A couple years ago I did the 365 Daily Journal Challenge and I loved it.
I chose to use the Moleskine 18 Month Daily Planner in SoftCover. It offered pre-dated pages and all I had to fill was one page each day. I figured it would give me just enough space to write without feeling overwhelming and intimidating.
After I completed the year I switched to a regular lined journal, but I found that without the daily pages I would let days slip by and then weeks and then months. I tried again last year but my journal turned into more of a daily planner/to-do list instead of a journal.
So this year I was determined to get my Moleskine and return to my daily journaling challenge. However, I waited until the last minute and couldn’t get a hold of the journal I was hoping to use and I knew a regular journal wouldn’t give me the discipline I needed…so I decided to design one myself.
Welcome to my 365 Daily Journal. I decided to leave the date line blank so it would be possible for anyone to start their 365-day challenge at any point in the year. Starting on January 1st isn’t necessary.
I am in love with this book. It’s 5.25″ x 8″ and just under 1″ thick. It’s soft-cover with a matte finish and features one of my graphic art girls on the cover. I’ve had family and friends request a few other cover styles so those are currently in the works. Once they are live I will let you all know. In the meantime, you can buy yours on Amazon.
Water-soluble graphite is a type of graphite that is soluble in water, which just means it can be dissolved. Now, regular old graphite can also be “spread” with water a bit, but the water-soluble graphite will actually dissolve and become ink-like when it’s wet. It can be moved and spread over a surface, much like watercolor paint. You can control how thick (dark) and thin (light) the wash becomes by how much water you add.
Water-soluble graphite comes in different grades of hardness the same way graphite pencils do. There are a couple different companies that make water-soluble graphite, but the one I enjoy the most is the Lyra Graphit-Kreide Water-Soluble Graphite Crayons.
My top tips for using water-soluble graphite:
Sketch with a light hand as these don’t erase well
Graphite can be layered to built up color
Once dried you can lift color with an eraser or with a wet brush the same way watercolor is removed
Graphite tends to dry flatter than watercolor
You can add additional layers when it’s still wet or once the previous layers dry. If you add graphite to a wet surface the area will be darker and the marks don’t blend out as much
Color a blank page and then add tons of water to make an easy background wash
Save your shards if you sharpen the crayons, these can create an liquid ink when added to water
Spray water to create great looking splatters (creating graphite blooms like watercolor)
Graphite can be blended with a blending stump
Dries down like a gritty graphite
Best when used with watercolor paper, canvas paper or mixed media paper (or add gesso to your page first)
How do other mediums react when layered on top of water-soluble graphite? Well, let me know you…
I created a flower and filled it with a graphite wash and let it dry. I then used a different medium in each petal and leaf to test how each would react to the graphite wash.
The Inktense, Watercolor, and Watercolor Pencils had the most reaction since I was adding water on top of the graphite, which when rewetted reactivated. If used with a light hand and be careful not to overwork, these mediums can be used well with the water-soluble graphite. Of all the ones I tried, I think my favorite had to be the soft pastels and pastels pencils. I think they played the nicest with the water-soluble graphite. The acrylic paint worked well also, but the graphite seemed to get lost beneath it.
After collecting vintage papers, newspapers, magazines, photographs, etc. for so many years I’ve decided it’s time to share these special papers so I’ve gathered and created ephemera packs of vintage paper. Visit my Etsy Shop to buy your own pack.
When I became frustrated that I couldn’t find a planner that worked for me I set out to create one. I’m a list maker and like the accomplished feeling when checking off a to-do item, so having a place to make a giant list was a must. But I also know that my lists can get a bit ambitious, so I added a place to note my top three priorities for the day.
How many times have you started a drawing challenge and stopped after a week, or halfway through the month when life got crazy? (hand raises)
In October I completed a 30-day drawing challenge. Even though I’ve done a few in the past, this one taught me a lot about myself. Like, I’m not a fan of drawing prompts. But that’s a conversation for another day.
