the ability to createher artistic creativity(Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).
Creativity is, according to Creativity at Work, “characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.” But when I think of creativity I think of all kinds of things. Things like one moment you’re in the shower and out of nowhere an idea for your next book hits you like a ton of bricks. Or you’re sitting at your desk, dining room table, craft table, or the living room floor coloring with your grandson and you realize he has the right idea… he knows exactly what he’s doing… he’s not second guessing himself, the colors he’s using, whether or not he’s coloring inside or outside of the lines… he’s just doing it. And when he’s done, “Mimi it’s the best…” and I’m not sure if he’s asking me or telling me but he’s right… It’s the best. It’s the best moment. It’s the best picture. He used the best colors. It’s just the best, and so is he. We could all learn a thing or two from children and pets…. I’m embracing my inner five year old. That’s the way to creativity. That’s how I’ve learned to fully embrace my creativity–best lesson I could have learned and I learned it from my almost five year old grandson.
For the past seven months or more I’ve struggled with the idea, with accepting fully the idea and the fact that I am now working in a creative job… that what I do (the art, the journals, writing, Patreon, YT (in a way), blogging (that’s something I’m working at more and more each week)… that being a creative isn’t something I just am, it’s what I do, and that utilizing my creativity in different ways is my job, helping others to be creative is my job. sharing creativity is my job… (I’m sure you get the picture by now). Truth is, I’m doing something I love. I’m creating every single day. Maybe it’s a picture I took, or a picture I drew, maybe it’s a paragraph you wrote. Maybe it’s a video you created. Maybe it’s a piece of music you worked on, or a song you learned. Maybe it’s just that you sat down with your child or grandchild and colored a picture in a coloring book.
Later on, I’m going to do another blog post about creativity. I’ll continue to do them here and there. I’ve talked about comparing yourself to others, self-doubt, procrastination, and a few other things. And each time I do these kinds of posts, via blog or video, it’s usually because I’ve learned something new about myself.
I’d like to make this a bit of a series. Maybe one per month or so.
I had one of those infamous pink diary’s with the lock and key when I was in elementary school. That pink diary became my constant companion when my father died when I was seven years old. I’ve been an avid journal-er since. For more than two years now I’ve been using art and text to document my life in my journals, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized and took to heart, got past the fear, and said, “It’s my journal(s), I can do what I want….” I think the rebel in me knew all along and pushed the boundaries, broke the “rules.” Refused to even acknowledge that there are rules to keeping a journal, to doing things like adding your planning into your journal. And the diarist knew that I could journal about whatever I wanted, and was happy to be writing down the feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, plans, and more. But the artist… oh, the artist…the artist in me was filled with fear.
I have followed LittleRavenInk (Courtney Diaz) and Rhomany from Rhomany’s Realm, as well as many others on YT, for a good long while now, and the thing I love about both of them is their individualism, how they have found their voice in their art, on the pages of their journals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a journal, a sketchbook, a planner, etc., their style is unique. I’ve got a style, I suppose, but it ebbs and flows, it’s not ingrained yet… it’s still underneath the surface, appearing and disappearing as I find my way… As I delve into deeper recesses of my artist.
You see, writing down my thoughts, my feelings, adding bits and bobs of things like quotes, pictures, every day ephemera and/or bought ephemera, and other things isn’t the problem… I can do that and do do that on a regular basis. I often use my journal(s) as an art journal, scrapbook, common place journal, planner, and more. I add bits and pieces of my day on the page in a variety of ways, from drawing and water-coloring, to using markers, to writing diary style, to quotes, adding pictures and receipts, bits from magazines, receipts from stores, etc…, and the thing that has been bugging me about my whole journal journey is that I wanted to do something else… something more. To hone in on the artist part of me. To improve my skill and technique, to experiment with different mediums, but to concentrate mainly on the art. On creating at least one piece of art from my day. Maybe it was the new notebook I received in the mail, or maybe it’s my favorite fountain pen or the current watercolor palette I’m using, or maybe it’s my grandson playing or Mr. Rockstar using the grill, or maybe it’s a selfie I’ve drawn and water-colored. Not necessarily in a “sketchbook,” though I do that from time to time especially when I go somewhere and want to chronicle the moment by drawing the outside of the coffee shop or the lake at Swan Lake or the people at the park, which I have learned is called urban sketching and I enjoy, but more like a real life journal that chronicles everything from the mundane to the special event to travel to just playing around and drawing one of my supplies.
