Slowly but surely….

I am adding some unexpected interest to my digital planner.

I’ll state this up front, the actual digital planner was not created by me. This planner was offered in the Friday Freebies on Boho Berry’s Digital Planners Facebook group. I have only made slight alterations to the planner so it will work for my personal use.

It first started when I decided to add a tracker for my bible reading. Then I thought I would try adding the daily weather. Things progressed from there.

2018Dec20&21 journal

These are my pages for yesterday and today, without my journaling. I inevitably fill up the white space with journaling about my day and my thoughts. I should tell you now, the artwork is NOT mine.

The graphics for the weather came from a Friday Freebie on, you guessed it (if you read my previous posts) Boho Berry’s Digital Planner Facebook group.

I did create the box with the list in it and the trackers at the bottom. Thanks to someone in the same group sharing how they could easily create trackers in a spreadsheet, copy them and paste them into their digital planner.

The flower on the list and the background fox image came from a coloring app I use on my phone, called Happy Color. After I completed coloring in the graphic, there is an option to share it so, I sent it to my computer and pasted it into my digital planner.

I really loved how the flower looked in my planner yesterday so today I decided to see how the images work in the background. It worked AMAZINGLY!! So now, I can capture some details about my day without having to say anything, by choosing one of the pictures I color that day and placing it into my planner.

None of this is difficult to do. Some of it requires using a couple different applications. I had a few obstacles to overcome, like acquiring Affinity Designer. If push came to shove, I could have done most everything in my older version of Adobe Photoshop Elements but the process takes far longer and is much more complicated. I discovered Affinity has all its products on sale so I jumped on it and gave it to myself (a few days early) for a Christmas present.

I did have one issue in trying to figure out how to make the background of the images transparent in Affinity Designer but a quick google search took me to the Forums on Affinity where someone had already asked the question and received an answer. Again, it is a very simple process. It was just a matter of finding where in Designer it could be done. This wasn’t one that would have been intuitively obvious. I might never have found it if I hadn’t searched online for the answer. Once learned though, it is quick and simple and I don’t have to use a magic tool to click in all the small areas where I want the background transparent.

There is at least one huge difference between Adobe Photoshop Elements (I have version 10), and Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer will import a PDF file and build layers. If I open a PDF file in Affinity Designer it shows a dialogue box where you can import ALL pages or select a page to import. I usually select one page. Designer builds layers for each element in the page. How quickly Affinity Designer does this is amazing.

My version of Adobe Photoshop Elements does NOT build layers. It opens a single page onto one layer which means there are NO elements which can be altered.

The layers Affinity Designer creates are great because each element is given a layer. I can then select an element and alter it if I want to change part of it. For instance, in the digital planner, if I want to change the text on a tab, all I have to do is select the text and change it. Same with the tab, if I want to change the color, I can do that as well. I can alter the shape of the tabs or any part of the page.

In Adobe Photoshop Elements, I’m either stuck with the shape and design or find a way to put a layer over it to cover it with what I want. Adobe Photoshop Elements is also VERY slow in rasterizing the PDF file.

I know this functionality of creating a layers from a PDF file so all the elements can be altered can create an ethical dilemma for designers. When I first came across digital planners, I wanted to know how they worked. Knowing how they work, also helps me to know what software was needed to make them work. I needed to know this because I was wanting to use them on my Windows desktop, not an Android table or an iPad. Watching some of Boho Berry’s videos gave me enough information to find some software to play with but it took a lot of searching to find the RIGHT software for the job I wanted them to do.

The other thing watching her videos did was help me to understand the planners are built by using layers upon layers to achieve the effect. I wasn’t sure how deeply this went until I discovered Affinity Designer. Breaking a single page down into ALL of its layers gave me the information I needed.

These planners take a lot of work to build. What Kara and others have built took a lot of time. Seeing all the layers in Affinity Designer for just one page makes me appreciate all the HARD work the creator of the planner did to develop it.

Affinity Designer enables me to alter an existing PDF to make it the way I want it. But it also opens up a possible ethical situation if someone should use it to take someone else’s design and change a portion of it and then call it their own. As an artist, I would never do that. It bothers me immensely when I hear of other “artists” taking someone’s work and either not crediting the original artist and letting people assume they own it or altering it slightly and then claiming it as theirs. They are not artists in my opinion.

I may one day attempt to create my own digital planner. If I did, I would create it from scratch. But right now I’m just happy to be able to use a planner someone else built for my own personal use so I can determine whether this is a daily practice I will continue with or if it will peter out like it did when I tried creating my own bullet journal. Working with a bullet journal lasted maybe six months before it became old.

I had, also developed an issue with my wrist due to all the handwriting I was doing. Switching to using the computer to type out my journal digitally has allowed my wrist to heal. I,also, learned the benefit of being able to keep up with my thoughts through typing. Many of my thoughts wouldn’t end up on paper because I couldn’t write fast enough.

I am an interesting balance of analytical/logical and creative/abstract. This becomes apparent when I consider what I’m drawn towards. I love math, especially algebra and geometric shapes. I think things through logically. I’m always wanting to create things with my hands. I knit and crochet, draw, paint, write stories and poetry along with my journaling. Once I learn how to do something I then find ways to tweak it, especially in my handmade items, like knitting. Computers have enabled me to combine both worlds which is why I think digital planners/journals will be my forever “go to” for expressing myself.

If an app is ever created which will allow a user to work completely within one app with their digital planner, I can see using these digital planners by everyone from church leaders/pastors to, business leaders, government aides and even children with their school work. I have been able to incorporate pages into my planner from a Bible in PDF format, have a blank page opposite where I write my notes, highlight the bible text, circle, underline and add supporting pictures and whatever else someone does to make it stand out. AND… it is all searchable in the PDF document once it is saved, including any annotations and notes. This can’t be done in hand written notes or hard copy books. I can add links to the PDF document as well so a reference can be found easily. In essence, these planners are becoming archival information of people lives and the knowledge they gather for themselves.

WE ARE CREATING OUR OWN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS.

For someone who didn’t excel in history class, I find this fascinating.

 

 

Trying something out…

The below picture is a screen shot of Xodo on my desktop. This wasn’t exactly an intuitive program to learn. I had to search several times to find where things could be done, like merging PDF’s and deleting pages. Sometimes I had to do a google search to get some tips or explanation on how to do something because Xodo’s site doesn’t have much “help” detail for the desktop application. I was finally able to figure out a lot of what it can do. I haven’t tried everything and probably won’t since I don’t plan on sharing my files with others.

I was quickly coming up to the end of my trial period with Affinity so I decided to try something I have never done before, either in a bullet journal or in graphic software. I was watching Boho Berry’s video series “One Month in my Digital Planner”, I think it was day 4 when she worked on her mood mandala and started actually drawing the mandala. If you have read very many of my posts here you will know I LOVE hand drawing mandalas and that they are my “go to” when I feel stressed or need to ground myself. Watching her made me wonder how easy it would be to create a mandala in Affinity Designer or if it would be very difficult.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. Having never done a mood mandala, playing with it would do two things.

  1. it would help me know if I would want to include a mood mandala in my journal each month
  2. it would help me learn how to make shapes in Affinity Designer

I was surprised how easy it was. There of course was a slight learning curve on how to make the various shapes. It definitely helped to have watched a couple videos on YouTube by East Coast Charm for her “Affinity Designer for Beginner” series. Her videos helped me see how easily shapes can be created and manipulated.

