Review: Pam Carriker's 'Creating Art at the Speed of Life' - 30 Days of Mixed Media Exploration #BookReview #PamCarriker #ArtAtTheSpeedOfLife

I really should be working on Christmas presents.  But with the onset of rain and grey, my creativity quotient is low.  For quite some time, I've wanted to make my own journal and do some traditional art journaling.  I kept putting it off because of other commitments and deadlines and I felt it was also adding to my low creativity.  If I block a project that really interests me, in order to do projects that interest me less, then that will sometimes happen.

Normally, I prefer to noodle about and do whatever pops into my fervid little brain.  But I wanted to make this fast.  You can do that with art journaling.  I decided that for once, I'd follow along in someone's else's world of ideas.

The upshot--After looking through several workbook-style books, I settled on Pam's 'Creating Art at the Speed of Life' (not to be confused with her previous book 'Art at the Speed of Life'.  This book just hit the stores in September 2013).

Why did I choose this book? The instructions are concise, the projects quick and easy, and I felt I could use products that I had at hand.  I actually find traditional art journaling to be out of my comfort zone, and felt this book would get me to do techniques that I don't normally do, such as collage and hand-writing.  You laugh at me.  But I've just never explored these things.  Always something new to learn, lol!

I thought I'd do a quick review to help you decide if this might be a book for you.  All opinions are mine, and based on my own preferences.  As always, please take your own style and desires into account--one man's meat and all that.

Look and Feel
Paperback: 176 pages
Cover: Cardstock
Published on: 09/23/13
Published by: Interweave
Size: 8.5 x 10.2 in 
Weight: 1 LB

The book is high quality slick paper.  You can't fold it back easily, but it does lie reasonably flat.  I find the size a bit large for laying out as a reference while I work.  My workspace is tight, and this is usually the case for me with most artbooks.  One of the reasons, I've been buying them on Kindle of late, but this book isn't available on Kindle at the moment.

The graphics are good.

Here is the art journal I made from Pam's instructions.  I used Strathmore 140-lb Coldpress (even though Pam recommends 90-lb).  I'll paint the cover after I finish the journal because, as you can see, the projects get messy.

The chapters titles set the theme for four to five lessons, with two introductory chapters that discuss how to use the book, and how to make your own art journal.  The art journal is fairly easy to make, but you do need 22x30 inch paper and book-binding tape.  (I bought these items--the only thing I bought for the purpose of this project.  I decided to substitute where I didn't have items required).

There are templates included, that you can use for artwork if you wish and there is a template for critiquing each page you create.

The Chapters:
--Driven to Create
--The Handmade Journal

Chapter 1: Playful Palette
Lesson 1: Color Wheeling
Lesson 2: Colorful Language
Lesson 3: Analogous Analogy
Lesson 4: One Color at a Time
Lesson 5: It's Complementory

Chapter 2: Tactile by Nature
Lesson 6: Under Wraps
Lesson 7: Multitasking Mediums
Lesson 8: Rubbed the Right Way
Lesson 9: First Impession(ism)
Lesson 10: Faux-toshop Collage

Chapter 3: Setting Boundaries
Lesson 11: Getting into Shape
Lesson 12: Ephemeral Matters
Lesson 13: Cutouts and Cutaways
Lesson 14: Building Character

Chapter 4: Sacred Space
Lesson 15: Arcimboldo-Style Self-Portrait
Lesson 16: Positively Negative
Lesson 17: Chip off the Old Block
Lesson 18: A Different View

Chapter 5: Exploring the Element of Form
Lesson 19: Word Search
Lesson 20: Cubist Cutouts
Lesson 21: Pop-up Pages
Lesson 22: Behind the Mask

Chapter 6: Exploring the Element of Line
Lesson 23: Finding Your Mark
Lesson 24: Grand Gestures
Lesson 25: Urban Street Art
Lesson 26: Art on a Shoestring

Chapter 7: The Value of Shading
Lesson 27: Shades of Gray
Lesson 28: Trompe L'Oeil-Fool the Eye
Lesson 29: Sketching Without Pencils
Lesson 30: At Face Value

The End of the Road?
Mixed-Media Glossary
Clip Art
Contributing Artists

I'm enjoying the book very much.  The lessons are easy, and the projects quick to create.  While I'm familiar with most of the techniques, there are many that I don't often employ, so my range will expand.  And I have learned some tips I wasn't aware of, such as dipping your wet brush into gel medium when wetting your watercolor pencils into a wash, so the color will set).

I'm only on the eighth lesson of the book.  I don't have all the supplies and am substituting, so I expect to have 'failures' because my substitution doesn't do what the Pam's product would (for instance, in the lesson using a wax crayon as a resist, I thought maybe embossing medium would work. It didn't. But now I know I want to buy a wax crayon.)  I don't expect to have the time to finish the book in 30 days.  I may finish sooner, or I may have to drop the project and take it up later (depends on what happens when I report for jury duty).

But here's the thing--I'm not looking to create a journal that's perfect, so I'm not really 'failing'. I'm looking to explore.  Pam's book is a 'mixed-media exploration' and I'm exploring a little outside the bounds of the book. I made this decision partially because I wanted to use up some items I have, and because I didn't want to take the time to buy all the products I didn't have.

I felt this book had the range to allow my deviations while still learning what Pam wanted to show me.

For some, it will be best to buy exactly what is recommended.  For others, it will be best to do as I have done.  Take your own level of experience and desires into account, and proceed from there.

With 30 days of projects, I'm sure there was a need to keep the instructions brief and to-the-point.  I like this, because when I'm working I want to be able to look at the book and quickly find where I'm at, to refresh my memory.   I think some of the projects could have used a few more step-outs to illustrate when was going on, but by-and-large I'm happy with the instructions.

So what have I done so far?  I'm only going to show you the first two pages.  I'll show the rest two or three at a time as I go on.

Because I'm familiar with color wheel theory, I decided to make this page an exploration of a particular watercolor set that I have.  There are two color wheels here (Pam only calls for one).  One of my wheels is a traditional RYB (red, yellow, blue) and one is the more modern CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow).  I was trying to find the best choices in the set--I haven't yet, lol, so things got a bit ugly.

This page I really like.  Printing/handwriting has always been a problem for me because I don't like doing it.  I'm not sure why.  I love the look, but just don't want to do it.  Hopefully, I'll get over that by the time I'm done with this journal.