Sunday, August 30, 2009

Old Art Journal Pages

Every once in a while it can be entertaining to take out old art journals and look through them. I have only been keeping an art journal since last December so I only have two old journals to look through.

The first page spread is from my very first art journal. Many of the pages in this journal were decorated using craft acrylic paints, which was not the best choice. When I took the book down after several months of sitting on the shelf, many of the pages were stuck together, although they did peel apart fairly easily.

This art journal was also a poetry journal so the left-hand page contains a poem I wrote using an exercise from The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. The right-hand page includes collage elements and a found poem from words clipped from magazines. I also used craft acrylics, pencil crayons, and Staedtler triplus fineliners.

The second page spread is from my second art journal, which is less of a journal and more of a "gluebook," as the pages consist mainly of collages. I did this not because I was particularly drawn to collage as an art form, but because I had a stack of collage materials that I wanted to use up.

I created several pages that were themed around particular colours; this is the "green" page. Theming pages by colour is a fun and easy way to get started on a collage. The collage materials include magazine cut-outs and scrapbooking papers, as well as a few stickers. I also did some doodling with various pens, including the Pilot Choose gel pen in white.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Writing

Writing is a funny thing. Some days I sit down and write page after page, none of it any good. So I shove the pen and paper aside in disgust and go downstairs to the computer and engage in some mindless activity. It doesn't matter what the activity is, as long as it requires little mental exertion.

The next day, feeling discouraged and resolving not to waste any more of my time scribbling on pieces of paper, I go into town or do anything that is unrelated to writing. I return home at the end of the day, tired yet refreshed, sit down at my desk, and write. Suddenly the words are flowing as fast as I can write them down and a few hours later I have written a couple of passable blog posts, a poem, or the beginning of a short story.

I don't know how it happens. I don't know where the words come from. Writing is mysterious.

I have read about some writers who can only write in a certain location, at a certain time, or with a certain pen or paper. For myself, I prefer the junkiest paper and pens I can find. This usually means the back of paper that already has writing on the front and cheap ballpoint pens. This way I do not feel guilty about filling page after page and throwing them away right afterwards.

Before I started my first blog, most of the writing I did was for myself. Now, every few days I sit down at the computer, type a few paragraphs, and send them off into the void to be read by potentially anyone in the world who has access to the Internet. It is very mysterious, is it not, that the words I have written at the basement computer, looking out at the garden and trees, are now being read by you, wherever you are?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto

I have mixed feelings about the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto. Although my overall opinion of it is positive, I do have a few small issues with it.

I ordered a clear 3-colour pen body, and 0.4mm ink cartridges in blue black, green, and apricot orange. I don't particularly care for the clear pen body, but none of the other colours available (pink, blue, and black) appealed to me either. The cartridges are very easy to load into the pen; simply slide them into the bottom end and close the white cap to secure them.

The ink seems to run down fairly quickly. I would like to try the 0.3mm cartridges, but since the 0.4mm ones are sometimes a bit scratchy, I am afraid that the smaller size would only make the problem worse.

I love the blue black colour; it is just a little bit different and perfect for those days when you can't decide whether to use blue or black. The green is a perfectly serviceable, decent shade, but not the most exciting green I have encountered. The apricot orange is a very lovely colour, but just at the edge of what I would consider too light to do regular writing with (it looks darker in the photo than what it actually is).

Overall, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto is an acceptable multi-pen, but I can't say that I have fallen in love with it.

Related reviews: Pen Swag, The Pen Addict, Economy Pens, East West Everywhere

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review: The Decorated Journal

The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal Pages by Gwen Diehn was one of the first books on art journals that I read and it remains one of my favourites.

The Decorated Journal begins with a detailed section on materials used for art journals. This section is helpful for people (like me) who may not be comfortable in an art supply store and who may be unaware of the range of materials available to journal keepers. Diehn also advocates a "less is more" approach to materials: "Try sticking to a small range of high-quality materials and practice with them to learn how they work. Once you can use these few materials well, you will be able to produce every effect you want." She discusses paper, blank books, paints, brushes, pens and inks, adhesives, pencils, crayons, and other materials and tools, covering the benefits and drawbacks of using each type of paper, adhesive, etc.

