. . .Looking Forward

Note: The winners for the traveling journals have been drawn! Congratulations to Lisa “Salt and Light” Brown, Stephanie Hansen and Wendy from Late Start Studio!

This week, I will have written 1,500 blog posts for QuinnCreative on WordPress. the first month, January of 2007, I had 433 readers, about half of what I get per day now.

Illustration in one of the journals.

Smart readers have left clever, funny, thoughtful, interesting comments. Without those comment-leaving readers, I would have quit a long time ago. True, I do the blog for writing practice, and in a way it’s another journal I keep, but over six years, I have come to depend on my readers for insight and community.

To celebrate those 1,500 blog posts, there are going to be several give-aways this week. Today’s give away are the three traveling journals that have found their way back to me since 2009.

Illustration from one of the journals

New journalers, and sometimes experienced ones, tell me the biggest problem is starting a journal. What to put on that first page. . . how to fill up those first, blank pages. These three  journals all have the first several spreads finished. So you don’t have to worry about what to do with them. They have the registration stickers from 1001 journals still in them, and while each one of them has traveled over 5,000 miles (one went to the Philipeans and back), all are in excellent condition.

The journals are medium vermillion, cloth-bound 5.5 inches x 8.5 inches books by Hand-Made Journals with sturdy off-white,  acid-free, archival, unlined paper (130 gsm, about 90-pound paper).  Perfect for fountain pen, gel pens, roller balls, colored pencils, pastels, markers, acrylic paint and even light watercolor washes. Copic and other alcohol markers will bleed through, but Pitt Pens and water or dye-based markers won’t. They have an elastic closure and a pocket in the back.

So, if you’ve always been afraid of those blank pages, but have always wanted to

Illustration from one of the journals

keep a journal, leave a comment. I’m giving away all three of the journals on this one post, and I’ll choose the journals and people randomly. Because I have a large international audience, I’ll spring for overseas shipping, so everyone has an equal chance.

Names will be drawn on Tuesday, September 4  at 5 p.m. Phoenix time. Winners will be posted at the top of this post. We are going to be celebrating the 1,500 blog post all this week with various give-aways. The next one will be on Wednesday.

Thank you for reading, whether you have been here since 2007 or since last week. I’m grateful to every person who leaves comments–I know how hard that can be!

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who writes on creativity, does book reviews, and gives away journals. After 1,500 blog posts, she’s only scratched the surface. She is the author of Raw Art Journaling and is working on her second book, The Inner Hero’s Art Journal

Looking Back. . .

In May of 2009, I bought four red journals and joined the 1001 Journal Project. It was an extension of the fascinating 1000 journal project done by Someguy. You can see the fascinating documentary by Andrea Kreuzhage on Netflix. Being just a teensy bit controlling at the time, I created a spreadsheet of people who wanted to work in the themed journals (travel, dreams, summer in Phoenix, and general) and sent them out, asking each person to return it in two weeks.

At first, it worked fairly well. But within a month, I had requests for journals from schools and church groups who were only together for a limited time, asking if they could have it next, so they could work on it together. I began sending out loose pages of heavy art paper, figuring I’d bind them together when they came back.

And suddenly, instead of participating in an interesting art project, I became an administrator and the book police. The books came back, and I’d send them to the next person, but first, I’d have to make sure they were actually at the address they had sent me. I had no idea people moved so much. Or were so scheduled. People asked if, instead of today, I could send it in 10 days, but ask first. Or in a month, but to a different address.

An illustration from one of the journals.

One email read, “I’m on the list, don’t know when, but send it to first address, not second.”  Of course, I hadn’t kept the first address, because it wasn’t going to be used. I began to spend two to three hours a day in administrative work, separate from my business and artwork. It wasn’t art, and it gave me a huge understanding why Someguy, the originator of the project, abandoned his 1,000 journals in public places, with no expectations of ever getting them back. It all made so much more sense.

And then the first book disappeared. I wrote the last person who had it and she swore she had sent it back. Another person said he’d sent it to the next person on the list, and since I kept the list, that couldn’t have been one of my red journals. I sent out over 200 cut-to-size pieces of paper. After six months, I had back about a dozen. People are busy.

After I got emails from people telling me they didn’t have the money to send the book back and I should have provided postage, I drove to pick up one of the books. At the house, I was rebuffed and told that there never was a book. Defeated and having learned a great lesson about control and art, I let the project go.

Two of the books found their way back about a year later. I shelved them, guilty about my poor art organization skills.

And then yesterday a padded envelope arrived in the mail, self addressed. I recognized it although it has been three years since I sent one of them out. No return address. No note. But it was the third journal. No worse for wear. It had the illustrations I still remembered and loved.

I pulled out the other two and looked at the three journals. Wondered what i should do with them. And then I had a great idea. It made sense, it closed the circle, and it is so about letting go of control. Tomorrow, Monday, September 3, 2012, I’ll explain the next adventures the journals will take.

Quinn McDonald is building on what she learned.

Traveling Journals Switch to Postcards

Is there something you’ve left unsaid? Something you didn’t say right and would like to say it now? Here’s your chance.

