Spring is just on the other side of this weekend. We are almost there, my friends. Pay no attention to the snow storm in the forecast. With the Well Summit’s Day of WELLness, the parade and a mind full of weekend musings, I’ve got plenty to keep me preoccupied (and my weather app closed).
I love how this mini sketchbook (above) I made turned out. I cut down some 140lb. hot press watercolor, painted and mono printed several sheets and then bound them using a simple pamphlet stitch. I ended up having enough paper to make four mini books, and each one (painting aside) took less than 5 minutes to assemble– it was a surprisingly simple + meditative process. I’ve been using them for daily sketching and jotting down notes.
Related: My friend and fellow Get Messy creative team member Vanessa just released a wonderful online class called Basic Bookbinding. It’s a steal for $15 and covers 4 different methods (I am really excited to try the more complicated coptic stitch) for making your own sketchbooks and art journals.
Unrelated: March Madness is here. I came in third (I think?) in my sister’s office pool last year, and have high hopes for this year’s bracket too. It should be noted that there is essentially no method to my (March… lololol) madness.
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade route has been shortened (again). We would normally watch from the top of our street where it’s fairly quiet and far less crowded than Broadway. Grace has basically been looking forward to the parade… since last year’s parade, so I expect we’ll be braving the circus. Seeing her enthusiastically shake hands with politicians is sort of the best thing ever.
If you find yourself looking for a new creative outlet and a supportive community (not to mention, a really healthy alternative to cable news) lately, you know I’ll be the first to encourage you to pick up a pen, paintbrush, pair of scissors or box of crayons.
Materials used: Magazine scraps, matte medium, sharp/dangerous scissors, Jane Davenport canvas art journal.
As a member of the 2017 Creative Team, I am thrilled to be hosting a Get Messy Art Journal giveaway for a full year membership ($195 value). I am so grateful for this community and encourage anyone (really, anyone) to check it out. You don’t need to have an art background nor a closet full of supplies, just the desire to create. To make. To explore. To play.
An annual membership to this community includes:
Immediate access to the current season and entire archives of Get Messy
Four new art journal prompts every Monday during the season (delivered by email) to encourage and guide you in your art making
Link ups to share your art, build community and gain encouragement
Ten targeted tutorials per season
Inspiration to create from Guest Artists, Member Spotlights, Contributors, and the Creative Team
Access to the Messy Forums to share and receive wisdom + ask questions
Opportunities to build friendships and connect with art accountability partners
Access to our private Facebook community
First access to new classes
Each season lasts two months and has a dedicated theme (past seasons have included Dreams, Love, Music + Gifts). You can do as much or as little as you like, but I personally attribute so much creative growth to this program.
You can learn more here:
There are monthly ($20) and season ($35) memberships available as well. If you have specific questions about the program, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. I also recommend scrolling through the #getmessyartjournal feed on Instagram to see what members are making.
GET MESSY ART JOURNAL GIVEAWAY
To enter the giveaway for a year-long Get Messy Art Journal membership, please leave a comment below. This giveaway is open to all (there are Get Messy members all over the world) and closes at 6PM EST on January 31st. One winner will be randomly selected and notified after the giveaway closes.
It’s been ages since I’ve shared what I made. Grace and I spend plenty of time drawing things like “Dad with a stroller” and “Dad with shoes” and “Grace in a bed” and “Grace in a different bed” and “Baby Nick with a shoe” and “Mom in a bathing suit.” My solo creative time, however, has been a bit limited lately. Everything is a bit rushed, weird, slightly ugly, and mostly unfinished.
Oh, and I’ll spare you the bathing suit drawing.
WHAT I MADE | 006
Materials used: Actual gouache (Holbein, jet black and Winsor and Newton, gold) and Holbein Acryla Gouache — which is not really gouache, but it is really fun to use (pale aqua, luminous lemon, pale peach and pale mint), Bee Paper cotton watercolor paper (6 x 9 inches, 140 lb)
Just a quick little doodle while thinking about… thinking. And the power of thoughts. Keep ’em positive, people.
Materials used: Random letter stickers, Pilot Varsity pen (pink, water soluble), magazine clippings, matte medium, watercolors
The new season of the Get Messy Art Journal program centers on the theme of introspection (much more my jam than last season, which just didn’t do it for me). This is the first self portrait I’ve done in years. It’s a bit wonky, but so am I. So maybe it’s very true to life?
Materials used: Acrylic paint (sky blue and black), magazine clippings, matte medium, Micron (black 01), Gelly Roll pen (white), watercolors
I love that smiling, proud lady. I’ve been holding onto that image for a while and figured it was time to put her somewhere more dignified than in a stack of tear-outs.
