Art Journal: taking stock again

"What do we need to stop doing,
in order to stay focused on
what we have to accomplish?"
David Allen

It's been 3 years since I last took stock of my journals. I will admit that I was fairly lazy in that I did not go upstairs to get the box with 8 Moleskines and the boxes of loose pages that were photographed last time.

These are the journals only, excluding another 200+ painted pages on loose watercolor paper. And I didn't photograph any of the index card art, because it's all in boxes.

I've been art journaling since 2007 and blogging about it since 2008.

But what on earth is art journaling? It is a loose, free, flowy form of art not constrained by rules or shoulds. I believe that it is worked on paper of some sort but it can be on loose paper or in a bound journal. So I see the word "journal" in art journal to mean documentation rather than a physical bound journal. In art journaling the page, whatever turns up, is the tangible output of rolling up your sleeves and playing with paints, papers, images, words, etc. There's an introduction called Art Journaling 101 and a post about materials called Art Journaling 102

I like to think that art journaling and drawing exercise my fine motor skills, creative thinking skills and my approach to solving problems. For me, art also serves as an outlet for anxiety. It's good to have a productive place to focus my mind. 

This box contains the smaller travel journals that are in the photograph below. 

This box contains the smaller travel journals that are in the photograph below. 

This reminds me that baby steps matter, that pages add up and multiply and make a difference. Because not every day is a wonderful, positive, happy day. Some days I need to see all of those yummy colored edges. I like to do work that will make me smile when I look back at it. 

And then the stack of tiny travel journals and accordion books fell over.

And then the stack of tiny travel journals and accordion books fell over.

I've sent my art journal pages to be considered for only one book, Dawn's A World of Art Journal Pages. And I'm honored that several of my pages from the altered book {the one with the blue cover in the photo above} plus an inked page from a Moleskine were selected for inclusion. The  book shares so many different aspects and styles of art journaling. It's very freeing, once you see what it's all about.

You can work inside or outside an actual physical journal. You can see a stack of "loose" pages in my first "taking stock" post in 2012. Art journal pages are often - but not always - a mixture of mediums. There are often - but not always - words. The pages could be mono-chromatic or infused with RAINBOWS. Some artists work on a series {colors, calendar pages, faces, fashion, food, plants}. There are shapes, images, concepts, symbols, mysteries, contrasts, juxtapositions. Or maybe not. Maybe something else altogether. 

I'm sorry that I have not been responding to the comments in the past several weeks. I read every single comment and I love and appreciate all of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me know that you are out there reading! 

ICAD, I've Missed You

Say it, shout it, carve it, stamp it, proclaim it, but the reality is that before you know it, index-card-a-day will be starting! You've got just enough time to sneak off to the office supply store and grab a stack of index cards. If you don't have a stash of art supplies grab a 36-pack of ultra-fine Sharpie markers or colored pencils and you'll be ready to roll on June 1st. 

Some folks in the ICAD FB group have started to prep cards in advance; others asked whether this was OK. So I thought I would address the question in this space. Consider that in the "big picture" ICAD is a personal creative challenge, so each person will approach the process differently. It's definitely not a competition!

Some things to think about...

a) There's a freedom in selecting a fresh card each day from your stack and going wherever the path leads.
b) If you wish to follow the prompts, starting with a blank card gives you the very most options. {Thank you Patricia for this perspective.}
c) There is no need/requirement/expectation to prepare your index cards for the challenge. I believe that the key is to go into the challenge with a positive attitude, a stack of cards and some mark-making materials. 
d) You might like a "kick-start" of color or texture. Seeing a color might inspire an idea. The abstract patterns that transpire in your paint can inspire ideas for your card-of-the-day.
e) Those who wish to doodle or sketch on a painted background have the reality of needing to wait for paint to dry. 
f) A collage artist might find it energizing to have a stack of colorful painted cards to use as a base for collage.
g) Writers might map out some aspect of a novel and brainstorm before writing the card for the day.
h) It doesn't have to be fancy! You can do the challenge with a stack of index cards and a black marker. That's it! 
i) Getting out your paints and working on cards in advance is a lovely warm-up activity and gets you in the mood and gets your mind thinking about potential ideas. You can always cut up those painted bits and using them for other creative work like art journal pages. Time spent creating is not wasted!

