A Project Journal from an Old Book, and a Decorated Cover

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.

~John Rogers

Before the summer started, and before I got hung up working a “real” job…I started working on a journal for a class with Brave Girls Club (I posted about it way back when).

So, it was an awesome class!  I hope I can get it together and take another in the near future.  But for now, I’m still poking along with a few of the activities, enjoying the inspired soul-searching found making the journal.

I won’t bore you with the inner conversation parts, but I really do want to share a couple of things.

As I’ve told you before, I do love to use old books, especially free-to-me books, as art journals.  Each one offers its own set of challenges and surprises.  I love the smell of the pages in an older book.  I love the feel of different kinds of finishes from different books.  I love having a huge variety of sizes and shapes from using old books.  And I love that I can use what’s on the pages to add interest and layers and texture to what I’m doing on top of the pages…

For this project, I used a book about women in architecture.  In retrospect, it really didn’t have as much room in the book as I could’ve used…next time for a specific project I’ll have to give that some more thought.

But it has a great shape, a great linen-style cover, and lots of cool pictures on glossy paper inside the book.

I got better this round at prepping the book: I used a straight-edge to hold down on the inside of the pages as I ripped out every other page.  The pages themselves were pretty heavy and glossy, so I didn’t need to glue any of them together.

The other main thing I learned from this book prep:

Make sure you know that the book is not something you’ll later regret arting all over.  I only realized after I had really gotten going, it was an autographed copy of the book.  I might have looked to see if anyone would want that autographed copy.  Duh.

I did end up making sure to use the autograph by painting a frame around it.  It turned out pretty sweet, but I did feel kind of bad about not noticing it in the beginning.

And I really really really love the cover!  The inner stuff is personal and kind of boring for anyone other than me, the cover is so totally something to share 🙂

Red Book CoverBook Spine

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How-to Make Your Own Book: Junk Journals, Smash Books, Mini Books, I Love Them All!

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hours a day.

~ Zig Ziglar*

Alright, so I’m admitting openly, I do love all of the little journals and books and albums…all of them!  I have coveted a Smash Book for some time now, but I just can’t bring myself to pay the asking price.  Not when I am in serious need of more paints and new paintbrushes and gels…

So I keep making my own little books out of the various stacks of papers and ephemera I have in my stacks.

The super-cool thing is that they are always at the ready, waiting next to whatever my current project is, waiting for left-over paint…mixed colors or blobs on palettes as I’m creating.  I use the overage on pages in my little junk journals to make backgrounds as I go.  Then I have awesome little journals in which to glue clippings and love notes and odds and ends the kids bring to me.  I have also used small Moleskines for the same purpose, using left-over paint for backgrounds in a Fave Quote Journal.

I have looked at lots of other little journal how-to’s around the interwebs, I have seen pics of other cute things and done my own versions of back-engineering.  I have stapled together pieces of paper!  I have all kinds of little books around, not sure what their end purpose is, but they have brought me much pleasure and joy as I slap paint and glue doo-dads and fondle their pages.

That’s my adult-artsy version of scrapbooks and journals, I guess.  Maybe someday my kidlets will look at them lovingly and remember fondly their youth?  All I know, it sure is fun, and it sure brings a total satisfaction in my artsy play.

Here’s a couple of my latest faves, one is a book out of mostly envelopes, and I think a couple of marketing junk mail pieces.  The pockets in the center are toilet tubes.  The other is made out of file folders.

That’s been a lot of my projecting this summer.  I have worked on a number of larger art works, I will be working on taking photos at some point to put up and on the Etsy site.  We’ve also been working on a Facebook page for our arty bunch so that we can roll out a project in the works.  More on that to come.

Thanks for sticking around.  I so miss being able to art all day long, my heart aches, my artist soul is petulant…but the sales gal in me is having a great time at the job, and that has its own brand of creative satisfaction.

 

File Book 3 File Book 2 File Book 1 Envelope Book Cover Envelope Book 13 Envelope Book 10 Envelope Book 9 Envelope Book 8 Envelope Book 7 Envelope Book 6 Envelope Book 5 Envelope Book 4 Envelope Book 3 Envelope Book 2

*Zig Ziglar has always been one of my favorite motivation speakers and authors.  This quote is so fitting as I fight for time to work, time to art, time to blog, time to minister, and time to play with the kidlets and the hubby. 

How-to Make a Mini Art Journal Envelope Album Smash Book Thingy

Book FrontBook BackI’m so pleased so many of you grabbed a download of the text sheet, that so many of you found it helpful or inspiring!

