Art Journaling Video: Creating Backgrounds in an Altered Book

Hi everyone! How do you like the new look of my blog? Spring seemed like the right time for a change. Did I mention I moved my studio as well earlier this spring? I’ve been art journaling again and altering books, which I’ll be sharing with you of course. Think I’ve finally found my groove, thank goodness. Hmmm, maybe this post should have been called How Seena Got Her Art Groove Back?

I’ve started turning on the video camera when I’m working at my art desk. Personally, I really enjoy watching the creative process of other artists; I often get inspired or learn something new. Here’s me creating backgrounds in an altered book. (There’s no sound; I figured you could add your own if you wanted a soundtrack.)

Let me know what you think of all the changes. And the video!


Frozen by the Blank Page? Why Everyone Needs An Altered Art Journal

There’s something about me you may not know: when I stumble onto something awesome it kind of takes over my brain. Maybe this is why if I find one great marker I have to have the whole set of colors? In every nib size? Hmmm. My latest obsession is handmade Altered Art Journals. Full disclosure: I’m making them and they’re for sale on Etsy. But that’s not why you should continue reading. Continue reading to find out why they’re so awesome! P1050904 P1050915 I’ve discovered that there’s something wonderful about journals with pages already full of text and illustrations. The lack of blank pages! But wait, you might be asking, aren’t journals supposed to have blank pages? Fair enough. I have dozens of journals: ones I’ve purchased, been gifted or made myself. They all have blank pages. The paper quality varies, though. So depending on what you want to do in your journal, you may need several with varying paper types.

But even though you may have all those journals, you will still confront our common enemy: the dreaded blank page. You know what I’m talking about. You feel all creative, sit down with your lovely pens or brushes or pencils and that blank page stares back at you. It’s so clean and perfect. You’re sure that anything you put down on this page now is going to wreck it. Transform it from perfect to ugly. You hesitate. You lose your mojo. You move on to another activity, telling yourself you’ll leave it for another time. Maybe those stretches of time get so long that you don’t even bother anymore. YIKES

That blank page is pretty darn powerful.

Well guess what?! You can take back your power! Altered Art Journals can help you do just that because its pages are already covered with text and images, making these ‘already been started,’ a place to begin. (If you want to dive right in, clean pages await for any medium you desire – more on that below.) There’s just so much already between the covers to work with making Altered Art Journals far less daunting that a journal filled with blank pages! And while artists of all levels can create in these, this can be especially freeing for the new or uncertain artist. P1050926 I spend a lot of time choosing just the right vintage hardcover book. An artist’s eye is needed to assess binding, construction, condition, paper weight and, of course, existing art. Generally, these books have some value due to their vintage nature. Plus, they’re cool. Auditioning which illustrations are worthy enough to be in your Altered Art Journal is an intuitive process and each book is treated as though I was recreating it for myself; I have to love it to ensure it’s good enough for you.

I gently remove between 50% – 70% of the book’s pages to make room for the professional quality, 140lb hot press watercolor paper I’ve cut to fit. Of the vintage pages that remain I do my utmost to keep as much of the beautiful, original art between the covers as I possibly can. After carefully separate the book from its binding, I nestle the new signatures (sets of paper) among the original pages and bind them securely with Irish linen. P1050826 P1050831 Next, I put the book back together in such a way that the spine remains intact, making it appear as though the book has always had watercolor paper inside. I also reinforce any areas where the hinge might be vulnerable using artist’s quality, archival paper tape (which can be painted over). P1050821 If a vintage book has been particularly loved, I go a step further and reinforce the spine and cover. After all, this book is meant to be used. P1050902 At this point the one-of-a-kind Altered Art Journal is ready for sale. The watercolor paper can handle your water-based media (acrylic paint and watercolors) while the original pages are perfect for collage, stamping, sketching, paint pens, coloring… there are no limits. The original illustrations can be doodled on, painted over, collaged around… it’s yours to change in whatever way pleases you! It is possible to customize the journal further. For example, prepping some of the original pages for wet media with gesso or other mediums, tinting some of the pages to match corresponding illustrations, taping the spine… It’s also possible to request a certain size of book for altering. (Just contact me through Etsy.) I’m currently working on a commission to prep all the pages of an Altered Art Journal.

