Plan With Me: January 2018

Hi! Welcome to my January 2018 Bullet Journal Setup video where I show you how my December insert turned out and talk you through my monthly spreads and trackers for January. I also talk about how I’m shaking up my planning/notebook/sketchbook/journaling system and moving from travelers notebook inserts back into a Leuchtturm 1917 for Bullet Journaling. If you’re looking for ideas on how to plan for wellness or recovery from mental illness, then you might find it helpful. Thanks for watching!

A is for Acrylics

Hello again and welcome to our second A is for post. Today’s A is for acrylics.

First of all, I feel obliged to say that, while I’ve done several courses on watercolours, I’ve never done a course on acrylics, so everything I know I’ve picked up from watching Youtube or experimenting myself.

I like to use acrylics sparingly in my journaling – to create interest, accents and finishing touches. In the photo on the left, I’ve used acrylics on top of a watercolour background (created with Aquamarkers) to make the number 20 and the flowers at the bottom. Here’s how I did it:

Firstly, I chose three acrylic paints that I thought would work well with the background: a pink, a green and a light blue. I use Docrafts Artiste Acrylic Paints which are inexpensive crafters’ paints and do a brilliant job. They come in a wonderful range of colours and effects, and they’re not too heavy for the tomoe river paper I journal on. (And yes, that really is the insert from a box of chocolates you see before you. I use odd bits of plastic packaging as pallets for acrylic paint because they’re cost-free and it doesn’t matter if I let the paint dry on them – I was going to throw them away anyway!)

Secondly, I took my three colours and mixed them with some white acrylic paint to make them lighter, as I didn’t want them to stand out from the background too much.

Next, I took a cheap brush and painted on the date in pink. These acrylics are not particularly opaque so you can still see the background through them. If I’d wanted to hide the background, I could have applied another coat once the first one was dry, but I was happy with it the way it was.

Finally, I used the acrylic paints to make a bunch of circles on the other page. Once the paint was dry, I took a fineliner and drew on some swirls and stalks to create a field of whimsical flowers. I also decorated the date with swirls to give the numbers more impact.

Another thing you can do with acrylics is apply them through stencils, by stippling them using a brush with only a little paint on it – otherwise known as dry brushing. You can also scrape them across the page using any kind of spreading implement, such as a pallet knife or even an old credit/giftcard.

One thing to consider when using acrylics, is will the pen that you write with, write over them? It’s probably worth testing it out on a spare piece of paper before committing it to a spread.

This is just one way to use acrylics in your artful journaling. Do you use acrylics like this? What other effects have you achieved with them?

See you in the comments!

A to Z Master List

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 21: Stop Doing

For the whole of January, I’m going to stop eating chocolate, crisps, cakes, pastries and ice cream. I’m doing this because I know these are my problem areas when it comes to food. Not eating them for one month will help get 2018 off to a good start. Once February rolls around, I’ll add them back into my diet in healthy amounts.

I remember watching a documentary on the diet industry a long time ago, and one of its weight-loss gurus said that, ‘a calorie not tasted is a calorie wasted.’ Now, I’m not into counting calories, but I get the point. If I’m going to treat myself with things like chocolate, I think I should take the time to enjoy them and not just shovel them down my throat as I’m prone do. I want to be mindful about what I eat, and mindful while I eat.

The reason I’ve put on so much weight this year is partly because I’ve been focusing on my mental health, partly because the medication I’m on increases appetite, partly because I love food, and partly because I’m a comfort eater. I know I need to examine all these aspects of my ‘relationship’ with food, while still eating food every day and going about my normal life – there’ll be birthday parties and summer barbecues and meals out to navigate – but I’m feeling positive right now. I have all the tools I need. I’ve educated myself on healthy eating. I have the support of my GP, family and friends. I have the time and space to think and cook. My bullet journal, habit tracking and hazard planning will help me too.

I know why I should lose weight. I know how I can lose weight. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. I’m not going to say that this time, I’m going to keep the weight off for good, but any weight-loss is going to benefit my physical and mental health, so I’m going to take it one day at a time, one meal at a time, one bite at a time.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

A is for Aquamarkers

Hello and welcome! Today we kick off The A – Z of Artful Journaling proper with A is for Aquamarkers.

In the previous post, we looked at using watercolour paint to create beautiful backgrounds on which to journal. Letraset Aquamarkers also work really well for this.

The advantages of Letraset Aquamarkers are that they’re water-based, light-fast, acid free and easy to transport. The disadvantage is that Letraset no longer makes them, but there is good news: Winsor & Newton have picked up the baton. Their version is called the Pigment Marker.

So, how do you use them?

Start by scribbling some of the ink onto your palette. (A ceramic palette works well for this, as it stops the ink beading and doesn’t stain.) Use the big brush tip as this will lay down colour better than the smaller bullet tip. Do this with all the colours you’ve chosen. Add some water to each colour. You can use your brush to plop it on, or you can use a spray bottle.