I did some serious soul searching last weekend, and my past Tuesday Talk video was about some of this… about investing in myself and my goals, about delving deep and realizing that I’ve been putting off trying to really “illustrate my life,” out of fear… out of insecurity… out of a lack of self-confidence. And yet the past year has improved my self-confidence, lessened my fear, knocked loose some of those insecurities and I’ve tried things and done things that the artist in me wouldn’t have even thought I could do–things like open my own journaling group, start Patreon, call myself an artist… WHOA! Did I just call myself an artist? Yep, sure did!
I’m not a professional artist, but I’m learning… I’m going back to the basics of drawing and learning to do so in a class offered by Danny Gregory on Sketchbook Skool. I’m experimenting on my own with watercolor until I can take a watercolor class–that is on my To-Do list after I finish the Drawing class. I’m learning on my own and taking classes. I’m journaling every day, drawing and water-coloring every day, and have gotten serious enough about that I purchased a new journal with 68 GSM Tomoe River paper in it from Taroko Design, the journal is called the Enigma and it’s got the most divine paper. I also have a Strathmore Watercolor paper journal/Sketchbook with 140lb paper for when I do happen to go Urban Sketching, or for practice, since painting with watercolor on Tomoe River paper is quite different than on watercolor paper.
Right now I use a Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor set, but I want to invest in the Daniel Smith Watercolors and create a basic travel set and then add to my collection as I go. I have goals… plans, but first it’s time for me to just start. I can’t wait until I can afford the Daniel Smith watercolors, though I do have a small travel kit that one of my wonderful friends made for me (I use those when I create works of art for people). Instead of waiting around, procrastinating even more, I sat at my DIY craft table and opened up both the A5 and the A6 Enigma and created my first page. I’ve realized that the A6 is going to be my fun, experimental tiny book of sketches, watercolors, etc… I’m going to take it with me every where I go and sketch something… anything–it might be the mailbox or the neighbor’s car or dog or pool or tree, or the coffee shop, or the front of the grocery store, or the people waiting in line at the doctor’s office. And the A5 will be my actual “Illustrated Journal,” also known as an “Artist’s Journal.” Some of those sketches might be of my supplies, of a tree in my own backyard, of Mr. Rockstar, of my grandson Mr. Viktor, of my own car, of myself, of pictures I’ve taken, of people (Friends, Family, etc)… I am going to illustrate something each day.
If any of you have seen the pages of my (Omni) journal or my Hobonichi you know that I often sketch bits and pieces of my day on my journal pages, sometimes it’s cartoon like, sometimes it’s fancy stick figures, sometimes it’s an actual sketch and watercolor… but I also add a lot of text, ephemera, photos, etc to the pages of my (Omni) journal/Hobonichi. I am going to continue to do that, because those are fun… I’m not always serious when I draw those bits and pieces of my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious sketches within the pages of my (Omni Journal) and Hobonichi, but there are far more fun drawings…
I’m going to be chronicling my journal in depth on Patreon, but in bits and pieces here and on YT. I hope you enjoy the process, I know I hope to.
Once I get things together, I’ll make a revised Journal Supply post and video.
I remember when I first heard about a Traveler’s Notebook. I felt like Dorothy when she landed in Oz… Once I got on the Yellow Brick Road of TN’s I was hooked. Especially after I received my first Jonelifish, which was the not quite infamous Writer’s Bible (an A5 bifold Jonelifish in my custom color–a combination of reds, purples, and a touch of blues). My first TN was a Buteo Bunker. I got Mr. Rockstar and myself TN’s from BB, his in the standard size, and mine in the Wide/Cahier size. BB’s leather is supple, like “buttah.” And it patina’s beautifully, but I’m a color kind of person, and I’d seen Rhomany’s video from Rhomany’s Realm about her Jonelifishes and that was it!!! The colors!!! The leather!!! The uniqueness (not sure that is a word, or what, but it fits so it’s staying) of Jonel’s work appealed to the creative side of me.
