Saturday, May 21, 2011

Art Journal Prompts, Part 1

These journal prompts are inspired by the pages of my very first art journal, which I named my Art and Poetry Journal and which I kept from December 8, 2008 to April 28, 2009.

#1: Paint over pages you don't like.

Sometimes, pages just don't turn out.  If so, let them sit for a few days or weeks and them paint over them.  That's what I did with these pages, which began life as rather gaudy and ugly collage pages.  Painting over parts of the background with a translucent layer of paint helped to unify the pages and emphasize certain elements, such as the star on the left page and the flower on the right page.  Keeping the paint translucent allowed my earlier work to remain visible, but fade into the background.

#2: Cover up your words, or do things in reverse order to how you usually do them.

We get used to doing things in certain ways in our journals and this can sometimes prevent us from moving forward.  For example, I typically fill a page with images and patterns and then fit my writing into the spaces.  On these pages, I did the opposite, filling the pages with words in a pale ink colour and then painting the much bolder circles on top, permanently hiding the words beneath.  It can feel wrong to purposely cover up your words in this way, but remember - there are no rules to art journaling.

#3: Pair a busy page filled with images with one that contains only writing.

The two pages of a page spread don't have to match.  I love contrasts.  Pair busy and plain, writing and images, painting and collage, dark and light, bright and muted, etc.  In this page spread, I paired a busy page of collage (including a hand-drawn mandala) with a page with a painted background on which I wrote a poem.

#4: Keep it simple.

Complex, multi-layered journal pages seem to be the fashion among many journalers, but, sometimes, simple pages are what we need.  These pages contain nothing more than a simple spiral mandala and a few lines of a poem.  The uniformity of the colours and the way the silver writing fades into the background add to the effect.  Simple pages like these are soothing and relaxing.


If you find any of these journal prompts useful, let me know, and if you blog about a page that you create using one of these prompts, feel free to share the link in the comments.  I would also appreciate a link back.

Happy journaling!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zebra Z-Grip Ballpoint Orange & Green

It is a fact of life that we all makes mistakes.  And sometimes these mistakes involve pens.

The Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint pen was such a mistake.

It all began innocently enough.  I was in the university bookstore, desperate to find a pen that was a) not one I had tried before and b) neither blue nor black.  I soon spied a cup of colourful Zebra Z-Grip ballpoints.  A little voice inside of me said, "You know, you usually don't like ballpoints that much."  "Well, they can't be that bad!" I blithely replied, "I'll take two."

Now, I should point out that the Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint is not a bad pen.  In fact, if all you ever used were ballpoints, you might even find it halfway decent.

For one, the appearance of the pen is perfectly acceptable.  The grip is nothing special, although I do rather like the addition of the four ridges on the upper part of the grip.  The retracting mechanism works fine, and the pen sports a metal clip that looks like it might actually be useful for clipping things.

The barrel of the pen is, lamentably, decorated with a floral pattern that clearly is targeted towards female pen-users, something that never fails to annoy me.  Speaking as a female pen-user, if a pen, notebook, or anything else is decorated with floral designs, then I am more likely to avoid it than buy it.  (Unless it's a packet of flower seeds or a book on gardening, in which case I will understand.)

However, the Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint really shows its true colours when it comes to writing performance.  The pen skips, contains many white spaces in the line, and occasionally deposits a glob of ink on the page.  It is, in fact, a depressingly average ballpoint pen.

The green is the worst of the two colours I tried.  It writes with a faint, washed-out, olive-coloured ink that is nearly too faint to read.  While the orange is acceptable, even it is fairly borderline when it comes to readability.

O Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint, you have taught me never to shop for pens while in a state of desperation.  You were both a disappointment and a mistake.

