Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

What is IFJM?
Please read the page "What Is IFJM" for details.
Learn the difference between Faux, Fake, and Fake Historical Journals.

Contests for 2013
See the right-hand sidebar for links to details on the 2013 Contests OR click here.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2013 participants who are posting their fake journals this year appears near the top of the right side bar of this blog. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010, 2011, and 2012 lower in the same column. Please pay them a visit and check out their fake journals.

View a Couple of Roz's Past Fake Journals
Roz's 2009 fake journal takes place in an alternate Twin Cites, where disease has killed the human and bird populations. (It ends up being an upbeat tale of friendship.) Watch a video flip through of Roz's 2009 fake journal here.

Read an explanation of Roz's insanely complex 2011 fake journal.

Tips on Keeping a Fake Journal
Click on "tips" in the category cloud.

Remember, "Life's so short, why live only one?"


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Get Ready, Get Set—Now Throw Out All Your Prep…

OK, I'm not advocating that you toss out all the ideas that have been simmering in your head as you gathered (or bound) a journal and materials for International Fake Journal Month 2010, but on the eve of this year's celebration I wanted to point out that sometimes throwing out all your prep is the best thing you can do.

Sometimes, when you get ready for a project that will last this long (or even a short project) you might reach a point where you simply feel odd, feel as if things aren't coming together as you would have liked or hoped, feel that something is missing.

I want to reassure you that this is normal and you can have one of two approaches—you can toss out your prep and just go with the flow tomorrow, or you can stay the course and trust that the time you spent thinking out even a vague plan was well spent.

Neither of these approaches is wrong or right. Only you will know what is right for you when you get up tomorrow, start going about your day, and then at whatever point you've decided you're going to journal, you actually sit down (or stand) and create the first fake journal page in the new journal.

No one else can tell you which course of action will be best for you. And one of the great things about fake journal month is that if you find yourself going through this moment of indecision and second guessing, you can actually learn about yourself. You will learn if it is "real" indecision or simply the nagging of your internal critic. You will begin to see (if you haven't already had experience with this) how the two differ. One—real indecision—is healthy and necessary for every artist who is trying to find her voice, her character, her style. It's something you work through, and frankly, you just have to work through it. The sooner you get to that point and learn what it's like the easier it will be to work through it in the future.

The other aspect, the nagging of your internal critic, is of course, not healthy. By hearing it loud and clear at this juncture you can better equip yourself to turn it off, both now and on other projects.

They may at first seem to be very similar. There is a key difference—real indecision is something that you can and should work through as an artist. It is a final examination of your plan, your goals, your vision of the project, before you launch it. It's like a pre-flight checklist. Go through the points on your list one more time, not because you are being obsessive, but because you are still "trying out" the feel of aspects of your plans, still listening to hear the voice of your character.

If the stress and second thoughts you seem to be experiencing come instead from your internal critic, everything you come up with will be shot down not in a helpful and specific way, but in a general way of "why am I doing this anyway," "why bother?"

I don't have much trouble with my internal critic. Long ago I found ways to work around him, through him, past him. Mostly with my own sarcastic humor. What I can tell you is that if it is your internal critic popping up, to set you up to stop, then learning to recognize that, and learning to work around it, will benefit you on every future art project you ever do.

And if it is matters of logistics and artistic choices which are gumming you up, well, working through those will also benefit all your future art endeavors.

It really is a win-win situation if you allow it to be.

So this note is just to encourage you to take stock of what is happening and work through it, because keeping a fake journal for International Fake Journal Month is really, really fun. It's not a chore, or a task, or homework, or a exercise regimen. It's an adventure and an exploration. You take yourself and you leave your internal critic behind (and don't even bother to send him any postcards!).

Last year I knew early on who my character was, and the situation she was in gradually emerged. It came out of my love of birds, my use of an Alvin Field book, my response to the recent death of a friend. Bit by bit everything came together in a way that was both challenging and fulfilling for me.

This year, I've been pulled this way and that by all sorts of obligations I would never have expected. But I will not give up my month without a fight. It is one of the two "art vacations" I take during the year (the other is the Minnesota State Fair of course; and I work through both of them so they are vacations only in the sense that a project gets done in a specific time frame). When other events or complications in life start block my view of the project, I look at how I can modify things to still make them work. (I talked about how to focus on your goals in my prep posts.)