Here is the page I added to my December journal with the mood mandala I worked on so far.

mood mandala

Since today is my last day of the free trial with Affinity Designer, I probably won’t do any more on this until I can purchase the program which probably won’t happen until January.

That might be in question since I broke a tooth the other day and now need to get a crown on it. This is going to seriously eat into my budget since the job I have now has very minimal dental coverage and my daughter isn’t covered at all. She also needs to have a tooth worked on and I won’t know the impact financially until her appointment in early January when the dentist will evaluate what needs to be done.

Times like this (and this is minor, but still.. it ) make me realize how much I did not appreciate what I had before being laid off. The impact of that lay off reaches far into the future, possibly even impacting my daughter’s future since I no longer have the income to send her to college. I mention this because I can’t stress the importance enough to people I know and those who read my posts, that no matter how good your present situation is, PLEASE, don’t take it for GRANTED. No one ever knows what the next day will bring and if you can be like a squirrel and hoard away what you might need for winter, maybe things would be different for you. The stress I’m under would be far different if I had done things a bit differently and done more with what I had. Okay, off my soapbox….

Affinity Designer is a program which excites my inner artist and designer. What I have discovered in its ability is most likely just the tip of the iceberg. I have used Xara in the past and loved it too which is another fairly inexpensive product but there were limitations with it which I so far have not found in Affinity Designer. I haven’t explored it’s brush options yet which I’m looking forward to exploring once I purchase the product. With just the few things I’ve done so far on it, I think it is well worth the money. Hopefully, in January, I’ll be able to explore more and try making more elaborate mandalas.

 

I’m making progress and learning something new every day…

Every day, I’m learning something new on this journey with my digital planner. I find new and exciting ways to work with it. There are a number of things I’m finding out, like certain applications can make the PDF file cumbersome. I worried about someone being able to alter or delete what I had written since my writing was mostly done as annotations. This is basically a journey about discovering the limitations of certain applications and the never ending abilities of another application.

For instance, some limitations I ran across:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version), allows for annotations but doesn’t allow for entering text upon the page.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements, allows for importing text from a single page of a PDF but is very difficult in designing graphic elements I want to add.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version) and Adobe Photoshop Elements doesn’t allow for adding links, internal or external.
  • Adding text in Xodo to a PDF is purely annotation, which means the text is editable in PDF viewers that support annotation.

I needed the following:

  • my writing/journaling to become permanent within the PDF document, so it can’t be altered later in PDF viewers
  • Elements and graphics need to be permanent within the PDF document especially when in viewers
  • Be able to annotate/highlight/strike-through, etc to my writing/journaling and imported text from other sources and have it recorded/searchable in the PDF document

This still takes 3 applications but the way it is done is now completely altered and will make my final journal/planner more functional and permanent as an archival artifact.

I was up late last night playing around with this change in my process and this morning I successfully used it for my morning Bible study. By the way, it was one of Boho Berry’s digital journal videos which gave me the idea for the change in my process. Here is my page from my Bible reading this morning, using the free planner mentioned in my previous post:

2018Dec12 Bible journal

The bible text comes from a free downloadable NLT bible in PDF format. The planner is one of the free digital planners I’m using. If you bother to take the time to read my notes and reflections forgive me for the personal content. I am a bit nervous in sharing it since it is so personal but I wanted to show how versatile a digital planner can be (without blurring stuff out) for so many things.

I wanted to have the chapter in the bible next to my notes and reflections. With the change in my process I am now able to highlight not JUST the scripture but I can also highlight my notes and color code them to match so I can easily find the verse which supports the notes I made. This is very much like what I’m doing in my journaling bible by hand but now it is all digital, AND in a PDF document which can be searched so I can find any references I might be looking for. I can read it in a PDF viewer, like any PDF document and search ALL content.

Below is a couple pages from another free digital planner I will be using in 2019. I found this planner “Sirena” through the Friday Freebies in Boho Berry Digital Planners Facebook group and is by Chanel Fana. The original page looks like this:2019 week layout

I altered it to look like this:

Sirena - 2019 weekly layout

I learned I don’t like To Do lists when I started working with a bullet journal. Whether I did them daily, weekly or monthly, they were too repetitive and made me feel like I was a failure because I didn’t complete everything on my list and often pushed things out several weeks or even months. Therefore, I changed my list to “What I Did Today” which makes me feel a whole lot more accomplished and productive.

In order to track the things that are time sensitive, I will most likely create a page with those time sensitive items listed so I don’t forget something important that needs done. I’m good at keeping these things in my head but occasionally I need reminders.

The year at a glance original page looks like this:

2019 year at a glance

I altered it to look like this:

Sirena - 2019 YearAtaGlance

One of the reasons I altered it was because I didn’t have the fonts used by the creator so when I imported the PDF into my application, the font defaulted to the Arial font which also altered the way the dates lined up and appeared. The other reason I altered it was because the weeks in this planner started on Monday and my week starts on Sunday. This planner also has monthly calendars I will also need to change and I’ll probably adjust the daily pages as well just because my dailies are really just journaling about my day.

It might be obvious to some but not all, why I am not just creating my own planner or using the planner as it is. When I started, all I wanted to know was whether it was worth my while to use one but I needed it to function for my needs. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t like it and wouldn’t stick with it, so finding one already created was a simple way to find out without having to go through creating all the graphics needed to make it LOOK and FUNCTION like a digital planner, especially since I’m working from a desktop computer and not from a tablet or iPad. iPad seems to have an abundant of choices to use for digital planners, while the desktop (Windows) is fairly sparse, unless you want to spend a crap load of money. I had to find out how feasible it was.

Finding the free digital planners was a God send. In the first day or two I was able to play with them in their original format just to see if they were functional on my system with apps I had or could afford.  Since it was functional, the rest was about whether I could alter it for my needs. There will never be a planner exactly the way I want it to be, digital or paper, so altering it is a necessity.

Since I’m not selling the planner and only altering it for my personal use and the planner is free, I felt I could share one or two pages here so you could get an idea of what I’m writing about. If you are interested in this planner or the other one above, I recommend joining Boho Berry Digital Planners group. You can find them in the resources provided in the Friday Freebies.

I am SO VERY GRATEFUL for the digital planners which people have created and share freely. Doing so enabled me to explore digital planners without spending any money since I wasn’t sure if this would be something I would stick with. I also wasn’t sure if I could find software within my price range which would allow me to do the alterations I needed for my purposes. The digital planners I have come across are reasonably priced so I might find myself buying one at some point in the future, if I don’t want to create my own. Even so, I would still have to alter a purchased digital planner for my personal needs.

As it turns out, I only need to purchase one application and it is a one-time fee under CA$70, unlike many applications today which are cloud based and now require monthly/yearly subscription fees. For someone on a restricted budget, I am so thankful I can still find applications I can download and use on my computer. I totally get the need for cloud based applications but I feel these companies are doing a disservice to those who don’t need it or are restricted financially. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox. lol

You might be wondering how much time this takes compared to a handwritten journal/planner or just using MS Word like I was using. There is, of course, a learning curve which means it will take some time initially to learn how to work with the digital planners and which software/apps you prefer to use. The time it takes to learn depends upon your current skill level with the computer/tablet/iPad you are using and how comfortable you are with working with and altering graphics.

