It's March and time to start thinking about my 2013 IFJM journal. What type of book am I going to use? Which media? Who's book is it? What is that person like? How does that person journal? Will the journaling be done out in the field or in the studio? (That might make a difference to the type of paints and inks I use.)
So with all those questions swirling around in my brain I start to think about what media and what paper I want to work on.
And a journey begins, which could be full of turns down cul de sacs, and retreating steps, until it's April first and off I go.
This year in life drawing I took some DaVinci gouache to a session and the next week, after being in a plastic bag the paints were still very soft. (My regular palette sits out and will dry out eventually, though I sometimes put it in a plastic bag with a bit of moist paper towel—a very little bit—to create a humid environment in the bag.) The DaVinci gouache is lower quality (in pigment type and load) from what I normally use, so they are much less expensive. I purchased 4 test tubes in February 2012(!) and never got around to testing them because I love the gouache I use every day. (Schmincke, and some M. Graham.)
Left: My first tester sheet, explained in the text. The page was torn out of a notebook and pasted into my current journal for reference purposes. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
But IFJM is a chance for me to bust up some of my habits, and I was intrigued that the DaVinci was still so pliable. I figured I could slather the stuff on and not worry about waste. (I don't normally worry about paint waste when I'm painting, but I tend to paint in a considered manner, with a bit of a plan because my PB60 is after all about $20 a tube! Also there are times when you want to use the best materials possible, and there are times when it doesn't matter what you use. My 2013 character doesn't care what she uses, I'm happy for that.)
I grabbed my DaVinci palette and did some quick ugly paintings, throwing color over quick ink sketches I'd done in a lined notebook during a vertigo episode.
I wasn't concerned with realistic color. I was interested in two things. Could the notebook page take water media and did I like moving this particular paint around on the surface—like it enough to take it to life drawing again that night, and maybe use it in my fake journal.
The thin notebook paper buckled, but the paint didn't bleed or seep through the paper. It would be possible to work on the other side of the page. (I like working on lined papers or gridded papers when I'm journaling.)
Left: Another trial sketch. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I filled in another ink sketch quickly with the soft paint, not carrying about blending. I just wanted to move the paint around.
At that point I knew two things (or thought I did). I wanted to keep a fake journal full of 3 minute brush pen sketches that were painted with cheap gouache. I saw the pages as full of additional painting and sketches as well as ephemera and stuck on bits. I saw the thin pages barely holding up to the work and thought, yep, that will be a lot of fun.
Left: A quick try out of the triad of sample colors of DaVinci Gouache I had on hand. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I did a quick triad diagram to think some color mixing through before going to life drawing with the paints I had.
I went off to life drawing with the paints, knowing that I needed more than the 4 tester tubes for my April project. I didn't get to use any paint in life drawing that night because the format changed, but I went immediately to Wet Paint and selected a bunch of gouache colors in the DaVinci line. They don't have some of my favorite pigments in gouache (such as PB60) but I'm not keeping this journal right?!
Fake journaling is a great time to relax your usual prescriptions and phobias and rules!
I also purchased an APICA notebook, a large one that's about 9 x 12 inches (it isn't on the table so I can't measure it for you.
I thought I had a photo of it I could show you, but instead I found this post about selecting a journal for IFJM. This photo shows one of the company's other books (the red notebook, which I actually used in 2010).
Also if you go to my February 13, 2012 post on "Time to Start Thinking about Which Journal…," you'll find a photo of other notebooks (Clairefontaine) which I like because of the elaborate ruling found in some styles. All of this is something to consider.
Since I really like to use SEWN journals so they don't fall apart, it's the one thing I have pretty much always insisted on for IFJM. Even the APICA multi signature journals I've used in the past that are soft covered have been sewn so I'm OK with them.
