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Friday, December 31, 2010

Super-simple handmade journals

A lot of people have mentioned to me over the years that they'd love to bind their own journals but it's just too complicated or time consuming--or intimidating!  I'll never be a "real" bookbinder, but I do enjoy making a variety of sketch journals so I can have the paper I want.

I'd love to take a bookbinding class, maybe one of Roz Stendahl's, but so far I use books and DVDs as my guide... this Dover book by Aldren Watson was my first and still my favorite. Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction.

But if you're not up for case-bound or other traditional methods, here are a couple of VERY easy journal types to start with, if you just want good paper to work on...


You may have seen this type available in the online catalogs...it's a simple accordion style.  You just cut a strip of paper the height you want, fold in the middle of the strip, fold again, and again, zigzag style, till you get to the size you want.

You can glue book boards, cardboard, matboard or whatever, to each end to protect the edges and make it more book-like.  I make these fairly small and have one in both of our vehicles in case I go off without a sketchbook!

They can be quite handsome, as you see above.  (I sometimes add a little bit of embellishment so I can tell which end is the "front."

I often do more traditional bound books, but because I like a square format there's always some waste of a full sheet of paper.  I use that to make these small folders.

Granted, these ARE a bit more difficult to use sometimes...they want to unfold unless you have a nice flat place to work!  I did the ocean part of the folder above balancing the paper on my knees and fighting the wind!  I like the way you can continue an image across the pages, though...

Of course when you get to the end you just flip it over and fill the other side.

Single page FOLDERS

These are a bit more difficult to describe, so I did this little YouTube video to explain how they work.  You can use a full sheet of watercolor paper if you like, that's what I did above!


* Nina Johannson, one of our correspondents, did a wonderful post on her blog on this folding technique, which she found and sent me, HERE.  It's clear and beautifully photographed, thank you Nina, I'll add it to our links!

There are lots of other options, of course--I covered these in more detail in the CD I did on Super-Simple bookbinding.  You can find it in the bookbinding links at right if you'd like more information.

And I just realized as I was looking for the Aldren Watson book above that you might like to see this, as well--Bookbinding resources and supplies on Amazon!  I hadn't even thought about being able to get needles, binding thread, bookcloth, glue and more there...

Strathmore Free Art Workshops!

Just heard about this, and the first class starts tomorrow, but our own Roz Stendahl, one of our blog authors, is offering one of them--of course, I signed up, immediately!  (Hers starts May 1.) 

I believe they are self directed, but I'm intensely curious--and anything Roz is involved in is solid gold.  I'm sure I won't regret it, and I know you won't either...

You can find them at this link...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Next up, Australian Architect Liz Steel and her traveling companion!

I met Liz this summer when she'd barely begun her 10-week-long travels through America and Europe...sketching and journaling all the way!  We had a wonderful time, and I've loved having her be a part of the book, the blog, and my experience as a journal-keeper. 

Liz does enticing drawings of her art supplies to start each new journal, and experiments often...her drawings are energetic and colorful, a delight to see.  You feel as if you've traveled right along with her, seeing castles and cafe's, teapots and trains.  She is one of the most prolific journal-keepers I know.

And of course her traveling companion, the little bear you see above, captures everyone's imagination--he's been drawn by many, many other journal-sketchers besides Liz!  Quirky and charming, the bear is lots of fun.  (When North Light has their interviews and extras online, you'll get to see a number of Borromini sketches, by Liz, Joseph Ruckman, Vicky Williamson, Laura Frankstone and me...I know there are a lot more out there!)

So...watch for it, Liz's interview should be up within the next week to 10 days!  (Yep, she's off traveling again!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

TIPS, IDEAS...and feedback?

Hi all...

We plan to add journaling tips to this site, between interviews, but what else would you like to see?  Book reviews?  Websites?  Videos?  Classes?

We want to know what YOU need...please put your suggestions into the comments here!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Interview #1--Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory has been an inspiration to many of us, from the time his first journaling book, Everyday Matters, first appeared on the scene. It was followed by The Creative License; Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are (which I am currently re-reading with delight!) and then a group effort, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, in which I was honored to be included.

