Friday, July 17, 2015

In Which I Make My Report on Art Journals and Little Free Libraries

Last Saturday I attended two events at local stores featuring local folks. Here, as promised, is my report.

Art Journal demo with April Martin
This was a 90-minute, free demonstration on keeping an art journal. April's journal is more a layering of bits and bobs on the page than it is keeping a diary with drawings. She has hacked a Moleskin notebook and filled its pages with color and quotes and cutouts. Very creative and fun to look at. 

She said she almost always starts with a quote or a printed image and then lets her feelings guide her as she adds color with inks and paint and chalk. She uses stencils and crumpled papers and stick-on letters to add texture. She lets her muse - and her feelings - be her guide.

There was no drawing or sketching involved as I thought there would be. It was all glue and gesso and quite messy but messy in a good way. April showed us how to add pages of different papers to the basic notebook. How to distress the pages for a vintage look. How to add texture and layers and just to have fun with it. 

Her message: You can't do it wrong. And if you make what you think is a mistake, there is always a way to change a mistake into a happy accident. 

She was a lively presenter. This was her first demo and it was quite well attended - there were maybe 25 of us. 

Below are some shots of the process:

Here April is adding pages to her basic Moleskin journal.

She began with the image of the couple and went from there.

This is closer to the finish. You can see that she has done some stenciling and distressing on the pages. She also added a quote which she stretched across the gutter.

Below are random photos from her art journal. She kindly gave me permission to use them.

Although there was no book connected with this event, here are a couple of titles I found that seem to fit the type of visual journal that April demonstrated:

The Art Journal Workshop by Traci Bunkers
Stash and Smash: Art Journal Ideas by Design Originals

Little Free Libraries
This small event was held at the local, independent bookstore. Three people presented. The first to speak was a woman who was instrumental in getting 30 or so little free libraries installed in a poorer neighborhood in Louisville. She reported that they were kept well-stocked with donations and well-used both by children and adults.

Another woman had gotten one of these little structures for her birthday and it was installed in front of her house. She is a publisher's representative and so has quite an inventory to draw on to keep her free library filled.

The fellow who rounded out the panel was a carpenter/woodworker who had made one of the libraries for a client using recycled and leftover materials. He said that once the library had been installed, the client had an ice cream social and invited his neighbors to introduce them to the new 'kid' on the block. I thought this was a grand idea.

Copies of The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich were on hand. It contains a history of these structures, offers a list of construction materials and plans, and offers up lots and lots of photos.

What I learned from this presentation, though, was that while I really like the idea of the Little Free Library I don't want one in my yard. 


  1. Oh, Belle, I think I would like a Little Free Library--but there are too many in my neighborhood! It's fun to donate books. I rarely find one I want, though.

    Very interesting about the Art Journals. Years ago I bought a lovely handmade journal with what I now realize were "distressed" pages. I'd love to find another one, but it was on vacation, and what are the odds I'll go there again? How wonderful that you can make your own.

    1. Well, Kat, you are lucky to have them in your 'hood. I wouldn't mind having one on my street, but I don't want to be responsible for it.

      Yes, the art journal instruction was very exciting. I have all sorts of supplies to use - I just keep buying, sort of like books - but haven't actually sat down to create. Fear of the blank page?

    2. P.S. Would love to see a photo of the one you bought!

  2. Glue and gesso is about my speed in art...collage more than actual sketching. And the photos you shared of her art journal are awesome. I'm feeling totally inspired to give it a try. Thanks! :)

    1. Lark, although this demo wasn't quite what I expected, I was inspired by it. I love the layers upon layers of images and words on her pages. I like that she starts with a quote or image and works out from that. I would just start globbing stuff down on the page but having that bit of knowledge adds some structure/theme to the creation. If I come up with anything extraordinary I will post my effort! Good luck with your efforts, as well.