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?"

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roz's Wrap Up of Her 2016 Fake Journal

A couple weeks ago, Dick and I “paged” through the loose boards that make up the 30 entries of my 2016 Fake Journal. It was satisfying to look at them all again, and then pack them neatly in their box. There is a real heft to each entry because they are on boards. Their 10 x 16 inch size is also substantial. (It was very pleasant working without a gutter.) Each day as the stack of painted boards grew and the unused board stack shrank I felt quite productive.

But as always happens, the project gets packed away (it fit perfectly in the 3 inch tall box, no space for even one more!). After we’d gone through them, Dick hoisted it up onto the shelf—and I had a clear table for new projects. (Which right now is filming new online classes.)

The end of a project always seems a bit weird to me. I suddenly have all sorts of free time—which only serves to confirm in my mind my sense that we can always find time to make art, we just often have to “work around” other things in our lives. And even make choices about not doing certain things in our lives to make time for making art. Most important, we have to realize that the “art time” we want, crave, desire, or even need, might need to be adapted to the actual time we can find, but it’s a place to start.

This year, as in past years, was stressful. The folks don’t seem to do well in the spring. CR ended up in the hospital in March, and his recovery in transitional care lasted well into the end of April. This made finding the time I wanted to spend on this year’s project difficult, in fact there were aspects of this project that were more stressful than any other fake journal, because of what I had hoped to do. (My desire not meeting the realities of life.)

This year, just as I had encouraged others when I set the theme, I sought to shift in place. I didn’t pre-think or plan my character, media or approach, until almost the last minute. The exception was I knew I wanted to take time to work with watercolor because I just wasn’t finding the time in my day—instead always defaulting to using gouache or ink. To facilitate this urge to work with watercolor, just before IFJM began, I cut Arches Cold Press watercolor boards into 10 x 16 inch pieces that I would use for this project. That was the only planning I did.

Two days before IFJM began I thought that it would be great if I could work on sketching with pencil and watercolor instead of my usual ink and watercolor. But I decided that while I would work on that during the month I would also work with ink as desired, just to keep things moving. 

I was hoping that I could take 2 hours a day off to sketch. I had cleared away other projects and it seemed doable. However, with my father-in-law’s health emergency it was the rare day when I found a two hour block to work. In fact I don’t think I ever did. I think the fox entry might have taken 90 minutes, but then, like most of the others it isn’t finished. Oh, the three views of the finch, that took 2 hours.

It’s not that I’m obsessed with time, OK maybe a little, it’s just that the night before IFJM began I knew that I wanted to shift very little indeed, and have a character who loves to draw the same things I do (birds, people, dogs), but who works in watercolor and graphite mostly, and who spends a leisurely time working on glazing and glazing. Her sketches, on boards are her studies and experiments, practice for other pieces. And she doesn’t write a lot. 

I’ve had a lot of characters who don’t write a lot, who don’t think about process. It’s funny to me that I had a character who doesn’t think about her process this year, but because I was thinking about how to work out the glazing I was doing and get the contrast I wanted without ink, I found myself thinking a lot about process. And that often got in the way of me being “in character.”

And then when I would think I couldn’t get into character I would find that the painting took me into character and everything would be right again.

But there was no way to find the time block that I wanted each day so I did what I always do during a project—I looked for the key elements that were most important to me, and still doable, and found a way to adapt to save those elements.

By letting go of the desire to spend long periods of time on this project I was able to hold on to working in glazes with watercolor, and test out my new watercolor palette that I’ve had sitting around for almost two years with very little attention—certainly no focused attention.

I had also hoped to read several books on watercolor, to remind myself of all the things I used to do with watercolor in the 1980s, and all the things I haven’t yet thought to do with it. But the five or so books I stacked up to read were left unread throughout the month. There simply wasn’t time to “research” and paint, so I opted to paint.

I have found that I enjoyed the watercolor so much that the first week after IFJM I continued to work in watercolor on boards, and also used the same watercolors in my regular journal sketching. 

(I’ll be doing a review of my watercolor palette later this summer, on Roz Wound Up.)

I came out of the project with a few new favorite colors, a love of Arches Cold Press watercolor board, more patience with glazing (it’s the drying time that kills me—towards the end of the month, but always when sketching Dick from life, I resorted to a hairdryer to help speed things up), and a renewed enjoyment of the squirrel mop! (Most of the paintings were executed with 3 sizes of mop; only the fine details at the very end of a painting session may have been added with a #12 round.) I found that the mops allowed me to be loose and play with the paint while at the same time control things enough for glazing purposes.