In the meanwhile, I have been totally consumed this past week by what started out as a random project.  What’s funny, this little project was nowhere on the list of up-and-coming art fodder!

I do have a number of random little books around, moleskine books, notebooks, old-books-turned-journals…little places that I slap down extra paint or scraps of papers.  Over time, they become backgrounds for other art journaling, just building up a bit at a time as I have leftovers.

But they are not projects that I focus solely on at any one moment.

This little book is totally different.  I started it, then I got totally into it, and then I realized just over a week had gone by and I hadn’t worked on any other art projects at all.  No canvases, no sketching, no blogging, nothing.  Just this little book.

Do you have projects come out of the blue and grab you that way?  Something so unexpected, something so unrelated to all of the “should-do’s” on your list?

It’s also one of those projects that grabbed the whole household and the neighbor children!  Many of the moments I spent playing with this little book was with a kid standing next to me or sitting with me, watching whatever was happening.  They had lots of questions and loved digging through the piles of stuff that ended up spread out all over the table as I was playing (oh, and the mess I have to clean up now!).

It’s also a funny little project, kind of a throwback to a bit of scrapbook-style playing.  Haven’t done that in a while, either.

I did not have a purpose or much of a plan in mind when I got started, I just wanted to put some bags and envelopes together and stitch the binding.  That’s really what got this whole thing started, I just wanted to use a decorative stitch on the binding and see how it worked with the bags.  And I had a super cute See’s Candies bag from a couple of years ago in my stash.  That was the whole plan.

As you’ll see in the pictures, it turned into quite the book.  I have used it as a favorite Bible verse book, I am going to gift it out, to a wonderful new friend (of course, after I’m done just holding it and flipping through the pages, haha!).

And what started out as a project using up some of the stashed envelopes and saved bags and little things and stuff I have stashed around,

Next time, I will use one less envelope or bag, it got kind of thick by the end of cramming all of that stuff in there.  I’ll also plan ahead a bit on how to tie the whole thing together, this time it was an afterthought.

It’s a bunch of pictures, but I want you to see how it all went together.  I didn’t think until I was well into it, about shooting pics of how I put the bags and envelopes together.  I really just stacked them together, flipping the ends of the bags back and forth, and flipping the envelopes vice versa, and then sewed straight down the center.  I did make a fold first to sew along.  I used a decorative stitch, so not only is it pretty but it’s a stronger stitch to help hold it all together.

Also, I used the bottom flap of one of the larger bags to make the flap.  So that bag is not folded in the middle, the fold lines up with the middle of the other pieces.  And one last thing, I did put a card stock piece of junk mail inside the cover paper bag to sturdy up the cover.  You could use a book like this for all kinds of themes, Bible verses, fave quotes, love notes, family pics and events, the list could go on and on…

Book SpineBook Page 1

Book Page 2

Book Page 3

Book Page 4

Book Page 5

Book Page 6

Book Page 7

Book Page 8

Book Page 9

Book page 10 w insert

Book Page 10

Book Page 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used lots of the pockets for other little doo-dads, little cards with scripture verses, tags, and cards with song lyrics.  It also has space to add cards or papers and that sort of thing.

Maybe now I can move on to the next project, but I have the little book bug BAD.  I do have a couple of other books that I’ll show off in the next couple of postings, a file folder booklet, envelope smash book…who knows how stuck I am!! 🙂

New Page on the Blog for Downloads, and a Sheet of Text Snippets for You

I’ve been blogging long enough now that you’d think I’d know how to use all of the features on this thing.

Nope, not so.

But here’s what I’m trying: I have added a new page for sharing downloads for your use.  What I haven’t figured out, is if I will be able to add new posts to that page, or is it just one, long-running post that I will add to occasionally.

So for now, I’ll drop in a post here on the front page to let you know when I add something new to the download page 🙂

I use a lot of snippets of text all over my art.  I use it in my art journals, on mixed media canvases, on little wood blocks as gifts, on home-made wrapping paper.  I used to fight with searching for the perfect text stamps, and then with rub-ons, and still later with individually stamping with alphabet stamps.  All of that left me frustrated when what I wanted was a handful of meaningful and inspirational sayings to use.  When I want to grab a little snippet, I don’t want to have to spend tons of time figuring it out.  So I worked up some pages of text snippets in all different fonts to use.  I print them out onto different colored papers, some with prints (they look great on polka dots!), some on heavier cardstock, some on vellum.  I keep them at the ready for when I need something to glue onto whatever I’m arting.  I just cut out the applicable snippets, and Voila!  Instant lovies!

