WEEK ONE: Choosing Your Art Journal or Book

Your very first task to creating your Power Pack Field Guide, is to choose a book to work in.

This is of course, the most important supply! This is your “substrate.” Substrate is a fancy way of saying the-thing-you’re-putting-paint-on. Could be a canvas, a piece of fabric or a wooden toy. In this case, a book!

In the video below, I show you MY Field Guide to my Animal Spirits, and let you see what the spreads look like. This is my style of art, and yours may look nothing alike, and that’s the point – we are adding our own creative spirit to this project!

In order to create your book, you will choose what kind of book you want to work in. I will be taking an old book and “altering” it – turning it into a new book, with mixed media art and the teachings from the class. You may also choose to use a handmade, blank book, or to purchase a sketchpad.

Where do I find a book to alter?

The VERY BEST place to find the perfect book, is a used bookstore. Heck, there might even be one on your own bookshelf. I bought this particular book at a garage sale – another great spot for cheap books. The book you’re looking for should cost under $3.00.

What kind of book are we looking for exactly? Hardback or paperback? How many pages?

You want a Hardback book. This is for longevity, and sturdiness of the spine.
It doesn’t matter how many pages, but if we’re looking for five to ten spreads, then you don’t want a super long book, where you’ll just have to tear out more pages!

The size of your book does not matter. If you find a large book, or an atypical size, that might be a lot of fun! Children’s books have sturdy, solid pages and don’t require any gluing pages together. They come in large and small. Choose what feels fun for you to hold and look at.
What about the cover?
If you find the perfect book, you can always paint over the cover (which I did in my example). If you choose a cover/color that you like, then you have less work to do! We’ll tackle the cover in Week 4.

WEEK ONE: Supplies





2. GEL MEDIUM (or other adhesive)





GESSO Used to “prime” the surface and  make the paint layers brighter. Gesso is often the first layer on an altered journal or book page. The smallest tub will do for this project.


Gesso can also be applied over a colored base, for example, through a stencil. You can also cover up paint you do not like, with gesso, and start over.

MATTE GEL MEDIUM is a massively useful and wonderful adhesive. Used in this project for gluing pages together. Gel Medium will hold down heavy papers and even small 3D objects.

*Michaels Craft Stores in the USA have a weekly 40% off one item coupon ONLINE ONLY. Bring your smart phone with you to the store, or print if off beforehand, and you’ll save on this item.


Gel medium comes in tall tubes, and in jars. Liquitex sells its products in Tubes, as shown in the above photo. Golden sells it in jars, as in the photo below. They are two competing brands, and this is simply a way for them to be visually differentiated on the shelf. Some people feel Golden is the best brand of these art products.


It comes in glossy and matte (or flat, no shine). Choose the look you prefer. I choose Matte.

It comes in all different labels that are mind-boggling and totally overwhelming. So just buy Medium/Regular Matte Gel Medium and you’ve got the all-around best version. The others may be heavier (for gluing really big items down, like in assemblage projects) or might have extra stuff in them (particles mixed in for texture).
If you prefer, you can choose the glue, or adhesive, that works best for your price range, among the following options.

ELMER’S PURPLE GLUE STICK, or a UHU Glue Stick is a decent option you don’t want to spend on Gel Medium. Uhu Glue Sticks are said to have years of longevity. However, if you get a “bad batch” or one that has been exposed to heat, they may get clumpy and not spread easily. Elmer’s White Glue, or “school glue” will also work, if you have a tool to spread it, so that you do not see the lines or clumps underneath your papers.
Paper Clips or Bulldog Clips – used to hold the spreads together while they dry.


WEEK ONE: Art Methods

Now that you have chosen the book you want to work in, it’s time to prepare your book for paint!

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If you are following along and altering a book, now we will be trimming, gluing and gessoing your pages

TIME: To prep the pages for five to ten page spreads, should take you 30 minutes of active time, and 30 to 60 minutes of drying time (depending on which camp you fall into below!)

Painting and altering the pages poses two problems. First, the page itself will be too thin and will likely tear when you start adding paint and more supplies. The second problem is, it will add to the thickness of the book, and eventually the book will not close. The following are the steps to follow to fix these two issues (If you chose a children’s board book, you won’t have to do this step at all).

To begin with, you’ll need to choose how many spreads you want to have. Let’s say 10 spreads (you may choose the number of spreads you want to make. I chose ten because I wanted to do many animals plus a few general decorative pages).
Then, you’ll want to separate the pages into ten sections, and paper clip (or bulldog clip) them together.
*Artist trick: Look through the book and see if there are any fun pages that you think would add to the artistic feel. If you see some cool images, colors, text – whatever – you might decide to separate a section right there, so that you can use it.
Now, most likely, these sections are very thick still, and it would be a pain to glue all those pages together. So, the next step is to trim each section by removing some of the pages.
Let’s pretend you had a 200 page book. Separate it into 10 sections of 20 pages each. Then, tear our ten pages from each section. A craft knife will do a fine job, but I personally just tear the pages out. If they rip on the way out, oh well, the remenants are just getting glue together anyway.
Artist Tip: Don’t throw away the pages that you tear out. They will make fun scraps to use in your layering as you create the pages.
Now the book is thinner and will leave more room for decoration!
The next step is to glue all of the pages together in your sections. This is what you use the Gel Medium for. Remove the clip on the first section. Take your Gel Medium and brush it on each page, and begin gluing left page to right page in your first section. When it’s all glued together, reattach the paper clips or bulldog clips, and then move to the next section.
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* Artist’s Tip: You will realize, almost immediately, that DRYING TIME is an important concept. I joke that this simple topic cuts creatives into two different styles of people! I doubt you’d ever realize this, but how you go about drying time, says a lot about what kind of creative practice fits your personality!

