I'm not too into watercolors, at least not with the techniques like sprinkling salt, tapping wet paint off the brush, sprinkling alcohol. It feels fussy, and the paint never goes where I want. Plus, I'm not super comfortable with sketching. This lesson had me dragging my feet a lot. But yesterday I finally sat down and did it (finished the writing and words today, though). And I liked it! I like that galaxy look and how it blends into the lighter blue area I put into the top left. I even liked sprinkling the gold and silver paint!
I could have (maybe should have) made this a little easier by doing it on separate paper rather than right in my journal, but my supplies are really disorganized right now so that felt kind of hard. But I probably would have been less resistant if I had done it in a way that felt temporary, that felt like I could just throw it out if I didn't like it.
So what's the message here? Do the thing. Try it! Experiment! Find a way that makes it feel easier, or at least less hard or scary. But do the thing. Cool stuff happens when we just do the thing.
I love to try new things. And I like goals. But I don't always like super big things (like New Year's resolutions). Quite a few years ago, though, I felt like I needed something for the year. We had moved the year before (moved in together!), and we were in a new neighborhood. So I decided that I would try one new restaurant near our new place every month. It was so much fun! I went with various friends and with my partner. We all had a good time, and my partner and I found a couple of new favorite restaurants.
Another year I wanted to get better at knitting, so I decided I would make something every month. That experiment didn't work as well. I made a few things, but the monthly goal was too much for me (I'm a slow knitter!), and it started being not so fun
In 2019 I set the goal of going to each of the reciprocal venues that had free admission with our zoo membership, and that was the best one so far! So many fun trips!
This year, I'm trying out a new recipe every month, something that's a little tricky or intimidating to me. So far I've made bao, dolmas, and homemade pizza, and this month I'm going to try egg foo yung.
I've learned that my experiments work best if they're something I can do, something that happens on one day, rather than something that stretches over the whole month. I've also learned that I enjoy them more if I share them with others. So the years where it didn't go as well, wasn't as enjoyable, when I didn't make it to the end of the year werent' failures at all. They helped me see what works for me. And that's a thing I am trying to learn about all sorts of "failures." I thought this story about how things not going as planned or hoped are still helpful might be useful to some of you out there. I hope you are finding fun experiments of your own no matter what the outcome!
I love that word, "traveler." Â It's right up there with "adventure" and "wild" for me, favorite exciting words that make me want to jump up and do something. Â And of course I love notebooks. Â I'm pretty sure that's come up before. Â So last week when I got a glimpse into the world of the Midori Traveler Notebook, I was hooked. Â Sort of. Â I didn't like the sizes. Â I don't want to have to send away for inserts all the time, and I don't want to have to make my own all the time.
I decided I would just make my own Midori Traveler (also called "fauxdori" which is so cute!) in a size that works for me. Â I spent hours on Pinterest, Etsy, and YouTube (favorite links below) looking at examples and watching how other people made theirs. Â I came up with a plan, picking my favorite parts from everything I looked at, and I got started.
I decided on red vinyl for the cover because I didn't feel like waiting until I could get to the leather store. Â I was going to line the vinyl with fabric, but I found this fabulous stuff calledÂ Kraft-tex Kraft Paper Fabric. Â It acts like fabric and paper--itsÂ wonderful. Â I picked some up to paint and collage for my liner. Â I got turquoise embroidery floss to finish the edges to make sure there's no peeling of the layers, and I got rainbow elastic because I needed elastic, so why not rainbow?
I painted and collaged the liner then glued it to the vinyl. Â Then I used a five-pronged leather punch to make holes for the embroidery floss all around the edges of the notebook.
I added the rainbow elastic, mostly the magenta and flame orange section (because it's one five-yard piece of elastic, so I picked a section). Â I decided to put the holes side-by-side rather than one above the other (which is how it's set up in the real Midoris) to give me two same-sized bands on the inside.
Then I added the elastic "belt". Â In the real Midoris the hole for this is in the middle of the back cover. Â I saw a few people putting theirs on the spine, so I did that with mine, too. Â So far so good, although I just finished the notebook about an hour ago so it may be too soon to tell.
I gathered or created my filler books. Â The first oneÂ is a Moleskine Cahier that I worked a few pages in several years ago then let languish. Â I decided I should go ahead and use it, so I changed the title on the cover and put it into my fauxdori. Â It's going to be for project plans and notes. Â The next one is a greeting card that I added some decorations to and then filled with scrapbook paper to make a sort of Smash Book for visual journaling and glue-booking. The third is dot-grid printed paper bound into pretty scrapbook paper. Â This one will be for writing practice, notes, etc. Â And the last one is a blank book that came inside an art journaling book I got several years ago (and can't find in my house to tell you the name of). Â I cut it down a bit so it will fit into my notebook. Â The journals that I bound are half-sheet size (US 8.5 x 11 inches) while the Moleskine is slightly smaller, but I don't mind the disparity in size. Â They are all close enough that they work fine together, and I like the idea of making my book a size that lets me pick up refills when I want instead of always having to make them.
Here's the filled book:
I used the elastic to insert the middle books and then large rubber bands to attach each of the outside books.
Last but not least, I added Post-it pocketsÂ inside the front and back covers to hold all the little notes and scraps of paper that accumulate.
And now it's ready to use for creative planning, note taking, writing practice, vision collages, and whatever else I think up, all in one place!
Do you have a Midori Notebook story? Â I'd love to hear how you use yours. Â And if you have pictures, please link in the comments so we can all enjoy them. Â Thanks!