I knew that I needed a TN that could house an actual journal/notebook, not just a few inserts. I knew my TN would end up a chunky monkey. I have big handwriting, I like ample room to write, and A5 is my “go to” size for notebooks/journals. But I had to wonder, later on after having both a Wide and then an A5 if maybe there wasn’t a better size… now I can honestly say that nope… the best size for me is the A5. When I got my Writer’s Bible (A5 bifold), I also got a passport sized trifold and immediately set it up as a wallet. I realize that the trifold might be too much bother–opening it up every time you go to use it–for some. I have a Field Note’s size bifold, and an A7 (I think it is called the Micro), that I could use as a wallet, or if I really wanted I could use the personal size I have as a wallet, but I love my passport, and to me having to open it up means that things aren’t as likely to fall out, it’s safer.
The Yellow Brick Road of TN’s has lead me to this:
Yes… those are my TN’s, I also have a few Leather Journal Covers, like the new to me (deep,dark, gorgeous) red leather Hobonichi cover that my friend Maya sent me, or the new to me purple journal cover from Imperfectly Perfekt that looks like a tarot card on the cover–but I’ll get to those in a different post since this post is about TN’s. What I love most about Jonel’s work is that even if you choose the same color, say a Mermaid or the Dark Unicorn, your’s is going to be unique… each one is made by her, it’s handmade. She dyes them, engraves them, paints them, etc all herself. 😀 And each one is unique. A work of art. I have several different one’s in my custom color and not one of them is EXACTLY like the other. 😀 That makes me feel special. The uniqueness of it draws me, the fact that it comes from an artisan–an artist. I have in my head this dream Jonelifish… a likeness of Michael Whelan’s Gunslinger (Roland) standing in the field of red roses with the Dark Tower in the distance on the inside or outside, I’m not sure of which yet, and then on the other side (inside or outside) Snoopy in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night… either lying on his dog house staring up at the sky or on his typewriter (most likely staring up at the sky)… And I’ve started a conversation with Jonel about creating that… what I call my “unicorn” Jonelifish… My DREAM TN. It would, of course, be an A5, because that’s my size of preference. But that’s because I prefer to use notebooks like the Leuchtturm 1917, or Nanami Paper’s Seven Seas Crossfield, or Taroko Design’s Enigma, all of which are A5 sized notebooks, and I tend to put more than one of those in my Jonelifish. Right now I am using several of the trifolds: one houses my Spiritual Omni Journal (book of mirrors/spirit) and my Spiritual Bullet Journal, another trifold houses my OMni Journal and my Morning Pages notebook (which is a Lechtturm 1917), and then there is my Writer’s Bible which houses my Writer Bullet journal and a Clairfontaine notebook that I use as a writing journal.
Just because I use mostly Cahier, Standard, or A5 sized TN’s doesn’t mean that your perfect size TN is one of those. So here are some suggestions based on my experience, and what I’ve heard from others who are also lovers of TNs.
Look at some of the notebooks you already own and love–what is the most common size? Measure the notebook if you’re not sure of the size. Once you know what size the notebook is you can look at the chart I’ve provided (this is based on Jonelifish, and I’ve noticed that size is relatively similar in the TN community but not exact, so base it on having a bit of extra room for your inserts or notebooks to sit in the TN comfortably, especially if you have OCD about overhang (which is when your inserts/notebooks edge hangs out of the TN). For example, I use standard A5 sized notebooks– the Leuchtturm 1917 and the Crossfield and Enigma measure about 5 3/4″ by 8 1/4,” which is why I get an A5 TN, especially if I’m getting a bifold. 😀 (I don’t like overhang at all!)
If you aren’t sure, you can always make your own sized inserts based off of different sizes and try the DIY insert for a week or so to see if you like that size. Spend some time in that size so you can see which one you like the best.