Here’s a very short video I made if you’d like to see a quick flip through of a finished art journal:

Whether you buy an Altered Art Journal or create your own, there’s just so much already between the covers to work with making Altered Art Journals far less daunting that a journal filled with blank pages!  I encourage you to give it a try. And as always, I’d LOVE to see your creations which you can share on my new Facebook Group, Art Journaling 101 with StudioSeena. xo, seena

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On Creative Slumps and A New Etsy Shop

I’m cringing as I look at the date of my last post – more than six weeks have passed in which I’ve broken the cardinal rule of blogging – don’t ignore your blog!

Well… I haven’t been ignoring my blog exactly, but my art is another matter. And since my blog focuses on my art… you get the idea. In hindsight, which everyone agrees is 20/20 ;), I think it’s fair to say this frigid winter literally froze my creative spirit. It was reeeeeally frustrating. The harder I tried to sit down and make art, the worse it got. I bought new supplies and played with colors:


Took a drawing class (what do you think, does it look like me?):


Even printed collage sheets… nothing worked to get me out of my slump. If I got anything out of this winter it’s the lesson that creativity doesn’t submit to force.

Since the light in my workspace was dim at best I decided to flip my office and my studio. Big project! That resulted in lots of organizing, culling and weeding. The move did prompt an idea, but not one I was expecting.

I opened an Etsy shop.

There were a number of resources I had, most of them vintage ephemera of one sort or another, that I either wasn’t going to get to, were duplicates of things I’d already used or things that no longer fueled my creative spirit. BUT, it occured to me that others might be able to find these things useful and so my little Etsy idea took on a life of its own. As I curate the chaos of my art studio and personal stash of creative supplies I will continue to add items. Please click on over and have a look. And let me know what you think! Since the ephemera is all resources I originally bought, reclaimed or thrifted to use in my own mixed media art, I’m only listing items that I believe would work in mixed media art. I hope it inspires and generates creativity in others.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. That, and I made 3 new art journals to get myself going again. (Don’t you just love this table? My dad made it when I was about 5 years old.)



I’m happy to say I’m starting to fill them and look forward to sharing my pages with you.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing. And what you think of studioseena at Etsy.

xo, seena

Junk Journaling, Part 2

Holy smokes this has been a busy week! Where does the time go?

I wanted to show you something fun I added to my junk journal. Check out these tabs:

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Can you guess where I got them? I’ll give you a hint… they were free! I found them in my recycling bin…



Yes indeedy friends, it’s the weird box top thingy from the kleenex box. Just turn over, fold, stick, and paint. Couldn’t be easier! And in terms of functionality, they’re sturdy and a great canvas for paint or ink. Love it!!


Just another reason to love junk journalling – upcycling! If you’ve repurposed anything for your art or junk journal I’d love to hear about it. Please tell me about it in the comments section!

CLICK HERE for a list of the materials I used in today’s project.

xo, seena

Junk Journaling, Part 1

Hi everyone! I’ve just finished an art journal video which will be posted on Faber-Castell Design Memory Craft’s blog next week. You can see my other Design Memory Craft designs here and here. In the meantime, I’m having a lot of fun in my junk journal. When I was first introduced to this concept I had a difficult time understanding what a “junk” journal was all about. Why would anyone want to journal junk? Isn’t every page sacred?

Well guess what? No pages are sacred, that was just my perfectionism talking. I am now a complete convert and here’s why: Junk Journals = freedom! Freedom to make mistakes and experiment, which in turn frees your creativity from perfection. You can do no wrong. Make sense? Here’s a peek at my junk journal. The cover is made from a Trader Joe’s grocery bag. I’m not worried about messing up a grocery bag, that’s for sure!





The inner pages are made from junk paper (envelopes, old book pages, scrap paper scraps, etc.). This cat illustration was cut from an old children’s book. I embellished, add some new elements and decorated the page.


The red bird is a collage item from a color laser copy of another of my projects. I added the tree and buds.



Pages aren’t the same size, the same color, nor even from the same source (although you could use a cheap notebook)! If you are having some challenges with a blank page or wondering how to start art journaling, I highly recommend giving junk journaling a try. It’s a wonderful antidote to the fear of mistakes! Stay tuned for more of my junk journal pages… happy journaling!

CLICK HERE for a list of the materials I used.

xo, seena