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.

File Aug 17, 6 01 44 PM

“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.


“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 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.


“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!

“Ugly” Journal Pages & How To Deal With Them

I am struggling with an art journal spread right now. Unfortunately, it’s the first one in my newest journal, which is not the best way to start! I purchased the Dylusions brand Creative Journal a while ago from a craft store, and while it’s a well known art journal book now, I had never heard of the item upon purchase. When I saw the journal, I was in complete awe of it’s thick pages, hard cover, handy inner pouch, and it’s unique horizontal elastic closure band; I had to own it! Well…now we’re fighting, and I hate to abandon it. Because of this current situation, I wanted to discuss how I “fix” my “ugly” journal spreads, and what that even means to me.

In my opinion, an “ugly” art journal spread is not necessarily ugly to look at, but causes it’s creator to become stumped and ultimately abandon the journal spread. Do you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know what to do next!” because you don’t want to ruin what you’ve already created? The moment that happens, my page becomes an unfinished and lackluster piece. I sometimes believe that abandoning a piece that’s almost finished helps to tell my story, but other times, there’s not enough imagery to even call it “good enough.” When that happens, and I feel like I can go no further, I know it’s time to cover up and create something fresh. I’ve had to start telling myself, “If I don’t want to ruin my journal spread, then it’s time to ruin my journal spread.”

I would like to share with you some techniques that I use to purposefully alter a stumping  journal spread instead of abandoning it:
1. Take a XL paint brush, cover most of the spread in a dark colored (blue, purple, red, etc.) india ink, so that only hints of old shapes peak through.
2. Adhere collage material sporadically on the pages, covering the parts that originally controlled the spread.
3. Paint chunks of the page with a completely different color of opaque acrylic paint. (The change in color is always a huge inspiration!)
4. Drip inks and paints from the top of the page to the bottom, so as to hide some of the old imagery.
5. Use a large tipped marker (usually my black Big Brush Pitt Pen by Faber-Castell) and make huge doodles, creating new imagery or a new background to work on.
6. Find (or make) new imagery in a sketchbook that can be cut out and adhered to the spread as a new jumping off point.

I know that a lot of people will gesso an art journal page that they perceive as hopeless, but I don’t (always) mind if some of my original page peeks through; it makes for good background fodder. Also, unless you prefer to start with a stark white page, gessoing a page already thick with previous paint and collage material can be wasteful. If I plan to use acrylic paint or collage material in moving forward with a spread, then I know that the opacity of those items will be enough to hide my old pages, and there is no need to waste expensive thick gesso. If not using gesso to cover a spread, an artist does not need to step away for drying time, and the continuation of working on a piece will keep the artistic energy flowing. That being said, if you feel like you’re ready to just rip out your pages and throw them away, sometimes gessoing your piece and taking a breather is required!

Art Supply Haul 2: Unboxed, Tested, & Art Journaling

In this post, I’ll be sharing a video in which you can watch the unboxing of four different art supplies and see them at work. I will also be using these new art supplies in order to work on one of my art journal pages. (If you’d like to skip the unboxing and testing of theses supplies in order to go directly to the art journaling section of this video, that part begins at 10:57. You can click the time stamp in this paragraph to skip to that portion of the video on YouTube, or you can fast forward the video on this page.)


Art Supply Haul 2 Items: Graphite and Colored Pencils, Pencil Sharpener, & India Ink

New Supplies (seen above):
5 Pack Jumbo Pencils 9000 Series by Faber-Castell (5/10 ★s)
24 Pack Premier Colored Pencils by Prismacolor (7/10 ★s)
Triple Hole Pencil Sharpener by Faber-Castell (4/10 ★s)
12 Pack Bombay India Ink by Dr. Ph. Martin (10/10 ★s)

As seems to be the theme for my latest art supply videos, these items were purchased using a gift card that I received for my birthday. Unlike the Art Snacks box or the Uni-Posca paint pens, these art supplies were of my own choosing. Purchasing $50 worth of supplies required much deliberation, hence why it’s been a month since the gift card was given to me; my indecisiveness, however, was crushed by the thrill that can only come with online shopping. I ended up spending slightly over the card’s amount, but the excess was for the sharpener: it’s silly to have pencils if you can’t use them! (Or so I told myself, splurging on a $7 name brand sharpener.)

So, without further ado, here is the video you’ve skipped through the text to get to..

