Art Journal Every Day: I will overcome

Art journal Every day: I will overcome

I finally found an app that will help me blur the journaling around the actual layout after searching high and low in the app store. Thank you, Photo Blur!

Can you believe the layout above began with the pages below?
Art Journal Every Day: original layout before journaling

I’ve been trying to spend a little time each day working on multi-date layouts (where I put a sentence or two about a given topic featured on the page) or in completing actual journal entries.  I just finished working on a multi-page layout and will begin another one, and I can’t wait to see how that progresses and turns out after I am done.  It’s very refreshing to see something which I thought was already “done” get totally transformed into something different once I finish working on it.

I like the way I have made it a routine to pray, journal, pray, journal, pray, draw.  And then when I can, I try to get some reading done.  The downside is I haven’t had much time to write the cards and letters I have been making a mental list of, and neither have I been good with the e-mails.  I am trying to structure my time in such a way that I make a habit of beginning my day with my usual prayer/s and then I try to get some reading done if I wake up early enough.  (Today was a struggle, though, because I didn’t get up until almost 7am!  I know I should’ve straddled out of bed at 5:10am when I woke up..but I was summoned back to bed, and it was too tempting not to catch some more sleep before the day began.)

At lunch time, I try to catch up on my daily readings from KerygmaFamily if I haven’t already done it by then.  And if I still have time, I write on one of two journals that preoccupy me in real time writing.

It takes me time to finish a layout but I try to be good about it.  There are times when the journaling is done for the day but it takes me a day or two more to finish the actual page.  I like seeing the book taking shape… I find it so inspiring to even just glance at it on my desk without opening it, seeing its many colored pages.  I like that someone who can’t even draw a face without the help of tracing an outline can come up with this.  It’s something very personal that shows me what I am becoming and where I’ve been. 

My first layouts in 2012 were mostly symbolic without much journaling, but these days I find a greater need to write.  Sometimes in ways only I can understand.  I layer writing over writing and then just trust that I will understand it if I ever go back to it.  Otherwise, I am happy with the way it has come together.  It doesn’t need to be read, it only needs to be seen as a whole.
Instagram Buzz
I posted this on my Instagram with this caption:

Art journal every day: I will move on – I started doing #artjournaleveryday in 2012 when I first bumped into @balzerdesigns, Julie Fei-fan Balzer’s website . To this day, she is an inspiration to me as a non-artist trying to come up with personal art. She has generously shared her comments and techniques. I recently returned to #artjournaling using my #alteredbook which had lain dormant for most of 2013. This year, I promise to take better care of me and focus on myself while taking care of others.

I got the biggest surprise of my life when Julie left a comment and made my day. She truly inspires and makes a difference in so many people’s lives.

Spring as it unfolds

Spring 2013: The tree by PS213

One thing that has always had me in awe year in and year out since I moved to this side of the world is how dramatic Mother Nature’s changing of the seasons happens.  Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall — each season is marked by very pronounced changes that serves as a reminder that time will stop for no one.

Even as the trees shed their blooms, the carpet of petals that gather on the ground directly under it is yet another statement of constant change.

Twenty minutes to midnight and I can hear my boy snoring ever so lightly.  He’s a big boy and has always been a big boy.  When he was a baby, my mother used to get worried that his snoring might not be normal.  (Apparently, none of my siblings nor I snored when we were younger.)  The doctor assured me it was normal.  Besides, it wasn’t a real snore — you could just hear him breathing more audibly.

I can’t believe we’re halfway through May now.  Spring has taken a step back yet again with our temperatures dipping to 40.  I wish the weather would make up its mind temperature-wise.  I felt the heater and it’s on again.  And to think I was getting ready to wear my summer clothes already.  I guess not yet.

I spent the weekend creating necklaces — for myself.  I managed to finish five necklaces in all — including the one for Lou and a friend.  I revised the necklace for Lou to have a pendant of Our Lady of Lourdes as its focal point.  I made one for another friend who is a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   I have been on a creative streak, yet I have managed to botch up my necklace for the wedding this weekend.  I had initially bought 4 strands of gorgeous pearls and bought an additional 2 strands last Friday, but when I put them side-by-side, they were of different shades.  I will go and check out which shade has additional strands I can get to complete 6 strands in all.