Materials used: Acrylic paint (Golden heavy body + high flow), watercolor and gouache paint
I really liked this week’s Get Messy prompt around ink blots (members have access to a great tutorial from Vanessa on this). The mix of paint made for some really fun texture.
Materials used: Goauche (a mix of brands — Holbein, Winsor and Newton, Plakkaatverf, Daler and Rowney), Bee Paper
And the bottom doodle was in preparation for Mary Ann Moss’ gouache class, which starts Friday. Just a little playing around with paint mixing and experimenting with how much/how little gum arabic would prevent my gouache pans from cracking. Judging by the crack-iness, I didn’t exactly handle it…
So, we know I both fear and loathe Las Vegas going to the dentist, right? And that I semi-accidentally didn’t go for several years? And that, ironically, I broke a tooth (more accurately: an old filling fell out) while flossing, prompting an emergency visit to that place of fear and loathing? (If you didn’t know those things, consider yourself fully caught up.)
Materials used: Pentel brush pen (pink)… and, um… that’s it.
It’s been a year, and I’ve stuck with regular cleaning appointments and approximately 800 other appointments to replace various old dental work and (shame on me) tend to one or two… fine, three cavities. I have one more visit to go and then I’m done with my treatment plan, which feels mostly good.
The last couple appointments, though, have been especially uncomfortable and annoying. A temporary crown fell out twice in one day. Oh, and a dental assistant tried to pull out a permanent tooth instead of the loosening a different temporary crown. It was all I could do to not flee the office and cry in my car. Or stress eat an extra gluten-y donut. I know it’s silly, but I can feel my heart rate quicken even thinking about being in the dentist’s chair.
If you’re wondering what the H the dentist has to do with art-making, welp… Not much. But I did find my mind wandering away from the drill and that annoying suction thing and toward my sketchbook. I thought about what I would paint or draw or paste if I wasn’t, you know, at the dentist. Much of what I made in the last week or two was cooked up there. And that cooking up (along with a pair of noise canceling headphones and some Led Zeppelin) got me through those appointments.
This is a super roundabout way of saying that you don’t need to be sitting before an easel to be creative. And creative thought can be just as powerful and transformative as the actual act of creating. You simply need to be open to possibility. (Dental insurance doesn’t hurt though.)
Anyway… Here’s what I made.
What I made | 005
Materials used: Gifted scrapbook paper, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), scissors (obvi)
I come back to this poem often. When Graham (a fellow Get Messy member) sent me a beautiful packet of pink papers, I started snipping and doodling away. Sometimes pages feel like they make themselves.
I weirdly enjoy drawing hearts and regret not being a better student in biology. Just think what else I would be able to draw if I had spent more time paying attention and less time being grossed out and/or fainting.
Materials used: Strathmore Artists Tile (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), magazine pages (Edible Boston), Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, random alphabet stencil, Micron 01 (black)
This is an old work (and one I’ve shared before, I think), but it feels sort of like a cousin to the one above. And I get the same comfort from reading Wendell Berry that I do Rumi, so I thought it worth sharing again. I recently came across this recording of Berry reciting the poem quoted here. It’s just perfect.
Other writers and poets that I constantly return to: Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, and Hafez.
Materials used: Starthmore Artigan paper (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), magazine pages (WSJ magazine).
Another collage, and more evidence that I don’t really know what body parts look like. For the record: that’s a head. With ears. And a neck.
Moving on: How divine are these words? They sort of stop me in my tracks. And I have a crush on my own handwriting.
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, round brushes (2 and 6, I believe).
Just some good ol’ watercolor doodling while watching The Americans. (I am convinced Clark, who came to us by way of Russia, is a spy waiting to be activated.)
Materials used: [top] Micron 08 (black), acrylic and watercolor paints, colored card stock, glue stick [bottom] Magazine image (Real Simple), black acrylic paint, colored card stock, gel medium (matte), glue stick
I really love how these two turned out. They’re sort of half flower show, half yoga class inspired.
P.S. The next Get Messy Art Journal season starts next week — it’s a collaboration with 30Lists and should be really interesting. A new season is a great time to join Get Messy, especially if you’re looking to jump start your own creative routine. No emergency trips to the dentist required.
It’s 70 degrees and the sun is shining in Boston, so we’re making a dash for the Harbor Walk (it’s where we do our best puppy watching). I’ll leave you with a few sunny creations from the past week or so.
