Journal Friday #99: Text


Words, text, and reflections are a big part of my journaling process, but there are times when I might not want the text to be so obvious, especially since I openly share my journal with others. So obscuring the words is a great way to include writing while making it hard to read.

Today I worked primarily with text using a General’s Sketch & Wash pencil (water-soluble graphite), Derwent Inktense pencils, and uni-ball Vision pens. I focused on using the text in a more graphic manner, and the reflective writing provided a textured background while the stenciled words created some big words that stand out. The smaller emphasized words provided a little visual pop. I see this as a good start, and I’ll most likely add more to this spread in the future.

I hope that you enjoy the video!

Creative Prayer Book: Found Text


Welcome to the ninth lesson of the Creative Prayer Book. In this lesson, I continue to add text to my book. As I’ve said before, I’m creating a book of creative affirmations, but feel free to add hopes, wishes, dreams, prayers, or quotes to your book.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been adding text using stencils and my own handwriting, but for today’s lesson, I want to add some found text — text from alternative sources. I’ll use some of my own handwriting in conjunction with this found text, but I want to find some of the words in other sources or create some of it in a different way. I turn to some readily available sources of text for my words today — magazines, stickers, and a label maker.


Magazine Text

Magazines are a great source for text, but I want to use big words, so I look for headlines and advertisements. I probably won’t be able to find very word in the phrase that I want to use, but I can probably find a a couple key words. I spend time flipping through magazines to find words that will work.

Newspapers are also a good source of headline text.


Arts and craft stores often have sticker sets of words meant to be used in scrapbooking and mixed media art. I happen to have a set that I bought a long time ago in a stash of fodder in the studio. The words all deal with travel, and contain quite a few key words from a number of my affirmations.

Don’t feel like you need to make a special trip to the store of sticker words, but if you have some lying around, feel free to use them.

Label Maker

Label makers are great as an alternative source of text, and some electronic ones allow you to change the size and the font. I have an old embossing label maker from many years ago, and I think that it would be perfect for using for this lesson. This is the type that uses plastic tape and pushes the letters up into the plastic causing the letters to be raised and to turn white. I used to use it a lot when I first got into journaling, but I haven’t used it in quite a while. I use it to create whole phrases and to add key words.

Think about printing out words from the computer if you don’t have a label maker, but use one if you got it. I was surprised to see that Dymo still makes the embossing type of label maker similar to the one I have.

I do use my regular handwriting for some of the words that go with the magazine text and label maker, and if I wanted, I could thicken the letters like I did last week. But, I’ll wait because I have some ideas for embellishing the text in different ways, and I’ll save it for a future lesson.

Think about ways that you can use found text or words from alternative sources as you continue to add your affirmations, prayers, or quotes to your book, and until next time, Happy Creating!

Art and Soul: Portland 2019


I got back a few days ago from the annual Art and Soul retreat in Portland, OR, but it’s taken a few days to recover. Travel is always good, but it tends to wear me out. I’ve taken it easy the last couple of days, but now’s time to get back into the swing of things. So, I thought that I’d reflect a little about Art and Soul to kick off the week, and perhaps I can squeeze a new Materials Monday in before the end of the day to get back on track with those as well.

But onto Art and Soul!

I must say that I had a blast in Portland, and the week just whooshed by so quickly. I flew in on Monday, and didn’t have a class until Tuesday evening. So I grabbed lunch with a friend who lives in Portland, and spent a couple of hours wandering downtown Portland. I was almost late for my own class when I narrowly missed the train back. Luckily a train runs every 15 minutes, but that 15 minutes difference meant that I was nearly running to get back on time. Luckily I got to class with 5 minutes to spare, and we had a great class. I taught my Artful Layers class which I’ve done before as an all-day and a 2-day workshop, but this time it was a three-hour evening class. I was so into the class that I completely forgot to take photos, but we had fun layering watercolor, watercolor pencil, collage, and more.

On Wednesday I taught my Monster Maker Workshop as an all-day class, and we had so much fun creating little creatures in watercolor, polymer clay, and collage. It was a small intimate class, and I remembered to take photos. I’ve had so much fun making my monsters over the past several years, that it was good to see others who enjoyed it just as much.

Beyond Blank Pages was my all-day class on Thursday, and it was great to teach a brand new class. I developed the class as a week-long workshop for the John C. Campbell Folk School, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. I turned it into a one-day class for Art and Soul, and we spent the day creating pages that linked together through color, repetition, cut-outs and more. Though it’s based on journal workshops that I’ve taught before, it’s a new spin on the journal as you try to consciously create a visual narrative that runs through the pages as ideas, themes, colors, lines, and more all connect from page to page.

I had a fantastic time working with the students, and it was so nice to see so many new faces. Though a couple had taken classes with my before, most were brand new, and many knew very little about me or what I do. I’m so glad that my classes appealed to them. Teaching at Art and Soul last week reminded me why I teach — to connect with others and to share my love of art. I am grateful for everyone who came out and made art with me, and I am looking forward to next year!

In the meantime, I have a couple of other teaching gigs lined up for 2019, and I’m hoping to add more. In May, I’m teaching the Creative Prayer Book as an all-day workshop at the Round Hill Arts Center in Round Hill, VA. In October, I’ll be repeating Artful Layers, Monster Maker Workshop, and Beyond Blank Pages at Art and Soul in Ocean City, MD.

Creative Prayer Book: Handwriting

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It’s the eighth lesson of the Creative Prayer Book, and I’m diving into more into my creative affirmations. Remember that you can add any text that you want — affirmations, quotes, song lyrics, poems, prayers. It’s really up to you.


Last week I used some stencils to add the words, so this time, I turn to those index cards with my affirmations, and I use my ordinary handwriting and my uni-ball Vision pens to add the text. I definitely don’t have a neat and fancy handwriting style, so I’m relying on my printed and cursive handwriting, but to make it stand out more, I thicken the letters by going back over the letters with my pen and carefully drawing in a thicker shape around the lines of the letters and filling in the resulting shapes with solid ink. This not only makes them bolder and easier to see, but it allows me to make the letters neater and to be a bit more artistic with them.

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As I decide what text goes on which page, I think about the placement of my words and how big to write them. Since the ink doesn’t draw too well on top of glossy surfaces, I try to avoid writing on top of magazine images.

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I do a couple pages of printed text and a couple pages of cursive text, and along with the stenciled text from last week, I have a good start with adding my affirmations to my pages. So think about how you can add more text to your pages using your ordinary handwriting.

Creative Prayer Book: Letter Stencils


Welcome to the 7th lesson of the Creative Prayer Book. This lesson is all about using letter stencils to begin adding text to some of the pages. I’ve decided to use my book as a book of affirmations, and I’m using a series of phrases, quotes, words, and ideas to create reminders about my creative journey. Several years ago, I wrote a bunch of these affirmations on index cards with the notion of using them in my journal or my art, but they have been sitting around my studio all this time. The Creative Prayer Book is a perfect use for them.

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As I begin adding words to my book, I want to use letter stencils for some of the affirmations, especially since I don’t have the best handwriting. I could just use the stencils plain, and trace the letters with a pen, pencil, or marker, but it can be hard to read the words sometimes. So, I want to use a couple of techniques to make the words “pop.”


I can use one of my favorite materials, Derwent Inktense pencils, to create some contrast around the letters so that the words stand out from the page. I trace the letters first with my black uni-ball Vision pen, and then shade a dark Inktense pencil around the letters and spread it with plain water. This makes the words stand out a bit from background. If the color isn’t dark enough, I can add a darker color later.


Another technique for making the words stand out is to fill them with color, and I could simply fill them in with solid color. But I like to fill them in a slightly more creative way. I like using my uni-ball Vision pens and leave a white line around the edge of the letters giving the letters a bit of a sophisticated look. By drawing a shape inside of the letters that runs parallel to the edge of the letters, I can then fill the shape to create a two-tone letter. I really like the look of this technique.

Think about using stencils in your book since their are a quick and easy way to add text and word. If you want to add a bit of flair and make the words stand out, try using a little ink or Inktense pencil to add some visual interest to the letters and make them “pop.” Try experimenting with letter stencils, but don’t fill all of your pages because we’ll tackle some other lettering techniques in lessons to come.

