Tag Archives: journaling

A Room with a View

A Room with a View 5.5 x 17 inches Watercolor and ink in journal ©2018 Lucinda Howe

A Room with a View
5.5 x 17 inches
Watercolor and ink in journal
©2018 Lucinda Howe

Happy Tuesday.

I’m a little late with my post this week because I’ve spent most of the last week with my parents in North Carolina. My father has been in the hospital and my mother is in a nursing home.

On the way out the door, I grabbed my small travel journaling kit.  As I sat with my mother while she was napping, I drew the scene outside her window. I selected a page in my watercolor book that already had an abstract light colored background.  The weather was overcast and there was not much color among the bare trees, but I feel that spring is just around the corner, so the light colors seemed to lighten the mood. Having something to do with my hands makes me feel better in these types of situations. 



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Making Progress

In my last post, I was working on several things without finishing anything.  Since then, my husband and I took a few days for our annual warm weather vacation.  I was very relaxed on my poolside chair, but I did manage to look up and draw the palms overhead to make a journal page. 

After returning home, I received my hardware for the “Podium”, the January Bag of the Month. In the past, I’ve made unstructured tote bags, but this was the first pattern I’ve made with lots of interfacing structure and hardware.  The pattern was somewhat complicated, but the instructions were thorough and had good pictures.  After making the components and stitching the exterior to the lining wrong side out, one of the last steps was to reach through the zipper pocket and turn the whole thing right side out.  I had my doubts, but it worked!  Here is the finished bag.  

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Journal page

Journal Page
from Jane LaFazio’s class
December 2017

Happy New Year!

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I choose a word to use as my focus for the year. In 2017, my word was SPACIOUSNESS. I did some mental and physical decluttering and opened space for new ventures. I learned some new art journaling techniques and renewed my dormant interest in sewing.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been taking an online mixed media journaling class from Jane LaFazio, a continuation of what I learned on the trip to Canada last summer. The journal page above was inspired by memories of Wildacres and incorporates collage, watercolor, stamp carving, and stenciling techniques from the class.

I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m making something, whether it’s painting, drawing, sewing, or gardening. I enjoy translating concepts of color and design from one medium to another. So, for 2018, my focus word is MAKE.

Do you choose a word of the year? What is your word for 2018?





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Quebec City

Quebec City Tulips ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The second part of Jane LaFazio’s watercolor sketching class was in Quebec City, Canada. After a cool, wet spring, the weather warmed up the week we arrived.  The tulips were in full bloom around the Chateau Frontenac and City Hall, but as the temperature rose to 85 degrees, the petals were dropping even as Jane conducted a lesson in flower painting.


Quebec City Window boxes ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Window boxes
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The city had beautiful old buildings with flower boxes on many of the windows.  I did these sketches quickly in pencil and added watercolor later when I had a few spare minutes. 


Quebec City Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River
©2017 Lucinda Howe

One afternoon, we enjoyed a boat tour on the St Lawrence River on the Louis Jolliet, named for the French explorer and cartographer. 


 Île d'Orléans ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Île d’Orléans
©2017 Lucinda Howe

On our last day together, we had a tour of  Île d’Orleans, and island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, a short drive from Quebec City, known as the “garden of Quebec”.  The island has a warm microclimate and is know for its produce including strawberries, apples, wines, and maple syrup. 

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Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 1 & 2 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 1 & 2
©2017 Lucinda Howe

In last week’s email, I talked about packing an art kit for traveling. I was thinking about that because I was packing for a trip to Montréal and Quebec City, Canada. I went with a small group of artists studying watercolor sketching with Jane LaFazio.

The first day we received an accordion-fold book, and after a walking tour around Montréal, we had a lesson in the Notre-Dame Basilica. Although I thought I had an idea of what to do on a trip like that, I learned a few new things.

I can travel lighter and carry a smaller kit than I planned. We used very small (6×4 inch) sketchbook. A watercolor palette, brush with water in the handle, a pencil, a kneaded eraser, a water-soluble pen, a permanent pen, and a paper towel or sponge made up the basic kit. This was my first experience with the water brush, and it was certainly easier than carrying a water bottle and cup.

Small Watercolor Kit @2017 Lucinda Howe

Small Watercolor Kit
@2017 Lucinda Howe

The walking tour of Montréal was informative, but moved too fast for me to do much drawing as we walked. I made mental notes of several things to explore on my next trip. Montréal had a young multi-cultural vibe with many art galleries, museums, and festivals. I quickly realized that two days was not nearly enough time in this diverse city.

