journal pages

Journal Friday #102


I completely forgot to post the last Journal Friday here, so I’m catching up now. I’ve already posted the video to social media, but I wanted to post it here as well.

This spread really came out of nowhere, and I wasn’t of any of it when I started, except that I new that I wanted to start with collage. As I started the spread, I got a phone call from my brother saying that one of our uncles had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected. He had suffered a stroke a few months ago, and had been in the hospital ever since. He hadn’t really recovered, and I wasn’t surprised with the call. But still it was sad, and my heart hung heavy as I worked on the spread. The news did help dictate the direction of the page, and it became a way to process the feelings and emotions.

I did a variation on blackout poetry once I glued the book pages in, and I searched out rather heavy words as I began to string together phrases. But as I looked outside at the leaves beginning to bud on the bushes and trees, I knew I had to incorporate inspirations of spring despite the sad the news. As I worked through the page, I allowed my thoughts to churn and turn. Though the final spread seems to bear little to no semblance to the sad news, it was a great help in allowing me to process my feelings.

Creative Prayer Book: Embellishing


Welcome to the twelfth and final lesson of the Creative Prayer Book. In this lesson, I try to wrap up my pages with some simple embellishments. Though I talked of embellishing text last week, this lesson is about adding a bit more to the pages in general, as a way to tie things together on a page, to fill in some empty areas, and to bring some emphasis to certain areas.

You can use any materials to embellish, but I like to use drawing materials like pens, paint markers, and colored pencils. There are also a large number of ways to embellish, but I’m keeping it rather simple as I bring a bit of polish to my pages.


Lines, Shapes, and Patterns

One of the simplest ways to add embellishments is to add lines, shapes, and patterns. These little touches can help fill in empty areas and add a final layer to pages. By grouping them closely together around elements you can bring a bit of emphasis and make the elements “pop”. I like to use my uni-ball Vision pens for much of this, but paint markers work great, as well, especially when drawing over glossy surfaces like magazines.

I like to use stripes, spirals, rectangles, and circles as I embellish, and I can even use stencils and tracers to add the embellishments.


Colored pencil is perfect for adding a bit of depth to my pages as I use them to shade and color in areas. I use the colored pencils very much like I did the Inktense and watercolor pencils earlier on in the workshop and shade around elements. By applying a darker value around a shape or a letter, the shape or letter “pops” out from the page since the colored pencil acts like a shadow. I try to lighten up on my pressure so that the color fades into the background. I can be very neat and careful with this technique, or I can be a bit messy and give my page a bit of a rougher feel.

I also use the colored pencil to shade or color in areas and letters, and I like to use white colored pencil sometimes. The white doesn’t cover everything within the space, but it lightens it. This can bring a bit of contrast to the space making it stand out.

Shading is always a great way to add some final embellishment to a page.

As you work, try to think of various ways to decorate and embellish your pages. Try some of these ideas, and perhaps, try combining them. Or think of your own ways to wrap up your pages, and use any material that you like. Just remember that you’re just trying to add a bit of pizzazz to your pages on not completely reworking them.

I hope that you enjoyed these lessons, and I’ll be back next week to wrap up things. I’ll share a flip through my pages, and talk about the project, as well as share about what’s to come.

Thank you so much, and happy creating!

Journal Friday #99: Text


Words, text, and reflections are a big part of my journaling process, but there are times when I might not want the text to be so obvious, especially since I openly share my journal with others. So obscuring the words is a great way to include writing while making it hard to read.

Today I worked primarily with text using a General’s Sketch & Wash pencil (water-soluble graphite), Derwent Inktense pencils, and uni-ball Vision pens. I focused on using the text in a more graphic manner, and the reflective writing provided a textured background while the stenciled words created some big words that stand out. The smaller emphasized words provided a little visual pop. I see this as a good start, and I’ll most likely add more to this spread in the future.

I hope that you enjoy the video!

Art and Soul: Portland 2019


I got back a few days ago from the annual Art and Soul retreat in Portland, OR, but it’s taken a few days to recover. Travel is always good, but it tends to wear me out. I’ve taken it easy the last couple of days, but now’s time to get back into the swing of things. So, I thought that I’d reflect a little about Art and Soul to kick off the week, and perhaps I can squeeze a new Materials Monday in before the end of the day to get back on track with those as well.

But onto Art and Soul!

I must say that I had a blast in Portland, and the week just whooshed by so quickly. I flew in on Monday, and didn’t have a class until Tuesday evening. So I grabbed lunch with a friend who lives in Portland, and spent a couple of hours wandering downtown Portland. I was almost late for my own class when I narrowly missed the train back. Luckily a train runs every 15 minutes, but that 15 minutes difference meant that I was nearly running to get back on time. Luckily I got to class with 5 minutes to spare, and we had a great class. I taught my Artful Layers class which I’ve done before as an all-day and a 2-day workshop, but this time it was a three-hour evening class. I was so into the class that I completely forgot to take photos, but we had fun layering watercolor, watercolor pencil, collage, and more.

On Wednesday I taught my Monster Maker Workshop as an all-day class, and we had so much fun creating little creatures in watercolor, polymer clay, and collage. It was a small intimate class, and I remembered to take photos. I’ve had so much fun making my monsters over the past several years, that it was good to see others who enjoyed it just as much.