This project also raised questions in my mind about what other projects I wanted to do in the future. With time at such a premium I’m tired of sprinting. I am looking at ways to carve out longer sessions in my days to make those projects possible. It’s a lot to think about. In anyone’s life there are fixed commitments—work and family; exercise and care of one’s own physical health. Starting the online teaching in 2010 just as the folks required more attention has been an interesting juggling feat. I’m already using realizations that occurred during IFJM 2016 in my self-evaluations and goal setting. 

While there were many days during April when the project was frustrating to me I relied on my usual “make it work” attitude to keep going, to modify as needed. Letting my character have more of a voice as the month progressed was the natural reaction to getting to know her as I went along. I would say for me that’s the best argument for doing a little pre-planning, so you know the character before you get going and have a full 30 days with him or her, instead of a “ramp-up” time as you feel your way. 

Any project you can come out of wishing it wasn’t over is a great one. And in response to that I’ve found ways to take some of this project forward in my life and I’m grateful for that.

Hardest thing about the project: Not using gouache for 30 days. Gasp!

Thanks again to all the 2016 participants, whether they shared their journal pages on the public list, or shared pieces in the Facebook group it was great to see what you were doing and what your characters got up to. And it's been great to read your project wrap ups!

As time allows I will be doing a few "process" posts showing various stages of my pages. These will appear on Roz Wound Up. It's a little difficult because I would become so engrossed in painting that I would forget to take "stages" photos. But seeing even the initial sketch might be fun in some instances. I have already discussed with Dick the need for a set up a way I can automatically tape as I paint. Some of the paintings, saved at the very last minute, or blown apart earlier than that could then be used as teaching aids for my students—or cautionary tales. I'm sure this will happen before IFJM 2017. It remains to be seen, however, if that character will sit still! 

Note: If you're new to this site and want to see other 2016 fake journals please look at the participants list in the right-hand column labeled for 2016. Further down the column you'll find participants from past years. In the past two years we've had a Facebook group where people have posted. That's worked great to get people immediate feedback and encouragement. If you are interested in participating in 2017 (and I hope you'll consider it) I encourage you to join the Facebook group in February 2017. 

Also, take a moment to read some of the explanatory articles I mention at the top of this blog, with links. That will give you a sense of this project and the potential benefits. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

April 30 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches).
This sketch was made with a Pentel Colorbrush (Sepia). They are
always watersoluble. Watercolor washes were added, then
gouache was added as a final layer. Click on the image to view an
enlargement. (Some rubberstamp ink as well of course.)
The final "page" in my 2016 fake journal. My character makes it home despite the flooding and she continues her experiments with cold press watercolor board, using a Pentel Colorbrush and watercolor and gouache.

I will be posting my wrap-up of my 2016 International Fake Journal Month project either tomorrow or in a couple days. I hope you will check back to find out how the project went for me and what my original goals were.

If you would like to view all the entries in my 2016 fake journal please go to the category list for this blog and select "Roz's 2016 Fake Journal." All the entries (which are page entries for each day of the project will load in a list. You can scroll down to the first entry and then scroll back up to see each entry in order, stopping to click on a listing if you would like to see an enlargement of the image.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

April 29 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). With
pencil sketch and watercolor. Some rubberstamp ink as well. Click on the
image to view an enlargement.
My character seems to have more patience for glazing watercolors when she is working on her watercolor studies than I do.

Monday, May 16, 2016

April 28 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches) with
pencil sketch and Daniel Smith Watercolor. Click on the image to view
an enlargement.
Well the topic is "Shift in Place" this year and it seems fitting my character should enjoy birds as much as I do even if she likes cold press watercolor board!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

April 27 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). With
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketches and watercolor. Click on the image
to view an enlargement.
My character spends the rainy afternoon sketching in the barn.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

April 26 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches),
with Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and Daniel Smith
Watercolors. Some rubberstamp ink. Click on the image
to view an enlargement.
My character doesn't let the rainy weather stop her from sketching the animals on the farm.

Friday, May 13, 2016

April 25 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). Pentel
Pocket Brush Pen sketches with watercolor washes. Click on
the image to view an enlargement.
Stuck on the "farm" my character makes the best of the models she has at hand.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

April 24 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch Arches cold press watercolor
board. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and
watercolors, with some rubberstamp ink. Click on
the image to view an enlargement.
As will be made clear in later "pages" my character is "stuck" somewhere with dogs and birds as sketching models.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

April 23 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch graphite and watercolor sketch on cold press
watercolor board (Arches). Click on the image to view an enlargement.
My character ends up getting stuck away from home by a storm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April 22 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch Arches cold press watercolor board. Sketch with
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Daniel Smith Watercolors. Click on the
image to view an enlargement.
My character spends a lot of time with dogs and a lot of time thinking wear and tear on the physical body.

