MCBA Visual Journal Collective July Meeting Reminder

Join us on Monday, July 20, 2015 from 7-9 p.m. for Playing with Backgrounds!

When is the last time you played? Really played with no thought as to the outcome but just enjoying the process, the surprises, and a few laughs? We all need more play and a journal is the perfect place to play with art and not-so-art materials. Tonight we will play with traditional and non-traditional materials and explore a multitude of ways to playfully (experimentally) create a journal page or journal background. When we have created a playful sheet (or two) I will show how to turn a single sheet of paper into a simple book structure, instantly making our playful fun into background color for journaling or sketches.

A quick list of some of the items in my basket for Monday night: shaving cream, bubbles, acrylic ink, tape, mini misters, watercolors, alcohol, permanent markers and watercolor paper…

Interested? Intrigued? Join us on Monday night as we explore the playful side of applying color to page. Bring your current journal to play in and share from, along with an open attitude and the knowledge that things may get messy, which means at least part of our fun is so messy it will be outside.

As always the Visual Journal Collective is open to any and all adult journal keepers at every level and ability.  This means from the merely curious to the life long artist.  I look forward to playing with you on Monday night!

June MCBA Visual Journal Collective Meeting Recap

Our June meeting of the Visual Journal Collective was our annual build your summer reading list event, where members bring in an art or journal related book to share and something that they created inspired by the book.  It was a great meeting with many new to me titles and a handful of interesting YouTube channels to check out this summer while you are relaxing and creating.

Tom W shared with us a collection of YouTube channels on life drawing, bookbinding, and plien air painting that he has found to be informative and entertaining. Here are his top six channels to check out:


  1. James Gurney Channel. James Gurney is a professional illustrator; he has many short videos grouped by topic on sketching in watercolor, gouache, casein, and sketching on location.
  2. Proko.  Proko is a channel with many videos on life drawing and anatomy for artists.  All are quite nicely done, some are available free and others are sold as premium with more instruction and information.
  3. New Master’s Academy. This seems to be an online art academy with paid passes and online classes.  Tom recommended the timed life drawing sessions (both nude and clothed options available) in addition to some free instructional videos.
  4. Bookbinder’s Chronicle : A professional bookbinder with videos on traditional binding techniques, also has a blog of the same name, bookbinderschronicle.blogspot
  5. Sage Reynolds: another professional bookbinder with book and box related videos
  6. Peter Baumgartner: Lots of bookbinding related videos.

IMAG2059Marsha M brought in John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” along with her wonderful and ongoing journal project to recreate the illustrations of all the Minnesota birds in her Kona paper sketchbook using a limited color palette. Her bird drawings are wonderful and it is interesting to see the project as it progresses each month.

Theresa H says that children’s books are a frequent source of inspiration for her. She finds the interesting layered and collaged illustrations by Dave McKean in the book “The Day I SwappedIMAG2063 my Dad for 2 Goldfish” to be particularly exciting.  She found that she began to try and layer found sheets, images, paint, and text in her journal like the multilayered images in the book.  Theresa also finds fellow group member Briana’s fearless work in color, mark making, and pattern to be inspiring

Mary shared a “Pictographic Index 1” by Hans Lijklema with interviews of graphic designers and examples of their work.  As a graphic designer herself she finds this sort of book interesting and inspiring for her job and exciting to cut apart and use in her journal later because she finds them in the sale bin at Half Price Books IMAG2064and likes to reuse the images after she has finished reading the book.

Carina brought in “An Illustated Life” by Danny Gregory.  She says the different styles of drawing and journal keeping to be freeing when she is feeling stuck in her own work.

Gail shared “A World of Artist Journal Pages” by Dawn Sokol.  She says she loves paging through IMAG2065and seeing all the different pages especially since they are more art journal page than sketchbook page.  And she freely admits that the idea of drawing more is possible but no really her thing.

Molly also shared the same artist journal pages book as Gail, which she says is always a favorite because she can look through the pages, see something she knows she can do, and be excited to try it in her own work. Molly had several other books (see images below) with her to share, being a self-admitted art book enthusiast.Screen shot 2015-07-04 at 9.52.56 AM


Molly also shared examples from her index card a day project that she is working on. Her layered colors and visual textures are wonderful.

