Archive | November 2011

Journals: What’s Your Poison?

You might be wondering: What kind of journal do you need for this class?

That, my friend, is entirely up to you! Some people like sewn journals so that the pages stay secure no matter what; others prefer wire-bound journals so that they can easily ditch a page they don’t like. Some people even prefer to work on unbound pages and bind them all together into book form after they’ve amassed a pile. Some people like to alter old books; some people love composition notebooks. Some people even save up their junk mail to create their own books.

So the short answer is that there’s no answer! You should work in whatever journal you feel comfortable using!

Maybe you are new and have no idea what journal you’ll like? In that case, I recommend going for a cheap option. Not because I think you’ll be making low-quality art, because that is not the case at all, but because I find that working in a cheap journal can help you get past the “oh crap I don’t want to mess this up!” feeling pretty quickly! Imagine having a beautiful leather-bound journal that cost a small fortune. The pages are luxe to the touch, the leather smells divine, and you haven’t put pen to paper because you are terrified of ruining it. Now imagine having a journal that you picked up for a couple of bucks at the local five-and-dime. Who cares if you mess up a page? You can always go get another journal later; but you might as well keep working in this one for now. Get what I’m saying?

You can literally use any thing you want, paper-wise, for art journaling, but… depending on what techniques you use, you’ll want to prepare the pages in different ways. Wet stuff will wrinkle light-weight pages like the lined notebook pages in an el cheap-o composition book. Does this mean you can’t use wet stuff? Absolutely not! Gesso will be your friend. Slap a coat of gesso over the page, let it dry, and it will be better prepared to handle lightly wet treatments. Want to really soak the page? Well, you can tape a few pages together to build up a thicker layer before applying the gesso. Another trick that totally works, though might ruin your iron, is to iron the pages flat after you paint them. So… let the pages get wrinkly with paint or whatever wet treatment you apply, then iron the pages flat again. This works best with watercolor paint, but will work with anything as long as you a) use something over the page to prevent it from sticking to the iron & b) work quickly to prevent burning. I use a teflon craft sheet between my iron and my page whenever I do this. It works great. You can also put something heavy, like a giant 1950s dictionary, on the journal to press the pages flat before doing other techniques.

Dry media will work on just about everything, though some markers aren’t going to work over glossy surfaces like magazine pages. Experiment wilding to figure out what does work, or apply a coat of clear gesso to transform that glossy surface that resists everything into a new workable surface.  (You can also sand glossy surfaces to help them hold paint markers or whatever else you are using.)

Still, I do have some preferences. One journal that I really like using is the Canson Mixed Media journal. It has 98 lb paper and the one I’m using is 7 x 10 inches. I think these come in other sizes. My journal cost about $7.50.

I also like the Strathmore Visual Journal with Mixed Media paper. These come in smaller sizes, which is nice if you want to keep it little. I think mine is 5 x 7 inches, but don’t quote me on that.

For my all purpose everyday journal, I make a hardbound journal using Fabriano Hot Press watercolor paper. I love this paper. It holds up to everything I do to it and it has a lovely smooth surface. Bumpy watercolor paper sometimes bugs me for writing purposes, so the smooth surface is a great plus. My preferred working size is 8 x 10, though I’ve been pushing my boundaries in that regard lately! Each journal costs about $20 to make, but usually lasts me for 3 – 6 months.

My newest journal is a moleksine journal with watercolor paper, and I love it. I’ve been making watercolor paintings every night while I’m sitting in the bedroom watching television. At first, I was worried I’d mess up the pages (as I described above!) but then I decided that I didn’t care, I’d just work in it and if I messed up, oh well. It’s a new size for me as well, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

So what journals do you prefer?

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Don’t Take My Word For It…

Here’s what a couple of my former students had to say about Falling For You, my last online class:

“Autumn is my favorite season, so I thought it would be fun to take the falling for you class with Moira. Part of the reason it appealed to me is it was such a reasonable price. I got so much more than I could begin to imagine possible. Moira absolutely exceeded my expectations for class content! She had so many prompts, & ideas, videos, pdf’s, downloadable, content…. I was inspired in various ways. I was introduced to new ideas, techniques, & other artists’ work I’d never heard of before. The free giveaway I won was probably worth more than the whole cost of the class. Moira was receptive & I now consider her one of my friends.” – Teddi

“I would rate the class 10 out of 10 and would highly recommend this class or any other class by Moira to others.  Moira managed to get excellent group interaction right from the beginning.  The course was interesting, informative and very well presented.  Moira was also very generous with little extras and surprises throughout the class. Thanks so much.” – Joe Ann Smith

“You know the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’?  While that saying may be true in some cases, it certainly isn’t when it comes to Moira’s classes.  You pay a little and you get a lot! I signed up for Moira’s Falling for you class for $15.  The class was eleven weeks of almost daily ideas, prompts, techniques, tutorials, and inspiration, including a pdf tutorial on making your own journal (the value of which is $14.99 in Moira’s etsy.  So for a penny more, I got the tutorial plus eleven weeks of lessons.)  The class was a great value.  I’ll definitely take another class by Moira!” – Marisa

Watercolor Face #4

Watercolor Face #4 by literarytease
Watercolor Face #4, a photo by literarytease on Flickr.