You can look through videos on YT about TN’s, there are a ton out there about various sizes, brands, etc… I find that as a visual person, photos and videos are really helpful for me. You could also ask around… in FB groups, etc…
My Dark Unicorn is a standard sized trifold, and it actually holds an A5 notebook plus an insert, so I was using it as my Omni Journal cover… and I really liked how snugly it held it, but if you want to have more notebooks/inserts/or a notebook and some inserts, your best bet would be to get the Cahier size or the A5, but if you’re looking for something smaller she has lots of options. I just know way more about the A5 sized notebooks/journals. You can always join any number of TN groups on FB, and/or the Jonelifish FB group.
One last thing… As a Brand Ambassador for Jonelifish, I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE Jonel’s work. If you order from her shop at https://jonelifish.com/ and you use my code “Burgess10” you’ll get 10% off your order, as long as it’s not a custom order. If you’re not sure just ask…
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This month marked the actual 2 year journalversary… two years that I’ve been journaling on a steady basis using art and words. I know it might not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s been a big deal. Not only has adding art to my journaling increased my creativity, lessened my anxiety and help manage my depression, but it’s also helped me with self-doubt and self-esteem.
I talk about much of this in this video about Fear, Self-Doubt, and Creativity:
Another thing I’ve realized is how far I’ve come with my art. By the way, I am not a professional artist. Nor am I professional writer (yet). But I am an artist. A writer. And I’ve learned that combining art and words in my journal, in my outlining for my novels (using Tarot is visual (artistic) and the Hero’s Journey is structure), has helped me figure out an outlining method that works for me.
2016 taught me a lot about what worked and didn’t work for me in regard to planning, journaling, drawing, painting, goal setting, editing videos, etc… I learned so much last year. Part of what I learned is the living a creative life is my passion, but it’s also part of my purpose.
Because there were a few things that did and didn’t work I changed things up this year.
Have you ever thought “Why on earth did I ever think I could be an artist, writer, poet, singer, ____ fill in the blank?” Or “Why am I trying to do this? I’m never going to make it as a(n) ____, I should just find something else to do with my time.” Last year when I first started working on Cameron’s 12 week self-guided course The Artist’s Way I couldn’t help but feel like I was an imposter… in the back of my mind I felt like a pretend writer/artist…This past week was week one of my 2017 journey with The Artist’s Way and I don’t feel so much like an imposter anymore, but I have realized that I do still have some self doubt, as well as the overwhelming need to pile too much stuff on myself, which equals stress, a lack of individual focus, and can lead to not following through with at least one or two things.
I’m going to add a video to the bottom of the post where I talk about a few other things from week 1, my actual check in, and here on the blog post I’m going to delve into a few other things like how differently I feel this go round. How much trouble I’ve had delving into the Morning pages…
Last year when I was working on The Artist’s Way I knew I needed to work on the root of my writer’s block, on my lack of belief in myself as an artist, and my self-doubt in general. I am a creative person. I owned that shit! I learned to say “I’m a writer!” loudly and proudly. And by the end of 2016, I’d learned to say ‘I’m an artist,” proudly. After a thirty years plus some hiatus from creating art, and then to jump into the “Fauxbonichi/Hobonichi/etc” style journaling, adding doodles and watercolor to my journal pages, and then to actually creating art on watercolor paper, and even on canvas, and signing up for Patreon this past year–well, let’s just say I climbed more than quite a few hurdles.
However, for every two or three hurdles I manged to climb over, it felt like there was yet another (or three) obstacles…I learned a great deal about myself last year, and I’m learning even more this year. I learned quite a few things just last week. One of the things I need to remember is that I need to have patience with myself. I could make a list, but instead I’m going to say that Self-Care has become an even more important part of my life. This week as I work on week two, I’ll be working on Morning Pages first thing. I’m going to make it my top priority first thing in the morning. Another thing I am going to work on is taking Wednesday, and maybe even Friday, off from YT. I need a bit of a break, some time to get a few things together–I’m going to make a few changes, and I need a few days to figure things out.
