I first came to art journaling in 2005.
It had been three years since we closed our first series of art galleries in Santa Fe due to 9/11 and other wounds to our tourism at that time.
I kept painting for awhile and then one day, I just stalled.
I read the wonderful book, Art and Fear, and figured out that I lacked a destination for my art. I did not want to paint for other galleries, online was not a good option at that time, and I surely did not want to fill my home closets with watercolors no one would share.
I had been keeping written journals sporadically for several years, but I never liked revisiting them. They just reminded me that I had never found answers to the things I would whine about in those journals. Blah!
I had sketchbooks, of course, like any practicing artist does, but they were very haphazard and I didn't like revisiting them because they just reminded me of all the painting ideas that I had not acted upon. Blah!
I had also been collecting a stack of blank books and mulling over the idea of visual journaling, and one day, that whole thing hit.
I could make my art in my journals - THEY would be my destination.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and my love of art journaling is legend. I have not only continued with illustrated journaling, I have taught a few thousand other folks to love it too.
When I discovered the Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbooks, I found my perfect journal - paper second only to my true love, Arches 300lb coldpress.
Then, while hosting an art jourrnaling retreat in Tubac, Arizona in March of this year, another love affair hit.
There is only one small art supply store in the village of Tubac, and they carry only one brand of paints - M. Graham.
After 40+ years as a watercolorist, I had never encountered this brand. Strange, but true.
Having forgotten my yellow ochre tube - critical for painting adobe things, I bought a tube of the M. Graham.
I could not have imagined that any watercolor could be so different! Smooth and creamy and so pigment-loaded, I was surprised my brush could move!
That tube has grown to 33 tubes and I am more in love every day with this duo - S&B Beta and M. Graham.
One day, I found myself looking at a finished "painting" right there in my Beta book . .
These are from a series called "Strange Neighborhoods". The first is titled "Gatherings" and the second "Mending Fences".
I showed my husband because I am supposed to be creating paintings for our current gallery in Santa Fe (we can't quit, it seems).
"How are we going to frame those?" he asked? "Tear the pages out?"
"Over my dead body," I said. "We would have to tear my arm off to get them."
So, we sell signed giclées.
The surprise to me was that the art in my journals can be the "serious" stuff if I want it to be. Well . . . ok, as a whimsical Surrealist, my work is seldom serious, but it can be considered "finished" anyway.
I recently took the first session of "Sketchbook Skool" to see what it would be like and to see LOTS of other people's journal and sketchbook pages.
I really enjoyed it, and it reinforced the fact that sketchbooks and journals are now being considered an art form in their own right. I hope this is an idea that continues to grow!