I do recommend trying several different applications (you can usually download free trial versions) if they are within your budget. I have some older software programs to experiment with which I purchased when I had the money. These programs are now cloud based so I don’t have the more updated software. They were enough to use for comparison with other programs so I could determine which programs worked best and whether I wanted to spend the money to upgrade any of them or buy a different one. Discovering a far less expensive program was another God send (it was mentioned in the Facebook group by someone). This program is much easier to use than the more expensive ones which means it greatly reduces the time to learn it. It also means once I’ve learned it, the time to create my pages from beginning to end is fairly equal to if not better than making them by hand. I was only using the bare nuts and bolts of MS Word so it was no where near as pretty. Any increased time in my planner to create beauty makes my artist’s brain sing with joy.

I was able to do my morning bible study in the same amount of time I was doing it before when writing my reflections in MS Word and adding my notes in my journaling bible. This can easily replace that process without increasing my time with that task.

My daily journaling may take more or less time depending on how creative I get. Even if it takes a bit more time, it will be worth it because of the added benefits I get with having it all in a searchable PDF format. I can’t stress this enough. Granted MS Word is searchable but I had some in MS Word and some in handwritten form. I went to MS Word originally so I could ease the strain on my wrist when I was doing my morning pages. Then I realized I could search it when I wanted to refer back to past entries. But my bible studies and my calendar which has my appointments, work schedule and bible reading noted in it, was handwritten. These were not searchable which made it really difficult to find anything I need to go back and reference. I tried indexing but that didn’t help. Plus, I can have all my journals in one place.

What can I say, I’m a digital girl at heart, and it turns out I was wrong. Digital planners/journals ARE for me, they satisfy my artist, writer and analytical minds.

Well, here is a bit of an update. I discovered if I save my PDF in Xodo as a flattened file then all my entries I made in Xodo are made permanent and can then be selected to be highlighted, underlined or other things. It also reduced the size of the file significantly. The good thing is I can still open the PDF up in my graphic designer program with all its layers in tact.

Okay…. so….. I’m learning more than one thing in a day…..

In case you are wondering, the graphic designer program I found is called Affinity Designer. Every time I work with it, I’m amazed with its functionality.

The three programs I’m using on my Windows 10 computer for working with my digital planner are:

  1. Xodo
  2. Affinity Designer
  3. Foxit Phantom PDF

I tried a few others but these gave me the functionality I desired and are within my budget.

 

 

I’m going digital, more than ever…

My life took an interesting turn. An unexpected turn. Have you ever just come across something which catches your attention and you think, “Oh, that’s interesting, I’ll take a quick look”, even though you have no plans to use it or do whatever it is that caught your attention and suddenly find yourself sucked into a deep rabbit hole like in Alice in Wonderland?

Well…. that was me this past week or so, and I think I’m still there. 🤪

So here is what happened.

I was quietly and systematically working on cataloguing many of the resources I have available to me and often loose track of, so I started listing them in a spreadsheet. I am subscribed to numerous YouTubers for various reasons, so I added a spreadsheet to list them and their area of expertise so I could easily find some videos on particular topics I want to review or learn. In the process of cataloguing them, I would scan their list of videos so I could appropriately categorize them. Well, of course, inevitably, I found myself staring at a video which set off all sorts of bells and whistles in my head.

I can’t really say I haven’t been at least partially digital because I do most of my journal writing digitally. Manually writing can cause a flareup in my wrist which can become very painful. I have been using MS Word for my journal and though I can do a lot in it, I often find myself feeling like there has to be a better way. I tried OneNote and Evernote but didn’t like them. I like MS Word because I can search easily to find something I wrote about and wanted to go back to. Besides running into a repeated issue which bugs me, I also know eventually Microsoft products will go out the door on my system because they are no longer in my budget. Things like this is always working in the background of my thoughts usually waiting for something to trigger a new idea. This is what happened when I saw the title of the video, “Creating a Digital Journal with Boho Berry Freebies”.

The video is only 10:23 minutes long, but it is chock full of helpful information. I don’t have an iPad. I do have an iPhone but I wouldn’t do something like this on my phone. I would probably go blind trying to see what I wanted to do because of the tiny screen. This video did one thing. It sparked the neurons of my tiny brain and sent me down a path of trying to find out if anything like what Kara showed in the video could be done on a Windows desktop computer.

And BAMB! down the deep dark rabbit hole I plunged.

First, I joined Boho Berry’s Facebook group “Boho Berry Digital Planners” so I would have access to other people who do digital planners and see if anyone is using them from a Windows platform. Let me tell you, there are, but not very many and it seems they had just as many questions as I did. I started to discover working from a desktop may not be as user friendly as it is working from an iPad, at least for digital planners. Also, it looked like, I would have to be willing to spend some money for some of the apps mentioned by others, which right now I’m not. My funds are limited so I wanted to see what I could do under these limited conditions.

Since November 28th when I ran across Boho Berry’s video, I have had moments of great frustration, and moments of “Ah.. Ha”s and moments of “by gosh, I think I got it!”. To only run this repeatedly over the following days until I arrived at my destination today.

First, I need to say that I’m doing two types of journaling. The first is a very minimal bullet journal, where I have a month calendar, a daily “What I did today” and then anything I want to write about my day. The second is my bible journal where I make notes about my daily bible reading and my thoughts regarding what I read and how it applies to me. I needed a solution for both of these.

You might wonder why I would move away from actual paper journals and notebooks, especially with my love of creating journals. I started originally writing in physical journals and I always had the same issue: FINDING SOMETHING I WROTE AND WANTED TO REFER BACK TO. Even if I did indexing which I tried to do when I first started to bullet journal, my indexes wouldn’t be intuitive enough to help me find what I one day wanted to search for. This is why MS Word became my “goto” for journaling. Since using MS Word, I have been able to successfully find every entry I wanted to refer back to for whatever reason by using the search option.

Here is what I felt I needed in a digital journal:

  • all content had to be searchable
  • it had to be easy to add text to
  • text had to be easily formatted
  • had to be able to add calendars
  • calendars had to be editable
  • graphics had to be easily added
  • had to be able to add and edit internal and external hyperlinks
  • it had to be appealing to look at
  • PDF format, this has become a universal format which can be read from most applications and various platforms, the format has to be viewable years down the road

What I discovered is not one single product could do ALL of these things. Even Kara (Boho Berry) has to use two or more apps to accomplish what she wants to do in her digital journal.

At first, I didn’t think I would ever switch to a digital planner like the one shown in Boho Berry’s video. But I investigated anyway. The main reason I was investigating was to find out if something similar would work for what I needed.  I looked at the planners Kara has but didn’t want to pay for one without knowing if I could use them on my desktop computer.

I searched for free digital planners. There are a few out there and I found one I decided to test with. This one I found through the Friday Freebies in the Boho Berry Facebook group. I knew working with a free digital planner would require more work than one I would pay for but I also knew I would learn a lot more by altering things myself than buying one with all the bells and whistles.

My biggest obstacle was finding programs to do what so many videos show you can do using an iPad. I will tell you this was the most frustrating part of my research. Especially, since I didn’t want to fork over any money or a lot of money. Adobe could certainly do the job but so many big software companies have switched to cloud based applications with monthly or yearly subscription fees. Fees I can’t afford. I’m still old school. I want to buy a software program that costs me a one-time fee and have done with it and run it on my computer, not on a cloud where my data resides on someone else’s hardware.