As artists, we like to believe that we create art each day, but the reality is we wear many hats and some days we don’t actually create anything at all. Drawing challenges offer a way to reconnect to our creative selves and to experiment and push ourselves.
Set Specific Goal
Goals provide markers to measure against. Goals need to be achievable, measurable, and specific.
Pencil time into your day, even if just for 15 minutes. Having time set aside for this specific goal gives it a measure of importance.
Theme / Medium
There are endless opportunities for what you draw and what you draw with, so adding specific guidelines will give each drawing session a jumping-off point.
Without accountability, it’s easy to let your drawing sessions slip, especially when things get hectic. Whether you have a partner to keep you on task or you post to Instagram each day, having the expectations of others can offer a good pressure to deliver.
An example of my Drawing Challenge setup in October
Reacquaint myself with pencil, graphite, and charcoal
Sketch for 30 minutes min each day
Fill the 2-page spread in my sketchbook each day
Draw whatever inspired me in my surroundings – in other words, NO PROMPTS
To share the drawings each day on instragram
In the end, there were days that the drawings came easily and I had a blast. Other days I found it more challenging and I had to pull from deep inside to come up with anything. In the end, my success came from the above-mentioned 4 pillars.
There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with putting what’s going on within ourselves out for everyone to see. Neuroscience has even confirmed that creative people think and even act differently than an average person. But sometimes our own work enemy is ourselves.
As an artist and a writer I know first hand how easy it for me to undermine my own best intentions.
For some it may look like procrastination or that life is just “too busy”. For others they may come across as moody and difficult. Ultimately what’s happening is different sides of the same coin…self-sabotage.
There are 7 ways Creatives easily self-sabotage…
Putting others’ needs, wants, and schedules ahead of your own.
Holding onto unrealistic expectations for yourself or your work.
Stopping when things get hard…or boring.
Believing there is a “perfect” way.
Comparing yourself, or your efforts, to others.
Creating in a vacuum.
Not giving yourself the space you need.
Being aware of each of these is the first hurdle, but understanding that each one of these stems from FEAR. Fear is truly at the heart of putting others’ needs above our own, holding ourselves to a unrealistically high stand, stopping instead of pushing through, believing we or our work isn’t good enough, especially when compared to someone else, creating in secret or away from the support and constructive critiques of fellow Creatives and ultimately not giving ourselves the mental and physical space we need to feel all the feels.
Line art drawings are how I started my artistic journey. As a kid it’s all I drew, and then when I picked up art again as an adult, it was a safe place to begin. It was during the Zentangle craze so finding drawing tools were easy to come by and there were thousands of tutorials for line art doodles available online. I ended up creating fashion line art doodles that I shared on Pinterest and that’s how the editors at Walter Foster found me and asked me to be a part of their fashion tangling book.
Beginning with line art really is a good place to start!!
Line art is all about drawings done with fine lines that can vary in width and density. Doodle art is actually a really good way to practice your fine-liner skills. There are tons of examples on Pinterest, or you can pickup one of the wonderful books I was lucky to contribute too.
Micron pens are my favorite, but there are tons of pens available.
Any paper will do, but I prefer either white printer paper or Bristol paper, but it will depend if I’m adding any wet medium to the illustration. If so, I like to use a mixed media paper or watercolor paper.
Tips for Line Art Drawing
It’s not supposed to be perfect! The imperfections are what makes the drawing unique and special, so don’t worry if every line isn’t perfectly straight.
Look for the shapes and begin there. When looking at an object try to see the big overall shapes that make up the object. When you see an object for its shapes it’s easier to draw that.
Once you have the basic shapes down, you can add smaller textured lines (either hatch marks, dots, dashes or small, whispy lines). These will make those basic shapes take on dimension and form.
Keep layering these marks until you have the desired look.
Use zentangle/doodle marks to fill in the shapes as well.
You can keep your line art drawings just black and white or you can color them in with colored pencils, crayons, pastels, or add watercolor paint.
Here’s a Reel I made for Instagram. Here I’m using Procreate, a digital drawing app, but the line art tips apply digitally as well as on paper.