One camp, invests in a heating tool. These are the people that want to do everything at once, in one sitting, and keep moving forward. The heating tool can be as simple as a blow dryer that you use for your hair, or you can spend money on a special “heating gun.” Either way, this means you’ll want to be setting up your space near an outlet. The pros of this are that you’ll have more control over the drying process. The cons are needing to be near an outlet, and possibly an additional expenditure.

The other camp, are the air-dryers. Depending on how thick your paints/gesso/adhesivs are on your altered book pages, this may take from 30 minutes up to a few hours. This style lends itself to people who like to have a couple projects going on – either another creative project you can move to while it dries (or the laundry, or a dog walk). I myself, fall into this camp. There’s no rhyme or reason, it’s mostly that I find holding a blow-dryer loud and boring (ahem, probably why I never do my hair either), and I think the back-and-forth dance with the laundry rather efficient ;). The pros of this are you can set up wherever you like. The cons are discovered if you own a cat.

5. Gesso your pages.

Watch the following three videos, and then grab your Gesso and go to town – have some fun!This is how I create the textures and “interest” before I even add color to my art journaling pages. 

WEEK ONE: Animal Medicine Work

Finding Your Animal Spirit Guides, Finding Your Power Pack




To find your Power Animals, your Power Pack, is a bit like sleuthing. Some answers may come immediately. Some answers may take awhile to show up. You will be “remembering” and asking your brain to sift through its experiences, and in a few days, you may have an Ah-Ha (like the one about Heron I will share in a moment).


This can be one, or two favorite animals. Think of what you loved as a child, but may have “given up.” Think of animals you have been attracted to for life.

I was convinced I wanted to be a Marine Biologist for years, for one reason: so I could swim with dolphins for a living. Now granted, I may have given up this idea, and spent years not really actively adoring them, but, if we were going on a vacation near an ocean, my instant-instant-instant thought was “What if I saw a dolphin?!” Dolphins still held a secret spot in my heart. I still secretly want to own a stuffed animal Dolphin to sleep with. Later this week I will share more about my experiences with dolphin, the magical connections and Not-Coincidences that occurred with dolphin in the last few years – the goosebump giving kind!!

I was also horse crazy. So Dolphin and Horse are two of my Power Pack animals. My childhood best friend loved Gorillas and collected hundreds of little statues, stuffed animals and the like. Her sister had it for turtles (in fact, she just commissioned a turtle painting from me a month ago!). Neither are taking this class, but these would be go-to power Animal Guides for them resepctively. So think along these lines.

2. What one or two animals have shown up your entire life?

This is the response that may take a few days, while your brain sifts through its memories. Is there an animal that other people gave you as a nickname? Were you gifted a certain animal all the time – in figurines or otherwise, even though you didn’t naturally have an affinity for it?  Is there an animal that continues to show up on your property?

Mine is Heron. It took me a LONG time to realize this one, and ironically, it is probably the strongest of my Power Animals. From as far back as I can recall, up through college, my childhood home had a small man-made pond behind it. And we had one heron that visited. Do you know, that Heron still comes back every year? The same bird. Without fail, my mom will write or call to “report” to me when it has returned (now that I no longer live in that state). I never asked her to do so, that’s just her way. But, as I did this work myself, I began to see the pattern. I have had a Heron live near me everywhere I move. Then, when I was having really important experiences in my life, days that stood out, there would be a Heron sighting. And finally, now living in Tulsa, I see dozens of them daily. They fly alongside my car as I drive up the riverside parkway. Their numbers here are meaningful to me. After 12 moves in 10 years (two over an ocean), they tell me: I am in the right place now. I already feel this, know this, but they confirm it.


3. An animal that you frequently dream of. This one’s rather self explanatory. Now, if an Animal Guide shows up multiple times but it’s just in the context of a very specific timeframe (like over the course of a month but never before)..that’s a situational messenger. But if you have always, for years (even if it was only two dreams a year) dreamt about the same animal, or had it show up in weird ways…that’s a Power Animal.

4. An animal that represents your character and personality traits.

To find this Animal Guide, you may want to do some googling, or flipping through a book on animals. What animal(s) represents your strongest character traits? Now remember : GOOD AND BAD TRAITS. Animals have a lot to teach us about our path, but also about our character. We all have some traits to work on, and our Animal counterparts can help us do that!

Tip: open up a google search tab and put a few adjectives that describe yourself, perhaps one at a time, combined with the word “animal” and hit “search”)