Four ways art journaling made me a better artist

Four ways art journaling made me a better artist

 

If you have been reading my blog long enough you will know I am a big advocate for art journalling. It is my paper brain filled with all the ramblings in my head be it my grocery list of my art ideas. It is the way I aggregate my thoughts overall.

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But I tell you, journaling was not always something I was driven to do. Hell, I find I even resist it to this day. But honestly most of the time as thoughts and ideas bubble up, I jones for that quiet time with just me, my favorite pen and my book.

Now granted many people have little note books for notes. I began moving my note to my an art journal because it was easier to keep everything in one place. As I began to slowly add little bits of art and ephemera to that book, the magic of art journaling began to evolve.

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So today I thought I would share with you the top 4 most awesome things I have experience because of art journaling.

 

Through art journaling, my signature art style started to emerge.

How could it not when everyday I was adding just a little bit here and there. It is the repetition that made that style second nature. I have no doubt that style will evolve over time. But by journaling I became more comfortable with all areas of creating and expressing through color snap and texture.

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I became brave enough to just use my supplies with out fear of “messing up”.

It is not that I became more skilled, I became more fearless. Anyone who has any kind of stash of creative supplies, knows what I am talking about

 

I increased my productivity.

Because I can hammer out my work in my journal, I am able to think through so many stages of my work  before I began. In 2001, I taught a computer design class at my alma mater. Much to the chagrin of half my students, I required them to keep a sketchbook. On the day of finals, they had to execute a design and turn in the thumbnails and rough sketches along with the final. Half the class did thumbnails after the design thinking they could save time skipping this step, the other half did sketches before the design (I can tell but the amount of ideas that did not make the cut). The half that took the time to do the sketch work first, finished way faster than the half that did not.

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I will alway have ideas to unhinge creative blocks.

I would like to think I have a grasp on all my awesome creative ideas. But with only so many hours in a day/week/year, some of those awesome ideas get back burnered and eventually forgotten. I do not know how many times I have gone back through my books to discover a long forgotten idea whose time has come to be set into motion. It is almost uncanny how looking through is almost as if I am reading someone else art journal. Seeing all the old information with fresh eyes, changed by the perspective of time can yield insane new creative sparks. It is almost like a little gift from my past self.

I am sharing with you my journal video from a year ago. I go through my books and share how simple, messy and forgiving my books can be.

 

So my question for you is…of course…do you journal your ideas? If so do you do any kind of art journaling, or is it mostly notes? Leave me a comment below. and if you like this post please share!

Want to get started art journaling?

 

 

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Learn the basics of how I like to art journal. What tools I use, how I like to work, and 23 of my favorite art techniques for you to try.

 

 

What will your art look like in 2016?

What will your art look like in 2016?

How did we get to the end of the year so fast? Oh… right, I am preoccupied with moving my life across state. And moving across state is filled with an insane number of unknowns. Where we will live? Will I be able to have my studio in my home or will I need to find space? What will my day look like? It is pretty exciting, but completely maddening as it is time for me to plan for my 2016.

While purging through my studio stuff, I found this little journal filled with plans for 2012. As I sifted though my dreams from 4 years ago, I was surprised to see how many of them came to fruition. Of course many of them evolved into new forms as I worked through implementation. But the reality is, I did it!! I completed so many of the goals I had set forth when I first decided to really get to the heart of what I wanted to achieve not just for my business, but for me to be a happy working artist. And I did it! Not in a year…but by reconnecting with my core desired feelings each year for four years and adjusting my plans to align with those desires, I was able to follow through on so many big goals.

It was through my planning in this journal, that I knew I wanted to be more than just a yarn dyer. It was here I discovered what I really want was to be a fiber artist and to help other creatives see their crochet, knitting and spinning as fiber art as well. Many of those ideas ideas became blog articles, in fact it was that year that I decided to send my newsletter weekly. It was in this journal, where I decided to venture into video. It was here where I started to compile the list of patterns that work with hand made yarn (which eventually became my 115 ways ebook)

It was this particular page that made my heart swell with pride.

Be an Artist, The artist you are,

Gluten Free Guide ( maybe will happen…probably not…)

30 Days of Encouragement for Knitters

True Guide to Creativity

All of these ideas? (okay minus the gluten free thing) Became the 30 Day Art Journal Challenge. It was not the physical content I originally planned, but the heart and feelings behind the 30 day art journal challenge is exactly what I was aiming for.

There are times when I feel like I am spinning my wheels (oh boy and this move has been a crazy wrench in the wheels). But looking back I can see how consistency was key to following through. Yep I did not execute the plans perfectly. Yep they ideas evolved to fit the core desires, and some ideas took way longer to implement. But It is there. It is done. And you know what? my heart about my work is still the same. And some ideas from 2012 that I did not complete are definitely worth revisiting.