The good news is I might eventually get the chance to do a photowalk through Bryant Park — maybe tomorrow on the way to my pearl supplier =)  I actually did manage to stop and take some macro shots of tulips that had already bloomed and opened.  There’s more in the park.  Tomorrow, it is!

Art Journal Every Day 2013

ART JOURNAL EVERY DAYI managed to compile a set of entries for 2011 and 2012, and while there were long lulls, the journey then was a learning experience for me both in art and in expressing myself.  I know that it’s a month and half into 2013, and while I had been working on the journal since the start of the year, I didn’t really write any entries until today.  My work on my art journal is pretty free-flowing.  There are times when I work on backgrounds one after the other — or other times when I work on a piece from start to finish before moving on.

You don’t have to be an artist to do an art journal.  I, for one, don’t consider myself an artist.  I’m a crafter.  But I am a writer, too.  There are many forms of so-called smash books where you put anything and everything representative of what you want to journal about.  Not all journals these days are your run-of-the-mill all words journalling.  There are now “focused” journals where you write according to journal prompts instead of just writing about your day.  Or there are these art journals we do.

I have been encouraging my friend P to write a journal or journals actually, and I try to encourage her to keep at it every time I send her one of my handmade cards.  If you want to get started on art journaling, read on.

1.  Pick your journal.  Some people like moleskins, some people prefer those thick, beautifully bound leather journals.  It can be as simple as a composition notebook that you might want to “alter” by working on the cover.

I did a composition notebook last year but I ended up pasting two page entries on top of the pages which caused me to have an uber-thick journal bursting with pages.  For my next journal, I picked a rather ambitious 9 x 12 sketchbook which I had bought on sale in December 2012.  I have already bought a second “spare” in case I need more pages.  The idea is hopefully to combine the two at the end of the year into one book, granting that I am able to fill up that much of the journal.  You also have to give allowances for pages being torn away as spoils and needing “refills”.  To do that you have to have easy access to the same journal, and since this was on sale, I didn’t want to run the risk of running out.

2. Gather your art supplies.  I started with Angelo’s leftover watercolor set from school.  I progressed to a more versatile set at Michael’s, but I do not buy the expensive watercolor sets.  The one I use has a whole palette, but it only cost me $5.00.   My paint brushes are from the dollar store.  (You’d be surprised at the variety and quality of the paint brushes there.)  I have his leftover crayons as well.

As I progressed on to acrylic craft paint, I’ve gathered a stash of very versatile colors and have them all in a huge plastic bin, with the colors either on a swatch of masking tape on the top or of late, written for easy reference.

3. Remember that art journaling can be a mixed media effort.  You can collage, paint, sketch, draw, or anything that for you represents your preferred mode of expression.  There are times when we think of a subject matter that we want to put on paper and only one word represents that feeling, like for me, there was a time I did a journal entry with the French word “Oui.”

 Art Journal Every Day: Work in progress

4. You have to be forgiving of your own mistakes.  This is all for you, by you, and about you.  Mistakes are always a part of life and you can always remedy the error or move on to the next journal entry.  No one is judging you.  

5. There is inspiration galore out there to pick up ideas from and to see how other are doing it.  I visit Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s website, Balzer Designs, every day for inspiration.  I actually participate in her Art Journal Every Day Flickr Group and link up when she has an Art Journal Every Day post like this one — IF I have an entry to share.  (My Flickr set on my Art Journal Every Day entries is here.)

 Art Journal Every Day: Work in progress

6.  Be easy on yourself when it comes to what you will write about.  Journalling is supposed to be a no-pressure, spontaneous activity ABOUT YOU.  It need not be profound.  It can be as simple as a quote that suits your mood, a word (like I said), or a picture.  It can be an ad in the magazine.  Let if flow.