Jane took us into the Notre-Dame Basilica for a drawing lesson. She said to focus on what attracts you first, isolate a small section, and draw the detail. That was a good lesson in how to deal with overwhelming architecture.

Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 3 & 4 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 3 & 4
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Also, in my journal, I drew street signs, practiced lettering key words, and glued in a map.

All too soon, we left boarded a train and headed for Quebec City. In next week’s email, I’ll show drawings from the second phase of the trip.


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Filling the Well


Sea shells in grid pattern, travel journal by Lucinda Howe

In this technique, you go beyond simply recording, and start “filling the well” with source material for future creative ventures.  You begin to combine your experience of the place with your personal interests.  Of course, there are many ways to do this, but here are a few prompts to get you thinking.

  • Try some new ways of combining drawing and painting supplies.  Buy unfamiliar art supplies at local art supply shop.
  • Start a series of images based on your other interests – architecture, food, sports, shopping, animals, religion, etc.   Make notes on how to use these when you get home.
  • Leave some space to add photos or embellishments with other media after you return home.
  • Observe the local color palette and notice whether it influences you to change your usual palette.
  • Experiment with techniques and themes observed in galleries and museums
  • Pay attention to the design of the page as well as the content.  Think about whether you like things arranged on a grid or randomly.  Do you like richly layered pages with color out to the edge, or do you prefer a lot of white space?
  • Once you get home, use your journal as source material for new directions in your art.

For some really personal and inspirational journals, take a look at An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory.

Fair warning:  If you get hooked on visual/verbal journaling while you travel, don’t think you can give it up when you get home!

By the time you read this, I should be back from France.  Have I been practicing my own instructions?  I’ll give you a report next week.  Until then, keep drawing!


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Borrowing Language


Grand Cayman Restaurants, page from travel journal by Lucinda Howe

Words and images combine well in a travel journal.  But if you don’t consider yourself a writer, don’t dispair.  Here are several ways to add language to your pages.

  • Incorporate printed ephemera (items designed to be useful or important for only a short time such as  pamphlets, tickets, wine labels, store receipts).
  • Borrow words from signs, ads, restaurant menus in the language of the country you are visiting.  Write down snippets of conversations overheard in public places.  Collect local idioms.  Quote local celebrities.
  • Make notes of your observations.  For example, my notes from a previous trip to France say activity around the square included “a woman in a red dress walking four dogs with red bandanas”, and there was noise from the “Esthetique Canine blowdrying a fluffy poodle”.
  • Use letter stencils, drawn letters, handwriting, or calligraphy. Use the letters as design elements.
  • Make rubbings of signs or carvings using thin paper and crayon or graphite and add them to your journal.

If you are interested in journaling as an art form, both for travel and everyday life, a good resource is the book, The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal Pages by Gwen Diehn.

Next week:   Filling the Well

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Getting Acquainted with the Landscape


The Island of Patmos, Small watercolor drawings from the travel journal of Lucinda Howe

In preparation for my upcoming trip to France, I’ve been reviewing my notes about travel journaling and looking back at what I’ve done on past trips.  Most of my journaling falls in three categories and requires only basic supplies such as a small watercolor kit and some pencils and pens.

Getting Acquainted:  Landscape “Snapshots”

When traveling to a new place, my first goal is to absorb the feel of the place.  I also want to be prepared to move when my traveling companions have taken photos and are ready to go.   In this case, I make small (approximately 4×6”) line drawings in pencil in my journal to capture basic shapes.  People are just torso and legs with a gesture or posture.  I may draw a door or flower box rather than the whole building.  Along with the drawing, I note the character of the place in words.  For example, “white rectangular buildings with red roofs, bright sun, strong shadows”  or “busy, noisy, colorful flower market”.  I also record the weather, sounds, and smells… church bells, diesel fuel, birds, lavender, etc.

When I stop for lunch or in the evening, I add color and details while the scene is still fresh in my mind.   For these small landscapes, a soft wash of color in the background and some foreground details with an ink pen may be all it takes.  In other cases I add color only in the area of greatest interest or define shapes with brush strokes.  I’m trying to create physical memory though my hands and not to worry about completing a painting.

I leave some white space on the page and add place names and dates, and soon the book is full of very personal landscape “snapshots”.


Next week:  Borrowing language


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