So this is actually the way I have been planning my year in business and for my art for the last 4 years. And it is what I am doing again throughout the month of December. Because even if my 2016 is full of unknowns connected with  huge new life waiting for me, I can with out a doubt know that when it comes to my art, and my business, and why I want to connect with you guys will be the same.

So here is how it will all go down:

No need to think huge, just significant TO YOU.

Yearly planning is not just for those looking to become a fiber arts rock star. It can be as simple as tackling a new knitting technique, making sure you get in a set amount of time to enjoy your knitting weekly, or promising yourself to knit 48% of your stash (because 50% might be taking things a little to far…) These are all very important goals, because they matter to you and where you want to go creatively.

Looking back and looking forward.

I learned this from Leonie Dawson’s Creating Your Shining Year Workbooks. It is crazy important when planning for your new year to take inventory of your prior year to right now. Your prior year holds so much awesome information about why you are creating your 2015 creative goals. I know for me personally, it can be painful looking at the parts that were not good. But being able to carry what I learned in 2015 makes my 2016 goals that much more laser focused.

What are your core feelings? 

Danielle La Porte has a great book, Desire Map, that dives deeper into taking action based on how you want to feel. And I have to say ,especially for creative work, it is so important to look at how you want your plans to make you feel. ACCOMPLISHED, for having tackled a difficult technique. BLISS, because you have been spending a full afternoon a week just knitting. ENERGIZED, because you have so many new freeform crochet ideas.

Once you have a goal in mind, what are the steps?

There may not be many steps. But it is super important to think it through completely. For example, if my goal is to knit for 30 minutes everyday, then what do I need to make that happen? Pull together a portable bag? Create a special inviting space at home? Start a lunch time Stitch and Bitch at work? Line up some projects to work on for the first 3 months?

Schedule those steps.

This is probably the most important step. Break out the calendar and SCHEDULE THE STEPS IN. Even if you are scheduling things for October 2016. If it is not in your calendar, then you have NOT made time for it. Don’t just assume it will happen when you can fit it in. Fit it in now. Besides, you may see that, realistically, you might need to consider smaller chunks. Just remember, even if you are scheduling a super baby step, super baby steps are still moving you forward, and that is awesome.

I invite you to join me in planning for your most creatively fulfilling 2016, no matter what that looks like for you. I have personally used Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year Workbooks for the last 4 years. And after looking at my goals from 4 years ago, I can actually track how this consistency has worked for me. Leonie’s brilliant workbooks guide you through some probing questions and helps to really build a solid plan. You can order digital or spiral bound versions of those workbooks here.

So what do you want for yourself and your art in 2016? Leave me a comment below or shoot me and email.

Full disclosure:

The links to Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year Workbooks, and Danielle La Porte’s Desire Map Book are both affiliate links. I only recommend products I completely stand behind and have personally used. These two products totally rock my world.

Make Magic. Make Art Everyday.

Make Magic. Make Art Everyday.

 

The other day I decided to watch the documentary Muscle Shoals on Netflix. For the most part the only reason this movie was even on my radar, was I grew up about two hours East of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and my Girl Scout troop took a tour of the infamous recording studio in the 70s. And while it was fascinating to see how many famous musicians came to this tiny little studio in an unlikely Alabama town to record, what really struck me was the incredible talent behind of the studio’s session musicians.

 

 

 

They were just every day people with the day job playing music.

And while the session musicians all seemed so very humble, in the movie, the rocks stars were all in praise of how tight and on point the Muscle Shoals session musicians were. When interviewed the session musicians would humbly say we play music together every day, we work on a lot of recordings together. So basically these guys were saying straight up practice makes perfect. These guys weren’t focused on the branding, they weren’t focused on their fans, or tour dates. As session musicians, their job was to go into the studio every day play music and go home. In short these musicians became as good as they were because the focus was on making the music and doing work.

To become good at your art, you have to do the work.

As I’ve written here over the last 10 months, I have found the best way to build your art is the show up daily and do the work. That is exactly what the session musicians of the Muscle Shoals studio did. Know I have to admit being an artist, 50% of my time is spent on the business of being an artist, like marketing, branding and list building. But when it comes to really growing my art, there is no short cuts to getting in the studio and making art. Growing you art means making the mistakes, trying things over and over again, solving problems, learning from mistakes, making the good ideas bigger.

I know it is easy to get caught up in the idea of being an artist

But to really become a better artist, get in the studio and work it like it is you day job. Today on the blog, I posted a frightening manifesto of doing art everyday. Be it weaving, journals or painting. Diving in to a big scary commitment of documenting my art every day journey. Periscope, Instagram and blog posts. I am committing to it September 1. Gulp.

 

So want to join me? A good place to start is with the 30 day art journal challenge.

