Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Believe in Impossible Things

Just popping in from my year-end blogging break to post a recent journal page that qualifies for entry in this week's challenge over at Three Muses: "Queen of Hearts."  I hope everyone's holiday was filled with laughter, light, family, and friends.  Onward to the new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Taking a Wee Break

I've been doing so much better about posting regularly here at Lost Coast Post but as the holiday craziness shifts into overdrive, I've realized that, ironically, I actually need to take a wee break to stay on track.  I'll be taking a break until January 1st so I can spend some time in the studio, visit family, and gather material for future blog posts.  I'm having my 10th surgery on January 7th so I'll be working to write entries that can auto-post during my recovery.  There's lots to do before then so I need a bit of an electronic timeout.  This will ensure that I can be on top of it in the future.  Hope that makes sense...I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season and I'll see you in this space again when the calendar flips to 2013! 
x0x0 -  Michelle

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding My Center

Quickie post today as I am off doing exactly what this journal page suggests.  I need some uninterrupted studio time to counterbalance the chaos of the season and my life's particular peculiarities.  I hope, no matter how busy your days, that you all are finding time for art.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet Bramble

I've been posting a lot of journal pages lately (and I do work in my journals a lot!) but, behind the scenes, I've also been furiously practicing my illustration skills.  In general, this means I've been working on increasing the range of facial expressions and body positions I can render.  I practice with all types of creatures, from doe-eyed girls to funky robots, but the one character I've devoted the most attention to is a little fox kit named Bramble.

I first started drawing Bramble back in 2010, although at that point he didn't yet have a name.  In fact, I wasn't even sure if he was a he!  This first scan is from my sketchbook in 2010 showing the initial incarnations of what was to become Bramble.  At this point, I was just working on trying to get the fox coloring right, tentatively testing out a few poses and trying to decide what type of face I wanted.

Here's a scan of Bramble illustrations from this past week.  Note how the face has evolved into something a bit more realistic while still retaining that whimsical quality.  I've settled on the type of eyes I want to use and I am starting to practice different facial expressions to see how much emotion I can convey with Bramble's features.

I've been so enamored with Bramble that he was one of the first characters I rendered in my love of the past year, clay sculpture.  This picture of my Bramble sculpture marks the first time I've ever shown a picture of my clay work here at Lost Coast Post.  I've kept this new avenue of artistic exploration a secret for almost a year now as I allowed myself to experiment and play without the pressure of an audience.    I find working with clay to be incredibly satisfying and engaging, perhaps more so than any other medium.  There's something quite delightful about having a 2-D concept spring to life beneath one's fingertips.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just Checking In

As my son finishes up his fall semester at college and I prep for teaching tomorrow while doing some household chores, I'm quickly popping in to post another journal page and to say that I'll be back in this space on Monday.  I need a wee break to settle down some holiday and generic life busyness...tis the season!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Watercolor Wednesday: Painty Pointers

Last week, Krys asked what brand of watercolors I use and whether or not it really matters which brand you choose.  That's an excellent place to begin our in-depth discussion of watercolors.  First, let's look at a simplified formula:

Pigment (whatever makes the color) + Binder (something to hold it together) = Paint

Generally speaking, the quality and type of pigment determines the price of the paint.  In fine art supplies, the old saying applies: you get what you pay for.  Cheaper paints are cheaper because manufacturers use less expensive pigments to deliver color.  However, does that mean you have to buy the best of the best to get great color in your watercolor work?  My answer: No way!  For everyday watercolor playtime, I say that anything goes!

I use a wide variety of watercolor brands and formulations, from cheapie pan paints to high-end tube watercolors.  The Koi brand of watercolors, either in tube or pan form, is a great option for paint that is better than student grade but not as pricey as professional grade paints and it is one I would recommend.  (For work you want to sell, I suggest using professional-grade paints since they are far less fugitive (fade-prone) than the cheaper versions.)

You can can get great color from even the cheapest of watercolors if you know how to work the color up out of the binder, especially when using pan (or hard) watercolors.  So how do you go about doing that?  Take a look...

Wet your brush and put a couple drops of water onto the pan of watercolor. The pan should be damp, not drowning in water.  Work that water into the pan until the color clings to your brush like cream.  Add water a drop at a time if it seems too dry.  (I love white-bristled nylon brushes because they let me see how much color I have on the brush.)  I don't add any more water until I get the color onto the paper.  Once I get a nice, thick portion of paint loaded onto my brush, I add the paint to my paper, wash my brush, and use clean water to start pushing the color around.  You can use this same method with cheap tube watercolors as well.  Remember cheaper watercolors mean less pigment so if you add too much water, you are diluting that pigment even more.

