Sugar, spice and all things nice: the endless possibilities of journaling.

WTJ Spice


Creative possibilities can be found anywhere, if you look hard enough and think outside the art box… try the kitchen!


My favourite thing about journaling is that you may have an idea of what your intentions are when you set out, but by the end of the creative process, inevitably, the outcome has somewhat changed or become an adapted version of the vision you had in mind. I know this can be said for most creative practices, but with journaling, it’s so easy to derail and  go off track. But occasionally, this is a really good thing!

Take for instance, this page in the ‘Wreck This Journal’ by Keri Smith.

“Sample various substances found in your home. Document what they are, create colour themes”

Well, my first instincts were to head straight to my various cupboards around the house that hold the ever-expanding stock pile of art supplies. My first thoughts perhaps were to use the page as a way to document and test the various colours and textures all of my different supplies.

But then I re-read the page descriptor: ‘various substances found in your home’, I stopped what I was doing and thought to myself, art supplies are not really ‘substances’ and not necessarily native to the home. My thoughts started to whirl around the home. The bathroom –  shampoos, soaps, body washes with beautiful scents and pastel colours. The garden – plants leaves, flower petals, pond water, soil. All earthy colours of browns, greens and vibrant tropics. The bedroom – endless amounts of make-up, body creams, fragrances. Soft palettes of linen and pillows. The kitchen – condiments, ketchup, spices, herbs. Warm colours that invite one into the home.

A beautiful spectrum of hot, vibrant, almost desert like colours. Now these are the substances that need to be documented in my journal.

And there I had it. When I started to look at the collection of spices and herbs we seem to have gathered over the past few years, I saw a beautiful spectrum of hot, vibrant, almost desert like colours. Now these are the substances that need to be documented in my journal and this would be perfect for creating colour themes. And here was my perfect derailment – and off on another track to a beautiful entry of my wreck this journal that would not have come about if it were not for the acceptance of an adapted version of my original intentions.

Equipment:

  1. Pencil.
  2. Rubber.
  3. Glue stick.(Or any type of adhesive.)
  4. Black pen – fineliner or biro.
  5. Assortment of herbs and spices. In the image above I have included: Paprika, Chili Powder, Cumin, Nutmeg, Basil and Parsley.
  6. Spoon. (For carefully applying herbs and spices.
  7. Chai Tea (For Drinking)

I decided to go for a hand drawn visual of an apothecary of plants, fruits, seeds etc all relating to the creation of herbs and spices. Once happy, I outlined this using the black pen and rubbed away any traces of pencil.

Once the pen had dried completely, I spooned some of the paprika onto the page to give the paper a red tint. I did the same with the cumin, leaving a yellow/green hue. I carefully blew away the excess, leaving the colours I wanted. Finally, I started to apply the small samples of herbs and spices by placing dots of glue near the drawings, and spooning the specific ingredients onto the glue. Once I had completed this with all the samples, I tipped the book up and tapped gently allowing the excess to reveal the samples. Lastly, I made a small note in black pen as to which herbs and spices were placed where.

This entry for the Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith has allowed me to use my creative ideas in a way that I would not have normally found acceptable, to approach techniques in a way that I would not normally have allowed, to experiment with a thought that ultimately could have been a disaster.

Surely, what this entry is, is a real way to tackle life’s issues; find acceptance, approach new methods, embrace the unknown.

Concept.Create.Critique.

 

 

 

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Deface yourself: the Wreck This Journal entry that’s sugary sweet.

Deface


Sugary sweet: memories, mementos and minty green sugar skulls for the ‘Wreck This Journal’ entry.


Deep down I truly hate defacing things. I don’t see any purpose in it even if it is some artsy, sociopolitical statement. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate or understand a good political statement involving the defamation of a beautiful image/ sculpture/visual/architectural masterpiece…the list is endless…but as a real appreciator of anything involving art, I just don’t see the point. Therefore, when trying to think of a way to deface my own picture, for Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, I came to a bit of a standstill.

Playing on my Spotify playlist at this very moment was one of my favorite songs: “Prayer in C” by Lilly Wood & The Prick – the Robin Schulz Remix. This is important to this little story as it inspired the eventual outcome of the Wreck This Journal entry.