I send out daily emails with encouragement and tips to get your journal practice going. I have just made this a rolling offering, meaning when ever you sign up, is when the challenge will start for you. It also includes a private FB group to share triumphs, get encouragement and answer questions.

 

 

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Sign up for the 30 Day art journal challenge. I promise it will change the way you make create.

 

The Busy Girl’s Quick Guide to New Art Ideas

The Busy Girl’s Quick Guide to New Art Ideas

I know you are way too busy to make art. I know I am… and I don’t have kids. So, I know I probably have more time on my hands than you do. But, I am hard pressed to find time to generate new art ideas even though making fiber art IS MY JOB!!

As creative people, innovation is something we crave. Am I right?

Here’s the thing.

 

The right brain is pretty awesome at working in the background.

It resides in the same place as your dreams–in your subconscious. So, as a creative person, it is not that you don’t have time to come up with new ideas, you really just don’t have time to pull them out of your right brain.

What you really need is to stream line the way you harvest ideas for your work

So, here is a quick guide to organizing the way you generate new art ideas:

 

Letting ideas fester.

To let your right brain work, you need to get your left brain out of the way. Ever have a solution to a problem miraculously appear after you have set it aside? It is because that idea was rattling around in your subconscious. The subconscious is part of your right brain. What we want to do is take the framework of an idea, set it in you subconscious and forget it. Let your subconscious do the hard work of fleshing that idea out. To get that right brain a little in line to do the work (which is akin to wrangling children), take 3 minutes to journal your creative intention using as many feeling words as possible. For example I might wright down:

“I want to create a textural sweater, that is not too flashy, but makes me feel cozy, has a focal point that feels like a wounded heart. Melancholy, minimal, beautifully simple and some how sweet. That looks awesome on me and matches my favorite grey skirt.”

I might also add some stream of conscious descriptions, maybe mention a sweater I saw on someone that I loved. The more feeling words the better, since the right brain is all about your emotions as well. Take no more than 3 minutes. Put that entry away, and forget about it.

Slow down moments and observe.

Observing your everyday life will feed that subconscious. I know it feels counterintuitive to ask you to slow down when you have a busy day. What I really mean is something like this:

  • Wow, look at what the kids are wearing as they pour out of the school {while you are in the carpool line}.
  • Holy cow did you see the great shade of green on the new cereal package in the grocery isle…and was that shopper really wearing slippers?
  • This morning as I got in the car, the air was warm, but the wind felt cool around the edges.

Now, remember we were forgetting our creative idea and letting it fester. All these observations may have nothing to do with your original idea. All this info is like adding pins to Pinterest. You never know how these observations will manifest in your work, you are just collecting all those beautiful little bits that catches any one of your senses.

Living creatively.

Turn up the creativity on little bits of your everyday. Emphasis on little bits!  For example:

  • Change the pen in your purse to a colorful one that you love.
  • Add a new flavor from your spice rack to your standard weekly dinner.
  • Check off your to do list with a star instead of an X.
  • Pull that scarf you have always meant to wear and f**king WEAR IT with your tshirt and jeans.

See nothing big, here. We are just taking baby steps to exercising your right brain.

Document ideas as the bubble up.

I use my art journal as my filofax, so I always have it with me to document ideas as my right brain spits them out. And, again, like wrangling a child, there is no rhyme or reason when theses “creative downloads” might happen. The key to wrangling an idea is to record them as they happen. Because, like trying to remember dreams, they will be gone in an instant, once your left brain takes over again.  So, other than an art journal, you can

  • Use your iPhone to voice record, take a picture, type a quick note
  • Jot them down on a napkin scrap of paper what ever

Be sure to put all these little bits of ideas IN ONE PLACE, be it your art journal, an app on your iPhone, or a file folder or box with all the bits of paper and napkins.

So what about our textural melancholy sweater idea?

If the creative download has not arrived on its own after a week or two, schedule a little bit of time for yourself to revisit your idea with a right brain activity like journaling or drawing. Make sure it is something you consider fun and look forward to. You do not want this creative time to feel like an obligation. And like kid wrangling, don’t spend a lot of time doing so–20-30 minute will do nicely, unless you really have the luxury of time and it is just way too fun to stop.

The key is scheduling the time.

As a busy person, you know, if an appointment or event is not on your calendar, it is like it doesn’t exist.

If your creative idea is still not fleshing out, do not fret. Just move on to the next idea. Trust that if an idea is meant to manifest, it will come to you in it’s own time. Go gently and keep feeding your right brain with more delicious beautiful bits of your everyday life. Because this is what art really is.

Want to learn how to start keeping an art journal like mine? It is hands down the most important art idea generating tool I own. And it has been key to organizing my ideas in a way that saves me SOOO much time.

 

Join me! The 30 day art journal challenge will start April 1.

