Once you have your written your no-holds-barred manifesto of how you would live your one precious life if you could do anything you dreamed of, you need to turn it into something more practical in the form of no-fail New Year’s Resolutions, which is just a way to say: name the tasks you need to get you from here to there.
I know that one big reason people famously “fail” at resolutions is that they make so few of them: if you only make three big, overarching resolutions and you stumble over two, then you can wail that you knew you couldn’t do it and making New Year’s resolutions is lame. But what if you made 23 very small, very specific resolutions and kept nine of them? Or seven? Keeping up with seven, tiny resolutions might turn your life around and keep it turning.
While I sincerely hope your burner journal now contains details about your desire to live in an Italian farmhouse and grow your own olives, or be a wildly successful junk journal maker or the next Tim Holtz, let’s start with something universal: the desire to get in shape; to be sexy, fierce, lean, and bold. (I coach [read more]
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard, A Writing Life
Making New Year’s Resolutions is a kind of religion for me. I believe in it so much that I make my resolutions at the new year and again at mid-year for tune up. If you are reading this and you think that resolutions are corny or a waste of time, I strongly suspect that no one has ever sugested ways that are meaningful and guarantees success. So give it a chance and join me, won’t you? You are about to change your life.
In my experience, expressing your deepest, wildest dreams, even in a private diary, can feel scary and sometimes even wrong, as in: “Who am I to allow myself to imagine a life this big and gorgeous and successful? And if I write it in my day-to-day journal, what if someone sees it? What if I see it, what if I read it again in a few months and I’ve failed because of course I will and these words will humiliate me because I should know better and…” Sound familiar?
The Burner Journal
Now, you can “kill” your [read more]
One of my favourite times of the year is autumn and one of my favourite ways to hold onto the beauty and mystery that the season holds is to make ecoprints, steaming leaves I have foraged on my hikes into paper that I then make into cards, framed prints, or book covers.
Dying with plants is an inexact science but I have been doing this one for years and here’s hoping that some of these pointers will steer you in the right direction with your attempts.
Choose a robust paper. Anything under 130 g/m is likely to tear when it is wet. I tend to use a watercolour paper that is 300 g/m. It makes for a sturdy substrate that will then be a nice weight for working into a project.
Choose your leaves! Not going to lie, this is a bit of an art, and the more batches of prints you make, the more you find from trial and error what really pops in your finished pages. I can tell you that I have the best results from leaves that had fallen from the tree – do not take them from the [read more]
Okay, now that you’re here, I might as well tell you this is a trick. Oh, we are going to talk about ways to keep journals; in the weeks and months to come, we are going to talk about it a lot: about paper and laying out a page and formatting and lettering and you name it, but today, there is no so-called best way. What matters is that you clicked on this link because you want to keep a journal or diary – maybe just with words but maybe also with drawings or doodling or gluing or something. And you don’t know how to start.
It is possible you are an experienced journal keeper and do not need outside help. I think it is more likely that you are new at this or that you began and are now stuck. Maybe you bought a blank book and have never made a mark in it because it’s too good to write in. Maybe you have a plain-old, lined notebook that cost $1.29 and you think it’s not good enough.
Whichever it is, you are mistaken. What you need to start your journal is this: something to write on (handmade [read more]
So, let’s talk about ink. It is one of the bedrock materials for use in an illustrated journal, sketchbook, art journal, junk journal, or an array of mixed-media projects. There is fountain pen ink, plant based inks, pigments, dyes, acrylic ink, and tinctures and they can all be used to create backgrounds or highlights or washes or shadows in your sketches. Here are ten ways that you can use ink in your journal work. (Go all the way down to see the video!)
– Blots. Doesn’t get simpler than this. Dribble a bit of ink on a page then blot with another sheet then allow to dry. Depending on how much ink you use, you will either have a substantial, abstract background to draw or work on top of, or a smaller blotch. The shapes created by these smaller puddles of colour often suggest a drawing with this as its base. You can also make a blot by spraying liberally with a mister than allowing to dry or by folding the pages on top of each other for a dramatic smudge.
– Asemic writing is an abstract calligraphy, scribbled lines that suggest letters and in turn, words. (To see [read more]
To attend one of these workshops, please contact me and book in for a time that suits you. These are two hour sessions of intense teaching and creating, and you will leave inspired.