HOWEVER, here comes one of the twists that always happens when you open your mind to creativity—I found out about a new type of journal (new to me) with a dotted grid pattern on it. The journal also had a hardcover. I really wanted to take my fake journal out and about with me and not have it just in the studio and at home (last year my fake journal never left the house because the keeper of the journal was under house arrest). I thought if I had a hardcover journal this year the fake journal, which was going to take quite a beating anyway, would be somewhat more protected.
If you go to the link for the Leuchtturm 1917 you'll find a book that looks a lot like a Moleskine. Except for the Moleskine watercolor books I don't like Moleskines much at all so I wasn't too excited.
But then I saw the dotted grid patterned pages and saw that I could get a large journal—9 x 12.5 inches—so I was intrigued.
A new plan began to form. I decided to order one of these journals. If it arrived in time I would weigh whether or not I'd use it as my 2013 fake journal. If it didn't arrive I would just start using the APICA journal I had on hand.
The journal did arrive—and I did a test on it which will actually be posted to Roz Wound Up in the next few days (I'll come back and add the link here).
There are some great things about the Leuchtturm 1917 and some frustrating things, but after weighing the pros and cons last night I think it's safe to say that I'm going ahead with it as the structure for my fake journal. Because of the paper it contains, however I will probably do more pencil and paint work, and not use the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen as extensively as I thought I would. You'll see why when you read that review. I was on the fence for an evening and then just realized that it was actually a better project for me to use pencil and paints, or at least it didn't seem like an impediment.
Also I found that the acrylic markers I've been using lately worked well on my test pages.
We'll see how I feel on April 1!
In the meantime I know little about my "character" except that she is female and she likes to slather on paint.
I also got the impression, through the fog that separates us at this point that she's a bit more messy than I am. And mess is a good thing in this case.
Which brings me to yet another twist in media—I went to visit my friend Diane who is recovering from foot surgery. She told me about Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plates. (We even called around town to see if we could get one—I was going to go pick one up for her since she was housebound and I know that can be frustrating! Alas no one had one in stock.) I looked at the ads and a couple videos when I got home that night and decided that it was just the thing that my character would want to use in her journal.
Go to YouTube and Google Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate and you'll find a ton of videos with people using these to make mono prints. I found out today that a friend has been using one since last fall and she made a lovely short little video about them, but it's not up on YouTube so I can't send you there—I did however invite her to come and talk and demo at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective so if you're in town, keep your eyes peeled for details because Briana Goetzen is going to speak at the August 2013 meeting.
(You can see Briana's old blog Courageously Creating here. and her new blog, Orange Spiral Arts is here.)
The point of all this, I think you can see, is that it's an evolution of sorts. I carry the intention of the project always in my mind, usually starting in January, but this year starting in March. And then I sort of ping questions out to my character, waiting for answers to return—answers which tell me the type of book and materials to use.
All of this is of course fueled in part by what I might want to work on in my own art projects at the time.
I know one other thing about this year's fake journal—it will take as much time each day as it takes. I've given myself permission to make heavily ladened pages and just wade around in the book. I have no expectations that a story will be told or that any of the journal will be understandable or even decipherable to anyone else. I love that. (I know in part that comes out of my own ongoing balance of public vs. private—because I have taught so much in past years my journals are way more public than they have ever been and to protect myself artistically I've shown less and less of my journals publicly.)
Whether I end up spending a luxury of time on the fake journal or not remains to be seen. So much is slightly off kilter in my life right now (by that I mean a huge amount of change is happening) that it seemed right to relax any constraints on the fake journal. Normally I suggest that people participating rein themselves in to something in the 30 minutes a day range so that it stays doable.
For me, right now, it seems appropriate that I use any and all of my spare time for the project in April. Which means little other journaling, few stand alone paintings, less writing, maybe even less TV viewing (gasp).
I'm OK with that because I also know it can evolve off into another direction at any moment.
I hope you'll start thinking about your fake journal for 2013 and let the process evolve and take you in new directions. A huge part of the fun of this project is all the prep, which most of the time is swept away on April first when your character shows up; opens the book; says, "I'm in charge"; and gets busy working.