Category Archives: Raw Art Journaling


Stenciling Art Journal Pages

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Stencils have never really thrilled me; I’ve never believed I knew how to use them. While experimenting this weekend, I discovered what I’d missed–a simple, effective stencil technique that makes great art journal pages or, trimmed down and layered on … Continue reading

Fun With Splash Inks (Part 2)

Splash Inks are acrylic inks invented by Karen Elaine and made by Yasutomo. I’ve posted on Splash inks previously. Today, Arizona Art Supply had a class in learning how to use the inks. Kari Foteff

Senior Account Manager Kari Foteff, from Strathmore, and inventor Karen Elaine.

Senior Account Manager Kari Foteff (L) from Strathmore, and inventor Karen Elaine.

from Strathmore Papers (L) and Karen Elaine were there and they taught a wicked good class. Strathmore papers were the first papers I loved when I was a papermaker, and it was great meeting someone who gets to work with Strathmore papers much of the time.

It’s fun meeting an inventor, particularly one who is modest and never mentioned her time on the Carol Duvall show. ( A popular show on the DIY Network several years ago) or the process of invention, just what the inks can do.

There are four inks, and they follow the CMYK colors: Cyan (blue) Magenta, Yellow and Black. You can mix them into over a hundred different colors.


We mixed several colors, and Kay, next to me, did a whole sampler of colors.


We then masked off a card and, using a stencil, scraped Golden’s regular gel (gloss) over the stencil and allowed the gel to dry, creating a resist.  We then mixed colors and applied them over the card. Kay did an attractive multi-colored card:


And I tried for a batik effect:


I’ll be demonstrating the inks at Arizona Art Supply’s booth the Women’s Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center April 27 and 28, 2013.

Karen Elaine helped me learn how to do some paper marbling with the basic colors. I have some more work to do (mixing new colors), but I’m really pleased with the basic marbling which is super easy:


And works with more complicated combing patterns, too.


Even the second pick-up works well:


I made these on cardstock, but you can also make them on sized watercolor paper. You can use them as art journal backgrounds, or just write in the lighter areas. You can use Golden’s regular gel as a resist and then write on it with a sharpie. Lots of experimentation still to go, but I’m having a lot of fun with Splash Inks.

–Quinn McDonald has inky fingers again.

Disclaimer: I purchased the inks myself. I am receiving no compensation to blog about them.

Journal Page: Inventing an Alphabet

OK, I’m a writer, so I like different alphabets and codes. They also make great additions to a journal page. A new alphabet, a code–it’s a clever journaling piece that adds an easy design element through writing.

Could be someone cheering.

This morning on my walk, I saw interesting writing on the street. My mind went to an interesting story line–what if visitors from another planet came down and took notes on the street on what they saw and learned? What I saw on the street would be a kind of alien journal, written in code. That idea appealed to me, and I took some photos of the “writing.”

Looks like it could be a back-to-back letter.

That idea led to another one: why just use the regular alphabet in your journal? Why not add some new ones? New letter shapes, new designs are all around you. You can use alchemy symbols,  the Greek alphabet, numerical symbols.

A really interesting one is the Mormon Deseret alphabet (below). When you use shapes from an alphabet, you can invent what they mean to you–what the letter shapes are going to mean in your world. You can translate interesting letters into whole words if you like.


My favorite of the street was the one below–this is definitely the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything:

I made a journal page with a new alphabet. First I collaged various shades of white and cream on the page, then I used a brush and wrote quickly, without hesitation, inventing as I went along. And here is what the journal page looks like with a new alphabet:


And if you want to check out a few more different alphabets, this page should get you started.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, and artist who makes things up as she goes along.

Mind Over Chatter: On the Road to Minneapolis

Minneapolis has an incredible resource called the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. It teaches book structure, printing, marbling, and other book arts skills. And best of all, I’ll be there on the weekend of May 18 and 19, teaching Mind Over Chatter: Confronting Your Inner Critic Through Deep Writing and Mixed Media Journaling.  There is also a round-table discussion on Inner Critics on May 17 (Friday) evening.

Loose leaf journal page: gilded, dried leaves, double-exposure film photograph, on painted and stained watercolor paper.

