The whole video is worth watching. But #33 is to question stuff constantly, that's at 35.43.
Words to live by.
The whole video is worth watching. But #33 is to question stuff constantly, that's at 35.43.
Words to live by.
This is a begining list of instructors that have technique based instruction. If you know of another person who does online technique based instruction, add a comment and I'll check it out and add them to the list. Just because someone is on this list does NOT mean that I personally endorse them. If I've seen their instruction before I'll make note of it.
Daisy Yellow Clear easy to follow instruction, bright photos, interactive online, thriving FB group.
KellyKilmer Has done a lot of classes. Friendly online, what instruction I've seen is clear and easy to follow. Does reasonably priced online and in person classes.
iHanna Loads of online instruction, clear easy to follow instructions, pretty pictures.
The Land of Lost Luggage I have taken 2 classes with Julie. Instructions are clear, easy to follow and technique based. Videos are a little long and and include every step of the image made with a voice over. It can get boring. BUT the instruction is clear and understandable. After you finish a LoLL course you will know how to recreate the technique.
Joggles (I know nothing of this site, just when I looked it's all technique based mixed media classes.)
ArtJournaling.ning.com This is my site. There are free and fee based workshops run by a variety of instructors. These are all technique based. The forums are loaded with artists and journalers sharing their personal techniques. Lots of pictures of art journaling.
Diana Trout Her blog is ful,l of arty goodness and I love her YouTube videos. Her book Journal Spilling is one I suggest to many people when they are looking for a good place to strat with art journaling.
Roben-Marie Smith teachs many technique based classes. I have not personally taken her classes.
What can we as instructors do to help potential students make the proper choice? After all happy students mean more happy students.
#1. Accurately describe classes.
#2. If you say you are going to cover something, do it!
#3. Don’t confuse potential students with a lot of fluffy descriptions. A concise description will tell us more about the class than a lot of TV infomercial style writing.
When I was teaching my supervising teacher had me write lesson plans. These plans included a brief statement of what I wanted to accomplish in the class, how long the class was going to last, what I’d cover in the class, and what part of the school and state’s learning goals I was going to meet. Then I’d do a step-by-step plan of the actual classes. I’d include notes on what I would say to students and when. These were serious business, it allowed me to maintain my licensure. If I skipped on these, she’d make me do them again. They were a lot of work. The thing is, they were so important and helpful for me to be able to accurately teach my students. It was so useful I have made them for all my online classes and classes I hope to teach one day.
If #1 and #2 are too hard, maybe a lesson plan would help. Summarize each lesson into a brief description. If you can’t summarize it, break up the class, add another day. A class can’t be all expansive. Teaching everything is impossible. This was the hardest thing for me to learn as a young teacher. I had each class for about 50 minutes each day. I had to be able to summarize my lessons into something my supervisor could figure out in a moment.
What I’ve learned from this discussion is that there is a viable and lively group of people looking for honest, in depth mixed media and art journaling instruction online. What this group wants is safe classes with art and no diving deep into the subconscious, no mind-body connection, no promises to jumpstart creativity, just honest-to-goodness mixed media and art instruction.We can all hold dear the idea that art heals, but we can all also find that in our own personal practice of art journaling if we want it.
I also get why some teach the healing they have learned. It’s natural to want to show this thing you’ve learned with everyone. It’s awesome and we should be proud of the deep internal work we’ve done. That is some powerful stuff. When we have spontaneous healing of wounds we’ve dug out of “the deep” of our subconscious, it’s mind blowing and even life altering. Personal revelation does not necessarily make a good class. Nor does self healing qualify us to take others on that journey. We need to modify what we teach so that it is safe for anyone who takes a class with us. I’m advocating for us to care more for each other, and with that to be careful with the possible hurts that people may feel.
I'm going to make a brief list of the instructors that I know who only do technique based classes but I'll post that in another day or two. If you would like to shoot me an email with a class you tink should be listed feel free. You can also add it in the comments of the post tomorrow.
Anyone who is my twitter friend knows I love me some yelp. I’m a second year elite member and review every new place I go to eat. I love it.
Well, I was thinking, Yelp let’s us review any business. This won’t put anyone who hosts a review site in any possibly legal hotwater. Yelp is a big company and they can handle all that.
So, what you can do, is sign up for a yelp account, you don’t have to use your real name if you don’t want to, or you can tie it to your facebook or twitter account. Once you do that, you can then load up any business. you can also search to see if anyone else has loaded them up. From there you can rate them with a 1 to 5 star rating and then give a narrative.
From there you can share the ratings on blogs, facebook and twitter.
Anyway, follow this link, read some of my reviews, check out what yelp is like, and consider if you'd like to "yelp" about online classes.
What do you think? a good palce to review online classes and instructors?
Other people in the group concurred.
I loaded up links to online help and hotlines people in the US could call.
We kept it up for about 6 months before the workshop kind of quietly died.
Had I worked through the book before I started the workshop I never would have done the online workshop. The information is simply too deep and too much able to expose a raw nerve ending, leaving people in crisis. While I wasn’t prepared to be there for someone in crisis I am (and was) in a place in my life I am able to do so. That is also not a place I should have put people into. The work was too deep for the medium.