Look at the difference in color brilliance when using far less water to get the paint up out of the pan.  Example 1 uses a "typical" amount of water and if you want a pretty pastel look, then that's how to proceed.  If you want more intense color, however, use a lot less water initially.  This is how I begin my bright and colorful watercolor backgrounds.  Next week, I'll detail how I blend colors without getting mud.  Stay tuned and keep those questions coming!     




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Reminder

I have fallen down a lot in my life (who hasn't?).  Sometimes, due to a weird cocktail of health issues, my body has simply crumpled beneath me.  Other times, I've fallen by neglecting life commitments or making bad decisions.  However, the real trick, the part where character is born and triumph begins, is in getting back up, even if it seems impossible, even if it feels more comfortable to just give up and lie in the dirt.  Some days I just rise to my knees but damn it!  That's upward momentum!

The phoenix has been part of my personal artistic lexicon for about six years now.  The cycle of rising and falling is inevitable but in the rising, we can be glorious, no matter how hard & ugly the fall.  This journal page is a simple, graphic reminder of that truth.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Randomness

Hello Monday!  Today, I just have a quick, random sampling of studio mischief including a journal page...

...another finished daily diary (whew! these get thick!) and...

...painted canvas as inspired and guided by the lovely Roben-Marie Smith in her class Clutch Play!  I'm waiting on appropriately-sized zippers to make the actual clutch but in the meantime, I did sew up an over-the-shoulder bag out of the canvas you see there on top.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Leaping at the Urging of Inner Whispers

You may well be looking at a vanishing breed from my journals: the page created from found images.  In the course of working on this journal, "Unexpected Convergences," I've had myself a bit of an epiphany: I really want to focus on creating my own imagery whether it be painting, drawing, photos, or photocopies of old journal pages.  I have a couple of journals (such as the ongoing "World Within") in which I am more comfortable using found images but generally speaking, I feel this deep pull towards the pictures in my own head.

This is not a new goal but rather one I've been steadily working towards over the past few years.  I've long felt that collaging with found images is just not my thing; I never amassed a huge image collection like some and every completely collaged page for me is almost without exception, agonizing to create.  Painted pages, on the other hand, seem to flow out of my heart & soul like liquid mercury.  Those pages feel like friends; I simply don't have that type of attachment to pages that rely totally on images from outside sources.

I must admit to being a tad worried about how my audience here will respond to a sudden switcheroo in the focus of my work.  Maybe people come here to see more "mainstream" work.  (I do think collaging with found or purchased material is more the norm in art journaling although painting & drawing is surging in popularity as more people discover & trust their innate imaginations and art abilities.)  I tend to get the most comments when I post something collaged so I question how many will stick around if I change things up.

Ultimately though, and no offense intended, my journaling isn't about outsiders.  To be honest and authentic, I have to follow those inner whispers that are pushing me to make the leap.  I do hope you all will accompany me as I jump...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Journal Pages & Questions Answered

I thought I'd take today to share some more journal pages (all of these feature photos I've taken) as well as answer a couple of questions that have drifted my way in the comments.

Krys from Second Sunday asked the ever-popular question: what pen is best to use over acrylics?

Here's the deal:  acrylics actually need time to cure, not just dry.  Unless I'm using a liquid paint pen (such as the Sharpie water-based paint markers) or Sumi ink (which dries on the surface of the paint) I try to wait several hours before writing over acrylics with any hard-tipped pen.  Dry to the touch just isn't good enough.  Otherwise, the pen tip digs into the thin layer of dried paint and encounters pen-ruining damp paint.  It doesn't seem to matter if the layers are super thin; if I don't wait, I'll need to buy another pen.  However, if I'm patient, I find that I can use any permanent, water-based pen such as Microns, Sharpies, and my favorite, Bic Mark-its.  (Another great justification for having multiple journals going at the same time.)

