30 Days of Creativity 2013: Art Journaling

30 Days of Creativity (30DOC) is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June.  I’ve done it for two years (see Year 1 and Year 2) and though I have loved many aspects of it, it has also made me kind of crazy.

Sometimes it was both fun and chaotic, like when I tried making chocolate bowls by painting melted chocolate on balloons. They popped. Fail.

Chocolate Splattered

Last year, when the month had ended, I made a decision I would not do it again this year. But I’ve revised that decision: I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do my own version of the project.  The first two years I created many different crafts and recipes.  I did something new for each day and I photographed the results and posted them here.  Some of my time was spent crafting and some was spent finding things to try, shopping for supplies and scrambling to get the project completed, photographed and a post up and published each day.

I enjoyed the creative challenge, building and stretching my creative muscles, trying new things, and the camaraderie with other participants doing 30DOC.   But working full time and getting something made every day and photographed and posted made for some high-stress days and low-sleep nights.  Not really the goal or the idea of the project.

As it is, I often feel like I don’t have as much time to craft as I’d like.  So to spend time and money on craft projects that I wasn’t really loving didn’t seem like the best decision.  This year, Year Three of 30DOC, I’m going to do 30 Creative Projects in 30 Days.  I won’t try and post every single day (though I will when I can) and if I don’t get to the craft table for a day or two, I’ll catch up on the weekend.  I’m going to focus on one craft, Art Journaling, and explore it in more depth.

Artist's Journal

My decision to participate in 30DOC but to bend it to suit my own needs and desires comes in part from my recent visit to Virginia Simpson-Magruder’s studio, Kentucky Girl Designs in Novato.


Her studio is packed full of art supplies and a stunning collection of Art Journals.  The picture below shows just a few of the journals she filled when she was doing daily spreads in art journals.

Journal A Day Collection

DAILY!  For over two years!  She told me that after she’d been doing the daily practice for awhile  (like over a year and a half), she would sometimes let a day or two or even three go by without journaling and then would catch up with a batch of pages. That really struck a chord with me and made me think I might be able to do the 30 DOC on my own terms.

When I learned she had a workshop coming up, I reserved a space immediately.  The “Express Yourself! Introduction to Altered Books and Collage Workshop” was such a pleasure!  Virginia has LOADS of wonderful supplies, so many that I couldn’t even begin to try everything out.  Stacks and stacks of magazines, ink pads in a huge variety of colors, water-soluble oil crayons, baskets of lovely rubber stamps that I didn’t even get started on, scissors, glue, paint, markers, glitter and way more.

Paint, Brushes and More

There were just four of us in the workshop and I was like a kid in a candy store.  We were surrounded by creative projects on every side in the sunny space. It was all so colorful and inviting.

This is a book that has been recreated into a shrine.  A niche has been carved into the pages of the book and special items are displayed in the space.

Altered Book Shrine

This is the cover of Virginia’s beautiful journal about doors for her “Altered Books as a Way of Seeing Workshop Portals: Doors, Windows and Gates“.

Portal Work Book

Here is the work table where we dug into the creative process, getting our fingers smudged with ink and sticky with glue as we crafted.

Work Table

One of the students, Susan, is intent on her design.


Her first spread that started with picking a color and writing about it, with Virginia’s guidance.  Layers of color and then collaged images fill the pages. I like the giant watch faces, rising above the animals and girl on the page like a full moon.

Susan's 1st page

For the second two-page-spread we learned how to make pockets (on the right, below) in which to tuck small items, such as business cards or post cards.  This is also Susan’s work.

Susan's Pocket page

Detail from the pocket page: “wonder more”.  I love the woman, almost hidden, and how she is turned away from the viewer.  The flower seller on the other page looks away as well.  The tag, tucked into a pocket says “The picture is half the story”. So true!

Wonder More

Jane (one of two Janes in the workshop), shared a spread she created.  She left early and I didn’t get a picture of her second spread.

Jane and Her Book

The other Jane, attending her second class at the studio, shows what she has been working on.

The Other Jane

“Seeking Peace” has a dreamy quality with soft blue, green, yellow and red.  Golden fish swim across the pages.

