Live Recap: Celebration

The live stream from yesterday (3/26/2017) produced a barely complete spread—but today I was able to totally finish the large spread in my altered book…it took a bit longer than expected. (Forgive the late post, dear artsy friends, but the paint was louder than the computer, and the blog was neglected.) However, I am so glad to say that this spread came out far better than expected, and it was one for which I can be proud! This spread of bright pinks and chocolate browns is chock full of layers and happy thoughts. It’s titled: Celebration. Below is the way that this spread appeared at the end of my Instagram live stream.

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“Celebration” Art Journal Page, Work in Progress

It began with one page painted pink, and one page painted brown. After the acrylics were dry, I went to town with more matte acrylics, irredescent paint, and collage material! There were two things that I had in mind when I began the is spread, one being a hanging banner with triangular flags, the other being Neapolitan ice cream; these were items that I saw yesterday which cause me to think, that would be good for journal fodder! I don’t frequently have this thought, so both items stayed on my mind until paint was put to paper. It’s spread like this one which perfectly embody’s Picasso’s quote “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

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“Celebration” Completed Art Journal Page

For my hanging flag, I chose a large page from my designated book of collage material, Extreme Adventure (2014), painted it with the Golden brand acrylic paint in Interference Violet that I’ve come to love, and chopped them into neat triangles. The collage material already contained hues of pinks, so I knew a thin layer of the transparent violet interference paint would be a good combination. Layering gold, white, and fluorescent pink paint on and around the flags gave them some definition, and keeping the imagery on a neutral background of light gray allowed for the shapes to stay obvious.

 

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“Celebration” Completed, Golden Interference Violet Acrylic Paint

I choose some other collage material, but ended up tossing it aside this morning the more that I worked on this art journal spread. It was a good jumping off point, which helped move my hand painted imagery along, but seemed to not work with my spread the longer that I worked on it. It’s a good lesson, however, to appreciated the things that inspire you without the need to take them so literally. This is often also how I approach journal prompts as well, taking them with a grain of salt, appreciating the inspiration that they provide, and then letting them escape me once their job is done. Even though I did not choose to use my collage material, I was not without imagery! As seen below, the item which inspired my color scheme also ended up inspiring my main imagery: ice cream! Very fitting for a journal spread, as it’s my biggest weakness.

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“Celebration” Completed, Closeup of Left Page

Because I was working in an altered book format, I was able to use some of the imagery already printed on the page—as seen in the photo below. It portrayed the silhouettes of three individuals waiting at a pier, but was altered in order to show only the shapes of the individuals and a poster seen in the background. I love silhouettes, because viewers can understand a representation of human existence, while still providing an element of personal interpretation. I enjoy blending specifics, like shapes, with ambiguity and anonymity. Another great example of this is the illegible cursive writing found on the majority of my spreads; this can also be seen below.

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“Celebration” Completed, Closeup of Right Page 

Hopefully, you were able to join me for this week’s live stream on my Instagram, but if you weren’t, fear not! I will be streaming every Sunday at 8 pm EST, working in my art journal for all to see! I hope that you can join me sometime, and I especially hope that you’ll be making art with me, chatting about how awesome art journaling is, and letting me know if you have any questions about the many art supplies that I seem to be hoarding. Also, feel free to drop me a line by commenting here on the blog with any questions—or just to say hi!

 


 

Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership. You support this blog and my ability to continue making art through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) The Art Snacks website and all other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.

Finished Spread: Radioactive

This spread was created an in an altered book, Odysseys and Photographs (2007), and was specifically produced onto these pages due to the unsettling imagery that was already printed on the spread. Somehow these images, unaltered and bizarre, seemed to speak to me in a time of frustration. The photos on these pages originally displayed a restrained lab mouse being injected with a steel syringe, and a man controlling a robotic arm in order to place makeup onto a subject’s face—strange, right?  I took the liberty of adding my own peculiar imagery, paired with a color palette inspired by the word visible on that syringe: radioactive. Though it may appear a bit eerie, I actually really like how the spread turned out!

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“Radioactive” Art Journal Spread

As I’ve mentioned before, I often find that my art journal spreads are more chaotic and detailed whenever I create while angered or distressed. These types of emotions affect me strongly, but I am also able to pour out frustrations onto a journal spread more easily. It’s therapeutic for me, almost as if I’m removing the negativity—piece by piece—with every stroke and line. This spread has been halfway finished since the end of last year, but I somehow found the inspiration to complete it. I began this spread when I was overwhelmed by some feelings of anger, and the subject matter definitely does not hide this!