I’m starting the PostScript Project, a way for people to say the things they didn’t say right the first time, to say what was left unsaid, to say what they wanted to say but didn’t. It doesn’t matter if it was 30 years ago or yesterday. It doesn’t matter if it was in a conversation, a snail-mail letter or an email. If you left it unsaid, you can say it now.

Aha! Moment postcard by Bridget Benton ©2009

Aha! Moment postcard by Bridget Benton ©2009

Use a postcard. An ordinary postcard is fine, or you can create your own postcard. If the Post Office will accept it, that’s all that counts. You can write, draw, paint, glue, tear. Use your imagination. Create a postcard and send it in.

Just to be clear: I am not going to forward your postcard. It will become a page in a group of handmade books I’m making. These books will join the Traveling Journals, whose time is coming to an end.

Need a postcard? I’ll send you a heavy watercolor paper postcard for free. Send me an email with your name and address to rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com.

Want to participate? Don’t wait. Say what you left unsaid, and mail it to:

Quinn McDonald
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318  USA

Here’s the backstory for the journals, for those of you who are worried about contributing to them: If you signed up to add to a journal, you will still get one. But I’m not adding any more names to the project. When I started the journal project, I thought people would sign up, draw or write their contributions, return the journal and I’d scan the pages and send them on.

But like most art projects, it didn’t turn out like I thought it would when I started.

People didn’t send the journals back and I had to phone or write them to remind them. They weren’t always happy to hear from me. Some of them changed their minds about contributing and handed the journals to friends who weren’t on the list. People on the list didn’t want to wait.

I became the journaling police and an administrator, neither of which I wanted to be–I wanted to participate in an art journaling project.

The loose pages idea was the start of a more imaginative turn, but to date, less then 10 percent of the loose pages have been returned. Again, I spent more time reminding people than creating handmade journals from the pages.

I needed a way to involve people but let them be creative when they wanted to, without waiting. So I came up with the idea for the PostScript Project. People who have left things unsaid–in a relationship, in a letter, in any way at all, can write or draw what they still need to say and send it to me on a post card. Any size or material the Post Office will take is fine.

Want to participate? Don’t wait. Be creative. Say what you left unsaid, and mail it to:

Quinn McDonald
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318  USA

Creative Seed Pods

In Arizona, we are entering the Season of Seeking Shade. Oranges stop growing, figs dry on the branches, birds sit in the tiniest patches of shades, beak open.

Seed pods ready for threshing

Seed pods ready for threshing

But there is another fascinating process that unfolds in the heat. Native trees produce seed pods. Most of them are hard and protective–understandable, soft seeds would wither and dry up in hours. Nothing rots here; it’s too dry. Leaves that drop, branches that blow down rot in weeks on the East Coast. Not so here. You’ll find them years later, just where they fell. They will be the bones of trees, bleached and stiff, but not rotting.

In order for seed pods to free the seeds, they need a threshing machine. Well, something to break open the pods so the seeds can drop to the dirt and wait for rain. Unless those pods break open, the seed can’t put out roots.

The lucky trees are the ones planted close to sidewalks and roads. The pods fall, we stomp or drive over them, the pods are crushed, the seeds released and ready to be washed into a gully to grow.

I was crunching over pods yesterday, loving the hollow, rattly sound the seeds make in the pods, when I thought how this is creative work. Well, it is like creative work. You have an idea, but it’s not ready to work, to grow, to connect with us. You create an idea-pod, but you hoard it. Nothing happens.

Then you drop it and other people walk over it, kick it aside, roll over it, and suddenly, you can see it in a fresh new light, ready to grow. And that’s when you see that letting it go, not forcing it was what it took to break out into a project that you can do. You had to let it go to make it work.

Liz Crain, one of the contributors to the Traveling Journals project, describes it perfectly here. She had to give the idea-pod time to grow, ripen and pop open before she could work with it. Make sure to take a peek at the results. Wonderful!

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She also trains people in business communications and teaches raw art journaling while managing those Traveling Journals

Traveling Journals: Update 7.10.09

The travel journal came back from California. Jeannine Jourdan did two pages in it, and as usual, I’m amazed. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and when it’s combined with a great sense of design and color, it’s breath-taking. I had no idea when she signed up that she was an artist, and opening the book was a complete surprise.

Jeannine Jourdan for the Traveling Journals © 2009

Jeannine Jourdan for the Traveling Journals © 2009

Because of the color on both pages, she created a separator page of vellum. The image below shows the page in place, covering the beautiful gold writing on the page with the fish. Below, you can see the fish page without the vellum covering. The gold is now more reflective and doesn’t photograph as well.

Jeannine Jourdan, © 2009

Jeannine Jourdan, © 2009

I didn’t ask Jeannine what the writing meant, I’ll have to do that. Right now, I’m just in delight at these colors and images.

–Quinn McDonald is circulating both journals and loose pages for strangers to create art, write, and make meaning in any way they want.

To participate–to write or draw in one of the journals or on loose pages, send an email to rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com

Traveling Journals Update: Loose Pages.6.26.09

More loose pages are coming in–these are from Theresa Hall.

