Tag Archives: art journaling

Saturday Creative Roll

Giveaway: The three people who won Dina’s book from the March 27 blog post are Shannon Ganshorn, Annettte Geistfeld, and Ann M. Philli. Congratulations to all of you!

6a00d8341c766153ef017ee9cbb131970d-500wiJulie Fei-Fan Balzer is a multi-talented multi-media artist. I love her lettering and the design of her journal pages. I never draw faces–not in my journal, not in anything. So it’s time I gave you a link to someone who does.  Sharon Evans is doing a guest post about faces. The whole idea is interesting, 29 days of face drawing, on Ayala’s blog post. Whew, three amazing artists in one paragraph.  A good beginning, for sure.

Joanne Sharpe is a Journal Artist and knows how to produce a huge variety of lettering. Here’s some eye candy of Joanne’s lettering on Pinterest. And here is Joanne’s blog.

Donna Downey fills journal pages with bright, easy colors. Her busy website has a great inspirational blog and video to enjoy.

Pocket magnifier as art, the joy of an MP3 player

Pocket magnifier as art, the joy of an MP3 player

One of my favorite art journaling blogs is John a-Lookin’ Around. John P. is an engineer who lives in Kansas, and he doesn’t post as often as he used to, but the archives are just sitting there, waiting to be drooled over. I love his elegantly simple page design.

Have a great creative Saturday!

Quinn McDonald just got a delivery from JetPens. She also has to do her taxes. This is harder than she thought.

Art Journal Freedom: Book Review (and Giveaway)

book1Note:  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.

Book Review: Flavor for Mixed Media (+Giveaway)

BookCoverNote: Ms. Lillypads is the winner of Mary Beth Shaw’s book.Congratulations! Send me your address and the book will be on its way!

Mary Beth Shaw‘s book, Flavor for Mixed Media, caught my attention because it used food as a metaphor for art. Two favorites in one book! The book expands the meaning of mixed media by including favorite recipes from contributors. That made it interesting to Kent, who is a personal chef, and loves a good recipe. We both decided to try projects from Mary Beth’s book–I’d try an art project, Kent would cook one of the recipes.

Paper Mosaic is one of my favorite collage approaches, and Mary Beth’s book has a section on using a color theory exercise to help expand your use of color. I built on that technique to create one of my free-standing journal pages. Here’s the video–about 6 minutes long, and a project from start to finish.

Artists mix colors, but we often mix our favorite colors over and over and don’t expand to different hues, tints, and values. The chapter’s guest artist is Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, and her color triad theory helps you mix and keep information on colors you love and that work together.

Page 26 and 27 of Mary Beth Shaw's book shows color triad theory.

Page 26 and 27 of Mary Beth Shaw’s book shows color triad theory.

The book is full of projects and ideas, but be sure to check out Mary Beth Shaw‘s website, too.

Painting Without Paint, guest artist Misty Mawn
Triad Color Theory, guest artist Sarah Ahearn Bellemare
Organic Abstract Painting, guest artist Elizabeth MacCrellish
Clayboard Book, guest artist Shari Beaubien
Texture Sampler, guest artist Susan Tuttle
Candle Shade, guest artist Laura Lein-Svencner
Collagraph Plate, guest artist Julie Snidle
Plexi Squared, guest artist Tonia Jenny
Three-Dimensional Painting, guest artist Dolan Geiman

Project from page 112.

Project from page 112.

Icing Panels, guest artist Heather Haymart
Taste of Klimt, guest artist Deb Trotter
Collage Painting, guest artist Claudine Hellmuth
Cardboard Collage, guest artist Katie Kendrick
Abstract Letter Forms, guest artist John Hammons
Abstract With Discarded Material, guest artist Judy Wise

Don’t take that “discarded material” too seriously. These are ideas for recycling materials and keep your art supply costs down.  I’m all for seeing materials in a new way, particularly if I don’t have to create a shopping list for them.

Project from page 77

Project from page 77

The eye candy in the links alone is richly satisfying–but what I really like is the variety of the projects. You get enough help to make the project through the step-by-steps, and the luscious photos of finished projects encourage you to keep going.

One of the joys of mixed media is choosing what you are interested in and exploring it. No problem veering into the kitchen for some of the guest authors’ recipes, either. I asked Kent to make Katie Kendrick’s  coconut lentil soup because I like lentil soup, it freezes well, and it’s satisfying without damaging my diet. But you can also make your own tortillas,  sugar cookies from a recipe that’s as versatile as the artwork, and Mary Beth’s own secret Brownies. (Yum!)