I send out daily emails with encouragement and tips to get your journal practice going.

 

Registration closed March 29th. Join me!!

 

 

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Sign up for the 30 Day art journal challenge.
I promise it will change the way you create.

 

Your Life is Art

Your Life is Art

When I moved to Asheville, I had high hopes of immersing myself in the art scene that Asheville is known for.

I enjoyed the Birmingham art scene so much, and was convinced the Asheville scene would be off the charts. I have dabbled in art all of my life. Clay, mosaic, mixed media, bookmaking, batik, metal. I have tried so may things. But, one day, after watching me jump from one medium to another, my friend Robin patiently said “Just pick a medium and stick with it.” Such a simple sentence, that just nailed exactly what was blocking my diving deeper into my creativity.

I needed to focus, get out of my own way and just do the work.

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Once I arrived in Asheville, I was just not clicking with the local art scene. Truth be told, since moving here, I really have not found the comradery that I had with the Birmingham art scene. Thankfully, that did not stop me from creating. In fact I was creating more once I found my comradery through the internet. First with my knitting, designing my own sweaters, then with spinning and dyeing my own yarn.

I did not start out knitting to make art.

I was moving to the mountains in the middle of winter and needed warm clothes. By incorporating my love for knitting into my everyday routine, I began getting comfortable enough in that routine to explore the creative side of knitting and making yarn.

Believe me, I have made a lot of mistakes and ugly sweaters and scarves. I have studied every technique book I could get my hands on. I started a Stitch and Bitch to bounce ideas off of fellow knitters. And I blogged to share with other knitters and spinners outside of my community. I used to feel self conscience telling other artists that my medium was knitting. I make wearables.

I thought wearables were not hip enough or avant garde enough to be called art.

 

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It was that daily routine that grew into a passion, which in turn grew into an art.

 

I was surprised that my path led me to be a fiber artist (I love claiming that title, I thought my medium would have been clay). It was that routine that cracked open my creativity. Exploring my creativity through knitting every chance I could get grew my confidence to claim my title as fiber artist. But, it could have been any other everyday creation instead of knitting. Cooking, sewing, gardening, canning, scrapbooking, home decor, kids crafts. They are all opportunities for creative expression.

 

You do not need to work in a traditional medium like painting or sculpture to claim the title of artist.

 

I remember in middle school, they changed the name of our Home Economics class to Home Arts. Art has the potential to be present in everyday creations if you let it. Here in Asheville, there has been a growing local foods movement. Chefs are exploring creative new ways to make really good food trying to keep the resources local, organic and sustainable. I dare anyone to say it has not become quite an art. With recognitions from notable publications, tourists are flocking here in great numbers in part because of these innovations.

So, I invite you to let go of your ideas about what art is, recognize the creative spirit in what you do everyday.

 

Your. life. is. art.

One way I practice art every day is to keep an art journal. I posted a video of my art journal pages here. The trick is to keep using your art journal as your visual sounding board for all you passing ideas, and time to yourself to just play with art be it cheap watercolor tins, doodling, or just pasting stuff. Every now and then I challenge myself to do so for 30 days straight.

 

So want to join me? The 30 day art journal challenge will start February 1.

I send out daily emails with encouragement and tips to get your journal practice going.

 

Registration closed Today (January 28th)Join me!!

 

30AJC header
Sign up for the 30 Day art journal challenge. I promise it will change the way you make create.

Wanna See Some Art Journal Pages?

Wanna See Some Art Journal Pages?

I thought I would show you some art journal pages from my large collection of books today. I know that sometimes beginning that first art journal page can be so freaking intimidating. I want to change your mind about what an art journal can be and help you understand how I use my art journal to help me stay creative.

ALL of my creative ideas start in my art journal.

It is the first thing we learn to do in art class when I was in college. It is how I hammered out many many graphic designs over the years. It has also helped me expanded my knitting from hobby knitter to knitwear designer and fiber artist.

It is the most important fiber art tool I own.

So, head on over to my YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe, I have some big plans for many more awesome videos this year. I have listed some of the resources I mentioned in the video below.

That spectacular handmade water color journal can be found here.

I have my own line of journals I had made especially for the art journal challenge. Find them here and here.

DIYfish is an wonderful resource for filofax calendar pages that I used in my book.

Moleskine also makes an awesome watercolor journal.

The trick is to keep using your art journal as your visual sounding board for all you passing ideas, and time to yourself to just play with art be it cheap watercolor tins, doodling, or just pasting stuff. Every now and then I challenge myself to do so for 30 days straight.

 

So want to join me? The 30 day art journa challenge will start February 1.

I send out daily emails with encouragement and tips to get your journal practice going.

 

Registration closed January 28th. Join me!!

30AJC header
Sign up for the 30 Day art journal challenge. I promise it will change the way you make create.