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Monday, September 20th, 2010
Blogs | Artistic Liberties
Awaken ~ New Art Journal series
I have always been an avid journaller. I believe my first ones started around the age of 7. I can’t believe I have almost 20 years of journals. I have as many brand new blank journals as I do the ones that are filled up. It’s my thing. When ever I travel to a new place, I buy a journal. Well, whenever I want I buy a new journal. My collection is endless. Some journals have pretty covers or are from beautiful places like Italy. And some journals are blank sketchbooks that I transform.
For example I take these cheap discounted sketchbooks from Borders….
And I morph them into something like this….
I LOVE IT!
Where did this fun hobby come from?
Back in college I purchased my first cheap sketchbook but I felt like the cover needed a bit more love. Therefore I took quotes and words I had ripped from magazines and used packaging tape to cover the backs and fronts. (I’ll need to add pictures at a later time of the original ones!) It look really artsy and messy but still kind of cool. I did this to a few sketchbooks and loved it.
A friend of mine asked me to put one together for him. Considering he worked for the government I didn’t want him to have a cover like mine full ofÂ fun or crazy quotes held together by packing tape. Therefore I found one simple quote to put on the front and back cover. And I decided to go crazy with the blank pages with in.
I had never done this before. Usually I just used the blank pages to write tons and tons of entries. Trust me, I never run out of words to write and need every space and piece of paper I can use.
But for his journal I decided to let all the personality that was lacking on the cover show up on the inside pages. And it was fun!
I used cardstock paper, scrapbook paper, magazine images and words and glue sticks to create some fun layouts on some of the pages. Many of the pages remained blank but every now and then you’d come across a page that had some fun things going on.
These layouts were not so over the top that there wasn’t roomÂ to write. They were more so a prompt to help the writing or to inspire the writing. Or they were just there for decoration.
Such as the layout below that’s in the EPIC DIVA journal I did for my little sister! Doing her journal was so much fun because she’s into everything girly. Fashion. Diamonds. The Spotlight. You name it! Perhaps I’ll put together a slideshow of her journal since I took detailed pictures of EVERY layout.
As you can see, this still leaves room for you to write on or you can add more elements to the page or you can paint over it or stamp it. You can do whatever you want. Heck, you can leave it blank and only write on the blank pages.
PROGRESS & GROWTH:
Over the years, I knew I needed to improve my techniques. Glue sticks worked but I needed better adhesive and sealants for my covers so that they were waterproof and durable. Some of my elements were thicker and needed better bonding. My pages weren’t sturdy enough for everything I was adding.
Then I started googling.
This is where I learned of things like gesso, gel medium, arcylic paints, modge podge AND MUCH MUCH MORE! (Learning HOW to research is KEY! It opens up the endless possibilities. Not just with art journals. There is so much information out there in the world. FREE information. All you have to do is take the time to tap into it. There is no excuse to know “nothing”)
Once I started finding these list of supplies, I started wondering if there were other people doing what I did with my journals.
Insert words like ..visual journals, collage journals, mixed media journals, altered books and so the list continues. The websites were endless. The yahoo and google groups were ENDLESS. The flicker photos were ENDLESS. There were even books out there. I promptly ordered as many as I could and devoured them trying to learn as much as I could.
It was only recently that I discovered their youtube videos. Which is far better than any blog post because I was able to actually see them in action. I’d watch a video and was like, “Oh, that’s how they apply the gesso!” or “That’s how she got the squiggly line thing in the middle of the page like that!”
Youtube is such a great resources for visual understanding. (Although I do want to point out that even without the websites and without youtube and without a drawer full of supplies you can still create amazing journals using pen/pencils, newpaper/magazine clippings and simple glue sticks! Trust me, I did it for years and love those journals too!)
After doing these journals for myself and gifting them to friends and families, people started asking if I sold them. I shook my head. I don’t like selling things. But that’s a story for another day.
