What to put in your Art Journal/Insert when You aren’t “Artistic”

I don’t have a lot of artistic talent when it comes to paint, pen, colored pencils.  I still use them and draw.  What is in my head is never transformed to paper adequately.  However, I have kept what I call an art and inspiration journal for over thirty years.  How do I do that when I don’t have that kind of flare?  I’ve broadened my definition of what is ‘art’ and find inspiration in just about everything.

But first, why bother keeping an art/inspiration journal/insert?  Alan Alda said, “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”  I completely agree with him.  I don’t care how ‘uncreative’ someone thinks they are, everyone can create art, create a personal, unique statement of their perception of the world around them.  Frankly, some of the best stuff comes out of people who always thought they were ‘talentless’ in that regard.  I also believe that being creative every day opens new avenues, trains of thought, opportunities because you allow your mind to go where it normally doesn’t. Additionally, an integral part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.  There is NO such thing as failure when you are creative.  Who is to say your language of creativity is right or wrong?  Now let’s take a look at supplies.

The most popular kinds of supplies for an art journal are stickers, clip art, stencils, washi, project life components, etc.  If you want an extraordinary art journal/insert in your TN, look beyond the common place supplies.  It will take a little bit of extra work but it is totally worth it.  I’m going to list some of the components I’ve used in the past and still use today.  To start, you need base pages.  You can buy blank inserts (there are zillions out there, check out my past posts here and here for resources).  You can also use things like magazine pages, old wall calendars, even book pages.  Remember, your base pages do not need to be white, blank, and pristine, they can already have content on them that you just use as a jumping off point, inspiration…Also, the pages of your insert don’t need to match.  You can have a mixture of different base pages – let your imagination go wild in combining papers – magazine pages, construction paper, an old menu, old greeting cards, calendar pages, wrapping paper, scrap booking paper…If you want to make your own, figure out your TN size, decide how many pages you want in your insert, cut it down, staple or sew it together – and I always recommend a stiffer cover for the insert to protect the insides.  Now let’s look at ideas for supplies to build on those pages.

  1. Paper ephemera – when I say paper ephemera I mean ‘old’. My daughters and I have always loved going to antique 2015-05-25 08.04.39 (1)malls.  One of my favorite things to look for is old papers.  I love any kind of old papers – greeting cards, post cards, old documents, pictures (you would be amazed at how many old photos just seem to be tossed away), old pattern books, children’s books, old magazines and the great thing is most of these kinds of things are very inexpensive because there isn’t much value in them.  I don’t recommend chopping up the first Superman comic book…lol.   Be prepared to sift through stacks of stuff to find what catches your eye.  The search is worth it.
  2. Nature – leaves, flowers, grasses, pressed in to pages. You don’t need to get caught up in making it professional.  Here are some tips for pressing what you find.  Once your findings are pressed and sufficiently dried you can either glue or tape them in your insert.  I use wide, clear packing tape, I just like the way the shiny tape has the effect of a little window on my little piece of natural art.
  3. Wrappers – yes, I said wrappers/food boxes etc. If you really look beyond the thing and search for inspiration in the commonplace, you can find art in anything.  Think about things you use every day…what about that Starbucks paper cup?  That brown Snickers wrapper, soup label, gum wrapper, that expensive chocolate wrapper, wine bottle labels…I think all these pieces of ‘garbage’ can be transformed.  They can make a very personal statement about your day, what you were doing/thinking while sipping the coffee etc.  You don’t have to limit yourself to food wrappers, branch out, look at everything as a potential source of inspiration for your journal.
  4. Old maps – obviously I don’t mean the ancient Strabo maps. Old National Geographic maps, maps you come across on vacations – pieces of these can make great base pages but also can be components for a page if cut in to a shape.
  5. Google images – I use these all the time. I love google images.  I might be doing a beach theme page and want a vintage crab or vintage beach girl.  A simple search will pop up thousands of images.  If I click on the image I want 2015-05-25 08.06.19once, then right click, I can save just the image and then print it out any size I want or need.  (No, I am not addressing copyright laws here because I am not espousing use others images for commercial use, only for your private viewing in your insert.)
  6. Ticket stubs, parking stubs, even receipts – all of these can be little reminders/statements of your day, your life. I believe life is made up of all these little tiny moments and how lovely a thought it is to have a record of them.  Did you go to the beach, pay to park, and pick a little wildflower?  Combine them on a page and talk about your visit.
  7. Magazine images – I do not buy very many magazines. I can count on one hand the number I have bought in the last six months.  The ones I do buy have to do with scrapbooking or paper crafting.  They have great images in them that always find their way on to my pages…
  8. Single sheet wrapping paper – I love World Market and they sell the best single sheet wrapping paper that is usually made of really great paper. The paper is usually very graphically stunning and not expensive.  I think the most I’ve paid for a sheet is $5.99 and the sheets are fairly large.  University book stores often also sell them as well as some crafting stores such as Ben Franklin.
  9. Old family photos – color Xerox favorite photos and use them in your insert, you can shrink/enlarge to fit your pages appropriately.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  Keep your eyes open during the day for potential content for you journal.  Keep an envelope or folder with you to put things in.  Jot little notes on the back of items if you are worried you won’t remember why you saved it.  I’m sure you noticed I haven’t addressed pens, adhesives, stickers, washi etc.  This wasn’t the place for that conversation.  I wanted to help you think outside the box for content inspiration.  These suggestions will help you focus on the ‘reason’ for that page you are putting together.  There are no rules for an art journal/insert, follow your longings, experiences, dreams and put them down on paper.  Creating little vignettes of your days is what this is all about and everything you use in the course of your day is potential inspiration for content.

