Hello Michelle! Thank you so much for having me. I’m a 24 year old Chinese girl living in Austria with my parents and my two sisters. Currently I'm studying law and I'm working part time on Saturdays to support my studies and my love for stationery. I like to journal, watch animated movies and to share my creative process on Youtube.
- How and when did your love for art journaling all begin?Well, I was always drawn to art and diaries. But I could never stick to journaling. I would often start one and then drop it after maybe a week. My oldest diary was from when I was 11. Messy and embarrassing but very precious. And although I had this love for art, I could never understand how much work it takes, so I quickly gave up on it. I didn't touch a journal or even tried drawing since I was 15. It wasn't until I discovered the Midori Traveler’s Notebooks two years ago around spring, that I fell in love and enjoyed journaling so much that I couldn't stop. That's also when I wanted to do more art and improve and I felt all this creativity in me that was impatient to come out. I was not feeling well at that time and journaling and drawing helped me collect my thoughts and lose myself for a short moment in the colours and the lines.
- How long have you been using watercolors for?This is quite funny because I used to hate watercolours. It was the only medium I completely avoided. Back in school we had to use watercolours quite often in art class. But I never understood that you had to wait for them to dry, so I would always end up with this pool of muddy colours. I was horrified by how ugly it turned out although the lineart seemed fine. I started using watercolours two years ago after I started journaling again and I was amazed by how much fun they actually are! They are very free and work in unexpected ways.
- What inspires or influences your illustrations and journalings?I was hugely inspired by LaDolceVita. After seeing her illustrations I couldn't stop wanting to improve. Her art sparked something in me that drew me away from my usual impatience and I actually started analysing my mistakes and learning from them instead of throwing the bad art away. Aside from that I get inspired by the never ending creativity on Instagram, movies, music, the bible and especially my mood. Pretty much everything around me has a strong influence that easily shows in my art.
- Do you feel that your art journaling has changed throughout the years?Immensely! Because I see myself improving with every single sketch I make, I'm actually very proud to say that it has changed a lot. My anatomy is slightly better. When flipping through my pages I can see that I have grown more patient and I use colours differently. Some things are very subtle changes, but the overall feeling of my art has changed from clearly being inspired and almost copied from an artist to being more me and representing what I am.
- Do you currently have a favorite notebook/brand, or type of paper, that you enjoy using for your art journalings?Yes! Of course it's the Traveler’s Notebooks by former Midori, now Traveler’s Company. The leather gives me such joy. And their paper handles watercolour so well! Aside from their notebooks I really like the Tomoe River paper in the Hobonichi. The thin paper and the oh so wonderful crinkling sound of the pages after the colours dried makes my heart jump. Although I have moved on from the Hobonichi and probably won't be using it in the near future because I need more freedom in my art and I don't want to be restricted to just one page a day, I feel like it helped me improve my art simply because it forced me to draw everyday. Because of that I have very fond memories of the Hobonichi and I'm very thankful to it.
I love the Salura Pigma Microns in 005! They have a very fine tip and are perfect since they are waterproof. I can't imagine a more fitting pen for my needs when it comes to lineart. For writing I use the Uniball Signo in 0.38 as they offer a very smooth writing experience. Sometimes I will use my TWSBI ECO EF inked with J.Herbin Lie de The. It's a beautiful brown ink, but the ink is not waterproof so be careful. My favourite watercolour brand so far is Winsor Newton. Their colours are vibrant and they don't leave a chalky feeling. As far as brushes go, I don't have a preference, but my main brushes are the Pentel Aquash in fine, a size 4 and size 0 brush by Winsor Newton and the pocket brush that's included in the Winsor Newton Sketchers Box.
Not particularly but I need quietness with only my music in the background or a journal-with-me video, so I mostly journal when nobody’s home, like around or late in the evening to recap the day.
It comes with me everywhere I go. My artjournal is in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook together with my planner, so I have it with me at all times. I feel better knowing that I can always journal and sketch when I feel like doing so.
- For the writing portion within your art journal, what do you find yourself documenting the most?
I like to write down things that I want to remember in years to come. So it includes daily events, my thoughts and also bible verses that struck my heart. Sometimes I will journal about lyrics and quotes I come by. My journal has everything that has an impact on me. It's like a sneakpeak into my mind.
Sadly there aren't too many in the city where I live in. But I loved Luiban, which is a store in Berlin that I visited last year. Here in Vienna we have a store called Thalia which offers a nice variety of drawing paper pads and lots of brushes. There is also a nice small stationery store called Sous-Bois where I get my notebook refills from. I mostly order my supplies online, which takes away the experience of touching everything but most of my supplies are Japanese and they are harder to come by here.
- Favorite color?
I use a lot of blues and soft pinks. Never thought that I would because my wardrobe is mostly muted and very dark and fallish colours. But blue and pink can be so strong yet so soft and they can show my mood very well.
- Favorite food?Haha I love eating so this is hard. But I never say no to tofu, so I guess that's what I would pick. I'm a pretty picky eater, I don't like to eat too much meat, but I really like all kinds of vegetables.
- What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Hmm, I actually started journaling and filming videos in English to improve. Since I don't have a lot of opportunities to talk or write in that language, as I use German in everyday conversations, I was afraid I might forget a lot of words. It has helped me a lot. Now I'm trying to slowly transition into using Chinese in my journaling to improve that.
- What would you say is the best piece of advice you've received, learned, or live by?
“God will not give you a burden you cannot carry.” Which is basically a simplified version of 1. Corinthians
Whenever I feel too burdened and suffocated, this gives me strength and support. It's a very uplifting verse.
My answer will be very cliché, but just do it. Don't be afraid of making mistakes or it not being pretty. Because that's not the point. Improvement comes first, it being pretty will come with time. Not giving up and sticking to it will show results. Your hard work and effort will not betray you!
Also, don't compare your art with others. Just because your art does not look like the art of someone else, it's still art.
I don't want to be overly harsh but it's very foolish to compare your art that you might have started just 1 month ago, to someone who might have practiced day and night for years. I'm not talking about myself, I used to compare and get so discouraged, but once you realise that most of the time it's not talent but extremely hard work, then you will want to press on and improve.
Keep doing it and try to make it a habit to sketch something everyday. Doesn't matter how simple or how fast, but once a day bring pencil to paper and create something. And don't tell me you don't have the time. You always have 5 minutes to spare, whether you're waiting for the bus or for your food to heat up in the microwave. I used to sketch on the toilet because I had exams and just really no spare time. If you want to make art, just know it takes time to improve, and I'm someone who just started out, and sometimes it's a fight against yourself but it's so much fun.
Now the harsh words aside, for those who are looking to start using watercolours, please be patient. Let the colours dry before doing the next layers! And use layers! Think about where the light hits, start building your colours from light to darkest. Also, try to not use the colours straight out of the box but rather to mix your own colours. And my last advice is to have fun and experiment lots and lots. Make mistakes, learn from them, and continue.
Those two things take up a huge portion of my free time, but I also enjoy reading and editing videos. Recently I have started to try and learn to read music and play the keyboard from my sister which is a lot of fun. I also like to go on fashion blogs to find inspiration for when drawing clothes. Now that I think about it, really all I do in my freetime is drawing. And when I have enough time I will usually try to film a journal with me video for Youtube, since they take longer to film and edit.
Thank you so much, Alice, for taking the time to share your illustrations and art journalings with us!
And for all you wonderful readers looking for more inspiration and to connect, you can find Alice here:
YOUTUBE: Hallo Alice
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