This page is set up as a .pdf with a landscape page orientation.  As it is set up, it will fit on the whole of an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet (if I want to use a 12″ x 12″ sheet, I simply cut it down to fit through my printer).

Tip: If you use a laser printer and like to print on vellum, choose the high quality print option as it will heat the toner up to a higher degree and will keep the words from rubbing off of the vellum quite so much.

Feel free to download, my art journal love gift for you!!

Text Sheet

Prompt: Make a journal page using some snippets of text in the background or for decorating something in the foreground.  It’s fun!  Or make up your own text snippet sheet with all of those little sayings you love to use in your art 🙂

Conquering the Fear, Artist-Style

Your soul has wings, so stop lumbering around and FLY.

I’ve had a conversation running in my head for some time now.  A conversation that I’ve wanted to bring to the blog, to share with you and ask your take on it (so leave a comment, share, what is your take?  I really do want to know).  A conversation that has been whispering to me…throughout the quiet moments of my day (which are not many) and throughout those arting dreams I have many nights.

I think a lot about how fear controls me sometimes, and how I’d like to conquer fear.  I ponder what might be the source of the fear, and I ponder how I ever let the fear get a hold of me in the first place.

I realize that none of that so much matters as does whether or not I let the fear grip me and keep from action.  The “why” of it only matters if it helps me figure out how to get past the fear.

When it comes to creating, I was thinking of fear as that thing that keeps me from trying new techniques and out-of-my-comfort-zone projects and using new colors, that sort of thing.  I was thinking that fear is what I conquer to get braver in my art, and to find my own style and free what comes out in the art.  You know what I mean?  Like, it’s easier to mimic another artist’s work, take a class to learn a new technique, look at images on the google, than it is to sit down and just play with paint or plaster or metal or whatever, and just see what happens.  That might end up in disaster, or a failure.

That’s how I saw fear.

Then something else…I realized that what I create, what comes out in the journal or on the canvas or on the crafty projects that adorn our home…these things are pieces of my heart, of my soul, a little window into what’s going inside of me.

Soul Left Soul Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I let other people look at my art journals.  I post much of my art here on the blog.  I share pics on my facebook page.  I post art for sale in the etsy shop.  I hang it on my living room walls.  I leave my journals on a shelf in my home so others can see them.

I just leave the door to my inner self hangin’ wide open, and just invite other people right on in to have a look.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t post many of my failed attempts, unless I want to make a point.  I don’t show off my botched tries at using a new medium.  But I don’t always only show my favorites.  And I don’t tear the bad ones out of my journals and hide them.  It’s all a part of my journey.

What about the inner critic?

I do fight with my inner critic and use lots of super-duper-magic-mojo-voodoo-stuff against that whiner.  But that’s just a game, really.

Nope, the real fear comes from that place inside that knows that being an artist is about wearing your heart on your sleeve.  It’s about being brave enough to take some thing from the inside of you and putting right out here on the outside.  It doesn’t matter if you blog about it or have an art show or whatever.  Just the act of creating something out here in the physical world, that was once inside your mind’s eye somewhere, is really an act of turning yourself inside out for someone else to see.

As I’ve been thinking through this, pondering this whole idea, you know what I realized?  First of all, I’m not as much of an introvert as I like to think.  I know, hard to believe.  I like blogging and talking with people over the interwebs because it feels safer somehow.  Quieter, more on my terms.

I also realized that maybe, just maybe, the fear does not have nearly as much a hold on me as I once thought.  Maybe I’m a bit braver than I realized.

And in realizing that, I realize that those smaller parts that I thought were really the fear, the shyness about trying new techniques and colors and so forth, those parts are so not important.  Those things are just these tiny little things that I can just stomp right out.  My art can be truly free from such inconsequential little bits of nothing.  Because without even knowing it, I conquered the real deal.

I found out that my soul has wings, and I can fly.

Soul Closeup

Works of Inspiration, or Really, It Didn’t Seem Like Work

Why do we always call our new stuff “Works”?

When I’m arting, when I’m really enjoying it, I don’t feel like I’m working.  I feel like I’m playing.  I feel like I’m the luckiest gal in the world, that I have some way to get the stuff in my head out and onto something in front of me.  That I’m lucky because I gave up the fear, and instead, I just get brave and get the stuff out…however it turns out.  It just happens, that with practice, I’ve gotten better at getting the image in front of me to at least somewhat represent the image I was holding in my mind’s eye.

So why “Work”?  Why don’t we call it “Play”.  These are all my original created pieces of Play.  Heehee.  How well will that go over??

I’ve got a couple of new things I’ve been wanting to share.  And I tried something a bit new for me.