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a how-to book that you can take to the grocery store with the same great results as if you take it to the studio!

Front of art journal page I made from instructions on pgs. 24-27.

Front of art journal page I made from instructions on pgs. 24-27.

Giveaway: Mary Beth generously donated a signed copy of the book to my blog readers. Leave a comment that you’d like the book, and your name goes in the drawing that will be held on Wednesday evening, Phoenix time.  The winner (international entries are fine) will be announced on Thursday’s blog and at the top of this blog post.

—Quinn McDonald is learning how to shoot and edit videos to teach online classes. She wishes she had another four hands and a side porch on her brain to provide more room for learning new skills.


Quinn’s Ink Technique

This gallery contains 1 photos.

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

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.

L’Heure Bleue in New Mexico

We’ve fallen into a sort of “them v. us” view of nature. People in my neighborhood in the Sonoran desert curse trees because they are “messy.” I might add that these are the same trees that shade their houses from the scorching sun. As one neighbor told me, “I like the lushful look, but I hate when they drop their leaves or need work.” We’ve come to believe that nature is something “other,” something that needs controlling, a remote, and mostly, to be hidden away from indoors.

twilightlascrucesIt’s a shame, really. There are so much calling you outside. Yesterday, when I drove into Las Cruces I arrived just after sunset, at the time the French call “L’Heure Bleue” –the blue hour. It is a time of day when the shadows are lavender and navy, and a band of light hangs in the sky. The mountains were visible as sihouettes, and the lights of the city twinkled and danced. During L’heure bleue artificial lights are sharper and brighter and the air is suffused with great calm, peace, and a tinge of sadness. A view like that is seen with the heart more than the eyes.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and art journaler who is creating a class to be taught in Las Cruces, NM.

Image: Unfortunately, not mine. From: http://www.picachomountain.com/find-your-new-home/#


If a new sketch or art journal comes out, I generally buy it and try it. Different sizes, different papers, different finishes on the paper–all interest me. I have three more journals coming my way, but today the review is … Continue reading

The Muse Connects

The community pueblo at Wupatki National Monument.

North of Flagstaff, Arizona, are the ruins of the Wupatki Pueblo. In the years between 1100 and 1182, a tribe of approximately 100 Native Americans lived there, in several buildings and a large, complex community room. Within a day’s walk, there were 1,000 other people from various clans. The stones that built the Pueblo are found on the ground in slabs. They are still there today. Their shape is smooth and regular, so stonemasons would not have needed to be hack them out of a quarry, just trim and place and mortar them into place. The walls look, after 900 years, fresh and even and modern.

Wupatki Pueblo is in the high desert, and the climate today is harsh–hot in the day and cold at night. A hundred years before Wupatki was settled, Sunset Crater, a volcano about 10 miles away, erupted, spewing lava and ash for many miles. The ash helped keep moisture in the ground, and the box canyon on which the village is built collected water during rains. The climate may well have been milder, modified by the volcanic explosion. Although some of the buildings are built close to natural wind blocks–canyon walls and arroyos.

The Hopi believe that the lessons learned about living and tending animals, making peace and making war, are still there, taught by the spirits of the village population that died there.

I took a photograph of the community building, showing a wall through a window. I thought about life in that community, the hard work that had to happen every day. And I wondered how the tribes had avoided war for many years.

Collage: Black paper, painted with metallic inks, covered with Japanese washi paper, pierced. Words cut from a history book.

When I got back, and took the idea into the studio, I wanted to make a collage in light and dark, with spaces to see through and spaces that look onto a different view.

For me, found poetry–a gathering of random words into meaningful ones–is like hearing bits and pieces of an ancient conversation.
The poem reads:

It is no longer
good enough to cry
We must
Act peace,
Live peace.

For me, the photo and the collage have striking emotional similarities–the look through an opening, the prayer for peace, and the realization that peace is work. It doesn’t just appear, it needs to be acted out and lived. Daily.

The muse brought one from the other. An entirely satisfying experience, all the way around.

Flagstaff is a “Dark Sky” city. No lights shine into the sky at night. Lights that work at night all shine down, toward the earth. At the Wupatki Pueblo, you can see a sky full of stars and the Milky Way, much like they were 900 years ago.

—Quinn McDonald believes she is standing at a point in time, on a road that has been traveled for many years. She has been here before.

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.


Call for Contributions: Inner Hero Book

Note: Thanks to everyone who contacted me. The contributors have been chosen.