Monday, May 9, 2016

April 21 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board. Pencil and
Daniel Smith Watercolor. Click on the image to view an
My character continues her experiments with cold press watercolor board.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

April 20 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board with Pentel
Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and Daniel Smith Watercolors. Also
rubberstamp ink. Click on the image to view an enlargement. 
My character spent some time with chickens and is particularly fond of Simon, shown above—although the design of the page leaves an open question about Simon.

In the following image you can see detail from the portrait. I think it is fun to see the texture that the cold press watercolor board gives to the PPBP line.

Above: Detail from today's entry. Click on the image to view
an enlargement.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

April 19 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches).
More monochromatic experiments. With rubberstamp ink.
Click on the image to view an enlargement.
My character continues her monochromatic watercolor experiments on this board and thinks about some issues in life.

Friday, May 6, 2016

April 18 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor
board (Arches). Pencil and Daniel Smith
Lunar Violet watercolor. Click on the image to
view an enlargement.
My character continues her experiments on cold press watercolor board with a monochromatic watercolor using only Lunar Violet.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

April 17 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board with painted
background, rubberstamp and written text. Painting is 9 x 12
inch brush pen and watercolor sketch on Fluid E-Z Block
hot press 140 lb. watercolor paper. Click on the image to view
an enlargement.
My character goes to life drawing on costumed model day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April 16 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board
with a pencil sketch and glazed watercolor.
My 2016 fake character has some of the same friends that a fake character from several years ago has. Wonder how that could be? (Hint: nose, hair, ears.) (Maybe I need to have a quiz? I miss having quizes.)

I will have something to say about this piece on Roz Wound Up at some point after this posts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April 15 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: More swatches, more pencil and watercolor, again on
a 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board.
Click on the image to view an enlargement and see what the character is up to.

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 14 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board
with watercolor and rubberstamp ink.

Above: Detail of the color swatches at the base of the entry.

Above: Detail of the face—pencil sketch with watercolor.
The above three images are from the same entry and show the type of thing my character is doing with pencil and watercolor. As usual, click on the images to view an enlargement.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 13 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal1

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board
with brush pen, watercolor, and rubberstamp ink.
There's always something to sketch—even my character eats red bell peppers.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 12 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Left: My character was sketching Richard again. You can click on the image and read the side notes in an enlargement.

Today I have two images in the post because besides the finished piece my character likes to make correction notes. I thought it would be fun to show the overlay she did after the final sketch to make reminders for herself on where she would make corrections in a final painting.
Left: Overlay with some ink thoughts for corrections. I think she needs to go a lot further and correct the slop as well as the distances. Click on the image to view an enlargement. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 11 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board with pencil and
watercolor sketch of a fox. Click on the image to view an
This was one of the more fun days of the project. For a brief moment I didn't miss gouache, and enjoyed my character's enjoyment of watercolor.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 10 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board, with
watercolors, rubberstamp inks, Montana Acrylic Markers,
and a portrait made with Distress Crayons (red) and 
Payne's Gray Watercolor, collaged onto the board.

The detailed caption says it all. Click on the image and seen an enlargement so you can see the details. This entry was all about texture for me and my character.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 9 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board with washi
tape and pencil and watercolor sketch. Click on the image to view
and enlargement and read the text.
My character also enjoys working with pencil and watercolor while drawing from old family photos.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 8 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Left: Even my fake character gets to sketch Dick. 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board with pencil and watercolor. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I think today's post is pretty self explanatory. If you read the text you'll understand what my character is thinking.

Monday, April 25, 2016

April 7 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch watercolor and brush pen sketch on
Arches Watercolor Board, with rubberstamp text. Click on the
image to view an enlargement.
Day sever of International Fake Journal Month brings more experiments with the watercolor board. (And sometimes it's difficult to stop the fake journal from overlapping a little with the real life.)

I'm using up the last of my non-floral Brilliance. I'm sick at heart that they decided to add a fragrance to my favorite rubberstamp ink.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 6 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch Cold Press Arches Watercolor Board, 
pencil (warm up sketches) and solid paint marker and watercolor.

This is the April 6 entry in  my 2016 fake journal. Warm up gestures and a study of a Bantam. The warm-ups were made from a Minnesota State Fair video.
Above: Detail of the main sketch. You can see the red broken lines of the
solid paint marker at the top of the beak and in some of the other areas.
Next I followed those up warm up sketches with the main sketch (top half of the board). I used a solid marker from Sakura. You can see the pen here at Jet Pens. The pen is actually a solid stick-core of "paint" that's stiffer than crayon, but on the textured watercolor board it gives that rough crayon look. (Note: when used on smoother paper the line is much smoother.)

