Moving My Art Around . . . Part 1, Why and Where


Words and Illustration © jessica wesolek 2013

I’ve been doing a lot of organizing lately. I don’t know why – just feels like what I need to do.

There is a ton of stuff scattered around in my life – and a lot of it is my art. Many, many years of my art.

It’s everywhere! Of course, there are all the paintings in private collections around the world, and all the published stuff, and all the graphic design . . . but that’s not what troubles me. It’s more about the bits and pieces in sketchbooks and on scraps of paper and prep sheets for workshops – and now in my iPad too. And let’s not even mention all the blog stuff.

I was having lunch at Santa Café last week. It’s one of Santa Fe’s posh-posh restaurants, but they have paper tablecloth overlays and small sets of crayons on the tables. They have somewhat snooty waiters to make up for that, so it’s ok.

I drew a flower (my favorite doodle), and even our somewhat snooty waiter commented that it was beautiful. He thought it was a compliment when he said I should tear it out and hang it on my refrigerator. Uh-huh. “Perhaps I’ll hang it in my gallery instead,” was my retort.

But, what I was really thinking was “maybe I’ll put it in my art journal” and I’ll always remember this lunch. Also, the snooty waiter – somewhat.

Anyway, I digress . . .

I’d like to gather at least some of all that loose art together so I can look at it in my old age and get an idea of who I am. Or whatever.

This is another reason that artist journals will most likely comprise my “life’s work”. They are a great place to gather yourself and your life into one place.

I am re-devoting myself to art journaling this year – which may even lead to a live Santa Fe retreat in September, which is a topic for a bit later.

Anyway, this re-devotion also led me back to my quest for the perfect BOOK for art journaling, a quest that started before I started to keep artist journals, and has gotten nothing but more intense as I define what the “perfect” journal has to have going for it.

It has to be smooth enough to write on easily with any type pen or marker.

It must have white pages.

It has to allow sketching and easy, clean erasing with my 3H pencil and soft white eraser.

It has to accept watercolor and watercolor pencils etc. without warping and buckling.

It has to be hardbound and available in a portrait orientation. I prefer a 5.5″x8.5″ size with a black cover..

It has to open flat.

The back and front of a page must be similar enough that a painting might be done across a spread.

It MUST take a Sheer Heaven transfer beautifully – BECAUSE I have to gather all that art together!.

If you have been following me for while, you know that I have tried everything that has come along – and none have been perfect.

I have consistently returned to the large Moleskine Sketchbook because it has many of the things I need – but it is far from perfect.

So, when I started hearing about a new company producing upscale sketchbooks – and really tuning-in to artists’ needs, I had to go see.

I ordered the Stilman & Birn BETA book in hard cover (not easy to find), because it has an incredible 180lb paper inside, and will still lie flat when open.


Stilman & Birn produces several series of sketchbooks with different paper weights and colors. Each series comes in varied sizes and a choice of hardbound or spiral binding, and is named with a Greek letter. At first, this seems confusing, but as soon as you think about it, it is incredibly sensitive to varied artists’ tastes.

First, I will say that I loved this journal so much that I called the company and became a reseller (because the hardbound Beta book is hard to find, and I don’t want to recommend something you can’t find). I will carry this version in my favorite size in my gallery, and also offer it through because the love affair between this sketchbook and Sheer Heaven is BIG – a perfect pairing!

The art journal spread at the top of this post is a result of that pairing. It combines a sketch I did in a cheap sketchbook for an earlier drawing workbook, a poem I wrote last Sunday morning – typeset on the computer, transfers, watercolor wash and watercolor painting. It turned out great, so next post, I will give you a step-by-step of how this was done (and purchasing info for the book.)

But, now, since it’s Sunday, I will share a couple of other interesting bits . . .

Towers of Towels . . .

This photo was floating all around the internet last week. I can’t explain why I found it so entertaining, but I did.

You know those floor to ceiling stacks of fluffy towels you see at Bed Bath & Beyond?


As a retailer, I think this is so clever. As a consumer, I’m sorry towels aren’t quite so abundant as it seemed, but I am glad to let go of the fear of those towers falling on me.

