what is visual journaling?

Last week, I led a 90-minute session at the Colorado State Foster Parent Association’s education conference to introduce foster parents to visual journaling. It was a success, I’m happy to say, and when I mentioned this on Facebook, I had a number of my friends, some of whom have known me for years, ask what that is.

I guess I’m doing a bad job of letting people know what I’m up and marketing my own art!

One of my favorite page spreads in my 2014 journal.
One of my favorite page spreads in my 2014 journal.

Visual journaling, also known as art journaling, is a way to keep a diary of sorts, using both words and images to express your thoughts. Visual journals can be used for a variety of reasons, by a variety of people. There is no wrong or right way to do it. My hope is to bring visual journaling to foster parents as a new-to-them tool for processing events and feelings as they help their kids through their time in care.

my shelf of finished journals...one for each year
my shelf of finished journals…one for each year

I’ve been journaling for years, beginning back in high school, when I’d carry an extra composition book around and used it to doodle and think when I was bored or needed to comfort myself (it was a rough time as my parents were divorcing and things were pretty bad at home). I still carry my journal around in my purse and work in it whenever I get the chance. These days I enjoy taking workshops to learn new techniques and practice new ideas. For the past 12 years or so, I’ve successfully kept one journal per year, usually a composition book, documenting my life, my thoughts, my happenings.

A page spread in my journal from February. This one is heavy on collecting memories of an event (a trip to Vegas).
A page spread that's more heavy on writing and doodling.
A page spread that’s more heavy on writing and doodling.

So there you have it! Watch this blog for more info over time.

what if she kept a journal?

Today my father-in-law brought to my attention that the oldest person in the United States died yesterday. Gertrude Weaver was 116 years old. I loved this part of an obituary I read:

When you asked for advice on how to live a long life she would say, ‘Use a lot of skin moisturizer, treat everyone nice, love your neighbor and eat your own cooking. Don’t eat at fast food places.”

It made me think about banning fast food from my life, of course, but it really made me think about how extraordinary Gertrude’s life must have been and how much I’d love to look at her journals. What if she had kept a journal? What would it look like? I can’t even imagine. I wonder a lot about my own grandparents and what I would give to have even a year’s worth of their thoughts, dreams, musings. It’s just another reason for me to renew my commitment to recording my own life and encouraging others to do the same.



Journal Pages: Alien, This is Playtime

The night before last, my pal Andie and I spent over four hours in my studio, drinking wine, trying out myriad art supplies, and generally having a good time. We had no plans, we just mucked about. I pulled out some random stamps, stencil-type things, chalk inks, Caran D’Ache crayons, glitter pens, gel watercolor crayons, sharpie poster paint pens, a couple of paper punches, a glue pen and foil. I had started the alien figure last week and have been randomly adding to it/her/him and decided that the pages around it/her/him needed some action. Here’s the result:


Journals, old and new

One of my New Year’s Eve traditions (besides drinking Asti Spumanti without apology) is to wrap up the current year’s daily journal and to pick out a new composition book for the upcoming year. On the left is my 2012 journal, all fat and full of memories and secrets and paint and glue. On the right, the book for 2013, full of promise and mystery.

No resolutions yet, no pretenses that there even will be. Just looking forward to another fresh start. Happy New Year, dear readers!

Journals: 2012 into 2013

pure tape-y genius from 3M

I’m back from Art Unraveled and have lots of cool artwork to share, but that has to wait because I found the coolest product  EVER. 3M makes these enclosed tape dispensers that look like donuts (which doesn’t lessen the appeal, in my mind) and come in fun, candy-like colors. They are filled with Scotch Magic Tape, but I took mine out and put in a roll of double stick tape.

This dispenser is perfect for your on-the-go journaling bag. I use glue stick a lot, but the tape comes in handy for quick add-ins and things that might be slightly heavier than the glue stick can handle. There’s a coupon that you can download and print, too. I bought the green one yesterday to try out, but I’m going to get more of these for my assorted supply bags. I never have to untangle my double stick tape from the other stuff in my bag ever again! This is brilliant!

Kelly Kilmer got me drunk on art this weekend…

…and today I have a wicked art hangover!

This past weekend, I took 5 mixed media workshops from Kelly Kilmer, who was the visiting artist at The Artists’ Nook this month. There are no words to describe how much I love Kelly’s classes and how much I get out of her workshops. Every time I take a Kelly class, I am able to play, experiment and I always get new ideas, either from her, or from expanding on something she or another student said.

This weekend’s highlights, not in any particular order:

  • Seeing Kelly and learning from her. She is so creative, free and amazingly supportive.
  • Getting to know Allyson better, and getting an awesome ego boost from her. *waves and paints Allyson’s hand*
  • Learning more about layering and color mixing and composition.
  • Realizing that some of the crazy stuff I do in my journals isn’t as crazy as I thought!
  • Seeing my old pals, like Susan and Marcy and Karen and Terry, who I haven’t seen in a long time. I really admire the talent of these ladies!
  • Meeting new people! Yes, I’m talking about you, you Ladies From Parker!
  • Three full days of making art and playing. Heaven.