Final Thoughts: The pencils were an awesome size, and exactly what pencils should be, but the graphite was shinier and lighter in color than I’d like, which isn’t exactly artist quality in my opinion…and are pretty expensive for pencils. The Prismacolor colored pencils have amazing pigmentation, but are going to dwindle to nothing soon because the lead is so soft; that being said, I knew this would be the case upon purchase. Thirdly, the pencil sharpener sharpens all the pencils I personally own, including other brands; unfortunately, it opens up on a thin plastic hinge (that I see snapping in the near future), and it leaks shaving everywhere when opened. Finally, Dr. Ph. Martin’s India inks are expensive, but I was lucky and found the 12 set on Amazon for $12 less than for what the official website sells this 12 pack. At a little over $3 per bottle, it’s almost half the price of purchasing each color individually. In my opinion, these Bombay inks were worth every penny!!

Related Posts: Art Supply Haul 1: Unboxed & Tested and Art Supply Haul 1: Challenge

Finished Spread: Printed Reminder

File May 23, 10 24 16 PM

Printed Reminder AJP

I still have the illness, but apparently that’s good for my creativity as I have created a new spread from start to finish in a day! I love everything about this spread, except that it’s in my private journal, which means that I won’t be sharing with anyone in person. Luckily for you, I can show it off online! All collage imagery (7 pieces in spread above) comes from a large coffee table book about National Geographic photography, which I recently purchased for under $6. I recommend it for any collage junkies out there. I found mine in a discount store, but it is also available online at Amazon, here: Odysseys & Photographs. During the writing of this post, it is currently for sale (as used) for $0.95 plus shipping, which is a total steal for this collection of beautiful images.

File May 23, 10 23 35 PM

I used so many different materials to create this spread, including my new fine point Uni-Posca paint pens. (If you haven’t read my short review on these, click HERE.) These opaque pens are %100 living up to my expectations! I also used the new KRINK K-90 permanent paint pen, which isn’t the greatest to draw with, but makes perfect little dots…and trust me when I say that I could use a tool which does only that! I’ve been playing around with oil pastels too, and used an incredibly soft yellow-orange Expressionist pastel by Sakura (which is becoming my favorite brand of non-paint supplies) to do a few markings throughout the page. More supplies include: Gelly Roll pens, Golden fluid acrylic paints, Faber-Castell Pitt pens and , Dr. Ph. Martins Bombay India ink. This spread is truly mixed media!


WIP and Business Cards

I don’t have much to share today: it seems that I’ve caught a bug that causes such incredible fatigue so as to have made it impossible not to sleep 20/24 hours a day. The good news is that, besides the fatigue, my only symptom is an itchy throat, which is easily calmed with a cough drop. I’m hoping that it does not progress.

So, for the mere purpose of content, I have two small things to share today:
1. A sneak-peak at a work in progress in my art journal, and
2. my NEW business cards.

File May 21, 6 14 48 AM

Detail of WIP Pink & Red AJP (1)

Here is the sneak-peak of my current work in progress. I’ll be keeping a fighter plane visible (above), which was already printed in the book that I’m altering. For the most part, I have only applied my usual base of acrylic paints, and have added  very few details atop. I have really high hopes for this spread, as it contains a new doodle that I’ve developed; it is a design of connecting circles formed only by stippling. Part of this new design can be seen in the photo below.

File May 21, 6 15 27 AM

Detail of WIP Pink & Red AJP (2)

Thursday, before the sickness hit, I ordered my very own business cards. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, and am finally pleased with a design. (Let’s be honest, what kind of an artist would I be if I didn’t design my own business cards?!) I went for front and back full color to show off some of my art. I expect them here in about a week, and it feels like Christmas! Low quality image can be seen below.


New Made By EmK Business Card

Alright, guys…bed is calling my name, and I better go try to sleep this off. But on the bright side, when I wake up, my business cards will be closer to being in my hands! Woo!

Review: Posca Paint Pens

For about two months, Uni-Posca paint pens have been on my radar…and on my online wishlist for about just as long. Luckily for me, I have a sister that knows such a wishlist is not just for my own window shopping, but also an ideal way to find perfect birthday presents. So even though it may be two weeks past my birthday, I am happy to say that I am the new owner of those shiny new pens!

Photo May 16, 10 52 18 PM

Posca Paint Pens

I’m always on the hunt for markers, pens, and other writing utensils that will work on slightly textured surfaces, like gesso. Because of this, I’m a sucker for paint pens of any kind. I recently purchased some KRINK brand paint pens, which I had to order online. After using the one in my May Art Snacks box, I was pretty excited! Today, while shaking a KRINK paint pen (as directed to do) the bottom popped off, ruined my carpet, and filled my eye with some pretty harsh liquid! I really expected KRINK to finally be all the answers to my paint pen needs; needless to say: I’m less than impressed after ruining my clothes and experiencing momentary blindness. I’d like to mention this was only the second time using this pretty expensive item, and knowing how the paint tastes was never supposed to be part of the deal!