What I made | 004
Materials used: Small hardbound sketchbook, watercolors, round brushes (sizes 2 and 6), Winsor and Newton drawing ink and acrylic paint.
I’ve been following along with Courtney Pilgrim’s Make Your Mark prompts — they’re the perfect way to keep up with a daily creative practice. The last painting (sort of abstracted storm clouds) is my favorite, so far. I think a weather series would be fun. The senior citizen in me just loves a good weather forecast. And trips to the post office.
Materials used: Acrylic paint, black gesso, watercolors, Winsor and Newton drawing ink, white gel pen, and a pair of small + extremely sharp scissors (I’ve got the wounds to prove it).
I can’t believe the first Get Messy Art Journal season of the year is already winding down. I’ve filled this sketchbook with lots of bright colors and happy sayings, though these pages are a bit moodier than others. The quote about breaking through is from a recent Elephant Journal post. It just seemed right to cut the edges of that page, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.
Materials used: Cold pressed watercolor paper (9 x 12), watercolor paint and a round #2 brush.
These paintings for Grace and our two nieces came together really quickly (as things must during Grace’s naps, which are getting shorter and shorter). I almost made one for Clark… but no.
What I made this week: A crappy video. Olé! (I’ll embed it below for your viewing pleasure so you can mock me.) I also made some other stuff. Mostly all on the same night. Nick and I caught up on Homeland (by watching 900 episodes), and I was afraid to go to bed since Carrie and Saul’s escapades usually give me ridiculous nightmares.
So I made a bunch of stuff, and then went to bed. And had nightmares about the toxicity of acrylic paint. Whatever, man. Here’s what I made.
This sketchbook goes from subdued (this page) to extra jazzy (everything that follows) very quickly. The quote is from No Mud, No Lotus and the pen is from college. Those things seem to last forever.
Materials used: Sharpie permanent marker, magazine cut-out, the Wall Street Journal, Micron pen (black 01), acrylic paint, glue stick
We recently started receiving someone else’s WSJ. After three calls to their customer service line and just as many promises that delivery would be stopped, it’s still showing up on our door step (and piling up in our building’s lobby).
One of the Get Messy Art Journal program’s recent prompts was street art-inspired, so I used a page of our magically appearing newspaper as a background. I’m quite pleased with the hand lettering and I’m glad I hung onto that random hummingbird cut out (which, I’m fairly certain, came from a car ad).
That’s supposed to say “trembling”… not t-r-e-m-f-l-i-n-g. The b looks like an f… and I meant to fix it, but forgot. Anyway, you get the point.
The right hand page is another Get Messy-inspired page. I loved scrolling through Instagram to see how everyone else used that same quote (hi, Julia). And I love cutting up my sketchbook a bit so other pages peek through.
On the flip side, a great quote about happiness and and door… and some of the coral acrylic paint that I accidentally spilled all over my palette, thus necessitating I use far more of it than planned. (I sort of wish I had spilled the sky blue instead… can’t win ’em all.) Plus a bunch of windows… and a door.
Materials used: [Left side] Handmade Modern acrylic paint (platinum, from Target), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (moved around the page with a paper straw), Uni Posca paint pen (black); [Right side] Winsor and Newton watercolor paint (black), acrylic paint, Gelly Roll pen (white)
Some brain wave-ish watercolors, a “good ideas” light bulb and more cut pages.
Materials used: [Left side] All pink everything… Winsor and Newton pigment markers, Sakura Koi brush pens, Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, acrylic paint, watercolor paint; [Right side] Grey acrylic paint, paper scraps (cut into cone flower shapes), white Gelly Roll pen, glue stick
Materials used: Gel printing plate, acrylic paint, string, cardstock circle, gold leaf, Uni Posca paint pen (yellow), Micron (purple, 01… I think).
Lastly, I’m finally starting to get a hang of my Gelli plate (used for making mono prints). I’ve had one for ages, but never liked anything I made with it. I think I was over-thinking the process… which is kind of how I roll.
I really like these two pages though. I added a bit of leftover gold leaf and some doodling to make the circle look more like the moon.
This week I accomplished a whole lot of half-things. Which is to say, I started a lot, but finished a little. I feel like I’ve been washing the same load of laundry for a month. And I’ve been reading the same paragraph of the same book for just as long (incidentally, it’s a very good paragraph and a very good book). I don’t get much done these days.
I leave a trail of unfinished thoughts, ideas, sentences, bowls of cereal, and yes… piles of laundry in my wake. On the best of days, it’s sort of funny. On the worst of days, it’s sort of demoralizing. I feel like someone who doesn’t follow through. Someone who is unreliable. Someone who can’t be counted on.