I made the main sketch using life drawings I'd done at previous Fairs for my source material. I was hoping the combination of the crude line tool and the drawings of drawings would get to a looser state for the final sketch. A sort of reduction of a reduction. (Or at least that is what my character was thinking.)
Additional Note on the Sakura Solid Marker: I really like working with these for loose sketching, HOWEVER, they have a chemical smell that is relatively slight, but too much for me. I found that sketching with one for about an hour on another occasion gave me a headache. I also found that it didn't air out right away so I wouldn't be able to use in my regular journal. On single boards used for this project it was no problem, because I could put the board in a separate room to air out. The good news is if odors don't bother you this is a fun pen for life drawing, gesture sketching, great for adding quick washes or layers of glazing over. It goes on dry and I noticed little pick up of color when washing over it. It's also a finer point (as you can see from the product photos at the above link) than solid paint markers made for kids. This makes it easier to do fine detail.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 5 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board.
Click on the image to view an enlargement.
This was one of the most fun days so far, of course—because it was birds. It was one of the most fun also for me because I was finally getting back into a bit of a routine with the watercolor. (I've been spending all my time with gouache and I found it interesting to switch my brain back to think about glazing and washes and different amounts of water and wetness.)

My character sketched these from sketches made from life for positions with photo references for color reminders. I think she has a project but she still wasn't talking. She likes to do lots of studies. Lots of studies.

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 4 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake JournalT

The finished page: 10 x 16 inch watercolor
board (cold press) with warm up sketches
at the bottom. See the rest of the post for other views.
Day 4 was the best so far, because of course I was visiting with my friend Tom and able to work on the fake journal at the same time.

This is the board masked off during the
drawing process.
You can see the warm up sketches and the final sketch I made as the first image in this post, but I thought you would also like to see the fun my character had with masking. You can see that in the other images. Click on them to view an enlargement.

The mask was in place as she drew with the PPBP and then she painted only the exposed area of the board as you can see in the second image. Later she removed the mask and she added it to the back of the board as shown in one of the photos.

Here's the mask saved on the back of
the board.
To save time the REAL Roz masked the board all up before Tom arrived and the bottom portion of the yellow mask folded down over the warm up area when warm up time was over. I felt this was the most respectful thing to do to not waste Tom's time. (Portrait time under 50 minutes including warm ups and painting.) We'll never really know if the character would have been that respectful, but I think she would have been, based on the little I've gleaned.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 3 in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch Cold Press Watercolor board. 
Various watercolors and rubber stamp ink.
Click on the image to view an enlargement. The left image is on
Fluid EZ-block, the right image is on Hahnemühle Turner Watercolor
paper, 140 lb. both cold press. Collaged to a prepainted board.
Entry 3 found my character going about town and even going to a local sketch out. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Just a head's up, the Turner paper used on the right is too soft (and something HE would NEVER USE). Tape used on the edges pulled up and it was only there for less than an hour. (Lots of people talked to me during this outing so I had to go in and out of character.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 2, 2016 in Roz's Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch Cold Press Watercolor board.
Various watercolors and rubber stamp ink.
Click on the image to view an enlargement. 
As I mentioned in yesterday’s introduction to this project my character loves frisket! I guess on day 2 the real Roz wasn’t quite ready to give up backgrounds yet.

The character was working with Payne’s Gray Watercolor and sketching pigeons from an aviary in different ways to work with that paint. She painted over a direct brush version on the right, but frankly I think that was the real Roz saying let’s go in closer because I’m frustrated with all this glazing.

We’ll never really know.

As I said, I was pretty grumpy (even when sketching birds) the first week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The April First Entry in My 2016 Fake Journal

The finished April 1, 2016 entry.
While I was able to start my fake journal for 2016 on April 1, and continue it, I’ve yet to post about it. Life has been very packed. Finding time to squeeze the project in has been goal one.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Today I’d like to start posting the images from the project. I’ve been torn as to whether I should post explanations about my pieces here or on my regular blog—by explanations I mean some step-by-step process discussion. I’m still not sure and at this point I simply want to get some posts up. I think there will be a little bit here and a little bit on my regular blog. We’ll see.

Keeping with this year’s theme of “Shift in Place” and my suggestion that people not do any prep, or do minimal prep (take stock of what supplies they have on hand for example) I waited to jump in on April 1. I did buy and cut boards and I knew my character would be working mostly with pencil and watercolor on cold press watercolor board.

