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.

2019 IFJM Celebration
IFJM has been suspended indefinitely. Please read the pinned post about this below.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2018 participants who are posting their fake journals this year will appear near the top of the right side bar of this blog around April 6. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010 through 2017 appear 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, August 20, 2014

One More Evaluation from a Participant in the 2014 Celebration: Susan Ernst

Above: A page spread ©2014 Susan Ernst, from her 2014 Fake Journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This post is coming to you all late because I lost the original missive from Susan. Happily she wrote again to me so I'm able to post it now. Apologies to Susan: searching in my mail program does not always seem to be straightforward!

If you go to Susan Ernst's blog you can read Susan's full evaluation about the complex relationships her "character" had in this year's fake journal. You'll also learn how Susan drew on friends and family,  as well as past projects, to create her full cast of characters. It is always intriguing to hear about the process by which a creative piece takes form. It might inspire you to revisit some past projects for new directions.

Susan's process allowed her to maintain distance from her character, yet still derive insights into her own situation and her own hopes. She admits that some of her creative decisions arose from yearnings she wasn't quite aware of.

In addition, Susan provides a breakdown of what she felt worked and didn't work in execution. You might find this useful when planning your own mixed media pieces, or when organizing your own plans for your 2015 fake journal (you know you want to keep one).

So go check out Susan's evaluation, drop her a note, and start your own planning!

Thank you Susan for your thoughtful evaluation of your project and for reminding me of your evaluation. I hope you'll join in next year too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roz's 2014 International Fake Journal Month Wrap Up—With Gigapans!

Today I’ve written my complete wrap up for this project. I write about the project parameters and supplies, the goals, and the results. I also write about what happened after the project ended.

But before you read my final write up I have three GigaPan videos for you to look at. They are GigaPans taken by Tom Nelson a local photographer. You’ve seen the “fake” show before as smaller jpgs. What you see today are images that you can zoom in on, as closely as if you were in the room, standing in front of the images. You can see where I picked up my pen and put it down again, you can see where I smudged on some rubberstamp ink. You can see where I applied acrylic paint with markers and glued down decorative papers or applied tape. It’s all there if you want to poke around.

I had hoped to embed these videos here in blogger. Tom provided the code for me to do so. But when I put them in the html they didn't show up.

Instead I'm providing you with three links so you can view each image on the GigaPan site. When you go to the Gigapan site you do not need to sign in. It's free. Just click inside the image and start scrolling around. Use the controls at the right to enlarge and reduce your view. You'll be able to zoom in so close you'll be able to see the wall texture, the paper texture. Really, it's pretty cool. Click on the little icon "snapshot" at the bottom left of the image's window and a line of snapshots that I've created for you will come up. When you click on one of these you will automatically zoom up to the portion of the image I wanted to draw to your attention. And there will be a caption that explains something to you. If you couldn't be present at the "show" (and you couldn't, that was just me and Tom) then this is the best way to see the images.  

April 1 to 12, 2014

April 13 to 24, 2014

April 25 to 30, 2014

The Wrap Up

In my last post I wrote about my windfall purchase of 22 x 30 inch printmaking paper for 20 cents a sheet. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it when I bought it. I thought I’d take it to life drawing; I knew immediately upon testing it that I could NOT use it for bookbinding for myself or in my classes because it allowed inks to seep through; but I knew I’d have fun with it.

My original plan for 2014 was to work on a portrait each day from life. Before April rolled around I had already contacted several friends and made dates to sketch them.

The serendipitous part of my IFJM project was that I’d asked blog readers to send in photos and enough people responded with really fun images, that I was able to still draw portraits even though I was house bound (I got ill on March 30 and sick through May 31), I just had to adjust my plans and draw from photos.

Before I got ill I had a few other goals:

Goal 1

I wanted to get back to writing down thoughts when they occurred to me.

