Breaking in the Book



Greetings Taosenas!!  I have crafted another little video for you, this time sharing with you how I go from the daunting plain book that many folks lament over ‘messing up’, to the book-bound playground every sketch-journal should be.  As I suggested in the last video post, I recommend the Stillman & Birn Alpha series books.  But any book will work for this class if the paper will stand up to watercolor.  And my process of ‘trickin’ out the book’ so to speak can be used on any book, even the fancy ones.  Even if you have a lovely little leatherbound book that someone gave to you as a gift, you can still do things to make it YOURS.



Usually I do collage on my covers as I demonstrate in the video, but anything goes really!  If you have a painting practice already, paint something wonderful on the cover of your book!  Think about what these books will mean to you over time and choose a quote to place inside the front cover.  I call this a ‘Quote of Intention’.  It tends to set the tone, which is a nice way to start a new volume.  Install a place for ephemera.  By ephemera I mean the brochures and business cards you might pick up on your travels,  bits of paper and information you might want to glue in later.  I often keep handy a few post card stamps to mail things out to friends while on my travels.  Pockets are just fun.  So put one in your book if you are so inclined!  The point is, before you even begin making drawings or playing with your watercolors, HANDLE your book.  Make friends with it.  Number the pages even!  Get the spine cracked.  Otherwise it’s just too difficult to get going on those first few pages.  Best to give yourself the headstart of a gently altered new book.  Over time, as you fill these books up with your drawings, your grocery lists, your thoughts about things, the travels you take, etc, they add up to be a physical indicator of time well spent.  You’ll find you focus on positive stuff in your day to day when you have a journaling process, especially one grounded in drawing and painting.

So give yourself some time to play with your new book, to make it into a one of a kind!  This video is just over 15 minutes long.  But the process of getting the book ready might take a few hours.  There’s no wrong or right amount of time to spend.  Enjoy!  And let me know if you have any questions!!


Comments (6)

  • amy April 28, 2014 - 10 years ago

    Hey all! I received an email from Tara today about books. Can you bring your ‘own book’ to this workshop? OF COURSE!!! I love the S&B books for the on the go-ness they provide. They are also a great mix between being able to diarize a bit without the feeling that you are ‘wasting’ good watercolor paper, and yet, they can take the watercolor. But, that said, if you have a book you want to work in, bring it!! My only request is that the paper be capable of really allowing the watercolors to do their job. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a watercolor sketch on paper that fuzzes up or just won’t work right with the lovely paints you will be using. So, yes, bring your books. Realize that journaling is all about personal preferences and I am always excited to see what you have been using in your practice, to see the books you might have been making yourself in bookmaking workshops, etc. We are only weeks away from the trip which is very exciting!!
    Let me know if you have any more questions!!

  • Julie Keefe April 28, 2014 - 10 years ago

    I have used Hand Book journals for years and thought that they were perfect for my sketchbook journaling needs … until I tried the S&B journal. The Alpha series has bright white paper that makes everything (paint, pen, etc.) really pop which, frankly, makes my sketches turn out better than they might otherwise. It’s also a really sturdy book that can handle being put through its traveling paces. It’s well worth a try.

  • Jennifer Sauers April 28, 2014 - 10 years ago

    Your videos are very helpful. Can’t wait to get started – I’m going to order my S&B journal right now! 🙂

    • amy May 1, 2014 - 10 years ago

      Excellent Jennifer! I think you will like the S&B for sure. I will also have samplings of other things to try out there as well. But for an all around workhorse of a book, this one is great!! I am getting so very excited!

  • Jo April 29, 2014 - 10 years ago

    I love both types of books but personally I have to agree with Julie about the bright white paper in the S&B Book. That’s my choice this year. I do tape in stuff until my books are “overfat” so I’m not using all the pages for watercolor either. I’ve used a wire bound which worked well except you can’t do a two-page spread. I’ll have to give that some more thought… Can’t wait until I meet you all in Taos!

    • amy May 1, 2014 - 10 years ago

      The reason I don’t use a spiral bound book is the same as Jo’s reason; I like a 2 page spread (meaning you open the book and both pages might be related with sketches, lettering, thoughts etc) I also feel like the spiral bound ones get caught up in stuff in my purse/bag. So you pull out your sketchbook and lord knows what else comes flying out!! But spiral bound do lay flat which might be a consideration for you all. Either way, the lovely alpha series paper is the same!


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