It took some work but I was finally able to determine there is a way using my Windows desktop computer to create, maintain, update and enhance digital planners in a PDF format. What is even better, I can do so inexpensively. Once I figured out the process, it is also easy to do, though like Kara,  I have to switch between two or three applications to make it all possible. Here is what I can do:

  • create a digital journal from scratch
  • alter an existing digital journal (PDF format) or use it as it is
  • copy/add/delete/insert pages, either from existing pages in a journal, blank or newly created from scratch
  • add graphics
  • add/delete/edit hyperlinks (internal locations and external locations)
  • create my own layouts, or add layouts others have created
  • add/format/delete/highlight/underline/etc. text
  • use various fonts already available from my computer
  • search ALL text, including any annotations I made or text pre-existing in the PDF document
  • view digital planner from PDF viewers including Adobe Reader (also searches text and annotations)
  • insert calendars and add text and images to the calendar
  • create lists like ToDo list

I am sure I haven’t touched on everything that can be done. The hardest part was finding a program that would provide the ability to add hyperlinks. Here are three of my spreads I have created. I have blurred out some of my journaling for personal reasons:

This first image is my daily journal, as I stated, I blurred out my writing for personal reasons. The “What I Did Today” is an image I add to the page and then fill in with text as I do things during the day and I use the marker tool to color the box green to show it is completed. The rest is all free formed text I write throughout my day.

journaling

This next image is my December calendar. The calendar came in the free digital planner without dates, no text or images (just the lines creating the boxes). All the images I added are images (free for personal use, there are too many to quote sources, they can easily be found searching Christmas images on google) I found on the web. As the month progresses I add hyperlinks to the date so I can quickly go to my daily journal page. For instance, for December 5th, I can click on the 5 in the calendar and I’ll be switched to the page displayed above in the graphic for my 5 December daily. I enter what chapter of the bible I studied that day and insert a link to go to the journal page for my bible study (my bible study journal and daily planner are in the same file together. If I click on Job 9 & 10 for 6December, I’ll be taken to the next image below.

calendar

All graphics were found online and were labeled as free for personal use.

For my bible study, I found an NLT Bible online in a PDF format that was free for personal use.  I only discovered today, I could separate out the chapter I study and insert it into my digital journal so on one page I have the scripture I’m reading and the opposite page is blank where I can add my notes and thoughts for that day’s reading.

bible journaling

Discovering I could insert bible pages into my journal for my bible study was the “cat’s meow” so to speak. It is the frosting on the cake, as it were. I haven’t done it here yet but I can also highlight or underline the scripture text, and I can also add arrows or pointers from my notes to the scripture. The highlights and arrows can be created in different colors, so if you like to color code your bible notes, it can be done here as well.

Dare I say, I am IN LOVE with digital journals! The calendar gives you an idea of how creative someone can get in the journal. I could add my own artwork (digital or scanned copies) or search online for art to make my planner as beautiful as I want it.

Other than one program, all the editing done to create these pages was done via free software. I am still deciding whether to purchase the one that is not free. Even so, it is under $70 and a one-time purchase (not a subscription).

It didn’t take long to switch to this digital journal format. I had planned on starting the new year by trying out the digital journal but the bug had embedded itself deep. On 2 December I decided to just start trying it out for the month of December to see if I even liked it. From that moment on, I didn’t go back to MS Word, except to refer to what I had already written there.

The last day in my MS Word journal where I did any journaling was 1 December at 12:45am (so technically 2 December). What had finally inspired me to not wait was a bug I have run across in MS Word which bugs me and it happened two times in two days. The first time it happened I ran the repair option and it fixed the issue. The next day when it happened again, I tried the repair option and it didn’t fix it. The issue I’m mentioning is where the cursor doesn’t reflect on the screen the movement associated with the space key or the enter key. If I press the space key, the cursor doesn’t move. If I press the enter key, the cursor moves about two spaces to the right, not to the next line. When I start typing the cursor will jump to the location it is supposed to be in and the letters appear where they should go. This is frustrating because I rely visually on the cursor to be where it is supposed to be, if it doesn’t move as in the space key being pressed, then I’m pressing it a second or third time and end up with too many spaces in my sentence, or too many lines between paragraphs if it is the enter key. This is frustrating when someone is trying to enter data quickly which I do when I’m journaling.

I have read possible fixes to the issue which requires copying the data into a new document but my journal in MS Word for 2018 is 540 pages as of 1 December, so yeah, not doing it. With the digital journal, I will watch for any issues with the file getting large and possibly split it into quarterly or half year journals.

So yeah, now I’m digital. My calendar and bible study notes were all in paper journals, now they will be digital journals. I’ll still have real journals but they will be art journals. This takes the pressure off of me to have journals for writing. Now they can all be used with various mediums to create art in ALL the physical journals I have.

The great thing about digital journaling is once I have a planner I don’t really have to purchase another one. Keep the original file untouched. Use it as a template, then create whatever you want out of it. I won’t have to buy paper anymore to write on. My need to be creative on paper will be satisfied by my art journaling. My daughter will have a digital record of my life that she can literally put in her pocket. My need to be creative both digitally and physically is met.

The only thing I feel is missing in the digital journal is the appearance of turning the page. The software I use doesn’t do that. It also doesn’t swipe because I’m not using a touchscreen like the iPad has. The image may look like a book but it doesn’t mimic page turning. Maybe one day it will.

If you are interested in learning more about how I created my journal and pages, leave a comment below.

 

Book of Journals

I am so excited about something I have been working on. But first some background…

I think I have been writing and creating my entire life, some of it has ended up in journals or diaries, or in boxes, though from my childhood most have vanished somewhere into the black hole that happens sometimes with childhood things. I haven’t stopped writing or creating but I did step away from art. A few years ago when I decided to return to my art, I wanted to be better organized with my writing and my artwork. I had this vague idea of trying to find a book which would allow for proper organization and storage. After searching and never finding what I wanted, I stopped looking for something that was already made and decided to see if I could learn how to make it.

This lead me down a path of first learning to make scrapbooks. I’m not one to do much with photos other than to shove them into a box or put a couple in frames. I did learn something about making scrapbooks. I LOVED THE PROCESS of making them!  Decorating, however, posed a challenge. I can’t say I have ever had a great mind for decorating, so I set this aside. The scrapbooks I did make ended up being storage for my small tangle pieces of art because they were the perfect size, almost like photos.

I moved on to learn how to make my own handmade journals from the variety of paper available. And YES, I fell in LOVE with creating my own journals! I have several blank ones awaiting my attention. If I didn’t hold myself in check, or have financial restrictions I’m sure I would have a wall full of plain journals awaiting my attention.  I learned several binding methods from Kiala Givehand, and Sea Lemon and possibly a dozen other sources on YouTube.

Lately, I followed Kiala Givehand’s “7 Books in 7 Days” on Instagram and ended up purchasing the course for the additional content. As I worked on creating the books (I made two of each, one for me and one for my daughter) my thoughts returned to the idea which had been swimming around in my thoughts way back when. I wanted a place to store these journals.

I put my powerful brain to work gathering all the information I had learned over the past couple of years to see if I could come up with a way to create a storage place. In 2016, I had purchased a tutorial from Scrappin Rabbit on her scrapbook journal. In this scrapbook, she permanently attaches handmade journals to the pages. This was a great start to my idea but I wanted the journals to be removable. And no, the traveler type covers with elastic binding for removal journals wasn’t what I was looking for.

Kiala’s journals in her “7 Books in 7 Days” were perfect size to experiment with. I found most could be stored in the pockets I had learned to make for scrapbooking. For the thicker handmade journals I decided to try and make a more dimensional pocket.