Stage 1: the background
with the pencil sketch clearly visible.
We are now 19 days into the project and frankly I still can’t tell you much about my character. I didn’t shift a whole lot from myself. She has similar interests—particularly in sketching portraits (people or animals). 

What I can tell you is different is that she is good at setting time aside for painting in her life. The project is about taking time. I think I needed that in my life right now.

This brings up a lot of discomfort for me. I like to work in the bits of time I can find. I push myself too hard. I don’t make time for projects that require a lot of extended work because I’m too busy with other things (as we all are). But in recent months my attitudes have been shifting as I look at how I’ll be spending my free time going forward. And also as I look at how teaching online is working with the rest of my life. 

Stage 2: Light Washes of Watercolor
and some background adjustments.
Knowing the why or how of something doesn’t always lessen the discomfort. The first week of this project I was pretty grumpy. I think that came from the realization that there wasn’t enough time in the world to give me the time I needed or WANTED to spend on the project I wanted to do. That made me grumpy.

But Dick pointed out I’m always grumpy at first, until I start to settle into the character, to hear the character in any odd moments. Then things start to feel more “normal” and I grumble less. I even get excited about various pieces. Right now in week 3 territory there’s the inevitable shifting of boundaries and testing whether something needs to evolve, we’ll see how that goes.

Stage 3: I start to put in light
washes of watercolor.
I laugh about the early weeks now. But I still don’t know this character at all because she doesn’t keep a journal like I do, she simply paints. She likes to play with space, and she is a really big fan of masking tape and frisket.

I know I struggled a couple days over whether to use ink or not but then I realized when my friend Tom came over to sit for a portrait for this project that there was no question that my character would have used the PPBP with watercolor because she uses what’s efficient and works to the scale she wants to do and the time frame she has. So except for the fact she sometimes uses pencil and that she glazes and glazes and glazes, we aren’t that different.

We’ll see how it all pans out. 
Stage 4: I have to do something about
the background color in the hair
so I use some white gouache.

In this post I’ve started with the final image which is Derwent Drawing Terra Cotta pencil on Arches Cold Press watercolor board, with watercolor, and then corrections in that Terra Cotta pencil. (The light blue in the image is Montana Acrylic Marker.)

I thought you might enjoy seeing the steps as I moved along.

The REAL ROZ is a bit perturbed at how the likeness got lost from the pencil to the painting. And so my editing eye had to have a little chat with her editing eye, and so it goes. This will need to be an ongoing discussion.

Stage 5: More glazes.
What follows are the remaining stages that I took photos of. I wasn't great at stopping at set points to take a photo. I just took them when I remembered. 

I did realize that working on painted backgrounds as I did in my regular journals wasn't going to work for this project as it created too many issues with the watercolor. I have been more careful going forward. 

The images show a color shift because I didn't have the best of lighting conditions to shoot them under. The final image, appearing at the top of this column is an accurate scan.

I'm unclear why Blogger is arranging images with the text the way it is, but I don't use this blog enough to know the ins and outs. I hope you'll bear with me.

Stage 6: the final stage
before I added
by sketch materials
(collage) and
did drew in the notes.

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 International Fake Journal Month Begins Today

I am wishing every 2016 participant the best of luck as you begin your project today. I hope that you have fun, that you push yourself, that you learn a ton, and that you gain insights that you can use in your regular journaling and creative life.

Remember to let me know if you want to be in the Facebook group in order to share your images. Or if you are sharing your images publicly on a dedicated blog or Flickr or a website send me a direct line after you have five entries up and I'll add you to the Participants list in the right-hand column.

Have a great celebration.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Shift in Place"—What Does That Really Mean Anyway?

Since 2009 I’ve celebrated IFJM publicly on this blog and invited you to join me with your creative works.

Fake journaling is a process I’ve used for decades so that I can make time for a creative project and explore ideas or art media that are appealing to me.

I’ve been fake journaling off and on for so long (I did my first fake journal as a child), that I have a certain pattern or leaning, when creating a fake journal—they tend to have a bit of a story arc. They obviously start in medias res since April 1 isn’t the first day any of my characters have kept a journal. The journals might not have a resolved ending (because sometimes life doesn’t resolve itself). However, there is often something of a story in my fake journals.

Because my fake journals since 2009 have been put up in public here and as flip throughs on YouTube, they are often what people see as “examples” for what to do if one is going to participate.

They are simply what I have done.