Beyond Blank Pages was my all-day class on Thursday, and it was great to teach a brand new class. I developed the class as a week-long workshop for the John C. Campbell Folk School, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. I turned it into a one-day class for Art and Soul, and we spent the day creating pages that linked together through color, repetition, cut-outs and more. Though it’s based on journal workshops that I’ve taught before, it’s a new spin on the journal as you try to consciously create a visual narrative that runs through the pages as ideas, themes, colors, lines, and more all connect from page to page.

I had a fantastic time working with the students, and it was so nice to see so many new faces. Though a couple had taken classes with my before, most were brand new, and many knew very little about me or what I do. I’m so glad that my classes appealed to them. Teaching at Art and Soul last week reminded me why I teach — to connect with others and to share my love of art. I am grateful for everyone who came out and made art with me, and I am looking forward to next year!

In the meantime, I have a couple of other teaching gigs lined up for 2019, and I’m hoping to add more. In May, I’m teaching the Creative Prayer Book as an all-day workshop at the Round Hill Arts Center in Round Hill, VA. In October, I’ll be repeating Artful Layers, Monster Maker Workshop, and Beyond Blank Pages at Art and Soul in Ocean City, MD.

Journal Friday #97: Be Where You Are and Initiating a New Journal


I wanted to do something a little different for the time-lapse video that I made today, so I limited myself to using just a few materials — Derwent Inktense pencils, UHU glue stick, and uni-ball Vision pens. I also, started the spread off a bit differently. I used a series of ovals to create an overall texture as an initial layer, and then I built up other layers on top of it. I also drew a face, which I haven’t done for the time-lapse videos before. I had thought about adding more to the spread, but I’ve been trying to keep these videos to about a minute in length. Drawing the face and using the Inktense around the stenciled words took a little while, so I didn’t include everything that I was thinking about. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

After creating the video, I broke out my new journal. I had started prepping it a while back, and the beginning of a new month seemed like a perfect time to initiate working in it. I didn’t do much and simply used a square stencil and an Inktense pencil to get something started. However small of a start it might be, it’s the first step of a grand, new adventure! I love beginning in a new journal. It’s always filled with such promise and potential.

Journal Friday #96: Lost


I’ve been enjoying making time-lapse videos over the past few months of two-page spreads, and they fit great with Journal Friday. But I should note that these videos are not my normal mode of working. When I make them, I spend a couple of hours working on a single spread trying to plot the course of the spread as I work. However, when I work normally in my journal, I sit for a couple of hours bouncing around from page to page working here and there allowing the pages to develop organically and haphazardly. So dedicating two or three hours to a single spread presents a different type of challenge, which is neither good nor bad — just different.

As I sat down to create today’s time-lapse video, I had no idea what the spread was going to be or where it would take me. All I knew was that I wanted to do something a little different — to use colors and techniques that I haven’t used much in my other videos. Things started out smoothly as I used bubble wrap, organic lines of Inktense pencil, and an image transfer, but then I hit a bump in the road.

Things began to go a little awry when I grabbed some plastic canvas and watercolor paint. The effect came out darker than I had hoped, and it just wasn’t how I had envisioned. The spread quickly came to a halt as it veered into an unexpected direction. Of course you don’t see that in the video with the luxury of being able to pause the recording while I contemplated my next move.


I tried to fade the darker brown paint into the page with some yellow watercolor, but things just weren’t going to my liking. I was completely uncertain of where to go next, and I sat for a few minutes finally deciding to add some writing. After a few minutes of debating about whether to write directly on the page or to use tracing paper, I decided on the tracing paper. As a prompt, I turned to how I’ve been feeling lately — something that I hadn’t planned, but it felt right for the page. I have felt rather lost lately, and at that moment, I was a bit lost for what to do with the spread.

So, I wrote about feeling lost — feeling very uncertain of what my next steps should be with my life. For the past two and half years, I’ve been forging my own path after resigning from a 20 year career as an art teacher. I work part time as the manager of a local art center, and I try to dedicate the rest of my time to making art, journaling, and sharing my journey with others here on the blog and on social media. But I am feeling a bit lost right now, and it’s a tad disconcerting. I love the freedom this path has giving me, but it’s been difficult at times. Now is one of those difficult times — a moment when things have ebbed a bit — a moment of uncertainty and a bit of anxiety about where this journey is heading.

I didn’t come to any cathartic conclusion, and the spread is very much unfinished. I do like it more now than I did those moments after I lifted the plastic canvas, and I thought of working more on it. I may do just that in the future, but for now I just want to stand for a moment on this vulnerable patch of lostness and just be here in all of my uncertainty knowing that the universe is always conspiring with us.

Journal Friday #95: Layers with Inktense


This week was all about small actions, and today I spent time working with my Derwent Inktense pencils. Similar to watercolor pencils, the Inktense are water-soluble ink, but they work the same way. I spent time adding to pages and building more layers. I love using water-soluble pencils to build layers, to create value, and to make areas POP.

I simply sat for a few hours today flipping through my large journal looking for spaces and shapes where I could add some color. I often use water-soluble pencil to shade around elements. This really makes these elements stand out and creates interesting layers.

It’s nothing too grand, but simple artistic acts combine to create rich pages and images with depth.

Journal Friday #92


As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my normal mode of working in the journal is one of small artistic acts, and for the first part of today that’s exactly what I did. I worked on one simple act — collage, and I spent some time gluing in a bit of fodder. I accumulate a lot of random things in my day-to-day life, and I sat down today and glued some of it into my book. Collage is great way to document life by including bits and pieces of everyday life, and it’s a perfect way to start new pages or to add to other pages.

I also spent part of the day making another time-lapse video. These videos are a lot of fun to do, and I’m looking forward to making more!