Here are the books I made from Kiala’s class, some I added color to and some are still just plain paper due to time and not knowing what I wanted to use them for as of yet.

The first book I made was the french door journal:

img_1643.jpgI added some color to mine with Prang watercolor paint. On a few of the pages I started penciling in ideas for what I wanted to put on the pages. I am on a spiritual journey so it has been predominant in my artwork lately. This seems to be the direction I am going in with this one.

 

The next journal is what she called a clutch journal:

I again used my Prang watercolors to give it some color. My plans for this journal is to write a letter, most likely to God.

IMG_1644This is the book I made using the chain stitch binding from Kiala’s lesson which was the next book in the series. I made it with a 1/4″ spine. This was the big challenge on how this would fit into the book I wanted to make, so I decided to attempt to make a pocket attached to the page which  was 1/4″ in depth. Here is a picture of the pocket.

Next came the washi journal:

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I wasn’t sure how this one would hold up. I haven’t had much luck with my washi tape sticking permanently so only time will tell with this one.

 

 

 

 

 

The window journal came next:

IMG_1645I added some color again with my Prang watercolor paint.

 

 

 

 

Then the meandering journal:

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Followed by the back-to-back journal:

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As you can see with the chain stitched journal, I started working on designing the book before I completed making all of these journals. I had decided to use the process I learned for making scrapbooks from Kathy King and Scrappin Rabbit (as well as, a thousand other videos I watched on YouTube over the years).

IMG_1647This is the unfinished scrapbook. I created a video flip through and posted it on YouTube for anyone who wants to see a flip through. Please forgive the amateurish video. I hope it doesn’t cause anyone issues with motion sickness. I don’t have anything to mount my phone on for taking the video so I’m holding it while recording. The volume maybe quite low as well. I may have to invest in something to make it easier to create these videos if I do more of them but I hadn’t planned on ever making any so I didn’t invest in any equipment. The two videos I made were only made because it was easier to show what I created in a video than to take millions of photos.

The book is no where near finished. Most of the pages are not decorated. The few I did decorate was only because I needed to decorate the main page before adding the pocket or other elements. My supply of decorative paper is pretty limited and since this was really a prototype just to see if it would work out, I didn’t want to spend the money on buying decorative paper. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying any decorative paper in the future. I will, most likely, make my own using my art supplies and tools.

I absolutely LOVE how this book turned out. I especially love the pockets that have a flap and close with a magnet and just love how the books slide in and out of the pockets. Now that I see this one with the pages in the cover, I’m coming up with other ideas to make this even better. OH, BOY, are the ideas flowing.  I need to jot them down before I lose them completely.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I did jot down my ideas. If I didn’t have so many other things on my plate right now, I would be jumping into those ideas full tilt to see if they would work.

New Paints and Watercolor Cityscape

After my last attempts at abstract watercolor, I decided to try something different. It has been a while since I watched CeeCee painting one of her watercolor cityscapes. With what I  remembered, I decided to try my own simplified version of a cityscape with my new Koi water color set.

Supplies:

  • Koi Water Colors Pocket Field Sketch Box
  • 4 1/2″ x 6″ Artist Loft Watercolor paper 140 lb/ 300 g/m
  • blue painters tape
  • hardboard

Let me tell you. I don’t know if changing from my Prang watercolor set to the Koi water color set made a difference or if trying out a new set just put me in a different frame of mind. All I know is this. I felt completely different while working on this simple painting than I have in any other watercolor painting I have done. Trying to create a watercolor painting on my own without following any instructions always ended up with me feeling frustrated. Not this time. But before I get into that let me go back a bit.

A couple weeks ago I started looking into upgrading to better watercolor paint. Because I am on a tight budget, I wanted the most economical set at least at the next level up in quality. I wasn’t sure if I wanted pans or tubes, so I started comparing prices. I checked locally, as well as, online and after a lot of research I finally settled on the Koi water color pocket field sketch box. I felt it gave me the best options for my money.  I also heard Lindsay Weirich say good things about Koi so I felt it would be a good investment. She wasn’t wrong.

I did a quick swatch of my colors in the set so I could identify which colors I wanted to use in my painting. It is hard to tell for sure what the colors are by just looking at the paint in the pans, so creating a swatch was beneficial.

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I didn’t mix any paint. I used the paint just as it came from the pans using the water brush that came with the set. I didn’t really mix any of the paint on my paper either except where it accidentally touched another color while it was still wet, which happened on one or two of the trees. I did add a second color of green to the trees and to the bushes and grass.

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First, I want to say how easy it was to pick up the paint. All I did was let a drop of water drip onto the paint in the pan and sometimes I wouldn’t wait at all before dipping my brush into the paint. I didn’t have to wait for the paint to soak up the water in order for me to lift any paint onto the brush.

Second, I barely had to touch the paint in order to get enough to paint with, not even for the buildings. I knew Lindsay said these paints would go a long way but it was hard to reconcile that in my mind when I saw how tiny the pans are. After trying them just this one time, I know what she said is true. I will, however, have to recondition my mind to not think that I’m wasting paint when I clean my water brush on a paper towel when I want to change colors. Although I bought the paint set on Amazon when it was on sale, it was still more than I have ever paid for a set of water color paint. From what I have experienced so far, I think the set is worth the money I paid for it.

I will admit that switching from a cheap watercolor set to one that cost more and is higher quality paint created a different mindset for me when I sat down to paint. Because I felt the paint was more precious, I was very careful. I started out by picking up a small amount of paint, as small as I could to see what the results would be and was astonished to discover how fantastic the tiniest amount of paint spread across my paper.

I’ve used water brushes before so that wasn’t new to me. It worked very well for me on the watercolor paper, with picking up the paint, and also for dripping a small drop of water into the paint in the pan to get it wet. I learned quickly to wipe the excess water off the brush before picking up the paint or I would have a puddle of water on my paper. However, from watching CeeCee and Lindsay, I learned how to dab up the excess water off the paper with the brush and the brush did this rather well too.

This really is my first landscape watercolor painting. It is also the first watercolor painting where I left a lot of paper untouched. In all my other paintings when using the cheaper watercolors, I felt I needed to cover the whole surface, but not this time. Before I started to paint, I did tape my paper down using blue painter’s tape because I wasn’t sure how wet I would end up making the paper. In the end, I probably didn’t need to tape it down but I’m glad I did because I love the crisp white edge around the painting.

I knew a better quality of paint would be a bit different to paint with. I just didn’t know how it would also bring my artist’s mind into a different level as well. Is it because I know the paint is better quality or is it because the artist in me responds to how differently the paint reacts? Probably a bit of both, but I suspect more of the latter. If it is the latter, then I don’t want to think about what it might mean for those who cannot afford the higher quality supplies. If I can’t continue to buy Koi or watercolors of similar quality, will increasing my skill as a painter suffer? I hope not.

I do know this. It will be difficult to go back to Prang, at least for a while. I want to practice more with Koi to see what I can do. Then maybe I’ll go back to Prang to see if what I learned with the Koi set alters the way I use my Prang set.

 

Experimenting, seeking, and blessings…

I have been playing around with watercolor pencils and my watercolor paints. I have been watching some youtube videos to get some ideas for what I can do artistically to support my bible studies and my spiritual journey.