Just finished filming a video of this watercolor portrait in progress!

No Need to Break the Bank

What supplies do you need for this class?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because it really depends on you and what you like to use! If you’ve been working in your art journal for a while, you might already have a stash of favorite art supplies. Great! I encourage to work with what you already have on hand. If you are new, you might be wondering what supplies to try out. I have a lot of different supplies in my studio, but I find myself turning to the same materials over and over again. While you do not need to buy any specific supplies for this course, you might want to try out some of the techniques I’m using over the weeks. For that reason, I will provide a supply list with every video or pdf tutorial that I post during the class. I’ll offer possible substitutions, too, whenever possible. And, of course, I encourage you to experiment!

Still, some basic supplies that you might wish to have on hand are:

  • white and clear gesso (I use Liquitex brand for both.)
  • your favorite paint (I use cheap-o craft paints and Golden fluid acrylics*)
  • waterproof ink pen (I use a copic multiliners, but PITT artist pens are good, too)
  • watercolor pencils (I’m hooked on Derwent Inktense lately!+)
  • watersoluble oil pastels (Portfolio is the only brand I know of) -or-
  • watercolor crayons (Caran D’ache are the ones I use)
  • gel medium or other adhesive (lots of people use Mod Podge)

[*These are expensive! I bought the Watermedia starter kit for $40 and have been happy with it. If I were only going to buy one or two colors, I’d go for Quinacridone Magenta or Nickel Azo Gold, but that’s me!]

[+When in doubt, go ROYGBIV. I wasn’t sure what colors I’d use with the Derwent Inktense pencils so I ordered a selection to make up a rainbow of colors. My favorite color so far is Mustard. I didn’t order black, but keep wishing I had, so I’ll probably add that to my next art supply order. Jerry’s Artarama sells the pencils individually for $1.43 each.]

Here’s a PDF I created for my ongoing class, Falling For You:

My Favorite Supplies

Join the Art Adventure!

When you sign up for Weekly Art Date, Part One (January 1st – March 16th), you will receive:

——> 10 weeks of class, which includes 1 video tutorial /inspiration and 1 art adventure post each week. Some weeks will include bonus posts or videos. Access to the class involves access to the Weekly Art Date classroom and private blog posts (except for Full-Year Access members only posts) during the 10 weeks. Although Part One ends on March 16, you will have access to the materials for an unlimited amount of time after the ten weeks is over. You will also receive a download at the end of the class that has all of the content in a single PDF.

Each week you will get:

One art adventure post which could include:

  • Step-by-step photos and instructions for a particular technique
  • Writing prompts
  • Visual inspiration
  • Digital collage sheets
  • Digital stamps
  • Art challenges
  • Bonus video tutorials

One video inspiration post which could include:

  • Original video tutorials by me (at least one per month!)
  • Video tutorials by another artist plus images of my version
  • Music videos as inspiration plus images of my page
  • Movie clips as inspiration plus images of my page

You will also get:

—— >At least 6 videos will be available for download for you to keep. (I.e. every other week, on average) All original videos created by me during the class will be available to you as a download. Videos from other sources will not be available as downloads.

——> At least 3 surprises! This could be a digital stamp (i.e. a black-and-white sketched image for you to use in your pages), a printable collage sheet, a bonus video download, or a stock photograph taken by me.

——> Creativity Daily Prompt Calendars for January, February, and March

——-> A chance to enter the Monthly Art Date giveaways for January, February, and March.

——> Snail mail from me!

Full Year Access members will receive all of the above, plus

——> Access to Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four

——-> Access to Part Five Bonus section of Weekly Art Date in December 2012

——> Access to Full Year Access members-only posts throughout the year

——>The full year download of the Creativity Prompt Calendar as soon as class opens on January 1st.

——> Automatic entry in all giveaways for the year

Read this post for more details.

Beginners Welcome!

Don’t be scared: Weekly Art Date is a nice place where art journalers of all skill levels are welcome. Never used gesso? Not really sure how watercolor pencils work? Still working in your first journal? Great! Come on in!