That is my failure- to not see this before I started. Leaping before I looked. It sucked that the group died out and that it was really too much for the online medium but it clarified tome why I had (and will) always do only technique based workshops online, the deep stuff doesn't translate well, SAFELY, in this medium.
Failure is part of the process. But it's what we do after we fail that changes us.
I've had the fortune to discuss this series with a number of online instructors. Two said that after review and reflection they either scaled back, scrapped or revamped some of their healing classes. Why? It didn't feel right for them to be offering stuff that went so deep as quickly as online allows us to go.
For us as instructors we have to examine our motivations as to why we offer a course. Is it to share a technique, to make a living, or for our own healing? These are questions instructors must ask ourselves, before a class ever comes to light. before we commit time to it's creation. Especially if we are going to consider offering something that is healing, deeply reflective, or therapeutic.
From a few of the FB message I got the feeling that some readers felt I might be writing these posts with a direction at one person. I think ti's really important that people understand that this isn't about an issue I've had with one particular person, this is about pervasive issues I've witnessed as online teaching of mixed media and the arts gain some ground. I see people throwing about terms like therapeutic as if it means the same thing as healing or spiritual healing. This is not a one person issue, this is a pervasive issue in mixed media and online teaching.
I fully believe that this conversation is needed for so many reasons. First, I think there need not be any shame associated with being online bullied or treated poorly in a class. Secondly when someone is unethical it should come to light, and will, eventually. Third, we need to talk about this, without conversation about bad behavior, and activities, shame will perpetuate and we'll never get rid of these things poisoning our community.
Next Installment, Part 5,
So, how does one pick a safe online art journaling course? That’s the $64,000 question isn’t it? This will be highly personal and different for everyone. I’ll give what I think to be some guidelines, add more in the comments. I’m interested in what works for you and what you feel has kept you safe online.
#1. Does the person offer therapeutic or healing classes? If so what are their qualifications? Are they a certified life coach or registered Mental Health Counselor or Social worker or Art Therapist? If you email them and ask about where they got their life coach certification do they tell you? They should be happy to tell you where they got it and how long they studied. In fact this should be somewhere on their website.
#2. Is this person willing to interact with you? If you email them asking a question about the class before you sign up, how long does it take them to get back to you? Do they answer all of your questions? Do they answer them completely? 24 hours is a reasonable wait time, many online instructors don’t answer email on the weekends.
#3. How do they portray themselves online? Will this be a good fit for you personally? Google them. Look for past issues with students. Read back in their blogs. Are they dramatic? If so, you can probably expect that in their classes. If their blog is full of accusational blog posts, even without naming names? If they are drama filled now, imagine what that will be like behind closed doors.
#4. Is the class offered as an art course or self help? In this case you have to ask yourself do you want just an art class or do you want self help. If you want just art you might find yourself less than happy with a self help styled class.
#5. Do they proclaim special or magical abilities, mystical help? Do they offer a series of other add ons you can buy as part of their class? Is a skype “counseling” session you can buy from them? Again, with this one, go back to #1 and ask yourself, “Is this person qualified to help me with my issues?” If they are not a licensed mental health care professional or life coach (depending on your issues and need) then it is likely illegal for them to offer a phone based counseling session for money. This is a safety issue, not just a legal one. It is one thing for someone to offer advice to a friend, it’s another for them to pose as a counselor or therapist and take money. Not only is it likely not legal it won’t feel right*.
#6. As SusanJane suggested in her comment on part 1: Ask some of your online friends and past instructors about their good experiences. Recommendations are a great way to get a better idea of course content, the teacher’s methods, and how the teacher will interact with you. It might give you an idea of if you will like the person. I asked a friend of mine what she thought of a class I was thinking of taking and she told me, “Girl, I love her, but the cray cray is dripping off her and she’s a nutbag.” She then went on to describe all kinds of woo woo frou frou stuff I knew wouldn’t be right for me. So, I passed on the class.
#7. Money. Can you find a local class for less? Sometimes you can find an in-person drop in art center run by real honest to goodness art therapists with a sliding scale fee, or set lower cost classes. the Artful Life Counseling Center and Studio (in lovely Salem, MA) offers $20, $30, and $40 classes depending on length of class, they go from 1 to 2 hours. They also offers $10/hr of drop in open art studio time. That is real value for your money. (from their current brochure 2013) Now, if someone is offering an e-book for $100 with no one-on-one time is that a value for your money? If someone is offering you a class with no one-on-one time that will take you 4 hours to complete for $300 is that a value? If you don’t have access to a Place like Artful Life, then yeah, it might be. Again, I urge you to be aware of the monetary influences going on behind the scenes of these business. How much of this can you find on youtube?**
Now after reading these questions you’re thinking, “Hey so-and-so fits some of this… But, Less, they worked with this good person and this good person, and they are pretty famous. Shouldn't that tell me they are okay?”