Next, pick up some clean water with your brush and spread it onto your journal page in the places you want the colour to go. You could also spray water on. Now, with a clean brush, pick up your colours one at a time, and dob them about on the page until you’re happy. You can either leave it to dry, or use a hairdryer or heat tool.

To add a bit of texture and interest to the page, you can splatter on colour. Pick up one of your colours with your brush, then tap it sharply against another brush so that the splatters fall onto the paper. You can tap it against your finger, but this can be painful! Go ahead and dry it again.

Another advantage of Aquamarkers is that they have a small bullet nib on one end. You can use this for drawing or making marks. One of the great things about this is that, by default, your doodles and marks will be in the same colour family as your background. If you like, you can then soften or blend your doodles by going over them with a watery brush, as they’ll re-dissolve when they come into contact with water again.

So there you have it: how to use Aquamarkers to create lovely soft backgrounds for your journaling.

In the next post we’ll be looking at another A: Acrylics.

Now it’s over to you. Have you used Aquamarkers before? Have you achieved this look with other markers? Let’s chat in the comments.

Bye for now!

A to Z Master List

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 20: Keep Doing

This one is really simple: I’m going to keep doing all the things contribute to my wellness and resilience, and I’m going to use my bullet journal to keep track of my good habits and to help me overcome my bad habits.

One of the things I’ve found invaluable over the last few months is creating a monthly hazard plan. Toward the end of each month, I look forward at the next month and identify events and issues that are likely to cause me stress or anxiety. After I’ve spotted these obstacles, I jot down some ideas of things that will help me prepare for and cope with them. This might be simply chatting things through with my husband, or maybe doing some research on a particular subject. I might even reschedule events or add in some recovery time.

The A – Z of Artful Journaling: Background Basics

Grab your kit! It’s time to lay down some colour!

One of the easiest and most beautiful ways of decorating your journal pages is to simply splash watercolour around. I’ve been watercolouring for a few years now, but I only got into using it in my journals after watching Ali Brown’s YouTube videos in which she ‘plops’ watercolour onto the page. If you like to learn by watching demonstrations, then you should definitely check her out. You can also take a look at my artful journaling playlist on Youtube.

So, your basic kit is:

  • paper
  • paints
  • a brush
  • two water jars and
  • a pallette

Now, lets mix up some paint. We’ll talk about colour choice in a future post, but for now, just pick two or three colours that lift your spirits. I love brights, so I’ve gone for an orange, a red and a shocking pink.

Use your brush to plop a couple of pools of clean water in each well of your palette, then pick up some paint with a clean brush and mix it with the water. It’s worth noting, that for watercolours to do what watercolours do best, they need lots of water to play in. As a general rule, they want to be runny and watery, not thick and creamy.

Next, clean your brush in your ‘dirty’ pot then pick up some clean water from your ‘clean’ pot. Spread this about on your journal page in the areas you want the colours to be. Remember, watercolours love lots of water to play in!



Your brush should still be clean at this point, so go ahead and dip it into one of the colours on your pallet then brush it on your page. The paint will run to wherever there is water. If there are dry areas that you want to be coloured, just pick up some more paint and spread it around. Be gentle. You don’t have to scrub at the paper. The watercolours will do most of the work for you.

It’s a good idea to start with your lightest colour and then add darker colours later because it’s harder to lighten an area of colour than it is to darken it.

You don’t need to dry the paint between adding each colour. In fact, you want the paint on the paper to stay wet until you’ve finished the adding process. This way the colours will mix on the paper and give you some lovely new hues.

When you’re happy with your page, you can leave it to dry, or you can dry it with a heat tool or hairdryer. The advantage of leaving it to dry is that the paint will dry in the pattern it’s currently in. The disadvantage is that it can take a long time, and it might bleed through even the most robust of papers. The advantage of using heat is that it is quicker, but you have to be careful not to blow the paint around too much. Deep pools will shoot across the page and leave painty trails – of couse, if this is the effect you want, then really go for it! I often do.

So, there you have it: how to lay down a basic background using watercolour paints. Over the course of this series, I’ll be showing you other kinds of media and techniques that you can use to add colour to your page, plus the myriad things you can layer on top to add interest and texture. We’ll also talk about writing the words too.

So, have you tried this method before? What paints and paper do you use?

Thanks for reading. See you next time!

