Monday, March 5, 2012

Book review - Raw Art Journaling - Quinn McDonald

Title: Raw art journaling - making meaning, making art
Author: Quinn McDonald
Info: 128 p. - 2011
Rating: 7.5 / 10


Anybody who just enters the world of art journaling may become completely overwhelmed by what's out there, in blogs, in books, in techniques and in examples. You might start to think you can't be an art journaler unless you have an art supply store full of supplies to work with and put layer upon layer of paint in your journal.

As wonderful as magazines like Art Journaling and most art journaling books are (and I love them all and own most of them) they rarely practice what they preach. They claim that in a journal anything goes, that you really don't need many supplies, that ugly pages are okay, etcetera etcetera, but what do you see when you look at them? Intricate layered and often gorgeous pages! Beautiful, but quite intimidating too.

Quinn McDonalds Raw Art Journaling is like a breath of fresh air in the art journaling books genre. It takes us right back to the basics of why we journal in the first place: namely to express ourselves. She gives very simple and wonderful exercises and ideas that really can be done with just a few supplies and she focuses more on the expression than on the making of a pretty page. In fact the book focuses on how imperfection is all part of the game. It's all about meaning.

What I also love about the book (as an avid journal writer) is that she gives attention to a thing often overlooked by most journaling books: text. She gives way to incorporate words, poetry and writing into your journal and even to make the writing a visual aspect of your page. But there's also a section about working with imagery like photographs and about doodling with lines and shapes. In fact it was this book that inspired my ribbon and circle drawings from my last post.

I would highly recommend this book to beginners and to those who feel overwhelmed by the mixed media aspect of art journaling. You really don't have to jump through hoops. You just have to get real.


  1. Thanks for knowing exactly why I wrote the book--are journaling is a way of accessing the way you make meaning. You don't have to be an illustrator. The writing element is an important way to give voice to your soul. Thanks for the kind review!

  2. I've been wondering about this book, and now I want to buy it.

  3. Thank you for the review. What you explain and QuinnCreative's comment that you "got it" put it on my book wish list. I don't consider myself an art journaler. Until recently all of my journaling was about the words. Now I have some pages about the "art" (mainly ideas for things I want to make with thread and fabric), but I like having the pretty art journal pages with my words, too.

  4. Sounds fabulous Caatje... love your book reviews... thank you for sharing...

    Jenny x

  5. Ik heb het boek ook pas geleden besteld en binnengekregen, en eerlijk gezegd heb ik er zelf niets aan. Het laat precies alle dingen zien die ik in mijn 'let it loose' workshop behandelde... maar voor beginners en mensen die overweldigd worden door al het moois op internet is het inderdaad een must have - wat dat betreft ben ik het met je eens.

  6. Thanks for such a good review. I'll look for her book when we go to the States! I'm rather a newbie at art journaling and often don't know what to do next, so I've been 'finishing' most of my pages with in quotes or sayings that mean something to me in at this point in my life. Works for me!

  7. Thanks for the review, Caatje...I've been interested in Quinn's book since it came out. I am curious as to why you gave it a 7.5 out of 10, since you didn't have any criticism? (Just seeking more info!)

    1. Ooh, Andria, what a difficult question to answer, I guess because rating is usually for me a rating of the whole reading experience. If a book absolutely rocks my world and leaves me dizzy for days on end I will give it a 10 out of 10, but that hardly ever happens. Still 7.5 is a pretty darn good rating for me and means I really did enjoy the book. The 10's are usually for fiction books and even then very rarely. For instance Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and His dark materials by Philip Pullman would get a solid 10 from me. That's an almost impossible standard to live up to. I'm currently reading a series by George R.R. Martin and I'm loving it so much, living in that world, but a 10? No, a 9 probably.
      I think the best art journaling book I've read so far was True Vision by L.K.Ludwig and I rated that 8.5 if I remember correctly (not on this blog, that was BB Before Blog, haha). Most books I read fall into the 7 to 8 category, so I'm probably highly critical. I liked Raw Art Journaling a lot and think it is a different book from most of the current art journaling books, so I rated it higher then a 7. The art in it was not always to my taste, the exercises were not always new to me, so I didn't make it an 8. But the overall idea of a book that focuses on the basics and the true meaning of why we art journal in the first place spoke to me and it felt nice to reminded of that. It's hard to explain my rating, it's not a rational system, it's an overall impression of both content and my reading experience. Rating is so subjective. ;-) As illogical as it may sound, I did give it five stars on amazon. Anyway, hope this helps a little.


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