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When The Universe Gets Weird

I’ve felt like my world is a little off kilter lately.

I keep thinking, any day now things will get back to “normal” … whatever that is.

Yesterday, I was all over Orange County.

I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in about six months.

She’s older than I am.

She suddenly looks like she’s fifteen.

Yes, she has a new haircut.

But, no, that wasn’t why.

Her appearance was so drastically different, I nearly didn’t recognize her.



Boob job?


But, there was more … she just looked entirely like a different person.

I wanted to ask, “What did you DO?” but that would be rude.

She didn’t look bad, she just looked like a younger, completely different, person.

My brain is still trying to wrap itself around this new person.

And yes, seeing her DID (briefly) make me feel like I’m “doing it wrong.”

Perhaps I should try to be fifteen again also??

Other odd things happened yesterday, too.

I got random text messages from four different “long lost” friends,

The type of friend you usually hear from maybe once a year.

Four separate rarely-heard-from friends in one day!

Isn’t that odd?

Also, a woman I was standing next to began spouting off to me about people’s personalities being explained by their astrological sign.

She was quite serious and even asked me what my “sign” is.

Isn’t it widespread public knowledge astrological “signs” were originally based on faulty, incorrect, science?

Do people really try to pick their relationships based on them?

And/or analyze other people based on their astrological sign?

This woman/stranger seemed clear-headed, not on drugs, and not delusional.

But, she really believes people’s personalities and actions are a result of their astrological signs.

She was prattling on about her husband’s sign, her kids’ signs, etc., etc.

So much strangeness all in one day.

I wonder what the rest of the week will bring?

(Maybe I should go read my horoscope to find out?)

P.S.  I’m a Scorpio – in case you were wondering.





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Peerless Watercolor Paint and Misc. Stuff

I thought I’d share a few glimpses of the last several days.

The weekend wore Fred out!

Fred was ready for a nap after a busy morning swimming!

I went to an Angels baseball game last Friday night.

Fred didn’t go with me, but he did have a play-date while I was gone.

The Angels played TERRIBLE.

But, my favorite player (Mike Trout) stopped by long enough to say hi and autograph the “free” hat I was given when I arrived.

Angels Hats © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I was spoiled with front row seats for Friday’s Angels game.

There’s something about men in baseball uniforms ….

Angels 2 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Men’s butts look best in baseball pants?

Saturday evening I was invited to a friend’s house.

While I was there, I got the chance to take a look at her photos from a New Zealand trip she took a couple years ago.

It was fun to get caught up with her.

On Sunday, I had family visiting.

In between all of these activities,

I’ve been making a travel palette for my Peerless Watercolors.

It took SO much time and it was a very messy project.

Peerless Watercolors have been around for over a hundred years.

They were originally designed for tinting photographs.

They’re super concentrated colors on dry sheets of paper

Which makes them ideal for taking on planes/travel.

Watercolor Girl w Dog © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Peerless Watercolors at work!

I’ve had my Peerless paints for a few months.

I had yet to cut them into smaller pieces so they could be arranged into a palette.

(They don’t arrive sorted by color family so it takes awhile to sort them, label them, cut the sheets into small palette-sized pieces, etc., etc.)


The color of the dry sheets often looks nothing like the activated color so making a palette also involves a lot of experimenting.

And, when you touch the dry sheets, your hands instantly become stained with color.

But, alas ….

Peerless Palette © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Peerless Watercolor Palette – iPhone

My palette is finally ready for use.

I can tuck it a handbag, or between the pages of a book and take it anywhere with me.

I prefer to use a water brush with these type of paints … especially when I travel.

Me, being me, had to make The Peerless Palette Project a lot more work than it needed to be.

I made a corresponding chart with the names of each color.

Peerless 2 Palette © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Blurry iPhone photo —

Colors are listed by corresponding number in the order I organized them on my palette.

I think I’ll be glad I have the color names listed as paint sheets run out and I need to replace them?

(I laminated the list so it doesn’t get ruined by water and/or paint as I use the palette.)

I made my palette on a piece of folded watercolor paper.  

I cut small squares of color from each peerless sheet.