Sandra from Sandra's Vintage Heart asked about the water-to-reinker ratio when I make my own spray inks.  In one of the standard small spray bottles (Target's sample/travel size section is a great place to get these), I use about 75% distilled water to about 60 drops from the reinker.  Shake well and do a test spray on white paper.  If it seems too weak, add ten drops at a time until you get the color intensity you desire.  Why the distilled water?  I'm not terribly picky about archival and acid-free; a little bit of research into book conservation will tell you that such labels are really just marketing ploys.  However, using distilled water means you won't be saturating your journal with any impurities that could be in your tap water.

As far as the reinkers I like...any bright colors from Ranger work well and I also like the Nick Bantock colors (also made by Ranger I believe.)  I'm not sure if the latter are still in production but maybe if you search the 'net...

I also use a lot of liquid watercolors straight from the bottle.  This is a terribly fugitive (fading) form of watercolor but journals aren't normally exposed to constant light so it isn't as much of a worry for journal work.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Watercolor Wednesday: Brush Play

In future weeks, I plan on diving a bit deeper into the specifics of watercolor (such as paper, paints, techniques and so on) but my best recommendation for improving your watercolor work is to play with abandon!  Swirl a brush around and get a feel for how differently-shaped brushes perform.  Test out a round brush by painting circles and swirls; make grids with flat brushes.

I'm keeping a small notebook just for these kinds of experiments and at the end of the day, when I'm tired and unfocused, I pull out the watercolors and let the color wander.  Pay attention to how the paint dashes into wet areas and how it pulls up short when encountering dry paper.  (This is an important quality of watercolor that we can manipulate to our advantage.)

Also, now's the time to toss any questions you may have my way so I can get a feel for what everyone might want to learn.  Blogging is so much easier with interaction between blogger and readers!  Anyway, leave your questions on this post (or any other Watercolor Wednesday post) and I'll use those questions to shape my "lessons."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Embracing Play

I have to say that if there's one thing I like doing the most in my journals (and the thing I think is really, truly, uniquely "me") it's drawing and painting little creatures and characters.  In fact, every time one of these critters appears at the end of my brush, I think "I need to do this a lot more often!"  It is deeply satisfying and these pages always shoot to the top of my favorites list.  I have a sense that inside, I am filled to the brim with an entire cast of whimsical misfits, all just waiting to be turned loose onto a page or canvas.

So why don't I throw open the floodgates and let the cartoon horde populate my work more often?  That, my dears, is a question I am constantly asking myself.  It is almost as if I hesitate to give myself permission to really play, that I forget that art journaling can be anything I make of it and if party foxes and pink flamingos appear, well then, that is just simply meant to be.  Let this be the lesson for today: shut out all the naysaying voices, the wretched inner critics, and the nagging doubts.  Your art, whatever form it takes, needs only make you happy.  Let go.  Accept joy.  Embrace whimsy.  (Or the dark stuff if need be.  It is all a part of life.)  Celebrate artistic freedom.  Time is limited so begin now!  It is never too late. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Pages

Happy Monday everyone!

Here's a couple more pages from the new journal I've been working in lately.  This Dylusions journal alternates between bundles of white drawing paper and bundles of manila heavyweight cardstock so in order to hurry up and get through the first section of drawing paper (I'm not a fan), I folded the last page in the bundle in half.  Varying the page sizes and edges are an excellent way to add interest to a journal.  I need to remember to do it much more often!


Both the girl and the houses are rendered in watercolor by using a layer of absorbent ground over collaged map paper.  Watercolor on absorbent ground moves in wild ways so it is best to embrace this unpredictability.  Absorbent ground is a great tool for adding watercolor work in journals with otherwise watercolor unfriendly paper.  As you can see, I was able to paint the houses in watercolor (with AquaMarker accents) while having an acrylic background.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Breathing Room

Here's another quiet, meditative journal page from the "kitchen sink" experiment; I have an overwhelming urge to put words above the painted lily but a little breathing room is a good thing so I am leaving it as is.

Thank you for all the enthusiastic comments about this new journal endeavor; I am really encouraged to keep going by all the positive feedback!  And thank you to anyone who takes a moment out of their day to stop by this little space of mine - your visits are deeply appreciated!

I'm taking a posting break for Saturday & Sunday but Lost Coast Post will be back up and running bright and early Monday morning.  Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Convergence Journal (aka "The Kitchen Sink" Journal)

The "kitchen sink" journal experiment (more formally titled Unexpected Convergences) is ongoing and today's post reveals three more pages.  It just so happens that all these pages feature some sort of altered classic painting; that really isn't a "theme" of the journal and in fact, as I progress and loosen up, my pages contain more of my own drawings, paintings and personally-created collage material like photocopies of old journal pages and photographs I took myself.