It does not surprise me that this year, only a few hours from starting my 2010 fake journal, I'm wishing I had a little more time to think about my approach, my book choice, my media, and most definitely my character.

But I also know that tomorrow everything will be fine. I've done enough prep that even if things go "horribly wrong" I can suck it up for 30 days and make it work. I've had practice with that in life and work outside of the fake journal. The flip side is that if I jettison my prep and go with a new direction I know I'll make it work (within the time constraints I have to work in). I'm realistic about my goals and expectations.

So all that is left is to sit back, wait to start, and then simply jump in and see how it all goes; all while enjoying myself, and challenging myself.

I want to encourage you to do the same. Tomorrow listen to that part of you who knows what will engage and entertain you. Don't listen to anything else. Then open your fake journal and begin.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 2010 International Fake Journal Month Contest


Left: The prizes for this year's contest—two weirdly shaped journals, hand bound by me with 90 lb. watercolor paper for text pages and hand-painted decorative paper on the covers. The fabric for both books is a rich plum-purple. Each book is approximately 3.5 x 8 inches and has 60 pages—just perfect for your 2011 fake journal right? The odd shape of these journals is perfect for your "character."

Last year I held a contest for participants in International Fake Journal month. I thought it would be fun to do so again this year—but, I've changed my approach to accommodate the number of people who keep telling me they are going to participate.
This year's contest has two different portions. You can enter both contests, however, you can only win in one. I'm going to call them Contest Promotion and Contest Post.

Contest Promotion is for people who have blogs (and who may or may not actually keep a fake journal this year!):
1. To enter this contest you will need to go to Roz Wound Up and scroll down until you see the International Fake Journal Month Button in the left column: it is a blue dog on a pink background.

2. Click on this image, drag it to your desktop or put it in the folder you store your own blog information in.

3. Keep this bit of code handy, it's the link you'll need:
http://officialinternationalfakejournalblog.blogspot.com/

4. Go to the "design" page of your blog, however that is set up in your blog platform. You will need to upload the IFJM dog button up to your blog and then put it in the margin column on your blog—just as you add other buttons. Here's an example of how to do it with Blogger:
Then you want to go to your blogger dashboard and click on the LAYOUT selection for your blog.

Go to your dashboard and find LAYOUT, and then Page Elements. Click on "ADD A GADGET" in the column of your blog outline. A selection of gadgets will come up.
Scroll down to one that reads "PICTURE" and select it. You will be asked to give it a title and caption. DON'T DO THAT AS THEY SHOW UP AND MAKE IT LOOK MESSY. Instead leave those lines blank.

FOR LINK you want to enter the URL for this blog as provided above.

Next you need to click the button under Image, that says "From your computer" there is a circle that should have a dot in it when you select it.

Next hit BROWSE button next to that open box under "From your computer" and navigate to the folder on your desktop where you put that IFJM dog button/logo and SELECT that image. Follow any other instructions to upload it. It should take only seconds and you'll be back at this box where you want to be sure "shrink to fit is selected (it's the default and anyway I think my logo is about 220 pixels, don't recall). Then click save.

You will return to the outline of your blog and the new element will be in the column and you can drag it where you want it, click save and you're done.
5. Once you have posted the link button for IFJM on your blog you need to send me an email with a link to YOUR blog, so that I can go and verify that it's there. I'll check when you put up the notice. Write to me at roz@tcinternet.net, with "Contest Promotion IFJM" in the subject line.

6. To be eligible for this contest you'll need to post the button on your blog by April 10 and display it until May 3.

7. You do not need to participate in IFJM—this contest is for all those folks who are still sitting on the fence. You like the idea of participating and would love to encourage people to do so, but your circumstances don't allow you to participate this year.

If you follow these instructions and meet these criteria then your name will go into the drawing for one of the pictured journals. The drawing will be held after I have verified listings on May 3.

Contest Post—This contest is for people who are going to keep a fake journal and publish the results:
This portion of this year's contest has two ways to enter.

A. Post on YOUR OWN BLOG, at least 5 (five) journal pages or spreads (depending on how you are working), during the month of April. You will need to send me a link to your blog EACH TIME you post an fake journal image on your blog.

The email should go to roz@tcinternet.net. Subject line: IFJM MY BLOG Post # (and list the number, 1 through 5 as appropriate). You need to provide a link to your blog in the body of your message. Include your postal address with your first entry so that I can mail your prize if you win.