I love introducing art journals to people who have never art journaled before. Between June and August 2011, I taught approximately 150 kids all around the state of Rhode Island some basic art journal techniques and gave them little take-home kits to sent them out into the wide world of art. I love imagining that someday in the future some of these kids will remember that first art journal experience as the catalyst that sent them in search of their artistic voices. In fact, I’ve already heard that some of the kids have started their own art journal groups where they get together and make frankenpeople. How awesome is that?

The truth is, I still consider myself a beginner! I still have so much to learn! Some people have been working in their art journals for years and years, like Teesha Moore, who I heard, has been working on art journals for 25 years! Holy crap! I’ve only been working in my journals for three years… that’s a drop in the bucket! When I first started, I was just messing around, exploring a bit. I had no idea how arrested I’d become with the art form! I had no idea that art journals would play a huge role in me claiming the title “Artist” as my own. I just wanted to work on something that was just for fun and had nothing at all to do with my business. Now, my art-making and my business have merged. Luckily, I’m still having fun!

Why Commit to a Year of Art Journaling?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the idea of offering a year long art journal class is wicked scary to me! So I can totally understand why signing up for a year-long class might be scary, too. I mean, a year is a LONG time!

When thinking about this class, I drew inspiration from Marianne Bland’s Art Project 2010, during which she made a new piece of art every single day for a year. Wow! What an accomplishment! I love the idea, but could I commit do making art every day for a year? Realistically? Probably not.

I mean, I make a LOT of art. I go through phases where I’ll make a new canvas every day for a few weeks, but then I don’t do any art for a week or so. Then I’ll work in my art journal every day for a while, and repeat. I’ve always been like this: periods of inactivity in between periods of hyper-creativity. Could I force myself to make art on the days that I really wasn’t feeling it? Probably, sure. I could whip up some backgrounds for future works, sketch out some ideas for future pages, or carve a new stamp. But did I want to? That’s where I’m not sure. Maybe those periods of inactivity are essential for my art-making. Perhaps during the down-time, I am giving my creativity a chance to recharge and store up new bits of inspiration.

So commit to daily art making? Maybe. Fallow periods aside, some days are just so crazy busy that I don’t have a second to make an art. Or I’m so exhausted that I’d rather zone out in front of the television screen than my journal. (Though frequently, I do both at the same time!)

Commit to weekly art making? Sure, now that I can handle! In fact, I think that vowing to make (at least) weekly is good for my mental well-being! If I go do long without letting my creativity express itself, I can fall into a serious funk. Weekly art making will be a preventative measure against creative block.

I think being gentle with yourself is important for any expression of creativity. In my former incarnation as a writer, I found that the slightest bit of criticism would cause me to seize up and be unable to write for a day, week, month before I could convince myself to get over it and just write. I dropped out of a college because my short story was shredded to bits during a full class critique. [I say “a college” because I’ve dropped out of  several.] When I established a daily writing routine, I nurtured myself by a) starting the first few minutes of the writing session with “I don’t want to write today because” and following that train of that and b) telling myself that I could write the word pickle over and over again for the full session and still consider it a job well done. Ridiculous, right? Well, it worked. And I never did fill a page with a single word!

How to be gentle with yourself as an artist? Allow yourself to make “bad” art. Who cares if you hate it? The point is that you MADE it. Make lots of “bad” art and you’re bound to have some “good” art sneak in there. Find beauty in the pieces you don’t like, and if you really, really hate, gesso it and start over again. [I use the terms “bad” and “good” very loosely because they are completely subjective. The only opinion that matters is your own, but if you are overly hard on yourself, then nobody’s opinion matters.] When you aim low, you free up your mind to have some fun instead of worrying what the end result will be. It worked for my writing; it works for my art.

Another benefit of a regular practice is that a “bad” page becomes less important. Oh well, you’ll think, I’ll make another next week. So what if you don’t like the end result? Either keep adding to it until you do like it (which is a frequent tactic I use) or bring out the trusty gesso and start over. (I use gesso a lot, too! In fact, last night I made this page:

Lace - Full Page Spread

Sometimes Lace

Follow Your Heart

When I turned the page after it had dried, I realized that this lovely portrait:

Pale Portrait

Had become this:

Pale Portrait: Ruined

Did I cry about it? Nah… though I sure felt a pang, since I feel like this is one of my best portraits to date!  I’ll just gesso over the page and start over. (I am happy, though, that I snapped a picture before the mishap!)

My creativity is like a faucet turned on full force. I don’t worry about a messed up piece because I know there are plenty more where that came from. I am certain that in a year of art journaling I will make some Moira masterpieces as well as some real doozies. And that’s just fine with me.