RozWorks.com Visit my website to view journal selections, paintings, and book arts projects. For the most recent information on classes and workshops please click on "Classes" in the categories list of this blog.
Second "Design Recharge" Interview: April 1, 2015 In this second interview with Diane Gibbs at "Design Recharge" we focus on International Fake Journal Month. If you're wondering just what that is, I give a great description of it, and why you might want to participate. Also check out our earlier interview (below on this list) if you want more information about how I approach visual journaling.
First "Design Recharge" Interview: February 12, 2015 Diane Gibbs of Design Recharge interviewed me for International Fake Journal Month (2015). We get a little side tracked and talk a lot about sketching, visual journaling, and my creative process. It's a great interview.
Danny Gregory and I Discuss Visual Journaling Sadly a two part podcast from May 2008 made with Danny Gregory, author of "An Illustrated Life," is not currently available. We talked about journaling, art media, and materials…If this becomes available again in the future I will let you know.
Finding Bits of Time Ricë Freeman-Zachery, author of "Creative Time and Space," talks to me about finding time to be creative. (Taped October 23, 2009.)
Above: Examples of the Simple Round Back Spine structure. The book at the left and front both have recessed labels which we'll create in class. We will discuss other labeling approaches like the back, right book in class. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Whether spring has just started where you live and it’s time to make journals for your summer adventures outside, or winter is approaching and it’s time to stay by the fire and sketch it’s always the perfect time bind some sketchbooks.
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your journaling and sketching habit or you have been filling journals for years,you’ve probably wished that you could make a lovely, elegant, sturdy journal with paper that holds up to your working methods, in a size you love. A structure that will open flat on a scanner!
In this detailed class I will take you through the creation of just such a journal. I will teach you about paper grain, tearing paper, punching sewing holes, folding and sewing your signatures, and every step of creating the book cover and casing in your text block. The videos show each step clearly. I provide explanations for the “why” behind my approach so that you can come to understand binding more completely.
Students will work at their own pace.Some students finish a book in the first two days of class, others work throughout the month on one book. You can decide when you want to work. I will be active in class throughout May to answer your questions.
Class is geared toward the home bookbinder who does not have large presses and other expensive binding equipment. With only a few simple tools you can bind your own books.
For class purposes students will need to work with specific supplies so that I can ensure you learn the fundamentals and end up with a sound structure.But you are then encouraged to continue to make books throughout the year to solidify your knowledge. During that phase of class students branch out into different sizes and different papers. I will continue to check the classroom during the year to answer questions and provide suggestions.
Additionally there will be four live webinars. Students will be able to ask questions and be part of a live discussion. (Don’t worry if you live in a different time zone. The webinars are taped and can be viewed at the student’s convenience.)
Classroom access to all the videos and classroom discussion lasts for at least one year from the class starting date. You will be able to review the tapes again and again as you continue to make books during the year. You will be building a durable skill.
I hope that you will join me to discover how fun and satisfying the binding process is.
Note: While this book structure is totally suitable for collage work, if the majority of your visual journal work is collage I would suggest that you wait a few months to take my Sewn-on-the-Spine Journal class. That class is perfect for the sketcher who needs a structure that accommodates even dimensional collage. I wanted to give you a heads up that this class is coming because I realize we all need to budget our money and our time.
Additional book structures will be featured in upcoming classes in 2017.
Above: I'm not the only one attracted to the odor of the sizing in Arches watercolor paper. Des had to come over and check out the stack of cut watercolor boards Monday afternoon. He is very curious. I didn't have the heart to tell him they were for a project he's not involved in. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I even have suggestions in that post on how I hoped most people would approach the project this year—by waiting and deciding on how to start, right up until March 31.
Of course then the shit hit the fan here. My father-in-law ended up in the hospital after bladder cancer cauterization, and now he’s in transitional care. He’s getting his energy back slowly, but for the first time he really, really looks worn out, and yesterday during my visit he admitted it to me that he doesn’t quite believe that he will get back to his assisted living situation. We talked about the failing memory situation, which has progressed speedily in the past year, but which now he realizes is “all downhill.” (His words.)