Please don't wait to send me notification until the end of April, as I will be putting up a weekend update with any links provided. In this way, people who arrive at this blog will find your blog and your journal pieces as you are working.

OR YOU CAN DO THE FOLLOWING:

B. Send me at least 5 jpgs (of pages or spreads) from throughout the month of April. They need to be 500 pixels wide and 72 dpi. (DO NOT send larger files, you will go in the trash folder. Each file sent must be smaller than 1.3MB and sent attached to a separate email.) The emails should come to me at roz@tcinternet.net, with "IFJM YOU POST #" in the subject line (the number being which entry you are up to, 1 through 5 of course). Include your mailing address in the first entry so I can send your prize if you win.

People participating in part B have until May 2 to send me their fifth image (this assumes they might have created that image on April 30 and not had time to scan and send it).

The drawing for the prize for "Contest Post" will be held as soon as I have 1. checked all the links sent me to people following option A, and 2. posted all the images received by May 2 (I don't know how quickly I'll be able to post things if there is a large participation in the contest).

Everyone posting his or her fake journal entries from April 2010 in either of these two ways will become eligible for the drawing for the second journal.

(And just in case you are worried, I will not use your postal addresses for anything or give them to anyone. I ask for them in your first entry because in past contests I've sometimes had difficulty tracking down the winners. I'd like to simply pop the books in the mail when the drawing is finished!)

There you have it. Two opportunities to share your fake journal work and participate in the journal give away.

I hope you'll consider helping me spread the word about International Fake Journal Month by joining Contest Promotion too!

Note: you do not have to live in the U.S. to enter. I will send these prizes out overseas.

VERY IMPORTANT ADDENDUM (3.30.10)
This year's contest is arranged differently than last year's so when I made this post I killed my sidebar instructions on submissions. I forgot to include subject matter restrictions in these instructions. Here's the deal: My taste in art is pretty wide, in styles and subject matter. If you are sending links and images for the contest that include excessive or gratuitous violence, child abuse, or pornographic elements I would rule against listing and including them. I made a distinction last year about nudity: If your character is spending all his time in life-drawing sessions those pages would probably fall within the guidelines (and there are many other instances where nudity would also fall within the parameters of posting), but if your character is involved in X-rated sexual behavior and sketching those events—probably not.

I know someone could make a fabulous fake journal about the latter, and indeed, about some of the other excluded topics—but I think to be valuable, that artist will need to explore those things in private first. Many fake journals are best not published. I feel an obligation to protect the creator who might rush to show work in the context of the month-long project, before considering aspects of exposure and privacy. That breach of the artist's personal boundaries defeats many of the positive effects of fake journaling.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

If You Prep for International Fake Journal Month Consider…

Yesterday I posted about my prepping process for last year and this year—one quick, one a bit more involved. (To Prep or Not to Prep…) Today I have a checklist you can work through if you decide to do preparation.

Prep isn't about "work." Think of prep as a sort of packing for a trip, because after all, fake journaling is a journey and you don't want to forget your socks.

1. How much time do I have to spend each day on this project?
The answer to this question will influence your selection of media and subject matter. For example: if your character is sketching a full, detailed scene in pen and watercolor every day you’ll need to find time to do create that work. On the other hand series of doodles and notes about his life and appointments can be achieved relatively quickly.

2. What type of media do I want to work in?
How you answer this question will effect your time commitment and be influenced by your paper choice and skill level working with that medium. For example: pencil or pen sketches can be quickly finished, but detailed renderings in either media, or sketches with the addition of watercolor or gouache will probably double your time input.
VERY IMPORTANT TIP:
In general it is best to limit the media you use in your fake journal for International Fake Journal Month. Unlimited media will increase you decision making time and thus increase daily project time. It can give rise to frustration. Also you will not focus in on your “character’s” point of view as quickly and surely as if you stick with a limited selection of media and see how he/she uses them. (The exception of course is if your character is a painter who experiments in all media, but while that seems very freeing, you will find that a labor- and time-intensive approach that can lead to frustration.) If you want to use unrestricted media I recommend that you wait until May and then set up an experimental journal that you keep at the same time you keep your regular journal.

3. Does the host book I have selected have contain enough pages for a page a day, or a spread a day (or more!), as called for by my media selection and time commitment goals?