Besides its hard to sell these. These books takes me hours upon hours to do. I have to have enough material, sort through it, create the layouts, find words and images to go along with it, allowing drying time and then I move on to page two! How would I even begin to price this fairly for a consumer but fairly for myself considering the time that goes into this unique, one-of-a-kind journals. There are no two that are exactly alike.
I knew I’d have to find a way to make them quicker and more systematic while still having my personality and lots of creativity infused in them. I’m still learning this. I haven’t figured it out. One thing that has helped me is creating themes. Such as a focus on LOVE, or specific ones for holidays or one all about nature. All the ones I create for friends and family have all sorts of things because I put everything that reminds me of them or ways I want to inspire them. That’s hard to do for a stranger buying this in a bookstore. Therefore, THEMES is a good way to begin for me.
My cousin asked me to create a line of journals for his bookstore. He even gave me the direction he wanted me to take. This helps me a lot. So for these journals I went through all of my archived files and sorted out any images and quotes that went along with the theme. I didn’t have much but I had a starting point. I picked colors from the cardstock and scrapbooking pages. I created a list of words and printed them in various sizes and fonts. (You can also write the words on the pages if you don’t have a printer. It adds a more personal touch anyway.)
I pulled out all my supplies. My gel medium. My paints. My brushes. My stamps. Ink. Embellishments. I laid it all out on my living room floor. (That’s my workspace studio. I like working on the floor because I have the most surface to work on that way.)
And I begin working on three journals at once. Why? After completing each page, I have to allow time for drying and setting. (I’ve only recently seen artist using handheld dryers or blow dryers to speed this process up. I haven’t owned a hair dryer in well over six years due to my natural hair and now I’m looking at purchasing one….for my journals. LOL. But that’s how my life is. The yogurt in my fridge is for my facial mask. The coffee grounds are for my body scrubs. And the blow dryer will be for art!)
Since each page needs time to dry and sometimes it needs to remain open, I work on another book in the mean time. For the “Awaken” series, I decided to work on the covers first. Here’s one picture below right after I put it together. This process was pretty simple. I cut out a picture and placed it at center with modge podge. Added the word “Awaken” and applied modge podge to the entire cover. Simple. (Although I’ve learned that your brush determines a great deal in how the gel medium or modge podge sets.)
Here is another cover. Now this cover has a few more things going on. I had tried one technique that didn’t work and after ripping off the image it left some streaks on the cover that wouldn’t go away. (Mistakes are okay, you can work with it or cover it up!)
I decided to cover it up by adding paint around the edges. I added some beautiful linen paper from another journal that I don’t use. Then I added the image and word.
Here’s the last cover. It’s similar to the first. The word has a left justification rather than a right.
Once all the covers have dried, I begin working on the inside pages. Since it would take too long and require too many supplies, I’m not creating a layout for EVERY page. Right now I’m creating them for every ten pages. And once that’s completete, I’ll go back and create them on every fifth page too, if that makes sense. Some pages between all three journals are similar, although none are alike. And other pages are completely, absolutely different. I’m really loving this set and I don’t really want to let it go but I promised my cousin he could sell these at his bookstore.
I’ve written before about my journals in a previous post entitled Collage Art Journals. You can also see some of the pages even after they’ve been written on in this post which included a video I did for a giveaway entitled A Very Crafty Giveaway. I list some of my favorite artist for these journals in my Artistic Resources page. Check it out!
If you’re thinking, this is the dumbest thing ever…so be it. It’s not for you. This is first and foremost for people who like to write and journal or make list or collect quotes. Secondly, these customized journals are for people who don’t want to make them on their own but they want a one of a kind, unique, high quality journal.
Please feel free to create you own using anything as your inspiration and supply. But if you don’t have the time or creativity…(although I believe EVERYONE does), you can consider journals like these which I’ll begin selling on ETSY pretty soon! I still need to churn out a few more and set a price point.
What do you think of this new series?