Happy Creating!

Journal Friday #97: Be Where You Are and Initiating a New Journal


I wanted to do something a little different for the time-lapse video that I made today, so I limited myself to using just a few materials — Derwent Inktense pencils, UHU glue stick, and uni-ball Vision pens. I also, started the spread off a bit differently. I used a series of ovals to create an overall texture as an initial layer, and then I built up other layers on top of it. I also drew a face, which I haven’t done for the time-lapse videos before. I had thought about adding more to the spread, but I’ve been trying to keep these videos to about a minute in length. Drawing the face and using the Inktense around the stenciled words took a little while, so I didn’t include everything that I was thinking about. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

After creating the video, I broke out my new journal. I had started prepping it a while back, and the beginning of a new month seemed like a perfect time to initiate working in it. I didn’t do much and simply used a square stencil and an Inktense pencil to get something started. However small of a start it might be, it’s the first step of a grand, new adventure! I love beginning in a new journal. It’s always filled with such promise and potential.

Creative Prayer Book: Purposeful Collage

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Welcome to Lesson 6 of the Creative Prayer Book. Over the past 5 weeks, I’ve built up layers of watercolor, graphite pencil, collage, watercolor pencil, ink, and Inktense pencils. For this week’s lesson, I turn again to collage, but this time I want to be a bit more purposeful with the fodder that I choose.



Magazines are always a good source of collage materials, and I look for small images to use or for parts of larger photos that can fit into the format of may pages.

Personal Fodder

I also look through my stash of personal ephemera and find photos of myself, scraps of paper, postcards, and other things that have a personal connection.


Finally, I find some small works of art that I can cut up. These are experimental or unfinished pieces that have been sitting around the studio, and I gather a variety to use.

I use the collage in a variety of ways, and I cut some of it into horizontal or vertical strips. I also cut out small squares and rectangles. Some of the pieces are recognizable images, and some are simply textures and patterns. With some of the collage, I cut it so that it can fit into certain spaces and certain shapes, and with it all I use my favorite glue stick, UHU, to glue it all onto my pages. Some collage elements might be a bit thick and glossy, so I might consider using a different adhesive if I use them. I try to use the collage sparingly leaving room for the words and the affirmations that are to come.

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Try adding some more collage to your pages!

Happy Creating!

Materials Monday: Letter Stencils


Words are almost as big of a part of my visual journaling process as the art making and the collage. As a journal, I want my book to reflect and document my daily life — my ups, my downs, and my in betweens, and words go a long way in helping with that. Naturally, I write out many of my reflections longhand, and of course, I draw words, text, and quotes to give emphasis. But having letter stencils on hand, is a quick and easy way to add letters and words, and they can be used with a wide variety of materials — everything from pen and pencil to acrylic and watercolor paints. I always have a few styles and sizes on hand so that I can tailor the letters and words to fit multiple purposes and situations.

I don’t have a favorite brand or kind of letter stencil, and over the years I’ve picked them up at arts and crafts stores, as well as office supplies stores. But I usually limit myself to the simpler, more generic lettering styles — Roman, Gothic, and Helvetica. I don’t like the to use the fancy or funky fonts — it’s just not my thing. I do try to have several sizes of the same font on hand — normally a small, medium, and large, and I do have a couple of extra large sets for when only a big word will do.

Letter stencils, also called lettering guides, come in a variety of materials as well, and I must say that I prefer the thinner, flexible plastic stencils since they take up less space. I can throw a few of them in the pocket of my large journal and take them anywhere. However, they do get beat up a bit, and they can get bent and even torn — especially the delicate insides of letters. The stiff, thick plastic stencils are much more durable, but not as portable so I relegate them to the studio. I have used the stencils cut from heavy paper, but they tear easily and don’t hold up to wet media.

I steer clear of stencils with already cut words and phrases because they are somewhat limiting.  You probably aren’t going to use them a whole lot and stencil the word and phrase over and over and over again. I like being able to create any word, any phrase — much more versatile. I also like to use letters and numbers as graphic devices, and I often stencil “ABCD” or “12345” onto pages and artworks. I also, like to stencil a letter like “X” over and over to create patterns. This allows me to play around with letters on a purely visual level.