4. If I am going to reproduce my journal images how suitable is the host book?
Does the book you have selected fit easily on your scanner? Do you have to scan each page and put them together in Photoshop? Are you able to photograph them easily? Can you copy them with a black and white photocopier or are details lost because you work in color? These are all things to consider when you select your book. If you do decide to share your pages how you reproduce those pages will add to your daily workload, taking time away from actually working in the fake journal.

5. Is the paper in my host book suitable for the selected media I intend to use?
Keep in mind that suitable is something you define based on the project. Perhaps you want to work in watercolor but the paper is cheap notebook paper. If your character is fine with that you can be too. Making sure the media is suitable for your book is really just making sure you want to work with the two for an entire month, come what may. For instance, working on water-resistant paper like I did last year, with watercolors, might not seem appealing but it worked out because I loved the feel of the medium on the paper and loved the resultant buckling of the paper.

Fake journals are a time to step away from the constraints you might usually bind your journaling activities with. Use acidic papers, use non-archival pens, use paper through which ink bleeds—do whatever appeals to your inquisitive mind that will enable you to discover your character and also push your own journaling boundaries.

6. Am I going to keep my regular journal in April while I also keep the fake journal?
Assess this for time commitment. If you are keeping your regular journal and your usual practice is daily, will you be comfortable keeping it on a non-daily basis if you need to work in the fake journal?

7. Will I work daily in my fake journal?
While it is certainly a worthy goal to work in your fake journal on a daily basis for the 30 days of April, it is not essential. It is also not practical for everyone. It depends on your other commitments for work, family, art, and journaling. I recommend that you set up your schedule to create at least three days a week when you can work on your fake journal. These three days are a baseline at which you will actually begin to feel comfortable with the character keeping the fake journal.


If you are new to journaling or new to fake journaling the three-day-a-week goal is also a realistic approach for success. Anything more will make you obviously happy. If your weekly total of pages (or page spreads if you are working that way) goes below three, then remember to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you have had other things come up to prevent you from reaching your goal. Don’t use those events to make excuses for yourself, just acknowledge that they have happened and look at your schedule with them in mind to find a daily time when you can best achieve your goal. Be prepared to be flexible throughout the month so that you can keep working in your fake journal with satisfaction and success.

8. Remember that pages need to be dated at the time they are completed.
Because of this necessity a “catch-up” session is not possible for fake journaling. (If you use “catch up” sessions you are venturing into faux journaling which I hope to discuss in a later post.)

Your character needs to be in the moment. Now if that moment extends to his completion of two page spreads at one time (he goes to the farm and sketches animals filling those four pages, etc.), great—but remember the parameters. Doing a “catch-up” session also doesn’t give you a sense of being in your character’s mind in the same way living with him/her every day will. And that defeats one of the purposes of participating in International Fake Journal Month.


9. Have I considered reasons to prep?
The obvious reason is that you'll be set to jump right in on April 1 with your materials and even, perhaps, as sense of the journal keeper.

Another reason for doing prep is to create a shopping list. I’m an advocate of using what you have on hand. I had the notebook I wanted to use and the pencils, all on hand. After I completed my prep (as described in yesterday's post) I only need a couple items. When you have worked out a basic plan you can MAKE A SHOPPING LIST and purchase those tools and items you need, again so that on April 1 you’re ready to jump right in.
You’re not scrambling and wasting valuable time, or frustrating yourself with extra errands on April 1 when you could be journaling.


10. If I intend to post my fake journal pages on my blog or with my friends how will that impact the process?
If you intend to post your fake journal work publicly I recommend that you journal for a full week or seven entries (if you don’t journal daily, so this might mean you’ll be halfway through the month before you post any of your work). The delay in posting will allow you to become comfortable with your character and get a sense of where the journal might be going. It will also allow you to savor the excitement you feel about the journal without any need to explain it to others.
For many people who participate in International Fake Journal Month this is the first time they explore working on an extended project which requires sustained energy and focus. Explanation can drain the energy from a project—energy you need to keep going.

Delaying the publication of your fake journal pages serves one purely practical consideration. As mentioned in item 4 above, reproducing your work will involve scanning, Photoshop work perhaps, or photography. All these activities take time. If you are busy preparing yesterday's pages for today's publication you aren't building your daily habit of working in the journal. After a week or more of journaling in your fake journal, however, taking time to prepare your pages for publication will be less likely to derail your journaling process.