Prayer in C is one of my favorites as it was being played a lot on the radio whilst my boyfriend (now husband) and I went on our very first holiday to Germany – Berlin – to be exact, and spent the most amazing time there. It was undoubtedly, one of the most amazing cities we had ever been to and I came home with a lovely shiny diamond and sapphire engagement ring. The holiday was the type of holiday that is ingrained into your memory; the smells, the food, the weather, the sights, the sounds.

What I found most remarkable about the song, which I didn’t find out until after our holiday, was that the video was set in Berlin! It was so surreal. So that particular song and all its visuals always reminds me of our trip to Berlin. In the video we see the sights of Berlin by being guided by a group of 20somethings dressed beautifully, with sugar skulls painted on their faces. Now this is where the idea of ‘defacing’ comes into play.

Sugar skulls are worldly known from the festival of Dia de Los Muertos – the day of the dead. 

Sugar skulls are worldly known from the festival of Dia de los Muertos – the day of the dead. During the first two days in November, (when a large percentage of the world’s population have just celebrated Halloween) for those celebrating Dia de los Muertos, death isn’t something to be feared. Instead, death is seen as a natural cycle of life. And Dia de los Muertos helps the living celebrate the loved ones who have died. In the past, participants and dancers used careteas, or masks, to scare the dead away at the end of the festivities. But in modern-day celebrations, people paint their faces to look like skulls, decorating it to represent a deceased loved one or an expression of themselves.

One might say that to paint a skull over your own face could be a way of defacing your own image, but to do it using these beautiful sugar skulls with flourishes, swirls, patterns, flowers and colours is hardly ugly. So, I set about recreating my own little memento of that wonderful time in Berlin, by using one of the photos from that holiday, taking inspiration from the ‘prayer in C’ lyrics, the sugar skull imagery and set about defacing my picture.

Equipment:

  1. Photograph.
  2. Biro.
  3. Pencil.
  4. Watercolour paints.
  5. Brushes. (variety of sizes)
  6. Fineliner pens – small nib. (Variety of colours)

It wasnt until I really thought about this Wreck This Journal entry, that I was able to come to a suitable decision about how to ‘glue in a photo of myself and deface’. I found this entry hard to grasp and come up with a ‘beautiful’ piece of artwork that may do the journal some justice.  Instead though, the entry has becoming much more meaningful, and I think I prefer it this way. I reckon, by the end of the Journal’s completion, my version of the Wreck This Journal will become more personal and meaningful then I ever thought it would.

If you were hesitant to buy this journal because you thought it was truly all about ‘wrecking’ the thing, think again, by being a little creativity, this journal can allow you to create pieces of work you would have never dreamed.

Having the song playing at that moment in time was clearly a sign from some other worldliness. Ultimately, the song is about death, the afterlife and God’s forgiveness to mankind. Seems fitting that the youngsters in the video are portraying a cultural symbol of appreciating those who have passed over.

For me, this entry and its thought process behind it is a fine balance between Art and Science, Subjective and Objective, Ugliness and Beautifulness, Creativity and Destruction, Life and Death.

Concept.Create.Critique.

Patience is a virtue – the one with all the stamp collecting.

WTJ Stamps


“Collect the stamps off of all your mail”. Easy, this will be completed in no time at all…


Maybe its just me but I don’t get much mail anymore.Yeah I get the usual stuff, the bank statements, the utility bills, the odd letter from a distant relative, but what is not obvious is that, for most of these letters, real stamps are not used! Just take a minute to reflect on this…stamps are not used on post anymore. Isn’t that the best part of sending a letter? Sticking the small, beautiful graphic image on to the corner of your envelope, this signifying that the letter is ready, it can start it’s journey.

“One of the most beautiful and interesting museums that D.C had to offer.”

On a recent visit to Washington D.C, my husband and I went to the Postal Museum, and we found it to be one of the most beautiful and interesting museums that D.C had to offer. When we arrived home and told everyone this, most people thought we were joking. (FYI – we were not joking, we loved it!)

The postal museum was so interesting, and for me, the beauty and interest lay in these tiny, yet remarkable pieces of art, that have been designed to perform such an important job. The museum was full of stamp collections, showing off the extremely vast and varied collection that D.C alone had collected. The way some of the collections had been displayed were in these huge, heavy screens that you had to pull open to reveal the tiny illustrations. It made me think of being in a really old museum, being allowed to discover the contents of the drawers and pull them open one by one as though I were the first one to find the contents of the drawer.