There is this part of me that feels guilty because I need a break… I shouldn’t feel guilty for needed a break. For taking a bit of “me time.” In the video I have linked below, I say “I’m sorry, but not sorry,” and that is the truth. Rationally, I know I need this break, but it does bother me that people might be disappointed, and yet if I am to continue to make at least decent content than I have to take a break. I’m still healing, I need a bit more rest than I’ve been getting, and my body is screaming at me to get that rest. My mind is screaming at me to figure this shit out because I’ve piled too much on myself for the beginning of this year, and I need to spread out the projects a little better.
Ebay: I look for used books. I also got the Yarka St. Petersburg watercolor pans from there, as well as Jinhao fountain pens.
Goulet Pens: I’ve ordered notebooks like Rhodia Webnotebook, as well as the Leuchtturm1917 softcover, and nibs for my fountain pens.
And the SevenSeas Crossfield, Standard, and Writer.
**** This post contains some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you subscribe or purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!(Learn more here)
Last year, sometime, I stumbled across a review of the book called “The Decorated Page,” by Gwen Diehn. At the time I was looking for other books like Danny Gregory’s books or Dan Price’s book “How to Make a Journal,” and Gwen’s book looked a little older but the reviewer said great things about the book. So off to Amazon I went searching for the book. I found it and purchased it.
When the book initially came in I skimmed through it, but I’d just gotten Gina Rossi Armfield’s “The No Excuses Art Journaling,” book and was reading it so I put “The Decorated Page” on the book shelf with my other art/journaling books. I got busy, didn’t use either of the two books, though I did use Armfield’s “No Excuses Watercoloring” book to help me learn some techniques and improve my watercoloring ability.
After I got the new bookcase from my parents for my birthday in July I had to rearrange books… “The Decorated Page” book spoke to me…
“Burgess, when are you going to get around to doing this… You know that you want to leaf through my pages and read me… Use the information and create your own decorated pages… Come on…What are you waiting for???”
I leafed through the pages and got an idea for using a technique Gwen talked about in the book to create the cover for my Omni Journal.. I mentioned the “Decorated Page” on one of my YT videos… I wanted to delve further into the book. Make the book a project. And then the Destination Me group happened and I had even more of a reason to make the book a project…
After making the book a project I began reading it again. I started over and read it. Then panic set it. How to make the book an actual project for more than just me was daunting to say the least… I didn’t (and don’t) have all the supplies and I can’t afford to buy all the supplies I don’t have right now. I’ve never created a workshop like this… I need to go to a workshop like this…how do I set up an outline for the project when 1. Not everyone has the book, 2. sharing pictures from the book here or there when you put where they came from is okay, but I can’t infringe on copyright laws… and how to set it up without revealing too much of what is in the book…so people actually read the important parts of the book… (HEY! aren’t you a writer? A reader? You can do this…)
Then Jo Ann, from the group offered to help. And her suggestions were simple. I’d overanalyzed things. I’d made a mountain out of a molehill because I was in a panic because I didn’t want to screw it up…
One of Jo Ann’s suggestions was to read pp 27-29 and make a list of our favorite products, and be ready to discuss it at the end of the week…
I thought about it after going back to those pages and reading, and then realized…I could share the first supply list with the group and then we could make a list of our favorite supplies/products over the weekend, and then at the beginning of the week share our favorites and be ready to discuss supplies/products throughout the week… Jo Ann and I decided to do this to give everyone whose book hadn’t come in quite yet a chance to get their books in… We start officially on Monday, though we are taking this weekend to think about our favorite supplies/products and make a list, and then on Monday/Tuesday to share them so we can talk about supplies and products. *That’s this coming week, as in September 5/6.*
For week 2 Jo Ann and I are working on something else, as well as a few other things so that we have a tentative outline for the first few weeks of the project.
(more instructions to follow in continuing blog posts)
ON a side note… One of my favorite parts from the book so far is this part:
” In this kind of journal (she’s referring to what is called a “visual journal,” or a “marriage of form and content, of text or writing and visual expression”), the way a page looks is determined by the thoughts and reflections expressed on the page. A certain idea or image will seem to need a certain kind of layout or design, and particular materials will allow you to express yourself more profoundly. Each element, visual and verbal, informs the other, and turn informs your own understanding of the events, ideas, and reflections you record.”