Journal Fresh: Jenn Olson

An Art Journal Q&A by Dawn DeVries Sokol

This month, Dawn interviews Jenn Olson, an avid journaler residing in Moses Lake, Washington.

We begin Journal Fresh 2012 with a scrapper-turned-art-journaler. I love Jenn’s doodling and her use of color—as well as white space—on her pages. She has a great eye for composition and definitely has her own style.

I also liked what she had to say on her blog about art journaling (she’s not afraid to just be herself in her journal):

I think everyone has a different idea about what an art journal should be. For me, it’s a place to try new things (laser transfers), new colors, draw my odd, doodly little drawings and basically just think out loud. I like to put pretty little bits of pretty paper and fun tabs…lots of tape for texture. That’s just *my* style. I’m a rabid fan of those that can truly illustrate, truly paint, truly letter . . . but, for right now, just finding a little creative outlet that’s not pure scrapbooking is really working for me.

Without further ado . . . Jenn Olson

Why art journaling?

Well . . . that’s a tricky question! Why not art journaling? Truthfully, I’ve been a scrapbooker for many years—using that as my primary artistic outlet. While I still compile yearly “summary” books for my family, my kids are getting older and quite frankly, they don’t do as many cute things as they did when they were younger and spent the entire day with me! Without consistent scrapping, I needed another way to incorporate my love of paper, color, bits and bobs.

What inspired you to start art journaling?

I’ve been doodling since I could hold a pencil. My swirly gigs and sketched bits are basically just an ingrained habit. Maybe like how other people chew their nails? After throwing away a lot of paper, I thought to myself, “Self, why not put them all in a little journal and write about what you’re thinking?” And so that’s what I’ve been doing.

What art journalers are your faves? Other artists you look to for inspiration?

I’m consistently overwhelmed with the sheer number of talented people (flickr art journal groups astound me!!) and different mediums in which to express oneself. Art journalers in particular have such an openness. I love to be inspired by those that find new ways to show honesty—very rare in this digital age! I also love to be inspired by those that do a unique thing exceedingly well: lettering (Lori Vliegen), sketching (Andrea Joseph), stamp carving (Gertie Jaquet) and truly so many others that do things I really don’t (read can’t) do. Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, Alisa Burke, Abigail Halpin (an illustrator), Pam Garrison, Judy Wise, Cynthia Shaffer . . . are all frequent blog reads of mine.

What important bit of advice can you give to those wanting to start art journaling?

There is no right way to art journal, there’s no list of “must use” supplies. Grab a pen. Write something or draw something. You’ll find your style and that’s the whole reason to even start.

Tell us a little about your process. What mediums do you like to use?

My process . . . I’m laughing a little because I often wonder if I should be having more of a “process.” I start with a few blank pages, put a little gesso down, use some gel medium and maybe a few background papers (old book pages, old maps, old scrap paper). Let it dry and then I just take out my favorite pen (Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen) and just start drawing what I feel that particular day. Depending on my mood, I may paint a little acrylic paint across a page before I begin drawing. When I have some doodling done, I’ll go back and color over/in/around with a few different things—watercolors, watercolor pencils or even markers if I’m feeling especially bold. Sometimes, afterwards, or maybe even in the middle I’ll add in a tag or doily or something I find especially pretty that day. Always, for me, it’s more about the drawing than the words. Many times I’ll have five pages of drawing and when I have no drawing in me, I’ll go back and use words on the lines I usually incorporate. Very seldom will I start with a theme and build from that—those pages are usually more specific memory or kid-focused.

Do you also have other ways you like to create, and if so, what are they?

I am a rabid knitter (hee . . . maybe that should say avid?) I like to quilt, but love the finished-project-part of that more than the actual process. Lately, I’ve even been seen with an embroidery needle in my hand. I used to be passionate about photography, but now I wax and wane on the subject a bit.

You can learn more about Jenn by visiting her on her blog, Evolutions.

Dawn DeVries Sokol is the author of 1,000 Artist Journal Pages. Click here to follow Dawn on her blog.


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