I added multiple pages by using washi tape to attach them, and included a sheet of Graphix Clear Dura-lar between each page.

The Dura-lar keeps the paints from smearing on to the opposite page, and can also serve as a place to mix colors, etc.

When I was all done, I decided, “Why not make this project a little bit more difficult?”

So, I covered the outside of my palette-booklet with some decorative paper.

I added an information sheet from the paint packaging as my “title.”

And, finally, I covered the entire outside with packaging tape to keep it waterproof.

Peerless 3 Palette © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

The outside cover of my Peerless Watercolor Paint Palette.

Let’s be honest, it was a pain in the ass to make the palette.

But, I’m so glad I did.

It will be simple to refill the paints, individually, as I use them.

I can now take the paints anywhere with me.

By covering the exterior with packaging tape, I’ve ensured the entire booklet will hold up for years to come.

It’s just one more step on my never-ending journey of creativity.

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Feeling Discombobulated

I’m a little out of sorts and I’m not sure why.

I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my life.

My son left Friday which is always sad.

I’m behind on work, and I’m feeling very unmotivated.

(I’m still disenchanted with The Photography World.)

I’m frantically trying to plan my trip for next winter because two of the hotels I’ve contacted are already booked.

Apparently, February is *the* season to visit New Zealand.

My body is bruised up and sore from my near-miss with a car,

It’s making it impossible to do much physically.

My daughter visited this weekend and asked, “Wow!  What are all those BRUISES?”

(It would be brain-clearing to go for a hike, but my ankle is so sore I’m trying to stay off of it.)

Someone please wrap me in bubble wrap?

Also, I’m in need of a reliable Fred babysitter and the leads I’ve gotten have fallen through.

It’s stressing me out because he’s my baby and I can’t leave him if I don’t feel confident he’ll be well taken care of.

I’ve got a short trip coming up soon, and of course …. two entire weeks in the winter.


It’s Monday, isn’t it?

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Finally Friday!

Woo hoo!

It’s Friday.

Beautiful sunbeams at sunset in Laguna Beach.

The air conditioning company cancelled on me yesterday …

And then, reversed themselves and showed up at the end of the day after all.

So – yay!

(Apparently it wasn’t the a/c unit itself that was broken … it was a pipe in the evaporator.)


Fred is much happier now that his living environment’s temperature is back in the seventies instead of in the mid-eighties.

(Also?  He grew a foot this week … I’ll try to get some photos this weekend!)

My son returns to Texas today.

I’m sad to see him leave.

But alas, I’ve gotten very behind on work while he’s been here.

It’s back to the  grind  real world for me …!

(Lets see if I can make it through an entire weekend without acquiring any more bruises!)

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The Air Conditioner Always Breaks in August

I’ve been without air conditioning for three days.

Hopefully, my broken air conditioner will be fixed today.

The bag of frozen peas on my foot is helping to keep me cool.

Do I have to explain?

Can we just leave it at, “I’m a clutz and I shouldn’t try walking  in the dark  ever?

Or should I tell you about being out in the dark, at night, and a car coming straight at me suddenly and quickly,

And how I managed to push/shove Fred to safety before falling flat on my ass in the middle of the road?

And then, of course, if that were all true …

It might have been followed by an embarrassing encounter with the driver of the car who stopped to see if I was alright.

“I’m fine,” I might have said, as I tossed my hair like a sexy, nonchalant, vixen.

(Acting as if I always sit on my ass with a bloody foot, in the middle of a dark road, at night, while my  pony  giant dog towers over me, lovingly – but worriedly, drooling.)

Isn’t that what most people do when a car unexpectedly drives down a road at night?

Anyway, my air conditioner is broken!!

I’ve been doing my best to keep Fred comfortable and cool.

I live in a canyon and it gets very hot here …

Much hotter than it does at local beaches.

I’m pretty sure my air conditioner breaks every single summer.

(And, yes, I have updated the units themselves.)

Thank goodness it isn’t AS hot as it was a few days ago.

But, hello, it’s August in Southern California!

Hot is hot.

(Since I work from home there is no going off to a nice air conditioned office.)

When I called to schedule a repair I was told the repair folks are crazy-busy and couldn’t make it out for three, way-too-hot, days.

Apparently, everybody’s air conditioning units break every summer.

Keep your fingers crossed they’re able to make the repair today.

Being hot all day makes me cranky.

I guess I should be grateful for my bag of frozen peas?

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Planning a Trip to New Zealand

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of hours researching ideas for my 2016 winter New Zealand trip.

(It will be summer in New Zealand, but winter for me!)

I’ve wanted to go forever, but I’ve never (mentally) planned out the details, or examined the logistics of it.

I guess I didn’t want to get all excited about the trip and then find out I couldn’t go.

But …?

Now I’m getting all excited about the details.

The problem, of course, is I want to see and do so much more than I will have time for.

And …?

Coming from the United States makes it very expensive.

I’m making lists of the sights which are most important to me, and trying to prioritize them.

A travel agent friend drew up a general itinerary for me, but it wasn’t at all the type of trip I wanted to take.

(Too much hotel time and too little adventure time!)

So, I’m researching like a mad woman trying to “make” a great trip.

I know it will be wonderful no matter what,

But, I still feel like I don’t want to make any blunders as I decide what to include and what to leave out.

What if I go all the way to New Zealand finally, but don’t see The Very Most Important Thing To See In New Zealand?

For instance, I’m now trying to include Bay of Islands and I hadn’t even heard of it a month ago.

(It is *not* conveniently located near the other major things I want to see!)

It may change several times still, but right now the top nine areas I want to visit are:

1.  Milford Sound

2.  Fiordland National Park

3.  Glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox)

4.  A glowworm cave (there are several in different areas of the country – not sure which one yet)

5.  Queenstown

6.  Marlborough Sound

7.  Bay of Islands

8.  Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park

9.  Lake Tekapu and Mt. Cook National Park

If you have any suggestions or tips, I’d love to hear them.

It’s really challenging trying to figure out what to see, and how to divide up the time I’ll have there.

Also … I can only carry a light camera pack – what will I decide to take and what will I have to leave at home?

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My Misadventure With Fred

We’ve been experiencing a terrible heat wave – which seems to finally have lifted today.

Poor Fred hasn’t been able to get out very much.

On Saturday evening, I decided I’d take him to the beach for a sunset walk.

Fred and I take sunset walks at the beach fairly often, but on the previous few nights it had been way too hot – even in the evenings.

I decided to take Fred to a beach he hadn’t been to before.

Salt Creek Beach has some nice walkways and a huge grass area up above the sand.

Sunset from Salt Creek Beach

A lot of people picnic there.

A lot of people bring their dogs.

It sounds perfect, right?

And Fred has been so perfectly behaved lately …!

I’ve been so proud of him.

Well, I don’t know if it was the fact he has been cooped up for several days from the heat?

Or, the excitement of being in a “new” place?

Or, all the dogs running off leash all over the grass area?

Or, the fact Fred is nearly ten months old …. and, supposedly, Newfies are notoriously “terrible teens” from nine to eighteen months of age?

But, the minute Fred was out of the car I knew he was going to be a challenge.

His nose quivered in excitement with the cool breeze.

(Finally!  A break from the heat!)

His eyes darted everywhere taking in all the stimulation of running dogs and laughing children.

Apparently, it was all TOO MUCH for puppy Fred.

He became tone deaf to every command, rule, and bit of instruction he knows.

From the minute we were out of the car, he wouldn’t heel.

I stopped everything and went back to Training 101 lessons with him on the spot.

One of my friends said, “He’s just excited because there are so many dogs running around.”

I’m sure that’s true, but Fred has been trained to behave in high stimulation environments.

My one concern, from the time I began searching for a Newfie, has been the “what if he pulls on the leash” issue.

An adult Newfoundland is WAY bigger and stronger than I am … and I only have my non-dominant arm to hold him.

I knew, from day one, Fred had to be trained never to pull on the leash.

And, he IS well trained.

As I stood with Fred a while later,

And he sat, obediently, next to me,

I “forgot” and had my right hand “halfway” holding his leash.

And …?

Suddenly, a little black dog ran straight towards Fred,

And Fred bolted towards it – yanking my arm unmercifully.

