Cover of “The Calligraph”, a journal of the Society for Calligraphy Los Angeles, volume 31, issue 1, 2009. My journaling article and “how-to” is featured in this issue. This issue by designer extraordinaire, Teri Kahan,
Contents here published with permission from the SFC and Teri Kahan.jusdoitjourntitleart4web

Written around the perimeter of this double page spread are words from my journals: “Coffee aroma is the aura for the open pen drawer. Morning solitude and the journal. Which pen, which nib? Dawn and candlelight sparkle on wet ink, like a glistening river when airborne.”
“When drawing a fleeting image, develop a strong visual after-image and use a rapid sketching style. Learn to recognize and simplify the shapes you are seeing.”
“When making a quick watercolor sketch lightly pencil the overall shapes. A swash of shading and values can be added with a compact paint box. Make notes next to the sketches describing color or other references.”
“Have fun, be creative, observe things from a different point of view, don’t be afraid to make marks on a blank pages, learn to paint with words and make a collage of your ideas.”



On page 2, see me plopped down on a sand dune painting away.
On pages 3 and 4 show more work from my various sketchbooks.

The only way to reap the benefits of a full-bodied packed journal from cover-to-cover is to “JUST DO IT”. It is to just get started. Jump in. Make a decision to create with the most simple of tools; a pen or a pencil, and your journal.


The approach is the same for anyone passionate about wanting to learn a sport, a musical instrument, a new craft. It’s not enough to be surrounded by the “how-to” books and magazines and just read more, hoping the colorful fairy of inspiration, “Arte Musa”, has the strength to hold the covers open from the ever so powerful, black and white critic-creature names “Critica”, who slams the covers shut on blank pages.

Critica will perch on your left shoulder and will try to hang onto every last thread on your shirt to control the thoughts and freedom that possess Arte Musa. It will analyze, edit, and systematically keep track of order and time as it tries to swat the fluttering Arte Musa who imaginatively creates unconscious truth with willing abandonment.


Having a journal filled with wonderful sketches, paintings and writing styles that reflect the spirit of the page, perfect color combinations, unforgettable writing ability, and creative page design is the wishful thinking process that takes place every time the journal cover is opened. With those expectations, it’s easier to hold onto the blank journal hoping that enough workshops are taken and more books are read to deliver some mastery to the pages.

Your journal is a process. It is a journey of your experiences. Look at the covers of your journal; they open and close like curtains or doors. When they are closed, they will keep your safe. Trust yourself and write for yourself, not with the idea that someone will read your words.journwkshophandout1


After acquiring all the right tools, there must be ACTION. Shift your focus: instead of focusing on the paper and the fear of making a mistake, focus on what you want to record. When inspiration strikes, run, quick–write it down, however fragmented. You can come back to develop that entry at a later date; in the meantime it is there to percolate–fleeting moment not lost.

If you have scribbled out a concept on the back of an envelope, cut it out and paste it in your journal. Don’t spend the extra energy to re-write it nicely, because you will have convinced yourself that you will make the time to do something wonderful later. Paste in all the articles that inspire you and cartoons that crack you up,and sketch like crazy whenever you can, whatever is in front of you of interest. Someday, in the midst of your pages you will see a collection of your person emerge. You have collected the thoughts and imagery that have meaning to you.


The “Everything” journal packs it all in. It is a place to inspire, design, compose, record the lists in your head, your hopes, goals, disappointments and life sketches. It acts as a dream-catcher and provides a place to express a feeling or description of where you are at that moment in your experience. It could also be a scrapbook for artful techniques.


The more you write, the better you get at it. The more you paint, sketch, paste, collage on your pages, the easier it gets. You may decide that one journal is not enough and learn that several can be freeing and actually make life easier. Your art muse loves the complexities and melting pot of everything in one journal. And your logical, reasonable voice may convince you to have seperate journals for trips, workshops, personal writings and watercolor sketches.

A smaller journal tucked into your everyday bag is ready to record any fleeting note or inspiration. And a journal at home with larger pages allow you more surface area to explore creative ideas fully.


Eventually, the act of opening journal covers to create art or record an experience will become second-nature. Ideas and marks become intuitive and play is less censored, creativity can flourish. Allow your imagination to be exercised. Cultivate and embrace creative play, conscious that you are being “in the moment”. Embrace mistakes; it is how we grow and learn.


It is not necessary to be in the ambience of a dream workspace or wait for a view of majestic mountains. Look around you and be inspired, you are surrounded with subject matter. Allow yourself to be a student of Nature. Time you spend nourishing your art fills your spirit and makes you happy, know that time is sacred.


When you are looking for excuses because today the sun did not come out, you can’t find the right pen, you only have half an hour; Pick up a tool and write anyway, paint anyway, draw anyway, create anyway. Because, you see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and them; your muse, your Spirit Guide and the Diviine One who know and sit at the four corners of the earth shouting down, “JUST DO IT, ANYWAY”.