Thursday, August 30, 2012

Art Tip #5 - How to Choose a Journal

"What kind of journal do you use?" 

This is a frequent question I get asked when it comes to my art journals.  

I can definitely understand why -- it's frustrating to buy a journal and take it home, only to find out your watercolors don't agree with the paper!

So, rather than only recommending one particular brand for you, I thought I'd share with you the check list I keep in my head whenever I'm buying a new journal for my watercolor projects.

Here goes: 
#1)  What's the weight of the paper?  
A ream of paper is sold at 500 sheets.  If you're in a store, and you look at the front of a sketchpad, you'll see a number listed in lbs or gsm.   This little guy tells you how much that particular type of paper weighs at 500 sheets.  Basically what that means for an artist is, the higher the number (aka the "weight" of the paper), the thicker those pages will be.  And the thicker your paper, obviously the better it will handle moisture:  ie, watercolor, acrylic, glue, and other fun/messy stuff.  The weight can range anywhere from 20lbs (office copy paper) to 300 lbs (really, really good watercolor sheets).  

Here are snapshots of some of my different art pads and their weights: 

I've found that paper in the 90-140lb range works best for my art journaling.  
(If I'm in the store, and the sketchbook I'm considering doesn't have a weight listed, I don't buy it!)

#2) What's the quality of the paper? 
Excellent watercolor paper is actually made out of cotton (sometimes referred to as "rag"), instead of wood pulp.  Cotton is a great absorber.   Wood pulp, not so much.  
Note:  there is a reason that good watercolor paper is as expensive as it is.  It's because it really does make a difference!  It's definitely worth the investment.  

#3)  How is the book binded together? 
I prefer the hand-sewn journals more than the spiral-bound ones.  When I open up the book, I like viewing it as 1 big page, instead of 2, broken up in the middle by wires.  Plus, it drives me crazy when the wire-bound books snag or bend.
(See the wire bent on the top of the green one?  aaak!)  

4)  What other goodies does the journal have?
I like fabric bound journals, simply because feel nicer to hold in my hand.  Some books also have little pockets in the back.  I like to press flowers in those.  Other journals may also have bookmarks and elastic bands to hold your pages down.  

So that's it!   Those are the 4 big "criteria" I keep in mind when looking to buy new journals.

There's lots of good stuff out there.

I hoped this has helped with your search.  :)

Here are a few links to some journals too:
      Jerry's Artarama

How about you?
Do you have a favorite kind of journal?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gratitude Journal - My Dad

I realized recently that I hadn't worked on any of my Gratitude Pages in a few weeks.

Looking back at this past month, I could definitely tell a difference in my mood -- I've been more stressed than usual, and little bit more on the cranky side.  Maybe Shawn Achor is correct in saying that gratitude journaling does rewire our thinking.

Either way,  I've been wanting to make these particular pages for quite some time, and finally filled them in the other night.

I am grateful for my dad.

My dad is a risk-taker at heart.  I've always been in awe of this.  As a little girl, I'd watch him effortlessly scale several-story-high scaffolding on job sites.  I felt that as long as he had his tool belt around his hip, he could climb anything in the world.  

He'd tell us kids about his sky-diving days too.  I'd wonder what about him made him so courageous that he would jump out of a plane, more than once.

Or start a business.  Or learn how to fly.  


I'm grateful for how hard he's worked in his lifetime too.  He'd work late into the night to give us what he never had as a kid --  a comfortable home with good memories.  A good school.  Family meeting nights.  Devotions.  Prayer at bedtime.

Above all the things I appreciate about my dad, though, it's been his love and support.
Even with my painful past, he's always been cheering me on.  Listening to me.  Believing in me.

I am incredibly grateful to God for putting this man into my life.


Thank you, Dad, for always making me feel like I could fly.
I love you.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sketchbook Journal - August

Happy almost Monday!
I hope your weekend was relaxing.  School starts tomorrow for my little one.  
Eek.  WHERE does the time go?  


I finished filling in last week's journal pages.  They're a little bit on the "busier" side than what I normally do, but it was fun to play around and experiment.

I knew before I put anything on the page that I wanted a bubbly, blue/green theme, so I penciled the circles in first and then added my watercolor.   I then wrote down my special dates (my handsome man's b-day) and added little bits of ephemera and clippings.  
The thought-bubbles were then filled in with white acrylic ink.