My Notebooks board on Pinterest (not all Midori, but there are a lot there)
There's a ton of stuff out there. Â I still have loads of videos saved to watch later, and every time I open Pinterest there are new posts. Â So go browse around, see all the cool stuff, and maybe make a Traveler of your own. Â Have fun!
For me, making myself a little something is so much better than going out and buying something.Â Maybe not always, but when I'm feeling restless and dissatisfied, a feeling that used to send me to the mall as a teenager, making something makes me feel way better than a shopping spree does.Â Usually costs a lot less, too.
You can see from the photo of the inside that I got the bottom staple a little off-center.Â I decided I didn't mind it enough to re-do it, so there you go.Â I did change the final step and add one final step.Â I stapled from the inside out then put another piece of tape over the staples on the outside of the spine to keep them from snagging.Â It was easier for me to do it this way since I didn't have a long-armed stapler and also didn't have an eraser.Â Experiment a bit and see what works for you.
Why is my journal making experiment important to you?Â Just as a reminder--it took me longer to tweak my photos and write this post than it did to make the journal.Â You do not have to have big stretches of time, lots of space, or many supplies to make something fun and satisfying.Â So go ahead.Â Go out and make yourself a little something.Â You're gonna love it, I promise!
How many of you do more than one art or craft form? Â I do--sometimes I have to rein myself in, because I could easily get seduced by every need-to-buy-new-supplies craft that comes along.
This week, I'd like to examine the ways our various creative activities inform each other. Â I'm interested in finding out if perhaps we can purposefully choose activities that give a boost to each other--not just the expected creative pairs like painting and drawing or writing fiction and writing memoir. Â I'm interested in more obscure, less expected pairings.
Make a list of your creative pursuits. Make sure you include things like dancing, cooking, gardening--anything you do that may fall outside the typical things we think of when we think about creativity. Â Then examine ways these activities might influence each other. Â Look for the subtle, maybe even subconscious ways this happens, and also consider ways you might purposefully help these connections to occur.
Have fun with this. Â Consider it a chance to play with all your creative loves. Â Let me know what you discover about how your creative activities play together.
Edit: For Tea Party visitors, the actual tea party post is here. Â Enjoy!
I have a confession to make.Â I love Alice in Wonderland.Â Really love it.Â Unabashedly, unreservedly adore anything and everything Alice.Â I was nearly beside myself when the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie was announced.Â I'm currently working on an Alice themed art project for a swap. Which is why, when I saw this project, I sensibly decided not to get involved.
The problem is, I didn't really have anything planned for this week's experiment.Â And I kept running across references to that Alice project that I was not going to do, no way, no how, I don't have time, I'm not doing it.
But it's Alice!Â And there's magic there.Â And whimsy.Â And I think maybe I've been a bit short on whimsy lately.Â And it's Alice!Â So I'm doing it.
If I had just given in to this a few weeks ago, I could do something really fantastic and fun. Now, with only a few days to go (oh, and a newsletter to wrap up), I'll have to keep a tight rein on myself and disregard most of the wonderful, whimsical ideas floating through my head.Â But there will be a tea party, oh yes there will!
Note: this is an older post I wrote, but it's still relevant so I'm putting it back on the site. And writers? Don't skip it because it looks like it's meant for other types of artists. It applies to you, too! I'll add a little note at the end of the post specifically for writers, but all of this is for all of us.
This week, I'm feeling sluggish and stressed and not very creative at all.Â I am definitely in the doldrums.
I know we're not always at the top of our game, energetic and inspired and ready to be geniuses, but this is still a hard place to be.Â I think somewhere in my mind is a voice telling me that this isn't supposed to happen to me.Â I'm the teacher, the coach, the one who helps others out of these tight spots. I'm not supposed to get into them myself, right? Ha!
Of course, we can optimize things so that we have more regular bouts of uber creativity (I'm working on how to make that happen) with fewer slumps, but sometimes you're tired.Â Â You're a little under the weather, you're frazzled and harried and don't quite have what you need to take on a full blown creative project.Â But you still want to keep your hand in the game and do *something* creative, make something, do something.Â If you're like me, that process of just taking a bit of time to make something small or simple really helps me feel better.Â Sometimes I really need to make something to get back in the flow, but at the same time I just don't have the energy and oomph I need to figure out what project to start on.
So what can we do when we don't have the energy for a major project but we still want to do something creative?Â Prep work.Â Wait!Â Don't turn off the screen just yet.Â Prep work isn't a bad thing at all.Â We need to do it.Â The Prep Work Fairy is *not* coming over to do it for us (she called and told me she isn't).Â And prep work doesn't require us to be at the top of our game, so it's perfect for the doldrum days.Â Plus, if the prep work is done when you *are* fired up and ready to go, you don't have to use your precious, high octane creative energy on the tasks that don't need it.
What are some of the things you can do for prep work?Â Of course that depends on your art form or forms, but here are some ideas:
Paint and/or stamp backgrounds for art journal pages or collages
Wind and sort threads for a needlework project
Cut out fabric squares for a quilting project
Sketch design ideas
Cut or tear pictures and words from magazines for collages
This week, I am going to do a bunch of art journal page backgrounds.Â (I won't say I'll do one a day--I know I have a busy weekend coming up, so I know I won't do it.)Â I've been wanting to get to my journal more regularly, so maybe having some prepared backgrounds will help with that.
What can you do this week to pave the way for your creative work?
Note for writers: you might do things like setting up files (pages for characters, settings, etc.), finding images that look like your characters and places, things like that. Or you might read some writing articles or blogs. Or you might try some of the above-mentioned non-writing ideas, because sometimes doing something outside your usual creative field is just the thing you need.