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Journaling on the Edge
in Key West

Visual Journals of the Sea:  Gathering your Supplies

School of the Sea History

Juliana Coles - School of the Sea Journal Cover Valerie Roybal - School of the Sea Journal Cover

Some years ago, for a friendís birthday, I collected six Wild West books from the Time/Life series.  There was one for each of her good friends. We were all to do a journal round robin. Each woman had to decide the theme for her book and rules, if any. For mine, I tore out all the pages and sewed in garbage. I also wanted everyone to work on everyone  elseís pages so it would be truly collaborative. Taraís book was about the shadow- some very scary stuff in there and exquisitely beautiful. Another woman wanted everyone to write the story of how they came west. And Valerie created the School of the Sea. As the journals were passed around, this was my favorite one. I loved collecting the images for it and working on it. So many great metaphors. I also loved that she totally went against the inherent theme of the book, and created her own. So when I decided to do this retreat in Key West, the School of the Sea seemed the perfect title. And Iím letting you all know I stole it.  Hell.  Iím a pirate.

Choosing Your Journal of the Sea

Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal

So how do we choose a book?  This is the most important task of the visual journalist; to choose the container for our innermost thoughts.  We can feel pressure to find just the right one. Especially now with airline regulations as they are with bag restrictions and  weight limits, bringing more than one book may not be practical. It may be helpful to consider you bag: I like to bring my journal in my carry on, so it has to be something that fits. I may sometimes bring a larger journal in my checked luggage. I recently started my own School of the Sea journal. It feels  a little small, but I am really enjoying the size. I usually work much bigger.  It is  5.25 x 7. 75. But choose the book that feels right to you. (See more on our Discovering Visual Journals page)



Altering A Seafaring Book

Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal

This is the perfect retreat with the perfect theme to try an altered book. My public library has a sale every month. There are sailing books in the hobby section.  There are great old books on fish.  In the kids section I found my favorite books:  the Mutiny of the Bounty- a pictorial from the movie, a kids book on 20,000 leagues under the sea, and even a Bozo Under the Sea record with a mini book attached! You can also find great books in the sale section of your favorite bookstores.  Check out the cool pirate books at Barnes and Noble or Borders such as Pirateology, or Pirate Soul. 


Flotsam & Jetsam from the Sea

Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal Visual Journals Page by Valerie Roybal

Where do I find appropriate ephemera and collage materials?  The same places that are great resources for books will also serve as resources for imagery. The book that is not quite perfect for the journal can be cut up. Or you can even tear out signatures or pages from your chosen journal and use those pages to cut up. There are lots of cool items from scrapbooking stores and the scrapbook section of Hobby Lobby: fish, shells, tropical scenes, island life, pirates, ships....to me half the fun of creating is the collecting and research;  the gathering of imagery. There are also plenty of cool rubber stamps and rub on transfers with pirate themes, ships and seagulls etc.



Art Supplies

Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles

Destiny Voyages will provide most of your art materials!

For supplies, you will want to think in limitation.  Iíll be bringing lots of materials for you to use: they will all be fairly crappy. Markers that donít work, etc. ( this is great for creativity- youíll see- donít worry!) So you may want to bring a couple of your favorite markers and I recommend a Sharpie. I will have rubber stamps for you to play with (though they may not be the theme you were looking for), but you may want to bring some of your nice stamp pads to get a good print and I  highly recommend Staz on stamp pads because we work so quickly. Black is always good, but since our theme is the sea, you may want to try blue or green stamp pads.  If you have a set of rubber stamp letters you like, you can bring those as well, but I will also have alphabets for you to try.

Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles

Iíll have plenty of crappy brushes, so you may want to bring a few good ones. I think everyone should have a detail brush, like for lettering and making lines- itís a thin long thin brush about 3/4 to an inch long. Also you should have a quarter inch brush and a half inch brush. Please donít bring sponge brushes or other home depot crappy brushes. Iíll have all the crappy stuff. Please bring a good pair of scissors ( if they are long please pack them in your checked baggage. I usually also bring  a small handled pair in my carry on art kit so I can work on the plane.)

Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles



Please bring plenty of good quality gluesticks. Get the big ones- donít bother with the little ones. I like UHU and usually bring at least 6. (Or if you like a medium fo rglue, birng that, i wonít have that.) And I recommend a nice pen that you like to write with. I will not have good quality acrylics like liquitex or any inks. IĎll have the cheapy craft acrylic paints because I prefer them in a journal setting because they dry matte and I can easily write on top of them.

Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles Visual Journals Page by Juliana Coles

So you can bring a few of your favorite items or things you canít live without or things you would like to try out for whatever reason. Or you can bring nothing but your journal, scissors, and a glue stick and say to hell with it. Live on the edge like a pirate: either way, you will love this process, you will love your book, and you will love your life.





Preparing Your Book of the Sea
& Getting Started

Visual Journals Page by Allison Trundle Visual Journals Page by Allison Trundle

Take time to get to know your book. You can tear out every other signature. You can tear out pages to make more room for the spine (but it always breaks, doesnít it, no matter how many pages or signatures we tear out). You can glue pages together. You can cover pages with masking tape or gesso to create textures.  Iíve been creating pages in my journal this past week. Mostly for our Captainís Blog. But I just look through all the ephemera and books Iíve been collecting, put on my favorite music, ( my sister just made me a great cd for our workshop: the ballad of the black swan) and just start working. I cut out things and glue them down. The next thing I know, the page is telling a story and I go with it. It doesnít have to be my story, Iím telling the story of the sea.


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