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Dandelion Wind 4 x 6 Monotype & Colored Pencil – Sold

The ideas I have for new watercolor paintings, woodcuts, monotypes, drypoints and tutorial videos are swelling to burst. I’ve got concepts piled high enough in my cranial attic to make a hoarder proud, and I can’t wait to get started. But it won’t be this week, or even next week, because other priorities need to be juggled. In the meantime, I’m writing it all down. I’ve almost filled a new notebook with a braintrust of ideas, concepts, colorways, narrative series, and methods. Do you scribble ideas as soon as they arrive?

A zinc plate, with black etching ink rolled evenly on the surface, ready for mark-making

Much of my life hums along efficiently in digital format – I spend a good part of the day on a computer. But when it comes to ideas, I find a pen and paper works best for documenting thoughts as they zoom by, and then fleshing out the details, offshoots, materials, and influences for that project. In my previous career, brainstorming on a grease board in a conference room with peers was a process I loved, so perhaps that’s where I learned the value of thinking on paper. Ideas are fleeting, and writing makes thoughts visual to me. I’m easily distracted by incoming data from social media, exhibits, audiobooks, conversations, etc. I’ve learned that I need to act fast and catch every idea I have on paper, or I’ll lose it. It’s like chasing fireflies in a field; there are so many of them, which should I pursue? 🙂

Removing ink (oil based Daniel Smith etching ink) from the plate (with a rolled paper blending stomp) to make a girl blowing dandelion seeds, morphing to birds in the tree branches.

My notebooks become a leather-bound version of my creative brain trust. If I have a sluggish day, and I can’t think clearly about what to make, or write about, I turn to my notebooks. It works every time. Previous years are stacked on my bookshelves like a documentary of my journey as an artist, and flipping through them gives me profound insight into my growth, successes and struggles, as well as the fidelity of themes that have stayed important to me for decades.

Monotype print after being pulled from the plate, ready for other media as soon as the ink is dry.

I’m listening to a great audiobook (The Demon Under the Microscope) about the history of the search for a cure to bacterial infections, and so much of the story is culled from journals and lab notes from the doctors, technicians and scientists pursuing a solution to the devastating effects of infection before 1937. Thank goodness for writers and note takers and journal scribblers. It’s a fascinating, and very human story, and it made me think (among more profound things) about my own note-taking, and how universal it is for all of us to document individual process, categorize each passionate pursuit, and purge frustrating or successful expression. As artists, we’re harvesting our own stories with the images we make, and the use of ink & paper & 26 characters.

Do you keep a notebook to harvest all your good ideas? Do you document any part of your process so you’ll know what worked and what didn’t? And do you use paper and pen, or an ipad or phone to track it all digitally? Is there an app you love to use for your note taking? Please share your tips in the comments, so we can check it out. One can never have too many options for capturing good ideas.

Pulling a dark field monotype from a zinc plate on my press.

If you’re interested in learning more about dark field monotypes, like the one featured in this post, there’s a three-part series on my Youtube channel, and this video (above) demonstrates that you don’t need a press to try it. And if you’re interested in the online monotype course I’m building for you over at BelindaTips, sign up here to be notified when it’s published. Have a look, and make one soon. It’s so much fun. 🙂

Thanks for visiting, and I’ll see you in the next post,


P.S. You can subscribe [it’s free] to receive these posts in your email here.

Art Quote
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.
You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So, that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Neil Gaimen

How to Build a Business While Learning Your Craft

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8 thoughts on “Monotype: Dandelion Wind (& praise for notebooks in the studio)”

  1. I use the Evernote app to record ideas and inspiration. It allows uploading pics, links, videos, etc., and even let’s you digitally handwrite and sketch. But nothing beats a sketchbook!

    1. Hah! That’s a great idea, because you can click to save, or email inspirational pages and images to your evernote folders. Thanks for that tip! And yes, the sketchbook is an old fashioned, simple and effective standby for getting practice regularly. Every successful artist in history used them to great effect. 🙂

  2. Wow! How interesting and beautiful. Thank you for explaining the process. I finally get that you’re not engraving on the metal (something that’s never appealed to me) and now I’m really interested in giving it a try. Is a press required or is there a way of doing it without spending a lot of money on equipment? Do you recommend any books on the topic? I tried to find some books on printmaking at the library today when we took a lunchtime walk at work, but ran out of time before I found any.

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