Jul 312014

Yesterday in the mail I was delighted to receive Minnesota mixed media artist Nichole Rae’s new book, Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process, from Amazon.


I heard about the book through one of the many e-mails I receive about mixed media art. My interest was sparked because I think Nichole Rae’s process mirrors mine. Specifically, I tend to write first, and fill in later with images for my art journal projects. I don’t know if that’s common or not, but I was interested in learning more about Nichole Rae’s process. Nichole Rae, who uses simply her first and middle names, begins her journaling process with a list. Sometimes that list is handwritten, but most often she composes on the computer and files her lists by theme on her desktop. When neither paper nor computer are available, she’ll type her list on one of her smart phone apps—the same thing I’ve resorted to doing when nothing else is available, especially for writing poetry. When she is ready to use her lists, she prints them out on separate sheets of paper, in most cases left-aligning the text and adding images and found art afterward.


Other times, she will cut out words from her vintage collection of books, and paste them into place. Then she adds images to the text through a collage process. In Create Each Day: A Found Words Art Journal, Nichole Rae describes how you can use an old book to create your own found words art journal.

Create Each Day: A Found Words Art Journal
Create Each Day: A Found Words Art Journal

One of the reasons that Nichole Rae prefers typography for her journaling is that she loves the process of selecting fonts, and the freedom it gives her to edit. Among her favorite sources for fonts are dafont.com and 1001freefonts.com.

“One morning while I was having coffee,” says Nichole Rae, “I was working in a document on my computer for a project and I realized how much I like typing, choosing fonts and having the ability to use the delete button.”

You can see Nichole Rae at work in the 37-minute video below.

When you journal using a list style, Nichole Rae suggests you resist the urge to go back and edit your work. Save punctuation, capitalization and grammar corrections for later, and just let your ideas flow. She finds it helpful to use themes such as the following:

  • Personal journey
  • Travels
  • Hobbies

Another way to get started with list-journaling is to use prompts. Nichole Rae’s own list of favorites include these:

  • I carry
  • I am
  • I want
  • I need

Being aware of your surroundings by opening up your senses through sight, hearing, touch and scent will lead to yet another type of list-journaling. Or, you can explore word associations, writing down three words that occur to you on one line, and then adding other words, line by line, that come to mind.

Nichole Rae’s own routine of journaling is to rise a little earlier than usual each morning to devote a few minutes to list-journaling. Throughout the day, whenever something occurs to her, she adds a list to her desktop. She allows three to six months to finish a book devoted to one theme, and finds that when you give yourself ample time to journal, this honors the process and enables you to learn more about yourself.

“Art journaling,” she says, “creates opportunities to explore who you are, where you have been, where you want to go and who you are becoming.”

The type of book you use to journal is something you’ll discover by experimentation, Nichole Rae points out. She will sometimes purchase pre-printed books and alter them.


She removes sections of pages to allow for expansion, and glues pages together to form a thicker foundation for collage. In looking through the book, I noticed that many of her collaged papers are three-hole punched for inclusion in a ring binder. I have to admit the idea of working on one page at a time, and binding pages later, appeals to me a lot. At the beginning of the process, you may not actually know where you’re going to end up, so doing one page at a time gives you some flexibility when it comes to determining the size of book you’ll need, and what will appear on the cover and spine.


At the beginning of Nichole Rae’s Art Journal Art Journey, she includes a materials list that provides a great starting point for collage.


She saves vintage magazines, photos, stamps, post cards, buttons, paper clips, feathers, old maps, sheet music and much more for her journal pages.


One of the mini-journaling projects I especially like from Nichole Rae’s book is altering ordinary playing cards to create an inspirational mini art journal. A tutorial from the book, Make An Inspirational Card Deck Mini Art Journal, is available online.


Other online posts by Nichole Rae, whose Web site is located HERE, include:

How does your art journaling begin? Words, images, or do you work with both at the same time?