But in recent years I’ve seen a number of participants attempt to create an elaborate fiction, with a beginning, middle, and end, while juggling a new type of art paper, an unfamiliar art medium, research about their character’s life and occupation because he may be quite different from the participant, and the desire to post publicly (requiring the work of scanning and writing a blog post perhaps), all while juggling the busy duties of a full and active life.


I’ve used IFJM and fake journaling to help students and friends deal with their internal critic issues (that little voice that tells them they aren’t creative and can’t do a project like this anyway).

Setting up an elaborate project like I just explained can often be a recipe for failure. Even if you were retired and had no fixed obligations on your time, the scope of your project would be so large as to push at the boundaries of your life.

I love to encourage people to exercise their creative muscle, but the point of my public projects like IFJM and the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out, is to get people creating within a situation and context where they can COMPLETE the task and taste fulfillment and success.

If you can taste even a little bit of success—like finding one great part of a drawing, even if it’s only one great sinuous line—you are more apt to come back to the creative table and try again.

I gave all this considerable thought at the end of last year's celebration. I wanted people to participate and to make it through the month with their 30 entries (more if they were so inclined), feeling good about the creative stretch that they set for themselves.

To facilitate that result I have deliberately delayed the release of this year’s Tagline: “Shift in Place.”

I have deliberately not made my usually January through March posts on how to prepare for IFJM, how to get your materials in hand, how to pick a journal, how to pick a paper, how to identify a character, and so on.

Past posts on those topics are thorough and available to the readers of this blog if they look at the category list, or even if they simply read the links suggested in the March 3, 2016 post.

If you want to prepare for IFJM and set lavish parameters on media use and character/story development etc., you can go right ahead. I want you to be as creative as possible in a way that HELPS YOU MEET YOUR CURRENT CREATIVE GOALS.

But I would also like to invite you to consider a simpler approach. 

A Simpler Approach

What if you jumped in with no preparation, no preconceived notions, and on March 31 you sat down for thirty to sixty minutes and did a little soul searching on how you wanted to spend thirty to sixty minutes of daily art time for the month of April? What if you asked yourself what would fit with your current art goals? Within the confines of your current responsibilities and obligations?

What if out of that March 31 thirty to sixty minute conversation you let one idea bubble up and grabbed it? Say, sketches of the budding flowers in my garden (if of course you’re living somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere).

What if you then picked one journal with paper that would allow the sketching of those flowers if you used pencil, color pencil…?

Or if you were dying to use wet media, then pick a wet media journal or cut up sheets of watercolor paper into 30 pieces and make a loose sheet journal in which you use watercolor.

What if you asked yourself just 3 or 4 questions about the character who is keeping that journal and kept the answers fairly close to home? 

So if you asked, “Is my character male or female?” and you are male, you’d write about a male character. If you asked, “What does he do for a living?” you would pick an occupation that is similar to yours—office work, scientist, outdoor work, whatever. Ask what time would such a person have in his day to draw? How does he make time? Is it just habit? 
This will influence you when you pick a time each day to sketch, to let that character in—because a character who draws simply from habit isn't going to go to a "special" location every day to sketch, unless his habit involves a special subject—if he sketches birds, he'll need to go to a location where they can be found. 
When you ask yourself how old your character is allow the answer to be within 10 years of your age, up or down.

Finally ask yourself "Why does he draw?" 

This will take the longest time to think out. Make it a good reason. Don't accept the first comment that comes to mind—ask more deeply. You might rely on your own reasons for drawing to help you here. You might substitute a reason one of your friends has that you wish you could cultivate.

Keep it all this simple.

That’s it. You’ve done thirty to sixty  minutes of preparation, and you’re ready to start on April 1, using art materials YOU HAVE ON HAND, that fit the criteria of the questions you’ve just asked.

Then Begin

Starting on April 1, and again every day of the month, find time in your day to step out of yourself and become the person who does that creative act you’ve set for yourself: an act that can be completed in thirty to sixty minutes given your CURRENT level of drawing ability. 
I guarantee that if you do this thoughtfully every day for 30 days that level of ability will increase—and that’s a positive result all by itself.
Finally each day after you have finished your drawing and written down the date and time, take 5 more minutes to write down some text on the page (or page spread) that your character, the person you are being right now, is thinking about or overhearing, RIGHT NOW.

This doesn’t have to be paragraphs of text connecting to the previous day’s entry. You don’t have to keep charts about plot points that are coming up in the rest of the month. You don’t have to research anything. This is just your character thinking about his or her day and the action they just took by recording that image, whatever it was, in his or her journal.

Shift In Place

This is the meaning of “Shift in Place.” It means taking a quick, sidestep out of your life, into the life of someone else, to let them create something on the page.

That creation happens in the stream of life just as all journal art and journal writing does. This means you’ll want to put yourself in an area where there can be a trigger to help you make the transition—an art museum (if he’s observing art), a grocery store parking lot (if he’s running errands), the bus (if he rides mass transit).

In this way you will find out how your character feels about all these things because you will step into his world, drawn in by what you see that he wants to sketch. And you will respond to it in the moment. And then you will get back to your life.

This means that there will or could be lots of mundane things in your character's journal. Celebrate that as a huge success because your character is living a real life full of all the mundane things we all deal with every day—it’s his take on the mundane that is different from yours! 

There is no story. There is no narrative thread—at least you are not going in with one. You are letting things unfold from the mundane.

Half way through the month a story might occur to you, and you’ll wonder about it. Resist it, keep working as I’ve described. How often do you sit down to journal aware of what you’ll do the next 30 days to get to a certain result? That’s not journaling, that’s fortune telling.

When you get to the end of the month—and there is an increased likelihood that you’ll make it to the end of the month because you haven’t set out lots of baggage for your creativity to carry about—you’ll have time to look back at the month and see what you got down on paper.

Something will come out of all those mundane moments. You will see a more real character who revealed himself in glimpses as he moved through his world. You will see how there are different ways to respond to the mundane. You might even see a story line, life story, or theme emerge that you may wish to take into another creative project!

You will also have 30 days of showing up and honoring your goal of creating something each day—a drawing or painting of something that speaks to your character. (At the end of the month those choices might speak volumes about that character and his interests in ways you could never replicate if you tried to concoct a plan.)

With thirty to sixty minutes of creative time each day in April you will wind up with a sense of satisfaction you can carry into your “real” creative work—a sense of satisfaction that confirms you can set goals and meet them; a sense of satisfaction that will inspire you to make more long term goals perhaps; or a sense of satisfaction that simply enables you to dive into your own visual journal (your real one) with new energy and a sense of discovery.

Your actions will also have the added benefit of helping keep your internal critic silent. If he pipes up and says, “You can’t draw” it doesn’t matter because it isn’t you doing the drawing. Just finish the job and tell yourself you’ll look at all this in May. 

Savor each moment you allow your character to draw. Allow him to speak to you about what appeals to him in his subject and his work. He isn't held back; he's having fun; he always finds something positive to say about his work.

If your internal critic says all of this is boring tell him it’s just daily life “stuff” and you’ll look at it in May, who can tell now?!

Most important your internal critic won’t be able to tell you “This is too complicated, you can’t do this.”

You can do this. 

You can take one small step to the side of your life and look at another life, through the eyes of someone else for a few moments each day.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Profound

For month-long projects like this many people get hung up on the belief that each page, each image, each thought expressed has to be profound. 

That’s a perfect example of the internal critic working over time to talk you out of the very real value of stepping out of your life for thirty to sixty minutes a day and asking “what if” questions. 

We aren’t going for profound.

For consistency you need only ask, is this the type of thing my character would look at and why? And is this the type of thing he would say? Why or why not?

And then sketch and write with your character’s eyes.

Profound learning that you can take into all your other creative projects comes out of this simple action.

Will It Be Difficult?

It’s hard to answer whether it will be difficult to be this simple or not. Some who try it will speed through the month and not realize until months later all the positive benefits of their project.

Others will find it more difficult. It is certainly more difficult to sit and listen to a character than to elaborately plan and decorate his life all while he is trying to get a word in edgewise.

He may in fact get so pissed off at your efforts to control him that he will seem unwilling to speak to you on some days and you’ll have to learn to sit with the discomfort of that silence until the moment he does speak and he has seen something to draw and will speak to you.


Ignore the nagging of your internal critic who says this is boring, this is too simple, this isn’t enough.

Your internal critic wants to bog you down with delay and research and overthinking. He wants to trip you up with grand concepts. 

Starting on March 30, as I’ve written above, instead sit and listen to your character. 

I believe you’ll be glad you did.

Not only is it enough, it is plenty.

Well What If I Already Have The Plan Of A Lifetime?

“Roz all the time you weren’t writing about how to prep for this year’s celebration I’ve been busy creating a character with a deep backstory and frankly everything including a fake passport. I’m ready and anxious to get going. I’ve got a spiffy journal I bound myself with special art papers I’ve decided I want to try out, and I've splashed my whole art supply budget to get new media I want to experiment with. I’ve cleared my calendar, told all my friends ‘I’m Busy!’ and I am going for it!”

Is that where this post finds you? 


Then go for it.