Part of its charm was the fact that the museum was set in the historic Postal Office in the heart of Washington D.C. This for me, is probably why the museum itself was so memorable. I loved the feelings and emotions the building and museum content provided. That feeling of nostalgia for the past, wanting to go back to a simpler time, a time of letters, walks by the sea, afternoon tea. And this was the type of emotion this particular ‘Wreck This Journal’ by Keri Smith invoked in me when I saw what the task was for completing this particular entry.

Equipment:

  1. Stamps.
  2. Glue / tape.
  3. Scissors.
  4. Time.
  5. Patience.

Time and patience really was needed for this page, if you are wanting to complete this journal quickly then this may be your downfall. I for one, do most of my correspondence via email or text – very little is now communicated by me to my friends through the post, so this was one of the last pages I managed to complete.

Because of this, I felt as though I did not have a plan or strategy for designing or illustrating the page, I could only stick them in as and when the post came in with a stamp. (And oh how exciting those days were when the post came in with a real letter and a real stamp!) As I didn’t know how many stamps I would need, or what they would look like in style or colour, I went with a simple grid pattern, this allowing for any size or style. (And by the way, I did not cheat and buy my stamps, all the stamps in the journal have been post marked – a real achievement!)

Overall, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing page in my version of the Wreck This Journal, but it is one of my favourites, simply due to the time, patience and energy spent in the creation of the completed page and the satisfaction this brought.

The overarching message is that with patience and perseverance, most achievements will be well-earned, in whatever context they may appear to be in.

Even if its waiting for a letter with a stamp…

I think it took me over a year – patience is a virtue.

Concept.Create.Critique.

 

 

Sew this: The needle and thread is the new paint and paintbrush.

WTJ Sew


A cotton reel and simple instructions. A cup of tea is needed and a good eye for threading that needle!


Im not sure about this one – do we think the line ‘sew this page’ from Keri Smith’s ‘Wreck This Journal’ is suggesting that we sew the page to another in the book? Or sew something onto the paper itself? Or to rip out the page and sew it onto another material? This simple question is interesting, it is also making me think about how we, as artists, perceive mediums and materials.

As I sit and think about the direction I am going to take this simple concept, I start to think about the process of sewing. The process of stitching every individual stitch so carefully and accurately, placing each stitch exactly where it is supposed to go. It’s a very precise medium of expression. The metaphor ‘a well woven story’ comes to mind.


The metaphor ‘a well woven story’ comes to mind. 


Afterall, this journal is a story, a moment in time that has been captured through a visual representation of our thoughts, feelings and emotions as we sit and create each page. For me, this is one of the positive aspects of the creative journal Keri Smith has created. There are so many different types of pages, with different instructions, that there is always a page to turn to whenever we are feeling creative – however, that creativity may not always be driven from a happy place, it can be frustration, sadness, loneliness or just simple boredom.

Equipment:

  1. Pencil.
  2. Rubber/eraser.
  3. Needle.
  4. Scissors.
  5. Pink and black cotton reels.

I liked the idea of creating very small stitches that all lined up, one next to another, to form lines – as though a pencil or thin paint brush had been used, and with these lines, to create a simple shape. The colours of cotton thread I happened to have at the time were magenta and black, so I thought the two colours would symbolically represent the emotions and feelings you could have in your heart when completing a creative journal entry. The lines, I let cross over and under, representing how positive and negative feelings can be clear and obscured at the same time.

The page itself is blank, with the instruction featured on the right hand side, leaving plenty of room for creating a unique piece of work, interpreting the ‘sew this page’ direction in whichever style you think is appropriate. Once again, the Wreck This Journal has given us a unique way of expressing the creative mind using a creative medium!

Dont you just love the way embroidery and stitching looks on the reverse?

FullSizeRender

Remember there is beauty in the imperfections as well.

Concept.Create.Critique.

 

 

Fling your coffee! A caffeine infused entry.

WTJ Coffee entry v2


Intense espresso, coffee stained pages and colourful tie-dye. A mixed media page for the ‘Wreck This Journal’.