I'm usually not a big fan of using vintage pictures, but I loved this chick's pretty teal dress and shoes.  
Her dreamy pose caught my eye too.

So, those were my pages for last week.
I'll try to post pages that are completely filled in more often.  

Have a marvelous, wonderful week! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sketchbooks & Journals

Organizing and skimming through some of my sketchbooks. 
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! 

A Peek

This week's pages in progress. 
More to come soon.  :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sketchbook Journal - August

Pages from last week.
With washi-tape and watercolor.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bear Prints

I've been saving up my pennies to get some professional prints made of my work, so I was super-excited today to pick up a few of my "Bear in Pencil".   I finally had the original professionally framed too.  (It's going to be a gift for my husband's b-day.  shh....  Don't tell him).

It's been a slow process, but I hope to start putting some pieces up for sale soon.  Where, and how, I'm not sure yet.  Suggestions are always welcome!

Slow & steady wins the race.
At least I hope so.  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Numi Tea

As a kid, I was never much of a girly-girl.   
 I got dirt under my finger nails and played a lot in the creek.
I loved 4-wheeling and fishing.  
I was into shooting my kid-sized bow & arrow and "helping" my dad lay concrete.  
I owned a sling-shot too.

Once I had a daughter of my own, though, I began to enjoy more "girly" things.

Tea is one of them.  
It makes me feel sophisticated and pretty. 

watercolor tea sketch

I picked up a my first box of Numi Tea a few weeks ago.  
Jasmine Green is my favorite. 
Sketches in watercolor and ink.


Which little indulgences of yours make you feel sophisticated and pretty?  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love Birds

Two years ago today, I married my honey and best friend.

Love Birds in watercolor.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Timelapse video of the Perseid Meteor Shower and the galactic core
 of the Milky Way as seen from Joshua Tree National Park


(They peak this weekend, if you want to check them out. :-) )

Friday, August 10, 2012


What I've been recently working on in my watercolor journal.
More to come soon.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Art Inspiration - Starry Night

Give it a few seconds for the music to start.
(Best viewed full size).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Art Tip #4 - How to Get Unstuck

A little over a year ago, I was talking to my good friend Julie about a problem I was having.  

We were taking a walk on a wooded trail, and I said to her, "I want to do my artwork, but I'm just not.  I feel so stuck.  What's the point in art?  Why would God give me a passion for something that seems so impractical?  Why should I do it at all?  Hmmph."  

I'll never forget the words she said in reply.

"Jenny, why don't you do it simply because you enjoy it, and see where it takes you?"

A lightbulb went off!

I quit worrying about the pressure and got back into it for the fun of it.... which led me to this blog, which led to me meeting wonderful friends like you, which led to pet portraits and other commissioned projects.  Doing my artwork for the sheer fun of it has opened up so many doors I never thought even existed.  

It freed me up tremendously.

So for anyone else who may feel discouraged and "stuck", I am passing along her wise words to you too:  

And see where it takes you.  :-)


What kind of creative outlet makes you the happiest?  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Weekend Get-Away

This past weekend we drove upstate to New York to visit my dad and brother.   They live in a hundred-acre wooded farmland.  Rolling mountains, spacious sky --  it's one of my favorite places in the world. 
But before we even step inside their home and give my family great, big, I've-missed-you hugs,  I'm always greeted in the driveway by my two sweet cats.   I had rescued and adopted them as kittens while I was living in my old apartment.  I found them alone and abandoned, mewing in a neighboring field;  their mother was later found dead down the road.  I think they were no more 5 weeks old at the time.  

When I moved into my current apartment, though, I sadly couldn't take them with me, so my Dad took them into his care.  I think they love their mountain home as much as I do.  

Conan is my snuggable little man.  I swear he's part dog....  How can you not love this face?

Chloe is my sensitive sweetie.  When I had been going through a difficult time a few years ago, she'd always quietly curl up beside me whenever I needed a good cry.
 They love basking in dad's vegetable garden.
Cabbages and corn, green beans and tomatoes.  
This place, and my family, are always a breath of fresh air.What's your favorite place to get-away and recharge?