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Hello! My name is Candace, and I'm a sketch artist with a passion for helping you connect with the world through art. Pull out your sketchbook and watercolors and find your favorite view — I'm glad you're here!

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”

― Christina Baldwin

Friends, one of my favorite posts of the year so far was one I shared with you all in January, about three simple ways to keep an art journal in 2017. That post focused on how to catch more of life’s little moments as they pass us by — whether it’s by creating a day-marker, or pulling together our favorite bus tickets, business cards, and other fun slips of paper into a memorabilia collage.

Today, I’m excited to focus on catching sources of inspiration with our journals. Just as it often feels like life is moving past me far faster than I can take hold of it, so does it feel like I receive inspiration from all sides these days, especially in the form of memorable quotes: from books, articles, newsletters, social media posts, podcasts, and the list goes on…

For me, the issue isn’t necessarily finding inspiration — it’s keeping track of everything that inspires me, in order for all that inspiration to truly inform my life and help me grow.

As I began keeping a regular art journal in 2016, a few favorite methods of catching and honoring sources of inspiration emerged.

Here are three simple ways I enjoy catching inspiration in my journal, in the hope that they’ll be helpful for you, too.

Art journal collage

One of my evening art journaling sessions on Norway’s Lofoten Islands last year — complete with candle and cup of tea, of course!

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1. Book quote collages

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, then you are, like me, a voracious reader. There’s nothing I love more than the feeling of being absorbed in a good book — for me, it’s almost as vivid a journey as traveling through the physical world. I love the process of underlining and circling favorite quotes, giving certain pages a quick dogear, and sometimes even using colorful little post-it note flags, all in the name of making sure favorite passages won’t be forgotten.

But here’s the thing: Once I finish a book, those favorite pages often do fall to the wayside of my mind. After I place a book back on my shelf, I hardly ever take the time to return to it — and if I do, it can be hard to remember where a particular passage is.

And so, after I finished an especially resonant book last January — Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing — I had an idea. I ran to a print shop in my neighborhood, made a copy of the pages containing my favorite quotes, cut the quotes out at home (as pictured in the photo above), and then pasted them across two pages of my art journal, writing a key phrase or theme beside each quote. I’ve done such “book quote collages” for a few more favorite books I’ve read since then, and each time, I love the result:

These collages are like our very own SparkNotes summary for a book — a personal collection of inspiring quotes that we can easily return to and read again in the future.

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2. Hand-lettered quotes

As much as I enjoy creating book quote collages, sometimes there’s a quote you want to highlight even more — when tucking it on a page among a bunch of other quotes just won’t cut it — and for that, I love hand-lettering a single quote in my journal.

Of all the journaling ideas I’ve shared with you so far this year, this one might be the simplest to execute — all you really need is a pen, your journal, and a quote — and yet I also feel it’s one of the most meaningful ways to journal. Sometimes it feels like I come across a dozen memorable quotes a day — they’re frequently shared on social media, and even my daily meditation app Calm displays a quote at the end of each session (and they’re usually all worth saving to my phone!).

The problem, though, is that I often just read the quote once or twice and then continue going about my day. But by taking the time to hand-letter a quote that’s resonated with me, it’s a way of transforming that momentary flash of inspiration into a longer period of reflection that can even feel like its own form of meditation.

Working my way through a quote helps me think it over more slowly and understand it on a deeper, more meaningful level — word by word, line by line.

Hand-lettered quote of David Whyte

This quote is from poet David Whyte’s book, “Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.”

Hand-lettered quote by Carl Philips

I loved coming across this quote from poet and writer Carl Philipps in a talk he gave at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont.

Hand-lettered quote David Whyte

Another beautiful quote by poet David Whyte, also taken from his book “Consolations.”

Hand-lettered quote Alexander McCall Smith

Quote from a wonderful story by Alexander McCall Smith in Lonely Planet’s literary travel anthology, “Better than Fiction 2.”

Hand-lettered art journal quotes

At the beginning of my new art journal for 2017, I hand-lettered a few quotes that are especially relevant for my focus this year.

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3. Magazine collages

Last but not least, I wanted to share a few other collages with you, that I’ve made out of different quotes and images from magazines — and I specifically used airline in-flight magazines for these collages.

When I was growing up, I used to love poring over magazines in search of inspiring words or phrases, cutting the words out, and then creating collages with them. Last year, as I was traveling from San Francisco to Norway, I passed some time on the flight by looking through Norwegian Airline’s magazine. And as I did, phrases began to jump out at me, just as they did when I was little:

Northern Roots

A home away from home

Discover

Immediately, I took out the glue stick and pair of children’s scissors I travel with, and decided to make my first magazine collage since childhood. Besides fun quotes and phrases, in-flight magazines are also a good source of inspiration for something else — large, gorgeous photos, often of places you’re either heading to or have just left. Norwegian Air’s magazine was no different; I found two large photos, used them as the background for my double-page collage, and then glued the phrases on top of them.

For me, these collages are not only a chance to reflect on the inspiration I’ve found, but to then also create something new out of that inspiration — in a way, it’s art that keeps giving.

Magazine collage

The collage I created during my flight from San Francisco to Norway’s Lofoten Islands last year, where I spent ten weeks working on a book.