We even had the talk today, the one where I hold his hand and tell him how important he has been in my life and how much I love him, even if I’m usually pretty bossy and flippant (huge laugh). And he told me how much it meant to him.
We could have it today because he is on the upward trend. Any weaker and he knows I know that he would see it as a sign that he wasn’t doing as well as he felt he was doing. Earlier and well, emotion is just kind of embarrassing for both of us.
But the funny thing about the elderly is that there is never any good time to have this talk. By the time you decide to have it, the person you want to talk to is already leaving the building. (Actions really do speak louder than words.)
C.R. won’t remember it tomorrow, even if he hasn’t already forgotten it.
But what he can’t escape is the growing understanding of how his brain is changing and how he can’t hold it together any longer. “I’ve already had mine,” he said to me, at one point.
I knew what he meant, but I made him say it, because I’m that bitchy, and because I wanted him to fight back. “Life,” he said.
And he did fight back, he perked right up. And I reminded him that none of us knew how long that downhill slope is.
More important he isn’t ready to leave yet because things in life still interest him.
He asked me how my classes were going. “Great,” I said.
“The students are doing well?” he asked.
“Yep, I boss them around and push them really hard, and they are doing some incredible work,” I continued.
“And they put up with that?” he asked, alluding to the bossing.
“Oddly, what you’ve been getting for free for 36 years they actually pay me for,” I replied. That generated the full laugh and the super twinkle in his eyes.
He was, however, disappointed when I said “all I’m doing right now is working.”
When I left I told him I would make a point to do something thrilling, “just so I can come back and tell you about it.” He had another good laugh.
While he may be on a five-minute loop most of the time now, one thing I know is that he appreciates the company. Humans, even ones like us who like solitude in which to work, are social. Sometimes sitting in a companionable silence is all that’s needed. Though it’s also sure nice if you bring in some of those good chocolate Easter eggs.
Something else he can’t escape, because I keep showing up, is knowing that he matters.
Now you thought this post was about IFJM? It is.
When I get stressed I get really creative. I dream up all sorts of projects to keep my mind occupied. When C.R. went into the hospital I started thinking about new projects I could work on. Something to keep me in the present moment.
This worked right up until Sunday night. I had scribbled over a couple journal pages and I realized I was coming up with all sorts of projects just to avoid the one project actually looming on the horizon—IFJM.
I have kept my year so busy, by design and happenstance, that I have literally not thought two moments about IFJM and what I might be doing.
Until Sunday night when I realized it was silly to not think about it a little because I had no time to bind a book and wasn’t sure what supplies I would need. If I didn't think about it I might find myself with no book/paper to use for a month on Friday. (Which is April 1, the day this all starts.)
So I pulled out a scrap of hot press watercolor paper and a scrap of cold press watercolor paper. I know that I could work in any medium on either of those papers and be challenged and happy for a month.
I did a sketch and paint test on each, about 30 minutes total. The Cold Press was the surprising winner. It spoke to me. It told me there were lots of discoveries to be made—it wouldn’t be easy, but it was time.
I went to my flat file and found some left over watercolor board that I had purchased for another project. I found that I had enough pieces to cut up into thirty two 10 x 16 inch boards—One for for each day of the month, and of course a title board and back board.
Monday I cut the board. (I still haven’t told Des that he’s not going to be involved.)
That’s it. I don’t know who my character is. All I know is that I’ll be painting and making a loose “sheet” journal this year.
If you are going to share your journal publicly, email me when you’ve completed 5 days of entries in your fake journal and send me a link to the dedicated blog, or section of your website, or whatever, where you are posting. I’ll list you with a link in the Participants 2016 list.
(If you have participated in a past year just send me an email with a note about the year you participated and a link and I'll put you on the list right away.)
If you want to participate and post in the Facebook group for this project look up International Fake Journal Month at this link and ask to join. (Please be patient as I'm not checking Facebook regularly right now in order to cut down on time distractions and to better deal with work and family matters.)
If you’re on the fence about joining in I suggest that you listen to the webinars Diane Gibbs did with me as her guest last year.