But anyway, back to these fancy new Posca pens! 

Photo May 16, 10 52 50 PM

Posca Paint Pens 0.7 on Black and White Paper

I’m immediately impressed by how vibrant the colors are, how opaque the paint is, and how thin of a line the Posca pens produce. These are all pros for me, especially because the pens are all highly pigmented. All colors appear just as vibrant on dark surfaces as they do on white bristol paper. The tips are also made of a flexible plastic (weird, but cool) instead of a hard fibrous tip, like one might find on a sharpie paint pen. However, while the tips are seemingly innovative, I have found that the plastic flicks little specks of paint as you write. You can see a good example of this around the white writing on the black paper in the photo above. The tip is not a solid plastic, but small pieces that come together to create a conical shape, which you can see in the photo below. I’m assuming that, with some practice, one may be able to prevent this slight splatter with a lighter hand and clean strokes, but I don’t find them to be ideal for small details that require clean curved lines.

Photo May 16, 10 56 19 PM

Posca Paint Pen Tips in Orange: Left, Pre-Inked; Right, After ONE Use

I’m excited to see how these work in my artwork, and will definitely be using them regardless of the slight splatter the tips produce. These pens are also completely closed receptacles, meaning no ends should be exploding into my face anytime soon! (Definitely a pro.)

Light and Dark: Working With Hues

Let me begin this post by saying my husband believes my wardrobe to be far too colorful and bright for any normal person; I am drawn to neons and pastels and any patterns that might be considered loud by some! But sometimes, I find myself thinking that I need to tone down my color palette just for a little variety. So this week, as my Art Snacks glared at me from across the desk, I worked diligently in my art-art journal to create beautiful, though contrasting, spreads.

The following photos are the two art journal spreads that I’ve created this week: one brightly colored (my usual scheme type) and the other painted with dark hues, including a lot of black line work and imagery.

Photo May 13, 10 40 21 PM

Neon Grasp AJP

Photo May 13, 10 41 09 PM

Somber Fingers AJP

As you can see, both spreads feature hands but convey completely different tones due primarily to their contrasting color palettes. It’s a good exercise for me to step outside of my usual realm and work with dark colors, especially when they help to relay darker emotions or ideas I may have. It’s still comfortable for me to create this work in my own developed style, so changing some things, such as hues, is a great way to help me evolve with my art!

Feel free to let me know how you step outside of your comfort zone…idea are always welcome! (And comments are encouraged.)

Finished Spread: The Magic

I accidentally took a week-long vacation from this blog. I’ll be honest: I had a touch of performance anxiety. I told myself that I needed to do the Art Snacks Challenge, which required me to use the four art supplies that came in my Art Snacks subscription box for the month of May. (Blog post and video for the unboxing of May’s Art Snacks can be found here.) Suddenly, I found myself in a predicament: uninspired by the only items I felt I was allowed to blog about. I let the items stare at me from the sidelines while I continued to make art in my book; I stayed far from my blog while I worked, convinced that any post excluding the results of my Art Snacks Challenge would be a betrayal to my readers. Forgive me, all five of you, for my mind is not always as exercised as my paint brush.

Photo May 12, 3 35 23 AM.jpg

The Magic AJP

I have abandoned my self doubt for the moment, and now come to you instead with another finished spread! This one is the page that I shared in this earlier blog post, which is now titled The Magic. As I mentioned in that post, I’m not exactly a professional portrait painter, but I’m delighted by this orange skinned lady! Her nose is too big, her lips are angled strangely, the highlights and wrinkles in her face are too contrasted, and the shines in her hair are not properly spaced…but oh well! I’ve put too much pressure on myself this week over my art, and I need to breathe easy about it (paint fumes notwithstanding) so that my muse may return!

Photo May 12, 3 41 54 AM.jpg

Detail of The Magic AJP

I hope to do the May Art Snack Challenge, but forgive me if I do not. I already have another video in the works for a current art journal spread that I will be sharing shortly; until then, I hope you accept my sincerest apology for disappearing  and trust me when I say: I shall return tomorrow with some lovely pages for your hungry eyes!


Working on Multiple Spreads

This past week, I just can’t seem to keep my hands off of my acrylic paints! Because these paints are usually my go to for creating backgrounds, I’ve been starting multiple spreads without getting very far on them. This has made me question the pros and cons for having multiple spreads started, and I’ve decided to share my logic with you.