Jane's First Page

Her pocket pages have deeper colors with rich reds, and lots of interesting images, layered with flowers and swirls.

Jane's Page on Color

My first spread, the color page, started with “Periwinkle Blue” and words I associate with that color.  I rubbed the pages with stamp pads in vibrant shades of blue, purple and turquoise ink.  Then Virginia gave us 20 minutes to look through magazines and find some images to use.  I could have quite happily worked on that task alone  for about 2 hours.

My original composition didn’t include the music on the upper left.  Virginia suggested it would balance the music on the lower right and it worked perfectly as birdsong..  This is how the pages looked at the workshop.  I’ll share the changes and additions I made at home.

Big Ampersand

My pocket page has artwork from a Marin calendar and the pockets work perfectly with the images of rolling Marin hills, fog and the Golden Gate Bridge tower showing through the grey.

Fog in Marin HIlls

I created a few tags during the workshop and finished the others at home.  Since the bridge is almost obscured by the fog, I made tags with images of the well-known bridge and then added a cow tag and a California poppy.   I inked the cord to go with the famous International Orange color of the bridge


Virginia also showed us how to make a pocket in the back of the book.  I’m not sure this spread is done yet.

Back Pocket

Another technique she taught us was a way to add a postcard or envelope or some element that you don’t just want to glue down on a page, but be able to see both sides.  This is called a tip in.

In this example, we cut or tear two pages down to about an inch and half wide.  Insert your tip in, in my case some pieces cut from greeting cards, photos and magazine pages.  This is my garden spread.   I did this at home on Monday.

Garden Page

Here is a look at my desk – I was having so much fun with the journal that I didn’t stop to put supplies away.  Hmm, does this sound familiar?

Covered Craft Desk

I was so glad to have time on Monday for crafting.  It was wonderful to take all the ideas and techniques from the workshop.

The blue page was my first project.  I made some changes, adding new elements and embellishments.  More bling with a fancy cuff bracelet, a silver ring and some sparkle to the dangling gems. I even added nail polish to the thumbnail and the words “Unique” and “Delightful”

Blue &

I removed the image of a laughing woman and I’m very pleased with the final result.

This is my first window page – the image of the Native American woman smoking a sacred pipe on the left is from an article about people who are some of the last speakers of dying languages.  On the right, a shuttered window with leaves floating on water below.

Window Page

The shutters open and you can look through the window and see a path through trees.

View through the Window

When you turn to the next spread of pages, you can peek back through the window to see the wise woman outside.

Back through the window

Or close the shutters to see the branches on the other side.


The last page I completed in my new Art Journal was a kind of happy accident, which, by the way, I think happens quite often in art if we are open to it.

I had pulled a page from a magazine because I liked the image on it.  But when I was looking through my collected pages, I saw the image on the reverse and was drawn to the expressive face of Jane Goodall.  A few minutes of online research for a quote from Ms. Goodall and the pages were practically done.

Jane Goodall

Make a Difference

A big thank you to Virginia and her  Kentucky Girl Designs studio and to the other students taking the workshop with me.  In the words of Jane Goodall: “What you do does make a difference…”  I feel inspired and ready for the upcoming 30 DOC challenge.

Thank you for the visit.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

6 responses to “30 Days of Creativity 2013: Art Journaling

  1. your post is very inspiring today Dianne! 🙂 a 30 day challenge and a workshop, you lucky girl! I love the idea of a journal too! I wish you good luck on your 30 days of June 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m looking at magazines with a different eye now. Not just the articles that I want to read but every photo, every ad for what I might want to rip out and use later.

  2. as I’ve said before …love this idea…I will have to make at least one journal soon…begin it …anyway…I could just look and look at all of the pages…GREAT!…good luck in your month of creating your ideas…

    • I encourage you to give it a try. I’m having a great time with it and find it a real pleasure. I imagine I’ll have several journals going at a time. I’m keeping an eye out for old books that might become future journals.

  3. Pingback: 30 Reasons to Participate | dianne faw

  4. Pingback: Art Journal Update | dianne faw

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