I created these on canvases of wood.  Ooh, fun!  I spend a lot of time pondering supplies in the hardware store, and I’d been thinking about getting a sheet of wood cut up into different size canvases.  I finally had my hubby help me pick out the wood and sizes and so forth.  We ended up with a sheet of 1/4″ wood, it’s really pretty, although I can’t tell you what kind of wood.  Not that I wouldn’t tell you, but the sign just said “wood panel sheet” or some such thing.

But it’s pretty wood, the grain is nice, it wasn’t full of splits and that sort of thing.  The guys at the store ripped the sheet into the main big pieces that I wanted for no extra charge, and then we do some additional cutting at home as I decide on the sizes.

I do (or I do have Christopher) spray the wood with clear polyurethane before I do anything else.  That keeps the wood from soaking up too much of whatever else comes next, usually gesso.  And he lightly sands it after the spray.  Ahhhh, what a lovely surface to paint!  The only caveat I have here for you, I tend to do a lot of my backgrounds using my fingers…and by the time I was done with a series of pieces on the wood canvases, my fingers were getting a bit sore!

I tell you all of this to tell you this: the finished product looks awesome, not just the same ole canvas, and it’s waaaaay cheaper than purchasing a clay wood canvas for working, I mean playing, mixed media.

My inspiration for both of these lovelies comes from the Book of Psalm, these are from the NIV.

You can also see these babies over on the etsy shop (more closeups of the tree canvas over there)…Someday I will work on prints, but for now, the originals are what’s available.

Sunshine

 

For the sunshine on this canvas, I also got to play with something new: an awesome vintage lace stencil from Christy Tomlinson.  I looooooove my new stencil!!  I made the happy little sunshine with caulk on a book page from an inspirational book on love.  I think it turned out beautifully!!

Sunshine closeup

 

Sunshine verse

 

Tree 1a

 

Tree verse

 

YOUR PROMPT:  I’ve said this before, now I’ll say it again.  Go browse the hardware store.  It’s amazing how many things are so well suited for arting.  Find something you haven’t thought about using in your artwork before, and put it to good use.  You’ll find some great prices on really cool stuff there!!

Make a Gratitude Journal ~ Out of Paint Chip Cards!

Ahh, so often I can be super wordy…I know, I know, that’s probably way understating it, lol. This time, though, it’s all about the pics.  I will direct you back to a previous blog post, Thank-You For’s, to see our family philosophy on gratitude and thanking God for all of the wonderful goodness He brings into our lives.

Nope, not too many words of explanation needed here.  Only that I decided to make my own gratitude art journal, using paint sample chip cards as my journal pages, and making space for a month’s worth of thank-you for’s.  And the rest is pics of the lovely mess I made 🙂

This is the cover.

GJ Cover

They’re connected via a large binder ring at the top corner.

GJ 8 GJ 7

GJ 6 GJ 5

GJ 4 GJ 3

GJ 2 GJ 1

Art Journal Page Turned Canvas, or Using Your Art Journal for Inspiration

I have no idea how it has been almost two weeks since I last posted on the blog!  Where does the time go??

Around here, I suppose that the time flies away from me when I get my head buried in art projects…I have so many projects floating around in my head, as I work to get them out as fast as I can.

I keep a list of things that I want to do, otherwise I’d forget them as other inspirations grab space in my head.  Maybe my head’s too little, whaddya think?  Okay, don’t answer that, lol.

We did get some listings finally active in the etsy shop.  I opened that shop ages ago, and have just been dragging my feet, or maybe a bit of fear was holding my little footsies back. I dunno.  But finally, I just started.  You can hit the link, or find the button over on the sidebar of our blog to check it out.  We will be adding more along the way, so keep checking!

That’s always the best way to go about new things, isn’t it?  Just get started?

I’ve also been enjoying some classes with Jeanne Oliver.  I sort of forget to ever sit down and watch video classes cuz I can’t seem to put down the paint brush.  But it always seems to help get my head straight to sit down and focus on something other than the images swirling around in my head at break-neck speed.  And Jeanne has such a lovely and calming way of talking, such a heart-felt and personal way of speaking directly to me (and everyone else of course!).

I have a number of fun little projects at the ready to bring in and show you here on the blog, not to keep taunting, but I will soon.

Beauty Blooms from Within closeup 1

 

So I played with the pastel chalks in the art journal, using them to “paint” tulips.  I so liked how the page turned out, I decided to take it to a canvas (it is listed in the new etsy shop!), or in this case, a wood board canvas.

Once again, my art journal play time became the inspiration for a canvas.  I love how it translated, I love that my art journal means so many things for me.