When a 130 pound puppy bolts … it isn’t just your arm that gets yanked.

My neck, my back, my entire body went bolting along with him!

(Fred wanted to PLAY with the dog who also wanted to play with him.  Neither dog was being aggressive.)

I managed to gain control of Fred, using my left hand and arm.

But, the damage was done … the nerves in my right arm began shooting off incessant pain signals.

(Noooooooo!  I was just, finally, coming down from a long flare-up!)

I’d like to say the rest of my evening with Fred went smoothly, but it didn’t.

He didn’t begin listening until he was completely worn out at the end of the evening.

I spent two hours in a battle of wills with a very stubborn Newfie who pretended to be deaf to every command.

I felt frustrated … and, of course, I was in terrible pain by the time I got home.

On Sunday, Fred seemed to be back to his normal self.

I, however, will need several days to get my pain level under control.


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It’s hot as hell here!

Too hot to do much of anything.

Way too hot for Fred to be outside.  (He has a long, thick, double-coat of fur.)

Fred even has his own personal fan which he loves.  

You can find Fred sitting/laying in front of his fan many hours of each day.

And, of course, my a/c has been running 24/7.

(This is what you do when your giant fur child really belongs in an arctic climate!)

“My” hummingbirds have been drinking FOUR, large (32 oz.), feeders EACH day of the heat wave.

Paul Newman was a champ last Thursday and made me feel much, much, better.  I wish I were rich so I could afford Paul Newman every day.  I can’t imagine how much less pain I’d have.

Sometimes, if there are a few extra minutes, he works on my neck too.

My poor neck does all the work of moving my arm for me.

As a result, it’s always sore and stressed.

When Paul Newman starts working on my neck,

I begin having uncontrollable, loud, moaning, neck-gasms.

I think it terrifies Paul Newman.

He promptly goes right back to working on my arm.

Ha ha!

I can’t HELP IT!

I’ve tried to have silent neck-gasms, so he will continue with what he’s doing, but I can’t control myself!

Who knew neck-gasms were a thing?

(Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the terrible mishap of an adventure I had with Fred Saturday night.  It has left me in horrible pain. Just when I thought I was over my flare-up, I’ve found myself worse than I’ve been in ages.  I think I give up …?)

I played with art on Saturday.  It was a nice, cool, thing to do during the hottest hours of the day.

This upcoming photo is a background in my “extra” book.

My Extra Book is where I rub off the extra paint on my brushes and/or brayer so I don’t waste it.

Then I come back later and try to make something from the pages.

I’m finding I enjoy my extra book more than my “real” book.

I think it’s because I’m not “trying” to make anything in my Extra Book.

It is what it is … and then I just play with it.

Right now, this page is a messy mix of leftover paint from a Gelli print, old newsprint collage, modeling paste, deli paper, gesso, etc., etc.

AJ1 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

“Extra” Page from my “Extra” Art Journal

I think it’s a beautiful mess.

I’ll probably add a portrait or something to this “extra” page.

What’s currently there will only be slightly visible by the time I’m done.

Another example of an “extra” page is this weird looking girl I did:

AJ2 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Purple Girl – Not Quite A Masterpiece!

I “made” her on a page I had used to sop up extra ink … purple and yellow, primarily.

The page was sitting there unused and I decided I’d add a girl, but leave the background visible instead of painting over it.

She’s splotchy as a result, but it was kind of a fun challenge to make all the splotches into something.

Here’s a background I did from a page in my “real” book.

It isn’t done yet, it is only layer #1 of the background, but I like it so far.

AJ3 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I’m starting to learn what I like and don’t like regarding my art play.

For instance, I initially bought a lot of different types of mixed media paper – whatever I could find on sale.

But, I’m realizing paper matters.

The quality of paper makes a HUGE difference as you start adding wet stuff (matte medium, paint, gesso, etc.) to it.

I’ll use all that I have, but in the future I’ll know which paper to buy.

Also, I love color so I began by using A LOT of color.

But, now I’m realizing color can make a very dramatic impact when it’s used sparingly.

(Not always, of course, it depends on what you’re making.)

Anyway, it’s crazy how I’m already (!!) discovering strong art-play preferences and dislikes.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my weekend’s Misadventure With Fred.