Journaling on

Bryant Park Subway StationWe have been promised a “better and warmer” day today — although “better” is a relative term if you ask me. What might be better for me might not be good for you. Or what might be better for you might otherwise be worse for me. As long as another day comes, and I get the end of the day in one piece, and the family is good, I’m okay.

Today is one of those days that “family” extends to friends, too, more so P who posted on Facebook that she is undergoing tests again. I literally had to pause writing there as I felt a knot form in my chest. She is always in my thoughts and prayers — but there are times when all I can do is pause, close my eyes, and say one word in prayer.. “Please…” I know He hears… and P knows that as well. Thinking about her and the struggles she has had the previous years make me grateful that she is still here.. every time I go home, she is one of those I put on my list of “MUST” see people… and I am looking forward to spending time with her yet again next time I am in town.

I’ve been busy at work and on the side, trying to catch up with my art. The Art Journal Every Day project is going well and I’m working on three layouts right now. (1) The cover (background done, alpha to follow), (2) the first entry (background collage done, first pass of acrylic paint in) and (3) I’m doing mental sketches of a multi-page layout inspired by my altered book.

The Altered Book still goes from page to page and while I had put together a film clip of where the book stands as of today, 11 minutes was just too long so I am trying to flip the pages faster to make it fit into one of my current favorite songs running for4 minutes or so. I will upload it here to share with you to show how far I’ve come as far as prepping the layout backgrounds, finishing practically 3/4th of the book. (Note to self: look for more happiness quotes.)

While these projects may seem a lot, they are not things I work on on an everyday basis. One thing I like about these undertakings is I can pick them up when I want and then just go back when I have time again. Sometimes just brushing paint on a page can do wonders for therapy. The sense of finishing something or moving forward with the project even if only in baby steps can be a good way to end the day.

Inspired by Balzer Designs’ Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Project Life, I have started LIFE 4×6. It’s a series of 4×6 entries which I’ve started on pre-printed digital scrapbook backgrounds in my stash. No rules. Anything about the day, or anything that inspires me during the day. Like a short blurb of a diary entry. It doesn’t have to be written on the card, it can be a piece of notepad or a notebook page cut to size. I’m not too crazy by my current project cover but I’m sticking with it for now. It can be a simple snapshot — or a group of them. While the project that inspired this revolves around a photo subject, this is even more free-wheeling and can be about anything and on anything.

For example, today’s card has a quote I found from a Grateful Dead song which had been used in an article in an industry magazine. (I was browsing it only because it used nice paper and was printed with great graphics.)

“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

– from Scarlet Begonias by The Grateful Dead.

It’s one of those quotes that make you go “hmmmmmmm….”.

MOVING UPDATE: Well, to move or not to move? Or keep two sites? My blog server has written, apologized and fixed the problem. Still, I get hit with “Server is busy” and I think other people get the same page when trying to access my space. For now, as I am still tweaking the other site, I will cross-post and just maintain it until I get pulled to develop one over the other. hasn’t moved just yet, but if you encounter problems with the usual URL, please go to

See you there … (or here..)

In search of a new art journal for 2013

I’ve already “trimmed” my old art journal.  Luckily, the bulging pages had created a more or less “even” book that allowed me to cut the left-over pages easily without causing an imbalance in the book.  I’ve been studying how I can put a cover on it, and hope to get that done tonight if not over the weekend.

I’m leaning towards a spiral sketchbook, but I’ve been thinking about sewing up my own art journal, too.  (Fickle, fickle-minded me.)  I already knew that Barnes and Noble had sketchbooks on sale, but the format was still something I hadn’t quite made up my mind about.  Format as in size — has always been a major point of consideration for me.  I didn’t want it to be too small, and I didn’t want it to be too big.  I started my art journal entries as postcard sized entries, then I went for an 8 x 8 square layout, after which I eventually floated towards a double page layout of a composition notebook.  I ended up creating layouts on poster paper and then pasted them onto the notebook.

In search of a new art journal
My first art journal has been a learning experience on many fronts for me.  I tried gesso and realized it did NOT work for me.  I dabbled in watercolor which was fine done on pre-pasted blank pages, but then worked best with separate pieces I worked on apart from the book.  By the time I had gotten adept with acrylic paint, I had stopped art journaling so I want to do more of that in the next.

I took a trip to the city today and saw the many choices for a sketchbook.
In search of a new art journal

I drifted towards this eco-friendly bound journal made from recycled paper.

In search of a new art journal
It was gorgeous but the pages were sewn together (eliminating it as a candidate for collages and the like), and the pages were paperback novel size which was just too small.  I might end up finishing up one journal in a matter of weeks which would necessitate getting more blanks.

In search of a new art journal

I guess that was that.  Then I stumbled into a shelf full of sketchbooks which were on sale.  I picked two up from Piccadilly, but I zeroed in on a Sketchbook – Black – Large..( Top wire-o – Unlined – Black wire-o ) plain black, spiral bound on top, with paper measuring 8 1/2 x 11.

Ambitious, I know.  Now that I’m cradling the book on my lap as I’m typing here, I’m wondering if I’m not getting in over my head with this choice of a formal for my next art journal.  The biggest positive about this choice is it is commercially available, so I can actually stock up on it.  I got it in a smaller format, too, the size of a steno notebook but unlined and with decent quality paper. (Although I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the smaller format.)


I am going to finish up the first art journal by creating a cover first then I have decided to work on layouts to get me going.  (Much like I’ve done with the altered book.)

I think it’s a good way to begin the new year — literally, a new beginning.

I am looking forward to another year of art journaling — and hope that it does the same if not more good than the first attempt did for me.

I journal because it helps me find a means to express what I feel and what I am going through in more concrete terms without reducing everything to words.  I also like going through the pages and I find myself marveling at the finished layout.  (“Did I actually do that?,” I ask.)  Sometimes a word or a simple scribble can actually capture a whole chapter in my life.

Perhaps when my memory starts fading, these pages will help me remember.  Or when the heart forgets, seeing the pages and reading the words there will help me remember the good and the bad and the lessons learned in between.  My art journal has no rhyme or reason.  Unlike the altered book which is supposed to be a happiness journal, this one is just a plain art journal.  It exists as a compendium of my attempts at art.

And life goes on…

I’m on page 73 of My Altered Book and I’m starting to write on the first 4 pages of the book.  I want to make my happiness journal a “no-pressure” journal which means I am not stressing out to work from finished layout to finished layout.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life : Words of Wisdom on HappinessFor example, one spread is on WORDS OF WISDOM on HAPPINESS where I am compiling quotes on the subject of happiness.  the other layout is one I’m working on with Angelo as the subject matter, because who else has brought such happiness into my life?  (Even just that thought brings a smile to my face.)  I am working on these layouts simultaneously and will be starting a third.  So each page is a work in progress, just as the book is one.

The outer cover of my book now looks grubby, and I suspect that I will end up doing a temporary  cover over the masking tape.  I am constantly handling the book and it’s always in my purse.

Downtown one week afterI started an Art Journal Every Day layout yesterday on the subject of 9/11 which I just feel I had to because of the significance of the day to me personally.  It is a loss that will forever be felt in New York, even if one didn’t suffer a personal loss.  The experience of that tragic day is enough to stir feelings of grief, one I will always carry and feel strongest on this day.

Everyone speaks of healing but there is really no set formula on dealing with grief or with pain.  We each cope our own way.  Just like the events of that day affected us in different ways.

It is perhaps a relief that after 11 years, the way we reemember is now more solemn and personal than ever.  Politicians were not allowed to speak at this year’s ceremony which is befitting.  This day of remembrance should be about the people who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed by that loss.  I didn’t watch.  It felt heavy on the heart as it is.  Today I will scan the newspapers for my usual collage postcard.  But these postcards will be different because not only do they chronicle the events of yesterday, tbut more importantly, they will bring me back to the memories of Sept. 11, 2001.