Sadly, no. I’ve noticed that in several of the “big name” art journaling and mixed media circuses that there are many instructors who claim to be healers, offer therapeutic classes, and are downright horrible people***. The people who run these large grouped offerings are lending legitimacy to these horrible people because they bring in money, and a lot of it.
Let’s be honest for a minute, when you are paying $80, or $100, or $150 for a group offered series of classes, so are 400, 500, or 1000 people. The math is simple, it’s big bucks. When an art instructor can bring in an additional 200 or 300 people the fact is, that’s a lot of money exchanging hands. Am I suggesting that these group offerings aren’t worth it? Nope, in some cases they are absolutely worth the money. But I think you also have to be aware and understand that this is not only a class it’s also a business and sometimes when money changes hands perceptions change.
When you venture away from the big group classes, you need to be careful and know that some of the people in the classes are not safe people to take classes from, they may have been on their best behavior in the group. Even if they are involved in multiple big classes or have been involved in several over the years. You need to decide what classes are for you not let someone else decide.
Keep in mind that art is powerful medicine in trained hands. With the right help it can push you into uncharted areas of healing, make you feel better, and yes, even, soothe your soul. Art is one tool that can be used to assist you in healing. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, use online classes as a supplement to in-person therapy from a qualified person. Someone licensed who has devoted their life to healing. Art will make you feel better but you also need a safety net. If you are dealing with minor stresses an art class may be all you need, but again, I look at online healing classes as something you can do along with a therapist. If an online art class is your gateway therapy which will lead you in person therapy, try it out.
I can attest to the power of my initial training in mental health counseling and art therapy. I am evolving as a person, and my mindset and beliefs about people are changing. I’m learning more than I thought possible in a very short time. Graduate work in mental health counseling and art therapy is immersive and life altering. My life is better than it ever has been before, and I will be a better art therapist for it. Please expect more for yourself than people who claim to be healers who haven’t done the work. You are worth the time and effort of real therapy, or a drop in art therapy inspired workshop with a real art therapist.
Therapeutic implies therapy implies therapist.
Part 2 of this is about art therapy, art as therapy, and art as healing.
I had a lengthy discussion on FB about this subject. it was in reference to Oprah’s new art journaling class. Which I won’t link to here but you can find it easily. The class is $80 and on OprahTV. This will be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. I don’t know Brene Brown nor have I read her book. Some of my reaction is not about her class but to other groupings of classes available in person and on the internet. These classes are portrayed as ways to heal yourself, fix what ails you, and as therapeutic. I’ll get into why I dislike art journaling teachers throwing around therapeutic as a label for their classes.
I dislike people fiddling around with “my” art form and possibly polluting it with an interpretation that I find to be false, or watering down the art journal. My interpretation of art journaling is not the only interpretation, there are many, and I'm open to those, but I'm not open to seeing the corporate interpretation. Art journaling, like scrapbooking before it, has reached a point where it’s even more likely to be noticed by bigger and bigger corporations. I predict that some of the scrapping aisles in the box craft stores will give way to art journal aisles and we’ll see more specific art journal products. Art journaling is the next BIG thing.
I am extremely wary of teachers throwing around the term therapeutic. When someone uses the word therapeutic it implies that therapy and healing will be part of the course. It also implies that they are trained in either therapy or counseling. People don’t think enough about their words and the implied meanings. Therapeutic implies therapy implies therapist.
I’m wary of people suggesting they can magically tell you what your painting or journal page means. I’m wary of people offering a cure for what ails you. Frankly I’m very afraid of the people online who are offering healing classes or that you should go DEEP when they do not have training to help you once you go deep.
What happens when you go deep in a class, you pull something out of the sticky darkness of your subconscious and you melt. Suddenly, you are a ball of raw exposed nerves. Is the teacher holding this class qualified to help you in this moment? Will she brush you away telling you that your hurt is, “Old news” and follow that up with a chaser of, “get over it.”?
Here’s the thing, art is powerful medicine when it’s used properly. In the hands of a skilled and trained person it can put you onto a path of healing. Art deals with hurt on a level that is deep inside, it’s rooted in the subconscious. It allows you to explore the stuff you can’t talk about. It allows you to make sense of the stuff in the deep of your head.
That person needs to be able to understand what is going on when a person exposes those raw nerves. They need to know what to do when that person shares the source of her raw nerves. The instructor can’t be squeamish when this happens, rather they must deal with it. they must help the person to heal.
Frankly, many online instructors are not able to do this. I can say that I, as a teacher (fancy degree and everything) was not qualified to handle this sort of mental emergency. This is why I focused on ONLY the art aspect of art journaling, not the healing aspect. I was not qualified to heal nor did I have the skills to help someone who had gone into the deep and had raw exposed nerves. Now that I'm learning more about what can happen to people in the hands of an unskilled person, I know that was the right decision.
This is directed to all online art instructors: I think that if you are not a trained therapist you should not offer a therapeutic course. You can offer a healing or spiritual course but must be aware if you ask your students to dig into the deep they need a safety net. Make sure you suggest a therapist. Be aware that if they don’t deal with their issues that they will get worse. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and yes, even death.
