Art Journaling Backgrounds – The Excitement Starts Here!

Does your art journal begin with a background? Do those colors and mood spark your creativity? Ooh, take a look at what others are doing…

For many of us, background colors and textures inform everything else we do with the page.

These artists videos are short and fun and… wow!

The first is by Purdy Creative Things. I love the variety she achieves, so quickly and with such simple techniques.

Next, this 8-minute video by Mercurial Milk presents some juicy colors and varied ideas, with useful tips for five different art journaling backgrounds.

The next video is by Maremi’s Small Art, and she shows how to create a textured, magical art background.  This video is nearly 10 minutes long, but worth watching, even if you skip ahead as you understand each step.

The next video is by that same artist. It includes several one-minute background techniques. All of them are simple and use just a few colors and tools.

The video is about 7 1/2 minutes long, if you watch it all the way through. The techniques are repetitive, but each background is unique. I think the variety will inspire you to try some of her ideas, yourself.

And, in Mark Montano‘s video – about 4 1/2 minutes long – he assembles completed artist’s journals pages.

I’m including this video because many of his techniques are fast and easy ways to create vivid, unique journal page background, too.

After watching these, I’m ready to work on my journal. I hope you’re excited about these materials and techniques, too.

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Art Journaling – Make Your Own Magpie Journals

What are magpie journals, in the art journaling community…?

Well, magpies are known for collecting all kinds of things, especially shiny objects… but that may be just a legend.

So, a “magpie journal” is an assortment of things you’ve collected, organized as (or in) a journal… or something journal-ish. I like to use that term loosely. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a “journal” if you say it’s a journal. No other rules apply.

Magpie journals are especially fun.

  • They may be random or themed.
  • They can be entirely paper, or mixed media, and include random objects.
  • Items can be glued, sewn, clipped, or collaged to your pages. (There are no limits.)
  • Don’t want to attach the item? Can’t attach it? Some items could be in pockets or fold-outs.

The earliest magpie journals I could find were from a 2012 Swap-bot swap.

Magpie Journals, in Videos

Here’s a video from 2013. It’s about 7 minutes long and it’s of one of those early, Swap-bot magpie journals. You’ll get the idea in the first few minutes. It’s by Diane Baker-Williams.

Link: https://youtu.be/_SGztluUtFg

Next, take a look at this 2-minute video by Wishfulkelly, and it’s described as a smash book / glue book / Magpie journal. It’s a very quiet video, with music playing faintly in the background. It’s fun.

Link: https://youtu.be/Hzy6x87zIDA

Another video I’d shared was by Paula Foerder… but she’s made it private. * sigh and pout *  I’m leaving the link here because I thought her video was SO inspiring. Maybe she’ll allow you to see it? Link: https://youtu.be/RCfSp1LanFM

Next, Elizabeth Metz (Conifer Crow) creates “magpie bundles,” which are mixed media journals you can leave as-is, or take apart, embellish, and add to. The following is a 6-minute video showing one of her smaller bundles. (This one has already sold.)

I like this video as a starting point, to imagine my own mixed-media magpie journals.

Link: https://youtu.be/Ha931rXhY-E

Also, you’ll find lots of inspiration at Theresa Mask’s Magpie Journal Pinterest board.

Free Magpie Clipart

If you’d like to create your own magpie journal, here’s a sheet of printable clipart to get you started. It was created at 300 dpi, which means you could probably enlarge the pictures to double their size (at 150 dpi) and they might look fine.

The original is black & white. If you print it on heavy paper, you could color it with paint, pens, colored pencils, etc.

I’ve tried to place the images far enough apart that you can cut each one out (or tear it out) to use in collage.

To download, click on the picture
or use this link: http://bit.ly/magpiepix
(You can share that link, too. It’s a PDF at Google Drive.)

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Art Journaling with Magazine Images – Part 1

Art journaling with magazine images can be relaxing and fun, and make a statement at the same time.

It’s something anyone can do, with no art training at all.

Since the 1990s, that was one of my missions: To show people – especially women – that they could express themselves in art, no matter what.

Initially, I focused on torn-paper collages, because they were easy and were supposed to look a little “messy.”

Also, some of the words & slogans in magazine advertisements… wow! They can be great lines to include in your artist’s journal.

If you’re art journaling with magazine photos and text here are some videos that may inspire you.

First, a short video of Kelly Kilmer flipping through some of her artist’s journals. She uses lots of magazine images in her work, but also pens, paint and other fine art supplies.

Not seeing that video? It's at https://youtu.be/gVfe1wlwbd0 where you can find more of Kelly's art journaling videos, too.

In the next video, you’ll see how pitje4life adds magazine images – one over another – in her journal. (This starts part-way through the video, where she’s actually putting the images on the page.)

I don’t recommend using white glue to attach paper, because you risk it bubbling the paper, even after it’s dry. But… I’ll talk about that, later. First, the video:

Link: https://youtu.be/uo0Wsf2kaqc

Instead of white glue, I recommend something like Golden acrylic medium (Soft Gel, Gloss). I apply it gently with a sponge brush. Then I place the paper where I want it to stay. After that, I leave it as it is.

Do not smooth it, or you’ll stretch the damp paper and it will stay bubbled after it dries.

(I learned that technique from collage artist Claudine Hellmuth, when we both taught at Artfest.)

Also – from my experience – I have better luck letting the collage air-dry, instead of applying heat. (Your mileage may vary.)

Or, you could try gluesticks, as Jenn does in the following video. It’s about 10 minutes long, and she shows you exactly how her two-page collage came together. It’s from the “One Magazine Challenge.”

Her YouTube channel is Art Therapy with Jenn. Video link: https://youtu.be/H6FFrTRLf84

And, if you’re wondering where artists find delightful and deliciously quirky images for these kinds of collages, here’s Colleen McCulla‘s seven-minute video explaining her resources.

Link: https://youtu.be/EfliO_D78QE

I hope those videos inspired you to create some magazine collages in your artist’s journals. (I can hardly wait to start a new journal, after seeing these.)

If you have any questions or tips, I hope you’ll leave a comment, below.

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Folded Paper Art Journals

Artists’ journals can be as big – or small – as you like, especially if you make them by hand.

You can even start with a single sheet of paper and – in just a minute or two – fold it into a simple journal.

Here are some videos to inspire you.

Folded Journal One

First, here’s a video by Cathy Johnson. She’s probably best known for her watercolors and mixed media art. Here’s part of her longer video about folded-page journals.

To see the entire video from the beginning, visit https://youtu.be/CffQyRdTDUc

And, you can subscribe to Cathy’s YouTube channel … she’s posted many videos to inspire you!

Folded Journal Two

Of course, you don’t have to stop with a single sheet of paper. For a larger journal – or a journal-inside-a-journal – you could add more (and larger) sheets of paper.

LK Ludwig – part of the original artists’ journals movement – filmed this several years ago. In less than a minute, you can see various ways she uses fold-out pages in one of her handmade journals.

I think those are brilliant folding ideas, to get the most from any artist’s journal.

Here’s the link to her YouTube channel: Lk Ludwig

But maybe you want something small, different, and a little quirky. The next couple of videos may inspire you.

Folded Journal Three

This one is a journal-in-a-journal, best if you want to expand an existing journal. It’s from Paper Pixie, and it’s a fun idea.

You can watch this video and others at Paper Pixie's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrE5BOtFFlaurAulAU3C0Ig

Folded Journal Four

This video is longer than the others – a little over six minutes – and filled with ideas. In some ways, it’s similar to Cathy’s video… but this is simpler. Also, unless you attach a couple of these – back to back – it produces an art journal with fewer pages.

I love this concept if you’re starting with scrapbooking paper, or sheets of paper ephemera.

It’s one of many projects Maremi features at her YouTube channel.

What are your favorite folded journal ideas? I hope you’ll share your thoughts in comments, below.

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Altered Book Art Journaling – How-To

Altered books are a great way to create an art journal. It’s recycling, in a way, but with lots of added benefits.

Drink up these videos for ideas!

The next one is a lovely demonstration by Art by Silas. It shows how to create a mixed media artist’s journal. It includes torn paper collage – one of my favorite techniques. And it’s a good way for a beginner to get art journaling ideas. (The video is about five and a half minutes long.)

Here’s the video:

If you like this video, be sure to see Silas’ other videos at YouTube. She has a delightful sense of style.

The next video features a style almost 180-degree different from Silas’ style. Dana S’s altered book is somewhat dark, Steampunk-ish, and a bit Goth. I love the variety in it!

And here’s Karen Gaunt’s “lazy” tips to altered book art journaling. If you want to cover pages quickly, her tips can be very useful.

And finally, if you want to go extreme with your altered books, check this next clever concept… a book with added drawers!