Having a giant breed dog is wonderful, but also CHALLENGING.


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Things I am SO Sick of!!

My tolerance for some things has ended.

For instance ….

•  I don’t think I can bear to hear one more word about the Kardashians.

•  I am SO tired of all the politicians and all their political campaigns – is the election over yet?

•  I’m exhausted by “photographers” who think they know it all, but take crappy photos.

•  Insecure women.  Seriously, if you don’t believe in yourself – who will?  You’re awesome – believe it!

•  Middle-aged men who think they’re IT.  You aren’t IT.  You weren’t ever IT.  You just thought you were.  Even if you were halfway IT, you are no longer IT so please stop acting like you’re wanted by women everywhere.

•  Older men with younger women.  I know, I know – men have been doing this forever.  But?  Do all these old guys really think younger women are attracted and/or in love with them?  Do they not see it’s all about their money?  Do they not care?  Or, are their egos so huge they really think women love their Viagra infused, beer-belly, bodies?

•  People with bad manners.  When did it become the norm to have bad manners?

•  Companies who ask to use my photos in return for “exposure.”  Exposure doesn’t pay the bills, folks.  Would you do your job for no paycheck?  And also …?  I’m pretty well established at this point in my career.  I’m very exposed – thank you very much anyway!

•  My arm.  My pain level has been SO BAD lately.  I need a mental break from pain.  I think it’s going on two weeks for this flare-up?  And I just feel like I can’t take it anymore.  Paul Newman is seeing me this morning.  I hope it helps.  I love that man.  I hope he never quits me.  I will crawl in a corner and die without his help.

•  It just occurred to me …. Maybe I’m sick of all these other things because my patience is down due to a high pain level?  But no, I really AM sick of all these things.  ESPECIALLY THE KARDASHIANS!!

•  Myself.  Yep, I exhaust myself.  Why do I always feel like I have to change the world?  Why can’t I be one of those people who’s happy with the status quo?  I’m always pushing myself to do more, be more, and to make CHANGE in the world.  I need to stop thinking I can make a difference.  I frustrate myself.

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My Ten Essentials For Art Journaling

I’m certainly not an art journal expert.

And, of course, personal preferences often vary.

That being said, I thought I’d share with you my top ten essential items for art journaling.

I LOVE my art journal.

Who knew?

I never would have imagined myself doing anything at all with art.

If someone as unartistic as me can have fun with an art journal, ANYONE CAN!

OK, here goes ….

My Ten Essentials For Art Journaling

1.  Journal.  This can be an old book you re-purpose, or any one of a number of mixed media journals.  I like this one because the paper is super high quality, but you can use any book you like.

2.  Gesso.  (Pronounced Jess-oh)  You don’t have to buy professional artist-quality gesso.  Some people don’t use gesso at all, but I can’t imagine NOT using it.  It’s like primer for your pages and to me, it’s an absolute essential.  I use Liquitex Basics Gesso.

 3.  Matte Medium – I prefer Liquitex Professional Matte Medium.  (No, I’m not getting payed to sponsor Liquitex!)  Matte Medium is used in a LOT of ways including priming a page, glazing, decoupage, sealing a finished page, and even transferring images.  (I mainly use it as a primer, as glue, and to seal over some of my pages.)

4.  Paint brushes.  These vary depending on what you plan to do.  I use cheap, disposable foam brushes and/or old used up gift cards for applying gesso and matte medium.  Actually, I use cheap brushes for ANY painting I do.  I’m not an artist.  I don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive brushes I would most likely ruin.  I have (and love!) a Pentel waterbrush for use with my watercolor paints.  I paint a lot with acrylics so I picked up an inexpensive “value pack” of brushes.

5.  Paint.  Yes, you can have an art journal and never paint in it.  An art journal can be whatever you want it to be.  For me, however, paint is a return to childhood.  It doesn’t matter if I finger paint, paint a simple object, and/or play around with an abstract.  It’s just … fun!  You can pick up “craft paints” on sale for 40-50 cents fairly frequently.  (Here’s a link to a full set, but you can pick up individual colors as you need them!)  If you’re an experienced painter you probably will want a higher quality paint.  Again, I’m not an artist.  I’m just using my journal as a place to play and explore.  For now, cheap paints are great.  I don’t feel guilty about wasting money when I botch up a page.  I like that freedom.  I also use some nice watercolor paints.  I LOVE them!  You can try whatever makes you happy!

