Inspiration – Experiences Outside the Studio

gouache study of an apple
Gouache study of an apple done in my watercolor journal by hand*book journals. I bought it at Wet Paint in St. Paul, MN. I like the minimal tooth of the paper. It ripples a little from my heavy handed gouache application.

Monday night I tried something new. I went to a Visual Journal Collective meetup at MCBA (Minnesota Center for Book Arts). FYI, the next meetup is March 17. I went hoping to glean some insight on visual journaling. I got a LOT more. I was inspired.

Mary Jo Hoffman ( was the guest speaker. She shared quite a lot about her artistic journey thus far following the idea of

1 - do good work

2 - put it where people can see it

3 - earn a place at the table

(1&2 originally from Austin Kleon

Some insights in navigating the social media options. Plus books and resources that helped her on her way.

Most inspiring and my biggest takeaways are the following:
Making choices of making things that lend to simplification not complication of life.
I can use a visual journal as a place of INCUBATION.
I don't have to show it to anyone. There don't have to be perfect, finished pieces on every page. Heck, they could just be little doodles and scribbles.
Setting some restrictions on what goes in it could drive creativity instead of leaving it open-ended and getting stuck with the blank page. So I've thought up some themes based on things I like and aspects of my process I want to work on...

  • Pattern/Notan
  • Abstraction as foundation for image making
  • Rocks and other Natural objects
  • Landscape/Environment
  • Faces
  • Costumes
  • Gouache

Maybe I'll have multiple journals going at once. Maybe I'll just focus on one aspect at a time. The best thing about it is that I think this can be a place to ignore all but one rule/theme. I feel like that will take a lot of pressure of having to make something "good" and doing it "the right way". I'll get to make my own way and hopefully that will spill over into my more polished works.

Big thanks to Roz Stendal for telling me about this event. You might enjoy her blog . Lots of great information and insights! Plus she has written up a thorough review of the meetup. Check it out.

One thought on “Inspiration – Experiences Outside the Studio

  1. Hi Christine,
    What a day brightener it was to read this post! Thank You! I am so glad I could be an inspiration. It's a very thoughtful write-up and I love how you took the classroom experience and then made it relevant and personal--very cool.
    I am looking forward to crawling through your blog for the next 20 minutes. The opening image of the apple is a great teaser :-)
    Mary Jo

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