First, I learned how to highlight text in my bible and then use the same highlighter color to mark my notes I make in the border of my journaling bible, so it is easy to find my notes which refer to the text. This is great because it not only makes it easy to reference the scripture with my notes, it also adds some marvelous color to my bible.

I also have a notebook where I write down notes regarding the chapter I read in my daily bible study. But the notebook is rather plain and uninspiring since it is written using black ink and in a cheap composition notebook. I decided to start making changes:

  1. The first thing I changed was the format so what I read daily was grouped together and each day was separated by a date.
  2. The next thing I did was use a different color of ink each day. I have about 6 different colored gel pens so I started using them to write my notes changing to a different color the next day. This created an obvious division between each day’s studies.
  3. The third thing I did was see if I could use watercolor pencils on the paper and a waterbrush to activate them. This is where I started to run into issues. The watercolor pencils didn’t move hardly at all on the untreated paper of the composition notebook. This also caused the paper to wrinkle.
  4. The next step, I tried some watercolor paint but that also didn’t move very much. Below is a picture of the watercolor paint layered over the watercolor pencils and you can see how splotchy it appears. I wasn’t crazy about it at all, although when I started writing my notes over it, I kind of liked it. This page has an interesting crinkling sound to it and it is wrinkly, an effect from becoming wet which I sometimes like and sometimes don’t.IMG_1613
  5. The next thing I did was try treating a page front and back with clear gesso and applying watercolor pencils to it and activating it again with a waterbrush. This worked better but still had issues with getting it to blend out the way I wanted it, so I put a wash of watercolor paint over it. This is still blotchy but better than the one above and the page doesn’t wrinkle or crinkle like the untreated page above. I actually love the texture of the page from the clear gesso I’m using. The gesso isn’t gritty and it gives the page what my touch and mind can only interpret as an almost leather type feel to it on both the surface and when bending and turning the page. It feels sturdier and not at all like paper in how it bends.IMG_1614
  6. On the other side of the treated page, I used just watercolor wash of paint over the clear gesso. This is by far my favorite and is what I plan on doing going forward in my bible study notebook.

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I expect my next change will be to decorate the cover of my notebook, after watching a video today on youtube of someone covering their composition notebook, it made me want to do something similar.

The thing I am most pleased about is finding a way to work with a cheap composition notebook. I have seen other people on youtube and in some art courses I’ve taken who use composition notebooks for their art journals, junk journals, bullet journals and so forth but when I tried to use one in the way they did, it just didn’t appeal to me. Most of them didn’t treat their pages, some of them glued pages together to make them sturdier.

As you read above, I don’t generally like the page when it gets all crinkly after it dries, though the sound is pleasing the results of the medium on the untreated page isn’t.  As I learned in my creative journaling bible and now in this notebook, treating the page with clear gesso is what I like best because it gives me a broader range of options for anything I might want to do on the page. Consequently, I’m going through clear gesso quite quickly, luckily the clear gesso I can get locally isn’t expensive and I like it.

I only have a couple pages done with watercolor in my journal, even so, when I flip back through my journal, I definitely like the ones with color more. I am hoping to add some doodles or some variations in my writing to help make my notes more visual so I might be able to have instant recall on what was in the text I was studying. Right now my notes just run together. I am intrigued by those who are able to create doodles in their notes as they go and have them make so much sense. I have never been a doodler, so trying to come up with simple images to draw that would emphasize what I’m learning doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. I think I’m more of a word person, so creating changes in my writing may be what I need to do.

What I’m learning is experimenting, trying different things, is helping me to find what works for me. This is being driven home even more so in my play with watercolor paint. These next two images are from practicing on two pieces of 4 1/2″ x 5″ watercolor paper. I have watched a number of artists on youtube paint with watercolor and each time I try to do something without following a lesson or what they are doing and just try to do something on my own, it ends up something like these. Then I don’t know what to do with them.

The first one looks like an out of focus picture of flowers that have no connection with the earth or each other.

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I have no idea where I was headed with this one, I just started putting paint down where I felt like placing it and letting it run. I think when I was letting the paint run we had a bit of thunder and lightening happening outside which doesn’t occur very often.

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Basically, I was just playing. I think I should try a challenge of doing one of these small watercolor practice squares a day for 30 days and see what happens. I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with other things I feel I should be doing and not progressing as fast as I think I should be so to add something like a challenge right now might be a bit too much.

It is hard to justify playing with my art when I feel I should be focusing on things to improve our financial situation. I have to keep myself open to what God wants me to do. After winning a spot in “Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019” and another spot in “Life Book 2019”, I have to believe that God wants me to continue pursuing my art and including it as often as I can in my day-to-day activities.

I started a prayer journal and I’m using my artistic skills to bring prayer to life for me. That may sound strange so below is an image of a page in my prayer journal. I don’t want to confuse anyone and have them think the artwork or text is mine. I got both from Pinterest.  If you want to look up the text graphic you can find it here. If you want to look up the image you can find it here.  The footnote to the image states, “Praying is a painting by Dorina Costras which was uploaded on April 11th, 2017.” I had the background painted long before I found the text or image so to find an image which spoke to me so deeply and blended so well with my background and also the text is wonderful. I would love to have this image on canvas or print for my wall but in my present circumstances I can’t afford it so I opted for a small printout to put in my prayer journal.

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The image and the words together bring prayer to life for me. It has been difficult to have faith that my prayers will be answered. Throughout my life, I have prayed more times than I can count where I felt like no one was listening and nothing came of my prayers. The more I read my bible, the more I realize there was a very important element missing in my life when I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. Learning was disjointed, had no cohesion, there was no direction given to me as a new child of God. Would things have been different if there had been a more structured teaching to help someone like me? I can’t answer that. I would like to think so but God does things a certain way for a good reason. Maybe after being saved, I needed to become lost and lose almost everything so I would truly seek him for the right reasons. Seeking God for one’s own personal gain is wrong. I originally sought him and accepted him because I feared for my life that I might die and go to hell. I didn’t seek him to glorify him or out of fear of him. In April, when I decided to start reading the bible, I did so because I wanted to get to know God and who he really is. Not the God I was taught about as a child because I felt what I was being taught was a bastardized version of him and not the real HIM.

It is hard to sit back and study the bible at the pace I am studying it. I want to fly through it learning all I can as fast as I can.  Even though I’m moving through it chapter by chapter instead of verse by verse which is what is recommended by Anne Graham Lotz in her 3-Question Bible Study method, I feel like I’m learning at a snail’s pace.

I came across Anne’s method a couple weeks ago when I was searching different ways of studying the bible. I also discovered she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has just started chemo treatments. From what she writes it sounds like her diagnosis is more severe than mine and her treatments will last a lot longer. I pray for her every day for God to give her strength and healing. I used to listen to her father Billy Graham many years ago but had no idea she had her own ministry. From what little I have read and listened to so far, she may become a rather important source of inspiration for me.

I am slowly finding my way in this life, this new life which is developing out of the ashes of my old life. I often feel as though I am no longer standing on solid ground, so unstable it might dissolve completely leaving nothing to stand on, or that I’m standing on the edge of a cliff where the slightest breeze could push me over the edge. God is the only one who is keeping me grounded. He is answering my prayers and giving me hope. When I am left to my own devices, and I try to rely on just myself, everything just feels like it is falling apart and there is no hope left in me.