Artful Journaling Blog Post Master List

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 19: Start Doing

As I’ve said before, I’m going to focus on my physical health in 2018. January’s Word of the Month is going to be move, so I’ve decided to take part in Janathon, a challenge to do some form of physical exercise every day for the whole month. My form of physical exercise will be walking. I’ll start with short walks, probably just around the block, and try to gradually increase the length and intensity. I’m hoping this will help ease my back pain as well as my improve my general physical and mental health. A journey of a thousand miles, and all that …

I don’t think I’ll blog about it, but I’ll post snippets of my daily efforts to my Instagram story for those who are interested.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

The A – Z of Artful Journaling: The Kit

If you’ve read my introduction to this blog series, you’ll know what artful journaling is and a little of how it’s helping me recover from mental illness. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here. For those who haven’t read it and don’t want to, here’s the gist of it:

Artful jounaling is about writing as you would in a diary, while also artfully decorating the pages of your journal, either before or after writing, with all sorts of media and … well … stuff.

In this series, I’m going to use the alphabet to take you through how I artfully journal, what I’ve learned about it, who I’ve learned it from, and how it’s helped me find wellness and develop mental and emotional resilience. My hope is that you will, if you haven’t already, catch the artful journaling bug, and if you have already caught it, I hope that you find some of my ‘how to’ posts helpful and that you’ll share some of your wisdom in the comments.

So, without further ado: the kit …

All you really need for artful journaling is a notebook and something to write with because you can decorate the pages simply by doodling on them. However, a big part of the enjoyment for me is splashing colour on the page – I love bright colours; they lift my spirits and give me a feeling of hope and joy – so I would recommend investing in a decent set of watercolour paints and a good brush.

What do I mean by a ‘decent’ set of watercolour paints and a ‘good’ brush? Well, I’ve done a few in-person watercolour courses with local artists and they’ve all said the same thing:

Buy the best paints you can afford, and buy the best brushes you can afford because with art materials you really do get what you pay for.

Their reasoning is that if you use cheap paints and brushes you won’t be able to achieve the effects you’re after, and you’ll become disheartened and give up before you’ve really started.

My experience definitely tallies with this. I started out with cheap watercolours, and they just didn’t flow and blend on the page as I’d hoped they would, so I upgraded to Winsor and Newton Cotman paints (their student-grade brand) and these were much better and not too expensive. I’m now in the process of upgrading again to their professional range, which is a lot more expensive, but boy, are these paints stunning – they explode onto the page like fireworks! I also have a set of Jane Davenport watercolours and a set of Prima Marketing watercolours. These too are good for artful journaling and are not particularly expensive.

Another disadvantage of cheap watercolour paints is that they often contain a lot of filler, which gives them a chalky feel on the page once dry. I don’t like this feel when I’m writing, but this might not bother you. It’s something to take into consideration though.

With brushes, my experience differs a little from my tutors’ advice. I use a range of brushes from ‘cheap as chips’ to ‘mediumly expensive’ because I’ve found that different brushes are good for different techniques, but I’ll come onto that later in the series. Unlike with paints, I think it is a good idea to start with inexpensive brushes and work your way up until you find what suits you.

Paper is the other thing to think about – more detail on this later too – but, briefly, if you want to use wet media like watercolour paint, you’re going to want a paper that doesn’t fall apart when wet and that doesn’t soak up the wetness too fast or let it bleed through to the other side. A favourite amongst artful journalers and fountain pen enthusiasts is Tomoe River Paper. It’s thin, doesn’t fall apart when wet, takes watercolour beautifully and has a very satisfying crinkle once dry, but … and this is a BIG BUT … it’s expensive. My advice would be, as with paints, buy the best paper that you can afford – maybe test out a few brands by picking up notebooks in the sales or buy paper loose, and make some journals yourself.

There are other things you’ll find useful to have on hand: a ceramic mixing palette (an old white plate will do fine), two water pots (one for cleaning your dirty brush, and one for picking up clean water with your clean brush), paper towel or old rags, baby wipes and a heat gun or hairdryer. There are lots of other things you can use to add colour, texture and interest to your pages, but we’ll come to those as we work through the alphabet.

Of course, you’ll need something to do your journaling with. This can be any writing implement: a pencil, a ball-point pen, a fineliner, a gel pen, a fountain pen – whatever takes your fancy.

So, there you have it … that’s the basic kit … If you’d like to be notified when I post the next part of this series, you can subscribe via the menu up the top on the right hand side.

Now, it’s your turn. Are you an artful journaler? What media do you use to decorate your pages?

See you on my next post: The A – Z of Artful Journaling: Background Basics.

Thanks for reading!

Artful Journaling Blog Post Master List

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 18: Word for 2018

I don’t like to think about things like this in terms of a whole year. It’s too big a span of time for me. I think it’s because I need the pressure of deadlines to focus my attention. Deadlines spur my brain into action. They’re the boundaries that my creativity flexes its muscles against. So with that in mind, I’m going to have a word just for January – and then I’ll think of one for February.

January’s word is going to be MOVE.

I want to move my body more and move my recovery still further.

(Image credit: Pixabay)