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

May 092014

Drawing WinnerCongratulations to Denise Cerro, the winner of this week’s book giveaway. I’ll be mailing out her book, Painted Pages, by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, very soon. Denise, who is an accomplished painter and fellow sewist, wrote, “Judy, this looks like such a fun book . . . I’d like to get my hands on this book to open me up to a little more fun, freedom and frivolity in my creative life . . . which tends to be more in the realistic realm. Good luck to all that enter.” When Denise sent me her address, I was pleased to hear she and her daughter-in-law will be looking through the book to find some things they can do together. I love that idea!

For the rest of you who did not win the book, I’d like to suggest you take advantage of some other mixed media inspiration offered through an Artistcellar blog hop that begins today. Besides being exposed to some wonderful ideas from some great artists, you will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for four new map art stencils designed by Jill K. Berry. Click on the link in the previous sentence to see the stencils. The first stop in the Map Art Blog Hop & Giveaway, which is on the Artistcellar site, shows you what you can do with these beautiful art stencils that are perfect for collage work or art journaling. Each day of the blog hop, members of the design team will post stencil ideas on the blog. Each artist in the blog hop has different requirements for the stencil drawing, so make sure you visit each blog and read through to the end of the post on the designated day.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Fotos, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Free Digital Fotos, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Here’s the schedule for the Map Art Blog Hop & Giveaway:


© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 302014

On Friday, May 9th, I’ll be announcing the winner of a very special book giveaway. If you’re interested in entering the random drawing, read through to the end of this post. The book is Painted Pages: Fueling Creativity with Sketchbooks & Mixed Media, by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.


Sarah’s book is perfect for any level of mixed media artist, from beginner to veteran. She shows readers how to use an artist’s sketchbook as a tool for keeping track of your ideas, as well as adding in your ephemera, doodles, photos and much more—and then encourages you to translate these sketches into mixed media paintings. This is not a typical how-to book, but instead a book that gets you started with some creative play ideas. The last page of the book, in fact, provides you with 16 two-minute prompt cards you can photocopy onto card stock and cup apart. When the Muse is out, close your eyes, reach into a bowl, and pull out a card to get your creative juices going. Some of the prompts include:

  • Use only a pencil. Scribble, and draw shapes. Try different leads.
  • Use rubber stamps to write one word. Use a thin layer of paint as your “ink.” Stamp the first word that comes into your head and use it as a theme for your painting.
  • Paint only with white paint.

2-Minute Prompts

Much like a workshop where you’re told in advance what tools and materials to bring, Sarah describes, in the starting chapter, what types of pens, pencils, pastels, painting surfaces, brushes, and other tools you should gather before you begin working.


Sarah also suggest some fun “extras” you may wish to add to your creative playground, such as letter-and-number rubber stamps, rub-on letter sheets, stencils, and glassine envelopes.

Fun Extras

If you’re a raw beginner, when it comes to mixed media art, Sarah provides you with a color primer, along with a few suggestions that will help you feel this is something you can tackle:

  • Don’t over-think your use of color.
  • Find colors that speak to you and put them next to each other.
  • Experiment. Have fun. Explore.

Color Primer

The book is filled with fun suggestions for how to play with different techniques, such as composition. Sarah suggests you scan or take a photo of one of your paintings, then zoom in on the image using your preferred graphic editing software. Crop part of the painting that speaks to you, and save it, using it as a background for collage work.

Composition experiment

Another idea that Sarah suggests is to play with text and image. Use your own handwriting, text from books, rubber stamps, typed text from a vintage typewriter (or a facsimile of it using a typewriter-like typeface), rubber stamps, scratch letters, stickers or stencils. “Often a line or word in an old book will spark an idea for a painting,” says Sarah.

Text-and-image play

Probably the best part of Painted Pages is that this book can help you figure out what your inner artistic voice might be. Additionally, you’ll find profiles of well-known artists and bloggers who share with you the inside of some of their sketchbooks and journals. If you’re interested in entering the random drawing, tell me in the comments below why you think you need this book. Assuming there are at least 5 entries, I will announce a winner of Painted Pages next week Friday, May 9th.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.