gift guide

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

Hi there. How are you? 

The creative life can be hard to navigate. Sometimes you need a little guidance or a little encouragement to keep you going. In the past few years, I've noticed a deluge of books on the subject. Working at the public library, I've had a chance to read many books about the creative life, and I thought I'd share my favorites with you. 

Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

These titles have all provided me with practical guidance on my own creative journey. (Note the word PRACTICAL.) None of these books offer pie in the sky, get famous fast solutions. Instead, think of them as creative pep-talks, each with actionable steps you can take to live your best creative life. They're NOT just for visual artists, but for anyone who has a creative pursuit.

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of the smash hit "Eat, Pray, Love," this is my absolute favorite book on the list. Though Gilbert discusses her own creative process as a writer, the sage wisdom she doles out is applicable to anyone with a creative pursuit. She encourages creatives to NOT quit their day jobs. When your creative pursuit becomes a job, you've got more pressure to produce and it often takes some of the joy out of it. She also puts to rest the myth of the suffering artist. Making good art doesn't have to be torture!

2. Steal LIke an Artist by Austin Kleon

This is a very quick read filled with practical advice in a graphic style. Kleon purports that "Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination."

One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

3. your inner Critic is A Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

After reading Danielle's blog "The Jealous Curator"  for years and religiously listening to her podcast "Art for Your Ear", I was quick to purchase this book. In her humorous, light-hearted way, Danielle lays out her 10 truths about what it means to be a creative person.  Cheeky illustrations by Martha Rich throughout the book bring even more levity to the discussion. Using anecdotes from successful artists and from her own life, Danielle discusses creative roadblocks, like "Imposter Syndrome," when you feel like a fraud, insecure about your art and creation process. (Boy, can I relate?) She also offers simple, practical exercises to help you get over those roadblocks and get down to the business of making good work. 

One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

4. show your work by Austin Kleon

In this follow up to Steal Like an Artist, Kleon explains how to "Share Like an Artist."  In his signature style, combining handwritten pages, illustration, and text, he lays out 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.  This is another quick read with actionable advice to help you get your work out there. 

5. Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

More than any of the other books on the list, Growing Gills provides a step-by-step process to help you find your creative focus.  Complete with a downloadable workbook, this book is like your own private workshop, helping you build focus to finish your creative work. 

I've read and re-read these books. 

They're all that good! I tend to grab them off my shelf when I'm in an artistic slump or feeling like a fraud again. These little creative pep talks sure do help. 

* As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase the books I've listed through these links. It's a small way for you to support the work I do. (Thank you!)

Anything I should add to the list?

Do tell! Leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for inspirational reading.

Ciao! Jen

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Hi there. How are you? 

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is gift wrapping. I spend way too much time on it and I like to come up with new ways to wrap things every year.

Tea towels make great gift wrap. Here I've wrapped up jars of local honey and apple butter. 

Tea towels make great gift wrap. Here I've wrapped up jars of local honey and apple butter. 

Tea Towel as Gift Wrap

Since I started making tea towels a couple years back, I enjoy using them as wrapping "paper". Here I wrapped up a jar of local honey and a local apple butter and topped it off with one of my dala hoop ornaments.

Wouldn't this make a cute teacher or hostess gift?

Click HERE to see how I wrapped this.

My fabric ornaments have sold well this year. 

My fabric ornaments have sold well this year. 

Hoops are Hot for 2017

I Introduced these small fabric hoop ornaments in 2016 and did not sell a single one. This year, they've been super popular! The ebb and flow of retail is weird.

Wine towels are new in 2017. Click through to purchase. 

Wine towels are new in 2017. Click through to purchase. 

New Wine Towels

As a lover of wine, I don't know why it took me so long to make a wine tea towel. They're finally here and I love them! (Click HERE to see the whole towel.) 

Wrap a bottle of wine in this wine tea towel and you've got an instant holiday hostess gift!

Wrap a bottle of wine in this wine tea towel and you've got an instant holiday hostess gift!

A Stylish Holiday Gift

My favorite way to gift a tea towel is with a bottle of wine. Wrap it up and a bow and bam, you've got a fab holiday hostess gift.  (Click HERE to see the steps I followed to wrap this.)

One last thing: 

All orders placed by December 19th will ship with a free mystery print.

It's a little gift from me to you!

December 19th is also the last day I will be shipping for the holidays.

My apologies to my international crew....Any international orders placed now won't make it in time for Christmas.

Happy Holidays Friends! Ciao.

My Coloring Book is Here!

Hi there. How are you? Me? I'm so excited!

After a month of really hard work, I'm happy to report that my coloring book is here and ready for purchase! Take a peek inside my friends.

Pattern Play - A Coloring Book by Jennifer Johansson. Now available for purchase!

A glimpse inside. This page was inspired by paper lanterns.

A glimpse inside. This page was inspired by paper lanterns.

My interpretation of wood grain.

Straight from my Sketchbook

If you follow me here or on social media, you'll probably recognize some of these drawings, as they came straight out of my sketchbook.  (Well, almost straight out of my sketchbook. I did a little cleaning and editing in Photoshop and Illustrator.) As most of what I've been drawing lately has a patterned aspect about it, I decided to title this "Pattern Play." As a big fan of alliteration, I think it works and describes what one will find inside.

A closeup view of my kimono inspired page. Won't this be fun to color?

For best results, use colored pencils, water-based markers or crayons to color in "Pattern Play."

The Details

"Pattern Play" features 20 pattern drawings, printed on just one side of the paper for optimum "colorabilty." You can easily remove pages from the book to share or even hang.  It was professionally printed at the Printing Plant right here in Carbondale, on a nice 70 lb. paper. For best results, I recommend you color with colored pencils, water-based markers, or crayons. Sharpies and other solvent-based markers work as well, but will bleed through. As long as you put a scrap piece of paper under your page, color away with your Sharpies!

#ColorWithJen

I can't wait to see my coloring book in action! I invite you to share your colored pages with my via email or on Instagram with the hashtag #ColorWithJen

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Act Fast Friends!

I've had so many inquiries about my coloring book that I do expect them to sell out quickly. I opened sales up yesterday to my mailing list members and sold half of my stock! If you want one, I'd BUY NOW!

That's all for now! Ta-ta!