Materials Monday: Prang Semi-Moist Watercolor


As 2018 ends, I am beginning a new series for 2019 called Materials Monday, where I discuss a different material each Monday, and I’m kicking it off today, the last day of the year.

It seems like one of the biggest questions that I get all the time is, “What do you use?” It might be about my materials in general, or it might be specifically about the watercolors, the pens, the markers, the whatever that I use when I work in my journals or to make my art. The choice of materials, however, is a highly personal decision, but despite that, I think that people just like to know what materials and media other artists like to use, especially when first getting into an art form. I think we look to others with more experience as more of the expert. Now, I’m not claiming to be any type of expert, but I do have quite a bit of experience. Just don’t feel like you need to go out and buy more stuff. We don’t need more stuff! Besides it’s not so much about having the “right” stuff, it’s about what we do with the stuff that we already have.

So that you know up front, I am not getting paid anything from anyone for sharing about these materials, and all of the things that I’ll share in the upcoming weeks are materials that I actually use, like, and recommend. As with everything that I do, I hope that you get some value out of the things that I share.

I’ll talk about the journals and the paper that I use later in the series, but first, I wanted to start out with one of the most basic materials that I use — watercolor paint. It’s easy to drop a good chunk of change on a brand new set of watercolor paint, and like most things, you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to art materials. So, yes, good quality art materials tend to be on the expensive side, but you don’t need to have most expensive materials to get amazing results, and if you’re just starting out, I always recommend going with the more inexpensive options as a way to try it out, experiment, and learn. 

A perfect example of this is Prang Semi-Moist Watercolor paint. Prang may be more known as a kids’ material, and you can find it in many schools. In fact, I first started using it because it was what I had in my classroom, since I ordered it all the time when I was a public school art teacher, and I used it with both the elementary and high school levels. It may be inexpensive, but it’s a very nice paint. Also, I have always been much more open to experimenting with these paints knowing the they’re not super expensive, and I’m much less concerned with wasting paint or messing up. It takes the pressure off of being too precious with the material.


There’s nothing fancy about the colors, no cadmium red, phthalo blue, or quinacridone magenta, and I like to get the sixteen color set, because along with your eight standard colors — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and black, you get red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, turquoise, blue-violet, red-violet, and white — though I never use the white. You end up with a nice range of colors, and they are quite vibrant.

They come in a sturdy plastic case which is perfect for travel, and I like the oval pans since they have more paint than your standard half-pans. The sets are a bit bulky compared to some of the more compact travel sets that are out there, and the tend to be longer and sometimes a bit thicker. But you do get 16 colors and more paint. I usually have a set stuffed in my backpack anywhere that I go. I don’t like the brush that comes with the set at all, and I like to use a stiff, nylon bristle brush with the watercolor. Sorry if I just made all of the watercolor artists cringe! But I’ll talk about brushes at a later point.

I use these paints all the time in my journal, and they are great for building layers on the pages because they have a nice transparency, except the white. They do hold up well in the journal, and I have some journals that are nearly 20 years old where the pigment is still bright and vibrant. But I have to say that these paints are not very lightfast, and they are far from professional quality. Because of this they can fade and break down when exposed to light, and I don’t use them for work that I intend to hang on the wall. I want something that has better lightfastness and that will last, but in the journal where it’s closed off from the light, it lasts.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive watercolor paint that has bright, vivid color, that is portable, and that is good to use in a journal or for experimenting, I highly recommend the Prang Semi-Moist Watercolors.

I'm Starting a Podcast

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Ok! I am SO bad about making announcements and promoting the projects that I am working on, and I tend to wait until the last minute to spring some kind of announcement. And so it goes with my latest project!

I’ve been trying to figure out various ways to connect with people and share my art and my thoughts, and within the last couple of months, I’ve released a new book, created a new online workshop, and tried to up my social media game. I’ve also been working on few more ideas and projects as I explore various formats for sharing and connecting.

So, I’ve decided to start a podcast. I’ve been listening to quite a few lately, and I want to add my two cents to the mix.

I have so many ideas swirling around in my head, and over the past couple of years, I’ve shared many of them at conferences, conventions, and workshops, but I want to reach a larger audience. I think that I have a slightly different take on art and creativity, and I want to get those ideas out to more people. Originally, I thought about writing a series of blog posts or creating a book with my thoughts, but I have so much that I want to say and share. So, I thought that I would just simply say it and share it, and with the internet, social media, and the fact that everyone has the equivalent of a production studio on the way of their computer or phone, I want to give it a go!

That’s how Artistic Accomplices was born — my new podcast! Artistic Accomplices was a term that I heard years ago, and it’s something David and I have used repeatedly. The concept is simple, an artistic accomplice is someone who gives you a creative nudge — someone who helps motivate you and inspire you — someone who pushes you and encourages you to make and create. And that’s how I see this podcast — a creative nudge — a little voice in your ear encouraging you to lead your creative life in whatever way that manifests itself.

There will be times when it’ll be just me rambling about things, and there will be times when I interview and talk with artists, writers, musicians, educators, and others to get insights into art, creativity, and learning. I envision this as a podcast for anyone looking to deepen their creativity and for anyone who needs a little push or a little encouragement.

On January 1st, I’ll be kicking off the New Year with the inaugural episode of Artistic Accomplices, and I’ll follow it up every couple of weeks, at first, with a new episode as I explore and share the things on my mind. I hope that you will join me and give it a listen.

So, stay tuned for more!

Journal Friday #87


I’ve continued working with my small artistic acts, and I tried to sit down each night this week and spend a little time adding to my pages. I normally grab my black pen to draw and doodle, and I did some of that. But I wanted to push myself a little bit, so I used a white paint pen one evening, and I pulled out the water-soluble graphite pencil another, as well as a red-violet pen.

These are not might acts, but they are consistent marks that build up over time creating rich layers.


Mapping the Journey

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I’ve been working hard on my latest project, Mapping the Journey, an online workshop that’s all about using life for the inspiration in making a richly layered two-page spread. Originally, I was hoping to have it done by the end of November, but now, I’m aiming at tomorrow. It’s amazing how busy life can be. I’ve completed and uploaded the videos, and now I’m finishing up the written step-by-step pdf. If everything goes smoothly, I can have it up on in the shop tomorrow morning.

But I wanted to give you a little peek at what I’ve been up to.

I created two different spreads for the workshop — one for the pdf and one for the videos. It was really interesting to see how two different spreads could emerge from the exact same process. In the end, the process involved twenty-two layers and four bouts of reflection, making this a very deep process technically and conceptually.

I hope that you can join me in this journey!

Journal Friday #86: One Artistic Act a Day


It’s been quite busy around here as I frantically work on my new online workshop and start planning projects for 2019. There’s just so much that I want to do!

But I’ve been feeling like my journaling and my art has been getting put on the back burner. I have been able to do some things in my journal, especially for Journal Friday, but it’s been too easy to ignore the artwork much of the other time because of all the things that I have going on.

But I keep going back to something that I have always said when others have complained about not having the time to make and do art, “We give priority to the things that are a priority” We can give lip service to how much making art is a priority, but unless we actually make the time and do it, it’s not a priority.

So, earlier in the week, I decided to make art a priority, and I stumbled across something that I had written a few months ago, and it really struck home. I came across this question, “What if we made one artistic act each day?”

Not one piece of art or one journal page or one post it note, but one artistic act. It doesn't matter how big or little, how much or how little time — just one, simple act. So, I decided to pull out my journal every night since then, and just try to do one artistic act. Most night’s it’s been with pen, and I’ve drawn circles, mandalas, patterns, lines, shapes, and much more. But one night I pulled out watercolor paint and sat at the coffee table and added paint to quite a few pages over a few hours.

By shifting the focus to this simple notion, I’ve taken a lot of pressure off of myself to find a copious amount of uninterrupted time to make grand pieces of artwork, and I’ve found fifteen minutes here and five minutes there. As I’ve always believed, these small actions accumulate into so much more.

I’m looking forward to trying to carry out one artistic act a day and seeing how long I can sustain it.

Journal Friday #85


Today was spent in the studio working on the video components of a new online workshop. Mapping the Journey is based on a workshop that Dave and I have taught a couple of times, but goes much deeper with the techniques and concepts.