For several months leading up to IFJM 2014 I found that I was leading a rather frantic life, pulled in lots of directions, dealing with shoulder issues, coping with eldercare demands. The pain from the shoulder issues changed my sleep habits and that impacted my memory. I’d think of something in the middle of work, and decide to wait and note it down later, return to work and forget it.

The fact that I forgot so many deeply unimportant things shouldn’t bother me, but every so often I have a thought which leads me to my next project and I found that because I was forgetting to follow my usual practice of writing things down everything was being lost.

So that was definitely goal number 1.

Goal 2

I wanted to return to keeping reading notes. In the frenetic life I was leading in the months before IFJM 2014 I was reading a lot of books and articles but I was usually too tired to write my typical notes. Again, I was missing out on reminding myself which things were catching my interest. It’s from that pool of things that I formulate new plans and discover new long-term interests. I was feeling decidedly cut off from my creative process even though every day I might have been drawing for a couple hours, reading, processing, whatever.

It seemed to me things were not sinking in.

Goal 3

I wanted to experiment with large scale drawings. I’ve mentioned already on this blog and on Roz Wound Up that my sketches have been getting larger and larger. And I like to experiment with different ways to scale up my line when the drawing size increases.

I’m not sure exactly why I’ve been drawing larger and larger sketches. I suppose it is a function of going to life drawing and working on a really large sheet of paper, but that doesn’t really explain it.

It could also be an outgrowth of working in larger sizes of journals. Because I have had first one and then both shoulders injured for over a year now I haven’t been able to bind any new books. I do have some journals that I’ve held back for personal use, but since I can’t carry a journal with me (because of the shoulders) I’ve been working on slips of paper when I’m out and about. Then when I return home I glue those drawings into a commercially bound journal like the 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia I have going in the studio. Also, because size of journal doesn’t matter when working at home I sometimes have another larger journal going, like the 11 x 14 inch Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper Hardcover journal. And in that journal I can sketch very large heads with the luxury of all that space.

Fluctuations in vision also play a part. It's easier to pick up a brush pen and sketch large images than to find which pair of glasses works for "today" and work with a fine tipped and small nibbed pen.

Whatever the reason for my ever growing drawing scale this project did allow me to work large.

In fact to create these pages I had a piece of corrugated cardboard that was 4 inches larger than the paper sheets on each side. I would hold this piece of cardboard in my lap with the piece of sketching paper on top. Then, if I was working from the photos that people sent in, I would sit at my computer with the photo open on my screen, balancing the edge of the cardboard on my computer desk and sitting back to sketch as quickly as possible.

Almost all the sketches in this project were made in less than 10 minutes.  I worked directly in ink.

Some images were made from life like Oswald and also the giant toad. To sketch them I sat holding the large cardboard and paper as well.

Sketching this way created some distortion problems for me. I would become so tired (because of the coughing) that I couldn’t maintain the same position even with the light cardboard, and the faces began to stretch and bloat.

I’d like to say that I had less trouble with the subjects I drew from life, but sometimes they were actually worse—executed at time when I was exhausted going into the sketching time.

Besides using the fine-tipped Pentel Brush pen with pigment black ink and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, I used some Bienfang Watercolor Brush Pens (they didn’t deform the paper much as they didn’t have a lot of water in them) and the Montana Markers that contain acrylic paints. While I mostly used the latter for backgrounds I was able to do some sketching with the markers—often with the 15 mm wide tipped ones. Those were all fun experiments.

I wanted to do more with color, using more collage and rubberstamp ink, but most days I found that after doing a quick sketch and adding a little color I was ready to stop. I was simply too tired. I’m OK with that. I had a lot of fun flicking the brush pen ink about to compensate and cope with the frustration.

Goal 4

I hoped to read a chapter a day of a book on composition I’ve been meaning to re-read for ages. I thought that would be a nice way to get a bit of extra learning in for each day of IFJM. Sadly this goal didn’t get met at all. I found that initially I felt too ill to concentrate on absorbing or reinforcing any concepts about composition. Reading that book will have to wait until another time.