First day of school, etc.

I took a day off Thursday because it was the first day of school and (1) I had to walk the boy to school as his Dad is on a business trip to Singapore, and (2) I still would’ve gone to bring him in to sort out the classroom and new teachers and help him lug all the school supplies.  In previous years, I had opted to take a half day or just come in late, but yesterday, I decided I’d cut the stress and just take a day off.  Wise decision.

We walked hand in hand to school and as always, it was a fun walk for me as I relished holding my little guy’s hand.  He is very tactile and expressive like me and loves to walk arm in arm or hand in hand.  He’s all excited about school which is good.  I’m starting to have discussions about outfits and attires for school, though, and just this week, I got an “I’ve got a rep to protect, you know” with a grin from the boy.  He’s growing up too fast!

I had lunch with my new friend, Elaine, which I will write about in another post.  I got to work on a few things and then I had a personal mishap of sorts which caused me to have very little sleep last night, and I had to resort to some major contingency planning.  So I am at work with a headache (for lack of sleep) and not functioning 100%. I ‘ll live.  The good thing is it’s Friday, and I can probably make up for the lost sleep tonight.

My altered book is coming along nicely.  Finally, a title: A HAPPY LIFE.

I have finally found my “happiness” journal which I’ve read about and have been hoping to start.  Many encourage that we keep one because it is a good go-to book for those times when life presents us with its biggest challenges.  So you chronicle the “happy” to help you during those times when you are not or when you find yourself facing one of life’s challenges.  My now favorite author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia fame suggests that for inner balance, she recommends keeping a journal for moments of happiness as well as sadness.

My Altered Book: Title Page: A HAPPY LIFE

Speaking of which, I’ve momentarily or for a bit now, set aside my “WHAT DO I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT?” writings.  But even if I no longer answer that question on a daily basis, I know the focus of my answer has shifted dramatically.  I will still write when an answer hits me, but right now, I have my sights focused on other things.  (I  can only write and draw so much!)

We never stop learning

Minutes to midnight and I’m back.  I thought the steak fajita would help, along with some Magnum afterwards, but nope, I didn’t quite get any help with the pain and discomfort beyond this feeling of happiness that filled my stomach.  Well, one part happy and feeling okay is better than all the parts of Dinna feeling all crappy. =)

And I got a very nice surprise from the boys after they left me at Michael’s to troll the aisles and get my pick for the week while they played at Dave & Buster’s.  I actually finished quicker than usual knowing what product I would get for my 40% off coupon for the week along with the acrylic paint colors I wanted to add to my supplies.  The lines were not inordinately longer than the usual “long”, and while I tried to sit and wait by the park bench inside the store (presumably there for the other waiting husbands or kids while Mom does her craft shopping) —  they were taking forever.  I ended up standing up again and grabbing  something else (using the smart coupon on my blackberry instead of the printed coupon I used the first time around), plus additional acrylic paints which were 40% off this week (you can’t beat that!), and still there was no sign of them.   Finally they pulled up by the entrance and I got in the car, and Angelo excitedly handed me a surprise present (and there was no occasion) — a new Michael Kors leather wallet… Speechless.

After that, it was Target.  I had no more energy to go anywhere else, and I would have even skipped Target, but I needed to get Angelo’s supplies for the coming week.  The growing boy eats a boatload of cereal and the current snack of choice: Rice Krispies.  Of course by the time we got home I realized I forgot to buy one important grocery item for the coming week: burger patties.  (The carnivore my son is has forsaken bacon for all beef burgers.)  The truth of the matter is that he prefers the ones from Pat LaFrieda of FreshDirect so I am not totally without recourse.