 

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Radioactive” Closeup, Left

Although this spread may not depict the most cheerful of illustrations, I was honestly pleased with line work that I created when drawing these skulls. These illustrations are studies of northern american rodent skulls, sketched with a soft lead (Faber Castell 8B lead, jumbo) and inked with a black brush pen (Kuretake No. 7). The original drawings were found in a vintage nature book, a gift to me, and my attempt at replicating them was almost perfect! I’m slowly advancing my drawing skills, and am always delighted whenever I discover that I’m making progress.

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“Radioactive” Closeup, Right Top

This spread was started in order to deal with intense negative feelings, but I was able to achieve a sense of accomplishment for the illustrations! The positive feeling of success in my abilities as an artist outweighed my anger. Although I don’t like to leave art journal spreads unfinished, my change in disposition was probably why I was able to close the book on this spread for so long. Creating in my art journal is always such a positive experience for me, and it’s one of the reasons that I love to share this niche hobby with others! I promise you, I haven’t been keeping an art journal for 13 years without benefiting from doing so!

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“Radioactive” Closeup, Right Bottom

This journal spread might be finished, but there are about 10 more in this altered book that are only just started! I’ll be working on some of them this weekend, but I’ll definitely be starting a new art journal spread during my Instagram live stream on Sunday at 8 pm EST. If you’ve got the time, don’t forget to join me! Until then, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below!

 


 

Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership. You support this blog and my ability to continue making art through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) All other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.

 

Instagram Takeover!

This week is pretty cool for me, as I’m taking over the Get Messy Art Journal official Instagram, @getmessyartjournal. Until January 8th, I’ll be curating the Instagram with photos of my own art, re-posts of Insta photos that use the hashtag #getmessyartjournal, and be responding to questions and comments on any of the photos that I post! I’m still going to be active at @emmykait, my everyday Instagram home, but I’ve been hoarding photos of my art journal spreads specifically for the Get Messy takeover! Here’s a little taste of the photos I’ll be posting on the ‘gram:

This honor was bestowed upon me as a Get Messy Creative Team Member (which I totally posted about HERE), and I was so lucky to be the first to takeover in 2017 and I got to post the 1,000th Instagram photo for Get Messy! I know it’s not like I won a world series, but seeing as how my sports knowledge starts and ends with the fact that “World Series” is a sportsball term, this is way cooler to me!  I quit my 9 to 5 at the end of 2015 in order to pursue my passion of creating, and it seems like that choice was made with perfect timing! Working with Get Messy this year is a dream come true, and starting it off with this takeover is just the icing on the cake! I hope you come visit me there this week!!

Links!

Huge News! Art Journaling News!

I’ve finally taken a break from jumping up and down in excitement to write this post, so let me start out by saying I’m ecstatic to be telling you all my good news!! Are you ready? For 2017, I will be pushing myself to be as creative as possible for my new position as a Creative Team member! I’ve been chosen to be a part of the Get Messy Creative Team for next year, and will be creating videos, tutorial posts, and sharing images of my art work for a group of 1500+ beautiful people who share my biggest passion: art journaling!

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Art journaling is the one thing that has been with me for the majority of my life, before I knew that such a thing even had a name. I could not be happier to share my love of arting between the pages of a bound sketchbook, altering coffee table books, and getting my hands colorfully messy!  I feel like my artistic style has come such a long way in the past couple of years, and finally defining my method of creating—with certain techniques, supplies, and tons of emotion—has not only helped me find my artistic voice, but is now letting me share it with others. (It sounds goofy, I know, but I’m in happy-shock, so please bare with me.)

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A Sampling From My Art Journal Collection

When I was younger, before “art journaling” was defined to me, I called my art journals “my souls,” because that’s what it feels like: pouring my soul onto the pages of these once empty pages. While I may not be an emotional exhibitionist, I’ve always considered myself an open book, and oddly enough, it seems like sharing my “souls” is allowing me to prove it. So, let’s start with my most recently finished spread, one inspired by another Get Messy Creative Team member: Vanessa Oliver-Llyod, aka Dans Mon Crane!

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“Altered Dimension” Art Journal Spread

Vanessa hosted an hour long live event on the private Get Messy Facebook page last week, and while I wasn’t able to participate in the fun during the event, I happily re-watched the video at my desk, following along with her process. I can’t say that this spread turned out looking even remotely close to Vanessa’s beautiful journal pages, (which you should totally check out HERE) but I’m still very happy with my end product! It was so odd to not begin my spread with blocking in shapes of acrylic paint, but starting as Vanessa did instead. I stuck true to all of the suggestions made during the live event, but I just couldn’t stop myself from making all of the wild doodles and drippys that I so love to add to my journal spreads! Her ideas plus my ideas turned up making a pretty unique spread.