The traveling journal project is getting a lot of attention from artists and journalers alike. Absolute strangers are contributing to four traveling journals and to loose pages of art paper I send them.

You can joint the project. Send me an email at rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me which journal you want to contribute to, or if you prefer loose pages. You can read more details.

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

This around-the-world project allows people to express themselves in any meaningful way. For the loose pages, I’ll bind them when I have enough. For the journals, they will be a part of a large, traveling art and journaling project which I hope to circulate through libraries and museums.

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

Theresa Hall (c) 2009

Traveling Journals Update: Loose Pages-6.25.09

Some loose pages came back from the traveling journals. These are from Poughkeepsie, NY, pages done by Becky Nielsen.

There are many ways and reasons to keep a journal. A vital reason is to witness world events. We often can’t change anything on our own, but the ability to witness and pass on is enormous. Awareness comes before action.  Thanks for your powerful contribution, Becky.

Becky Nielsen, watercolor on paper

Becky Nielsen, watercolor on paper

Quinn McDonald is circulating four journals (and loose pages which she will bind into journals) among strangers who want to share the raw-art-journaling experience. Read more about the journals. Take a peek at some of the images. Join the project by sending an email to rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com

Summer in Phoenix: It’s Baaaack

There is a season we huddle in our houses–no sense ruining your day by going out. Comfort drinks to soothe you while you listen to the weather report, wondering when it will all be over. That used to be winter. Now it’s summer in Phoenix. It will be 110 degrees by the end of the week, and it will be followed by 120 more days that are 100 degrees or above.

Things I’ve learned from my second summer in Phoenix:

—You CAN fry an egg on the sidewalk. This is best done around the summer solstice, when the sun is directly overhead at noon.

Victoria's page in the Sonoran Traveling Journal

Victoria's page in the Sonoran Traveling Journal

—A dip in a 95-degree pool is refreshing.

— You will walk half a mile in heat so hot your feet get stuck in the parking lot tar. This is not to get close to the mall entrance. This is to get that space under a tree.

—You carry a small cooler with a water bottle or 3 in it. A water bottle left in a cup holder is hot enough to make soup.

—You don’t leave CDs in the car. They melt. Even in the CD player.

—You don’t carry a black purse. The contents is too hot to touch.

—You put your iPhone in a light-colored cover. No one believes that iPhones  don’t work if it gets over 95 dgrees except for residents of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.

–You bring plants in for the summer. It gets too hot for many plants outside.

—You know there will be churning dust storms and rain storms so violent they are called “monsoons.” You leave extra time to clean your pool after these storms.

—“Geezer Glasses”–those giant sunglasses that slip over your regular glasses suddenly seem like a good idea. The glasses that get dark don’t work in your car because your windows are tinted. And you can take them off when they fog over when you walk into a store.

—You carry a sweater into a store because the difference between the outside temperature and inside temperature is often 30 degrees or more.

— At midnight, it’s still 96 degrees. You think that’s cool.

One of the Traveling Journals came back–Summer in the Sonoran. It will go out next week, I need to keep it for my class at Changing Hands on Saturday. That’s an image done by Victoria Pearman, above.

You can write in the journals, too. Check out the details about all the journals here. Or, drop me an email at Rawartjournal [at] gmail [dot] com.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and journal keeper who loves living in Phoenix.

Traveling Journals: First Voices

This coming Saturday, June 27, if you are close to Tempe, AZ, join us at Changing Hands bookstore for the first of three raw-art-journaling classes that will create pages for the traveling journals.

No prior experience in journaling, art journaling or drawing is required. Just a need to make a meaning and perhaps a curiosity about journaling with strangers.

You’ll learn a new art journaling technique and how to apply it, and once you are having fun, you’ll make a page for the journals and a page for yourself, so you’ll have fun to share and fun to take to your studio and remember.

The class is from 10 a.m. to noon, fee is $20. You must contact Changing Hands to register, I can’t do that for you. Phone (480) 730-0205 to register.

Changing Hands is at 6428 S McClintock Dr # C101

That’s at the Northwest corner of McClintock and Guadalupe in Tempe.

Tempe, AZ 85283-3936

Below is Liz Crain’s contribution to the Traveling Journals:

Liz Crain, ink on paper, Unthemed Journal

Liz Crain, ink on paper, Unthemed Journal

Traveling Journals: Update 6.12.09

The Traveling Journals are out being created. The Summer in the Sonoran desert crossed my desk briefly, before it went out again. Here are the latest images in that journal:

There are words written on each of the sun’s sizzling rays:

Summer sun by Lynn Trochelman

Summer sun by Lynn Trochelman

Here, the word “HOT” holds three experiences about our heat.

Summer "hot" stories by Lynn Trochelman

Summer "hot" stories by Lynn Trochelman

The spiral sun talks about the water coming hot out of the cold water tap, and that we have 120 days of 100-+ degree heat days.

Summer word-landscape by Quinn McDonald

Summer word-landscape by Quinn McDonald

Read more about the Traveling journals.

Sign up for one of the journals by sending an email to rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com

Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist who is circulating four journals and endless pieces of  art paper to create journals. The project is world-wide.