something I need! I’m full of excuses and will spend an hour on pinterest instead of the hour in my art journal. I’m either afraid my idea won’t work or that it will take longer and be messier than I have time for. Definitely on my to read list!!

  7. Wow, this sounds like an awesome book! I think the calendar sort of approach is genious! I have found myself doing more of a daily sort of journaling myself this year, and I think this book would benefit me because of the extra tidbits thrown in! I mean how awesome to learn about carving my own stamp, and other fabulous ideas! Thanks so much Quinn

  8. Based on your review, I love the variety that this book offers from techniques, to sample journal pages of different artists, to the “no pressure” approach it sounds like just the book for me! Thanks to you and Gina for the opportunity to win a copy. I appreciate it.

  9. Thanks to a local (Asheville, NC) art journaling course I am back in my studio for the first time in 8 years. I’m late to the party since until a month ago I had never heard of art journaling and now I am fascinated and want to devour everything about it. This book belongs in my library. Thank you for introducing me to it.

  10. I have always wanted to try art journalling, but never felt I had the gifts, or talents to do it – or knew where and how to begin. This book might be a way for me to start. Thanks for the chance!

  11. This looks like the kind of journaling for me! I kept daybooks forever but got tired of recording daily activities when I would rarely go back and read it; art journaling is fun but a bit too intense for me except occasionally, but this looks like it would work! Even if I don’t win, I’m going to get the book.

  12. I need to be led gently into a journaling routine. This book looks like just the thing to do it….AND I get tips and tutorials too. Hope this will make me a regular, and accomplished, journal ….ist?….er?….whatever it’s called.

  13. I have just started doing the Documented Life Project this year and I believe it would be such a help to keep me motivated and learning new techniques and ideas.

  14. While I do take plenty of time to journal, I often struggle to decide what I want to do–because I have too many ideas! Gina’s book would give me a place to start. To forget my ideas, calm down and do something until I have a better idea of where I want to go from there.

  15. Have wrestled the chaos of life into submission, grappled down the winter time blues and am now ready to get back to my DAILY journaling and could use a kick in the pants along with some inspiration! Thanks for making a fun mid-week game.

  16. We’d all love to win this book wouldn’t we 🙂 This book certainly sounds unique in its approach to journaling taking us on a new journey to where ever it leads us – the exciting part! Yes, I too learned a new word – peripatetic and perhaps I’ll become a peripatetic if I win the book!

  17. Actually I am not sure it would help me but I certainly need help. I attempt to start journaling a dozen, no hundreds, of times but I always lose momentum after a few days, sometime after a few hours. Yet, I keep coming back to it, never getting very far. Sigh!

  18. Journaling has become my lifeline since I learned at the age of 61 that I was adopted. My world turned upside down, and everything dumped out! Lots of art, journaling, and a wonderful husband have helped ground me. I think I need this book.

  19. Quinn, you seem to get to review the best books! I would love to win this book, it just might be the very thing I need to kick start my visual journalling on a much more regular basis.

    • Well, in all honesty, I loved this book when I bought it, met Gina, loved her, too, and decided to do a book review swap with Gina–she’s reviewing my book today. It’s a fun way to get more journaling out into the world!

  20. I was looking at this book in a store the other day and added it to my wish list – I really want to have some kind of habit of journaling every day and have never been able to stick to it. I love her ideas and style. Thanks, Quinn and Gina!

  21. This sounds like a book I need. I have great intentions and collections of supplies, but sometimes I just need a little hand-holding. I now have it in my “wish list” on Amazon so I don’t forget to order it (just in case I don’t win the lottery here). Thank you for the review.

  22. As a newbie to art journaling this bookis exactly what I need!! Love all the jump starts ….I’m already inspired and I haven’t read the book yet! Mahalo for the info…aloha from Maui

  23. I am currently enrolled in one of Oprah’s life classes with Brene Brown based on her book “The gifts of Imperfection”. We use art journals for our weekly assignments. It’s been a wonderful way to work through struggles and find my way home with gratitude. We share our journals and comments with an online community of people from around the world participating in the course. I’m an artist but have never used art for journaling before. I love it!

  24. I’m currently enrolled in one of Oprah’s life classes with Brene Brown based on her book the “Gifts of Imperfection”. We use an art journal to do the weekly assignments, It’s been a wonderful way to work through struggles and find our way home with gratitude. We also share with other classmates from around the world.

  25. I have always been a “word” girl, so now making the switch to include more art activities and journalling. I would love this book to keep me going and teach me new things.

  26. Ooooh….I need this book! My creative hours are limited but I have this shoebox full of ticket stubs, found objects, copies of poems and quotes and quick sketches. Sounds like this would help me settle on a theme, dig through for the appropriate stuff and actually do something with it all!

  27. Great review….I defintly would love to have this book. I need advice and encouragement on journaling and techniques. Thanks for all your columns they are very informative and encouraging.

  28. I would love to win this book! As a mother of 2 small little girls with a full time job, a husband that is away on business, who is also studying to become certified, I have little free time . I believe this book gives fun and quick ways to insert creativity burst into one’s daily life. Thank you so much Quinn!!!

  29. I really have to try my luck with this one. This is the book for me. 🙂 I have been stuck in a creative pothole that swallowed me years ago for, well, years. The strange, exasperating, hope-devouring thing is that currently find it really hard to draw/paint/take your pick at home. I’m perfectly fine drawing on the road but at home, nothing. I need to find a kind of a light exercise to do at home to break the cycle. This just might be it. Sounds fun. Sounds open ended and liberating. And I like the style (I leafed through it on Amazon).

    What ever the lady luck decides, thank you for a new word, ‘peripatetic’. 😉

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