What do I do? I work in a bunch of different ways! I like to paint some backgrounds but I also like the joy of that fresh card with pure potential! Creativity is a funny thing and we are each inspired in different ways. Then there's the reality of your workspace, your travel schedule, etc. For example, when I traveled to California last year during ICAD, I only wanted to bring a zip-lok baggie of markers so I painted a base of gouache or acrylic on a small stack of cards and it was really fun to grab one and draw on top of that base. 

Let's talk logistics. Here's how things will work moving forward. I'll post the first set of {100% optional} prompts at the blog on Friday May 29 @ 1am CST. If you are getting posts via email, they should arrive in your inbox between 3-5am CST {I've adjusted the feed so that it arrives a bit earlier}. So you'll have a few days, depending where you are on the planet, to mull over the ideas for the week ahead. June 1 this year is on a MONDAY so our ICAD weeks will start with Mondays. Week 1 = June 1-7, etc. If you are looking for the prompts during the challenge, just pop over and check the most recent blog posts. I *will* post the prompts and my cards at instagram but it's not automated:)

Thematic prompts cover 3 week intervals; posted May 29 + June 19 + July 10.

Topical prompts include a prompt-a-day for 1 week; posted Fridays starting May 29. 

ICAD Inspiration:
2014 Index Card Art Wrap-Up @ Vimeo or YouTube
NEW! ➸ Index Card Idea Zine {100+ Ideas for Small Format Artwork}

Read the ICAD FAQ.
Bookmark the ICAD INDEX. The links in the index that go to each week's prompts will work when the blog post is published.
Get an ICAD 2015 Badge.
Join the Daisy Yellow ICAD group at Facebook.
Join the Daisy Yellow Flickr group.
At instagram use tag #icad2015. We aren't using the tag icad because it is used for something unrelated to index cards!

Draw Your Words: Workshop Index

"A huge component of the process of making art
is the making of meaning – taking stimuli,
sorting it, reconstructing it and communicating it."
Nicoletta Baumeister

groovy letters

groovy letters

This is an index, a table of contents, to the Draw Your Words workshop. It's is a workshop about drawing better letters and incorporating hand-lettered text in your art journal. Bookmark this page so that you can find links to all of the sections of the workshop. 

Draw Your Words is a fresh hand-lettering workshop with an array of drawing and writing exercises: I will challenge you to try new techniques and think creatively about how you "shape" your words.

Workshop Fee: Pay-what-you-wish.
Registration: Not required

The workshop materials {videos, ideas, tips} will be shared right here, so get the blog feed in your feed reader or via email. There are about 12 sections and you can work at your own pace; the materials will be available for at least a year. 

This workshop was learning experience for me as well. I started out thinking optimistically that it would be 5 sections. Yet each time I developed an idea I realized that it could be taken further or on a tangent, or deeper into a topic.

The workshop contains a total of 12 videos. Those contributing to the Tip Jar {≧ $11} by June 2 gain access to the private DYW Facebook Group with extra content, discussion, Q&A and tips. There's a BONUS VIDEO about doodly lettering. The group will be open until the end of 2015 and this is also a space to share the index cards that you create that include hand-lettering. There's a lovely group of folks at all skill levels sharing and discussing their lettering work in a comfy environment. It's a spot where you can share your lettering work and talk about the workshop. I will open access to the group for contributors again at the end of July.

Introduction and art material listing for the workshop.  

Registration is not required; this is a pay-what-you-wish model.

The Wonder of Words: Getting in the mood to draw your words!

Alphabetized: Drawing the alphabet. My example is in dip pen and india ink; you can draw with any pen you wish.

Block Letters: Lettering exercises with a pen or marker. Helping you see letters as shapes. Making use of negative space and drawing block letters.

The Purple Page: Creating art journal page using acrylics, a rubber brayer, collage and hand-lettering. My example is in a children's book, you'll need some sort of heavy paper or cardboard plus acrylic paints.

Alphabet Journal Flip-Thru: A journal where I practice hand-lettering and devise new lettering ideas, with mandalas and doodles too. 

Doodle Letters One: Drawing letters and adding kooky doodle patterns inside.

The yellow page

The yellow page

The Yellow Page: Creating an art journal page using acrylics, a brush, collage and hand-lettering with a brush and high flow acrylic paint.

Repeat and s-t-r-e-t-c-h: A quick tip about space planning and writing BIG letters.

White Lettering: A quick tutorial about using white high flow acrylic paint to write on dark art journal backgrounds.

Doodle Letters Two: Colorful silly doodle letters in Dr. Seuss style.

