Journal Fresh: Caiti Santa Maria

An Art Journal Q&A by Dawn Sokol

This month, Dawn interviews Caiti Santa Maria, an artist from Oak Park, Illinois.

Why do you art journal?

I art journal to both find myself and get lost. My art journals allow me to process the many thoughts flowing from my ever-overworking brain, but I also find them to be wonderful places to let loose and not worry about the results. Art journaling has been a wonderful teacher for getting over my self-consciousness and apprehension when it comes to creativity. It’s also been both a therapist and a friend through what I refer to as my “quarter-life crisis.”

I’m not quite as diligent about using my journals to document special moments or my travels (I tend to use my blog for that purpose) but I’d love to start to record those types of moments in my art journals in the future.


What inspired you to start art journaling?

In high school, I read an article in a teen magazine written and illustrated by Sabrina Ward Harrison, and I immediately sought out her books. Her honest, vulnerable words spoke deeply to me, so I started keeping paper journals and experimenting with blogging. But it wasn’t until I attended Squam Art Workshops in 2008 and took a class from Judy Wise that I really began to express myself through art journals. I also took an art journaling online class last year offered by Elsie Flannigan and Rachel Denbow called “Tell Your Story” that helped me make a regular practice out of journaling.


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

Other artists I admire:

Beyond these amazing women, I love taking time to browse Flickr for inspiration (especially looking at the favorite photos of my friends and contacts), read blogs and connect with nature. Attending Squam Art Workshops was also one of the most inspiring events I have ever attended; I’m now a huge believer in the power of creative retreats!


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

Don’t be afraid to try anything that strikes your fancy. And I mean anything—scribble, cut, pour, splash, drip, tear. Art journals are the perfect place to experiment without over-thinking or judgment.


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

First of all, sitting on the floor with my supplies spread around me is practically a requirement, as are some great tunes (such as Bon Iver, Zoe Keating or The National). I do most of my journaling in large sketchbooks with a heavier paper stock. After I gesso my page, I usually start with a bit of collage using found papers (receipts, old books, sheet music, postage stamps, etc.) that I adhere with gel matte medium. Then I use cheap fluid acrylic paints from the craft store. I have taken to smearing paint on my pages with my fingers; there’s something about actually touching the paint that connects me to the process. I use a water bottle or watered-down paint on a brush to make “drippies” on my pages. I usually finish the backgrounds with a lot of doodling and big loopy letters drawn with India ink. Sometimes I do a few backgrounds and then come back later to fill in with my journaling, and other times I will journal as soon as the paint is dry.


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

I don’t really discriminate when it comes to creative activities. In fact, I have a blog called “Life is a Canvas” for the purpose of exploring all the different ways we can be creative in our lives—from hands-on creative activities all the way to more subtle means such as the food we eat, how we interact with others, the intentions we hold, and how we present ourselves to the world. I’m on a constant quest to seek out creativity in whatever way it manifests itself.


Beyond art journaling, I also love photography, graphic design, crochet, interior decorating, vegetarian cooking and blogging. I’m also a budding yogini, which I find to be a fabulous way for me to connect with myself and, in turn, support and expand my creativity.

To visit Caiti’s blog, click here.

Follow Caiti on Twitter or Flickr.

Click here to follow Dawn Sokol on her blog.


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