I am also realizing that most of my journal pages in this book contain very little writing.  Ever create an image and then think to yourself "It needs some words or writing on it to feel complete"?  I do that all the time and I think it is just force of habit rather than reality.  If the journaling process yields a meaningful image that can act as a symbol for an event, emotion, or thought then sometimes words are just redundant.  I don't have to spell everything out because really, who am I spelling it out for?

In addition, the image doesn't have to represent anything.  Perhaps the process itself is meaningful or symbolic.  When my hands are hurting especially bad, just working on a journal page represents an obstacle overcome.  Sometimes I use my journals to practice images I'll use later on canvas for a show.  Sometimes I'm trying a new technique or product.  (I usually separate this stuff out into journals reserved for that purpose so part of the "kitchen sink" test is that I include the experimentations alongside or within other work.)

I think the whole point of this journal is to recognize and subsequently let go of self-imposed rules.  Rules have a place and purpose but for wild abandon creativity, rules just get in the way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Watercolor Wednesday: Wash Portraits

If I had to pick one medium to get really good at, I would choose watercolor in a heartbeat.  So why wait?!  For a little while, Wednesdays here at Lost Coast Post will be devoted to watercolor: tips, techniques, projects, experiments, challenges and so on.

I found this watercolor project, "Intuitive Watercolor Wash Faces," via Twitter and was immediately intrigued.  In traditional watercolor, no white paint is used; the painter must plan ahead and save the white of the paper (either by painting around or using masking fluid) for the lightest areas of the painting.  Watercolor wash faces are a perfect way to practice reserving the white of the paper.  The addition of black ink doodling is just a fun bonus.
 
For my first try, I painted two fairly standard faces and once I had the hang of the technique, I painted two, more whimiscal, characters.  Lastly, I painted a pair of owls.  I think I like the more monotone portraits the best; the second little turquoise gal is my very favorite in this set.  


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Convergences Continued

So what's so new about these pages?  I don't really think these pages stray too much from my usual "look" but I do think I'm working differently.  Here's what I'm trying:
  • I am trying to make faster decisions about what to do or include on a page...go more with my gut as it were.  I'm not worried about completing a page in one sitting (in fact, I prefer not to do that anyway.)  I just want to agonize less over each technique or composition question.  Inside the front cover of this journal I wrote that this is "an investigative dance of control and chaos."
  • I'm forcing myself to mix and match my media by including watercolor work alongside collage work alongside acrylics work.  Believe or not, my "don't let the foods touch" brain finds this extremely difficult.
  •  I'm trying not to worry about whether or not a page has words or journaling.  I tend to be a novel writer-type, spilling endlessly onto my pages about the same things over and over so I am making a conscious effort to let the visual portion of the page stand on its own if it feels right.  In the past, I've done this and really liked the results but then I fall back into the write-till-you-drop rut.
  •  While I am including collage materials (especially altered classic art,) I am trying to let my own self-generated imagery be the star on the page.  For the last few years, I've been trying to move away from using anything for collage that isn't my own and I think I've been making great strides towards that personal goal.  (More drawing & painting practice helps a lot...more practice equals more confidence.
  • I am practicing letting things go.  Again this is something I know to do but forget to apply.  For example, I absolutely loathe the little girl holding the umbrella (I have trouble rendering faces in acrylic) but it is what it is and I need to just move on.  There's not much to this particular page but in my brain, it does comemmorate a particularly vicious rainstorm that occurred that day.  The memory of the process of creating this page is what links to my memory of the storm.  The awful painted face is irrelevant.
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unexpected Convergences Begin

I have a ton of new work comin' at you this week dear readers as I have been on a journaling binge, playing, experimenting, & pondering to my heart's content in the past few weeks.

As I have mentioned before, I consider myself an "extreme compartmentalizer," separating out each theme, technique, and/or medium into different journals.  However, deep down, I often wish I could be what I call a "kitchen sink" journaler as in someone who puts everything but the kitchen sink into a single journal.  I'd certainly have more room on my shelves but I also think I'd have more completed journals. 

Apparently 28 journals is just not enough because I'm working furiously on a new one I'm calling "Unexpected Convergences."  It is my attempt at a "kitchen sink" journal and while I don't know if the pages look different from any of my other journals, I do feel like I'm working a bit differently.  I definitely feel like I'm pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone as I am trying to mash things together, if not on one page then in one book.