You get to choose how you spend your creative energy.

I realized that in not telling you what the plan for this year was I ran the risk of losing several of you to preparation. You wanted to be ready to go, and boy oh boy, you are ready to go.

I also realized that if I told you earlier about this year’s plan, you wouldn’t have been able to prevent yourself from over thinking and planning. You wouldn’t have been able to let it go.

I know because I love to do IFJM prep myself. I love to pick out the project journal. I love inviting characters to come and chat with me in January so I can “speed date” and see which ones are grabbing my attention. I want to know what type of art they like to do and how this fits into my current obligations and commitments.

I deliberately kept myself insanely busy in January and February preparing a new online course (to be released later this year) and offering a second session of my “Drawing Practice” class in which I’m very hands-on with my students. 
I knew if I did those two things I wouldn’t be able to prep. And right now I’ve got more than enough personally and professionally to keep me from even thinking about which paper, which media—I’ll be following the theme. I’ll “Shift in Place.”

But I’ve felt very concerned hearing from people that they couldn’t complete their fake journals in the past years. I’ve been concerned that they didn’t get to experience the fun of the “unanticipated” project that just grows out of necessity—it’s 9 p.m. and I’m going to bed in 30 minutes what’s my character up to right now!?

Most important I want people to end the project with a completed project.

This year’s theme allows people to just show up. And the more experience people have in just showing up, the more they are apt to do that during other times of the year as well—something helpful for all creative people.

It strikes me as more of what creating a fake journal was when I was younger—before I tied it to April for public celebration. It is going back to the sense of an idea that occurs and that I then follow—in the midst of my real life with all the interruptions and disconnections that real life contains. And if I can focus on this other character and see what he likes and is like, then I can focus on anything.

But you get to choose.

Prepare or don’t prepare until that thirty to sixty minute prep session on March 31.

There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to start. You pick a way and go with it. You trust your gut. One method will speak more to you about what you want to get accomplished.

Just listen carefully to make sure that you are listening to your creative self, and not your ego. It’s your ego who wants to hold you in place and prevent you from stretching, and “protect” you from change.

Once you’ve established that it isn’t your ego making the choice, it doesn’t matter which way you proceed.

After you make your choice on how to proceed only the following matters…

Requirements For Making A Fake Journal During International Fake Journal Month

The requirements for making a fake journal boil down to this:

1. You need to make one entry a day throughout April. Each entry needs to be dated. There also needs to be a time on the entry indicating the actual time during the day that the entry was executed. 

The reason you are dating and putting a time “stamp” on the work is that it is essential to maintain the “in the present moment” aspect of this journal project to keep your journal as an actual journal. This requires that at the time you create a page you step out of your life and into the life of the character.

Because of this I typically recommend that people keep things simple and keep things close to home. Look for “topics” that can be easily accomplished each day—if the character draws birds you need to have birds nearby to draw, so he or she can go to that location. Transit time adds to the project time and increases the difficulty of completing the project in an otherwise busy life.

2. The keeper of the journal needs to be someone else, i.e., not you. It can be anyone, and it can even be another version of you if you want to cut it really close (an alternate universe self so to speak who acts like you except in some really major ways)—but I recommend against that because the point is to distance yourself from the journal.

3. You need to write in first person. "I did blah, blah." If you want to get your character's name in the journal you can write it at the front of the book, or you can have your character write a note about a conversation in which someone made a big deal about calling him by his name—but be careful it's a difficult thing to carry off. 

4. You need to be a PERSON. This is because you need to be able to write and draw—inanimate objects can’t write and draw. And animals, with the notable exception of one of the orangutans at the Como Zoo who paints, can’t write and draw. 

5. Some people try to keep HISTORICAL Fake journals. I recommend that they not do that. They still have to date and indicate the time of day they are making their entry on each entry, all the while juggling historical facts and locations and language…It’s too much for most people to do. And to do it accurately would require research. It becomes instead a work of fiction.

And that’s not the point of International Fake Journal Month.

6. You can keep your fake journal private or you can post it publicly. If you post it publicly you might elect to do that on a blog dedicated to your fake journal (or to the string of fake journals you’re creating over the years). You might post it on Flickr or post to the Facebook group I've created for participants.

I’ll write about those options in the next few days.

What you want to do now is decide whether or not you’re going to prepare or not prepare.

If you decide to prepare, read those articles I’ve already written about every aspect of preparation.

If you decide not to prepare pick up a book and read, write a letter to a friend, sketch your dog or your significant other, or go for a walk and enjoy the world around you.

Either way, on April 1, 2016, you’ll be ready to “Shift in Place.”