We’ve had some really interesting techniques challenges so far this year. We’ve made lots of things that are beneficial in our daily art practice, we’ve learned how to mix paint and make our own unique color mix recipe book, how to make color charts of our media, how to make value scales and we’ve found our artistic voice. These are all skills that will add to your “artist tool box”. The more we know, the more we learn, the more we master techniques and theories-the more tools we have at our disposal for use in our art practice.
This weeks challenge is a bit different. This weeks challenge is to get you creating in rapid abandon. Here’s what we’re doing: We’re making a Journaling By 5’s art journal this week. I would like you to pick a theme for your journal-one that is meaningful and important to you. Here are the 15 minute segments (for a 20 page journal. Add 5 minutes per segment if you’re making a 25 page journal):
- Backgrounds. Apply paints, inks, sprays, whatever you want for your background on each of your 20 pages.
- Texture. You can add collaged items, texture paste, whatever you want-just remember, you’re flipping pages and they will be pressed together. I lay a piece of waxed paper between mine as I go if there is a particularly messy thing that’s going to transfer. Usually I try to keep my stuff pretty dry when doing a journal by 5 project.
- Pattern. You can use stamps, stencils, whatever you want to create a pattern. You can paint a pattern, use markers or paint pens and draw a pattern, add patterned paper-whatever you want.
- Focal Point. This could be an image, stickers, 3-D elements like flowers or beads, a title, a border, a metal piece, a quote, something that is important and noticed on your page.
- Details. Doodling, paint spattering, edges, paint pens, markers, inks, aging the page by swiping ink pads over it, adding highlights and shadows-whatever you need to do to finish the page happens in this segment.
- Extra 15, if needed. Finish up any segment you didn’t have time to complete, add finishing touches, trim pages and papers, whatever you need to do to complete the journal happens in this segment.
Now gather the items you need to complete this project. You will need:
- An art journal to work in.
- I have always used Dollar Tree composition books for my Journaling by 5’s projects. Here’s how:
- I glue 5 pages together, which gives me 20 pages per book or 4 pages together which gives me 25 pages per book-whichever suits my needs for that particular journal.
- The reason I glue the pages together is to make them thicker so they can withstand any wet media.
- I gesso all the pages in the journal before I begin. Again, to make sure my pages can stand up to the stuff I’m doing to them.
- I pick my theme.
- I’ve enjoyed making several journals using themes. I made a Women of Strength journal, an Inspirational Quotes journal, a favorite book journal, favorite bible verses journal-the options are limitless.
- I have a list of themes I want to make journals for. Here are some theme examples to get you thinking: favorite flowers, Christmas, the changing seasons, architecture, favorite artists, music, biblical history and politics of the time, vacation memories, famous art work, museums, favorite plays and musicals, costumes, my Dutch heritage, jewelry and tiaras, castles, history of my family and family tree, recipes, honestly the list goes on and on…
- You might sit down and think about the things that are important to you and how to incorporate those into a theme.
- I gather all the necessary supplies and materials for each segment prior to beginning.
- When I’m working on backgrounds, I gather what I want to use for them. Because I don’t have time during my 15 minute segments to go get stuff, I have it all sitting out before I begin.
- Remember, you have less than a minute a page when your making a Journaling by 5’s art journal. You need to be moving to get the pages finished.
- I clear my work area so I have plenty of room to create in a hurry.
- This is actually very important and I didn’t realize it when I started my first journal.
- I knocked over my glass of soda, spilled my paint water, knocked over my stacks of papers I had neatly sitting on the edge of my work table…I had no idea I would be moving so quickly as to be slamming into stuff. It took a considerable amount of time to clean up the mess I made in the first five minutes making the journal. Do yourself a favor-clear your work area!
- Once I am all set for the first segment, I set my timer and I’m off and running.
- I try to do as much dry media as possible. I don’t have time to dry the pages as I go, since I only have 15 minutes.
- I find using acrylic paint with a gift card scraper leaves color on the page but not much moisture so they don’t stick as much.
- I’ve also used ink pads and just smeared them over top of the pages. When I do this, I generally use one or two colors per journal. This keeps things cohesive.
- When the timer goes off, I stop. That is the end of my segment.
- If I don’t get all the pages finished in the allotted time, well, that’s just to bad. Moving on to the next one.
- I clear my work area, gather the supplies needed for the next segment then begin again.
- Once I have completed all 5 segments, I will give myself an additional 15 minute segment to finish up those pages I wasn’t able to complete during the segments.
Obviously you can use anything to create this journal-an old book, a purchased journal, a homemade journal, a loose-leaf journal-just make individual pages then add them together into binder or ring journal…There are countless options for this. Use what you have and use the supplies you have available. You don’t need to purchase anything for this project.
So why are we making a Journaling by 5’s journal this week? Because we’re going to create instinctively. We’re going to be working so quickly we cannot get bogged down in details. We’re going to let go of perfectionism and embrace creative abandon! We’re going to have lots of fun in a short amount of time.
You don’t need to do the segments all in one sitting. Begin with the first one on day one. Then the following day do segment two. Maybe do segment three and four on day 3. Then segment 5 and the final 15 minute catch-all segment on day 6. Do this in whatever way you choose, but please do this. The difference in your outlook will be profound.
If you’re one of those people who gets wound up about doing everything perfectly-this is for you! If you find you’re indecisive about your art-this is for you! If you’re bogged down by the volume of supplies you have-this is for you!
By creating art in a hurry-and it is art no matter how long it took to make-you have given yourself a great gift. The gift of utter and complete artistic abandon. With a set-in-stone time limit, you simply have to create what you can create in the time allowed. There is no pressure to be perfect, you don’t have time for that. It’s very freeing and cathartic to just slam it out. And if you’ve picked a theme which is important to you, you’ll have a completed journal that will be meaningful and special-all in an hour and 15 minutes.
That’s a pretty spectacular thing, don’t you think?
Edited to add: I just rediscovered a tote filled with journals. At one point I did actually write in a diary and apparently I purchased enough of them -on clearance-to fill a very large plastic tote. I’d guess there are at least 70 to 80 stacked in there. All unused and ready to be made into a Journaling by 5’s art journal.
These will be perfect for what I have in mind, but regular books work too. Grab some from a garage sale, second hand stores, or ask your family if they have any books they want to get rid of. Glue pages together, gesso and-bam!- inexpensive art journal.