Jean S showed us the quirky illustrations and philosophical text in the book “The Principles of Uncertainty” by Myra Kalman. She finds inspiration in the fearless drawing style and inclusions of deep writing. She shared examples from her own journal where a quirky image is paired with text.Screen shot 2015-07-04 at 9.53.18 AM

Briana G has been exploring mark making and is beginning to feel drawn into textile art as her next thing, which is very exciting. Her playful use of color and bold mark making pattern will make Screen shot 2015-07-04 at 9.53.31 AMdelightful fabrics and textile art. Her book recommendations reflect her shift toward textiles and exploration of pattern and fabrics. Her book list included: “Intentional Printing” by Lynn Krawczyk for its detailed information on printing techniques for fabrics, “Drawn to Stitch” by Gwen Headley, and “Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers” by Kay Greenlees. She has also been following the work of Dorothy Caldwell, a textile artist, online.

 Manida has been revisiting a book that she has had on the shelf for a while and using it to help her build a new website and online store to sell her work. She recommends “The Handmade Marketplace” by Kari Chapin. The book goes into the business side of selling your art or crafts online. It contains information on pricing, including IMAG2086useful formulas to help you arrive at a price that covers your costs and gives you a profit, website construction and layout, forming your company, navigating the online marketplace, and marketing your work.

She also recommended “Etsy-preneurship” by Jason Malinak. His book goes into information on turning your handmade goods into a thriving Etsy business with a focus on the business side. He covers taxes, managing money, bookkeeping tasks, and other topics related to making a thriving business out of your creative work. There is also a website by the same name with tips and tools on IMAG2084creating an Etsy business that is successful from your art. Some of the information is free but Mr. Malinak is also running a business and his site reminds you frequently (with irritating popups) that with payment or membership you can get more of his information.

You can check out all the work Manida has been doing on her site here.

My recommendation for the group was “Making Color Sing” by Jeanne Dobbie. I love her information on color mixing, how well she shows that white is never white, and her use of neutrals in a painting. She also has tutorials and good/bad examples on value use and composition which are very helpful whether your are making a painting or a journal page.

I hope you find a book or two that you may want to check out for yourself. I know I am waiting for my library requests to come in so I can explore some of these great finds in person, and I am sure several of these will find a way onto my studio book shelf soon.

Our July meeting is coming up fast. We have two possible topics right now as I am still waiting to hear back from a potential guest speaker. More news to follow soon.

Derailed but Beginning Again

The last two years have been quite a ride, much of it downhill and too fast, in this rickety cart I am calling my life. I am now at the bottom of the hilly place standing at the side of the cart that I was calling my life two years ago, looking at the destruction and trying to decide how best to put everything back in place.  Some of the wheels fell off, some of the wheels I took off, some wheels are lost, and now I am in a place to move on and reconstructing the cart feels daunting.
I am stopping myself.
Life has stabilized from all the changes and there is only me in the way. I know this and it is still hard. It is still so easy to be “busy”, to be “stressed”, to make excuses that sound reasonable but that are in fact making me miserable. I have decided I am determined to move forward.  Determined to have an art filled and happy life again.
To do this I must refocus my time.  I must stop looking at the art that I want to do as frosting but instead as the meal, the sustenance that I need to live my life. I know that that is when I am happy.  I must not allow myself any more excuses.
I must make art.
For me.

November Swap Meet at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective, November 17, 2014
The Art Supply Swap Meet for the MCBA Visual Journal Collective is this month’s meeting. Join us on November 17, 2014 from 7 to 9 p.m. to swap and silently auction all manner of art materials and art related items.

It’s time to clean your studio, craft cupboard, or art journal bin to hunt down the items you no longer use, hate now that you own, or just don’t want the mental pressure of having sit around and not being used any more so they can be swapped out for an fresh new item that is exciting and fresh.
Plan to arrive a little before 7 p.m. if you have stuff you want to swap or auction. Member Jean Shannon will run the meeting. She will explain the procedure to everyone when the meeting gets under way at 7, but basically there will be tables for you to put your “free” stuff (things you want people to take off your hands) and tables for you to set up stuff you want to silent auction. (There will be sign up bidding sheets for the latter.)