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“Altered Dimension” Close Up, Bottom Left

My spread ended up featuring a poker card, the queen of diamonds, which was altered to be far creepier than originally intended; her skin was painted green, her hood turned into a homage to The Bride of Frankenstein, and a third eye added to her chakra point. I’m not complaining by any means, as I fan-girl over weird and creepy pretty frequently, but the contrast of theme from that which was created during the live event is pretty extreme. The photo below is a close up of this altered card, presented next to a queen of hearts from the same deck for a better understanding of how much altering occurred.

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“Altered Dimension” Comparison to Unaltered Playing Card

I had so much fun with this exercise, switching up my process, and doing new things in my art journal that I would have never done without Vanessa’s input! I wasn’t alone either, as this exercise got a lot of the Get Messy community members in the mood to create. Seeing everyone’s pages was pretty awesome, as each member applied the suggestions to art journal spreads while guided by intuition and staying true to their style! As you can see in the close up’s below, I also didn’t stray too far from my usual aesthetic.

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“Altered Dimension” Close Up, Top Left

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“Altered Dimension” Close Up, Top Right

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“Altered Dimension” Close Up, Bottom Right

I’m so excited to not only work with Vanessa, but continue learning from her—and my new team members—over the course of this next year! If you haven’t joined this group, feel free to visit the Get Messy website and check out the FREE class, so that you can see if it’s right for you. I’d LOVE to see you there!! (Note: Even if you decide not to join, I’ll still be sharing a lot of stuff here, and I’m not going anywhere!)

Art Journal Speed Process: “Enlighten the Untransformed”

I (finally!) got around to finishing a spread that I’m currently recording the process of, and I’m sharing it with you today! I don’t know how excited about this you are, I’m pretty stoked, because it’s a rarity that I can focus myself long enough to make sure all aspects of a page get recorded. If you’re like me and leave your art laying out, you probably find yourself stepping past, only to double back in order to make a mark or two. I often can’t cram everything onto a page in one sitting, simply because a completely detailed art journal spread usually takes about six or more hours to finish. I know many other artists can bang pages out in just an hour or less, but my aesthetic is all about clutter and chaos, so I love lots of little designs and details…which can take a LOT of time.

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This journal page, which is all about trying to enlighten those who are unwilling, is both a statement about myself and others. I think that everyone should strive to have an open mind and an open heart, and even though many people believe themselves to be ‘open minded,’ I’m not quite sure they’re correct. The Socratic paradox says that a wise man knows that he knows nothing, and to accept that you have ignorance is to accept that there is always more to learn and understand. This page speaks both to my personal beliefs and to my political beliefs. As an American, I think that this message is especially relevant right now, during the 2016 presidential election.

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Although this page was not specifically created in response to anything, this is one of those spreads in which the meaning developed as it took form. I’m a strong believer that inspiration comes most often when we aren’t looking for it, and sometimes my muse doesn’t speak until I’ve already started working; this was one of those times.

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Anyways, lets get past the heavy stuff and enjoy how our minds can take the ugly and form into something beautiful, which, in this case, is providing me with reason to reflect and create! Being able to create another art journal spread (where I can meditate and breathe easy for a while) is great comfort for my anxious mind. I invite you to watch this process video, take a moment to unwind, and even play in your own journal! Enjoy! (If the video below doesn’t work for you, click HERE.)

 

Finished Spread: Catcher of Dreams

For a week, I’ve been out of arting commission, babying a bruised hand. Thankfully, none of my knuckles retained any of that lovely plum hue that both inspired and impaired. I’m not at full capacity, but I decided to take a peek at the Get Messy blog, and couldn’t help myself from shifting from computer to art journal. One of the many lovely prompts from this past week recommended using the imagery of a dream catcher, and while I’m not one to interpret prompts too literally, I decided to have a go at it. Little did I know, my inability to think in geometric shapes would cause me to spend hours trying to figure out how to draw the netting of the catcher. That being said: I’m 99.9% happy with the finished net design of my dream catcher! (My favorite dream catcher, a heart shaped frame wrapped in teal leather, was the only one that followed me into my teenage years; after this drawing experience, I thank myself for not attempting to draw it and it’s complicated net work!)