6.  Pens.  Everyone likes different pens.  Use whatever you like.  I use a set of Sakura Micron Pens I’ve had for years.  They’re still one of my favorites … no smearing, waterproof, archival quality, blah, blah, blah!  I’ve also found, without question, the Uni-Ball Signo Broad Point White Gel Pen is the best “white” for writing on paint.  (Sharpie makes a water-based white paint pen that works great, also, if you’re okay with using a paint pen.)  I’ve found a Fude pen works best when I want to write with black on acrylic paint.

If you love gel pens, I think the original Sakura Gelly Rolls are the best.  (Again, you can pick them up individually if you want – you certainly don’t have to buy a full set unless you WANT to!)  I enjoy adding doodling and accents with gel pens.

There are all sorts of specialty pens you can delve into if you decide you love to art journal.  I’ve fallen in love with Montana Acrylic Paint Markers.  They’re expensive, but they’re refillable.  I use them for “drawing” faces and people.  (Apparently, they’re also the favorite pen of graffiti artists.)

I’m even more in love with my Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers.  They’re my absolute favorite art tool and they can be bought individually.  I loved my first few so much I bought the full set.  (And then waited for months for the set to arrive – they were out of stock EVERYWHERE!)  I’ll probably do a whole separate post on them.  Love, love, love!  These are basically a way to “watercolor” with ink instead of paint.  I keep finding more and more uses for them.  Maybe they aren’t for everyone, but I LOVE them!  I even use them on my calendar and in my planner.  Unfortunately, these pens are not refillable but you can replace your most-used pens when necessary by buying them individually.

 7.  Pencils.  An old fashioned, or mechanical, pencil always comes in handy for sketching out your ideas.  I’ve always been a big fan of colored pencils also.  I find I use them often in my journal.  I have a full set of Prismacolor Colored Pencils and I love how easily they blend.  (You have to treat them carefully though – they break easily if dropped or abused in shipping.)  Faber-Castell Polychromos are excellent too.  I don’t have a full set of the Polychromos, but I buy them individually when I have the opportunity.  Little by little, I’ll add on to my collection.

8.  Stencils.  I’ve come to love stencils.  I primarily use them for adding layers/depth to backgrounds.  For this reason, I don’t have many stencils of “things” or “scenes.”  I do have several of geometric shapes and other “good” backgrounds.  (Bubbles, circles, diamonds, arrows, squares, “bricks,” vintage lettering, etc.)  I’ve also been making layers using stencils with my Gelli Plate.  The monoprints from the Gelli Plate then become backgrounds themselves for art journal pages, borders, collages, etc.  If I had more time I would make my own stencils.  It isn’t hard to do.  But, I never have enough hours in the day as it is.  Maybe I’ll make my own stencils – someday.

9.  Ink.  Until a couple months ago I never gave a passing thought to ink.  There are so many beautiful inks available for art play.  Some of them are reactive to water and some are permanent.  The colors, textures, and effects are very different than what you achieve with paints.  I haven’t delved too deep into the ink world yet.  I’ve primarily played with Dylusions Inks (such beautiful colors!) and Dy-Na-Flow Inks.  Inks are fun.  You can spray them.  You can dab them.  You can drop them on paper with eye droppers.  You can put them in water brushes and draw/paint with them.

10.  Ephemera.  Those fair tickets?  Or vacation brochures?  Your old postcard from Aunty Jane?  The junk mail you always toss?  They can be incorporated into your pages in all sorts of creative ways.  You can even use homework and/or report cards as ephemera.  The ideas for this category are endless!

There are all sorts of other things you can also use.  Pastels, chalk, fabric, photographs, etc., etc.

But, I hope I gave you a good idea of what I find to be the most essential items to get started.  If you’re new to art journaling, allow yourself to start slow and don’t worry about “mistakes.”

The whole purpose is to have fun!