Just Imagine . . . What IF?

There were a retreat n Santa Fe this September called “Art Journaling in Paradise.

The hotel rooms were all Santa Fe style suites with their own kitchens and tables for midnight journaling, conveniently located in Santa Fe proper, and costing only $55.night plus tax (even for two people if you wanted to team up).

The huge classroom is located in a beautiful building tucked into a row of Santa Fe’s best galleries and within walking distance of everything downtown.

There were five full days of instruction, studio time, and journaling forays in and around Santa Fe, and a 6th full day of studio time in the classroom to wrap everything and finish your pages.

The workshop cost was only $650 for the whole 6 days.

I got my pal Sandy Bartholomew to fly out here from New Hampshire to help me get you excited about art journaling.

What if all of that could happen? If we built it, would you come?

If you have serious interest, shoot me an email and let me know. Number of students will be limited and great detail will be provided if we see sufficient interest.

Watch for a great tutorial in the next post!

14 thoughts on “Moving My Art Around . . . Part 1, Why and Where

  1. Christine Newman-Aumiller

    I love your recommendations and always look for your choices above others. A couple of years ago, you recommended a point-and-shoot camera. I saved the info but of course my computer died and it got lost. Can you repost that info?

  2. jessica Post author

    Christine – thank you for commenting. After these last two posts, I was wondering if the Comment function was busted! (grin)

    I can certainly give you the info on the camera again – I just used that camera this afternoon in fact – but the problem is, just as I predicted, it did become a collector item when it was discontinued and is now very hard to find and not as inexpensive as it was.

    It is the Fuji Finepix F-100 FD

    Google it and see if there is still one out there.

    OMG – I just Googled it and there is one on Amazon for $299

    Still the best in my opinion. Shoots great in low light and also shoots great video.

    Says there is a newer model. We know that, but the Model F-50 and F-100 were just better than any newer ones.

  3. Elaine Gongora

    Just to let you know I am reading and enjoying your blog.
    Also to let you know I have been taking an intermission from the two courses I am taking. Painting the entire apartment, doing freelance work etc. But I am dying to get back to working with my hands and the ipad.
    The journaling class sounds great. September in Santa Fe, beautiful. But I am going to Bermuda in April, doing a short workshop with Jane LaFazio in May and taking a trip to Sardinia with my niece in June! But Santa Fe, aluring.

  4. Jeanne

    Oooooh, what I would have given to see you when the waiter made that comment!

    The Stillman & Birn sketchbook really sounds great. Like Christine, I have always appreciated your sharing with us the results (both positive and negative) of your searches for the BEST of whatever item you’re looking for. I have the Kodak printer, the iPad, the iPhone, and the Inktense pencils, for instance! BTW, did you know that Kodak is no longer making printers? :-( I was told, however, that they would continue making ink for them.

  5. jessica Post author

    Oh no – I did not know Kodak was going to stop making printers! I still think they are great printers . I will have to stock pile a couple!

  6. Jerrie

    Jerry said I can do this!
    Will it be in 2013 or 14?
    Will start to save immediately!

  7. Jeanne

    Stockpiling Kodak printers is a good idea—I had not thought of that. Another thing I really love about them is that unlike other printer inks, they last a long time. That is why they have no expiration dates.

    The workshop sounds very exciting, and I’d also really like to attend, so if I can swing it, I’ll be there with bells on!

  8. Sandra Smith

    I’m definitely interested in the Art Journaling retreat in Santa Fe in September!
    The Stillman and Birn Beta is my new favorite sketchbook. I’m looking forward to your tutorial, especially transferring the computer type to your book. Thanks for all your great information.

  9. mo

    jessica, just fyi, Liz Steele just posted a pic of the Stillman/Berne Zeta series notebooks on Facebook … one of them features her artwork!! isn’t that fabulous?! anyway, thought you’d like to know that ;)

  10. jessica Post author

    Thanks, Mo. Yes, I got a hot off the press Zeta Book too and will be talking all about that one too. It was a tough call but I am still with the Beta.

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