Uncommon Handbound Books by Cindy Leaders

My Critic from Journal Spilling

Monday, April 26, 2010

I've been looking at the page that contains this exercise for a while. It's just been open on my desk. I finally decided to tackle it tonight, and the only thing I had in my mind was a magnifying glass. I so over-scrutinize, over-analyze and parse my work. It's exhausting. My critic got a name in the process: Scrooge. Tight-fisted, nose-to-the-grindstone, stingy, miserly Scrooge. The balance came in as I thought about how I measure myself against "better" artists. I'd love to say I thought of the verse in Daniel about the writing on the wall, but it was "A Knight's Tale" that brought the line to my mind: "You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting." Painful words I have spoken to myself regularly.

So here's what I have to say to Mr. Scrooge: Dude, lighten up! It's just art.


Lessons from Walkies

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I developed a wonderful habit of walking a few years ago, and learned to really enjoy it. Missing a morning made me sad. But then we went on a 3-1/2 week vacation, and I completely lost the habit and have never picked it back up. I went yesterday for the first time in ages and had such a nice time! My weimaraner, Griffin, got to go along this time, but I don't think he enjoyed it much. My two short little legs just don't set a pace his four legs can adjust to. I got some excellent insight into myself from watching him though and enjoyed journaling about it when we got home.


Wordless Wednesday - Goldfinches

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Art Journal Page: Your Inner Critic Part 1

Monday, April 12, 2010

Continuing through "Journal Spilling," the next few exercises involve "Taming the Critic." It's an old cliche that we are often our worst critic. We analyze our work in excruciating detail and stamp it "Not Good Enough" compared with some vague and indeterminate vision that we alone possess of what it "should" be. While we'd never dream of judging someone else's work by that same ethereal standard, we discount our own without prejudice.

Since I am a great lover of words, I did a little study of "criticism" and related words. We generally think of the first meaning: judging harshly or finding fault. But it also has an evaluative meaning as in simply making an assessment. A critic evaluates and issues criticism, which can be negative or positive, as in "critical acclaim." Another interesting word from the same Greek root is "criterion" which is the standard by which something is judged. When a critic evaluates, he is measuring against criteria, broad or narrow, specific or general, for success.

It's really not possible to "silence the inner critic" as some suggest. We will always evaluate our own efforts, and we should! Without reflection on our work, we will never have the insights needed to learn and grow.

What we can change is the criteria against which our inner critic judges. If my standard for success is to create, learn and enjoy the process, then I only fail if I don't create, don't learn or don't enjoy.


Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For more Wordless Wednesday, look here.


Open Door Tryptych Book

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I took a class a couple of years ago and learned to make this unique book. It makes a great statement displayed open, so it's perfect for a special art journal, scrapbook or wedding guest book. I've had couples use one side as a guest book and the other for candid photos from the wedding. The coptic binding allows it to lay completely flat for signing, painting or journaling.

I've been snatching up all the pretty books I could find with identical front and back covers just for the purpose. Old Readers' Digest Condensed Books work well. Not the waxy ones from the 80's but older. Anyway, I've finally gotten on a roll and made a few that I wanted to share.

The trick to making these is getting the angles in both the covers and the paper to match perfectly. If you have a paper trimmer sturdy enough to cut binder's board, I've discovered a method that gets it right every time. I started by marking the angle I wanted on one cover and carefully cutting it on the band saw leftover from my woodworking days. The little triangle you remove becomes the key to getting all the other angles right. I couldn't begin to give you step by step instructions for the rest of the procedure, but a picture is worth 1000 words . . .

The only trick is marking the height of the spines from your first cut on the other front cover piece and adjusting the paper guide on your cutter so that it lines up to cut the right height. Once that adjustment is made, the back cover is a cinch. Prepare and fold the signatures, then cut them the same way, reducing the height by about 3/16 with one further adjustment of the paper guide.


More Journal Spilling

Monday, April 5, 2010

I was so happy that Journal Spilling author Diana Trout found my little blog and commented on a couple of posts! Be sure to spend some time at her Hub Bub blog. She's got some great video tutorials and wonderful encouragement for art journalers and artists. Thanks, Diana!

Last week, I created some background with a few different techniques she suggests. The first is just to make a page NOT WHITE! I started with some marbled paper scraps and just slapped on paint. The second was alcohol spatter and the third salt sprinkled on wet watercolor paint, a look I've always liked. Here are just tiny pictures of all three methods:

Here's another page that didn't specifically come out of an exercise in the book but ended up being fun. I was thinking about what it means to be disciplined and diligent, common themes for me these days. I'm a competent, rational adult, but there are a few areas of my life (diet, exercise and time management) that I seem to continually struggle with being disciplined in. I was thinking about what it takes to actually make a change. As I painted the background, I noticed a figure emerge. I sketched it out, and the rest grew from there: