The 2021 Creative Companion is finally here

It’s been a long wait, but the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion: 2021 Organizer and Coloring Art Journal is now available on Amazon! Do you need one?

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a planner that has just a little structure and a whole lot of open space to organize what’s important to you—the way you find most useful and can grow organically with you throughout the year. This planner is a cross between a monthly organizer, a bullet journal, and an art journal and is divided into three general sections: calendars, a compendium for making lists, and a creative planner. There is also an index so you can record a title and page number whenever you create your own lists, notes, to-do pages, etc. somewhere in the book. And there’s plenty of art to color if you need to scratch a creative itch. You may also notice that this year’s Creative Companion is a little more compact which makes it easier to stash or toss in a bag.

The 2021 yearly calendar and a quick 2022 “look ahead” is followed by monthly calendars (see sample below) with ample room to plan ahead, jot down important dates, track your goals and accomplishments, and do some journaling. Like many, I use the calendar on my phone and iPad to set reminders and such, but when it comes to creative planning and personal notes, I still prefer paper so I can circle dates, color code tasks, and scribble ideas.

This section of the book is dedicated to making lists like art supply resources and wish lists, books, techniques, favorite websites, podcasts, and even a place to list your favorite hashtags if you are a social media junkie. There are plenty of blank pages to make custom lists—favorite Instagram accounts, gift-giving ideas, movies to watch, novels to read, email addresses, new flowers to plant in the garden—you get the idea.

Creative Planner
The last part of the book is loosely divided into 8 different 10-page areas (each with its own artwork and a mix of graphed, lined and blank pages) though you can divide these areas up however you like. I use this part of my book to plan my own projects and have found that my planners from 2019 and 2020 are packed with important notes I still go back to today.

The first Creative Companion came out in 2019, and like the 2020 version, was 7.5″ wide by 9.25″ high. The new 2021 Companion is slightly more narrow at just over 6″ across but still 9.25″ high, so it is a little more portable. Below is the “author proof” copy of the book I received in the mail to make sure everything looked okay⏤hence the “Not for Resale” bar across the cover. The pic on the left is a little deceiving⏤the books are the same height.

My own copies of the Creative Companions the past two years have really helped me stay more organized. In the past, I would jot down notes on random scraps of paper in my studio, but I would usually lose them. When I needed to know, for example, what the ISBN number is for my Oceanimaginary book, or how many illustrations are in it, I would have to jump through a few hoops online to find out because of course I could not find that random scrap of paper. Now I have all of that info in the Compendium and Creative Planner sections of my Companion (and I don’t have to be online to find it).

I also have a section of numbers and stats for my little business, a list of new illustration ideas, a list of ideas for new products, pages of technical notes for turning my drawings into PDFs and books, notes and color swatches for paintings (like the Rebel Moth) and notes about how to use certain tools in Procreate, Illustrator and InDesign. I also have some odds and ends that come in really handy like a list of clothing sizes for my family, what I planted in my vegetable garden, and plenty of journal entries.

If you like to knit or embroider, you could include notes about projects you plan to tackle and even tape snippets of yarn, thread or patterns to your pages. If you are a painter, you could sketch out a new idea and include a few swatches or lists of colors you want to incorporate. If you are a gardener, you could map out your beds on a graph and make a list of the plants or seeds you need to find. And of course, if you love to color, you can list your favorite books, keep track of the colorings your are most proud of, or make a wish list of the pencils you are dying to get your hands on. No matter your creative inclinations, you should be able to fill this book up with the things that are important to you.

Because the Companion is loosely structured, you can make the book what you need it to be.

Finally, if you need a little inspiration, there are plenty of designs to color in this book. Just grab a few pencils and tinker when your are bored, feeling anxious, stuck on a long phone call, or while waiting for an appointment. I find that coloring small pieces of art helps me relax, focus, and even inspire new ideas. The Companion is not meant for coloring masterpieces, but more for playing with color and sparking creativity. All of the designs for coloring in this book are brand new to the Ruby Charm Colors collection and were created specifically for this book.

No one has to see what’s in your journal, so take chances, experiment, and get some of your ideas down on paper. You are welcome to copy the designs from the book onto heavier cards stock or watercolor paper if you like, and I will also have most all of these designs available on Etsy as downloadable, printable PDFs. Here are just a few of the brand new designs included in the 2021 Creative Companion:

Looking for a few more tips?

The new, slimmer format of the Creative Companion fits more easily in a variety of ring binder covers if you are industrious and want to take it apart by cutting off the spine. You certainly can use the book as is (and many people do!) but I like having the ability to add pages and move things around, so for me, popping all of my pages into a ring-binder makes the most sense. This way, it can grow and change over the course of the year as my needs change. Below is a photo of the Franklin Planner I use (Classic size) with my 2020 Companion stuffed inside. It is a little too wide for the Franklin so I can’t use the strap to secure the binder when it is closed. I am anxious to pop the new one in once 2020 is laid to rest⏤so much so I splurged on a Franklin Classic hole punch this morning! It’s the little things, I know.

If you are interested in deconstructing your book and putting it back together again, please take a look at the Creative Companion Book Binding DIY I put together last year. It shows how to take a spine off a book (with videos) and has a few pointers on using the book, too.

Just for fun

Below are a few designs I played around with in my 2020 Companion. After coloring the seahorse, I wanted to see how the Finnabair clear gesso would work as a protective layer. It buckled the paper a bit and picked up some of my pencil pigments so I probably won’t do that again. Maybe as a base layer to provide tooth on smoother paper, but not as an over coat.

I printed this cat on scrapbook paper (back when I was putting together designs for a Singles for Print pack of PDFs for Etsy) and decided to trim the page to size, punch holes in it and add it to my planner for inspiration.

Here is my heron on the art supply wishlist page. I have most of the Irojitens and Luminance now, and finally all of the Polychromos. A few Holbeins and Lightfast. Someday I will complete those sets (I usually buy just a couple of pencils at a time through Blick, CultPens, or Jackson’s) and I really want to play around with the Mitsubishi Uni pencils though honestly, I am very happy with what I have and don’t need more pencils. It really is an addiction, isn’t it?

The Noctuid Treasureattica Moths (originally designed for my Insectimaginary coloring book) was colored with Lyra pencils, a few Irojitens and a black marker. I had just received the Lyra’s in the mail and was anxious to try them. I never finished this coloring, but that’s fine.

Close-up of a seahorse. As some of you know, I am obsessed with embellishing my colorings with gels pens after burnishing with a Caran d’Ache Blender Bright. This was done on one of those days I had too much work to do and just needed a mental break. I shut off my phone and computer and listened to music so I could refresh and refocus. And all of these colorings (aside from the cat) are on what’s known in the coloring community as the dreaded “Create Space” paper. While it may not be my first choice for artwork that needs to last (like pieces I plan to reproduce, hang in a gallery or sell) I have to admit I do love coloring on this paper and can get beautiful results.

That’s all for now, my friends! As always, stay creative, happy journaling, and enjoy each moment!