Making a Gratitude Journal

Dear Liza,

I have found another sort of Journal to make! It is a Gratitude Journal, creating pages of collage and other media of things, places and people that bring me joy.

For the base of the book, I used a board book, like children use when they are little. It gives a nice sturdy work surface for collage. This one had this nifty format of short pages that get longer towards the back of the book, which made it even more interesting.

I decided to create one page for each of the types of things I am grateful for. That way, I would be thinking grateful thoughts on all the stages…. finding the papers, composing the page, and later, when I look at it. I looked through my boxes of magazine clippings and ephemera and started pulling pieces out!

From previous books, I have figured out to lay a napkin layer down (other folks use gesso) with Mod Podge to give the papers some grip on the page. I also wrapped the edge of each page with strips to keep them from peeling.

As always, there was lots of placing, moving, trimming, and talking to the pieces to get each page just right. I started with my adopted city of Portland. All my favorite places are there!

The next page was all about art. The art I have learned from Ruthie Inman and Auntie Bridgett Spicer, as well as stuff I make up on my own… it all makes my life richer.

The next page is all about travel, with clippings from magazines, maps, and language calendars.

Gardens are next, with my own veggie plot as well as public gardens that I love to visit. Just walking through a garden makes my world better.

The last, and largest page, is for the people in my life (of course Mouse counts as people!) Most of them are represented by images… can you guess who is who? On this page are also things I love doing with my people… cooking, doing crossword puzzles on the couch, walking, biking, and learning.

I love that when the book is closed, I can see what each page is about… all that gratitude at a glance!

And no, I haven’t decorated the front or back covers yet. I wanted to get this blog written for Friday, but didn’t want to have to hurry the art. I will show it to you when I get it finished.

I enjoyed making this book so much, I have already picked up another second hand board book. What should THIS one be about?


Grandma Judy

Changing Journals

Dear Liza,

I have fallen in love with keeping an Art Journal.
For a long time, I was intimidated by trying to do ART that was good enough for a BOOK.

But now I see it differently. It is a way to corral my art of a certain period, so I don’t end up with a floating cloud of sketches and color experiments. It also can show my growth as an artist, like we used to keep student portfolios… baby pictures growing to better pictures. (With a fair number of screw-ups in between, of course.)

When I retired, Krista Sabaska gave me a large format journal as a retirement gift. I started using it in 2021. It started out as an “Art with Liza” journal, for drawings we did together during our Zoom calls. You would give me a phrase and I would draw it. This one was “The Paranoid Android is surprised.”

As time went on, it became a place where I could put ideas for other projects. I made a bunch of sketches for Cousin Kestrel’s Christmas present in 2021, then stuck them in the Journal so I would have them all together.

I got more comfortable with making art in the Journal as my insecure ‘student’ brain got used to the fact that I was not going to be graded! It is MY book.
I used it for processing lots of ideas, like you moving to Denmark…

And me getting older, by keeping my birthday celebration alive in a collage.

And now, the inevitable has happened.
This friendly Journal with a year and a half of art in it … is full. But I can’t stop keeping an Art Journal! It is fun, gives me a place to doodle, and makes me brave by keeping my ideas safe from prying eyes.

Fortunately, Auntie Katie gave me this Journal years ago, and it has been waiting for me.

I knew I needed to do some collage in it right away, to break the ice and introduce myself. The first two pages are very much where my brain is…

And I think we are going to be friends.


Grandma Judy

Creating Postcards Part 2

Dear Liza,

I have been making postcards again! This is sort of a new thing for me, and I am not consistent about it. I will go weeks doing all sorts of other projects, and then make three or four in an afternoon.

For the base, I use those annoying junk mail postcards that sell everything from candidates to wheel alignment.

For the images, I use Portal magazine from the Portland Art Museum, Better Homes and Gardens, Via from AAA, and old magazines, postcards and greeting cards I pick up at garage sales and give away boxes. There are also bits from Ruthie Inman and daubs of acrylic paint.

I mix them together my weird brain and trim, paint and glue. Then I decide which friend is best suited to the card. Yes, I do have some weird friends.

The images can be cute or disturbing, artsy or just silly.

I’m glad that art lets me take the weird out of my head and send it to the ones I love!


Grandma Judy