Goal 5

In the last half of 2013 I was drawn to lettering books—I read a bunch of them. Most were disappointing and didn’t offer any interesting discussion of design, composition, or theory. But all of them had interesting examples so they were fun to look at.

I decided after working on my pre-IFJM paper tests that I would let the lettering goal go. The pens that I tested on the paper either didn’t work in a way that I liked, didn't scale up to the size I was working at, or didn’t have enough fun factor. I also found that by day 2 of the project thinking about lettering was beyond my feverish brain’s abilities. The goal became just get something down each day.

Goal 6

I wanted to spend more time each day painting because I missed getting the paints out on a regular basis.

Painting has been difficult for the past year (since June 2013) because of the shoulder issues. I can’t reach easily with my brush to the palette, no matter where the palette may be resting.

Because of the paper that I selected painting was off the table. Paints severely warped the paper and I didn’t want to deal with the extra issues of flattening each page before photography.

Goal 7

There is a short distance between my character’s work, fantasy life, and real life. I set this up intentionally because I wanted to work on very specific issues that were currently impacting my own journal practice—however the distance was too short. (See below for more on this.) 

Goal 8

No explanations. I wanted to keep what was text in the journal devoid of any explanations. I explain enough in my life as it is, whether it is explaining issues of elder care to other family members or issues of health to the folks’ doctors, or memory issues to the folks, or materials and process to students, or just explaining to myself how I’m going to get through the stack of stuff that’s piling up!

I think this aspect of the project was totally successful. However there was one horrible error that I’ll write of in a moment.

Goal 9

I wanted to make one page for each day. No more, no less. I met that goal even though I was sometimes a little punchy from fever.

Since I’ve created so many fake journals over the years and had so many daily projects (some lasting several weeks, months, or even years) I knew that I could meet this goal. I also knew I could forgive myself in advance for each piece not meeting the standards I’d hoped to meet.

Getting ill and knowing you can still produce work is a great gift to give yourself. I’m grateful for that. But I’m also grateful that what is most important to me is process and getting something done, rather than perfection. So despite the various setbacks of this project it wasn’t painful or difficult but actually quite fun.

I know enough about my rhythms when ill that I quickly found “ideal” times during the day when it would be a good bet that I could get a reasonable page completed. Because of this you’ll notice that many of the pages have very similar times on them. Often I would do one when I finished other work, or when I had a burst of energy in the evening.

I believe that one of the great things a month-long project like this can give the participant is a better understanding of their own process and creative rhythms. You can take this knowledge and turn it to productive use.

Who Was My Character?

I have to admit that this year’s character was my least “concretely” realized in my head either in advance of IFJM or during, and certainly since.

A 50-something female who sketches people for her “work,” which I conveniently never tied myself down about. Is she doing portraits and these are her studies and throw-aways? Is she making illustrations for books and these are her studies? Is she doing something else visual for a living and she is just able to convince people to pose for her at the end of the day so she can make a giant drawing and then write something snarky on the drawing?

It’s all unclear.

What I do think became clear as I worked through the month was that Goal 7 was being met. This woman wrote down whatever she was thinking at the time she was sketching, and because the thinking and the sketching had nothing to do with each other most of the time she had absolutely no inclination to explain anything.

How freeing.

But That Brings Us to the Horrible Error, or as I Like to Call It: The Near Fatal Misstep

I think it’s important to keep as much distance from your character as you can—especially if certain aspects of your life and work already over lap.

On day 1 I was so anxious to get going on this project that I mentioned a sore throat on the page. I actually had a sore throat, and I allowed the character to have one. (Oops, but I didn’t even realize the trap I’d stepped into yet, that’s how slow my brain was moving.)

On day 2 I actually mentioned the 4 stages of the cold! I had a cold the character had a cold.

That was it. Now that my character had announced she was ill I couldn’t go merrily about and sketch people about town, and do all of the interactive things I’d hoped to do.