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Enthusiasm is Contagious – Free Poster to Color (or Not)

This has been a transformative week… in a year of “ah-HA!” transitions and cool discoveries.

I’m re-energized and planning very cool projects.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a door sign* that I created. It’s where my mind is, at the moment.

You have two options. Or you can choose both. (Why make decisions when both choices are fun…? )

  1. You can download & print the original, black-and-white copy, and color it yourself. (Btw, neither of the prints have the “Aisling.net” text on them.) Here’s the link to the printable, b&w PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_S1FyZLWtQek57OnbQiuiZAs7SJ3vbeh/view?usp=sharing
  2. OR… You can download & print a copy of the one I colored (with colored pencils). Here’s the link to that PDF: https://drive.google.com/open?id=18tXNToRKW0w1z7k9Sup-gSJ8YJscu1OK
  3. OR… download them both!

If you’d like to share this blog post with friends, use this URL: http://bit.ly/enthusiasm4u (On a PC, right-click on the link and choose “Copy link address.”)

Door hanger at Aisling's homeMore info…

*Starting at Earth Day 2018, I decided to spread some everyday happiness with my neighbors, the UPS guy, people dropping off Amazon stuff, etc. So, I began putting a daily, decorated motivational message on my front door.

To do that, I bought a clear plastic frame thingie at Amazon. I tied a ribbon through the two holes at the top, and made it long enough to use as a hanger.

(Changing the sign, daily, is super-easy. The frame is open on three sides, so swapping signs takes less than 30 seconds.)

Then I hung it from a 3M Command Outdoor Hook (which doesn’t damage the door). The illustration shows today’s door sign.

So, that’s one thing you can do with signs like this.

I also have them on my laundry room door, in my kitchen, in the bathroom, and in the bedroom. Because I can. And these bring smiles to everyone who sees them.

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Free Writing Paper – Hippie-Style

This project started as my personal notepaper. Then… it sort of grew.

At first, I wrote my messages in the white rectangle in the middle. Then, I hand-colored the border design.

Last week, I realized I could print these for the children in my family, so they had an area to color, but also an area to draw in. (They’re at the age where they love coloring, but they also love to draw.)

And then, I decided to make these available to everyone, free, for your personal use. (Please don’t claim they’re your original art, or use them commercially.)

Click on each image below, and the related PDF will open for you to download.  (These are 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages, and each graphic is linked to a different PDF.)

And then… I realized my other neighbors might enjoy this writing paper, too. So, I got an easy-to-remember Bit.ly URL, Free2Color.

After that, I created the following sign, colored it (by hand, of course), and taped it to our front door.

Free coloring pages and writing paper.

This goes along with another recent, hippie-style project for my neighbors:

Every morning during the week of Earth Day, I put a new message in one of my front windows. I printed the signs large enough so passers-by could read them when they’re on their way to work, or walking their dogs.

Most of the messages came from late 1960s’ and early 70s’ songs… things from Woodstock and the hippie era, in general. Others reflected similar attitudes.

Here were a few of them, stacked on my floor.

Window signs with happy quotes.

If you like this window-sign idea, the font is Elsie Swash Caps Black font, and the size should be at least 120 pts to be read by people passing by your home. (For other signs, I’ve used Placard GF at about 150 pts, and a few similar fonts.)

Generally, I printed them on two sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, horizontal, and then I taped them together to make the window sign.

But then, I decided to create actual door signs, and color them. (They’re smaller and more fun to create. Generally, I design, print, and color them in one-week batches, in front of the TV.) You can download some of my door signs – already colored, or b&w copies you can color, yourself – at my Enthusiasm is Contagious post.

These projects come from my “still a hippie” soul, with the idea that doing nice things for other people – and putting more happiness into the world – is the right thing to do.

 

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Yes, I Love to Color in My Own Books…

Good Vibes - Aisling's coloring demonstration.Do I color my own coloring pages? Yes, I do. In fact, one reason I create coloring books is so I can color in them myself.

Also – as a coloring book artist – I think it’s important to color your own drawings.

Then, you understand the experience.

Some people want big, bold areas to color. They want to complete them in one sitting.

Others want tiny, detailed areas, and pages that take a long time to complete.

And some want a mix of both in every coloring book.

It’s why I create lots of different kinds of coloring books.

And sometimes, I combine coloring styles in one book. Then, you’ll always have something fun to color, no matter what your mood.