Luckily, however, another fact of life is that the best way to deal with mistakes is to let them go and move on.  Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint, let's move on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Look Inside the Old Oak Desk

My desk has many years of history behind it.  It is made of oak and my mother tells me that it once belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway, although I have no proof of that.  At some point in the past, it also belonged to a company called White Spruce Enterprises in Prince George, BC, for that is the address stamped numerous times on the inside of the front drawer along with "PAID" and "PAST DUE."

The top of the desk is variously ink-stained, scratched, and pitted.  There are many stories hidden in the top of this desk, if I could only learn how to read them.

I don't typically have much sitting on the top of the desk other than a lamp, my computer, and a notebook or two - in this case, my Quo Vadis Habana journal and a set of Pentel Slicci gel pens.

The desk has three drawers: the first is the long top drawer, while the other two are on the side.  Of these, the bottom drawer, which is the deepest of the drawers, is disguised to look like two drawers on the outside.  And what is in these drawers?

The top drawer hold some extra looseleaf paper, some pads of scrap paper for short notes and lists, a pad of Post-it notes, a dust cloth for my computer, a small ruler, a tube of extra 0.5mm pencil leads, a cleaning cloth for my glasses, and two pen boxes.  The pen box in the front is made of wood, while the one on the right side with the butterflies on it I made myself out of papier mache.

The top drawer on the side holds my two handmade pen rolls, a graphing calculator, on top of which are stacked several small notepads, a stack of extra bookmarks, a pile of squares of paper that I plan to use in a new collage project, a brass letter opener, two rolls of tape, two pairs of scissors, a wooden box to hold miscellaneous small items (binder clips, glue stick, USB flash drives, mini stapler, extra staples, erasers, etc.), one of those balls that you squeeze to relieve tension in your hand, another small notepad, and two small glass jars that hold elastic bands, paper clips, and push pins.

Finally, the bottom drawer is a bit more of a mess, and holds a fat pencil case stuffed with markers, watercolour pencils, drawing pens, and gel pens; a stack of decorative papers, magazine cutouts, and other collage items; two boxes of cards and envelopes (I made the gold box myself); a paper cutter; several rulers; a bottle of white glue; and a papier mache letter rack and papier mache pen cup, both of which I made, but which I don't really use anymore.

My favourite part of the desk is this thing that can be pulled out of the top of the side drawers:

I don't know what it's called or what it's original purpose was, but I find it very helpful for resting my elbow on while writing or using the computer.

I love my old oak desk.  The drawers hold all my essentials (as well as many items that are not so essential) and its top is large enough to be used for writing, making art, or using the computer.  And the top is already so scuffed and worn that I don't have to be too worried about damaging it.  And the desk looks great in my library!

So, what's your desk like, and what do you keep in it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Notebook Question

Several times now I have received questions from readers asking if I know of a notebook that has alternating plain and lined pages.  I would be interested in such a notebook myself as it sounds ideal for combining writing with drawing; however, I do not know of any notebook that has this format.  I am sure that someone out there knows, though, so now I ask you:

Which notebooks are available that have alternating plain and lined pages, and where can these notebooks be found?


Also, please note that, due to the number of spam comments that I have been receiving, comment moderation has now been enabled.  Don't let this stop you from leaving comments, because I still love receiving your input, and I will try to get your comments published as soon as possible.

Thanks for the support, everyone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Just some quick notes here about comments:

First of all, I believe some commenters may have had difficulty leaving comments here.  If you have had difficulties and continue having difficulties, please send me an email at heather [dot] papertrees [at] gmail [dot] com.  If I don't know about it, then I won't be able to try to fix the problem!  So please let me know if you have any issues with comments or anything else, because, seriously, I love receiving your input!

Secondly, I have been receiving a number of spam comments lately that have got through Blogger's spam filter.  If you are leaving spam comments or any comments whose only purpose to sell a product, then don't waste your time here.  Those comments will be DELETED.  I have not enabled comment moderation, but I will consider doing so if the spam comments continue.

That's all for now, and more posts coming up soon, I hope!
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