Even if you don’t participate in IFJM I think you’ll get a lot of fun information for your visual journal.
Where Will Roz Post Her 2016 Fake Journal?
Right now I’m not sure where I’ll post this year’s fake journal. Some years I have posted it day by day on the official blog. Other years I’ve only posted a flip through at the end of the year. My main priority this year is to find the time to work in the fake journal while everything else is chaotic around me. (We still haven’t finished the taxes!)
Above: A quick (less than 5 minute) sketch using a .04 Sakura Sensei Pigment Liner with Daniel Smith Watercolors on Flexbook Sketchbook paper. (The couple left before the paper dried enough for me to put the shadows in, and this paper needs to be totally dry or it bleeds through. If it doesn’t get done on site it doesn’t get done.) (I scanned the spread before finishing the spread because the granddaughter asked for a copy of the image. I took notes from a meeting at the top of the left page, but had to leave the meeting when a Sharpie pen used by the person next to me caused a reaction.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Tuesday after transferring CR to transitional care (he'd been in the hospital for five days) Dick asked if I wanted to go and get a sandwich.
We went over to Cecil's and while we were waiting for our order I sat and sketched like always. This time the woman across the dining room “caught” me sketching her. I smiled at her and kept working. I was actually still sketching her husband when she caught me.
After she finished eating, while her husband went to pay, she came over and and said, “I saw you sketching, I think you were sketching me…could I see?”
She was so sweet. I said, “Yes of course,” and showed her. “I couldn’t resist your husband’s beard."
She told me she was an art major in college and that she didn’t sketch any more so of course I went into bossy mode and told her she needed to start carrying a sketchbook around again.
She smiled and I hope that she will. I pulled out a business card and told her to look at the posts about sketching on my blog.
She told me that she had grandchildren who sketch and they would love to see my sketch. I told her to email me and I would send her a jpg. (Her granddaughter actually did write that evening.)
Then she left and brought back her husband so he could see the sketch. I complimented him on his wonderful beard. He really didn’t know what to make of me. But when he said his wife used to be an art major I told him, “Encourage her to start carrying a sketchbook again.”
I finished using my tester journal at the end of 2015 and will repeat what I said in that initial post on the sketchbook—if you like cold press watercolor paper the Kilimanjaro paper is delightful. It comes in the original bright white and also a "natural" white. (I used the original bright white though some of my scans were made on a dying scanner and not flattened properly so there is shadow on the pages—it is a bright white paper.)
In my testing I found that many pens worked great on this paper.
For this monochromatic sketch to test laying in shadows I used the Platinum Carbon Black Fiber-tipped brush pen (which is a pretty stuff fiber tip that’s more like a felt tip marker than a brush pen). The ink dried well on the paper and I was able to add watercolors immediately.
Click on any image to view an enlargement.
Below: All sketches are from a 9 x 12 inch portrait style journal (it’s also available in landscape). Left: ink and watercolor, Right: direct brush painting. Both sketches were made while I was watching a discussion panel made up of the people responsible for the TV show “Justified.”
Below: Sketches made while watching, “The Detectorists.” I was trying to ascertain how quickly I could mix and blend watercolor on the paper. (Left with the Sakura Pigment Sensei pen and right, direct brush.)
Below: Experimenting with the Platinum Carbon Black Fiber-tipped brush penand gouache to see if I wanted to take gouache (most of the ink has been covered.
Below: Left with the Sakura Pigment Sensei pen and watercolors, with red gouache in the background. Right with the same pen and 30 second or less sketches of people moving on TV. This sheet is one of the “drawing paper sheets” that is interleaved between the watercolor paper in this journal. It’s a nice paper, but pretty thin and “vanilla” It takes pencil but pen shows through and wet media seeps through (top).
Below: Left, the drawing paper again, here you can see the ink show through from the previous page. I’m working with purple color pencil to see if I want to work with color pencil and watercolor at the Fair—so quick gesture sketches of people walking around. Right, color pencil (Dark grape) and watercolor test on the cold press watercolor paper. (Quick sketches from TV.)
