About four years ago, I renewed an old love of art, replacing my youthful preference for graphite drawings with mixed media, primarily in journals. It has been a great addition to my life, for therapy, and for writing because it exercises different creative muscles and gives my subconscious some brainstorming time.
I’ve been on quite a journey with my journals, experimenting with different things every year, so I thought I’d share a bit about them here.
In 2014, my first journal was….a mess. I worked all year on 9×12 watercolor paper. I began the year with student-grade 140-pound paper until I tried a 100% cotton sheet of artist-quality paper and, uh, yeah, there’s a HUGE difference. I adhered each piece of art to a 12×12 sheet of scrapbooking paper, 3-hole punched all the sheets, used a 12×12 piece of heavy chipboard for a cover, and bought some ginormous ring binders. It ended up like this:
The pages keep falling out, the thing’s so huge it won’t stand up in a bookshelf, so it sits around getting in the way and I’m constantly moving it.
In 2015, I went a very regimented route, using a 9×12 Dylusions journal from Ranger Art. I filled up one whole journal and half of another. I love this journal because it has a heavy cover with accordion folds at the spine so it can open and lay flat to work in. I dislike the paper, which is sort of manilla card stock. It handles wet media okay, but not great, and ironically, the Dylusions inks bleed through it. I ruined several pieces before abandoning the inks in this journal. I did a cover using modeling plaster and acrylic paints.
I still like those journals and have a couple I haven’t used yet, including an odd little 8×8-inch one.
In 2016, I was a wreck. I worked on huge 18×24 sheets part of the year, on 8×10 sheets part of the year, and have not bound them. So that’s a loose pile of artwork that sits on top of the 2014 behemoth.
This year, so far I’ve worked in 11×17-inch Strathmore hardbound journals. I like these journals a lot–the paper is great, they lay flat, and eventually one can customize the plain brown covers. I’m halfway through my second one for the year.
The second half of the year, I’ll be going way out there, art-journally speaking, and have made a journal of canvas using a technique by Montreal artist Karrine Bosse. It involved a 24-inch bolt of plain unstretched canvas that I cut into 17×24 sheets and then folded into 12×17 half pages for the journal. I stitched the spine of the journal to hold the book together, then stitched around the outside of each of the 8 half-pages to keep the fabric from fraying. This turned out to be a long process because I sewed everything by hand using a bookbinding needle and heavy linen thread.
Finally, I am now coating each page with watercolor ground or gesso so it will take paint. Who knows what will go on these pages? We’ll wait and see!