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 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.

Art Journal spread completed

I’ve been working on my art journal spread which I spoke about in my previous post.  This is the progress of my page at the end of that post, you can read about it here.

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My next step was to consider background and hair. I wanted to use watercolor paints and my attempts were less than satisfactory. It ended up too bright in a dark sort of way which meant the white or black pen I wanted to use to draw in her hair didn’t work. It became rather invisible.

To try and fix the situation, I decided to use white acrylic paint with a fairly wet brush. This meant the watercolor would then mix with the white paint creating a soft pastel background. Once dry, my black Sakura gelly roll pen then showed up nicely.  I often had issues with the pen skipping which at first I worked hard to try and avoid. Eventually gave up when I realized I liked the effect it had with the pattern in the hair.

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Once I completed the hair with the black pen, I realized I wanted more color in the hair so I went back to my watercolor paints. I applied a small amount of the dark purple to the areas I felt would be shaded or darker, then using a wet brush I blended the color out to give a gradient appearance.  I added more color, some pinkish purple, and a bluish color (sorry don’t know the names, they are colors in the Prang watercolor set of 16 colors) around the darker purple leaving some areas white for highlights. I really loved how this turned out.

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I learned about Prang watercolors from Barb Owen. Since I have a very tight budget I decided to give them a try. I didn’t originally use the Prang set when I started the background with watercolors. I decided to try a Daler Rowney watercolor set I had gotten a while back that were in tubes of 24. I bought a palette so I could squeeze some of the paint out to dry and then see how well they worked. I have to say I was disappointed in the Daler Rowney. In  fact, so disappoint, I switched to using the Prang set when my first attempt at using watercolor (Daler Rowney) failed.

It may be I just need to practice with the Daler Rowney set to get the hang of them but Prang is so vibrant it was difficult to switch to using Daler Rowney. The rest of the page when I say I use watercolor, I am using Prang watercolor.

For the opposite page, I first wanted flowers and tried more watercolors but it was an immediate fail. I am sure the fail was because of trying to use watercolor over acrylic paint without applying a watercolor ground first, so I went over it again with white acrylic paint. Before the acrylic paint was completely dry I added another layer with a wash of watercolor which mixed with the white acrylic paint. I dabbed at it occasionally with a paper towel. Below is the result.

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You might wonder why I added the watercolor paint to the acrylic paint. First, the addition of more white acrylic paint meant what color had been in the background had disappeared even more and I wanted more color. Second, I wanted to see what would happen. My Prang set is almost used up so I wasn’t worried if some acrylic paint ended up in the watercolor paint. I became rather sloppy in my application but it was FUN!

I really liked the result and was trying to decide what else I wanted to do. I was still thinking about flowers when I saw a blog about an interesting technique. You can see the blog post here.

I tried a few things differently since I was working on top of acrylic paint. I eventually found what worked.  The biggest obstacle was in trying to figure out what pens or paint pens to use. I used Sakura gelly roll black pen for the initial drawing of the circles and lines. I tried using Faber-Castell markers, alcohol markers, and Permapaque markers but didn’t like any of them. Plus I was afraid of drying up the tips of the pens. Eventually, I decided to use a small paint brush and white acrylic paint to color the straight lines, to make them stand out more from the background. Then I used a Sharpe oil based paint pen for filling in the circles with black.

Once it was dry, I tried using charcoal to try and create the translucent effect but because the acrylic paint didn’t have enough tooth, it wiped right back off. My hands were covered in the charcoal more than the page. I wiped off the charcoal by just lightly wiping my hand across the page. What was left on the page, I left alone. I resorted to using graphite by rubbing the graphite onto the tip of a blending stump and then rubbing it on the page. I only covered the areas outside of the circles with the graphite.

My last step was to use darker shading of graphite around the circles and where the lines overlapped other lines to try and give it a 3D effect. To fix the graphite I sprayed the spread with workable fixative. I used workable fixative in case I wanted to add anything else to the page.

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I may actually journal on the page by using either a white pen in the black circles or a black pen in the white lines. It would make an interesting journal page.

So far she is my favorite. She posed interesting challenges for me and I found I could do what people have been saying  which is if you don’t like it you can always paint over it.

I lost track of time while doing this art journal spread. I worked on it over several days. I know I started her before October ended but exactly what day, I’m not sure. I generally don’t spread something out this long, however with work, and #inktober going on when I started her I wanted to see if I could work on her in small doses. Instead of drying her with my heat gun between layers, I put her aside and let her dry naturally, usually over night. I only worked on her in October after I did my inktober drawing and if I had some time to spare.

When #Inktober was over, she became my main focus and is all I worked on until she was finished. I finished her yesterday other than the writing I may add later. I think her hair is my favorite part of her, that is, if I had to choose a particular technique from this art journal page. Otherwise, I love her in her completeness for what she represents of my art journey.

Note to self: I had to be careful of not drying out the tip of the markers I used. I am hoping I didn’t ruin any of them. They all still functioned after I used them and in some cases not as well as when I had started with them.