She was stuck. Stuck inside her home and studio just like I was. And that was a little too close for comfort.

Given that closeness I’m actually surprised I got through the month unscathed. I didn’t shy away from the insights she had (though of course they really only mean something to her and to me because I know the explanations), but I did avoid further mention of the progress of my own illness.

How Do I Assess the Project?

While I couldn’t complete the project as originally conceived (sketching large portraits of people from life) I was able to work with most of my 9 goals, stated before the project began and examined in this post.

I met most of those goals and was able to have some sort of balanced and healthy response to the frustrations of the others.

In those ways I feel this is one of my best fake journals. Not because it has a narrative thread (it doesn’t); not because close reading exposes an interesting character (it doesn’t); not because the sketches all turned out (they didn’t).

This was a successful fake journal because of its aftermath.

Following the end of IFJM 2014 I was sick for another 4 weeks until the end of May. I was frustrated more than I can even bear to write.

But something wonderful happened. I started working in a Japanese Lined Notebook that I’d finished a couple pages on earlier in the year and then set aside as other projects pulled me towards them. When I picked up this totally-unsuitable-for-visual-journaling-notebook I found that in my frustration (over still being sick) and my “laziness” about getting up to fetch painting materials and other items to sketch with, I entered the most creative period of visual journaling I have experienced since I was 20 years old.

Everything mixed together and my desire to take more notes is everywhere evident in the two visual journals I filled next through May and June. And my desire to write everything down right when I think it was made manifest in those two journals because I always had the current Japanese Lined Notebook right with me wherever I went in the house, so there was no reason to not write something down immediately.

And the goals that didn’t get met on my IFJM journal project were easily met in those journals—I now had two pages on a spread to play with composition and started fiddling more with it. I played with lettering in a loose, non-structured way, which didn’t yield great results except a sense of fun, which is always good, and a good starting point for future exploration. 

I have been reading more of my art theory books and taking notes and asking the right questions. I’ve been watching videos of watercolorists whom I admire, and taking notes and asking questions. Through this exploration I’ve been making plans to paint again as soon as my shoulders can stand it. I’ve been asking questions of myself and taking notes and making plans and allowing the promise of new projects to flow through me.

But most wonderful of all, the thing I have been pushing for the past 4 years, the thing I have wanted more than anything since probably 2008 has happened. I have ease and privacy in my journals again.

It seems an odd thing to say, since I put my journals up on the Internet. But I only put up selected portions. When I teach journaling my journals are brought out to share, and in that sharing I had started to hold back portions of myself from myself. There are clear boundaries in my life over what I will share and won’t share with students, strangers, even friends, and probably especially family. Because I knew the journals would be handled by others I found myself sometimes not writing what I really longed to write because it would break those boundaries.

I have always maintained that these boundaries are healthy. And I have always had these boundaries in my life to protect my creative life. As I taught more and more journaling from 2000 to the present I found myself sometimes sketching something in my journal but not writing fully about it because I didn’t want to share those thoughts with others.

I like to keep my creative energy for myself to use it to bring projects forth that are fully conceived. I like to encourage my students to do the same.

But when you have to bring your journals to a class as examples even the best will of getting everything down gets challenged.

And in the two months since IFJM 2014, in two Japanese Lined Notebooks I was able to totally wallow in privacy (even while knowing I would post some of those images).

There was the cheap paper that allowed me to run full steam ahead. (Normally I don’t have a problem using up art paper for notes, but because I wasn’t painting due to injury I found myself hesitant to run through journal after journal of $6 a sheet art paper only writing and maybe sketching a little with black ink.)

There was the cheap paper that took brush pen ink so marvelously. The fun factor was incredibly high.

There was the texture and “happiness” of the completed pages, crinkling and crunching as I turned them, while holding the book in my lap. (This brought up memories of my childhood and college days when all I could afford were books with cheaper paper.)

And there was the pent up energy from being ill for two months. All the things I wanted to do and think about and work on were just pouring out of me.

