Filling up the 2019 Creative Companion

I’ve had my copy of the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion: 2019 Organizer & Coloring Art Journal for a few months now, and in addition to filling it up with colors and notes, it’s gone through a bit of a transformation.

I originally took the book apart (cut off the spine with an x-acto blade and metal ruler) and spiral bound it. But last week, I stumbled across a decent hard cover Kraft binder at Michaels and thought it might be a nice way to protect the book. I almost always toss it in my bag when I head out the door to work from the local coffee shop or library, and imagine it will get pretty ratty-looking eventually. But I also thought it would give me a little more room to add more stuff. The 8.4 x 11″ hard-backed Kraft binder is made by Recollections and was in the scrapbooking section of Michaels. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it online otherwise I’d provide the direct link, sorry.

It’s just a little taller than I wanted (and maybe not as thick) but overall, it works pretty well. It came with a sheet plastic, self-stick photo corner fasteners, plus a few Kraft card-stock dividers. And decorative brass corners on the journal itself. I am not sure what I’ll be drawing on the blank cover yet … but I am sure it will happen before too long.


Creative Companion inside the new Recollections journal

The biggest drawback I see to doing this from scratch at home is that the Recollections journal has 9 rings (which, by the way, are not terribly easy to open). Who has a 9-ring paper punch? I don’t. But I lucked out because the holes I had punched for spiral-binding matched up with the 9 rings perfectly.

My guess is that you would be able to take this to an office supply store like Staples and they could trim off the spine and punch the holes for you—if not the special 9-hole pattern, a spiral-binding hole punch with a 4:1 pitch that would line up properly.


I colored the horse on page 3 of the Creative Companion with a mix of Yasutomo pearlesent paints and Caran d’Ache Lumiance pencils.

I use my Creative Companion to keep track of the Ruby Charm Colors project mostly, but also do a little personal journaling in it, too. Like keeping track of how many days of school are cancelled because of the snow, birthdays, appointments, etc.. And, of course, I play with colors and use a lot of the smaller illustrations to warm up my fingers before tackling brand new line drawings for my upcoming books. The Companion is getting a little messy (some of the paints and markers I’ve used bled through a little) but I really don’t mind as it is what I think of as a process journal—something I actually work in and use. Not just for show or decoration.


I wasn’t too careful with the amount of water I used on the Sunbird on the other side of this page. No biggie. I still like the beetle and might incorporate some of the bleed-through into a background for the beetle.

The following pics show a few of my colorings so far in the index pages…




In the pic above, you can see the plastic sheet I keep in my book to protect the pages underneath the one I happen to be coloring (especially if I am using paints or markers). And I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the self-stick colored tabs you can find just about anywhere now are super handy for quick access to certain pages of the book.


For the monthly calendar pages, I write with gel pens and pencil. Light colors work best, of course. I am still searching for the ultimate fine tip, opaque gel pens though I do like my Gelly Rolls.

See those paint swatches I taped to the page? Those are the first handmade mica paints I received from Karen Spencer (@indigoartgb) before become madly addicted to her watercolors! The tin above the book is filled with her fabulous paints. You can read all about her and her fabulous paints here.


In addition to finding the hard journal at Michaels, I also found a smaller Kraft booklet I use as an insert. With everything I have to keep track of for the Ruby Charm Colors project (so many lists), I knew I could use the extra space. I simply slide it through an elastic loop that runs through the rings of the hard-backed journal but can easily slide it back out when I need it. Since it is also made of Kraft paper, it looks great with the journal cover. I painted/colored a few bugs on it so far.



The pic above is the beginning of the charting section of the Creative Companion. The Kraft journal cover I got at Michaels came with a few card stock dividers so I used two of them to section off my charts. That blank page is killing me. I’ll have to draw something on it soon.

Also, because I took the Creative Companion apart, I rearranged some of the pages, shhh. So now, instead of four sections of months (3 in each) I now have two: January through June in the front of the book, and July through December in the back, after the charting section in the middle.

Ideas for the 2020 Creative Companion keep evolving the more I use the 2019 version, and you have suggestions I am always open to hearing them.


My Faber-Castell Polychromos chart – a solid pencil choice for coloring based on quality and cost.


My Caran d’Ache Luminance chart – a very slowly growing collection due to their high cost, but these are probably my favorite pencils.


My Tombow Irojiten pencils – all purchased open-stock. Someday I’ll have the whole collection and love them for burnishing and detail work.


My Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils – be still my heart I love these! And yep I mixed up the olives (hence the swappity-swap arrows).


I adore my Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels and have the entire set thanks to a dear friend. They are fantastic!


My coveted mica watercolor collection – handmade paints by Karen Spencer! I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have met Karen through another coloring friend … art makes the world go round!

So that’s a peek at my Creative Companion so far. It keeps getting fatter as I tape in bits of paper scraps and notes, and do a little coloring here and there. It’s getting messy and I am curious to see how it will look at the end of the year.

If you’ve got a copy, I hope you are filling it up with goodness and having fun with it!

If you don’t have a copy, you can find it here on Amazon, or, you can enter a contest to WIN a copy through Red Tifa’s YouTube channel!

You can watch the video below, but you must subscribe to her channel and like her video there to enter. Be sure to follow the instructions for your chance to win either a Creative Companion, or a copy of Volume 1 or 2 of the Art Journal!