As I worked on the workshop, I decided to create two different journal spreads — one while I shot the step-by-step photos for a PDF download and one for the video. Both use the same process, and the results are similar, but it’s good to see how different choices can lead to different results. I’ve gone through this workshop several times, and I always get something different from it.

The workshop is packed with different techniques, both for the art making and for coming up with ideas and concepts to explore. I’m excited to get the workshop wrapped up, and get it online. I originally was hoping to get it ready for release by the end of November, but I still need to do a lot of video editing and writing. I’m hoping to get everything done this week. So stay tuned for details.

Journal Friday #84: Planning, Plotting, and Scheming


As an Everything book, my visual journal isn’t just for making art. It’s for documenting life, exploring ideas, reflecting on whatever, and for planning and scheming. I use the journal as a tool for my art but also for my life in general, and it’s a perfect place to jot down ideas and plans and to work out details for projects and schemes.


For the past few days, I have been doing just that. As the end of the year quickly approaches, I am starting to chart the course for the upcoming year. I already have a couple of things scheduled for 2019, but since I am cutting back on in-person workshops, I need projects and plans for things to take their place. I’m also trying to reach new people and connect in new ways.


I’ve decided to focus on creating a variety of different content — from online workshops to themed blog posts, from a possible series of podcasts to a series of videos . All of that takes planning, and the journal is an ideal place for it. Sometimes, I find big empty pages and begin my thinking and writing, and sometimes, I find little spaces on pages I’ve already started. I like to employ a few different techniques as I plan, like mind mapping and making lists. Sometimes, I create elaborate outlines to work out specifics, and other times, I jot down vague notions.

Eventually, these ideas will get fleshed out more, and I’ll type up, edit, and embellish them on the computer, but for now, I enjoy writing things out and even doodling as I go. The physical act of the hand moving across the paper allows me to think differently than I can in front of an electronic screen, and I’m able to make connections and pull from different sources as ideas and directions develop.


The journal is where all of my ideas start, whether for works of art or for workshops and other projects. I can’t wait to bring some of these ideas to fruition, and I’ll definitely share the journey!

Happy Journal Friday!

Part 12 of The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenges Available now!


I finally got around to wrapping up the last installment of The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge. I wanted to have it published a couple of months ago, but unfortunately other things just got in the way as I got ready for Art and Soul and worked to finish my new self-published book. The Daily Challenges just took a back seat.

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But it’s available now! So check it out in the Shop.

Also, you can save 15% on everything in the Shop from now through December 1st by using the discount code holiday15 when you check out.


Journal Friday #83: Collaboration


Today was a day working in three small, collaborative journals. Though I most often work in a large 11 inch by 14 inch journal, I do have other sizes of journals to work in as well, and right now I have three 4 inch by 6 inch collaborative journals that I’m working in.


Perhaps you have taken part in a round robin where a group of people send their journals around to each other, working and adding to each other’s journals. Well, this is similar, but a little different. These journals are part of the tet[R]ad: Draw and Play Here project developed by two close friends and artistic accomplices, David Modler and Sam Peck. With this project, journals are usually exchanged one-on-one, so you always know who has the journal. Also, the journal is a true space of collaboration. In a traditional round robin, each artist has their own pages, but with the tet[R]ad project, any and all pages can be worked on and added to by each artist making the process about negotiation and response.


That means looking through what other artists have done, and deciding when and if to add to a page. Sometimes a page is completed by primarily one of us, and other times, a page is a blend of each of us as lines and imagery, color and text, style and techniques of different individuals merge and blend. This collaboration offers surprises and new directions, and it also offers risk and vulnerability. It’s like a conversation as I put something on a page and wait for a response, and so I’ll put down some watercolor or lines or a little collage. I might layer a few things together allowing room for the other person to add and expand upon the things that I’ve started. I also “listen” to what has been said by the other person and respond to the ideas, images, and elements already on the page, and I can continue a thought or change the direction all together.

It’s a challenge to collaborate with another artist when that collaboration is strictly on the pages since they most often live far away in a different state. It’s a collaboration with in the space of the journal since we don’t talk about, discuss, or plan what happens within those pages, and that’s what is fun and challenging about it.

To find out more about the project, check out the Draw and Play here website (which by the way, I designed!)