A few weeks back someone with an email address from a large corporation joined my site, AJ ning, I allowed her in but carefully watched to see what she was doing. I have a zero tolerance policy for advertising. As I watched, she did nothing, no interactions, no uploads of images, no content, nothing. She didn’t add one comment or idea to the community. I forgot about her until the other day.
She loaded an event for approval.
A big corporately funded shindig.
It set me off.
I don’t blame the marketer for doing what she did, that’s her job, but I’ll be damned if I allow corporations to advertise on my site for free.
These corporations think they can trample anywhere and they’ll be welcome.
Corporate entities are not welcome on my site.
I’ve worked too hard and long on art journaling and art journaling ning to allow these corporations to make a quick buck off the community that has been built by people who share willingly and for free their ideas, their art, and information with one another for the sheer love of what we do. No forget that, forget the corporations that want to blunder in, make some money while people are interested. After the co-opt and sell MY art form and turn it into something that its not, for a few dollars, and when they lose interest and the paycheck isn’t big enough for them, they’ll move on. I’ll still be here slopping paint into my journal, glueing in garbage, and torturing a page.
Because this isn’t about money for me, it’s about passion, authenticity, and life. Art journaling isn’t a job for me, it’s something I DO.
Why do I so dislike these corporate things?
One of the things I’ve been learning about through school is the true power of art for healing, in the right circumstances and with the right help. The right help could be a licensed art therapist, experienced healer, or self directed, depending on the needs of the person. What I’m trying to reconcile is this with the proliferation of people online selling “art heals” and fearless art exploration of the psyche. Some of it worries me. I’m frightened of the gurus selling something they don’t fully understand.
I’m frightened of artists who have healed themselves and teach that method without learning of the damage they can do to others.
I’m frightened of the massive amounts of money that exchange via the internet for these services.
In particular an online acquaintance has aligned themselves with someone I’ve personally known to be destructive, manipulative, and harmful to the well being of others; though this acquaintance knows these issues she has chosen to work with this person.
A great deal of money is on the line with online healing art classes.
Art heals.Art saves.
I don’t know how to reconcile what I know of this online acquaintance and this new business partnership. Part of me wants to cry foul and sell out. Part of me is simply worried about the false help they will give to people, and perhaps the bad name they could give art therapy.
Find inner peace.
These damaging people do a disservice to real art therapy and art as therapy. They make a mockery of the statement “Art heals.” They further damage people through incompetence and money grubbing ignorance.
Don’t be deceived, when you are paying a premium price for an online service there are hundreds of other people also paying a premium price for that same service. Thousands of dollars are wrapped up in these online services.
I decided to pick up a few more composition books while they are cheap at Staples. I noticed the made in Brazil books are fewerin numbers and mixed in with the Made in Egypt books. After digging through the stacks I noticed something.
The made in Brazil books are on the bottom and the made in Egypt books on top. The Books made in Brazil have a rounded spine. To find the Made in Brazil books I ran my hands over the spines of the book stacks and was easily and QUICKLY able to find the made in Brazil. Within seconds of figuring this out I have my stack of books and I was in line to pay. It took me a good 5 minutes or so to find the first made in Brazil book.
So all you fountain pen users who lova a cheap notebook, look for rounded spines. Please note this may only be the case for the Staples branded notebooks as all my other composition notebooks- Mead and Norcom have rounded spines and are not good with fountain pens.
This article is a beautiful one about self censorship. I think that at some point we all lose our way toward our personal voice/vision for our own art. Call it authenticity or whatever, but we have to fight to get back to it. Fight for our unique and personal vision to come through.
In the past all you had to fight was yourself, the expectations of critics and your own inner critic. Now we have the machine of the "art" industry pumping out tools and toys for us to use, straight off the shelf.
For me part of the joy of art was learning to make do with what I had and adapting other tools toward my needs.A little gumption and an idea was all I needed to stoke the creative fire already buring inside.
I’ve been obsessing on micro journaling lately. The idea of carrying with me ONLY the barest necessities of journaling, paring down to less and less. Until i’m left with... 1 journal (MTNKO) and one pen.
It seems crazy from the woman who often carries 2 or 3 journals, a pen bag of pens, a watercolor set, and a selection of brushes.
My bag was starting to weigh me down. It would weigh in around 20 pounds.* I stitched a new shoulder strap support and patched the frays in my bag. At some point I realized I was carrying just too much. It could also be that I’m obsessed with my MTNKO. I don’t know. But I’ve cut my daily carry down to the following:
TWSBI 530 and 540
2 Pentel PBP
If I’m working on PioP I carry my Exacompta journal with me and if I’m planning on drawing stuff that I want more room with I’ll carry a larger sketchbook with me. My hope is to incorporate all of the PioP stuff into a journal I can put into my large MTNKO as well as create a few pamphlet stitched journals of sketchbook paper that fit.
That’s considerably lighter than what I was carrying all of the time. A good part of what i’m doing now is actively thinking before I pack my bag, “Realistically, what will I be working on today?” Then packing accordingly. Additionally, having a jotter that is for truly random stuff in the back of my MTNKO allows me to make random notes that I can transfer to the appropriate notebook when I get home.