Below: I had already decided not to use this sketchbook for the Fair, but I wanted to continue to work through its pages and test other materials. Here is a sketch from TV (stopped) using the Sakura Pigment Sensei pen .6 with watercolors. On the right I’ve taped out an area, toned it with acrylics and used the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to sketch Stephen Fry on a Gear and Tech show he did. I used Nichiban artist’s masking tape. It removed easily from this paper.
Below: I repeated the taping experiment (Nichiban tape was left on for up to 2 weeks without difficulty on this paper). Besides sketching a character actor using the PPBP I colored over the toned background with Montana Acrylic Marker. And Right, I prepainted the background with acrylic paint, let it dry, and then taped a window area, into which I then did a sketch of Dick from life usingthe PPBP and then went in with gouache.
Construction of the Kilimanjaro sketchbook is the only thing I didn’t like about it.
I could deal with the light weight drawing paper, but the covers and coil binding of the Kilimanjaro Sketchbook weren't quality.
There is a thick but dull and unappealing back cover of some sort of pressed cardboard. The front of the journal is a thin label sheet on card stock which has the details about the product. Beneath that sheet (which is meant to be torn away) you have a sheet of 300 lb. Kilimanjaro. The idea is that you will paint your own cover.
I kept the cover sheet on until I finished the journal (in fact it’s still on) and recommend you too keep the label sheet on until you are through working in the book. In fact I would recommend you wrap the label sheet and 300 lb. watercolor "cover" together in clean newsprint to keep them clean and unharmed as you work in the book. The back cover, with very little use got exceedingly dog eared and it looks very cheap and tacky. You might wrap that while working in the book too.
The coil binding is of the type that is comprised of loops that don’t lock, but simply circle into the pages and bend towards each other. The problem with this type of coiling is that if it isn’t applied correctly the pages “leak out” where the opening is, as it runs the length of the coil. This is unfortunate because the pages shift to those openings every time you fold them back on each other (the point of a coil binding) or sometimes just open the book. I purchased 5 of these books and they were all like this. Other sketchbooks purchased long ago from different vendors using this type of coiling positioned the ends differently to avoid this problem. Maybe the folks at Cheap Joe's were just having a bad day at the factory? But all my American Journey Watercolor journals came with the coiling also poorly applied (I bought 5 of those too, all bad).
This defect can be remedied by doing the following:
Take a piece of stout string or waxed linen cord (I used 3 ply) and knot to the wire at the base end of the coil. You will then lace the thread through the loops made by the coil so that you are weaving in and out from male loop to female loop, tightening to leave no gaps. Knot on the wire at the head of the coil and trim your thread.
This kept the pages of the two American Journey journals I took to the Fair together without incident. When the Fair was over I simply numbered the pages, cut the cord, slipped out the coil (which didn’t argue or put up a fuss) and put the pages of two and a half sketchbooks in one stack, with one set of covers. (The American Journey Watercolor Journal Line has lovely hard board covers with a tough covering. They are marred only by a debossed logo on the cover—I like my commercially bound journals naked.) Using a large diameter plastic coil I purchased for about 30 cents from what was Kinko’s (I don’t know what they are called now), I then threaded the coil through the holes in the stack of covers and pages, and cranked the coil end tips over at about 1/4 inch from the end with a fine-tipped pliers (it stops them from unwinding backwards through the holes). The Fair journal was complete, no problem. (OK, I did cut down into the cover board and lift out the American Journey logo and lay in a laminated print of my spin art.)
I did the same re-coiling procedures on the Kilimanjaro book, substituting a new coil after its pages had been filled, and then scanned. No problem.
I will happily use the American Journey Journal line again as I like the stiff covers. If I use the Kilimanjaro again I will create different covers for it and have them punched at Kinko’s.
So there you have it—the Kilimanjaro paper will delight any traditional watercolorist. The issues with the construction of the sketchbook can be handled as discussed.