Orange & Blue WIP Spread, and Green & Purple WIP Spread

1. The ability to travel with just journal and pen, always having something to draw on.
2. Having established pages for my “off” days when creating feels difficult.
3. Being able to just doodle for when I’m on a roll with my pen.
4. Having extra pages for art classes and challenges that are image oriented and not background oriented.

1. Being forced to work with color palettes that no longer resonate with me.
2. Having fewer pages to start fresh on.
3. Feeling like I might ruin something I’ve already created that I don’t remember how to recreate.
4. Being without the same paint or not remembering which ones I’ve used if I want to add to the background.


Blue & Yellow WIP Spread, and Green/Pink/Yellow Pastel WIP Spread

I’m not in fear of running out of pages to work on, though I’ll admit that this is my favorite journal. Luckily, it’s a 200 page book that I’m altering, so the number of pages left to work on is still not easily counted. That being said, I have already run into the problem of not remembering which paint I’ve used (namely the blue and yellow bone spread above), which did cause me some irritation. However, it’s been fun playing with my paint, so at least I’ve accomplished the task of enjoyably creating art…and that’s what is most important to me!

Let me know if you can think of any pros or cons for having too many spreads started. Also, feel free to comment a link to any or your work in progress art journal pages, I’d love to see what’s out there!!


How To: From “Doodles” to “Drawings”

For doodlers, asking the question “what do I draw?” is quite a bit easier when intuition is in control. It can seem effortless to scribble on a post-it note while on the phone, but then difficult to draw in a sketchbook at your desk. Of course, intimidation may play a role in this, but sometimes it’s because we’re just thinking  too hard. Once we identify what it is we like to draw, it’s much easier to choose what to draw. If you like to doodle circles, translate them into bubbles, wheels, cookies, or records. You can turn swirls into ribbons, tentacles, or roses. Maybe you’re prone to making zig-zags, which could be altered into monster teeth, lightning bolts, stitching, or heart monitor lines! Most of us can freely create shapes without much detail, but by just adding dots, lines, and shadows, doodles will transform into drawings!

Once you understand what it is that you like to draw, you just have to decide what designs speak to you. If you prefer the feminine things in life, roses might be the way to go; if weird is more your style, then you may want to draw tentacles instead! Don’t try to create that which you don’t find to be within your aesthetic. You shouldn’t draw it just because it should be there: art isn’t about should be, it’s about can be.You can do whatever you want to, because it is your art! If you don’t like the look of a smeared, dark sky, it is totally okay to make lighting strike the ground on a clear day; if you feel confident drawing wheels but are baffled by the anatomy of a car, let it roll alone down an empty road.

File Apr 18, 4 59 55 PM.jpeg

Antler’d Octopus AJP

The photo above is one of my art journal pages. It incorporates all of my favorite doodle shapes: the circle, the swirl, and the zig-zag. I started with a large circle and then added swirls protruding from the shape. Next, I doodled hard zig-zags entering from the top of the page and less angular zig-zags entering from the bottom of the page. My shapes began to inspire me; with some acrylic paint and a little quirky thinking, I created an octopus resting in the seaweed beneath a cluster of anchors. I know that oceans are often depicted as blue—and that octopi don’t have antlers—but it’s my art and I am making creative decisions!

File Apr 18, 5 46 37 PM

Examples of Circles, Swirls, and Zig-Zags on Art Journal Pages

The next time you’re listening to music, reading the news, or chatting with a friend, try to have some paper and a pen within reach. You could keep post-it notes in your purse, or get fancy and buy the small Moleskine sketchbook that will fit in a shirt pocket (I’ve seen it done) for an artist-esque approach. A short golf pencil is a perfect sketching tool and it takes up almost no space!  If you keep things small, it’s much easier to doodle on the go! You’ll discover what shapes come easily for you when you have the freedom to doodle, but you need to have the equipment to do it!

File Apr 18, 6 52 09 PM.jpeg

Doodle Kit Made From DVD Case

A simple way to keep your doodle supplies on hand is to throw a writing utensil and some paper in an old DVD box. The slim, flat profile of this case will easily fit in laptop bags and purses, as well as stack with bedside books. For my Doodle Kit, I made my own sketchbook by stapling several pieces of Bristol paper together, and gluing the first page to the inside of a blank greeting card. I made sure to let the back of the staples face me so that I can fix them if bending occurs during the process of ripping the paper away.

Let me know what you’re doodling, and where. I’d love to hear what shapes inspire you!