I’m published in a book!


It’s pretty neat to see your work in a book. Two years ago I responded to a call for art journal pages to be included in a book. I think it was in 2014 when I got the news that 5 of my images would be included. I think I submitted 14, so to have 5 published is great!

Even though art journaling is a personal and private process, some pages are more art-focused while others are more introspective involving personal text. You can see all kinds in the book. There’s over 1000 art pages by 230 artists from 30 countries.

What I like about the book is, first, the quality–the reproductions are wonderful, second, that it is a great compilation of inspiration. To have all of this work in a book is way better than following online links where the potential to getting distracted is always imminent.

The book is currently only available through Amazon. For Canada, go to Amazon.ca-direct link.

A World of Artist Journal Pages is curated by Dawn DeVries Sokol and is published in the US by Steward, Tabori, and Chang. It became available just recently on April 21st.

Inspiration from other artists in the art journal


Part of what makes it to my daily visual journal are things that other artists have said that resonate with me. I often watch artist interviews or art programs online while I work on my art. Sometimes I’ll quickly jot what I hear in my journal and later or the next day I’ll ponder the words further sometimes writing and rewriting the words in order to process their significance.

In the page above, I was thinking about something that Kiki Smith said:

I don’t try to set my work on any path or any direction. I really try to follow it. . . I don’t question my impetus. I just do it and see what happens.


And in the page above, I liked what one of the Boyd Family artists said (I think it was the guy), he said:

To be totally immersed in something is glorious.

Yes, I agree.  Visual journaling for me is not about making art, it is instead where I massage my brain to help me process thoughts and life. There are visual elements yes, but these function as writing. Visual elements in my journal are like a vocabulary of states of feeling.

Bird Inspiration 9: the Gouldian Finch


I saw the ever colourful Gouldian Finch at the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park here in Vancouver. It’s a pretty small conservatory but neat nonetheless.  I took a photo and this is the resulting drawing.

Something I recently realized is that these bird drawings are not part of my art journaling process as I first thought. They are, instead, a project of its own. A drawing practice project, an exploration project. Last Sunday I went to the first session of a drawing course I’m taking at Emily Carr. I think it will be very good for me as it is encouraging me to explore mark making and other fundamentals of drawing in a way I might not have approached on my own. So I continue to wonder how this project will evolve.

The beauty of drawing these birds is that I can, if I wish,  use them in my art journaling process too–seen below in an art journal page.



By the way, in the early mornings when I work in my art journal I have been tuning in to meditation music on You Tube. There is one particular offering, that is three hours long! In the mornings, I am now favouring having this music in the background instead of just silence. It is definitely soothing. I’ve never tried meditation but lately it’s really on my mind, so perhaps listening to meditation music is one way to nudge me into actually trying the practice.

Bird Inspiration 8: the Eurasian Starling

Eurasian Starling

This little guy gave me problems at first. I couldn’t get the shape right so I had to switch from my direct line drawing to sketching shapes first. Drawing the Eurasian Starling reminded me that it’s good to be able to approach a problem from different sides. And to take a break from a frustrating experience and come back to it later fresh with new energy.

I’m happy with how this bird is looking now but want to come back to it to create a new background/composition.

The background too was a process. There are actually many layers in there. I’m wanting my birds to say something. Not necessarily in words. The plan is to keep on working on them till it comes to me how I really want to be working with birds.

Did you know that:

The starling mimics the calls of other birds, and of manmade sounds, such as whistles and ringing telephones.

Source: Wildlife Fact-File

Since my experience in drawing this bird made me think of we approach challenges, I looked for quotes on the topic and came up with this by architect Frank Gehry. I rather like it. It is a good reflection of my feelings with this ‘bird project':

For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I’m not sure where I’m going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn’t do it.

Source: brainyquote.com

Bird Inspiration 7: the Kookaburra


That’s a neat name all right! The Kookaburra hails from Australia and Tasmania and has the most wonderful beak! Flat-like and wide.

The Kookaburra is also known as the “laughing jackass” because of its braying, laugh like call.” This from the encyclopedia I’m referencing–Wildlife Fact File.  It’s a great fact book if you can get your hands on one–I found three of the books at a thrift store.

So this bird drawing project has got me looking a bird quotes too. This is what I came up with for the Kookaburra:

I pray to the birds because they remind me of what i love rather than what i fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.

This from Terry Tempest, American author, conservationist, and activist. Tempest has “testified before Congress on women’s health [and] committed acts of civil disobedience.” I think I may have to read up on her. The quote is from the book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (source: Goodreads.com).

Birds do have a very positive effect on people. A little brainstorm and I came up with these words: happy, soft, light, freedom, positive, hope.

I worked with my original drawing twice…trying to explore techniques, mediums, style. In the first exploration (colourful) I was listening to a couple of interviews in The Thriving Artist series (around 8pm) and in the second (monotone-like) I was listening to some jazz by Malcolm Aiken from his CD Paper Star and it was 7 in the morning. It’s one of my favourites. Saw Aiken perform live at a restaurant here in Vancouver one or two years ago.


P.S. I am purposefully not linking authors, books, etc. in an attempt to create less clutter, less noise. If you really want to follow something, you can easily google it. On this topic, I am wondering whether to be done with Facebook. I mainly use my business page–I would continue that, but maybe I can start fresh with a new non-identifiable personal user account? TBD.

Bird Inspiration 6: the greater flamingo

Today I tried listening to some music while art journaling–listened to Birth of Cool by Miles Davis. When the weather is grey and wet, I need a little pick me up. The music was a welcome change and it carried me for an hour plus while I continued onto drawing the bird of the day: the greater flamingo.



This work happens in my art journal. But first I draw the bird with a fineliner onto a small drawing sketchbook–this forces me to look carefully as I can’t erase easily. Then I photocopy the line drawing, cut it so it becomes a collage element, and use watercolour and other materials. During part of this process, I was listening to a short video presentation by leadership coach Peleg Top.  Words that stuck were:

Creativity is a muscle that must be practiced

This is what I’m doing with my bird series–practicing my creativity, exploring something I wanted to try for a long time (birds). The first peek was here.

On the side of my art, you can see some notes from this presentation. I rather liked his tone and what he said made a lot of sense. To listen to the video, you need to sign up for the free The Thriving Artist Summit — lots of good interviews there till January 31 2014.

Birds & Morning Silence

One of my new personal projects/challenges is to do more  drawing. I am doing this in a couple of ways. Here’s one way . . .

I’ve always wanted to spend some time drawing birds. There is something benevolent and calming about birds. Their song and chirpiness connects us (me) to nature effortelessly. I always notice new birdsongs when I travel. Certain sounds have the power to take me back to a particular place and time.

I started drawing birds right into my art journal. My art journal is part writing and part art making. It’s the first thing I come to in the morning, right after making coffee. It felt very natural to draw/focus on birds first thing in the morning. This part of the morning is shrouded with silence.

This quote by Irish writer Robert Lynd seems very fitting:

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.

The birds become a happy part of the silence of my morning ritual.  Here are the birds I’ve started to draw. I’ve been referencing an animal encyclopedia, which has the added benefit of learning about the species, their habitat, distribution, etc. I rather like this other learning component to this drawing exercise.

December 2013 Art Journal Birdsmediums used: collage, watercolour, fineliner, charcoal

The birds I’ve drawn so far are: the bullfinch, the ovenbird, the eclectus parrot (not shown), the blue titmouse, the atlantic puffin. Some I’ve played with several times after the initial drawing. At first I paint/colour a realistic colour but then I’ve also started creating my own colour combinations and altered features. This is a fun part of playing.

Do you have a morning ritual that starts your day on a positive note?

Art Journal Resource:

You may want to check into Lisa Sonora Beam’s blog and read about her Root: A 30 Day Journal Project. It starts January 1st and it’s free. If you need support art journaling this will probably be a great place to be.

If the page stares back at you…

Some days are very fluid, creativity just pours out, the brain churns, churns, and churns out images, ideas, colours, words…and other days there’s absolutely nothing. I mean what happened, it’s just suddenly all gone! Ahhhh!!! (a scream of horror).

Truth be told I don’t really like surfing the net much for ideas. But sometimes well, sometimes, it’s OK. There’s stuff out there that might just get you going again. Sometimes, you need just one tiny little thing, a technique that just gets going and you forget about the stare of the blank page.

Anyway, I found a couple of good videos on the Michaels website.

This one by Pam Carriker called Visual Journalism 101. She shares quite a few techniques to achieve a visually complex and interesting journal page. You might just see one technique there that you want to incorporate in your journals or mail art.