I am learning to lean on God, and he is showing me in amazing ways that he is listening and answering my prayers in his own way and in his own time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to change from my old ways. It is hard not to let doubt bubble up and overwhelm me. But each time I witness God’s helping hand in my life, my faith grows a bit more, a bit stronger and becomes a bit more rooted. I am glad my art has a part in my life. I love how it is becoming entwined with my spiritual growth.

Maybe one day I’ll discover my true purpose which God has for me.

Added pages to my Faith Journal…

I added some pages to my Faith Journal. These additions including the tags provides me with 56 areas to put text!

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turned page

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turned page

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with the tags inserted

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I decided to try and video tape a flip through since the individual pictures don’t really show how it really looks as you flip through the pages. You can see the video here.  Forgive the poor video, this is my very first video EVER! lol When I decided to record it, I didn’t think about what I had playing on my television so you can hear a bit of it in the background. It was an impromptu filming using my phone and I didn’t have the tags right beside me so at the end when I decided to insert them I had to reach a bit which is why the journal went off camera for a moment. I have no setup for filming so this was a fly by the seat of my pants sort of thing. lol

I am loving this journal so much that I wish I could add in all the scriptures and the dangly bits so I could have it to just read through over and over again. However, it is going to take some time to complete. The main reason is I want to add scriptures which have meaning to me and not just any scripture. I’m sure I could search online to find scriptures on faith but that isn’t my goal. I’m going to fill it as I am inspired to do so from my daily reading or from sermons or other situations where I am touched by scripture that will help me with building my faith.

When I started on my art journey, I never thought I would be creating something like this. Looking back, I can see how everything is connected. I really started with just doing tangles to get my confidence up in drawing or creating. At one point, I was frustrated over not finding the type of journal I wanted so I started researching how to create my own.

I found tutorials on creating scrapbooks, as well as, art journals.  I tried scrapbooking but it never took off with me, although I did create a few books. Those books sit unfinished on my shelf. One though is used to store my small tangle tiles. The foldouts I created in my Faith Journal, I learned from a few scrapbooking tutorials. The one page wonder which is the base for this journal, I learned when researching how to create my own journal. At the time I never imagined how I could add to the small one page wonder booklet, so to discover I was able to expand it to have 56 surfaces for adding text made me sort of giddy inside. I will need to figure out some sort of closure, either a tie closure or a band or clip of some sort. I’m still working on that, plus I want to get some lace or material to add to the tags for decoration. That will come over time as I add scripture and things I see inspire me for adding as decoration.

I LOVE creating journals! This one is no different. I have another I made from watercolor paper which I use for mixed media or watercolor journal pages. If I had the supplies I would have my shelves filled with my handmade journals filled with every type of paper imaginable. Maybe over time that is what will happen, if this journal is any indication of just how versatile they can be.

I created this journal from 3 pages of 14″ x 17″ Canson XL Mix Media paper 98lb/160g. One page for the booklet and two pages for the inserts or flipouts.  Using watered down Elmer’s glue, I layered one side of the paper with a collage of old book pages and some lightweight decorative scrapbook paper. For the booklet I also layered some napkins but I didn’t do the napkins on the inserts. The acrylic paint I used was CraftSmart and a couple inexpensive dollar store brands and applied three or four different colors using a sponge. On the page for the booklet I also applied gold acrylic paint over the surface. On one of the pages for the inserts I applied gold paint through a stencil. Once the paint was dry I added some marks by using different stamps and mark making tools, such as a circular object from a tape dispenser to make circles, the side of a gift card for straight lines, a natural sponge and other odds and ends for other various marks. When it was all dry I folded and cut one sheet of paper to form the booklet. The other two pages, I cut into strips that could be attached to the booklet and folded for foldouts. The tags were layered with a thin coat of acrylic paint and then stamped using permanent ink.

The pages of the booklet were adhered in such a way as to create pockets with side openings and top openings. The foldouts were adhered to the pocket openings using two sided tape. I actually didn’t add the marks to the inserts until after I had attached them to the booklet. I could add more tags if I want to or not use them at all. It all depends on how many scriptures I want to add.

The scriptures are added by printing the scripture on printer paper, then tearing the words or group of words out of the paper so they have a ragged edge. I used the watered down Elmer’s glue to glue down the bits of paper with the words on them. Once they were dry I used a black Tombow marker and the blending marker around the edge of the paper. I used different colors of Tombow markers to color in the text on the front of the journal. I will continue to do this same process when I find more scripture to add.

This is where I am now. I plan to add ribbon, lace, possibly yarn or other material to the tags and possibly to the journal. Maybe some charms or I might find some pictures or other things to embellish the journal. This will develop as time goes by and if I find anything which inspires me to add to the journal.

On one hand, I want to rush and finish the journal, on the other hand, I want to take my time. I am torn between wanting it completed and excited over having it available to add to for probably the next year if not longer. To have something completely made with my own two hands which I can add to for the next year or more which will reflect my growth and faith in Christ is blowing my socks off.

I have never felt this way before. I want to rush and learn all I can, which means sometimes I have to fight against the desire to skip over the rest of the old testament and start reading the new testament because I feel as though the majority of the scriptures I will want will be from the new testament. Or I want to just hurry and read past where I am now in 2 Chronicles and get into Psalms where I also know there is some good scripture to support my faith. I don’t just want to rush so I can fill my journal, I want to gobble up all I can, to learn all I can, with so many good things so I’ll grow spiritually. It is like being a kid again and trying to rush to become an adult which we all know we can’t rush or we might not learn some important information we might need to know.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is a journey and it is important to take it one step at a time. I can and have spent my whole day working on this journal and studying scripture. The more I read the more I want to read, the desire grows in me every day.  I remember when I was a kid and accepted Jesus as my Savior.  I don’t remember anyone telling me that it is a learning process. I didn’t have this drive to learn back then. I think I thought I was home free just by accepting him and life would be simple from then on. Since I started reading the bible in April, I am learning about so much that was left out of Sunday school teachings and Sunday morning sermons. I can’t rush this. Like a seed that is planted, it can’t just be full grown over night. It must grow through its various stages as it matures and I must do the same.

Art is the same as well. No one becomes a master artist over night. We all must learn and develop through the various stages an artist must go through before they can become a master in their craft. I love that I am able to blend my art and my spiritual journey to support each other. My spiritual journey is also supporting the rest of my life. Without it, I would be completely lost.

I don’t understand why things are so different for me now. It isn’t as though I only just discovered God and believed in him. I have believed in him my whole life. Only recently have I become aware of a growing hunger, an insatiable hunger and thirst for a deeper understanding and relationship with God.

 

 

 

Additions to my Faith Journal

I am thrilled with how my Faith Journal is evolving. Below is a closeup of the front of my journal.

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I used Tombow markers to add color to the text, and the shading around the white paper. The black was used throughout the journal around the edge of the white papers. I loved it so much on the cover I felt it would work well through the rest of the journal and I think I was right.

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Here you can see what else I added to the journal, tags. Yes, tags. I wasn’t sure I was going to use tags. That inner voice of mine told me to just play around with them. I could always change my mind since they aren’t permanently attached and can be pulled out. I have other ideas which I might still use. It all depends on what further changes I decide to make.

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This photo and the next two show the inside pages with the black Tombow marker added. I blended it using the Tombow blender.

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Below are two of the tags. I used acrylic paint using a wet wipe to apply the paint and blend it, then added some stamps using a Stazon ink pad. Stazon won’t move once it is dry and since I wasn’t sure how I would add scripture to these I wanted to make sure the ink didn’t move with whatever method I use.