So far this is working for me and I hope to try it out over the summer and see if it conintues to work for me.
I’m pretty stoked to tell you all about the Challenge! group on AJ Ning. I’ve asked a group of my arty friends to help me out by being Hosts. Each month a new host will introduce the Challenge! Each Challenge! has 3 parts: Images, Colors, and Material. Depending on the host, you might get images they shots, copyright free images from Flickr’s Commons.
The images are meant to give you some inspiration. You don’t have to draw them, or even use them as collage fodder for your journal. You could be inspired by them to write about them, or doodle a new pattern, or even, write about how much you hate them.
The colors again, are meant as inspiration. You can use one or all of them in your art journal. You could do a whole page in one color, or 2 or 3. You could try and mix the colors. There are so many options with color it’s amazing. What about staining paper?
The material challenge is the cult of stuff aspect, use it up! If you have it in your stash, use it up! Test it out, use this Challenge! to try it out in multiple ways, learn how to use that one material in every way possible. Try it, test it!
Each Challenge! will lasts 2 weeks, then the next will start. We get each host for a month!
At the end of December I was wondering if my inks were lightfast, or not. I was wondering given that I’ve done a great deal of drawings with these inks, mostly sketches in my art journal and I was considering venturing out toward finished art with inks. I want to be sure that the art that I sell lasts longer than it takes me to create it. Art lives in very different circumstances from sketches, ie in full light and on the wall. My sketches stay in sketchbooks or live on the walls only when I’m contemplating.
Now, the middle of the winter in the Northeast US is a terrible time to test the light fastness of anything. We’ve had a pretty mild winter with plenty of sunny days. I took all of my inks with my glass dip pen wrote their name on a sheet of paper twice and scribbled a roughly 1cm high line the width of the page.
Over the weeks I noticed that a few inks immediately changed color and some immediately faded. Others didn’t show any changes until the last week or so of the test.
Loew Cornell Simply Art Fine Tip Marker $5.99/ 4 pack @ Joann's
I was doing some comparison shopping for my upcoming class on pen and ink drawing and I stumbled upon the Loew Cornell Fine Tip 4 pack at Joann’s for $5.99. They claim to be water resistant and non- bleeding. One look at the package and you can tell they are clearly a knock off of Pigma Micron pen put out by Sakura. The short cap, metal clip, and cap post on the end of the pen gives it away.
The markers are sold in a blister package with some claims and suggestions. The first claim is that they are water resistant. The second they won’t bleed. The back of the package suggests that you can use them with watercolors and other markers. I’ll get to these claims shortly.
The pens have a matte black barrel that is comfortable to hold. The pen is very lightweight. The cap posts securely to the back end of the marker with a satisfying click. While writing with the marker I found the ridge where the nib section meets the barrel to be quite sharp and uncomfortable. I suspect that this will be the main reason I stop using these markers.
While writing I found the fiber tip to be quite smooth on all pens but the largest, .08, and that nib was dry, as if it had dried out in it’s packaging or was out of ink. The sketching experience was not bad at all, the line was smooth and consistent for each tip. There is no line variation unless you switch pens. The ink is black but seems to gray out as it dries, leaving behind a dark gray line rather than a black line.
An additional flaw is that the cap is the only part with a size designation and it’s easily missed so caps could easily be put on the wrong pen. The barrels are only marked with the Loew Cornell name.
As for the water resistance, they are, sort of. I found that a lot of the ink lifted with a fast brush over with water. Leaving behind a strong gray area in any spot that was damp. There was a LOT of bleeding that would discolor any watercolor wash applied over it. This also washed out the lines. I went over my test area with another brush load of water and worked the area with the brush, nothing that would be called a scrub, and with a soft brush. The thinnest lines lifted almost completely and black lines were left grayer than before. The gray that is left is a very nice color. Knowing that these create a wash like this is actually pretty useful, one could throw these into a sketch kit with a waterbrush and get some pretty nice sketches with a wide range of tones of gray.
All in all these aren’t a bad value for $6 as long as you take the negatives into consideration- the grip itself, that one of the 4 pens I got wasn’t working properly, they are kinda water resistant, and that only the cap is marked for size. On the good side of things, you get 4 markers that write a lot like a Micron for a lot less, make wonderful washes, are all black and write pretty smoothly.
I’d recommend these for anyone who is interested in trying out this style of pen- very fine fiber tip. I don’t think these will sell you on the style though, they are too uncomfortable to write/sketch with for long periods of time.... Though a nail file might take the sharp edge off the grip area... Might try that, if I do I’ll let you know all about it. I want to suggest these for kids, but I don't want people to assume that I'm saying they are only for kids. I guess I'd say these are good for older kids- teenagers who are sketching for art class, or are writing or for someone who wants to test this style of pen out. you won't get the same performance as you would with a Micron but it's a good point to start.
