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Friday, June 28, 2013

Garden Journaling

It seems like every year, I add some permanent things to the garden: tools, pots, sculptures, feeders, etc.
When you bring them home all shiny, it's a good time to have them star on a garden journal page.
Plus, they hold still and let you sketch them, unlike many other things in the garden.
This page was done with pan watercolors in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal.

Click the page to see it larger.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tip 'o the page to you!

Ever have a journal with paper you just really didn't like or got bored with?

I bound too much Arches Text into this one and discovered I really don't much like it.  I had a whole signature to plow through...so I tipped in two more pages of paper I DO like here and there.  Frankfort ROCKS...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sketches, Studies, or Paintings?

VERY fast sketch of the pileated woodpecker that visited the other day...along with one of my "gratitude" lists...
And a much slower, more detailed study...admittedly, this one was from a photo!

People sometimes ask the difference between sketching and drawing or painting...but that's a pretty subjective difference, I find!

I sketch, a lot.  Especially when time is short, when I need to respond quickly, get something DOWN before it's gone.  Sometimes I just like to keep my hand in, improve my hand/eye coordination.  Celebrate, notice, capture the moment, pay attention.

(And of course sometimes when something really doesn't work, I tell myself "it's just a sketch"!)

That is not to say, really, that a sketch is somehow a lesser being, inferior...it's not.  Sometimes I like the sketch very much better than a finished painting; it captures more of the life, the excitement, a kind of truth that can get lost with a longer, more contrived piece.

A sketch is not a specific medium to the exclusion of another.  You can sketch in watercolor, acrylic, oil...

A study may be more of a detailed, attentive sketch...when I'm curious about something in nature...and when I have more time.  Recently I pulled a sapling from my garden and discovered it still had the walnut the squirrels buried attached; the root went down, the sprout went up, and the color was stunning!  I had more time, so I moved out onto the deck with my paints and took my time...

Generally speaking, a painting--for me--is something I might mat or frame, something I've spent more time on.  Sometimes larger, and generally on a separate sheet of paper or a watercolor block.  It's more formal--usually, but not always.  I sometimes sell them (and NEVER journal entries, unless it's a print.  My journal is my journal, after all!) 

I've also done what others might consider a painting, in my journal.  It depends on my mood, the subject, the amount of time I have...

See what I mean?  Very subjective!  I don't have a hard and fast answer...even for myself.  What do you think? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

While we're talking about favorite supplies...

...this is what I posted on my Cathy Johnson Art page on Facebook yesterday.  Guess we're all thinking about this!

This is my vintage Waterman 52 nib I took out of a beater that was just good for parts, and put into a Noodler's Creaper body...fun, and a new favorite!


Even at my age, this late in the game, I'm still searching for tools that let me do what I want with my art.

Granted, there IS no magic brush (though I found one that came close, once, and wore it OUT!), but have you noticed how often we find something that just feels GOOD? That works for us?

My favorite travel palette is my old re-purposed Prang box...I carry one in my bag and one lives at the shed/studio. I seem to reach for it over any of my others, and I believe in part it's BECAUSE it's fun. It reminds me of creating for the sake of creating. Not for sale, not to illustrate anything, but simply because I love doing it.

My favorite fountain pens need to be dependable, smooth, and have some flex. Some have all those attributes, some only two, but I keep trying out new and vintage ones--the ones you see on my eBay listings are good pens, but may either duplicate one I have, or just don't flex enough for me!

I prefer real watercolor brushes (currently, Loew-Cornell and--yes!--Utrecht's inexpensive sets are my favorites), but since I DO work in my journal 90% of the time, and work on the spot frequently, I use waterbrushes a lot. At this writing, a couple of Aquash ones in the largest size are what I usually reach for.

After exploring MANY brands of colored pencils, I'm back to Prismacolors...I normally use a single dark pencil, with watercolor washes, and Prismacolors do the job for me. They don't smear, they don't lift under washes, but they're soft enough to put down a good dark value without hurting my hands! I've tried several of the newer oil-based pencils that many artists just love...but they're not for me, or the way I work.

I still love Fabriano watercolor paper, though I try to find the soft press now...they changed the surface of the CP and it's just too bumpy for me. Despite the fact that Arches has to be THE most popular watercolor paper among the artists I know, it's not for me. (Except the HP version, which is fine. Go figure.)

I have to admit, though, that exploring and continuing to experiment is a never-ending joy to me. It's exciting when I find something that just fits the way I work. Doesn't mean it's Right, or right for everyone, only that it suits me...at the time!


We've had lots of interesting comments on this Facebook thread...feel free to join us there!  It's a highlighted post from yesterday.  You can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathy-Johnson-Art/119899574740563?ref=br_rs

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Favorite Tools for Journaling—We All Have Them

At the May 20, 2013 meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective we had our yearly "tools" meeting. During that meeting each member is encouraged to bring 3 tools that he/she loves to use for visual journaling and share them with the group—say a couple sentences about them and show work that was made with the tool.

This year, necessity made me smart and I taped the members who brought items to share. I split the presentations into two parts because it was getting to be a long video. You can see

Favorite Art Tools from the Members of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective—Part One here


Favorite Art Tools from the Members of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective—Part Two here

After I posted the videos on my blog earlier today one correspondent wrote in saying that she was surprised no one talked about his/her favorite journals as paper is an important part of journaling.

The members of the group couldn't agree more (and at least two members did talk about paper on May 20). But we've been having this meeting topic every year for at least the last 4 years and so most of us, who make our own books, have already talked about our favorite papers. Those who use commercially bound books have talked about their favorites in those categories. We are all as paper crazed as the next bunch of visual journal artists, but we are also always trying to bring something that no one has talked about before. We may just have to do a favorite papers video.

If you are in the Twin Cities area on the Third Monday of any month please stop by MCBA at 7 to 9 p.m. and join us. Most meetings are free (sometimes we are doing a project and there is a slight supply fee that is typically $5 or less) and open to all adult journal keepers of ANY skill level. We have people who are just starting out all the way through to professional artists. It's a great group: supportive, and always ready to have fun and share a laugh and share great ideas. (And our January meeting is a wild portrait party at which we all sketch each other and make an editioned book of all the sketches in 2 hours and 30 minutes!)

You can find out more about this group at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective Page on my blog Roz Wound Up. (Also on that page you'll find out if there are any time changes because for the Portrait Party and some other meetings we sometimes have to start earlier or go until 9:30.)

Since it isn't always possible to visit the places we would all like to go I thought that these videos (part 1 and 2) would give you a taste of the group, and some great ideas for tools you may not have used yet. I hope you'll visit with us "virtually."
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