And then I (mostly) get a grip.
When Grace was a newborn, I remember how much it helped to accomplish one thing a day. Sometimes that was taking a shower, sometimes it was a trip to the library. As time passed, we were able to accomplish more, but even the tiniest accomplishments went a long way towards building my confidence as a new mom.
So I am reminded to both keep trying and to manage my expectations. And to not start so many things that can’t be finished.
This part of life is crazy, but it’s also really short. And there is so much that is never finished. The big things, like the work and joy of being a parent.
This is turning into something waaaay more emo than I intended. Sorry. Here’s what I made. Or, more accurately, what I started making.
What I made | 002
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton drawing ink (974 white), Royal Taklon brush (round 7), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbook (11 in. x 14 in.).
The new season of the Get Messy Art Journal (click to join or learn more!) just started and the theme is happiness. Much of what I made this week is inspired by the first set of prompts (thanks, Julia!), including this painting of the sky. I love looking up (literally and, like, figuratively) and I love that Grace has taken to pointing out the moon and stars as soon as she spots them.
So I guess the sky counts as my “happy place,” or one of them, at least. Few things make me happier than a clear, star-filled sky. I don’t however, like to think about what’s beyond those stars. Outer space totally freaks me out. And don’t even start with me about aliens.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (grey), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton gouache, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in. and 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.).
“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”
Materials used: Sakura gelly roll pen (black), Handmade Modern acrylic paint from Target, Golden high flow acrylic paint (I mixed a few shades to get his pale robin’s egg-ish blue), Strathmore 400 series bound sketchbook (8.5 in. x 5.5 in.).
These coneflowers (a.k.a. echinacea) are one of my favorite things to draw from memory. And I love Thomas Merton. And order (or some resemblance of order) definitely contributes to my happiness. I’m hoping to finish up the lettering on that page sometime this week this century.
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, sea salt (it creates a fun effect with wet watercolors), Micron pen (black 01), black gesso, a cardboard box and x-acto knife (to make the bird stencil).
One of my favorite parts of the Get Messy program is the weekly tutorials shared by members. This week, Vanessa shared tips on making your own stencils. I got really fancy resourceful and cut these hawks out of an empty Cheerios box. The quote is another one from No Mud, No Lotus:
“The French have a song they like to sing, “Qu’est-ce qu’on attend pour être heureux?” (What are you waiting for in order to be happy?) You can be happy right here and right now.”
I don’t particularly like how this page turned out, so I will likely turn it into something else. Or (let’s be serious) trash it.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (black), 900 different acrylic paints, white gesso, Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in.), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor paint (Opera Rose).
I had an idea about where I wanted this to go. And then I got carried away. Thank goodness for gesso. I like that you can almost see all the ridiculous flowers I painted, and that their full ridiculousness is obscured by a wash of gesso.
This has “work in progress” written all over it.
Materials used: Everything I own that is both pink and an art supply. (I can provide specifics if you’re really interested, but…)
I saved the most pink and the most finished piece for last. I sort of love how this turned out. It makes me happy. And what more could you ask for?
[So… most of this post was thrown together well before yesterday’s tragic events in San Bernardino. This is not a post about grief or guns. But those things, rather than paint and sketchbooks, are what I’m actually thinking about today.]
This week was sort of half-baked, creating-wise. I messed around a lot, threw out or painted over a bunch of art work crap, and sort of followed the prompts for this week’s Get Messy Art Journal program.
Semi-related: All of my art supplies now live on this cart, which tucks into our front hall closet, when they’re not strewn about our coffee table. City living at its finest.
Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 3
This was sort of a warm-up for some of the other things I worked on this week, and an attempt to get a bit more comfortable with the journaling aspect of art journaling. I used my tiny black Moleskine album for a few quick sketches and projects. I like not having to paint the pages black (something I often end up doing), but the size (3.5 x 5.5) is not super functional. I like big sketchbooks… and I cannot lie. Also, I clearly cannot comprehend measurements… because I thought I was ordering this album.
Another quick one. Nick ordered a burrito from our friendly neighborhood Mexican/Chinese restaurant (every neighborhood needs one… maybe) and I stole the fortune from his cookie. Does anyone like the actual taste of fortune cookies? No, right? Regardless: your special way of doing things is magic. Or whatever.
File this under “super random.” But magic. If it actually happened.