UPDATE: I have been using these in SOME of my cowboy sketches and I've found them far more comfortable to sketch with than I'd have expected. We're not talk ing 2 hour long drawing sessions, more like 15 to 20 minute drawing sessions. I amend my previous statement about them being uncomfortable to being mostly comfortable for sketching. Add to that the blending capability when water or ink is added really adds an other level of darks to my gray ink brush pen. I'll need to test it and see if it's lightfast before I suggest it for anything other than sketching.
Iv'e been working on a variety of papers, settling on Canson's XL Watercolor paper, for a variety of reasons- it works well with the watercolors I'm using, it's cost is nice and it has a relatively smooth surface that my pens rather like. It's also got 2 sides, a right and a wrong, ot a front and a back; which ever way you prefer to call it, but I like the judgemental aspect of right and wrong... In this case. Any how.
One side has a little more tooth an grab to it than the other, this is the right side. The reverse side AKA WRONG is smoother. It also has less sizing... This affects a number of things- how ink and paint react with the surface. Less size means it's more absorbent.
This is good and bad.
It's bad when you use a mask. I applied a liquid frisket rather heavily to the surface of one of my paintings and the frisket grabbed to the paper so strongly it ripped when I removed it. Quite badly. It was crazy frustrating.
I went ahead with the mixed media piece anyway, knowing my paint would adhere the ripped pieces down and it would be okay, but I had to change my plans for color and other ideas for the image, and I know that the torn piece could come back to haunt me.
Additionally in my frisket/mask adventure I've found that the frisket REALLY doesn't like the spray inks. If the frisket is too thin the spray ink "leaks" through it. A total pain in the ass. So I've learned to put on one thin coat and then a heavier coat to seal it all up.
When I was in school everyone talked about wanting to make "honest work." The new buzzword for honest work is "authentic." We could spend days over glasses of red wine and mugs of coffee (as we did in college) talking about what this means. In the end it all boils down to, "I want to make work that resonates deeply withing myself and has deep personal meaning." End of story.
Or is it?
I think the truth of all the discussion and thinking on these topics is that essentially we're afraid of what we put on the paper/canvas/board/ or in the journal. Many of us make work and hide it away. It's why the art journal is so perfect, at the end of your art session you close the covers and never ever have to confront what you made again. Simple right? Except you're missing out on a prime piece of the art journal process- learning from what you've put down and thus from yourself.
I think that fear is why we also buy into what the industry pumps out for us. It's far easier to follow the industry's recipe for success than to forge our own path and style.
Maybe the real question we need to ask ourselves is, "How do we move past the fear and into creating our work? How do we learn from ourselves to create work that resonates deeply?"
It's this hard work that an art journal is intended and supposed to help us explore. If you never look back at your pages and be critical of them (without gessoing over them) and learning from those pages what are you missing out on. If you focus on nothing but making pretty pretty pages I think you're missing out on a very important part of art journaling.
Here's a challenge: Go through your art journal, either the current journal you're working in or a recent one. Use a sharpie, write on the margins of a page what you'd change on that page. If you are too chicken you can use a post it note. If you get bold, draw right on top of the page with your sharpie.
I've been watching some old episodes of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home on Hulu. I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS. PBS being one of the few channels that came in and was approved for me to watch. I credit a lot of my enjoyment of cooking to both my Mom and ravenously watching Julia Child's shows.
One of the things I notice as I watch J&J:CaH is that Julia rambles on quite a bit about how Americans are afraid of their food and how the diet industry is winning out over taste. Secretly, I could watch these shows over and over again.
Julia has a good lesson for us, and it applies to art. We can't let the industry win in dictating what we want and how we want it. Child's recipes for successful tasty dishes included fresh and basic ingredients combined in ways to create layers of food, she poo-poo'd using canned foods and already made stuff. She stated over and over, "It's not hard, the recipe is a guideline!" Art and art journaling are no different. We should be demanding the basic ingredients and supplies we need to make our art and not canned supplies. After all it's not hard to customize and create your own stuff if you only
Dede and Eveline are a prime example of taking a recipe and making it their own and taking it to entirely new heights. Dede put out a challenge to Eve that she make Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas without using his voluminous list of supplies. Eve took up the challenge as did Dede. their results are nothing short of spectacular. Out of the can thinking at it's finest.
The art and craft industry responds to demands, but as it's a big slow and lumbering machine full of people all trying to get the NEXT BIG IDEA and thus the next big paycheck. The lumbering machine hears about art journaling, tries to figure out what it is, there are big IMPORTANT meetings in board rooms to try and figure it out, there are more meetings in board rooms, and hapless cogs in the machine are sent off to investigate ART JOURNALING. They know nothing about it, they watch a few youtube videos, read a few blogs, and maybe a few of the more intrepid cogs join AJNing. They take some notes, maybe even dabble in a little art journaling and finally something like the Smash Book is born.
Now, thousands of people will be introduced to Art Journaling via the SmashBook. It might even be a decent product, but it's not what I consider a true art journal. It's an interesting concept and an interesting way to finally grab hold of a potential market. Hey, it's even got it's own special glue stick, color coordinated tabs, and a hundred other things to buy to go with it. ARGH!!!