Above: Some pre-lunch sketching with a serendipitous quotation from "Rear Window." There is a tab between these two pages, created when the book was bound and I have digitally erased the tab where it covers part of the right hand page image and text. 8 x 8 inch hand bound book using a now defunct paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Above: A 10 minute sketch using a carbon-black ink felt-tipped brush pen sketch of Dick in the TV Room—focusing on Contours after a wearing day. Background: Montana marker. 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia Journal page spread. Click on the image to view an enlargement. (If you can't read the text, you can see a typed version at the end of this post.)
I find that tools matter. Not in the sense that you can do a perfect drawing with one tool compared to another tool, but in the sense that some tools are better suited to your mood or the aspect you are trying to capture in your drawing.
If you want a vibrant and colorful sketch you’ll select color media. If you want something linear you’ll select a tool which gives you the quality of line you seek.
On this day, late in December, after experimenting with a variety of media in three on-going projects, it was a relief to pick up a thick felt-tipped brush pen and give myself up to lines, and the spaces between lines, and the delight of the contour.
I find that knowing what each medium will do for me brings an abundance of joy and fun into my sketching life.
And I create new options for myself—which is great, when you are still seeking a vocabulary that captures Dick’s eyebrows.
I write a little anecdote that I hope encourages you to avoid drawing regret. Pick up a tool and draw, draw, draw, especially if something confounds you:
9:20 p.m. Dick just went up to bed. He’s tired and sick. When we finished this quick sketch I asked if he’d be up for another sketch with paint but it would probably be 40 mins. He said he wasn’t up for that. We chatted for a bit. I recalled how I had not sketched him much for years. Just that one, “near perfect rendering of one startlingly bright blue eye beneath a bristle of yellow-white blond on a background of your pale Irish skin.” We both laughed. It was the sketch I never finished. “I didn’t have enough yellow pencils,” I laughed, “there weren’t enough different yellow pencils in the world.” We laughed and laughed. “Then I didn’t even try to sketch you again until when…?” We both tried to remember. There were some rough scratchboard sketches for the Moment/Guy Series cards I used to send. That would have been 84-87 or 89. By then I was sketching the girls more. I didn’t start sketching him regularly again until a couple years ago—because I couldn’t get out to the zoo or life drawing because of shoulder issues. “I’m sorry I didn’t draw you more,” I said. “There have been facial structural changes, even in the last 2 years. Cheeks more sunken. You aren’t jowl-ly but there’s more here,” I said pointing to the edges of the chin. “Now on you’re [sic]* dad…that’s really developed.” I threw my head back and made a gurgling noise like a turkey. “But he’s 90,” I said. “94,” corrected Dick smiling. I’m glad I’m drawing him more now. It’s almost like a comforting ritual…And a great way to fill up the last pages of the year.
I think I'll let the journaling on the birthday selfie say it all. (You can click on the image to view an enlargement. And Yes, I drew in my tri-focal lines.)
This sketch is on an 11 x 15 inch sheet of Wave paper which is cheap drawing paper that's almost as absorbent as Kleenex®. I used sepia and red Pentel Color Brushes (dye-based, fugitive, fun!), while standing in front of the bathroom mirror.
Yesterday was a great birthday. Dick left me with 4 pieces of almond toffee in dark chocolate. (We have to dole it out or I wouldn't be able to stop eating it.) It was a fabulous day. I worked Saturday and Sunday so I could take today off. The few minutes I did use the computer Facebook bombarded me with b-day greetings from friends far and wide. MANY, MANY THANKS. That's very fun. I appreciate every single note!
I didn't even mind riding on the indoor bike! (It was about 18 degrees.)
Dick came home early and took me to Gorkha Palace in Northeast. I went ages ago with my friend Tom for the lunch buffet and was blown away by the variety of flavors.
It's even better at dinner time.
The waiter brought out small crackers to munch on while we waited. Little rectangles of crispy-puffiness. They made me smile.
We had samosas which are one of my favorite things in the known universe! They were the best vegetarian samosas I've ever had, and the best samosa period, in 25 years!
The plain naan was a thing of rare beauty and deliciousness.
We shared a vegetable curry that was delicious, simple, and rich and a shrimp dish full of zucchini (and lots of shrimp). The vegetables in both dishes were cooked perfectly so that they were tender but not mushy. The staff is attentive, but not intrusive.