I said to Dick one night: It’s like being nineteen again—except I can stay up as late as I want because I don’t have a 7:30 a.m. class.

A certain journal type or book structure will always influence the journey you take with it. But there are certain types of books and book structures that will take you in a totally new direction with materials, thoughts, projects, and your life.

The change might not even look different to anyone else, but that’s part of the point—it doesn’t have to. You only have to feel it in every cell in your body to know that it’s real and something fantastic has happened.

That’s one (just one) of the fabulous things about journaling.

And one of the great things about keeping a fake journal is that you can use the fake journal as a directed and customized tool to move towards the goals you want to achieve.

This was a very good year for me, even though I spent two months of it housebound with little contact with the outside world.


I want to thank all the participants from 2014 for trusting the process and jumping in this year. I hope whether you participated privately or publicly that you received something positive from the experience and a new sense of where you might go creatively.

Thanks to all the folks who sent in photos of themselves for me to sketch from. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, you saved my life, my attitude was pretty sucky when the month started! I am working on prints to send out to all of you as thank yous. They will be coming soon.

I want to thank Tom, for his patience and for his skill in photographing my work so that I can share it with others and communicate with others using the work. When we were taking the photos of the pages hanging on the walls Tom said, “It’s like parachuting into your mind.” He was chuckling and shaking his head at the time, reading some of the entries.

I shook my head and reminded him, "It's my character's mind." And he shook his head and chuckled.

Yep, I guess he's right. And he also knows that 90 percent of the time my fake journals are my most personal. 

I’m so grateful to have a friend who helps me share my work. It's so fun to spend time with Tom that I hope he never realizes how boring I am!

And of course I’m grateful to Dick who took up all the slack for two months, kept the house full of chocolate, and who sent me back to Wet Paint in the first place to buy all those luscious 20-cents-a-piece sheets of paper. I’m going to enjoy using the rest of them in life drawing and other projects.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Virtual Walk Through of My 2014 Fake Journal

Lately my sketches have been getting larger and larger. When I came upon a windfall of mystery printmaking paper that was 22 x 30 inches and only 20 cents a sheet I couldn't resist using it for my 2014 fake journal. There were problems with the paper—it wouldn't take wet media without buckling severely. I restricted my media to various brush pens, or acrylic inks applied with a brush and some rubberstamp inks (sponged or brushed on). There's also a little bit of collaged paper here and there, but it's almost listless—a second thought while I was weak, a desire for more color on a paper I couldn't just splash it on, a nod to my original plan's hope of playing with composition. 

All the images were made 
1. From life (bird sketches mostly)
2. From several sketches I'd made previously from life of particular subjects (some of the people, all of the dogs)
3. From photos of friends and correspondents who responded to my pre-April request for photos I could work from, AND
4. From memory (the first entry 04.01.14 is a memory drawing of actor Stephen Fry—I'd been watching episodes of his "quiz" show while resting and hoping not to be getting ill, and I was too tired to think about sketching anything else. It actually sort of looks like him, though it's horribly unflattering.)

Oh, and I almost forgot, I also drew 04.13.14 from life, using my new friend a GIANT (it's larger than my head) foam toad.

When I planned to work large for 2014's International Fake Journal Month I didn't know I was going to be ill and I had plans to meet with several friends and draw them from life in a large format. Being sick prevented me from doing that. The request I put out on my two blogs for photos to sketch from had been a whim—insurance to save me on any given day when I couldn't get out and sketch a life model. Instead those photos became the basis of the project, and I'm grateful that so many people wrote in and sent such outrageous photos of themselves, hamming it up for the camera. Never has there been such a group of universally attractive people so willing to mug it for the camera. I am grateful to each one of them for providing fuel for my pen, and lifting my spirits while I was "coughing up a lung."

At the end of May I was able to meet with my friend, the fabulous photographer, Tom Nelson to photograph these ungainly pieces. Using a friend's office space we hung a fake show of my fake journal, and Tom recorded it all for you, in the following images. Click on an image to view an enlargement, and read the transcript if the text on the pages isn't clear to you. 