Go simple, buy yourself a sketchbook, a cheap one, a few markers, maybe a cheap set of acrylics or watercolors, and start splashing shit around on the page. Try stuff, watch some videos on youtube get a few recipes but for goodness sake don't be afraid to only use it as a guideline.
I've been using watercolors for close to 20 years now. It's crazy when you thinkg about it. The first 5 years or so of using watercolors, I hated them. I used them primarily to add a toned color to a sketchbook, large flat washes of one color, let it dry then draw. Lovely.
Then about 10 years ago I decided I was going to master them. I never did. What I did do is learn how to use them better. I learned how to layer colors, be patient and let one layer dry before floating another over it.
I also learned to love the happy accidents, like the things you see in my current videos.
I learned to give up control and get beutiful results.
I get messages on youtube where people ask me, "How do you do this? Where did you learn this?" The video below is my answer.
The truth is, you have to give up control. You have to be willing to get something ugly to get something that really is beautiful. Sometimes in the midst of the ugly is just one spot that speaks to you and will motivate you to create more. Then you try again and again and again and find more beauty, and beauty in colors you'd never have combined before.
I don't usually use the word play, I prefer experiment, test, and try. The truth is that when I use those words with other people they give me a look like it's scary. If I cay play, suddenly we're out of science class (I forget I was a geek and loved science class.) and back in the area of playful experimentation where we can leave behind our concious thoughts and truly try things out. So get in there and play.
I took a break from a lot of online stuff ove rhte last 6 months or so. I realized I hadn't done a video in over a year. Holy smokes that's a long time. So I did a quick flip through of ONE of my current art journals and I'm loading a few more now. See it below.
Last week I mentioned distressing and grunging a journal color wiht my grunge glaze, so this week I’m going to tell you about my mix for what I call “Grunge Glaze.” It’s a special blend of colors to give me a perfectly abused and dirty look to any page. Here’s the recipe:
I spread this on with a rag and rub it in and off as I want a heavier or lighter coat. It dries pretty quickly so I can layer it easily. A spritz of water before fully dried allows you to lift more off than with a dry rag.
Go forth and make glaze mixes and call them fun things.
I know I've harped on this time and time again (as far back as my participation in 21 Secrets) but you don't need to buy those premixed glazes. You can mix your own. This is just one example of a glaze you can mix with gel medium or glaze medium. Share recipes in the comments!
I'm obsessed with making watercolor tins. I've been looking for more and more adaptable methods since I made my first with medication blister packs. (I have a UStream about this.)
On my way home a few nights ago I had the brainstorm to try to make the pans out of moldable epoxy putty, like that Mighty Putty stuff. I have a bunch of tubes of that but can't find them so I stopped by Ocean State Job lot to look into their glue section. (They generally have a ton of weird glues.) If I hadn't found it I'd have headed to Home Depot. I found a tube of Elmer's Automotive Epoxy putty. You could also use Mighty Putty, Sugru, or JB Weld's Putty.
The key to this project is that you get MOLDABLE epoxy putty. The Elmer's has a working or open time of 2 minutes after it's fully kneaded together, which works for this project.
You cut a chunk off, knead it until it's fully mixed, roll a snake and then press it into place in your tin and then mold it into a wall. Keeping your hands damp through the process helped a lot.
Once the walls firm up you can trim them with a knife. I used a utility knife to trim the walls into a nice straight surface, well mostly. Partially hardened the putty carves pretty easily.
After I built all the walls I let it cure and then sprayed it with a kind of even coat of white spray paint. I also sprayed the outside with a little gray spray paint.
This little adventure cost me the $2.50 for the gum and $2.99 for the epoxy putty. If I were chewing the gum anyway (which I do) it's sort of an even sum thing. If you have a friend who chews gum or is a mint addict this could be even cheaper. I used approximately 1/3rd of the putty. A larger tin like an altoids tin would use more and a mini altoids tin less.
I made myself 6 areas for paint and a small mixing area. The wells are 3/4 a full pan of a half pan and a half (this will only make sense to people who have half pan watercolor sets.) Anyway pictures:
Awhile back I purchased a planner* from gouletpens.com and I didn’t do anything with it. I snagged it for about $4 off their clearance rack because it was for the 2010 and 2011 school year. The pages while tough enough for a lot of use for I was planning I felt needed a little heavy duty treatment, so I started gluing pages together, every other page. This gave me a very heavy weight page.
I then applied a coat of gesso and watercolor crayon to each left hand page. I used a soft brush to really blend the colors into the gesso. Each page has a soft tint of the watercolor crayon. I then used tape that I’d masked off painting (it's got random colors all over it) with to cover up dates and calendars on the right hand page, leaving me with a nice framed grid on the right hand page.
I cut no pages from the planner. I know it’s strange but I really like that stressed out thick spine look. I also plan on adding a lot of collage to the left page. The right page may get some collage but I plan on mainly writing on it.
The other thing about this journal? I’m drawing in it with sharpies and nothing else. It’s the reason I wanted to glue pages and gesso them, so that I wouldn’t get soak through.