Birthday or not I can't remember having a happier meal in a restaurant. I started humming!
I was so happy (and a little high on the orange Fanta I drank with my meal) that I sang my birthday song as we turned into the alley—"It's my birthday…" (Don't worry you'll never have to hear it.) Dick laughed.
Earlier when we were leaving the alley I had turned to Dick (who was driving) and with barely contained eagerness over the fact we were going to the Gorkha Palace, asked, "How come we don't go out for your birthday, but we go out for mine?"
And without missing a beat he said, "Because you're a princess."
Left: I have been watching "Morse" in an effort to understand some things that I'll share another day. It means I end up sketching the actors, here the actor playing Morse's boss. Pentel pigment brush pen, on Nideggen with Montana Acrylic Marker background added afterwards. The brush pen LOVES this paper. That's all I can say. Sometimes you hit the lines so perfectly that you really can't think why there is any need to add paint. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
But something great came out of this drive to finish. I painted more with watercolor and with gouache, spending longer than average on each page, while still doing more pages. I focused on my goals of working with watercolor while my work world was toppling in around me and the need to take the folks to this appointment or that cropped up every other day.
That made me think of a question someone asked methe other day on Facebook. Did I have a favorite journal, or journals and if so which were they?
Close friends have been through the drill: if there is a fire, help me save my Dottie journals. They are my favorite because they really are about my relationship with a lovely dog and a testament to a majestic dog who selected Dottie for me, because she knew Dottie was just what I needed.
Left: Another character actor from "Morse," it's actually a VERY young Martin Clunes! Pentel pigment brush pen and white Sharpie Poster Paint (watersoluble) on Nideggen with Montana Acrylic Marker (background and pocket square) added afterwards. I was having fun with the texture of his shirt and jacket. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Beyond those journals I suppose in someways there are too many journals filled in my lifetime to have favorites. I can look at any journal and find growth (which makes me happy), discovery (which makes me joyous), and mess (which makes me absolutely over the moon because it proves I’m trying and pushing myself).
If cornered to declare a favorite beyond the Daily Dots I think I would have to say that I am often happiest with journals I make on trips or take to the State Fair. I’m really focusing every moment of my time on getting something down on paper. I feel I have a mission. I feel like a well-oiled machine, capable to do anything in any amount of time. I feel I’m on an expedition, and the goals for pages or insights are higher.
But then I think about it a little longer and realize, that's how I feel every day of my life. I have always been on an expedition. This is a common feeling of Third Culture Kids, they are always observing they are always exploring. So if I look at the “regular” journals I see that’s all contained within them as well, except the growth, discovery, and mess emerges from the muck of “regular” life and duties.
Ultimately it’s those journals, full of the muck of life, that are my favorites—journals I created out of my regular life. Journals I filled by keeping myself open to the wondrous things around me every single day of my life—not simply special occasions. (The Daily Dots fit happily into this category as well. Almost as if I planned it.)
And of those journals I think the recent Nideggen journal, created at the end of 2015, is definitely one of my all time favorites.
When I showed the recent Nideggen journal to my friend Diane, who understands journals, sketching, painting, color, and paper in ways similar and different to me, she actually petted the pages.
We laughed because she knew that I’d done that too, and probably would do it again.
There is something marvelous about paper that has been touched by the human hand and given new content in the form of an illustration. Paper whose structure has been forever changed by what you put on it—warped by the moisture, scored by the emphatic pen stroke. This is what paper was meant for. Now there is something on that paper that wasn’t there before, that didn’t exist, that came out of my mind through my hand. The paper is no longer new and pristine. It’s used. It has lived.
I think that’s the biggest compliment you can give to paper, to step aside from your ego that may be telling you that you aren’t good enough to use the paper and actually use it. To make a statement.
Is it the best statement you’ll ever make? No, probably not, but you made a statement.
Tomorrow you’ll make another statement, and another.
And at the end of your life you’ll have pages and pages of those statements which testify to the fact that you observed, and you thought, and you were present in life.