Additionally, delaying the publication of your pages will help you achieve a thicker skin. This is needed to protect you from prying questions that may come up, even from the closest of friends—questions that could derail your efforts. I have found, with people participating in the past, that building up a head of steam, getting pages under their belts, before sharing their work, is an accurate indicator of the probability of a productive month of fake journaling.


Because the fake journal isn’t created by “you” it might seem easier to show. There is a distance between you and the content. But if you are not practiced at creating this distance be aware that it does not naturally develop. Don’t count on that distance if you are new to the process. You and the successful completion of your goals, as well as the discovery of ideas you can bring back to your actual journaling process, are the more important that public feedback. Fake journaling is first about exploring and expanding your creative process.

The subject matter you explore may be darker (or lighter) than your regular work. If your creative self feels exposed it may not follow through with this material.

Start small and expect the process to get intense by the end of the month—either because other commitments rush in to claim your time, or your inner critic chimes in loudly, or you hit issues you weren’t expecting.

Leave yourself open to possibilities. Use the month to work against all forms of rigidity, even those that might develop around your goals for your fake journal.

Finally, as you ask yourself these questions, remember—you can’t think of every eventuality. When something happens to disrupt your intended plan find a work around, while in character! That's all part of the fun.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Prep or Not To Prep…


Left: The graphite test page in the first APICA book I purchased and tested. All the images were simply sketched from memory—more or less doodled. More about this image below. Click on the image to view an enlargement

Maybe you’re one of those totally spontaneous sorts who’ll jump up at 11 p.m. on April 1, decide to participate in International Fake Journal Month, grab any blank or alterable book at hand, make an entry, and proceed to have a rollicking good time the rest of the month. If so, I’m happy you can do this, but I know that approach doesn’t always work out well for me (and I’ve been journaling for a long time) or my students who are juggling the task of learning new journaling habits with the time constraints of their lives.

It’s my goal to get as many people as possible participate in International Fake Journal Month. Additionally I want people to have a fun, satisfying, and enriching experience so that they grow as journal keepers, and return next year for another round of fake journaling in April 2011!

Today I am going to run through my prepping process. Already this year I have talked about selecting the book you are going to use for your fake journal.

Last year I used the Alvin Field Book. I first tested the Alvin Field book with pen and watercolor. After that test I knew I wanted to use dip pen and watercolor on that paper. That is exactly what I did as you can see from the posts on this blog covering my 2009 fake journal.

This year for the longest time, I wasn’t sure what type of book I would use. Then I started testing some commercially bound books and began to lean towards the APICA notebook. (In the link’s image you’ll see the book with a red cover. The watercolor page shown is also in a book of this type. You can also read about the characteristics of the paper in this book in that review.)
Note: remember, if you are going to post or publish your fake journal images consider how easy it is to scan or photograph your host book. Is it too large and thick to work well on your scanner? Is it something you can photograph easily? Do you intend to photocopy it for any reason? If so, how will the media you select fare with black and white or with color copying?

With several weeks until April remaining, I still hadn’t decided on the author of my fake journal, or the type of images that person would create, or the media I would use. Selection of the APICA notebook made me confident that I wouldn’t be using watermedia. Also I almost always use watermedia and ink and I wanted to spend time with pencils of some sort.

Once you select your host book questions like that will begin to pop up. I recommend that you spend a few moments thinking the answers through. You are going to spend 30 days in this book and you want to be productive during that time.

So for me the obvious question was which type of pencil. In the first example in this post I tried out a .9, 2B mechanical pencil lead. It moved across the paper of my book in a lovely way, but ultimately I couldn’t get the dark values I really love.


Left: My doodle test page using various colored pencil brands. Read more about this page in the text. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

That same evening I turned the page of my test book and experimented with a variety of colored pencils, including a metallic pencil from Lyra. I also experimented with doodling. I don’t doodle much at all. I don’t doodle in my journal or on sheets of paper. I like to look at things and then draw them. While playing with the pencils and doodling I thought, “What it would be like to spend a month doodling every day? What type of person would do that in a journal?” (I had several ideas pop into my mind—high school student for instance). I considered what a doodler might write on the same page or the opposite page.