What to Bring:
Art supplies and tools you no longer use but which may still be useful to someone else—so partially full paint tubes and jars of medium, lightly used brushes, pencils sets you’ve outgrown, partially used rolls of unprimed (or primed) canvas…
Art magazines and books that you want to swap or auction.
Paper scraps, partially used paper pads that you know don’t suit your working method but might be fine for someone else…
Photos and dimensions (height, width, depth, and weight) of larger items like easels, desks, light boxes, lamps, etc. that you might want to auction, but don’t want to haul in and home again case someone doesn’t bid on them (owners will arrange delivery/pick up with the winning bidder). If you do have larger items and want to generate “buzz” feel free to post a picture to Facebook with a description.
Cash or checks so that you can bid on items—the shop will not be open so all transactions (and change) will have to be made between participants. (I suppose if you have one of those “squares” for your smart phone you could bring that, but you get the idea.)

What Not to Bring:
Actual junk or things that are not art or journal related. Artworks and crafts that you have made and want to sell or auction—this isn’t a sale of your artwork, this isn’t what we’ll be doing at this meeting.

About the Collective:
The MCBA Visual Journal Collective is an adult visual journaling group (we also have some members who are writers or just journal curious) that meets on the third Monday of each month. The meetings are usually free (sometimes there is a small materials fee if we are making something); they are open to adult journal keepers of all skill levels. Please come and share your ideas and journals with us.
Depending on the amount of stuff brought to the swap and the time it takes to redistribute it we’ll have some journal sharing at the end of the meeting so be sure to bring your current journal to show us what you’ve been working on. We hope to see you on November 17.

MCBA Visual Journal Collective August Meeting Reminder

sketchout 2013 images collage view
Join us on Monday, August 18, 2014 from 7-9 p.m.                                                                     for our 2nd annual sketch-out in Gold Medal Park!

Think of this event as a preparation for sketching at the Fair or as a safe way to start the fun and excitement of sketching on location rather than from your dining room table. To accomplish this task, we will be sketching in the park right across the street from MCBA, which has great river views, buildings, park stuff like trees and flowers, as well as a wide selection of walkers and bikers to draw.

We will meet in the park at 7p.m. to save time on traveling across the street as a group.  As you can see from the map at the right, the park is very close to MCBA.  There is parking available on the street near the park along 2nd Street or you may park in the lot at MCBA and walk across the street.
google map view sketchout location
What to bring:
A sketchbook or loose sheets on a backer board or drawing board to draw on.  I recommend one that is a reasonable size to easily carry, we will be outside and on the move.
Your favorite drawing supplies.  This could be the pen you are most comfortable with or this can be a tool or material that you want to try and use while sketching on the go for the first time.  Seeing as we are all sketchers you may grab some tips from a fellow sketcher on how to make it work while drawing out and about.

Nervous?  Never done this before?  Don’t think your skills are up to the task of drawing in public? BALONEY!

This is the ideal opportunity to give this sketch in public thing a try, whether it’s the first time or the thousandth time, I promise we will have a great time and you will learn something about sketching on the go.  The best part about an event like this is that you can go off on your own and fins something to draw or you can buddy up with other sketchers and not feel so weird if this is your first time.  The second best part is that we get to see everyone’s work at the end.

As always this event is free and open to all adult journal keepers of every experience level.
I am looking forward to seeing you all there!

In the event that the weather is uncooperative for an outdoor event, we will meet upstairs in Open Book room 203 rather than in our usual location in MCBA due to construction/remodeling.  Our rain-out plan will still be to sketch we will just be using technology through a session with Pixelovely or by doing a sketch scavenger hunt inside.

Step one:  glue down some torn book page for an under paint texture element.

Step one: glue down some torn book page for an under paint texture element.


Step two: Using masking tape as a way to preserve some white, with the plan to remove bits as I painted.

Step two: Using masking tape as a way to preserve some white, with the plan to remove bits as I painted.


Step three:  A splashy layer of Daniel Smith quin burnt orange.