I am using the monstrous Dylusions "Creative Journal" from Ranger and Dyan Reaveley for this endeavor.  This journal has 64 pages and alternates between two paper types: a white heavyweight drawing paper and a manila cardstock (similiar to what you find in the traditional sketch Moleskeine.)  I'm not totally in love with the drawing paper as it doesn't take much abuse before disintegrating but the manila paper is divine.  The journal is not only weighty but large (at least for me) with page dimensions standing at 8 and a quarter inches wide by almost 11 and a half inches tall.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to finish this journal, especially with so many other journals in the works, but I try not to concern myself with such details.  My mandate here is simply "PLAY!"

The pages still look fairly neat and composed even though I'm working with more abandon than usual.  And I've not strayed from my typical color palette.  I think this means I am staying true to my personal style while trying something new and I think that's a good thing.  Anyhoo, look for lots more from this journal and others in the next few weeks.  Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Calvin Coon

Time is getting away from me a little bit this week with some important deadlines arising and seemingly endless (and most definitely annoying) building repairs stealing my peace & quiet.  Nonetheless, I am plowing forward so in the interest of continuing to do better with posting, here's another journal page from the "World Within" journal.  I'm also using it as an entry in this week's "Animal Magic" theme over at the Three Muses challenge blog, a wonderful spot I've been away from for far too long.  I really tried hard on this one to get the fabric patterning and shadowing just right.  Lots of ideas for how to use this illustration style are swirling about...


Monday, November 12, 2012

Inside the World Within

Play time continues in my "World Within" journal.  Sometimes I use these pages to sort through powerful emotions or events but mostly this journal is about the process, the calming effect of making a purple polka-dotted dress or the slow layering of collage material to build a page frame.

The initial backgrounds are a swirl of watercolors over which I layer sheer dye inks through stencils.  As mentioned before, I make liberal use of old journal pages by using strips of color copies to create a border.  Sometimes I just draw and doodle a border by hand.  The heads are hand-colored photocopies of 19th century illustrations from Dover publications.  I draw on source books of fashion from the '30s and '50s to create the bodies of my characters.  I used to draw the bodies directly onto the backgrounds but since I began creating a collaged frame, I now draw & color the bodies on Bristol board, cut them out and assemble all the pieces on my page once the frame is complete.  Last of all, in the space remaining, I write.  Sometimes I add a favorite quote, sometimes I journal about my days, and often I record random thoughts or ponderings on a specific topic.

I name all the characters in this journal.  Once a head is used, it becomes permanently associated with a name; in the first image you see Bushbaby Jane and Princess Fidelia in the second picture.  All these characters help illustrate my internal world; hence the journal title "My World Within."


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The List Journal Project: Favorite Songs & Movies

This past Saturday's List Journal prompt was to document your favorite songs and movies.  Although I spent most of my working life (before disability) as a radio disc jockey (both as a civilian and in the military), I found it much easier to name my favorite movies rather than my favorite songs.  Over the years, my love of music has been surpassed by my obsession with film, so much so that I never work to music in the studio.  Music gets me up and dancing rather than working so it is much better to pop a familiar flick into the DVD player.  Science fiction movies are my very, very favorite source of background noise in the studio!  Classic horror movies work sometimes too.

Technically, these pages came together fairly quickly as my watercolor backgrounds in the entire journal are already complete.  Most of the borders are built with strips cut from color copies of old journal pages.  To help unify the journal, I am repeating the curvy black writing and the number stamps on each page.  This is a good trick for maintaining continuity amongst disparate pages.

(And again, if you don't already know this, you can click on the pictures to get a larger version...)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More World Within Journal Pages

completed Oct 28, 2012
completed October 30, 2012
Here are a couple more journal pages from the World Within journal I am currently revisiting.  I'm having so much fun playing on these pages; I hope that joy shines through...

(I think if you click on the photos, you'll get a larger version of the pages to view.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

There Be Winners Here!

The winner of the copy of Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot is commenter #18 which happens to be Heather!  Heather, please contact me in the next week at lostcoastpost@suddenlink.net with your full name and mailing address....

And because just two intrepid international lovies commented on a giveaway aimed at North American residents, I'd like both ihanna and Madame Renard to contact me with your mailing addresses!  I'll gather together some paper goodies and wing them to your respective overseas locales...