Also, take a look at this one by Kathy Kromer (whom I had the pleasure to meet at Michaels 2012 Blogger Event), it’s called Mixed Media Background Technique. It is amazing how quickly she creates a background. The key is to give some thought to the materials you’ll need and have them really handy for that spontaneous grab.

Journal Page January 29 2013

Journal Page January 29 2013, watercolour pencils, Golden Fluid Acrylics, collage

On the page above I decided to play with watercolour pencils on wet Golden fluid acrylics. The pencil lines will look more saturated than if you were using regular colour pencils. I don’t use these two mediums often.

Playing with new materials and techniques is just one way to respond to a blank page!

Happy creating!

timed creative practice: pattern & collage

I am happy to say I have kept up my timed 5-minute practice experiment that I started a couple of weeks ago. It feels pretty good doing this quick practice so I am committing to  more of it… maybe for a year, maybe less. I’m not good with super long plans/commitments, I mean who knows what other interesting things might catch my attention.

By doing this timed practice, I am realizing that if I were to continue for a year, I’d end up with 365 ‘sketches.’ These could be inspiration for other work—a personal visual resource.

As I do them, I get more ideas on how to do them. For example, the past week I focused on pattern. The week before on text.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 1st 2013 I am starting a new week for this timed practice for which now I have a dedicated sketchbook.

Last week I also tried to continue with the slow art experiment but with no success, so I’ll have to try again. The problem was simply that I did not like what I was creating.

The past week I focused on pattern with a bit of collage. I incorporated the inspiration for the pattern within the drawing wherever I could. Most of the patterns were inspired by the inside design of security envelopes.








Thursday – inspired by British designer Orla Kiely. You can just see her book at the back of the photo.




Saturday – inspired by pattern of a business card by mikind, a ceramic studio from Medicine Hat.



Do you practice your craft? How do you practice?

Pairing habits


5-minute collage Monday–Try Using Calendar Images

It feels sometimes like we/I spend too much time setting goals and figuring out what we want to achieve. I think it is an obsession with our society and I think I think about it too much. I often wish I could live a simpler life without all the modern day distractions. A few days ago I read an article in the paper version of The Globe and Mail about there being a movement towards living a minimalist life unemcumbered by “conventional trappings of success,” aka the American dream–I think you can also call it the Canadian dream. As the article by Michael Posner reveals, this yearning for a simpler life has already manifested itself in the past from the Greek Epicureans to the counterculture communes of the 60s. Every once in a while movements repeat themselves.

What would a simpler life look like for me? I imagine it would take place around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. There would be sun, water, volcanoes, meaningful work and meaningful interaction with the local population, art, and a simple abode (all this with my partner of course).


5-minute collage Tuesday–Try pink

This yearning to be in Guatemala emerges when I let it. Like right now, I am taking an online workshop with Lisa Sonora Beam. The workshop is called Creative + Practice. It’s not about making art, it’s about creating tools to map your path, but in a very visual way. I know what I just said above about goal setting, but life is full of contradictions. So far it feels like this course will help me get to where I want to be with less struggle. Where I want to be, I’m realizing, could just be a healthier state of mind. Anyways…I am learning to build habits that allow me to give proper thought and time to thinking about ‘where I want to go.’ For example, we do 2-minute timed writings where we respond to a prompt given to us by Lisa. Each week there’s a new prompt and you respond to the same prompt every day of that week. What happened serendipitously is that I decided to also do 5-minute collages as suggested by Randel Plowman in his book The Collage Workbook. Now, the 2-minute writings had to be paired with a current habit in my life so as to make it easier to make the new habit  happen. I do my quick writings after I get up in the morning–after I’ve had my coffee in bed. I then thought why not try the 5-minute collages for a week and pair them with the quick writing? And it worked, I did 5-minute collages every day this past week. Once it was built into another habit (the quick writing) it became only natural to do the quick collages next.

Get up + 2-minute writing + 5-minute collage

I see possibilities for small but significant successes.

The 5-minute collages have been an interesting experience of accidental discovery. I enjoyed trusting my intuition and seeing topics emerge. I got a few ideas on how to refine the exercise. Anyways, this is what emerged:


5-minute collage Wednesday–Try big text


5-minute collage Thursday–Try Green


5-minute collage Friday–Try newspaper headlines


5-minute collage Saturday–Try Colour and Fabric

5-minute collage Sunday

5-minute collage Sunday–Try Pattern