Groovy Letters: Graffiti-esque lettering tips.

Resources:  For those wishing to explore modern calligraphy and playful lettering.

Variations Galore: Spark your creativity by brainstorming lettering ideas.

Alphabetication: An example of letter play using various inks and nibs. Not an official section of the workshop, but good fun.

Doodle Letters Three: Taking what you've learned and creating words and phrases with your doodly lettering.

I've got a few more recommendations.  The Stabilo Worker is a lovely pen with flowy ink that I like for bold outlines and doodles. I have drawn so much with these pens that I've gone through 3 of them this year.  I also like the Zig G-Nib for dip pens. It has a flexible nib so depending how you apply pressure when you draw, you can vary the line width. You'll need a dip pen nib holder. I use this wooden one from Jet Pens.

Draw Your Words: Doodle Letters Three

Welcome to the final episode of the free Draw Your Words Workshop. I hope that you've enjoyed the hand-lettering tutorials and ideas shared. This brings the grand total to twelve video tutorials and a bunch of tips and ideas. You'll find more information in the workshop introduction, including recommended materials. 

Now we're going to take all of our lettering experiments, practice, variations and alterations and work on stringing together doodle letters into words. Adding your own hand-drawn letters to your art journal pages adds a bit of YOU to the mix. I think it makes the pages, the entire journals, more meaningful and, well, human! You can even do an art journal page where you write about your experience in speaking, writing & drawing words. Write about the act - the art - of incorporating words on your pages.

Watch the video here or at Vimeo or YouTube.

A few good books...

A lovely book on modern lettering is Modern Mark Making {note that the paperback version for some reason has a different name, "Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering"} by Lisa Engelbrecht. Not a "how-to" but a lovely assortment of ideas.

Playing with Type by Lara McCormick is a book of lettering prompts, not a "how-to" but chock full of juicy ideas that I'd like to explore further.

Why a free workshop? I'm trying to see if this pay-what-you-wish model will work at Daisy Yellow. So if you have found value in the lessons, if you have strengthened your lettering skills and if you feel more confident about adding lettering to your art journal or artwork, please consider contributing to the tip jar. 

There's a workshop index, where you can navigate to each section.

Art as Part of Life

"Life comes in clusters, clusters of solitude,
then clusters when there is hardly time to breathe."
May Sarton

The index-card-a-day challenge is a gentle way to help you instill a new habit, a good habit, in your daily life. I like to say that it is deceptively simple, just do something on an index card every day for 61 days. That's it! But is that really all there is to it? For example, how do we make time to actually work on our index cards? Do we try to squeeze in the time or do we trade-off something else? If your life is already overflowing with responsibilities, work stuff, kid stuff, roles, jobs, conference calls, relationships, health issues, pain management, volunteer work, meeting Belinda for coffee, tidying up for play dates, picking up a gallon of milk on the way home, helping your child study vocabulary or making a costume from the roman empire, a broken phone screen, folding laundry, what do you do? For me, it was a trade-off.  

A few quotes from A Woman's Guide to a Simpler Life by Andrea Van Steenhouse:

"Simplifying life isn't easy. It requires searching our souls, which can be painful, and changing our priorities, which can be difficult. If we are working not he assumption that if it is right, it ought to be easy, these tasks will be unimaginable."

"A simpler life is one in which the knowledge of what matters dictates all that surrounds us. It is a life lived with the courage to let go of what our hearts know does not belong. It is a more balanced life, not a more expert balancing act."

So it appears to be simple, yet we must make the decision to make a change and allow that new habit to be instilled. And that part is the much more complex. After the first few years of the challenge, participants starting telling me that ICAD had changed their lives. Seriously? Could it be so? Maybe it's not really the art but the benefit of focusing on creative work, taking time for yourself? I want to embrace that, bring it in to our process, to add content this year to broaden the experience. I think that will be one of the important aspects of the challenge in July.

In June, we are all energized and happily creating. And then after about a month it's like... well, there's a lull in the excitement. And that is when we need to remember why on earth we are doing a creative challenge in the first place. What changes do you want to make? And how can a creative practice help us?

Here's an interesting podcast from The Good Life Project about how simple {albeit well-thought} solutions are often the best solutions. It's a bit less than an hour. 

There's a new Index Card Art Zine, a special issue of the Zine, with 100+ ideas for small format art. It's a kick-start for creative endeavors.