The second section examines "seven different ways of seeing the world and reflecting those visions in a journal." These range from the multi-dimensional world of layers to the simpler world of wabi-sabi to the worlds of the inventor and the naturalist. Interspersed throughout this section are additional essays on various topics including colour, drawing, and writing. This section is inspiring and beautifully illustrated with journal pages in many very different styles.

The third section breaks the creation of an art journal page into three stages: starters, middles, and toppers, and discusses various techniques you can use in each stage. This section would be particularly helpful to the beginner who is uncertain about where to begin and how to actually create a meaningful journal page. However, there is a lot of information and inspiration here for more advanced journal keepers as well.

Finally, the last section covers bookbinding for "the reluctant bookbinder." The bookbinding projects range from a simple single-signature pamphlet to a beautiful journal with a leather cover. If all you want to do is make a serviceable book for keeping a journal, I don't think you would need anything more than Diehn's instructions here. Even if you do not want to make your own book, Diehn offers some helpful information on how you can customize a purchased blank book to suit your needs.

Overall, The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn is an excellent resource and source of inspiration for anyone interested in keeping an art journal. The only complaint I have is that I wish some of the illustrations were larger, but that is really only a minor detail.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Daily Supplies, Part Two

In part two of this post, I take a look at the supplies I use in my journals.

First of all, the actual journals:
For writing in my regular journal, I will use any of the pens mentioned in Part One, but usually I just use a pencil. In my art journal, I may use any of the following pens for drawing, doodling, or writing:
For adding colour:
  • A set of 12 Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell watercolour pencils
  • Various tubes of Deco Art Crafter's Acrylic (I rarely use these anymore)
  • A set of 60 Laurentien coloured pencils
  • A set of 64 Color Art crayons (I haven't used these crayons for years, but I think it would be fun to use them again)
For collage:
  • A glue stick (usually UHU)
  • Scissors
  • A metal ruler (for cutting along a straight line)
  • Various images cut from magazines and old greeting cards, scrapbooking papers, coloured cardstock, wrapping paper, stickers, ephemera, etc.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Daily Supplies, Part One

Here is a list of the pens, notebooks, and other supplies that I am currently using daily:
I use this small, portable notebook for jotting down to-do lists, ideas, and other brief notes, as well as for doodling. I use a variety of fine-point gel pens when writing in it, which include:
I find it hard to play favourites with these pens, although I think I can say that I generally prefer the Slicci and the Signo's to the Hi-Tec-C's.

For other writing purposes, I have some other gel and ballpoint pens:
Finally, I also have:
  • Sanford Speederase retractable eraser
  • Sharpie Accent highlighter
  • 2 paper folders that I have decorated with magazine cut-outs and strengthened with packing tape to hold loose papers
Watch for part two of this post coming up in the next few days, where I will discuss the supplies that I use in my journals.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Disappointing White Pen: Pilot Choose 0.7mm

I had always wanted a white pen, so on my last JetPens order I picked up a Pilot Choose 0.7 mm gel pen in white.

Here are writing samples of the Pilot Choose on several different surfaces: paper that has been coloured with craft acrylic paint, watercolour pencil, a Sharpie marker, and pencil crayon, as well as paper cut from a magazine and card stock.

When writing on all of these surfaces, the white ink seems to be absorbed into the paper, resulting in an ink colour that appears pale grey rather than white. The only way I can get the line to actually look white is to repeatedly trace over the same line. The effect is least noticeable on the smooth, non-porous magazine paper, but it is slow to dry on this paper and so is prone to being smudged. I also found it hard to obtain a smooth, even line on the magazine paper.

The surface that the Pilot Choose seemed to write best on was the craft acrylic paint, but even on this surface the colour of the ink appears light grey rather than white.

Overall, I was disappointed with the performance of this pen, and will continue my search for a good white pen.

Related reviews: No Pen Intended, Pocket Blonde, The Pen Addict, School Supply Dance
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