If you don’t have any letter stencils, go get yourself some, and have fun playing with words, letters, and numbers.

Journal Friday #96: Lost


I’ve been enjoying making time-lapse videos over the past few months of two-page spreads, and they fit great with Journal Friday. But I should note that these videos are not my normal mode of working. When I make them, I spend a couple of hours working on a single spread trying to plot the course of the spread as I work. However, when I work normally in my journal, I sit for a couple of hours bouncing around from page to page working here and there allowing the pages to develop organically and haphazardly. So dedicating two or three hours to a single spread presents a different type of challenge, which is neither good nor bad — just different.

As I sat down to create today’s time-lapse video, I had no idea what the spread was going to be or where it would take me. All I knew was that I wanted to do something a little different — to use colors and techniques that I haven’t used much in my other videos. Things started out smoothly as I used bubble wrap, organic lines of Inktense pencil, and an image transfer, but then I hit a bump in the road.

Things began to go a little awry when I grabbed some plastic canvas and watercolor paint. The effect came out darker than I had hoped, and it just wasn’t how I had envisioned. The spread quickly came to a halt as it veered into an unexpected direction. Of course you don’t see that in the video with the luxury of being able to pause the recording while I contemplated my next move.


I tried to fade the darker brown paint into the page with some yellow watercolor, but things just weren’t going to my liking. I was completely uncertain of where to go next, and I sat for a few minutes finally deciding to add some writing. After a few minutes of debating about whether to write directly on the page or to use tracing paper, I decided on the tracing paper. As a prompt, I turned to how I’ve been feeling lately — something that I hadn’t planned, but it felt right for the page. I have felt rather lost lately, and at that moment, I was a bit lost for what to do with the spread.

So, I wrote about feeling lost — feeling very uncertain of what my next steps should be with my life. For the past two and half years, I’ve been forging my own path after resigning from a 20 year career as an art teacher. I work part time as the manager of a local art center, and I try to dedicate the rest of my time to making art, journaling, and sharing my journey with others here on the blog and on social media. But I am feeling a bit lost right now, and it’s a tad disconcerting. I love the freedom this path has giving me, but it’s been difficult at times. Now is one of those difficult times — a moment when things have ebbed a bit — a moment of uncertainty and a bit of anxiety about where this journey is heading.

I didn’t come to any cathartic conclusion, and the spread is very much unfinished. I do like it more now than I did those moments after I lifted the plastic canvas, and I thought of working more on it. I may do just that in the future, but for now I just want to stand for a moment on this vulnerable patch of lostness and just be here in all of my uncertainty knowing that the universe is always conspiring with us.

Creative Prayer Book: Inktense Pencils


Welcome to the fifth lesson of the Creative Prayer Book. I’ve built up several layers using watercolor, graphite pencil, collage, watercolor pencil, and ink in previous lessons, and I was originally thinking of using collage for this lesson. But as I worked with the ink this past week, I felt like I wanted at least one more layer before diving back into using collage.

To create this layer, I pulled out my Derwent Inktense Pencils, which I discussed at length in this week’s Materials Monday. The Inktense are used just like watercolor pencils, but they are all very transparent since they are water-soluble ink instead of watercolor. This makes them perfect for layering over other materials.


My main goal in this lesson is to use the Inktense pencils to reinforce the structure of the pages. Last week, I used lines and shapes drawn with ink to experiment with layout and composition on my pages, and this week I use the Inktense to create contrast that will heighten the structure and make the pages more dynamic.

Since the Inktense work just like watercolor pencil, I use my technique of shading around shapes and fading the color into the background with plain water. This gives me a chance to shift the colors on my pages by give adding a tint of one color or another, and allows me to make shapes and areas pop out. The darker color in certain areas fades into the background making the lighter areas stand out more.


Try experimenting with water-soluble pencils to see if you can reinforce the composition of your pages, and if you don’t have water-soluble pencils, watercolor crayons will work just as well. You could also just use watercolor paint to create a similar effect. No matter what, have fun building layers!


Happy creating!