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“Catcher of Dreams” Art Journal Spread: Upper Left

As someone who doesn’t include a lot of text within the spread of my journals, I can be pretty picky with the imagery that ends up on my pages, but a dream catcher does speak to the memories of my youth. Living in an area where sacred burial mounds and beautiful Native American earthworks speckle the landscape, I was always aware of native culture, especially because of the the annual festival of Native culture that is held in my hometown. I was afflicted with night terrors as a child, and the ceiling above my bed held as many dream catchers —mostly from that festival—as I could ration for the thumbtack holes, like constellations, above my head. For this reason, my spread also portrays an eye (on of my favorite images) crying, the coloring mimicking the dream catcher and its blue dangling strings, a representation of the fear and panic that sleep can cause me.

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“Catcher of Dreams” Art Journal Spread: Upper Right

I also liked that using a dream catcher in this spread would date it for me, as the Dakota Access Pipeline protest continues to dominate the news. With the beautiful people of Flint, MI still struggling with ruined water pipelines, and now the Natives in the Dakotas struggling to guard their water sources, my heart aches for those who must fight for their freedom to drink clean water. I don’t usually get political when it comes to art journaling, but sometimes your subconscious speaks before you can censor it.

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“Catcher of Dreams” Art Journal Spread.

Now that I’ve been a part of the Get Messy art journaling group, I have a lot to say, and say I will next post. Thank you guys for hanging out with me! Feel free to drop me a line via comment below; I’m thrilled to be back in business and painting away!

Art Journal Speed Process: “Making Shadows”

I have a certain love for hanging lanterns. Honestly, all party supplies stir something inside me that just gets me in a good mood, whether it be streamers, balloons…presents. I have a bad habit of leaving decorations up far beyond a reasonable time frame, and in fact, have a string of green paper lanterns dangling from the ceiling in my studio; as of now, there are no plans to remove them. It’s should be no surprise that hanging lanterns would eventually find themselves layered into the artwork of my journal.

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“Making Shadows” Art Journal Spread

Unlike most of my journal pages, which are created impromptu, this spread had a moment of conception when the muse struck me outside of my studio. I had this strange urge to use a wet paint technique to create red, multi-hued hanging lanterns. I wasn’t quite sure what this journal spread would be about (other than my affinity for celebratory ephemera) but I got to my desk ASAP, and started gluing down collage material to get my creative juices flowing. It wasn’t long before I had thick circles of red paint adorning my pages! For this spread, I also brought out my inks, KRINK paint tools, pens, and markers and let the magic happen.

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“Making Shadows” Close Up (Left)

Some of these collage images came from my purchase of a coffee table book about National Geographic photographers, which will be my next altered book. Before I begin altering a book, I always remove some pages from it to alleviate stress from the binding, as my altered pages thicken the book quite a bit. The pages removed from my NatGeo book had some pretty interesting images, so I kept them for collage material. If you have interest in this book, you can find it on Amazon.com HERE. At his time, a new version of this book is available for $3.24 (plus shipping), which is an awesome price for the amount of beautiful images this large hardcover holds.

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“Making Shadows” Close Up (Right)

To see the creation of the journal spread “Making Shadows,” you can watch the video below or click HERE.

As always, if you have any questions about supplies used, applied techniques, or just want to drop me a line, feel free to connect with me in the comments below!

Art Journal Speed Process: “Ink Blot Buffalo”

Forgive the tardiness of this post, as I was involved in a pretty intense car accident that left me so shaken and exhausted that I collapsed on my sofa upon return instead of blogging to you, dear follower. (I have a feeling you might be understanding in realizing that the situation was an unexpected incident which could alter anyone’s schedule.) But I thank you for your patience and present you with almost 20 minutes of an art journal speed process video!

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“Ink Blot Buffalo” Art Journal Spread

I created the above spread as my first week’s participation in the Get Messy group (discussed in this blog post), which offered multiple prompts as part of the current week for this six week season. The theme for these six weeks is introspection, and I chose to do an inkblot type design with my acrylic paint. The Get Messy prompt inspired a great many of us to see what we would find in our homemade “inkblots,” which mimics the famous Rorschach test.  I’ve done this before, as you can see in the photo below, but it’s been a long time since!

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“Not All That Bites Is Bad” Art Journal Spread

This video took me quite a bit of time to put together, as it not only shows an entire start-to-finish process for my newest art journal page, “Ink Blot Buffalo,” but I also took the time to add commentary though out the video. This commentary provides you with my rationale during the creation of this spread, detail of the art supplies used, and gives you a little insight on how it is that I create my spreads. The video is sped up to four times the original, so there is a lot of content crammed into it! Enjoy!