I had already decided that I wouldn’t worry about any smudging of materials. I knew that I wanted to break away from the usual approaches I have to my regular journal pages. I don’t plan my regular journal pages, but force of habit and occupation (I design a lot of books with features in columns) creates a certain approach in my regular journal. Someone working all over his/her page in a random fashion, and perhaps with no explanatory notes (I’m always writing notes to myself) would create several departures for me and help push me more towards the “character” who was creating the fake journal.

Doodling, however, I decided was not the approach I wanted to go—too much of a departure. Also I wanted to stick with black pencil not graphite or colored pencil. That led me to my third example, completed the next night while I was getting ready for bed.
Remember you don’t have to attack all these issues at once. Put the questions to your brain in March. Over the next several weeks let the answers emerge while never spending any real accumulation of actual concentration on those questions.


Left: A test page using a black Stabilo All. I also used an olive green Pentel Color Brush for in some areas. Read more about this page in the text. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I like the Stabilo All black pencil: a waxy, watersoluble pencil which creates a dark rich line. It can feel a little scratchy on even some smooth papers, but it does allow you to create a textured line not unlike the look you get with graphite, but dense. I can get my darkest darks easily with this pencil. It is simple to reproduce work with this pencil, either in color or black and white. It has much to recommend it. The same evening I tested a Pentel Color Brush (these are watersoluble inks that are NOT lightfast. (Read my review and comparison of the Pentel Color Brush with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen here. The post includes a chart which shows the fading inks.)

I tested the Pentel Color Brush on this paper because for my fake journal I also wasn’t going to worry about using archival materials. I thought I might be using some collaged elements from the newspaper (highly acidic). So fading ink weren’t an issue for me. However, the ink seeped through the paper—that meant immediate elimination.

Left: A test page using a litho crayon. Read more about this page in the text. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

My next test was several days later. I was still focusing on using dry media and a black pencil. I decided to give litho crayons a shot. While you can get dense rich blacks with this medium I find that it is too smelly for me. Daily proximity to the oily slightly chemical odor of the litho crayon would prevent me from enjoying my fake journal time. I could rule out the litho crayon.
Note: You might wonder why Roz is drawing pigeons in almost all of her tests? Well when testing you should draw something that you are comfortable drawing so that your discomfort at drawing a difficult or new subject does not interfere with your assessment of the ease of the materials you are using. Birds and dogs are my default mode.
At this point I set my test notebook aside for about three weeks. I didn’t even think about International Fake Journal Month consciously during that time.

Last week, however, I started outlining items I wanted to post on the blog for this season. That process reminded me I needed to focus on my own preparations.

Consider Time Commitment and Subject Matter!

Last year I focused on birds, which I love and which are a pleasure to draw. I also know where to find birds, and last April was warm enough that doing so wasn’t a difficulty.

Left: A test page using a black Stabilo All and focusing on a face as subject matter. Read more about this page in the text. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This year I knew I wanted to focus on drawing something other than birds. I don’t draw people as much as I would like. Thirty days of practice drawing people might be a good choice.
I’m a big advocate for blending improvement goals with fake journal goals.
I also knew that I had an extremely busy April scheduled. I needed to devise a way to limit my time involvement with my fake journal. Late one night when I hadn’t had a chance to sketch yet I got out the Stabilo All for another test run and opened a book of photos of facial expressions for artists. (These books show people of all shapes and sizes in all sorts of facial contortions. You can of course run to the bathroom and make faces at yourself in the mirror, but I find that hard on my neck!) I opened the book to a random page and started sketching the first face that appealed to me, working quickly, with no attempt to capture detail.

Next, I knew I would want some text on the page, even just a few words. I blocked out the first thing that popped into my head. Then I wanted to test how I liked filling a large area with the Stabilo All so I scribbled in the black panel. I had something that is different from my usual work, yet extremely fun to do. It was also quickly achieved—solving the time constraint problem. Additionally I took a paper towel and rubbed the dark areas testing how the pencil smeared. (You don’t get a blending like you do with the Stabilo Tone so this operation is something I will just omit in future.)


I went to bed with the feeling that I was on to something that might prove fruitful. I didn’t know who the keeper of this journal would be, or why they would work in this way, but that didn’t matter.

The next morning I woke up and instead of playing a game of Sudoku which I am trying to wean myself off of, I opened the facial expressions book to a new page, and started sketching again.