I tried to do some newspaper collage postcards to add to my Flickr album as I put Angelo to sleep, but all I managed to do was to finish one and I couldn’t quite get moving with the next.  I just wasn’t into it.  I gave it up and opted instead to browse the internet for images and videos about Artist Trading Cards and Mixed Media Art.  (No more postcards for me at least until Monday, I promised myself.)  When I went to pick up my album URL and I visited my Flickr Photostream, I was so amazed that the link I had submitted to the Art Journal Every Day linky list on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s blog had brought so many views to the graphic of my latest Art journal entry I wrote about below.  But what totally bowled me over where the words of artists — real artists — who hopped into my Flickr set based on that link and left a comment.  It totally made my day.  These are the people who teach me and inspire me to continue to aspire to create.

I always try to find something new that I learn from day to day.  The moment we stop trying to learn is the day we wilt away and die.  Even in the little things that don’t seem to matter, we learn.

Two nice surprises for the day — how can you beat that?  I know I should be so lucky.. sometimes I wonder why they keep coming when I am not deserving.  Then I remind myself to just take it as it comes — enjoy the moment before it passes — and move on.

Desiderata in my Art Journal

I knew I had written about this poem before and you can click here for the original post written in 2006 where the full text of the poem appears.

Sometimes, one of the problems that stump art journalers (is there even such a word?) is what to write on something you had drawn or done.  I’ve been into trees lately (again, thanks to the folks at IUOMA) and although I’ve only done two postcards so far (and not feeling confident enough to trade away as it is), I decided I’d do a tree on one of my existing watercolor backgrounds.  But what to write?

I don’t know why after days and days of trying to decide on an apt quote to use, I finally decided I would do Desiderata on the piece.  I’ll write about that separately when it’s all done, but I rendered the poem in plain block print with certain phrases/sentences in bolder, bigger letters.  I feel like I did accomplish something in finally getting that done.  Now I’m trying to decide if I will do the journaling on the side or within the leaves of the tree.  (Decisions, decisions.)  So it isn’t quite done just yet.

ALTERED BOOK MULTI PAGE Meanwhile, I did something different with my altered book which was an idea that came to me after I painted another tw0-page layout.  I executed it last night and can’t wait to do what I intend to do with the cut up pages, but I’ve decided to lay the groundwork for the backgrounds first and then work on individual entries and prompts from there.  I wanted to create a multi-page layout which ends up with four sections on the right side of the page.  It would contain a four-section or four-letter word which would be spelled out on each “quarter” of the right side.  (I’ve started a new page on MY ALTERED BOOK where I will talk more about what I’ve been doing with the book in detail.) I’m quite happy with how things turned out and have moved on to my next experiment which is painting watercolor on book paper.    It just feels like I’m making strides..  You would have thought I was some crazy woman caressing the acrylic painted leaves of the altered book this morning on the bus.  The pages that have been painted or coated with acrylic paint on both sides have an almost fabric/thin tarp feel.  I almost don’t want to write on it for fear of ruining it! HA!

Scribblings and Cling stampWell, almost.  I did start on the page behind the cover and started to just scribble things after using a cling stamp.  No pressure in filling the blank squares up.  I’m just writing this way and that, scribbling the first thing that comes to mind about this altered book.

The day started rather gloomily with rain, but it did a complete turnaround by noon.  It became scorching hot outside so I opted to stay indoors.  I did come wearing my rain boots this morning and I’m thinking I’m better off going home with regular shoes.  (I hope I am not speaking too soon!)  It looks like the skies have cleared.

Can you believe August officially ends by Friday?  Where did the year go?  Before you know it, autumn will be here.  That didn’t quite hit me until I visited one of the blogs I bumped into because of Art Journal Every Day links on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s page.  Go visit gingerblue and get to know the art of Chel.  I don’t usually blog hop these days, and when I do, I have a set of younger bloggers I go and visit, but I am continually awed by the talent that oozes from the inspiring art journal entries that submit links to Julie’s page.  So once in a while I’ll leave a comment, and sometimes I get a note back.  (I totally don’t mind if I don’t.  I know how busy life gets.)  So Chel wrote back and I wrote another comment.  (This is going to be an ongoing thing, I am sure.)  But it is always good to acknowledge inspiration from those who give it to you.

I won’t be able to do it today but she’s definitely landing in my BLOG TRAILS.