Pen Practice in my Junk Journal

10:10 AM

Pen and watercolor
Junk Journal
8 x 10 inches
One Thanksgiving evening some years back, I was puttering around in the studio without enough live brain cells left to actually create art, but still hankering for a creative outlet. In the days prior to the holiday, I had set aside some magazines and an old journal from my college days to be recycled.

My eyes fell on the journal and I decided to get some use out of it before I recycled it. It was old, the paper cheap. The pages were beginning to yellow just a bit, but other than the first 30 pages or so, it was blank.

I grab a couple of pens and went and plopped down on the couch and started to draw out some ideas that were buzzing around in my brain. I wanted them out of my head and into the world.

Too tired to care, I grabbed a turquoise and lime green Sharpie® markers.  Rather than go with the usual black ones, I played and scribbled and scratched.

It didn't take long for me to realize there was "gold" in this old, cheap journal. Creative gold!

There was no pressure to make "good enough" art. There was NO expectations that I would do anything with the journal other than test ideas, practice pen work or do thumbnails. I tried watercolor just to see what would happen...the paper puckered up like it had kissed a lemon!

The paper was so thin I started to use a piece of cardboard between pages to keep the ink from bleeding through to the next page, but if it did, no problem, I just scribbled on the page anyway. I was free to play without worrying about wasting "good paper." It felt fabulous!

If you're anything like me (and I think you are!), how often have you bought a fabulous journal thinking this will be the one, the one that you'll really start using today...only to get home and put it on the shelf with the other fabulous journals you have bought because you can't quite bring yourself to work on the "good stuff?"  

Do you make promises to yourself (like I did) along the lines of "when I get better" or "when I learn how to," then you'll start using the good stuff?

Let me suggest a compromise...get a junk journal and one pull out one of those fabulous journals you've put up on the shelf. When you have an idea for a journal page, use the junk journal to play, test out your idea, your layout, your lettering, or anything you're not sure about. Then, create the page in the "good journal."

You may still be nervous to be using the good stuff, but having played in your junk journal, you're much more likely to get results that you like.

I highly recommend either getting a junk journal or finding a journal you've purchased in the past and not used because of the paper quality/performance. Try playing and practicing in it before jumping into the good stuff—you'll be surprised.

The other cool thing about keeping a junk journal is that it becomes a treasure trove of ideas and progress! You can look back through the journal and see ideas that may spark a new idea for today as well as see the progress you've made with your drawing and layout skills.

My junk journals have become priceless tools!
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The sketch above was done the other evening when, once again, I had very few active brain cells. It was fun to play with no expectations of finished art, but rather just an opportunity to create without expectation.

Adding the watercolor on a whim, I was surprised to see that this paper didn't buckle as badly as the very first junk journal I started with, however, ink bleed through is still an issue.

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