Left: A test page using a black Stabilo All, focusing on a face as subject matter, using collaged papers, and incorporating text. Read more about this page in the text. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I had in mind the idea that I would divide the page vertically with a black panel (there are hatch marks at the top and bottom of this paper—perhaps for ruling lines for the Japanese writers who use these notebooks to keep their vertical writing aligned; or perhaps to convert the pages to lab notebooks?) and I wanted to use them in some way. I also wanted to think about ways to alter the background somewhere else on the page, after I had completed my drawing. I was looking for something quick. I could paint a solid color panel and live with the buckling of the paper (well the author of the journal could live with the buckling). But then I started thinking about papers, decorative papers and colored papers and, immediately I knew I would cut away a portion of the page and replace it with decorative paper.

The decision to draw only on the right hand pages had already been made (because of the smudgy nature of the medium). If I did draw only on the right hand page and cut away a portion of the page I would loose the interesting number and date detail at the top of the page. I cut away at an angle at the top of the page to preserve this feature. I cut the rest of the page away using an X-acto and cutting board. I flipped the page over onto waste paper and glued it out with Uhu gluestick (I like the purple variety as it doesn’t smell enough to bother me). I flipped the page back, rightside up, onto a piece of Canson Mi Tientes paper that I had cut slightly larger than the journal page, with the grain running vertically. I pressed it all under wax paper until dry and then trimmed the edges of the Canson Mi Tientes to the page size of the journal.
Note: I always recommend gluing paper in your journal that is larger than the page you are placing it on if you want that paper to go all the way to the page edge. It is easier to trim than it is to line up a pre-cut page accurately. Always let the paper and journal page dry completely before trimming so that you don’t get any tears trying to cut wet, stretchy paper!
All that remained was text. I thought of my Pictionary Game. In October last year Zander Cannon had explained to me how he uses Pictionary in creating his 24-hour comic. I loved the idea and was waiting for a project to try it out on.

I ran into the other room where I kept the used game I had found last year. I drew a card and wrote out “Pocket Change” on gridded paper which I then tore out and glued to my page on the Canson Mi Tientes portion of the page.

Time elapsed: 30 minutes. I was really liking this idea. I know I will use a rubber stamp to add page numbers and will pick up a date stamp (I don’t have one with 2010 on it) to add the date at the top of the page.

So to quickly review the positives about this approach:

1. 30 minutes a day is doable even in the clogged scheduled I’m facing.

2. Using black Stabilo All works on this paper, and meets my goal of using a dry medium.

3. Focusing on drawing faces will be a useful practice.

4. Using my books of photos of facial expressions for artists as references will ensure that I won’t need to find someone to draw everyday. Since I work by myself I can’t be asking the UPS delivery people to model for me. Going out each day to find faces would be time consuming. Using the books will aid the thirty minute a day goal. How I tie the use of these faces into the final journal remains to be seen—will they be characters about whom the author is writing and sketching or are they “jobs” he/she is working on?

5. I get to play with my Pictionary game.

6. I get to use collage elements and decorative papers in a quick and minimal way, which I can expand if that’s the direction my “character” pulls me.

7. I get intellectual stimulation and get weaned off sudoku at the same time.

8. I get to let go of my issues with “smudging” by throwing messy materials in my face.

9. None of the choices I’ve made so far have locked me into an approach that is rigid—I can still make messy, multiple drawing pages; I can still write text all over the page.

10. This approach gives me a chance to work with minimal text on a page if I want to continue with that.

11. Using the date stamps and page number rubber stamps will give me a lead in to using word stamps if I decide I want to do that on any or all pages.

12. This approach is really fun to do. Because of that and all the above reasons, I know it will be sustainable for 30 days.

Now what are the negatives:

1. I don’t know who the keeper of this journal is and why he/she would work in this fashion.

The good news: the negative doesn’t bother me. I always start International Fake Journal Month with only a vague sense of who the author of the journal is. It will come as I start to make the pages.

I have my selected notebook. I have extra Stabilo All pencils. All I need to do is get a date stamp and buy some more dark colors of Canson Mi Tientes.

This may seem like an intense preparation, but there is less than 3 hours of time spent in all this. That time was spread out over several weeks. A thirty-day project deserves some consideration. Last year I did one trial sketch and knew my direction immediately. This year I needed a little more exploration. Exploration my character would have completed before April 1 comes around if this indeed were his/her journal.

One sketch or several, now I can step out of the way and let the fun begin.

On Thursday I will post a checklist of questions and points to ponder as you attempt your own prep.