Loose leaf journal page: gilded, dried leaves, double-exposure film photograph, on painted and stained watercolor paper.

What will the participants do in two days? Deep writing and art journaling–a combination I love teaching because of the incredible results that come from giving yourself time to write what you feel.

Art journaling is often more about art and less about journaling. But deep writing as an intuitive and creative tool transforms your art journals into rich explorations instead of a collection of completed pages. Come explore and experiment with both writing and art techniques and then combine both on loose leaf journal pages. Students will make “Monsoon Papers” — a surface design technique that requires giving up control with astonishing results — and a folio for completed pages.

There will be a good deal of experimentation, and because the pages are loose-leaf, they can be re-worked and then selected and sequenced in various orders with different results.

Folder for loose-leaf journal pages. Monsoon papers, stitched.

Folder for loose-leaf journal pages. Monsoon papers, stitched.

I don’t teach often in the Midwest, and I’m already looking forward to meeting book contributor T.J. Goerlitz, whose enthusiasm for the Center made the connection for me. What a find! (Both TJ and the Book Arts Center).

You can register on this page, scroll down as the workshops are listed by date, and May 18-19 is closer to the bottom than the top.

There is early-bird pricing and joining the Center will give you a break in the price as well.

I’m so excited about this class.Deep writing, Monsoon Papers and loose-leaf journal pages all in two days–explore your journey, art journaling, and discover yourself in deep writing. I hope to see you in May in Minneapolis!

Quinn McDonald will be doing a lot of traveling starting in May. There will be more announcements as the workshops develop.


Art Journaling Ideas

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Yes, I was supposed to finish my taxes, no I didn’t . Instead, I spent a lot of time in the studio, working on art journal pages. Splash Inks are really very interesting. There are just four of them: cyan, … Continue reading


Quinn’s Ink Technique

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For the last four years or so, starting with Monsoon Papers, I’ve been working with ink, using it instead of paint. Then I developed this fun ink drop technique for backgrounds for found poetry or as part of a collage. … Continue reading

Hearing Nicer Voices

Yesterday, I started a story about the negative chatter we all have in our head. Mine was running my life. It was negating what I was learning from books. When I was reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I loved it. But afterwards, my negative self talk made me think the books was useless and being cynical was clever. Here, then, is what happened next. . .

Getting rid of negative chatter. . .
Once I started to meditate, I began to want the negative self-talk to stop. A friend suggested I replace the negative chatter with positive thoughts. Affirmations? Me? Impossible. Not me. I forced myself. “I am a creative person.” “I am good at problem solving.” “I am strong.” “I am talented.” At first, it seemed ridiculous, selfish, vain. Then I noticed that I WAS a good problem solver. People were asking me to help them with their problems.

Visualizing the Internet from

Visualizing the Internet from

. . . opens the door to powerful change
Something else happened. I began to lose the negativity I thought was part of me. I quit doing something I had always done well—using my wit to criticize others. . I stopped telling people why their idea wouldn’t work. I didn’t like the protection my public face gave me anymore. I wanted my life to contribute, not denigrate. I wasn’t quite ready to be vulnerable, but I was heading there.

Visualize change, create change
Using the same technique I used for meditation, hushing my mind, I began to imagine situations that seemed hard to me. Speaking to people. Explaining what I do. In my imagination, the people smiled at me. They were happy with what they heard. I had something useful to say. The more positive things I imagined, the more positive things I noticed when I was in training sessions or at art shows.

The next October, on a cool but sunny day, I recognized myself standing at an art show, laughing with some other artists. I was happy. It was exactly what I had envisioned in the leadership course from three years before.

Change isn’t instant, but it gets easier
Visualization works because you focus on what you can do to influence the outcome positively. And once you’ve envisioned something, you begin to work on making it happen. To make it happen, we push away the negative, and choose to replace it with positive thoughts and actions. The choices are sometimes hard, but they are fueled with small successes and moments of joy. Change does not happen in a day, or a week, but it grows with each decision you make to make a positive choice instead of a negative one.

imagesThe Alchemist returns
Eventually, I bought another copy of The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. It seemed to be a new book this time. Filled with deep truth in simple terms.

