I am a designer-artist living in the North Shore area of Boston. I am a transplant to New England from Texas via Napa Valley by way of Seattle. While living in Vermont during the mid-90’s as a restless stay-at-home Mom, I satisfied my artistic appetite by painting and drawing. We moved to Cambridge, Mass, where I thankfully discovered the world of stamp arts which then opened up to me paper arts, and book-making which guided me to many passions in mixed media. I have found tremendous joy and satisfaction in stamp carving, and art journaling (which I do almost daily). My other joyful explorations have been collage on canvas, arylic painting on canvas, quilting, quilted books and spirit dolls (art dolls). I also satisfy the folk artist within with primitive rug hooking, and wool needle felting & applique. After all my creative experiences I can honestly say stamping is my first and true love. I tell my kids "Life is all about stamping!" a metaphor of course but for me it's true.
Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?
To maintain my sense of personal creative expression. I found that once I started art journaling it was an unrestricted creative journey without judgment. I work in them several times a week, often daily but that can depend on the time of year, like end of school year or Holidays, etc. when my time is less free.
Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once?
I always have several going at a time Having several to work on keeps my momentum going so that I don’t have to wait for pages to dry. I think this is common with many art journalers. And now I have gotten to the point that I don’t worry about the chronological order of my entries. I have many volumes that are filled, I even two that are unfinished after several years and that is ok. Like with all well loved books, my filled journals “yawn” meaning they don’t close completely, because they are filled! And of course, during the summer I keep the “Summer Journal” for the family which usually ends up with more writing and less artwork.
Do you differentiate between a sketchbook and an art journal?
I do in that my sketchbook is for drawings of reference and my art journals are for my creative collaged expressions with personal thoughts, like a colorful diary. I keep a few larger type of sketchbooks in my studio for design ideas and I always carry a small one in my purse for the same which inevitably gets used for list or note making as well.
What's your preferred format (sketchbook size, type of paper, single sheet, spiral bound etc?) and preferred medium for using in your sketchbook? watercolor, pen, pencil, crayon, collage etc?
My Mom bought me my first Moleskine Sketchbook about six years ago and I can seriously say I will never be without one again. The large size is appox. 5x7” and I love this size and the pages hold up to every medium. I also have wire bound books too because I make them quick and easy with my Zutter Bind-it-All. I make small ones with this method from blank index cards and that is what I keep in my purse. As far as mediums go well, I allow myself the use of just about anything. Stamped imagery is a must for me. Gessoed pages are great to watercolor on and give weaker papers more strength. I always enjoy collaging several items with gel medium, add paints and whatever else and then finish with some words, which could be stamped, collaged or written. I guess my preferred medium is “mixed”. Sorry Jane, I couldn’t resist the pun.
Do you make your own sketchbooks?
Yes, and this is probably the one impetus that got me going in the art journaling direction. Making books is so much fun and I even have my kids make them for me for my birthday. (See photo) With Mother’s Day coming up they better get ready because I am in need of more, besides it is one of the few ways I can get them to craft with me. But I so love the intimate feel of a handmade book with random decorative papers and they lay flat when working on them.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?
Get a book or journal you love and start by coloring, collaging, etc. on the inside cover with your name and email. That way you have started. Then color in some backgrounds on several pages and even glue random ephemera in the first couple of pages. Do not over think this or give any attention to how or what, just get your hands moving. Keep a box of watercolor crayons, pencils, pens and glue stick readily available with the journal at all times. When I first started journaling I kept my box and journal on my coffee table. Open the book often and make a mark or many, it doesn’t have to be profound. Give yourself permission to be childlike about it. And finally, each day try to start a new adventure… turn the page and keep going! Trust me you will be so glad that you continued.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Art journaling has truly broadened my sense of self awareness. I see my growth throughout the years and they give me the ability to look back on these journals and reflect, laugh and of course pat myself on the back for having the courage pursue my creativity.
Autumn's work is featured in my two most recent books, Collage Journeys, and Adventures in Mixed Media, and I am very grateful for her contributions. Definitely check out her web site for art journaling inspiration!