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Posts Tagged ‘Creativity Tips’

Are you interested in participating in a collaborative Sketchbook Project? Check out this post by Mari over at CreateWriteNow.com for details of an exciting opportunity for creative journalers.

Attention all creative journalers! Your art journals, travelogues, memoirs, to-do lists, short stories and other masterpieces are wanted to join a traveling exhibit with the Brooklyn Art Library.

The Sketchbook Project , created by Brooklyn-based company Art House, is a global collaborative art project that encourages anyone – writers, artists, accountants, mechanics, chefs, children, you! – to take a blank sketchbook, fill it with personal thoughts, designs and emotions, then return it by January 15 to be included in a traveling exhibition and permanent collection. Talk about journaling on a global scale!

Here are the basic rules:

  1. Anyone, anywhere in the world can participate (“This project is for anyone who craves an outlet for that undeniable creative bug.”). Thousands of people participate each year, and every sketchbook is a unique piece of art.
  2. It costs $25 to join the Sketchbook Project (and $30 more to digitize your book and make it available to anyone around the world – books receive half a million viewers each year), which includes a custom-designed 5×7, 32-page sketchbook made in Portland, Oregon.
  3. To participate in the 2013 exhibition, you need to send your completed sketchbook back by January 15, 2013. It will then go on tour, hitting cities across North America, including San Francisco, Austin, Toronto, Chicago and Atlanta. Your book will keep in touch from the road, sending you an email or text message updating you on its journey.
  4. Your sketchbook will then take up residence in the Brooklyn Art Library’s permanent collection and play an important part in journaling history.

Interested in participating in the Sketchbook Project this year or in the future? What kind of journal would you create? Share your thoughts in the comments, and read more about the project

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Another one of the journals I worked on in the Journey of Journals project and returned home and I am able to post photos of the pages I created as well as the few pages that were in the journal when I received it. The theme of this journal was Strength.

Note: if you right-click any of the images and select View Image, you will be able to see a larger, more detailed image.

The journal is handmade with a vibrant fabric wrapped around paper signatures that are stitched into the fabric. Paula, the journal’s creator, did a beautiful job of connecting her imagery to the journal’s design.

The theme of this journal was strength. Paula's intro page included a small envelope for everyone to include their name.

Her first spread is a mixed-media illustration. I love how she used different patterns and textures to create the design. The layering of items gives the pages a sense of depth and history.

Paula's second spread is layered with rich, vibrant colors and images.

My spread was created by altering a photo of a wolf I took at the International Wolf Center in MN. The image was printing on plain paper using an ink jet printer. I used a translucent, white, iridescent paint on the photo to give the image an otherworldly glow. Inks were added to the dark areas to increase contrast.

Another photo from my visit to the wolf center was used for my second spread. Multiple paint and gel medium layers were used to give the photo a painterly effect.

You can view the Strength journal in its entirety at the following link: Paula’s Journal.

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I’ve been dabbling in photography as an adjunct to art journals and sketching. I struggle with creating technically correct photographs, but a recent experiment yielded some interesting images that didn’t require me to be technically perfect. The subject was a dull, winter, Kentucky landscape, that would be boring, even if taken by a professional photographer. With a little help from Photoshop, I was able to transform these lifeless photos into something artistic.

These landscape blurs were created by moving my camera while exposing the shot. Using Adobe Photoshop to edit the images, I pumped up the color to enhance the otherwise dull images and the results are more art than photography. The real surprise was the rich textures and colors that appeared when I pushed the colors beyond safe levels.

I can see using this technique to create rich colorful backgrounds in future art journals or as a base for a collage or mixed-media art. If you have used this technique in one of your art journals or artwork, I’d love to know more about your project.

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Finshed page in my affirmation journal.

The first page in my affirmation journal created with a laser printer transfer, marker and watercolor.

I have been wanting to experiment with transferring a laser printer image into a journal using solvents for a while. Since the weather is warmer, and I am able to work outside, I decided to start my newest journal creation, an affirmation journal, using this technique. The Ecosystem sketchbook paper seemed appropriate for this method with its bright white paper. Even though it is not as thick as the paper in a Moleskine sketchbook, it has a more porous surface and I thought it might take a transfer well.

On the first page of this journal I wanted to include a message that would express the overall theme of the journal and I wanted to create it primarily with text. Since my handwriting is awful, I created an illustration in my drawing program that would fit the page. Once I had a design I was happy with, I printed it out backwards, as a mirror image, so the transfer would read correctly when complete. Once I had my laser print out, all I would need to do is place it face down on the journal page and apply a solvent to the back of the print out to dissolve the laser ink so it would print on the journal page.

Laser Printer Transfer in an Ecosystem Sketchbook

In order for the transfer to read properly on the page, I had to print my image out backwards on my laser printer. I placed this image face-down on the journal page to make the transfer.

I used  lacquer thinner to make the transfer. It is pretty nasty stuff and should only be used outdoors or in a well ventilated area. This substance is not for everyone and if you are chemically sensitive, I would recommend that you avoid this technique.

Laser printer transer

I blotted the solvent on the backside of the laser print until I could clearly see the image below. I used a fair amount of pressure to be sure I was making good contact with the journal page. In some areas, I burnished the image while the paper was still damp for a stronger transfer. Once the solvent dries, the wet areas disappear.

Laser printer transfer in a journal

To check my progress, I carefully lifted the paper to see how the transfer was being applied. I was careful to hold the paper in place to keep it lined up with the image.

When making the transfer, I applied the solvent using a paper towel and blotted the back of the paper until I could see the image clearly through the back. I found that burnishing the image while the solvent was still damp improved the depth of color. I did this slowly and checked my work frequently by lifting the laser print to see how well the transfer was being applied.

