What My First Blog Post Looked Like (peek inside my 2001 sketchbook)

Page from my 2000-2001 travel journal - first trip to Oaxaca, Mexico

Page from my 2000-2001 travel journal – first trip to Oaxaca, Mexico

Right now I’m working on a lesson for the Guidesses in my Creative Journey Facilitator Training program.

I’m showing them various ways to talk about their work, including beginning to show their work, write about it, and try to explain it to others.

Learning how to share and talk about one’s work is really the foundation of marketing. But marketing can big, scary subject, abstract and tactical all at once, and usually overwhelming.

So without talking about marketing, they’re doing fun creative projects to learn how to do marketing, by doing it. Does that make sense?

Searching for some real-world examples, I harnessed the magic of the waybackmachine to find my very first blog post.

Why I Started Blogging in the First Place

In 2002, when I woozily hit publish on my first website in the middle of the night (hoping no one was looking) after weeks of agonizing over every detail (I designed it myself), I was simply trying to find a way to share my own creative process with my students.

I’d already been teaching in-person workshops on writing, painting, and creativity for almost 10 years. The workshops were so focused on the students and their work, that I rarely showed my own. I didn’t want to take up air time blabbing about my stuff.

So I started photographing my visual journal pages and then sharing something about the techniques, methods or process I used. Sometimes, I typed up the text from the written journal entry, if there was one, like you’ll see below.

I wasn’t thinking about what I was publishing as marketing. I was simply trying to show my work. After going through the trouble and expense of getting my MBA and specializing in marketing, while also continuing to do my art and teach, I’ve learned that for creatives, sharing one’s own work and process is simply the easiest and most effective kind of marketing there is. It’s not the whole picture, but a big part of it.

So, without further ado, here’s what my first blog post looked like:

madre agua: mexico is mother energy, part 1

Wednesday, January 22, 2003, posted at 10:50 PM

in my first post, the image was this small, with no caption

This was a visual journal entry from one of my trips to Oaxaca, Mexico.

“After a day at the beach I surrendered to being on the coast. Mazunte is just past Zipolite, cozier and not as seedy. It took over an hour of squirming, but eventually I settled in after a long float in the ocean. The water here seems saltier, more buoyant, that other ocean waters I have experienced. Does the salt concentrate in certain areas? The water is warmer here than in Hawaii. I can get right in without wincing…

On the way to the beach, I realized how hard I was being on myself. I hadn’t factored in culture shock. Somehow, I expected to ease into existence here, after all, I’m on “vacation”. What I didn’t expect was the impact this culture would have on me. I’m having so many perceptions that are jarring my reality.

For me, Mexico is Mother Energy. Even the ocean feels like womb water. As I floated, I lay all the way back, trying to let my neck feel supported. In the water, I could feel the immense tension I was holding in my body so tightly. I felt ashamed of it. Guilty for being so tense. Too intense!

Floating in the warm ocean waters I heard: Madre Agua, Madre Agua, mother water, mother ocean over and over like a mantra. Hold me. Float me. Let you depth and your warmth carry all the is nonessential away from me…”

The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe was scored at a vendor booth outside the Cathedral Soledad in downtown Oaxaca City. (About ten hours away from this beach through the harrowing so-called roads of the Mexican Sierra Madres–but that’s another story.)

I pasted the picture (with a photo gluestick) onto a sheet of blank watercolor paper, and using the colors around ‘Lupe, extended the mountain scene. Since I was on the beach, I made most of the background the color of the ocean lapping against my feet.

The paper is from a pad of 9×12 Strathmore Cold Press sheets. They’re cheap, as far as watercolor papers go, and the size fits perfectly in the Itoya Profolio books I’m fond of using to store my pages on the road. For watercolor paints, I use a 12-color Windsor & Newton travel set.

The journal entry was created first. I have notebook I carry around at all times to pick up observations. It’s blank, so I can sketch in it if the inspiration strikes. There is something about lined paper that just bugs me.