I need to learn ways of layering and using products that will help lock in a layer and give me a better surface for using other products on, hopefully reducing the chance of ruining a product. I considered using clear gesso, or matte medium but in the end didn’t use either. In some areas when I went back to go over the black gel pen lines on the lines due to the white acrylic paint covering some of them up, my pen would cause some of the paint to come up. I think the clear gesso or matte medium would have prevented this but I wasn’t sure how well my pen would work over top of either product. I do have an Art Techniques and Test journal (my Effy Grimoire version) which showed either of the products would have been a good choice, but I didn’t refer to it when working on this spread. I just went with my gut instinct.

One of the reasons I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I didn’t test what would happen if I applied clear gesso or matte medium over top of gel pen or some of the other pens I had applied to the page. I was afraid of, in particular, the gel pen smearing. Effy Wild addresses some of this in a couple of her lessons which I need to go back and make some notes about but I also need to add to my grimoire by testing what happens when particular products are applied over top of different pens.

Another reason I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I wanted to just experiment on the page. I wanted to find out if I could fix my own mistakes or work from just pure instinct. I think I was successful on both accounts.

The other things I learned:

  • when in doubt check my Art Techniques and Test journal
  • when it isn’t in my Art Techniques and Test journal, then add it
  • let myself experiment on my art journal page
  • let myself fail

I am not at all disappointed in this art journal spread. In fact, I love it. When I compare it to my previous art journal page in this book which was created from one of Effy Wild’s BOD2017 lessons, I can see so much improvement.

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The difference between this art journal page and the one I just created is, this one was done by following a lesson. The one at the start of this article was done completely from my own imagination. The Effy lesson one was done around June 2017, so there is only about 4 months separating the two.

There are so many factors that separate these two pages. I think I’m more invested in pages I design and create on my own than I am when I’m doing one from a lesson. I don’t really consider something I have done from an art lesson as my own work. Therefore, I think I work harder on trying to do a good job on my own designs. Inktober, dare I say Inktober has been a powerful influence for me this year and I think it shows in this spread.

There is something here I cannot ignore. Following a lesson is wonderful for helping me to gain confidence in my ability to do something someone else is demonstrating. What it doesn’t do is give me confidence in my ability to create something completely on my own. Inktober is a demonstration of that this year.

In the page from Effy’s lesson I can’t even begin to tell you how I did it, but in the page I created all on my own, I can visualize almost every single step I took and the issues I ran into. I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons I haven’t been doing any more of the classes is because of this.

Don’t get me wrong. I love doing the lessons and yes they have helped me immensely in taking that next step in my art journey. It just feels as though my journey needs to move forward more on my own than in following someone’s instruction. What these lessons have given me is the courage to step out on my own, without them I probably would have given up.

This is something I will need to think on for a while to decide if buying more of the art course offerings is something I want to do, or do I want to spend the next year just playing around on my own to see what develops.

What I keep hearing from that inner voice that tells me what to do is this. Do buy what I can afford in the art course offerings but do so only if it provides what I need for furthering my art journey in the direction I visualize myself going while challenging me to try something new and different. In other words, don’t keep buying the same thing and expecting my skill to grow if the courses don’t offer anything more.

This is paraphrased, of course. My inner dialogue is quite different and difficult to put in writing. It is comprised of a mixture of images, words and feelings/emotions. The wonderful thing about this is only I need to understand it.

This inner dialogue is also based on a lot of what I have learned over the past year from my purchasing experience. After having purchased a couple of courses which could not be saved and had a limited period to access them, it became quite clear to me this doesn’t work well for me. Logically, if I purchase a digital class, I feel it should be accessible to me for as long as I want and as often as I would like to view it. I know some art teachers don’t feel this way about their courses and feel they should be offered like courses are in college or live in a classroom setting. I think they miss out on a lot of students because of this.

I totally love the idea of buying a course and having permanent access to it. I have considered monthly or yearly memberships but this doesn’t work for me because of losing the access to the classes if I need to end the membership. I totally get the membership option that appeals to art/craft instructors, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me and my budget. The other reason it doesn’t work is in the cases of the sites I’ve had an opportunity to look at, the membership doesn’t provide a good enough value for those courses that interest me. Basically, buying the individual courses would be better for my budget than buying a membership.

As stated, I will need to think about what art course offerings I will want to invest in for this coming year. I may find that list to be quite short, especially if I feel a need to pursue my art on my own to see what develops. The good thing is, most of the courses that appeal to me can be purchased over the next ten months or so because they are year long courses. Granted I might not get a discount but I can spread them out so it isn’t a huge hit on my budget at one time and I get more bang for my buck with these types of offerings. On top of that, I can take my time to decide if it is something I want after I experiment with playing around on my own for a while.

So much to think about and time will probably fly so fast I’ll wonder where the year went. That is how I feel about this year. Where did it go? It feels like it had been spring only a couple months ago not six or seven months ago.

By the way, since I started my job, my art supplies have suddenly stopped dwindling. Where I once thought I would never be able to keep up with my art supplies to have on hand for the art I was creating, I now find myself worried my supplies might get old before I have a chance to use them. Such an about face in such a short period of time. It is challenging for my mind and emotions to keep up with. I’m glad though. It means I have plenty to work with over the next several months and I’m still enjoying my job.