In the next couple days I'll get my wrap up posted.


Below is a transcript of the text in my 2014 fake journal in case you can't see the writing clearly enough in the enlarged images.

04.01.14, 10:30 p.m.
Really a sore throat?
Inextricably linked

04.02.14, 10:35 p.m.
The 4 stages of a COLD
• Denial
• Superstitious behavior
• Bargaining

04.03.14, 10:15 p.m.
If I’m honest I’ll admit I’m rather
afraid of the Pineapple.

It lurks at the edge of the counter—
skulking. [sic]

I more than half expect giant spiders—
Hairy Spiders—will crawl out of its leaves
while I lean towards it, against the
door jamb, brushing my teeth.

I jump back—startled at the thought
and tear my upper right gum line
with my toothbrush.

04.04.14, 10:00 a.m.
THERE’S NO ignoring
9 inches of snow
Sunny & Windy

04.05.14, 5:30 p.m.
Does anyone really know the
rules to Hopscotch?

04.06.14, 10:30 p.m.
What is the mechanism of likeness?
I buy into Oswald’s self-projection.
He only knows how to be monumental.

04.07.14, 5:30 p.m.
OK So I can’t focus on pattern through
the coughing.

Everyone advises napping. I think they’re
obvious and WRONG. And it doesn’t
matter, I can’t nap.

When I lie down I can feel my brain expanding
behind my eyes. Each breath burns
and there is no expansion. I’m not out of breath I’ve
simply slowed my respiration rate below
what can be observed. And while I’m not
hallucinating I can hear the snap, crackle, pop of my
pillow’s foam in my ear, magnified to a
deafeningly loud degree.

Who can nap through that?

[note: Knitted hood on model]

04.08.14, 5:25 p.m.
There is a huge vocabulary of hair.

04.09.14, 5:40 p.m.
Tests show the Freddie Mercury Mouth
frightens 8 out of 10 Cockateils. [sic]

04.10.14, 7:50 p.m.
• What’s warm and fuzzy?

• What does evil look like?

• What’s the line of intersection in appearance?

• What percentage of our expectation is needed
to create unease and a sense of imbalance out of
which change and growth can come?

Fairy Godmother

04.11.14, 10 p.m.
falling in Love with a line does no
justice to the WHOLE.

04.12.14, 9 p.m.
now make it non-human.

04.13.14, 2 p.m.
Why is my chocolate habit under constant scrutiny
While all around me others dose themselves
With endless cups of caffeine?

04.14.14, 5:30 p.m.
I don’t have a basic concept of what’s
necessary to make life go!  

04.15.14, 6:30 p.m.
How am I supposed to finish if they
won’t make up their minds?

• Don’t be surprised when I’m dead or dishonored.
• I don’t know…I’m just making this shit up as I go along…

04.17.14, 3 p.m.
isn’t it?

04.18.14, 9 p.m.
Sure I’d love to travel with him, but I’d
Never let him hold the travel money.
He’d pay it all to a pedlar [sic]
for magical beans…
…the next morning he’d be surprised
when you didn’t want to rush up
the beanstalk to giantland.

04.19.14, 5 p.m.
Once you put a name on it there’s no going back.

[just the dog’s face]

04.21.14, 6 p.m.
The way you’re talking:
like someone who is going
through color withdrawal!

No one
was more
at the
code of

04.23.14, 2:30 p.m.

04.24.14, 5 p.m.
Things I didn’t want to regret forever.

04.25.14, 8:15 p.m.
David re: Survivor
There’s no integrity
in making stupid

[just the portrait, K in glasses]

04.27.14, 6 p.m.
The more you
explain the
less I

04.28.14, 6:15 p.m.
What are we but what we are?

04.29.14, 5:50 p.m.
The universe is a
random place.
Enjoy it.

04.30.14, 7:05 p.m.

Don’t hope
just observe.