I wrote the text from my journal over the watercolor with a waterproof black pen. I like the Uniball pens by Sanford, and also the Sakura Micro pens. They are so far the only pens I’ve found that don’t leak after extensive air travel, or do strange things in torpid humidity. These both write smoothly over watercolor.

 /// end of post ///

Links to all supplies mentioned in this post are here.

This was all there was to my first few years of blogging, and you know what? I miss it?

If you guys like this approach, I’ll bring it back. Let me know in the comments.

Still Going Strong

Even after all of these years of working in visual journals and teaching the process, I continued to be awed, surprised, and delighted by what this work does, and how much it serves and supports others.

If you’re curious to learn more, check out the workshops page to see what’s coming up. I’d love to work with you.

Your Turn

Are you an artist who blogs? What inspired you to begin? What do you share that resonates most with your readers? What’s rewarding, and what challenges you, about blogging?

Are you a creative who is intimidated by showing your work? Don’t know how to talk about it? What’s the simplest and easy way you can think of to show and tell your work with one person? Let this question percolate for awhile, and then share the idea that came to you.

Are you an artist who does NOT blog? How do you share and show your work?

16 Responses to What My First Blog Post Looked Like (peek inside my 2001 sketchbook)

  1. Marianne March 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    I love it! Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a Mexico nut and love reading anything and everything on the subject, but it’s also nice to see your work, and to see the creative guidance that you share with us in action in your own life. Also, sketchbook voyeurism – who doesn’t love a peek into another artist’s journal?! Obviously, I vote yes to more of the same!

  2. Anne in Virginia-USA March 13, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Lisa, I’m just catching up here after a computer crash. I wasn’t following you at the time of your first blog post and was also intrigued to see your early work. I love getting peeks into your sketchbooks and descriptions of your process. It gives me confidence in my own, less-developed process.

    Simone, thanks for the helpful suggestions on starting to blog. Because I’m a writer, I’ve thought about it for several years–and the blogging process now seems so complicated that I hesitate. Maybe “rehearsing” anonymously would work for me, too.

  3. Simone March 11, 2016 at 5:37 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your blogpost. It made me think about how this whole process went for myself.

    I started blogging in the beginning of 2015. I was so shy and felt so shaky about my work, that I started on an anonymous (free) blog (www.gwendawaterink.weebly.com).

    I used a pseudonym for that blog. It made it easy for me to just try out how it was to blog, and to publish my work. Eventhough hardly anyone knew about it, it helped me very much.

    The very act of publishing it at the end of a daily painting session was very encouraging for me. My painting did not end up far away, in a drawer or somewhere.

    After a year I had the courage to change it to my current website. It is my coaching website, and I made a page on it (‘kunst’, meaning: ‘art’). http://www.simonenijboer.nl/kunst/

    Maybe the next step will be to make a different website, only for my art.

    This whole process of starting anonymously and then slowly getting ready for a ‘real’ blog has helped me tremendously. I very much recommend to start blogging to anyone. And take little steps that fit you.

    Now I am taking the next very frightening step, to have an exhibition, on a very easygoing place, not a gallery., but still it is a big leap for me. I hope this will be another step on my art-path.

    Thank you very much for al your encouragement.


  4. Dawn Zichko March 9, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    I would love to see more of this blogging. It is a treat to see how other creatives create. I am an artist that blogs. It’s probably one of the only other places where I show my work. Most times, my images are shared in the online courses I’m involved in.

  5. TX Creatrix March 8, 2016 at 8:50 am #

    WOW! thanks for sharing the wayback machine! It was fabulous and took me back to a WordPress page that I had forgotten I had created from 2003!
    For some reason I changed to Blogspot, and then came back to WordPress in 2012.
    I am an artist who loves blogging, and do it for myself. If others find me that is great. If not, it is still great.
    Who is old enough to remember Poindexter and the original Way Back machine??

  6. Nela Dunato March 8, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    That is a really interesting trip back in time! I find it very encouraging to witness how other people started, because we’re often so hard on ourselves when we compare with people who have more experience.

    For this reason, I like to share some of my old work just to prove I wasn’t always like this, and I didn’t always have the skills I have now.