Art Play Date Workshop
Join artist Kelly Boler at her marina art studio for a playdate that includes one-on-one tuition and full use of an amazing variety of stencils, rubber stamps, inks, embossing powders, acrylic paint, pastels, watercolours, gel mediums, gesso, hot glue, paint daubers, watercolour pencils and crayons, die cutters, washi tape, and a huge assortment of paper ephemera. Also on hand is a library of art books filled with ideas for inspiration. Learn how to keep an art journal, make your own tag art, try out unfamiliar art supplies and techniques, or just play.
This playdate is ideal for absolute beginners as well as experienced crafters. Buy it for yourself or give to someone who might need a nudge with their creativity. Two hours includes use of all supplies, tuition on a variety of crafts, and a free starter sketchbook to work in and take home. £40 for an individual or £75 for two – bring a friend!
To make a date call or text: 0792 807 8866 or [read more]
Over the years I have made some impressive dyed pages (often called ecoprints) with autumn leaves. (To see this tutorial, go here: http://bookandpaperarts.com/bookandpaper/beautiful-paper-dyeing-fall-foliage-leaves-using-eco-printing-techniques/) Recently I tried the same technique with onion skins and wow wow wow, it did not disappoint. Haunting colours, depths, and rust-like patterns, and I don’t have to wait for fall to roll around. Here is a breakdown of how these pages were made. Hopefully you will put it on your list of things to try, and if you have any questions, just get in touch via email or the comments below.
- loose onion skins, purple or yellow or both
- a mordant (optional but I highly suggest it)
- a deep baking dish large enough for your paper
- heavy paper – I use 200 gsm
- twine or cord
- the biggest darn pot you can find – I use a stock pot
- sticks or dowels (optional but helpful)
Okay, how do you gather up a mess of onion skins in the first place? In order to procure a substantial supply you have to be resourceful. My system is to go to the loose onions in the supermarket and when no one is looking, rustle them a bit. The skins loosen and [read more]
Sometimes you have to spend good money for art supplies and sometimes – you don’t. For instance, you can get a lot of beautiful, mysterious, and dramatic effects with leftover tea and coffee for free.
- Tea stained pages. Simply soak pages in strong tea (I use double the tea bags for a heavy brew) for a few minutes for a pale shade or overnight for a deeper patina. If you rotate the pages while still damp, the tea will travel over the paper and then pool in different parts so that the staining is irregular. This can also be done with coffee.
- I prefer to get a light, parchment colour with tea and then use coffee for mark-making. While you can use it straight out of the pot, I always take the day’s leftovers and leave them in an open container overnight. The water evaporates a little making an even stronger brew. (I actually let my coffee evaporate for several days. It is not always intentional – I just get behind on stuff and it sits there waiting for me, getting darker and darker.) You can also use instant coffee and make it even stronger.
Boy do I love using old tea bags in art. There is something mysterious about the translucent layers they make. Added to paper or other substrate, they look like parchment or linen, while allowing any text or image underneath to show through. Here are some suggestions for using tea bags in your art, collage, scrapbook, or other mixed media projects.
– Layering, layering, layering. Brush your glue medium of choice onto the tea bag and place it on the surface you are working with. Bunch it up here and there for added texture. You can then paint or print over that. Or not.
– Rubber stamps. You can get some dramatic effects that look like a tiny print on parchment that you then add to paper or board.
– Guess what doesn’t work. Stencils with ink from a spritzer or mister. What does work are stencils with ink pad. For this I used a Tim Holtz blending tool that you “load” with ink from a pad, then pounce over the stencil.
– Paint. I am not much of a painter but there are artists out there who turned the humble tea bag into a tiny canvas for portraits. Here I have used acrylics, both [read more]
I am deeply attracted to rust-dyed papers and enjoying reading about the technique. It usually seems to involve different combinations of tea, rusty stuff, paper bundles, and a cauldron, and I don’t have room for anything remotely that big, even in my studio, which is a scant 98 square feet and filled to the rafters with ephemera and tea cups. Recently, however, I found a method of dying papers that, while it lacks the eerie depth of mark-making with rust, it is pretty darn lovely; also simple and quick, which makes for near-instant gratification.
Ink (I use a variety of fountain pen inks and homemade walnut ink)
Medium to heavy weight paper or cardstock
A water mister
Ink, Sponge, and Mister
These pages are to be used for a sketchbook. Rather than cut them to size, I tore them, using a ruler as a straightedge. This torn edge is pretty as it mimics a deckled edge, and it absorbs the ink.
Tearing the Edges of Paper
Dip the sponge in the undiluted ink, then dab the edges of the page around all sides.
Now spray the page with the water using your mister/spritzer. Start with the edges, turning the page as you mist. When you [read more]