Drawing from Imagination at MCBA Visual Journal Collective’s May 2014 Meeting

May 26, 2014


Above: My final journal spread from last Monday's meeting. I worked on the page an additional 30 minutes at home, to finish it. And in the process it changed in a lot of ways. For people trying to read the found text it says: I think the whole thing is perfectly outrageous!" "I agree with you," said Furniss. "It is, perfectly outrageous. And somebody is going to hang for it." Then at the bottom right, "And the curtain comes down for the last time." The dogtag reads: Hi, I'm Furniss." The labels on the framed art should be readable from the enlargement.

If you live locally and aren't coming to MCBA's Visual Journal Collective you are missing out on a lot of fun. Monday, May 19th we met to sketch from imagination, inspired by text. Suzanne Hughes, who coordinates the group, started us off with some possible approaches to either work from a piece of text, to incorporate text, to in other words, have fun with text and images in anyway we wanted—as long as we were drawing from our imagination.

Gasp, I rarely do that. But I'm game to jump into it with the rest of this group. And that's what we did. You can see stunning photographs of the people and what we did at Briana Goetzen's blog; she has also commented on how the meeting went.

In the first two images of Briana's post you'll see my not yet finished page spread. It's recognizable, but you'll see immediately when you compare it to the finished spread in today's opening image, that I've changed a lot of things. Reading Briana's post you'll also see I wasn't the only one who didn't finish on the night. But that's to be expected because we were after all there to have fun, try new things, chat, and LAUGH.

I came home so energized by the meeting that I decided I wanted to finish my spread that evening while I still felt that energy. I began by fixing all the frames very quickly. I added a neck shadow to my female. (That hairstyle by the way is inspired by all the tattoo shows I've been watching where someone always has a relaxed Mohawk.) I added a pattern to her blouse. Finally stuck down the last tag line of "found text" I was using (I showed that to people at the meeting so I felt I had to include it).

And then I looked at that dog and he just didn't look right so I painted him over with more gouache. (I LOVE GOUACHE.) Now that he's blue I like the way he looks with that woman. And then I added his dogtag and collar so that there would be more of a connection between the figures and the text I'd used. (His name is Furniss.)

I still didn't feel like going to bed and I wanted more connection so I made the empty frame and labeled all the frames, and doodled the beadboard backing on the bottom half of the wall.


Above: The spread pretty much the way I started with it, except there were no pencil sketches (orange) and no copper foil and text. I decided that this text would work well with this gallery of pre-stamped images. The color top and bottom of the page is Montana Marker. Once at the meeting I picked my page spread, my text, and then started drawing in orange pencil. When I work from imagination I often like to work with orange pencil. I can fiddle around more and find a path and then restate things later without getting heavy ink lines.

I should explain that I started with a pre-painted background, otherwise I wouldn't have managed to get along as far as I did in the meeting. I knew we were supposed to work with text and bring text from home so I had several pieces of text with me and I prepainted 3 spreads to have interesting backgrounds I could decide to use once we got our instructions from Suzanne. (One even used some stenciled letters as texture in the background—I'll have fun painting on that another day.) In the second image in today's post you can read more about the base I started on for this spread.


Left: Close up detail of orange pencil sketch.

In this last image you can see a close up of my sketch in orange pencil. I think the woman looks much more real here and less stylized. I lost that when I was painting. Partly I lost it because I was working quickly and talking as I was working, partly it was color choice. Things just evolve. I was after all working from my imagination. When we do that we get to have things whatever way they turn out because frankly it's all up to us! Who can say what's in our imagination.

One of the things I like most about this spread is the young woman's bangs. The puddle of paint formed perfectly there while I was distracted by conversations!

And I'm inordinately fond of her crazy Japanese print cardigan.

I took very few supplies with me to the meeting. A blue and an orange colored pencil to sketch with. The journal with the three pre-painted backgrounds. A pile of cut up, found text to choose from, a small palette on which I'd put out 6 colors of gouache, and a couple scraps of collage paper.

I used my brush pen to make facial details at the meeting and that's where I got into trouble. I got into the weeds with the eyes on my woman and no way to get the paper dry enough in time for me to build the eyes back with gouache. So I blotted everything out and asked Briana, who was sitting next to me if she had any magazines on hand with models in ads. She handed me a magazine and right away I found an ad with two eyes that were slightly larger than my scale and because of that perfect. So I cut them out and glued them down and worked the face colors around them. Working on a deadline forces us to make some interesting decisions.

At home after the meeting I just still had the desire to fiddle with media more and that translated into the changes I've already written about. Since I was home I had various markers I like to use and grabbing one or the other led me to make decisions about what I wanted to do with them.

I know I'll always prefer working from life when I sketch, but it isn't painful to work from imagination. I hope you'll give it a try sometime.

And I hope you'll join us at the MCBA VIsual Journal Collective sometime!


In fact, here's a heads up. I'll be in charge again June 16 (Suzanne is going to be sketching in Italy and we are all eagerly awaiting her return with wonderful journal sketches). The topic for June 16 is "Summer Reading."

We hold this meeting every year so that members can share which books they are reading (related to art, journaling, painting media and methods, etc.) and show examples of their journal art inspired by that reading.

I used to put up a list of titles brought in by everyone, but last year I filmed the whole thing and that went so well we're doing that again! 

So if you would like to join us next month please do. And please bring 3 (three) books that are art, journaling, painting, creativity, etc. related that have inspired you. Have 3 or so sentences to say about each book, and if possible a piece of your journal art that each inspired. Plan to speak for 2 to 3 minutes. I'll tape it all and put it up on YouTube so that you can review it for titles etc, but also so that other folks, not fortunate to have such a group, can join in the fun.

If you wonder what it will be like see Summer Reading from 2013.

If you're camera shy don't worry, you can lay the books out on the table and I'll shoot them while you talk off camera. I'm bossy but I'm not a bully. Besides you're with friends. It isn't like four billion people are going to watch this—the world is too busy watching silly cat videos.

But we know better. And we like to share. Come and be part of something fun. (The group is free and open to all adult journal keepers, regardless of skill level or approach used.)


I was so busy this past week I didn't finish putting all the wrap-ups for International Fake Journal Month up at that blog. I'll be doing more of those this week. So be sure to check back there and see what's been going on tomorrow and later this week.  

  1. Reply

    Roz, your enthusiasm for art is contagious. Love your imagination work, especially Furniss. It is helpful to read about your process. Thanks.

  2. Reply

    Thanks Leah, I do love sketching, and I do love encouraging people to sketch and paint because it’s so darn fun!

    I’ve been doing more stuff from imagination which will come up in a future post—stranger still. We’ll see.

    Glad the process notes are helpful. I hoped they would be.

  3. Reply

    Wonderful spread Roz! The pink background really makes the orange and blue pop! I love that you used magazine eyes, makes me a bit more confident to try an imagination sketch…

    • Dana
    • May 28, 2014

    Roz, it was fun to see your beginning pages, flip to Briana’s post to see the interim work and then come back here to catch how you changed up Furniss and added the beadboard!
    (the autocorrect is having fits with both “Furnish” and “breadboard”… sigh.)

    Can’t wait to see what oddities your imagination has for us!

  4. Reply

    Yes, Ulla, use whatever you have at hand. I worked myself into a corner with paper that wasn’t going to accept anything else. But I’ve added magazine eyes to my collages before so why not add them to our sketches. Have fun, Add noses you cut out, mouths, whatever. I used a 19th century tattooed hand engraving once for the hands on a sketch, because I didn’t want to take time to sketch hands. Just have some fun.

  5. Reply

    Dana, I’m really glad Briana took photos because I came home, put some things away and then decided to get to work on the spread without taking a photo. So I’d have no record, and I think it’s fun to have a record of the various stages of things.

    I’ve got some more oddities coming up probably next week. I just started a new journal with lined paper and I have got a little crazy in it!

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