Again, do not be afraid to just jump in and put your page together.  You cannot fail, you can’t make it wrong.  What is in your heart and soul, put on to paper, is never able to fail.  It will be beautiful, symphonic and even epic because it will be a snapshot of your life.

When You want to easily move Pages around in your TN

I am always looking for easier, quicker, more efficient ways to do things.  I wanted a way to occasionally move a running list around in my TN.  In my previous post I talked about this hack briefly but I thought I would take a minute and expand on it. I’ve taken the large 6 x 8 post it pads and trimmed them to the size of my TN.  (See picture of untrimmed red pad and trimmed blue pad).  For example I have lists for an upcoming training I am doing (pictured) and I will be referring to these lists a lot in the next few weeks.  These lists are from a spreadsheet and I’ve printed them and cut them down and glued them on to the post its.  As training gets closer I’ll move them to my calendar pages.  For now they are living in my work insert.  I made 20150512_111038sure to buy the super sticky notes so I know they will stay (which they do).  Just another way to my my TN more user friendly.  20150512_110848 20150512_110858

Necessity is the Mother of Invention ~ 21 Hacks for your TN

I think we all agree with the title to this post.  One of the wonderful things about necessity is that it forces us to look at things from a different perspective as to solve a problem or create something we need that doesn’t already exist.  crow-and-pitcherThat is where this list comes in – hacks.  Many of these hacks you probably already know if you are an old buffalo in the TN world but maybe some of you are new and these will help you hack your TN.   I pieced together, from my own ideas to many wonderful blogs out there, a selection that may make your planner world happier place.

  1. Double up your elastics for a tighter closure on your TN.  Need more elastics?  Check out this shop on Etsy. There are dozens of other shops and many TN shops also sell it.
  2. Cover a binder clip with washi, add leather and create a movable pen clip that can be a placeholder as well. I use one of mine to hold my place in my weekly calendar.
  3. Cut the large post-its tablet in to a TN size pad. I used an exacto knife and straight edge and made sure I purchased the super sticky notes.  Now you have movable pages in your TN.
  4. Fold a clear document sleeve in half for a clear pocket.
  5. Loop leather or cord through top strand elastic for a place marker, tie the ends with charms.
  6. Always check your favorite planner/supply shops and see if they have blogs or Instagram accounts.  Often they will have specials and giveaways that they will only advertise on them but not on their shop site.  Don’t have an Instagram account?  It is very easy to set one up here.
  7. Use graph paper to make inserts, cut to size and use card stock for cover to make it more durable.
  8. Don’t have graph paper? Go to incompetech.com/graphpaper and print your own for free.
  9. Use templates and file folders to make TN folders. I like double stick tape as my adhesive.
  10. Cut file folders to use as covers for inserts, they are durable and come in a zillion designs.
  11. Make an ArtDori with Peerless watercolor sheets, water brush pens and watercolor paper.
  12. Take #10 size envelopes, cut various lengths and stack, using double stick tape for adhesive. Trim the base envelope to 8.5″.  You have instant storage.  Use double stick tape to stick to the back inside of an insert.
  13. Use washi tape to section off Hobo style insert pages.
  14. Use a passport wallet for portable supply storage. Want a cute, inexpensive way to carry supplies?  Check out Forever 21’s makeup bags and brush wallets.
  15. Color code pages by edging them with different color washi’s.
  16. Try using a bullet or symbol system in your TN for your calendar, notes, to-do list. Linked is Ray Blake’s FREEBIE!
  17. Put a note in the beginning of your book that you will give a reward if your TN is found and the way you would want someone to contact you if they found it.
  18. Create a mindmap when you need to brainstorm. They are fun to do, beautiful and function and functional.
  19. Create and keep a list of abbreviations in an insert that are specific to your family, life and work. Soon you will have your own shorthand.
  20. Use a binder clip as a pen holder this way.  Take off the wire parts to make it more streamline.
  21. Need tear-out sheets for some reason? Get a rotary perforator like this to make tear-out pages.  You can perforate the pages on the long edge, then in smaller sections horizontally.

If you have your own hacks…please share them in comments for everyone!

Blog Planning Insert for the TN

I’m pretty new to the blog world and realized very quickly as I was planning the blog that I needed to organize my ideas (I have a zillion of them), publish date goals, resources for each post etc.  I created a very basic TN insert for this specific purpose.  It isn’t complicated and can easily be printed out, covered and stapled into an insert.  You can download it here if you would like a copy of it.  It is formatted for the regular size TN. You will need to crop it as with almost all printable insert files.  Enjoy!  Inserts I am in the process of creating:

  • Family History
  • Gardening
  • Recipes
  • Book/Movie Reviews
  • Health Record
  • Wine Log
  • Knitting/Recipe
  • Gratitude

Keep checking back for new inserts,  they will be posted on the free download page.

The Traveler’s Notebook….42 different sites for all your Notebook Needs!

I get asked all the time where I got my planner.  I go to meetings and trainings and it becomes a topic of conversation.  Then the conversation naturally turns to…where did you get______ that you put inside it.  I decided to take a day and compile all the resources I know of for my planner aka FoxyDori and here they are.

First, most importantly, is my cover.  There are many covers out there, the two I am using currently are both  FoxyDori.  Kelly Strong-Marco owns the shop and makes them herself.  A good cover is the jumping off point for anything you want to do with your planner. I know there are other traveler’s notebook covers out there.  Some people may prefer a more flexible cover, I like the leather firm, it provides structure and support for the elastic that holds the inserts in.

Next comes the inserts.  I can’t possibly cover every single resource out there for the paper inserts.  Many are DIY (do it yourself) printables and many are pre-made.  Some of my favorite pre-mades (all Etsy Shops) are:

1.  YellowPaperHouse

2.  May Designs

3.  Molsmum

4.  MorganLeFaesTrinkets

5.  MarsiaBramucci (she has DIY but will also print them for you)

6.  KiddyQualia

7.  OnicaHanby

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, there are many more sites out there that sell pre-made inserts.  A simple search on Etsy or Google will give you a huge list.  Of course you can also purchase inserts from Midori as well.

DIY inserts are as plentiful as the pre-made ones.  DIY inserts do require you to cut and bind them yourself.  This is usually stapling, although some people get fancy and sew them together.   You can find a lot of YouTube videos on putting printable inserts together.  My favorite Etsy shops that sell DIY’s are:

8.  AndreaGomoll

9.  RebeccaMeyersDesigns

10.  JaneDIY

11.  DIYfish

12.  Essikulnserts

13.  KellyBangsCreative

14.  ButeoBunker (he also sells pre-made)

15.  PapierMyDay.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list.  There are many more on Etsy.  Additionally, MorganLeFaesTrinkets has a blog and FREE printables you can download.  I use a couple of them in my blog Dori…they are great.

Once you have your inserts figured out then you will want to accessorize…that can mean stickers, folders, stamps, pens, charms, clips…your imagina20150222_163405tion is the only limit.  Here is a list of some resources, again hardly exhaustive.  My favorite go-to shops are

16.  JetPens

17.  MochiThings

18.  SeeJaneWork

19.  GirlofAllWork,

20.  HappieScrappie.

21.  AlexStudios

22.  Yoobi

23.  GouletPen

24.  OliBlock

25.  3SpeckledFawns

26.  LadyendeVagehond

27.  MyPaperShoppe

28.  OllieEmily

29.  LobsterBisqueVintage

30.  StickersKingdom

31.  PrettyTape

32.  CharlottesWeb86

I have a zillion pens, pens are my thing.  My favorite pens however, are:

33.  Lamy

34.  Kaweco

35.  Pilot

36. these Tombow pencils (love the color)

37. this Zebra Mini ballpoint pen

38.  this Pilot mechanical pencil (again the color…)

39.  these Pilot erasable pens

40.  These Pilot Maica fine point pens (you can buy individual pens)

41.  this Sharpie for writing on stickers and washi tape.

42.  JetPens just posted these…a really nice alternative to Sharpies….

I know there are MANY more resources out there for Traveler’s Notebooks…please feel free to list yours in the comments if they aren’t here!  Stay tuned for Part II….compiling another list of the best DIY sites for instructions on making folders, inserts and more.

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