Step three: A splashy layer of Daniel Smith quin burnt orange.


Step four:  The addition of some serpentine green while the orange is still wet, using a circle template to push the paint through to the page.

Step four: The addition of some serpentine green while the orange is still wet, using a circle template to push the paint through to the page.


Step five:  more serpentine green and some Indanthrone blue, again with the template to get some circles.

Step five: more serpentine green and some Indanthrone blue, again with the template to get some circles.


Step six:  Additional blue and green added to fill more of the page and balance the composition.  Some use of the template, some space filled with wash.  Entire page completed while each wash color was mostly wet to get blended effects.

Step six: Additional blue and green added to fill more of the page and balance the composition. Some use of the template, some space filled with wash. Entire page completed while each wash color was mostly wet to get blended effects.


Step seven:  tape removed while washes still wet and mixing, to create some white space but very few actual white tape rectangles.

Step seven: tape removed while washes still wet and mixing, to create some white space but very few actual white tape rectangles.

A journal page, one step at a time

What began as an assignment to create an abstract watercolor image became a way to document the steps in creating this page in my journal. Of course it just didn’t seem complete as just an abstract and I had to create additional page content, using the abstract as a background. I do not normally do complex background prior to drawing but the end result was fun.

MCBA Visual Journal Collective March Meeting

Join us at MCBA, MARCH 17, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 
For Journal as Escape ~ Let’s Draw Some Green

This winter has been long and intense even by normal Minnesota standards.  We have had far too much of this . . .

And it’s time for some spring!
As a collective we will discuss use of journaling and art as a means of mental escape, exploring some online options and art activities designed as get aways or are merely mental flights of fancy on paper. 
We will also have on hand a wide selection of living green and colorful plant materials that we will sketch and paint together.  We may not have them outside yet, but drawing them inside will be tons of fun I promise. It will be an evening of sharing ideas and art making.
Bring your favorite color producing art materials and a journal to work in and share!

Sketching Quick and Small

I often do not have time to sketch while I am at work, so I have started carrying a zip top baggie of sketch supplies and small squares of Fabriano paper in my bag rather than my regular book.  It cuts down on weight and it limits the space I have to sketch on which in turn limits the time factor involved.
These little papers have ben particularly fun to sketch on when I first arrive at work, sketching for only about ten minutes whatever I see out my front windshield.

My car kit – 4.5 inch squares of Fabriano paper, niji brush,
Daniel Smith watercolors, Faber-Castell pens brush and calligraphy

MCBA Visual Journal Collective – Sixth Annual Portrait Party Reminder

PITT pen size S, Strathmore Mixed Media Sketchbook

Don’t forget that Monday, January 20, 2013 is the Sixth Annual Portrait Party of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective. We’ll meet at MCBA from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

We’ll sketch a partner, and print an editioned photocopier book of all the portraits—and bind the books.  All that fun in 2.5 hours. We’ve done it before, five times, and we’ll do it again, January 20, 2013. It’s great fun and I encourage everyone to come out and draw us
with us.

All adult sketchers of any skill level are welcome. Normally our meetings are free, but for this meeting we have a $5.00 fee (exact cash or check; we don’t have a way to make change or run VISAs because the shop is closed during our meeting) to offset copying and supplies.

We need to start right on time at 7 p.m. to be sure we have enough time to fit it all in, so be sure to come early as parking can be a problem.

Bring your favorite black ink pen as pencils never copy that well. See you there.

MCBA Visual Journal Collective December Meeting

Join us at MCBA, DECEMBER 16, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 
To view the completed Not-So-Blank Page Group Project
Whether or not you participated (and whether or not you are done) in the nine-month long collaborative project to fill our custom Smash journals “The Not-So-Blank-Page-Project”— you are cordially invited to meet with us tonight for a fun simultaneous viewing party of all the pages. 

We’ll see what a page was like originally (my background empty below on the left) and then we’ll see what each member of the project did to that page (my completed journal page below on the right). 
It will be a fun evening filled with journaling surprises! 

End the year by being inspired by creative responses to the not so blank page. You’ll be all set to jump into your 2014 journal and maybe just a little relieved that this journal is complete.