Last night, I was so amped up, I made 14 of the little paper journals while we watched tv. I love them.

I think my favorite book was the Reclaimed book. I love the idea of taking old books, gutting them, and making new pages for them.


Clicking on any of the photos below should take you to my Flickr set of photos from this weekend. I should have taken more of the process, but I was too absorbed to even think of that.

Transcribed Altered Photos Revisited

Triptych Book Swatches: Little Paper Books

Reclaimed: An Altered Artist’s Book

recent mini quilts, journaling, collage and cards

I have been very very busy finishing Christmas gifts (yes, really) and, more recently, valentines. I’ve also been working on the Collage Challenge with Crowabout and assorted swaps. I have so much to show, so I put a few of each type of item here (click on photos to see larger version), but there are a lot more on my Flickr site.

Mini quilts. These are fun and I’m finally getting the hang of using my machine. I’m no expert, but I like the way these are all coming out. The base fabric is stuff I painted in workshops with Lisa Englebrecht (Maybe I’ll actually finish the projects I started in Lisa’s workshops someday!) last year. The two that say “hope” are for my youngest brothers and there’s a pocket made from a Hambly overlay that holds a prayer card from our dad’s funeral, which was last year on 2/14. The card is of St. Jude, who was my dad’s favorite saint (and is my second favorite). St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases (and policemen) and I thought my brothers would like a little something to remind them to have hope for whatever their dreams may be. Recently I thought that gluing pony beads on the ends of the hanging stick would finish off the look nicely and I was right! Very happy with these.

Mini quilt for my brother Steve and his
wife. A belated Christmas 2008 gift!
Mini quilt for my brother Mike. A belated
Christmas 2008 gift!
This was Jennie’s Christmas gift and
it was less late than the ones for my family.

Collage stuff. I’ve been trying each week to find a little time to participate in the Collage Play With Crowabout challenge. Here are a few of the recent collages I’ve done using images from that challenge. If you are interested in playing along with us, email Nancy and ask for an invite. Let her know traypup sent you! I’m really enjoying art journaling lately and will be posting more pages from my journals in my next post.

Crowabout challenge week 20.
Crowabout challenge week 21.
Crowabout challenge week 22. The heads
are my mom and myself about 40 years ago.

Cards. Sometimes I have a hankering to make a ton of cards. I can’t bear to buy them in the store because I feel like making them from scratch means so much more. Plus, I have all of the stuff! So I collected all of my Valentine’s Day-related supplies and sat on the sofa watching movies with my husband and made a ton of cards. Here are a few:

Vday 2009 card for Devin
Assorted Vday cards
You make my heart whirl

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately! There is lots more that I’ll be writing about this week. I’m excited to get back into the swing of things.

AEDM: Days 7 – 8 – 9

I am mostly recovered from the weekend of workshops with Kelly Kilmer. Almost mostly recovered. That girl is such a generous, talented and creative instructor. She’s so clever, too! My brain has been whizzing with ideas since the weekend and when I try to sleep at night, I dream about pens and decorative packing tape. If you are at all interested in bookmaking, collage, journaling or simply expanding your horizons, look at taking one (or more!!) of Kelly’s classes. Here are a few of the things I did over the course of the weekend. There are more on my Flickr photo gallery.

None of these projects are complete. There is still a lot of journaling and collaging to be done (what a bummer…haha). I’ve spent the past two nights ripping collage images out of old magazines while we watch tv. Kelly really has inspired me. She also took a look at an ongoing project of mine and encouraged me to teach a class on it. I would never have thought it would be a good class idea, but once she turned on the light, I could see it! One of the other students said she would take a class like the one Kelly and I were talking about, so I’m going to work on outlining that over the next month or so.

The Storyteller book was fun. We made a book out half of a parent sheet of cardstock, folding and cutting following Kelly’s instructions. It’s a fun little book and I can see it being a great travel journal or journal for a specific event where you might not need a whole lot of pages like in a regular book or journal. Here is the cover and one of the spreads within the book.
The Storyteller

Little Book of Faux Monoprints started from sheets of cardstock that we painted and on which we used a bunch of monoprinting exercises. At some point, I just started painting pages and then smooshing them together with another page. It was so freeing. This little book is so cute, but I am not sure what I’m using it for yet.

Snippets was awesome. I love the shape and size of this book and Kelly’s methods of making split pages within the book are really cool. I never would have thought of them myself! This is just the cover. None of my collages inside are complete yet.

Little Book of Faux Monoprints Snippets- A Unique Artist Book
Goin’ Postal was a 2-hour class where we used 6×9 matboard to create mailable art. I am a big fan of mail art and appreciated Kelly’s input on my compositions. This little girl really haunts me. The other side of this card and the other postcard I started are on Flickr.

And I finally learned Japanese stab binding in the Fukoro Toji or Little Bound Book. It’s not as difficult as I thought it was, probably because Kelly is such a good instructor.

Goin’ Postal Fukoro Toji or Little Bound Book