Beauty Blooms from Within Canvas 1

Prompt: Let your journal inspire you.  Find something that you think looks super-cool or something that moves you.  Take it to a larger format, a canvas, or a huge sheet of paper. Get it out of the journal and onto something you can hang on your wall.  It’s incredibly satisfying.  And don’t worry about whether or not it just looks like a huge art journal page hanging on your wall, sometimes that’s exactly what your wall needs.

 

 

It’s All About the Means

Okay, so this is not one of my most “artistic” journal pages…It’s definitely not going to win Super-Art-Journal-Page-of-the-Year-Award.

What it is, though, is a great example of using art and my art journal to use the process to work out junk in my head.  It’s a great example of being way less worried about the finished page than the process itself.  And it’s a great example of a messy, fun, freeing art journal page…I wrote my background text in my home-made fountain pen (see how to make one here) and sumi ink and then painted and stamped and doodled and played with bubble wrap…you know, everything but the kitchen sink went on to this page 🙂  But, oh, the fun I had, it felt great to just play in the art supplies and get myself over the grouch that was holding me when I started!!

Trust in Him 3

And here’s a great technique tip for you, if you shy away from putting your thoughts into words on your journal pages: write down your thoughts, anything that you want to get out and onto the page, and then let that be the background.  Paint over it.  Gesso over it.  Stamp over it.  But get it obscured a bit.

The release comes from writing down the thoughts plaguing your brain, and then working the positive outcome or solution on top of that.  It’s cathartic.

And you don’t have to be concerned with leaving all of your bare thoughts in the open on top of the page.  Or about leaving something less-than-positive out in the open, for you to face every time you flip through your art journal.

Prompt for you: Grab your journal, and scribble out any thoughts that you’ve been battling.  And then work your magic over it!  Have fun and get messy, it’s way better than blowing one of those fake bubbles away into the air!

Artful Play, or Jump Out of Your Comfort Zone

How often do you get outside of your comfort zone, playing with artsy materials that are not in your lineup of faves?  How often do you grab something that you haven’t played with before or in a really long time?  Or that you haven’t exploited fully?

This may seem a bit bizarre, but it’s true.  I have never really played with chalk pastels.  I know, I know, they are plentiful and cost-friendly, and it seems like everyone who has ever arted at all has some lying around somewhere.  And how could I have made it all the way through grade-school without ever really playing with them??

The few times I have tried to use pastels, I’ve ended up frustrated and unhappy.  I don’t like the mess, I seem to get chalk all over the place, and hardly where I actually want it.  I don’t like the scratchy noise and feeling from scribbling with them.  I don’t like that I have to stop along the way and spray some kind of something on them to keep them where I put them.

I had a bunch of ideas about how chalk pastels are just not for me.

I also have a list of self-motivational prompts to get my creative juices flowing when I’m looking for new inspirations.  I have a note to myself on that list to try new things, new mediums, new techniques.

I’ve been pondering the chalks for a little while, mostly because I have several different sets of them, all kinds of colors, and even different brands and qualities.  Seemed kind of silly to let all of that color go to waste.

I also attend YouTube University, always hunting down a video when I want to try something totally new.  I like to just “download” the information, and turning around and saying, “I know Kung Fu”…

And I tend to be braver if I’ve seen somewhere how it’s done.

Not so with this little bit of fun!  I just pondered the whole thing for a week or so.  Then I had a bit of an a-ha! moment…and grabbed the boxes of colors and got down to it.

I can safely say that I really like my pastels now!  Ha, imagine that, I managed to get past my silly ole brain and inner critic and just made some color love!

I realize that looking at the pics of this art journal madness, that you might not see right away where I managed to get some of the chalks involved, lol.  Believe it or not, I used the chalks for the flowers.

Tulips plain

And I did the playing with the chalks and the flowers first.  The “background” came after that!  So I am including pics here for you of the flowers, before I started mucking it all up with my usual mess.

The whole thing was a total blast.  I enjoyed it, I felt like I was playing, I never did hate it during the process (which is a step in my usual process), I just really loved this whole thing.  Will definitely be playing in the pastels again.

 

Tulips Right Side 1

Tulips Left Side 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: After scribbling with the pastels on the sketch, I used a paintbrush and water to smear and blend the color.  After letting it mostly dry, I hit it with some gel medium, I used matte cuz that’s what I had within reach.  I’ll be trying gloss next time…After all that was nice and dry, I painted the blue background and got to adding all of the other stuff.  Fun, fun!!

Prompt: Now go and grab something you haven’t played with ever, or in a long time, and make something!!!