 

More photos of the “Ink Blot Buffalo” art journal spread can be seen below.

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“Ink Blot Buffalo” Close-Up: Bottom

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“Ink Blot Buffalo” Close-Up: Right Page

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“Ink Blot Buffalo” Close-Up: Right Page

I hope you gained a little insight and a lot of inspiration, and I will see you Friday with a new post! Feel free to contact me before then by leaving me a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!!!

Choosing a Pre-Altered Book

The bottom of this post includes tips for choosing your own pre-altered book.

One of my journals began as a coffee-table book, something I decided to purchase with the specific intention of covering in paint. I knew that most pages would eventually include only my original content, but I liked the idea of being able to use photos already on the pages if any of them happened to strike me as particularly interesting. When I first went hunting for this book, I had only a few prerequisites: that it have a sewn binding, which would be sturdy; the book include only/mostly black and white photos so that I would not feel restricted to the color palate of the photography; and finally, that the book be large in size but not incredibly thick.

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My Altered-Book, Opened to an Unaltered Page

I went to what is known as a bargain store, but I did not strike out going to a secondhand store if that didn’t work out. As it happened, the first place I went to was perfect for what I needed. Without much searching, I purchased one of the first books that I found, which met all of my requirements. It cost me less that five dollars. Because I was not picky about the content of the book, I bought a book that I would never have purchased to read, featuring U.S. Marines in WWII. The photography in the book was in fact black and white, but working in it has made me realize that pictures of war stricken lands are not the most inspirational when trying to create my art.  Since this purchase, time has passed, pages have been covered, and I am finally reaching the point where my book is about to be (drum roll, please) completely full of art and finished.

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My Altered Book, Showering Unaltered Cover Page

I drug the husband to that same bargain store on Sunday, and decided to be a bit choosier this time in my hunt for a new book to alter. Along with the previous requirements for my book, I decide to tack “not about war” to the list. I thought that I might have an easy time finding a book with black and white photography that would feature classic musicians or architecture. What I did not expect, however, was to fall in love with a board book about black holes that had full page photography from telescope images…in vibrant colors!

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My New Board Book, Icarus at the Edge of Time, for Altering

I purchased not just one, but two, for $3 each. The book only has 16 spreads, not including the cover, so I’m not too invested if I decide I hate working with it. The pages have a slight sheen to them, which may make it difficult to keep paint on them; I plan to sand them down in a few places before I begin to work in it. I don’t want to sand away too much of the top layer though, as I find the photography on the pages to be beautiful and vague enough as to not (completely) influence my art.

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Spread Within Pre-Altered Icarus

What really drew me to this book was it’s incredibly thick pages. Because this is a board book, each page is about an 1/8th of an inch thick, so it should never buckle beneath all of paints and glues that I like to slather on my pages.  I usually remove a few pages from a book that I plan to fill with art, so that the thickness of my art doesn’t break the binding, but that won’t be possible to do with this one. Luckily, there are so few pages that I won’t be able to thicken the book to breaking point…or so I hope!

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Detail Photo of Pre-Altered Board Book Pages

So here are the lessons I’ve learned about picking out a new book for altering, which I’d like to share with you:
1. DON’T get something that clashes with your aesthetic! LOOK at the photography within a book before you buy it. LOOK at the text before you buy it.
2. DO make 100% sure the binding is sturdy. Cloth binding with multiple sewn signatures (where the pages are folded, sewn, and attached at the center) is my recommendation.
3. DO get a book that speaks to you. If you decide that you want specific this or that (such as black & white photography) it’s okay to change your mind if you see something else (such as full color pages) that grabs you. Art is not about confining yourself. If you’re okay working outside of a canvas or sketchbook, you shouldn’t be afraid to break barriers.
4. DON’T spend too much money on a book to alter! Go to yard sales, bargain stores, secondhand stores, and the like.
5. DON’T make decisions about pages before you’re working on them. If you decide you like a specific element already printed in your book, great, but deciding you won’t paint over it before you get to it may make that page feel intimidating later.
6. DO get a book that is about the same thickness, or less, as your usual art journal. A book that has a huge amount of pages can seem overwhelming. You want your book to feel comfortable, especially if it’s your first altered book.

I look forward to updating you on how my board book works out. Feel free to comment with questions and/or show off your own altered books; I’m always on the lookout for more inspiration.