Pour, spill, drip, spit, fling your coffee here. The instructions are quite simply to ‘Wreck This Journal’ by any means possible, and in this case, through some caffeine induced artistic moment of expressionism!

I love this prompt. It really encourages the idea that art and creativity have no limits – even in Keri Smith’s easy to carry journal. The page is left empty with the exception of a speech bubble with the instruction and a hefty arrow pointing to where you should aim your coffee bean-shaped missile.

I (as expressed already in this stream of blog entries) love a good cup of coffee, so this entry was one of the first I wanted to create when I flicked through the bare pages of the journal. It sounded interesting, different, messy, uncontrollable? I wanted to have a try.

I decided I wanted to use the coffee as the art medium. I have stained pages with tea before to get that rich sepia tone, but never with coffee. So I ventured out to ‘pour‘ and ‘drip‘ as suggested on the page, marking the pages only with the coffee in the cup as well as leaving coffee shaped rings on the page.

Equipment:

  1. Coffee – freshly brewed.
  2. Coffee pods.
  3. Paintbrush.
  4. Pen.
  5. Pencil.
  6. Rubber.
  7. Coloured felt-tips. Fine nib.
  8. Spare sheet of plain paper.

Whilst drying, I opened up a few coffee pods to release the intense pigment of the ground coffee beans and began to use this almost as a type of paint, applying the colour to a separate piece of paper with a paint brush. This paper, would be for drawing one of the coffee cups from my favourite coffee shops and collaging onto the coffee spilt page.With the cup, I placed a few ‘splashes’ of coffee, with the names of mine and my husband’s favourite coffees to order and a small stamp card as a memento of the coffee shop. I pasted all of these visuals, layering one on top of the other.

All in all, after having my fun, it was looking set to be a rather dull coffee coloured entry with a pop of blue. Now this is the best thing about having a creative journal. You know when something can be pushed further and you don’t have to be afraid to try it – no one actually cares if it goes wrong! (Maybe you do…just a little!)

So picking up on the black accents on the cup, the signature branding of the coffee shop, I coloured the entire page in black – this making the brown, coffee stained marks more vibrant and warm. The speech bubble which started the whole process off, I applied pinks and purples as a reflection of the coffee pods used as well as a hint of blue to tie the whole page together.

Now that’s more like it. Theres a better balance of colour, mixed with different mediums that all compliment each other nicely, the original journal paper also adding a warm, textured quality.

This is turning out to be some interesting creative journaling – an expression of ones own abstract interpretation, a constructivist’s viewpoint, a colour mixer’s spectrum. There’s me thinking I just needed to colour within the lines!

Concept.Create.Critique.

Getting Started: Carry this with you everywhere you go.

WTJ Instruction page


Dragonfly green tea and green accents. The beginnings of the ‘Wreck This Journal’ by Keri Smith.


This is where it begins. You open the journal to get a sense of what is to come. With the Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith, you get the sense you are in ‘safe hands’ as immediately you are given instructions – albeit – simple ones (to write your name in a variety of ways: tiny letters, backwards, illegibly!) but this is an important feature in a creative journal. The sense that this is going to be a task that will be enjoyable and achievable.

If you haven’t had the experience of creating an art journal than this one is possibly the best for new starters. It’s very easy to interact with and Keri Smith has done a fantastic job with this from the turn of the first page.

I started with the instruction page which was left blank, with the exception of the title ‘instructions’ and five points to live by when journaling. I particularly like the fact that it is emphasised that ‘order is not important’. This could mean order in which you create your pages, but likewise, could mean that order – rules – instructions, are not important, which is a good philosophy when creating your own artwork.

My vision for this was found within the writings of the first instruction – ‘Carry this with you everywhere you go’. I had visuals of an 19th century explorer, taking to the sea, countryside, sky, off into the horizon in an air balloon! And with this, I wanted to create a full-page visual that also allowed me to still see the instructions that are important to this journal.