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Below are two pictures showing the tags slightly pulled out of their pockets. Two pages have the opening at the top, creating a top pocket and two other pages have the opening on the side, creating a side pocket. The pockets are the full depth and width of the page.

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I counted all the sides and pages I have available for adding scripture and there are 19 in total counting the tags. I believe I can add even more to possibly create a total of 54 surfaces or more for scripture.

I would love to fill it completely right now, however, I want to choose scripture which resonates with me. This means I should take my time and make note of what scriptures call to me, either during my daily reading or other events.

I am considering other ways to decorate my journal. Maybe dangly bits of odds and ends, shiny twinkly things, or whatever else I might have lying around. This is about creating something which inspires me to keep my faith, constant and true. The glorious thing about this is, it doesn’t just do that, it lifts me out of the darkness which has been enveloping me recently and not so recently.

IMG_1539I need to mention one other thing.

I AM FLABERGASTED!

When I saw how my Tombow markers worked in my bible on a page treated with one coat of clear gesso. As long as I do not use too much water the Tombows will not bleed through the page. I definitely don’t want to use Tombows on an untreated page. I tried it in a small area and not only did it bleed through to the backside, it also bled through to the page underneath. But on the treated page I think I found my new ‘go to’ markers. I love the way they blend and move over the clear gesso. Not to mention the brightness of their colors! For tiny areas I will still rely on sharpies, and other permanent markers and highlighters for text. But, DANG, I do love the Tombows on the artwork on this page.

I love how my bible is providing me knowledge in many ways. Not just knowledge of God, though that is my main purpose in reading the bible. It is also teaching me what my various art mediums are capable of over clear gesso and that I don’t always have to have heavy art paper in order to use them. I am also enjoying how I am being inspired creatively with the projects designed around my faith. I haven’t felt this type of connection with my art before so this is new and exciting for me.

 

New idea: Faith Journal

My art  journey is morphing in a way I never expected or could have foreseen. It is quickly becoming intertwined with my faith. My searches now, not only include various art techniques but also art related to bible journaling and bible study.

I have a bible that is designed for bible journaling and has in some of its margins artwork to color in if, I desire to do so. Adding my own artwork isn’t happening but maybe it will in the future.

I did do some testing of a few different mediums in my bible. I discovered a couple of interesting facts. Prang watercolors bleed through the paper. They also bleed through clear gesso! Even 3 layers of clear gesso!!! Daler Rowney watercolors from a tube, DO NOT bleed through unprepped (no gesso) bible pages!!!!!! Sorry for all the exclamation points but I found this rather AMAZING. I may have to invest in better quality watercolors if I want to use them in my bible and not have to prep the pages with gesso. I currently prep them with clear gesso so I can use sharpie markers or other markers, for highlighting or coloring, otherwise they will bleed through the page. I did a test on an untreated page using Inktense pencils, by using a waterbrush and pulling color from the pencil tip and painting it on the page. It has a high ghosting factor, not really a bleed through but possibly could if the application is too heavy. I plan to work with them more in my bible at some point and test them over clear gesso. I was quite frankly amazed regarding what would or would not bleed through the untreated pages of a bible considering how thin they are. I had expected everything to bleed through except maybe ballpoint pen or pencils.

Maybe some day I’ll do my own art in my bible.

Right now, I am more focused on my bible studies. From my searches I came upon a method some people use during their studies. I am more of a writer/note taker when it comes to studying than I am an doodler/artist creating pictures to help me remember what I’ve read. This helped me to understand why I felt a bit blocked when I tried to add artwork to my bible. Instead of drawing, I highlight and write in colorful text which in itself is pretty to my eyes.

I often find myself intrigued by how God influences my life. I find myself drawn towards things not understanding why. I was drawn to sign up for a free tutorial called Magical Manifesting Journal tutorial which I ran across on Facebook. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted yet another tutorial about manifesting. First, because I’ve tried it before with little to no success and secondly, because of my renewed faith in God. I won’t go into the spiritual implications of this. Just know I’m rethinking some of the things I have dabbled in over the years and whether they are appropriate in my life now. Manifesting is one of these things I’m reconsidering so I was intrigued as to why I would be pulled towards this course. I truly believe this was God’s influence, so he could show me how I can alter something that may seem inappropriate for my faith and make it appropriate and supportive of my changes in my life.  I believe he uses everything he can to bring us into his chosen path for us. And this is just one example.

I went ahead and signed up for the tutorial. I watched all the videos. As I reached the end of the videos, I realized I could still use the idea of the manifesting journal but altar it slightly. I had to first understand what it was I wanted. I want to build a closer relationship with God. I needed something which I could turn to and have it help restore my faith or turn my thoughts from feelings of negativity to positive feelings. I, all too often, sink into despair and depression when life just doesn’t seem to be going well for me. I wanted a quick reference to particular versus which resonate with me and help me on my spiritual journey.

So… I altered the idea of a manifesting journal to a faith journal.

What I would do is create a simple booklet from one page. You know, one of those one page wonders, where you fold a large sheet of paper into a booklet containing about 8 pages, including front and back cover. Adhering the bottom edge of the pages and not the top or sides, creates pockets, which I’ll show in another post when I start to create items to insert into the pockets.

Here is what I have created so far. It isn’t done yet, but I was so excited about how this is turning out, I wanted to share it, in case, anyone else might want to try it as well.

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Front Cover

 

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Page 1 and 2

  Pages 1 through 4 were inspired from last Sunday’s sermon at CAC.

Page 1: “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” James 1:2

Page 2: “when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” James 1:3

The point of the journal is to add scripture which I can refer to when my faith begins to wain or I feel challenged and need to feel God’s support. Since I am currently facing some personal challenges these particular verses in James resonated with me and help to give me hope that there is a purpose behind these challenges.

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Page 3 and 4

Page 3: “when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” James 1:4

Page 4: “if you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you” James 1:5

Page 5 came from my daily reading from a week or so ago. “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5  You might recognize it from the art journal page I showed in my previous blog. This one gives me hope that God hears my prayers and is actively helping me.

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Page 5 and 6

I still have page 6 and the back cover where I can add more scripture as I come across something that resonates with me. But don’t think this is all I have room for. As I mentioned earlier, if I only glue the bottom edges of the pages together it will  leave the sides of a couple pages and the top of a couple other pages open forming pockets. I can add decorated tags or decorated paper which I can also add scripture to and store in the pockets, plus I could add tip-ins or fold-outs for even more space to add scripture. This means I have a lot more I can add to this journal. When I feel it is full, I can create another one.

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Back Cover

For the text I found free fonts online I can download for personal use. I printed the scripture on computer paper and tore them out and used a bit of slightly watered down glue to adhere them to the page.

The background is several layers. First, was a collage of different paper, text, decorative paper and music pages. Next came a layer of napkins, followed by a layer of maybe 4 different colors of paint some of them metallic. The last layer was some stamping and mark making using different items like bubble wrap, a lid, the side of a gift card and so forth. I did paint the back of the page, partly to help it lay flat and secondly so the inside of the pockets wouldn’t just be white.

These pages are not done. I plan to do something to help the white paper, with the text printed on it, to blend into the background more, just haven’t settled on what I’ll do yet.  I think I want some embellishments, but again I’m not sure what. Ideas are flowing. I just need to settle on which ones I want to try and just how far I’ll take this project.

I finally feel like I’m finding a focus for my artwork, which is such a wonderful feeling.