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my rather winded review!  It really is a fabulous book!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

List Journal Project: This One Thing I Know

As announced previously, I am following along with iHanna and Daisy Yellow's List Journal Project and this past Saturday's prompt was "Things I Know."  My "list" response would perhaps be more appropriately titled "The Singlemost Important Concept I Live By."  Who's to say a list has to contain more than one item? 

"However long the night, the dawn will break" is an African proverb that is probably my favorite quote ever and it has been a guiding philosophy for me for many years and through many trials.  No matter how bad things get, there will always be an opportunity to start again, get a fresh perspective, and discover one's second wind.  Hope is always as close as the next morning.  
I have used these words repeatedly in my work over the years.  Here's a journal page from April 2006...
...and here again, I used this proverb when embellishing my splint following the full fusion of my right wrist in 2008.  (And yes, I painted that with my left hand and my casted right arm!  My doctors were furious - I used my newly fused wrist waaay more than I was supposed to post-surgery - but an artist's gotta do what an artist's gotta do!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Revisiting My World Within

This particular journal, titled "My World Within" and housed as individual pages in a three-ring binder, is one I return to periodically.  In essence, the characters found on these pages act as visual stand-ins for some emotion, thought, or event I am processing internally.  The lengthy process of creating these pages (sometimes as long as two weeks) is one I find soothing and invigorating all at once.  You can find other pages from this journal here at my Flickr photostream.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: Alternative Art Journals

A few weeks ago, I received a complimentary copy of the new book, Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot and I was fully prepared to write a carefully measured and objective review but let me just say that I love this book! I also need to say that even in the glut of art technique books on the market, I think there are few geared towards advanced art journalers.  Personally, I'm not interested in shallow eye candy books or books that trudge through oft-trudged material (i.e. how to use an old credit card to create backgrounds.) I am looking for books that challenge me, that offer a different approach.

Now that my bias is out of the way, let's take a look at what this book is about and what you can find within its pages. 

Theme:

In short, Alternative Art Journals is all about creating new formats and containers for your journaling.  In Ms. Peot's words: 
This book will show you a wide variety of ways to collect and express your ideas.  You will not learn how to make finished artwork, but rather alternative ways of collecting and storing your creativity and inspirations along your journey to self-expression. 

Contents:

In this book, you'll find inspiration for creating journals that hold a collection of items such as an altered accordion-file folder, shoebox, or a bound envelopes journal.  Chapter Three discusses ideas for journals made up of individual cards and Chapter Four is all about journals that roll out, fan out or fold out.  I love Chapter Five, "Correspondence Art Journals" because it gives lots of ideas for collecting old-school correspondence like letters and postcards.   Subsequent chapters discuss journals housed in boxes or tins, faux scrapbooks that tell the story of a fictional family, and journals made up of tags or charms.

Techniques:  

Scattered throughout the book are a variety of techniques for creating journal structures (i.e. scrolls, Tibetan books, or simple boxes.)  You'll also find some instructions for creating images that can become the beginning of a journal.  I played around with one such activity "Creating Appaloosa Stone Tags."  In addition, inspired by one of the author's creations, I created some watercolor "eyes," swirling pigment and water around in quiet bliss.  I'm not sure yet what I'll do with the end results but the process was fun & fulfilling.  


Additional Notes:

I also have to say that the writing prompts and journal content suggestions (provided in words or via photos) in Alternative Art Journals are superb!  Ms. Peot works in New York as a costume painter for Broadway, dance companies, television, film and the circus.  Her imagination shines through in the prompts and projects she showcases, challenging readers to flex their creative writing muscles.  In my opinion, this is the book's primary strength and definitely something I've been looking for in a journaling technique book.

Criticisms:

At times, I felt the organization of this book was confusing, largely a result of some of the chapter headings.  For example, Chapter One is titled "Traditional Sketchbooks" but all it really contains is two demonstrations of background techniques that can be used in any journal, traditional or alternative.  Chapter Two, titled "Shoebox Weeks: Collections Art Journals" is different from Chapter 6, "Box Art Journals."  I'm sure that continued perusal will build familiarity with the format and resolve any lingering confusion.  However, I did want to note any negative impressions of this book.

In Sum:

All in all, I feel my journaling practice will benefit from having Alternative Art Journals in what I call "My Essential Library."  I've been ready for a while to take my journaling to the next level and this book will be accompanying me on that journey.
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