Magazine collage

To bookend the trip, I created another collage on my flight leaving Lofoten, as I left the islands’ solitude and continued traveling in Europe.

Magazine collage

I made my third magazine collage in 2016 shortly after traveling from San Francisco to Buenos Aires, where I spent two weeks before moving to Uruguay; I wanted to capture the sense of possibility and new beginnings I felt at the time.

Magazine collage in art journal

I also wanted to share these examples with you, where I pasted a single quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book “The Faraway Nearby” on images I cut out from a travel brochure for the Lofoten Islands; it was a fun way to combine my love for both book quotes and magazine collages.

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I didn’t mention the amount of time needed for each of these ideas like I did in our last post on journaling, because they’re not exactly as quick or clear-cut as a 5-minute day-marker — but I hope the simplicity of these ideas still comes across. All you need is a pen, glue stick, and scissors, and you can transform your art journal into a treasure trove of favorite quotes and inspiration.

We receive so much inspiration in our lives these days; my hope is that these ideas will help you document, process, and reflect on what inspires you — and even create something new out of it 🙂

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  • Oh how I wish I could find a photo of my little desk, made by your Dad, in the corner of the kitchen in our “baby house.” After I put you down for the night, I would light a candle, take out my journal and fountain pen, make a cup of tea and write my heart out on paper. In the silence, I listened for whispers. Here you are, all these years later, doing the same. Might it be a DNA thing? I am grateful you have this gift and that you are gracefully and humbly offering it to us.

    • Mom, I can’t tell you how much I would *love* to see a photo of your sacred nightly ritual in the corner of that lovely kitchen (which was probably not too far away from where I would sit and work on my world map puzzle, right? 🙂 More and more these days, I think about how much you instilled in me a love and appreciation for quiet reflection–from our now-famous afternoon quiet times, to your journals that I used to love looking through when I was younger. I’m not sure if it’s a DNA thing, but you definitely made it a beautiful part of our family!

  • I LOVE these, Candace! Wow, I’m super excited about these ideas—thank you so much for sharing them!

    The photocopying + book quote collages especially appeal to me. If I’m traveling I’ll highlight quotes on my kindle (and not always remember to go back after I’ve finished it), or if I’ve got a paperback I might later type them up or sometimes copy them down in pen—but I love that the collage gives you instant physical access forever!

    I also appreciate that each idea slows you down to really soak in the inspiration, creating deeper growth. Yes!

    Finally, this sparked an idea for a future post I’d love to read here: Your book recommendations! 🙂

    • Rebecca! I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear these ideas sparked some excitement for you 🙂 And oh my goodness…please don’t remind me of what a black hole of lost highlighted quotes my kindle is! As little as I return to physical books I’ve read in the past, I return to my kindle even less, and I rue knowing how much inspiration I haven’t truly processed or applied to my life.

      But I’m so happy you love the idea of the book quote collages–for me, I not only love getting to return to favorite quotes from the book, but cutting the quotes out and piecing them together on the page is also just a super fun process that I think you’ll enjoy as well.

      Lastly, I have absolutely been thinking about sharing some book recommendations here recently (especially illustrated books), so thank you for the encouragement!

      PS — and I’m not surprised at all to hear you use Calm 🙂 It’s become such a welcome ritual in my days now–and how great are the quotes at the end?? Sending a huge hug from Montevideo as this particular journey comes to an end for you soon! <3

  • Nancy Bardos

    Ahhhhhhhhh. Thank you for this. And I so love reading your mother’s comment. So sweet and very dear.

    • You are so very welcome, Nancy! I’m just happy to hear the post resonated with you. And it meant so much to me as well to read my mom’s comment–it’s so fun knowing exactly where I get my love for journaling from 🙂 <3

  • Treava

    Candace this is great. Thank you again for more inspiring ideas for us! I too love and collect quotes however, the cut out ones are in little piles in a box. I also dog-ear and mark in books, which yes, get put aside and forgotten. I agree that when you physically transcribe something be it a sketch or a quote that you become absorbed within that moment. It then becomes part of you.
    Thank you again Candace!

    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed reading these ideas, Treava! And I couldn’t agree more with you, that whether it’s sketching or journaling or hand-lettering a quote, all of these creative activities have something important in common–how they help us sink deeper into the moment and honor the gifts it has for us. It’s always an honor for me to hear how the stories and ideas I share here resonate with you, so I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me 🙂 <3

  • I love these ideas, Candace! I enjoy collaging as well and haven’t been at it for a while. You’ve inspired me to start collecting scraps again. And you’re right about this: “the issue isn’t necessarily finding inspiration — it’s keeping track of everything that inspires me, in order for all that inspiration to truly inform my life and help me grow.” Journaling can be a way to curate and cultivate your own creativity. Thanks for reminding me of this 🙂

    • “Journaling can be a way to curate and cultivate your own creativity.” That’s such a poignant, powerful thought, Joc, and I so appreciate you sharing it here with me! I’m also so glad to hear these ideas might’ve nudged you to start collaging and collecting little bits of memorabilia again — I can only imagine the wonders and beauty your journal must hold 🙂 Sending hugs from Uruguay to NZ!