This page is a work in progress, but it’s supposed to be an abstract of the brain’s hemispheres. Pretend, if you can, that it doesn’t look like a technicolor bowl of worms. I planned to pair it with another quote (about the power of positive thought) from The Secret Garden, but I got distracted. By what… I can’t remember. Probably because these days, my actual brain feels as wacky as this one looks.
And speaking of brains, here’s my attempt at mapping my own insides. I took some liberties with my silhouette (a slightly less pointy nose and three fewer chins than I currently have), but the things floating around in my brain that make me me are pretty accurate. I think.
Once I broke out the paint and brush pens, I was on a roll. I like when that happens. Unfortunately… it rarely happens.
Get Messy Art Journal | Magic, Week 2
Materials used: Sakura Koi watercolors and brush pens, Micron pens (black 1, 01 and 03), clear alphabet stamps
I’m especially happy with the way the crystal ball turned out. The purple sort of reminds me of a Magic 8 ball. I wish I had one of those kicking around these days — mostly because I’d like something to tell me definitively when this baby plans to arrive and give me permission to eat another bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream and help me decide between black yoga pants or black leggings.
I’ve always found magicians and that sort of magic to be creepy and my one encounter with a supposed psychic was really bizarre (she thought I was a flight attendant, but knew my grandfather’s name)– but I do think what we believe is our reality. And that extends beyond card tricks and ladies being sawed in half.
If we believe in myths or rumors or love stories, they’re as good as real. That kind of power is magic when it’s positive. We should believe more good things about ourselves.
Materials used: Clear alphabet stamps, Sakura Koi brush pens and Pigma brush pens, Sakura Gelly Roll pens (white and gold), Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers, magazine cut outs, paper scraps (for the crowns), Elmers glue stick (no need to be fancy)
True Life: I made this while watching a dog show on television. On a Friday night. The glamour of my life abounds. Also, a Frenchie won the non-sporting group (whatever that means) and the little thing was so cute that my out-of-control hormones almost tricked me into reserving a bulldog brother for Clark online… but fortunately (for everyone), my hands were too busy with the cutting and pasting and doodling and stamping.
This one is more fairy tale than magic, but I’m guessing a wolf would need some sort of magical power to talk, right? And, then like, eat a Grandma and then dress up like her? Regardless, most fairy tales are dark, dark, dark… and terrifying.
The trees outside our house have lost all their leaves, so used them as a guide when sketching the background. I think they turned out sufficiently creepy. Oh, and red is usually not my thing… but maybe it should be.
Get Messy Thursdays, on a Friday. A blame my tardiness on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions and other senior citizen-ish things that have had me preoccupied this week.
The new season of the Get Messy Art Journaling program just started, and the theme this time around is magic. I keep coming back to creepy magicians and crystal balls and unicorns and Harry Potter (confession: I couldn’t get into the books… but watched all the movies while eating pizza post-marathon training long runs), despite wanting to focus on the magic of every day life. Like when your daughter somehow knows that it’s a Tuesday or counts to ten aloud when she thinks no one is paying attention. Or those beautiful sunsets we’ve been experiencing nearly every night (unfortunately, they happen before 5 o’clock). Or, you know… Christmas everything.
And yes, I did decorate our condo on Wednesday despite Thanksgiving still being a week away. I figured if I did all the laundry, hung our stockings from the mantel and folded every last swaddling blanket, this baby might get the hint that we’re ready for him to arrive.
Meanwhile, back to the unicorns.
Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 1
In the spirit of playing around, I made two pages with a similar process (if you can even call it that). After sketching with pen, I added plenty of water and watercolor to the center of the drawing. Once that dried, I went in to color the remaining exposed drawing. The result is sort of an intentional mistake.
The quote from Ben Okri reads,
Our time here is magic! It’s the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It’s the only space.
Side note: Unicorns (and presumably, horses) are not an easy subject for me to sketch. They have lots of muscles. And I am clueless about body parts. So there’s that.
I loved Shel Silverstein as a kid. Still do. Almost as much as I love Winsor and Newton watercolor in Opera Rose. That color is divine.
And lastly, a meditative exercise involving cutting out a million letters from scraps of colored paper. I almost quit seven times, but I’m glad I didn’t. Then again, I probably should have been emptying the dish washer or something more… normal.
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate on a project to benefit the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to aid in the Syrian refugee crisis. A group of 14 members from Get Messy created a collection of original work, and all proceeds from the sale of this magazine will help provide such necessities as food, water, healthcare and shelter for those in need. You can find a flip-through of the magazine here.
To learn more about our collaboration, or to purchase a copy of our magazine, please visit this link. Many thanks, in advance, for your support.