Equipment:

  1. Pencil
  2. Rubber.
  3. Black Biro.
  4. Black felt tip – fine.
  5. Light Green felt tip – fine.

I quickly sketched my scene in pencil, then took the biro, and free hand, making it up on the spot, I started to fill all the negative spaces with patterns and shapes. Some I left to show the colour of the original journal paper, but others, I hatched, cross hatched and contoured. Finally to make the instructions really emphasised, I filled them in using felt tip pen and allowing just a hint of bright green for a pop of colour. Purposefully, I chose simple art supplies, this allowing me room and time to build up to more adventurous outcomes.

What I really like about this opening page, is that ironically, it doesn’t actually have any instructions for making the page visually artistic. This allows the artist to choose their own visuals for this entry.

I think this is an important statement, as it allows you to make your very own, personal mark at the very beginning of this creative journal.

Concept.Create.Critique.

 

The basics: Everyday equipment for creative art journaling.

Basic art supplies

Pens are friends. Art resources make me happy! 

Your journal can be produced using a very wide variety of resources and equipment. This could be as simple as a black biro.

The more confident you become, the more likely you are to experiment, but when just starting out, its good to have your own ‘go to’ basics that you feel comfortable and confident using. By choosing appropriately you know that your outcomes will be successful. The higher the success rate, the more likely you are to continue with your journal, and this will bring with it the satisfaction that creating art work can give you.

The equipment you choose, should be something you know you can use and this  does not mean it has to be expensive!

Here’s my list of basics.

  1. A creative journal. (Obviously) One that inspires you. One that gets you interested in being creative!
  2.  Pencil. Got to start somewhere. I like softer pencils such as 2B and 3B but a good old fashioned HB will do the same job.
  3. Eraser. For those inevitable mistakes. White rubbers and erasers will not leave a residue so I find these work best.
  4. Metal Sharpener. Just as cheap as the plastic ones, but more durable.
  5. Black drawing pens. Possibly my most favoured piece of equipment. Of course you can get them in lots of different colours but nothing looks more classic than black and white. They come in different nib sizes too.
  6. Gluestick. Great for applying pieces of paper and materials that have been collected.
  7. Blutack. Perfect for temporarily pinning images down until you are positive of placement.
  8. Date stamp. Really handy for keeping track of when entries to your journal have been made. Using a date stamp helps keep the look consistent throughought and gives a timeless feel. The one shown in the picture cost me only £1!
  9. Bulldog clips. Great for keeping papers or pages together.
  10. Coloured pencils. An art essential. They dont need to be expensive. You can get a range of tones and hues out of a good set.
  11. Copic markers. Now these are not cheap, but the moment I started to use them, they have changed the way I work. They are effortless, and make a simple illustration into a beautiful visual.
  12. Coloured pens. I really like pens with an ultra fine nib. They give more accuracy and allow for more delicate pieces to be created.
  13. Gel Pens. These pens are so fluid and easy to use. You can buy them in many colours, but I prefer to buy the ones that are metallic or white. Great for coloured paper or black paper.
  14. Biro. Especially black ones. Great for mark making like hatching and crosshatching.
  15. Post-it notes. To scribble down your thoughts and ideas before placing them permanently in your journel.
  16. Scalpel. More precise than a pair of scissors, allows for very accurate cutting and trimming.
  17. Spare blades. For all the cutting and trimming of course.
  18. Steel ruler. Can be used as a regular ruler, but allows for really straight lines when cutting with your scalpel.
  19. Mason jar. Fill it with water. Easy to clean.
  20. Watercolour blocks. Essential for easy, beautiful backgrounds or more delicately produced watercolour images.
  21. Mixing palette. For mixing watercolour tones and hues.
  22. Assorted paintbrushes. If you can get a range of sizes, you dont have to compromise on the outcome you are trying to create. I prefer brushes with very fine bristles.
  23. Acrylic paints. I am a big fan of acrylic paints, I love the vibrancy and coverage of the paint application. Not one for everyone, but if you want your creative journal to be quite arty and paint filled – try the acrylics.
  24. A hot drink. (or any drink really!) Saved the most important till last (in my opinion anyway) I love hot drinks! Any hot drink! But especially coffee and different types of tea. There is nothing better for creative journaling than to put the kettle on, get your supplies ready and laid out in order, whilst the kettle is boiling. When your ready, pour yourself a hot cup of tea and then begin to get artistically inspired.

With that said…lets get considering which journal we shall review first!

 

Concept.Create.Critique.