My “Good Vibes” coloring book is a mix. This video shows one of my more detailed designs, and how I colored it. (It was a stressful, not-enough-sleep week, and coloring was a way for me to get the tension out. I think a lot of us use coloring to help us deal with life’s little – and big – stresses.)

I’ll post more videos like this, as I color my own pages. They may give you some ideas for how you’d color them… or, hey, maybe how you wouldn’t! LOL

Also, I was using three brands of coloring pencils: Pluqis, Prismacolor, and Staedtler.

I was impressed with Pluqis. For the low price, I expected very hard leads that wouldn’t blend well.

Instead, I love them. They’re not as brilliant as Prismacolor colors, but I often use Pluqis first. Then, I add dazzle with Prismacolor coloring (lightly) over the Pluqis areas, or using Prismacolor for highlights & shadows.

Tip: Prismacolor leads can be just slippery/oily enough that it’s difficult to color over them… unless you’re using another Prismacolor pencil, that is.

So, I usually sketch in my color ideas with Pluqis, first. If I don’t bear down too heavily on the paper, I can usually color over Pluqis with Prismacolor… but not always vice versa.

Prismacolor Manga pencilsPrismacolor pencils are pretty much the top of the line for most coloring book enthusiasts. They’re soft, they blend well, and… yes, the price can be daunting. I bought their Manga set, which is priced fairly low at Amazon.com, and it includes some good, juicy brights and subtle darks.

I also use Staedtler’s bright colors (with soft leads), but – to be honest – they’re in third place. Where I used to use Staedtler, I now use Pluqis when I can.

However, I know people who consider Staedtler the absolute best among colored pencils. So, it’s probably a matter of taste. And, sometimes Staedtler is the only line with the exact color that I need.

I hope those tips help. I’ll share more creative ideas – and coloring videos – soon.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll try my Good Vibes coloring book, and let me know what you’d like more of, in the future.

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Easy Kitchen Gardens – Green Onions & Mint Cuttings

This Christmas – like last year – we started kitchen gardens for friends & family.

They’ve been a great success. (My own green onions have been thriving for over a year now. I just keep cutting them back – to use in recipes – and the plants regrow bigger & more flavorful every time.)

Today, we delivered four green onion plants (already started) as Boxing Day gifts to the four managers of the apartments where we live.

If this sounds interesting to you, here are links to the instruction sheets (PDFs) I created. They explain how to start your own kitchen garden, using items from the produce department at your grocery store.

Planting a kitchen garden from cuttings: Green onions

Planting a kitchen garden from cuttings: Mint

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Notes on Tidying Up – A First Pass with KonMari

Life-changing magic of tidying up - KonMariLike many people, I’m working my way through “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up…” by Marie Kondo, also called the “KonMari” process. It’s about decluttering, and surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy.

The process has been astonishing, and I’m still early in the process.

The following is this morning’s observation, which I shared elsewhere (in social media), but… well, you may enjoy this, too.

Clearing out, I keep stumbling onto things I’ll like but I know I’ll never use.

Or, an item that’s long past its “use by” date in the real world, but I’ve had the idea that “I might need this someday.”

Or, the reason I bought it…? Now, it’s LIGHT YEARS off my current and projected creative trajectory.

But, I’ll be honest. Letting go of the item is, on a small scale, kinda-sorta like a divorce.

The breakup itself can be difficult (or not), but the REALLY excruciating part is: letting go of the original dream.

You know… that “ooh, shiny” moment when I acquired whatever-it-is. The idea that it would be the coolest thing EVER, when I used it for… something. Often, that was some specific event or project that was part of an even larger, future vision.

And then, my life swerved in a different direction.

A direction that made more sense and turned out pretty darned cool, and I do NOT regret it.

But each new adventure on that path took me even further from the earlier vision.

So, a lot of the stuff I’m letting go of now… it was part of a rosy, “what if..?” dream. But that’s in the past.

Often, the swerve in my life happened for an external reason.

It’s WAY too easy to blame it on someone who really DID stand as an obstacle in my path, at that point. And he or she really WAS a jerk.

But, jerk or not, my life went in a different direction. And I had fun anyway.

Probably a LOT more fun than I might have had, on the previous path.

Still, some of this process is like a divorce. And it’s FAR to easy to want to hold onto that old dream (and that related, old grudge)… IF I let myself do that.

The process isn’t easy, but it’s healthy. And, by releasing those mini-anchors to the past, I’m allowing myself to move forward with less holding me back.

For me, THAT’s what this is about.

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