    I love blogging. I started writing a personal blog back in 2004, so switching to write about my work wasn’t difficult. I have a “sketcblog” and my official blog.

    Sometimes the topics I write about are inspired by questions people ask me – either about my work, why I do certain things, or requests to share a process or technique.
    I’ve found that these “behind the scenes” stuff tends to get the most attention.

    The most challenging aspect of blogging is that it’s time consuming. I’m balancing client work, personal art, volunteering, blogging and passion projects – finding time to do it all on a regular basis is hard.

  7. Rene March 8, 2016 at 5:47 am #

    I love seeing examples of your work and I appreciate that you are not shy about posting old stuff. Sometimes we are embarrassed by our early attempts at doing something new and don’t want other people to see them so well done, you!

    • Lisa Sonora March 8, 2016 at 7:26 am #

      Thanks, Rene! We all have to start somewhere, and I really treasure being able to see someone else’s first attempts. I think it helps my students, too. Which is something I’m always thinking of…

  8. D'Rose March 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    Lisa, Thank you for sharing this lovely piece on Our Dear Mother Guadalupe and the precious waters and her holy energy and how you were uplifted as she buoyantly lofted you . . . precious for sure! Much loving energy coming from up here in Bay Area Land xoxoxoxo my heart is smiling. Lovely colors, lovely feeling, I LOVE THE OCEAN and I LOVE OUR LADY!!!! xoxoxo

    • Lisa Sonora March 8, 2016 at 7:28 am #

      Thank you, D’Rose. Loving energy from the Bay Area received! I’ve always felt so connected to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and have many more stories and journal pages with her appearing. There’s even one in The Creative Entrepreneur. Have you spotted it?

  9. Teri March 7, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    Getting your email felt like I was hearing from a dear friend! From November 18 I got at least one message from you every day and then I did not sign up after the 30 Day Journal of fire as I was starting a Lent Journal project with some ladies. I had to be the one creating. I was practicing for the blog I’ve got in mind.

    I like all of your posting styles, and the candid way you share. I imagine that if it helps me to hear such things then maybe it will help others, whether they respond or not.
    Weriting answers to my onw prmpts is crazy! I know I wrote them, and they still surprise me and force me to discover soething new. I shared what my journaling looks lie so they would see that it’s mostly writing so they would not be intimidated. I still do take-aways at the end of a week. You influenced me a lot and I already have a journal for working through Creative Entrepeneur. I will be back, but I loved seeing your name today! Thank you as always, you are an inspiration.

    • Lisa Sonora March 8, 2016 at 7:29 am #

      Wonderful to hear, Teri! You are taking your journaling so far, and having courage to share it. It took me so long to be able to even try to show or explain to anyone what I was doing. Good for you.

  10. Jen March 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    Yes I love that kind of blogging too – I really love seeing into your sketchbooks and would love to see more pages and read more about your process. I’ve taken your classes and I still can’t get enough!! I’m an artist who blogs, or more like a ‘journal artist’ – because I don’t create art works for sale, or for the pure enjoyment of viewing them, I guess I don’t feel like a fully-fledged artist? All the art I do is in my journals and firstly for me, for the process and self expression, but I try to share a lot on my blog and social media. I always feel inspired seeing the work of others and like the thought that maybe I could inspire others too. Plus I feel like sharing these parts of my soul with the world help me to stay authentic, to stay myself. It was people like you who helped me begin, and reading Sketchbooks was a huge help to get me being honest and vulnerable – openly sharing my fears and doubts that are all part of the process. Please keep sharing your work and if you can, share more! 😀

    • Lisa Sonora March 8, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      Jen – we have so much in common with our work. I get it!

      Glad to get your feedback, and yes, I will share more in this style. Thanks for sharing about your process, too!

  11. Julie Williams March 7, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    Yes, I love that kind of blogging — there’s nothing like reading about and seeing someone’s process. What you do now is wonderful in its own right. And bringing some of this back into your blogging process, I think would be enriching for all of us. Sounds like it would be for you, too. Thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in your teaching and sharing.

    • Lisa Sonora March 8, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      Thanks, Julie! Great feedback and very much appreciated.

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