Neocolor II Backgrounds

Simple book. Monsoon Paper cover, neocolor II surface decoration on the inside pages. © Quinn McDonald 2017.

For years, I made books in acceptable ways. Cut the paper, fold it, carefully stitch it into the cover. There you are–a nice blank book. But I didn’t like blank books. And I wasn’t into slathering paint or color onto a page and then coming back and writing on it. But it was the “right” way to create a book.

So I stopped making books. In fact, I stopped doing any kind of art. It stopped being fun.

Recently, I’ve decided to just experiment. Play. I want to make a book that has poems in it that I like. Something to take with me on a trip to read if I wake up at 3 a.m. (You can read more about my dreaming the lives of others here.) Something that isn’t for anyone else, something that is easy to tuck in a carry on.  The cover paper (above) was a piece of Monsoon Paper. (A surface decoration technique I created about 10 years ago.)

What if I completed all the pages first, then chose the ones I liked best and bound those into a  book? No pages I didn’t like, none that didn’t work out. Much more freedom.

My first step was to create a background in the book, something with color. I decided to use neocolor II crayons, because acrylic paint, which is plastic, is hard to write on without special tools. I wanted something that didn’t stiffen the paper.

First, I scribbled some Neocolor II onto a vinyl file folder. It has a slight texture and is waterproof.

Next, I sprayed the surface of the folder with distilled water. (The water in Arizona contains a lot of minerals, and I didn’t want them to discolor the paper.)

Using Arches Text Wove (also called Arches Velin), a 100-percent cotton paper, I pressed it onto the wet surface. Without moving the paper, I rubbed the facing-up side with my hands. Then I slowly peeled the paper off the folder. The wetter areas blended, the dryer ones were more textural.

I printed another page with a slightly less spray, so it was dryer than the first. You can see the texture in parts of this page. I also dipped a brush in the yellow section and dragged it across the page.

Putting aside the wet sheets, I went for one more really dry print. The colors are all pale enough to write over, particularly if I choose to write in the places with less color. The first result was a bit granular, so I sprayed the paper directly with a bit more water.

The experimental pages are fun, don’t come with a big burden of perfection, and are pure self-expression, rather than bound by rules. If the book turns out, I’ll show you the completed project!

Quinn McDonald is an everyday creative who writes, creates collage, and is a certified creativity coach.




What Happens at a Writing Retreat?

The Madeline Island School of Arts

The Madeline Island School of Arts

“What’s all this about deep writing?” asked a client. “Why do I need to go on a retreat to write?” Going on a writing (or art) retreat is one of the biggest gifts you can give your creative spirit. Here’s a peek at what will happen at the Madeline Island School of the Arts this July 22 to July 26:

You arrive at Duluth, Minnesota and catch a van to Madeline Island, next to the cluster of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The van takes you to the ferry in Bayfield, Wisconsin. (About 1 hour and 45 minutes). From Bayfield, you’ll take a ferry to Madeline Island (about 30 minutes).  The van takes you to the front door of the school.

211-1The weather in July will be about 75 F in the daytime and 55 F at night. You get around the island by walking or bicycle, although you can also bring a car or rent a scooter or bicycle. By the time you arrive, you’ve already become used to the peace and quiet.

You’ll find your room and check out the classroom, and then explore the island. The next day, you’ll meet me in the classroom for Metaphor and Magic: Mixed Media Conversations with Your Inner Critic.  The first day, we will talk about why you came, what you hope to get out of deep writing and expressive art. We’ll talk about the project we are going to work on–the writing, the art, the free-form pages, how we will make, gather and carry them, how to use the pages in brainstorming, planning, choosing ideas to follow.

You don’t have to know how to draw or write to take this class, you just have to bring your self, your experiences, your questions about what it is you are meant to do.

You will have brought your Inner Critic, and you can expect him (or her) to show up and yap. This class is about confronting your Inner Critic, taking on the voice of “never good enough” with the Inner Heroes you will discover over the next five days.

385167_407181399335781_1428142135_nOn that first day we will learn to trust each other, to make those first tentative experiments in meeting kindred souls who are also seeking connection.

On that first day we will also make Monsoon Papers and talk about who we are, who we wish we were, what we need to leave behind. In the afternoon, we will do our first deep writing exercise–a kind of writing that lets you get to the heart of who you are and how you would like to be heard. You may suddenly cry, or laugh, or discover a part of you that’s been hiding at the edge of your vision. Expect to discover yourself as you discover the island.

In the evening, you will explore the island and the restaurants available.

For the rest of the time, we will spend mornings together, learning a new writing technique and a new art technique. We will experiment and explore and uncover our Inner Heroes.

In the afternoon, you can explore the island, find a place to write, or return to the images-1classroom and try out what you learned that morning. I’ll also be available for private creativity coaching sessions. (There is no extra charge for using the classroom or the coaching).

On some days, we will share our ideas and our work, to learn from each other, to form the connections that deep writing and deep art encourage.

On the 25th of July, we will begin to gather our free-form pages and discover the many uses they offer. Sorting and creating spreads like you would Tarot cards, you will learn to use your newly discovered voice, your strength, your creativity.

Your time on the island can be a magical time of healing, of soul retrieval, of refreshment.

Please join me there for an unforgettable experience. The class tuition is $425, and you can register at MISA’s page with the class description. Most of your other questions will be answered on this page.

–Quinn McDonald is starting to plan for the metaphor and magic. She’s packing quite a bit of magic.