Book Review: Creative Girl – Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life

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This article is written by  Teresa Abajo

Hello! Teresa Abajo here and I will be reviewing Danielle Donaldson’s book Creative Girl – Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life. It was published in 2015 by North Light Books, who bring us a number of other wonderful art related titles.

book review

Danielle Donaldson is a graphic designer and has focused her artistic efforts on watercolour and graphite drawing techniques. Her work is wonderfully colourful, with lots of details she adds with pencils and markers.
The introduction invites us to discover our very own creative happy place by organising our time, personalising the process, creating stashes and sorting supplies. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on staying active creatively – never on productivity or creating to a particular standard.

We start (as many art books do) with a list of all of the supplies Danielle uses to create. I’m happy to say there aren’t too many specialised materials required. In fact, you’ll likely find you already own most items, or can substitute with the brand you already use. There are many household items she uses too – things like glass jars, salt, pins and old books.

book review

In the first chapter, Danielle talks about where much of her crafting takes place – on her couch surrounded by distractions I for one would find too much to bear! She puts together handy little stash stations containing creative tools and materials and she indulges in small snippets of creative time throughout the day. Again, the emphasis is on crafting often, rather than crafting for long periods of time. I found I could very much relate to that – I certainly find it easier to steal moments from my day rather that schedule a huge block of time for crafting. Organisation is key, and Danielle explains how she uses and collates Inspiration Folders.

The next couple of chapters focus on watercolour specific techniques and contain lots of ideas for mini projects and art exercises.
In Chapter 5 Danielle covers developing your own signature style – putting ‘you’ into your art work. She walks us through the creation of various girl figures in very simple, well photographed steps. Here’s where I am with these lessons:

book review

The next part of the book gives us lots of examples of “hot mess solutions” or how Danielle fixes components of her work with which she isn’t happy. Cover ups, work arounds, walk aways, let it go – simple self explanatory terminology.
The last part of the book has a beautiful gallery of Danielle’s work. Now that I’ve read her book I feel inspired to deconstruct a piece and have a go at replicating the components that appeal to me.

Creative Girl – Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life is part drawing and watercolour play manual and part realistic guide for those of use wanting to inject a little more art into our daily lives. It’s a beautifully presented book, written in simple and encouraging language and I’m sure you’ll be as thrilled as I was to add it to your craft library.

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Crafting through Crisis with a Creativity-in-Case-of-Crisis Kit

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This article is written by Ann Strecko Koeman

Artists are human and not immune to facing challenges and crisis in their lives that can range from health, financial, family, work and a myriad of other difficulties. Sometimes it is through these challenges that great works arise and there are times when a crisis just overwhelms and consumes every ounce of energy we have. How to survive and how to even thrive as an artist through all of life’s ups and downs takes persistence, perseverance and I believe preparedness.

crafting through a crisis

One idea is to have portable crafting or art making kits ready to go at a moments notice. We may already have emergency preparedness kits to survive 72 hours in the case of a natural disaster, or we may have an emergency kit with a spare tire in our cars in case of a roadside emergency, so why not have a Creativity-in-Case-of-Crisis Kit?

As a mother I used to haul around a diaper bag filled with everything I would need when I was out and about with my babies. As they grew I made them their own portable activity bags to keep them occupied. I learned that I too needed to have my own activity bag to keep me busy as I eventually had to be the one waiting around for my kids during their own obligations. Having to spend great amounts of times in Doctor’s waiting rooms, and hospitals with my children for their needs and then my own health problems made it so a lot of time was being lost. By having a small project bag to keep my thoughts preoccupied for sure made the time go by faster but also alleviated any stress I was feeling.

crafting through a crisis

Some kit ideas I have and use are small sewing projects. For example, in a small baggie I have a dozen pre- cut fabric circles, and a small sewing kit which consists of some thread and needles. I use any waiting time to sew up some fabric yo-yo’s that I later use as embellishments in my projects. The kit is one of the smallest I carry around very easily in my purse.

I always have pen and paper in my purse as well. I always need to jot something down anyways. But on days where I know I will have to wait a little longer I bring a very small sketch book and a couple of pens or pencils. I find this down time to be good for writing article ideas or simply making a quick sketch. One time I found myself making Zentangles out of the patterns I saw in the floor pattern in the Hospital waiting room.

Then I was inspired by the ceiling tiles as I lay on a gurney in an observation room and awaited for test results! Sometimes it is the conversations going on around me that give me inspiration for an interesting quote to use in my art journal when I get home, in the meantime I jot it down in my little journal.

crafting through a crisis

In my own experience I have found that in times of great stress that even though I felt that I had no energy or time to spend on a creative project it is exactly what I ended to do to get me through this challenge. By forcing myself to just even scribble on a piece of paper almost instantly switches gears in my brains and for a very brief moment the fact that I am thinking of something positive like sketching relieves a tiny bit of stress from my mind and body, and that is a good thing.

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Ann is a Mixed Media Artist in Ottawa, Canada who enjoys many many types of crafts and art making. She spends way too much time in waiting rooms, but is grateful for small size sketch books and mechanical pencils.

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