These are only a few of Danny's no-nonsense, get-it-done books, and tens of thousands of us reap the benefits.

No stranger to personal tragedy, New York resident Gregory has turned to journaling again and again to cope with--and celebrate--life.  He fearlessly invites us along for the journey and shows us ways to deal with our OWN ups and downs.  More importantly, he proves that every day--every single day--really does matter.

Danny, thank you for all you've done, including being part of the book and the blog.

So to the interview!

Q. First off, a tough one.  You started journaling in response to a tragedy in your life.  Do you feel up to sharing what it meant to you, and means now that life has handed you another one?  (If this one isn’t comfortable, not to worry; I used one of your pieces of art from the recent adjustment and your notes really do speak for themselves.)

A. I start writing and drawing in my journal less than a week after Patti's death.  It was the only confidante and sounding board I had, a refuge that had always given me a way to gain perspective and insight. I find that continuing to record and paint my life and its changes has been key to dealing with my grief. And it kept me in touch with Patti; I had always shared the pages of my journal with her and somehow continuing to fill them kept me connected. 

Q. You started an incredible groundswell movement with your books.  How do you feel about that?  You’re an icon for a lot of people; it’s got to be humbling, and sometimes even perhaps a bit of a burden.  Do you feel that you’re still sketching for yourself, or for others?  Is this good, or bad?

A. I am always surprised when people give me any sort of credit for the growing interest in illustrated journaling.  Certainly I have written about journaling and shared my own pages but I don't feel responsible for or even terribly connected to the people who have taken up their own sketchbooks. I certainly don't feel like an icon and remain somewhat embarrassed by my drawings. I have however felt pressure from keeping a blog over the years.  There are times when it is terrifically inspiring to me to share my work and thoughts, and it keeps me going even if I am out of ideas or new directions. However at other times I can feel a nagging sense that I must post,must share and that oppressive obligation has occasionally driven me to take a hiatus from online life and retreat into my own world. I can also feel like I am over-sharing and get self-conscious and shy.    

Q. You've drawn a lot of dogs, and even have published a whole book on them (which I love, by the way.) Why dogs?  I LOVE your dog sketches, and your book on bad dogs.  You’ve got a special feeling for the subject, it’s obvious. 

A. Dogs have always been very important to me. When i was a child I fantasized about being a vet. I have always owned dogs and drawn them since I was able to hold a crayon. 

Dogs make great models. They will hold still for ages, have great personalities, don't mind posing nude, and work for snacks. They allow me to draw bones, muscles and fur, and come in so many shapes, colors and sizes.  

Oh and my initials are D. O. G.   

(You can find Danny's dog book, Bad to the Bone, HERE.)

Q. What’s your favorite medium?  Looks like you’re mostly using dip pens and ink now…with watercolor?  Advice?

 A. I have become fairly committed to dip pens and India ink. I use sum-I ink for tone but recently have become devoted to Dr. pH Martins liquid watercolors.  

Q. I understand you’re doing some teaching, now.  How do you like the in-person stuff?

A. I rarely teach. Partly that's because most places don't really get what I want to teach or how. I also find that I have never been able to teach in an appropriate environment. Teaching illustrated journaling in a sterile academic classroom feels stilted and cold. 

That being said I have always loved my students. It is so great to see people get hooked on drawing and start compulsively documenting their lives. If I can share my enthusiasm for journaling, my life has been worthwhile.


And it certainly has.  Thank you, Danny...

See Danny's website here: http://dannygregory.com/
and his blog here: http://dannygregory.wordpress.com/

Friday, December 24, 2010

Blog co-authors!

We're up to 22 co-authors for this blog, from the wonderful artists who took part in the book, with a few more we hope will be able to join us--if you've clicked the links next to their names in the Book Artists list at right, you know there is a lot to look forward to!

We'll be posting interviews with all of them, starting, as noted, the day after Christmas with Danny Gregory. 

As time goes by, these co-authors will chime in with new insights, posts, and images.  I can't wait!

Some of the names in the blog co-authors list aren't entirely self-explanatory, but fun!  Veteran journal-keeper and all 'round inspiration Roz Stendahl, for instance, shows up there as "journalrat," and one of my earliest online inspirations, Spanish artist Enrique Flores, is 4ojos, whom you may have seen by that name on YouTube.  My dear friend Laura Frankstone's blog is Laurelines, and that's what you'll see in the co-author's list. 

We invite you to explore, bookmark these sites, and watch for the insights on journal-keeping you'll find here in future weeks and months!

And a most Merry Christmas and wonderful holidays to you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Upcoming December 26--an interview with Danny Gregory

DO watch for it--as I said, there wasn't room in the book for all the wonderful interviews with 27 artists--it would have become encyclopedic!  So,I'll share them and expand on them here. 

I was able to use much more of Danny's work, plus links to his books, blogs, website and more.  It's fascinating...

The Artist's Network will also feature some of these interviews--4-5, I think--so most of this resource will be available ONLY here.  You'll love it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new book from North Light...Artist's Journal Workshop

I've been filling illustrated journals for 40 years or so..."illuminated journals," as my friend Hannah Hinchman calls them, as so they are.  As an artist and writer, I enlist both sides of my brain to pay attention to my life, to work out problems, to celebrate the passing moments, to encourage creativity, to learn about nature...to love.

I've written on the subject in many magazines, from Sports Afield to Country Living, from Personal Journaling to The Artist's Magazine, over the years.

Last year, I decided the time was right to share my passion for journaling again, and offered a new online class.  The response--and the level of commitment and enthusiasm among the students--was astounding.  It was the best and most exhausting class I've ever taught, a whole different animal from covering techniques and materials.  Keeping an artist's journal touches something primal, something deep inside...and these wonderful students obviously felt it.

Shortly after, I turned the class material into a CD, for those who weren't able to take the class...as intensive as my classes are, I can only teach 1-2 a year.  (You can see the link at right.)  And then...as I tend to do, I approached North Light Books, my longtime publisher.  Again, the enthusiasm was immediate.  I signed a contract in January of 2010 and began contacting some of the best artist/journalists I know.  This subject is far too important to be the work of one person...

So in the book you'll see some very familiar names, and some who deserve to be moreso.  There are sketchers, writers, and some who do complete paintings in their journal sketchbooks.  Some write as much as they sketch, some barely use words at all.  Some plan more formal paintings, some simply explore this moment in time.  Some explore family history, some learn about nature, some are spiritual, some are everyday...and all are inspiring. There is joy and delight and challenge there, and even pain.

The journal gives us an immediate and invaluable tool to deal with life's ups and downs--both deserve our attention.

Sooo...my new North Light book will be out in June of 2011, and I've had a marvelous time with this one...my editor, Holly Davis, absolutely GETS it.  (The title now is Artist's Journal Workshop; Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures.)  Holly and I worked together very well, with lots of give and take, and her suggestions and questions have made it a better book by far.  She was a blast to work with.

So were the 26 terrific artists that shared their work and words.  I found a wide range of some of the very best artist journal keepers out there, from Hannah Hinchman to Danny Gregory, from Laura Frankstone to Enrique Flores...you can see most of them listed in the sidebar at right, though I still need to add those who don't have websites or blogs yet.

I interviewed all of them, and we mined the interviews for quotes to explain and expand on the concepts in keeping an artist's journal. 

But there was FAR too much wonderful material to fit in the 144 pages of the book, so I started this blog just for these in-depth interviews and additional art.  There was too much of that to fit in the book too, and it needs to be seen and shared.

That was the beginning concept...

Again, it will grow beyond these boundaries.  Journaling is organic; it goes where it will.  There will be ongoing tips on journal keeping, recommended books, art, links to favorite books or websites, and much, more more, from me and from others involved in the project. 

We don't have the official book cover yet, just a working cover--a place marker, if you will, but it'll be along soon...hence the mystery cover in the banner above!  (I don't design the covers or pick the titles of my own books, something that always amazes my readers and students!)  I'm as anxious to see what the final cover is as anyone.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this journey takes us, as well...I hope it encourages you, the reader, to take up that journal book and begin your OWN journey...

So welcome aboard, and I hope you enjoy the interviews, journal pages, tips and hints...
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