So far the journal is a combination of collage, sketch and writing. I always work in spreads so this journal is really working well for that.
Here’s what a spread in the book looks like with no sketching, collage or writing.
And here are a few finished pages:
After my art adventure with Jane Saturday I really wanted to narrow my palette down to the 8 colors I thought would work best for me. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do when I run out of the paints that are in the small 22ml tube sizes. I may be forced to remove the water bottle from the pochade and just use my drinking water bottle for rinse water. If I do that I’ll switch to my 40 ounce KleenKanteen instead of the 1 pint bottle I’m using currently.
I headed to the basement and painted swatches of how colors mixed with one another. A scientific approach to picking the right colors for me. I used cheap mead 3x5 inch index cards. I painted on the blank side and wrote the name of each color represented. Here are some pictures. Please be aware I did not focus on making these neat, merely on mixing 2 colors; sometimes 3 colors.
These are held together by a 7 Gypsies cable ring that Dede kindly sent me. These things are super cool and very useful. I may have to buy a whole package of them. Or figure out how to make them…
Important to note that this post was written with acrylic in mind, watercolors have their own palette choices that work differntly from acrylics. I'll address watercolors in a future post.
Why is palette choice so important to painting en plein air? Ultimately you want to carry the minimal amount of equipment to make the picture happen. You could carry every color you have available but that would make for a very heavy pack and awkward hiking. Using every color available tends to leave a painting with a disharmonious feeling. Paintings tend to have a harmonious feel when colors have been mixed with other colors in the painting. When you using paint straight from the tubes paintings tend to not jive as well as if you’ve added a touch of another color in your palette to the other colors.
The important thing with an en plein air palette is the colors you get by mixing 2 and 3 colors together. Some people use the same palette over and over again and others are constantly rearranging their palette, dropping in a new red or blue or swapping out a yellow. To each their own.
In acrylic I tend to work with the same palette for a warm season and switch to a more expansive palette in the winter months. This is because I usually work mostly inside in the fall and winter whereas in the summer I tend to work on location far more often.
Currently my palette is considered pretty large by plein air standards and it’s highly likely I’ll get rid of a yellow and a blue shade, but we’ll see.
Here are some excellent links on the subject of limiting your palette.
I frequently limit my palette to 2 or 3 colors, usually titanium white, a blue and then a warm color like titan buff or yellow ochre. This is an exercise I may explore again.
Yesterday Jane and I headed to Salem Willows for a little painting. My goal today was to get a handle on my sky and the forms of the trees. Whilst painting I realized that the palette I’ve included in my pochade is not completely right for what I’m doing. Jane and I also had a discussion about palettes and how somethings are right for some things but not others, like portrature verses landscapes.
My current palette is as follows:
Now to be fair I’ve never included a black in my pochade palette in the past and I just sort of tossed it in on a whim, which is strange to think given how damn small this pochade is and how much smaller it is than my last box.
It is also interesting to note that I don’t have a single earth tone in here- not a drop of raw or burnt umber or sienna. Again, an oddity given my love of earth tones and their heavy use in my watercolor palette. Perhaps I was unconsciously rejecting my watercolor palette? Who knows, but an earth tone or two will be included in the next packing of the pochade. Also, yellow ochre is nowhere to be see.
It’s as if I closed my eyes and picked a palette not really suited to the sort of painting I was planning.
The all of the color except unbleached titanium were colors that my Painting 101 instructor listed on the “to buy list” for the class. Perhaps I was just grabbing some old familiars?
I’ve been trying to mix all the shades of green that I want but the truth is that it’s making me smash my head against the wall. Color mixing is entirely different for watercolors and acrylics. With watercolors it is much easier to mix the shades of green you need from just a few shades of blue and yellow. It is not the same for acrylic. I’m adding pthalo green to the mix. It will replace one of the 3 blues, which I’m not sure but right now I’m leaning toward ultramarine getting kicked out. I’m replacing the black with burnt umber.
This will shock people, given my love for this particular color, but I’m considering kicking Alizarin Crimson out of the box. It’s a great shade of red but for the space in the pochade I can get more mileage out of Napthal red. If I add nappy red (as I like to call it) I’ll also get rid of cad orange. Nappy red makes great oranges with either of the cad yellows. I will keep both cad yellows as they mix with the blues and the pthalo green to make different shades of green.
Cobalt blue may be replaced with cerulean blue but I’m not sure yet. This leaves me with the following:
After I got back from my art adventure I headed to my studio and dumped the contents of the pochade out and started making color swatches of the colors in the box, to see what colors I could mix by mixing each color with the others in the box. It was enlightening and led to the switches seen above. Then I look through my swatches and I debate removing ultramarine from the mix…
Next up will be mixing a series of swatches from my studio palette. That will take substantially more time, I have 20 or 30 colors of paint. Then... I'll be doing this with my watercolors. This will certainly cut back on my cult of stuff purchases. I have that in check with watercolors, as I've always kept a list in my planner of the watercolors I need to replace. INterestingly enough I rarely stray from that list. Though on the rare occasion i have, I've ended up with colors that I use regularly, like indigo and red ochre.