Beth Markel

Art Journaling & looking for inspiration…

Posted on December 27, 2013 by Beth Markel

As the year comes to a close, I was recently asked how my journaling was going, as in the past it has come in fits and starts.  For a very long time I’ve kept a sort of “notebook” full of drawings, watercolors, pencil sketches, doodles, and photographs, but never called this a “journal.”  This year, beginning in January, I decided to put a twist in my art journaling and LOOK, really look, each day for inspiration.  What has inspired me this year?  I consciously looked for inspiration.  Sometimes it was color.  Sometimes it was pattern or repetition.  Sometimes it was hearing from sweet & lovely, long-lost cousins.  Sometimes, it was in the ordinary day-to-day that so many of us take for granted.

My goal, while seemingly simple, was only partially met in photographs, and I began to expand WHAT inspired me into something inspirational… or at least lovely, or perhaps just a learning experiment.  Sometimes the greatest mistakes turned into the greatest lessons.  Learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning what TO do, especially when exploring new technique!

So, I’ve been taught this year that if you LOOK for inspiration every day, you will FIND inspiration every day.

I’ve learned that some of the most fleeting things (a fragrant lily, a flitting butterfly, and the glorious, emerald-green chest of a hummingbird) can be and ARE inspirational.

I’ve learned that a fragrant lily, a flitting butterfly, and the glorious, emerald-green chest of a hummingbird, while inspirational, are also difficult to translate into fabric.

Fortunately, things that are static, or unmoving, are just as inspirational to me as the fleeting.  The colorful repetition of nail polishes lined up just so, the pile of gorgeous grapes in the produce section, and the bubbles of good champagne, all inspire me.

I like repetition, and find myself translating that into fabric, like a motif that repeats, making a pattern coherent.

Riff on a Bull's Eye

I’ve also found that color is one of the most powerful tools when creating a textile piece – at least it is for me.  I’ve also discovered that I very much like to work with black/white, black/gray, gray/white, and black/gray/white combinations.  If not for an entire piece, then “pieces” of this combination in larger works.  There is something so grounding about black, so light about white, and so uncertain about gray.  Gray works with reds.  Gray works with greens.  Gray works with neon yellow.  Gray works with blues.  It is absolutely yummy when done correctly.


     When you go into a project, with just a rough sketch in hand,  there’s no telling what kind of creativity it can unleash.  If I work without pre-conceived ideas of what I want the finished product to look like, just what I want it to represent, I open myself up for all forms of textile experimentation.  This is the great exploration of textiles, quilting, embellishments, no rules and no judgment!

     River Rock Wetstage

River Rocks Detail

River Rocks Complete

River Rocks Complete


Find YOUR voice!

Happy sewing,







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