“The old man leafed through the book, and fell to reading a page he came to. The boy waited, and then interrupted the old man just as he himself had been interrupted. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”
“And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”
“Not always in this way, but I always appear in one form or another. Sometimes I appear in the form of a solution, or a good idea. At other times, at a crucial moment, I make it easier for things to happen. There are other things I do, too, but most of the time, people don’t realize I’ve done them.” (p.25)

I finished reading the book and purchased 10 copies, which I’ve given away to people who want to transition into a different stage of their life. The negative self-talk will always be with you, but as a friend of mine says, “it’s always with me on the way to a show, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let it drive.”

–If you don’t want to tackle learning how to meditate, you can start with daydreaming. It’s easy and you get great results. Don’t focus on any one thing, let your mind drift. But if your mind drifts on negative thoughts, give it something to solve or a creative challenge.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer. She’s pushing hard on Chapter 6 of the Inner Hero book.

Cheesecloth Journaling

The yogurt maker in my kitchen is new. I eat a lot of yogurt, and thought it might be fun to make it myself. So far I’ve made it flavored with orange and lemon zest from our trees, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. All without any sugar and no added artificial sweetener. The problem (for me, your results may vary) is that if I taste anything sweet, even sweetened with “safe” artificial sweeteners,  I crave sugar. So, the best way for me to avoid sugar is not to eat any. It’s hard, but necessary.

cheesecloth1I like the scented yogurts. I add crushed nuts to the nutmeg scented and blueberries to the lemon flavored. But what I love most of all is turning four of the small containers out into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and waiting. In about three hours, I have a sieve full of Greek yogurt.

So why is this called Cheesecloth journaling? Because I have noticed that not all cheesecloth is the same. There is woven and there is knit. And cheesecloth is versatile and excellent for using on journal pages.

The woven cheesecloth looks great on black paper. The stark graphic design allows for busy edges. The cheesecloth on the card is completely flat, held down with matte medium. It looks dimensional, though.

Recently, I’ve lost my heart to knit cheesecloth. It looks like cheesecloth, but itcheezknit comes in a long tube, and when you dye it, you notice it has stripes. Ink makes a useful dye, so I used it to color up this piece.

Can’t show you what I did with it, not yet. But it goes with one of my inner heroes. And it really transforms a page. You can sew over it to attach it to a page, you can layer the dyed over the white, and you can add random threads over the whole thing. It’s incredibly inexpensive, and it is versatile on the page as in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I’ve switched to straining the yogurt through a coffee filter, so I can play with more of the cheesecloth. I’ve got priorities, after all.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and devotee of homemade yogurt. She wrote 3,000 words today and doesn’t know any more for now.


Sink Your Teeth into that Art Journal Page

This gallery contains 5 photos.

One page was drying, another three were still not ready. So I went to the bathroom to free a piece of almond wedged between my teeth. Not a friend of floss, I use pieces of pointed wood to chase plaque. … Continue reading

Prompts for a Wabi-Sabi Journal

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that values the time-worn, the aged, the imperfect. It is a philosophy and a way of accepting and giving up control. Bringing wabi-sabi into your life allows you to make room for daydreams, for accepting a simpler life and for valuing the riches already in your life.

Pollen dust form a leaf shape as it gathers in sprinkler run-off.

A wabi sabi journal is one filled with authentic you, the one that hungers for simplicity, nature, the organic flow of life. Here are a few quotes to help you open your mind to Wabi-Sabi. They make great journal prompts.

You are the person you are when no one is looking.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

No one can give you abilities. For example, an Olympic athlete works with a trainer to develop her abilities, but the trainer only helps manifest what was inherent all along. Likewise, no one can give you happiness. At most, others simply help manifest the joy that was always within you.

Happiness does not mean ‘absence of problems.’ There has never been a life free from problems. It is not the presence of problems, but how we tackle them that determines the quality of our lives.

A yellow dividing line wears away on a bike trail.

Blind faith is no faith

One does not win by making others lose.

–All quotes from “Open Your Mind, Open Your Life.” edited by Taro Gold

–Image from Still in the Stream, a site reflecting on Wabi-Sabi in nature.

-Quinn McDonald teaches “Wabi-Sabi Art Journaling” and is presently updating the course. She’s thinking about making ink from ashes of burned hope.