Laser printer transfer being embellished with marker and watercolor.

I added watercolor and marker to the transfer to complete the image.

Once the transfer was complete, I added a watercolor silhouette of my hand to relate to the hand on the cover and provide a subtle transition to the interior pages. This caused the paper to buckle a bit, but I did expect this since the paper is sketch paper and not watercolor paper. You can see the cover image I created in an earlier post here. To complete the illustration, I darkened the color of the large letters to add color and contrast to the image.

Final touches on the laser printer transfer.

I added marker to the large letters for additonal color and contrast.

Final transfers using this method will be somewhat fuzzy and will never look as clear as the original. But this can be used to create images that look stamped or aged and adds an interesting effect to your art. It can be combined with other elements to give your designs a unique and professional look, and is worth experimenting with if you are looking for new ways to create art.

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I have heard from many of you who are uncomfortable starting an art journal who are worried that your ideas and first sketches are ugly or unattractive. If you experience this, don’t worry! They all start out that way. An art journal is all about the process and not every page in your journal is destined to be a work of fine art. If you focus on the process and forget about the final result, you will enjoy art journaling more and your journals will be filled with unique and interesting art that is meaningful and thought-provoking.

I thought it would be interesting to show the steps I take when illustrating a page in my art journal so you could see the process. This 2-page spread is from a journal on abundance I am in the process of working on. If you compare it to the final illustration at the end of the post, you will find it is only a rough representation of the final image.

Art Journaling Abundance in Moleskine Watercolor Journal

This is the rough, pencil sketch for the abundance concept. Notice the images and text is loose and incomplete, only there to indicate position. This sketch will be painted over or erased during the process of journaling. It is only a guide that can be changed as the illustration progresses.

Many beautiful journal pages start as dirty-looking, gray scratchings on the page. In my journal, I started with rough pencil sketches. Notice that these are not perfect little drawings, just basic images and indications of what I see in my head.

Art Journaling Abundance

I used more precise pencil lines as a guide to cut the shape of the reflections from the tape. The lines were dark enough to be visible through the tape.

Once the rough sketch was in place, I started to make the pencil lines more detailed. Since I wanted to create glare on the water that would be white in the final piece, I had to find a way to make these areas white. Since I didn’t want to add white paint, I decided to use masking tape to mask the areas I wanted to be white. This protected the paper from paint, creating white areas wherever tape was used. Using the pencil lines as a guide, I cut the tape and removed the tape on areas that were to be painted. Once these areas were taped, I could paint background colors that had a continuous flow, giving a more uniform appearance.

Art Journaling Abundance

You need to exercise care when cutting masking tape that has been place on your paper. If you cut too deep, you could go through the paper or paint might collect in the small cut you made. If you are new to this, you might want to practice on a scrap piece of paper to see how much pressure you will need to cut to the correct depth.

Removing the tape requires some patience and care. If you are hasty, the surface of the paper will be removed. If this happens, don’t worry, it can be concealed if it causes a problem. In many cases, it is simply not visible in the final product.

Art Journaling Abundance masking

Use care when removing the tape. If you pull too hard or too fast, you may remove the surface of the paper. The pencil marks can be erased once the tape is removed so they don't show through the paint washes.

Once the reflections had been masked, I filled in the background with a blue wash with varied tones. To make it more interesting, I made the lower left corner much darker. This would draw the eye from the lower left into the center of the image where is was much brighter.

After the background was dry, I carefully removed the masking tape to reveal the white reflections.

Art Journalng Abundance watercolor

I painted the background while the masking tape was in place for a smooth, consistent look. Once the tape was removed, the background and fishes contrast with the white reflections. Although I tried to be careful removing the tape, I did manage to pull some of the paper up, but the watercolor paint covered my mistake without a problem, so you really don't notice it. If you right-click the image and choose View Image, you can see a larger version of the image.

I used a metallic pen to write the text I had roughed out on the original pencil sketch. I chose metallic pen to simulate the reflections on the water and to give the piece a little bit of flash. I used a cursive text to mimic the shape of the reflections. By doing this, your eye is tricked and it is not obvious at first glance that this is writing.

Art Journaling Metallic Pen

I used metallic pen to simulate the reflections in the water. I didn't want the words to be obvious at first. The cursive style was used to mimic the shape of the reflections.

The final art, while far from detailed or visually accurate, communicates the graphic, figurative image I wanted.

Art Journaling "Reflections of Abundance" in a Moleskine Watercolor Journal.

The final illustration is titled Reflections of Abundance and is just another set of pages in my abundance journal. I like the upward movement and the flow of golden fishes and it encourages me to continue the journey on the next page.

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Apply Strict Restrictions and Limitations on Your Project to Expand Your Creativity
While the conventional wisdom tells us that creativity comes from thinking outside the box, limiting your project to a specific theme, range of colors or style can bring on a creative explosion. The act of limiting your process to a narrow focus will require that you expand the way you think about your project and can lead to discovering new ways of doing things.

What would happen if you had to illustrate the sun 50 times and all 50 had to be different? The first few would be easy, and you could probably create 10 simply by changing your mediums. But what would you do to create the other 40? How would you change your image of the sun to make it different?

By doing this type of exercise regularly, your creativity will expand and you will find new and exciting ways of creating art that you wouldn’t otherwise find. If you really want to put your creativity to the test, try limiting your project even more with an additional restrictions such as drawing the sun in 50 different ways using only pen & ink.

I used the alphabet and a Moleskine Sketchbook as limitations in one project and I found that I embraced some new mediums and some of my illustrations were completely out of character. I also discovered that I enjoyed modifying the sketchbook almost as much as I liked creating the art.  It was really an enlightening experience.

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