Inner Hero Book Call for Entries
You know I’m writing a book on the Inner Critic. Actually, it’s about finding your Inner Hero and confronting the Inner Critic using the persona of your Inner Hero.

Image printed on fabric, then stitched to paper. Original image © Bo Mackison, 2011.

An important part of the book is to include art from people who love to do creative work and encourage others. Not famous people, but experimenters and explorers. If that’s you, today is the day to start planning.  The Inner Hero Art Journal: Mixed Media Conversations with Your Inner Critic is going to include artwork from a variety of people, and today is the day I’m asking for contributors.

About the book: 

  • The book has five example chapters. Each chapter has a separate art technique and a writing technique.
  • In the book, I’ll be creating a series of double-sided, loose-leaf journal pages with art on one side and writing on the other.
  • You will be submitting either an art sample or a writing sample.

These are the chapters and techniques in the book

Inner Hero Name Art Technique Writing Technique
The scribe Ink as paint (abstract) Free writing
The tarot-reader Paper mosaic Alike and Different
The alchemist Printing on fabric (combines paper + fabric) Guided visualization
The gardener Botanicals in artwork Tools (What tools do you use to inspire yourself?)
The wise woman Combining techniques Using aphorisms, proverbs, folk sayings and quotes.

Ink used as paint. Abstract, © Quinn McDonald

Update: Please follow the instructions below, even though they are long. Do not submit both art and writing. It’s your choice, don’t ask me to decide. Please pay close attention to sending your contact information (#5) and how to handle the subject line (#6) below.

What you need to do now:
1.  Choose an inner hero name/technique you would like to work with from the chart above. For each persona, there is a corresponding art or writing technique. The Inner Hero you choose will determine the technique. Choose only one–art or writing.
2.  For art submitters: Send two low-resolution images showing a sample of your work. Work you like to do is best. It’s not necessary to show the kind of technique you are going to do.  These images are just samples. The purpose of these samples is to help the publishers see your work.

3. For writing submitters: Submit a 100-word to 150-word writing sample. (Please no more than that). You can copy it from your blog or something you have written, or you can write a sample piece just for this.  Do not send a link to a site, and do not send an edited sample from a published piece. I want to see your own writing in the email.

4. You can read FAQs about art techniques and writing by clicking on this link:  FAQ   It is a pdf, and you will need Adobe reader. Download it here for free.

5. Once you have decided what you want to submit, send me the email with the samples, your full name, phone number and mailing address to Innerherobook@gmail.com   I will not share this information with anyone, it is simply providing me several ways to contact you.

Paper mosaic. © Quinn McDonald, 2011

6. In the subject line put the name of the inner hero and what technique you are choosing.
For example, if you want to use natural objects in your submission, and you want to submit writing, you will put Gardener/Writing in the subject line.
If you want to be the Alchemist and work on fabric and paper, put Alchemist/Art in the subject line.
You may choose the last chapter, combining techniques, but you must list the specific  art techniques you will be using in the body of the email. “Combining” here means art techniques.
7. The email with samples is due on October 21, 2012 by midnight Eastern time.  Remember, these are just low-res samples of your work, not finished pieces.

8. If your work is chosen, you will receive another email by mid-November. Final artwork photos are due by December 31, 2012. You will not send in artwork, you will send in photos. More information will be sent to the people who are chosen for submissions.

Botanical pear collage. ©Quinn McDonald, 2012.

Fine print you should know:
1. There is no guarantee you will get chosen. Even if you are chosen, you may get cut at the last minute. I have absolutely no control over this, and it is not a judgment against you.  It’s a matter of book pages and design.
2. You won’t get paid for your work. ( I wish you would.)  On the other hand, if your piece is chosen, you will be in a published book that I am working hard to make popular. You will have bragging rights to be a published artist or writer.
3. You will be asked to sign a permission slip that says the work is entirely owned by you—that you are not using someone else’s work. In other words, any photos, phrases, artwork was done by you. If you rip pages from a magazine for collage, they cannot be recognizable.

If you are using quotes, they must be in the public domain (this includes proverbs, folk sayings from your country, or quotes from ancient books, such as writing from the Buddha, Rumi,  the Bible or Q’ran).
4. You will own the copyright to your work. However, North Light may use your image in advertising, or in subsequent editions of the book, or in translated books.

If you have any questions, send them to the email address in Item 5, above, with the word Questions in the subject line. I will try to answer the questions quickly. Please read the FAQs first. I’m so happy to be able to include a big variety of meaning-making art in the book!