Create Your Own Great Photo Book 2.0

Update September 2017

“Steady As A Rock”, published last month, via Amazon’s CreateSpace, an illustrated book by Anna Cohn Donnelly.This is the fifth book that I’ve help Anna self-publish. She is an illustrator and writer; all personal stories that she shares with family and friends. “Steady As A Rock” is about how she found Rock Steady Boxing to help manage her Parkinson’s Disease… more importantly, the support of her new ‘family’ and community. Anna’s book will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Rock Steady Boxing newsletter and I hope that it will be shared with others who are trying to manage his/her PD. 

 

** Accepting new projects right now for holiday season gift-giving. Contact me to discuss your project and how we can collaborate to bring your book to life.

 

Create Your Own Great Photo Book

  • Have you ever wanted to create your own photo books?
  • How do you start?
  • What are techniques to make it look professional?
  • How do I get it printed?



An introduction to self-publishing techniques to create your own amazing book using your photographs or illustrations.

Discover techniques to create and publish of your own photo book, plus an introduction to self-publishing options (print and digital formats). Ideal for photographers, illustrators, architects, chefs, historians and many more.

Topics covered:
  • Image Sequencing & Storyboarding
  • Page Layout and Structure
  • Cover Design
  • Image Preparation
  • Overview: Shutterfly, Lulu and Blurb

Start Creating Your Own Photo Book

* eBook format is 21-page PDF, compatible on desktop and mobile devices.
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My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

I bumped into Heather, sitting at a neighborhood sidewalk cafe, my fellow Toastmaster talked about career and future plans. What Heather said next… surprised me; complimenting my self-confidence and self-assurance.

“Bearded Iris” pastel painting, (c) Joann Sondy August 2017. Created for my daughter’s birthday.

Wow! I had no idea that people saw or perceived me in this manner.

Recently, people have been noticing my confidence. What?! Me?! Since when?

Truth is… I’m just like you. Knees shaking. Unsure. Introverted. Fear of public speaking. Imposter syndrome.

Many of my Toastmasters’ friends are kind to say how well-rehearsed and prepared as a speaker. It’s true… I practice A LOT; just ask my husband. Rehearsal, not to be rote or mechanical, practicing to become [extremely] familiar with the content, refining my body language and voice and perfecting timing.

I was extremely nervous when delivering my last speech. The content was a subject I’ve been researching deeply the past few months. Valerie, my evaluator took note that I was overtly focused on my content and should have ‘lightened up more’ to engage more deeply with my audience. She also commented about my note cards (a topic for an upcoming article and speech “Val stole my security blanket”).

“I’ve taken several tours and you (Joann) are the best docent so far! Great time, thank you.”

Cheeks flush, I was glowing with modesty after shaking the gentleman’s hand following my CAF ‘Treasures’ tour a few weeks ago. The guest did not know that it had been months since I had lead this amazing tour. Days beforehand, practicing at home and asked a friend to join me for a practice tour.

Success=Self Confidence. Self Confidence is Preparedness.
Urban Sketchers Chicago 10×10 Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Sketchwalk

The Toastmasters speech projects and evaluations have helped me tremendously to overcome fear of public speaking and concentrate on scripting good stories or content. My constant journey of learning about creativity, focus and confidence has added to my arsenal of confidence.

Resources for you:

  • The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels; especially chapter 2
  • War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Deep Work, Cal Newport
  • Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

Join me for a Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour.

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden

You may have heard about the (former) cemetery near the Chicago History Museum and that most of the lakeshore of Chicago is the result of post 1871 landfill. Both of these factors are key to Lincoln Park’s (the park, not the neighborhood) enduring landscape and beauty that encompasses six miles from North Avenue to Hollywood/Edgewater Beach.

The origins of the Chicago’s largest park can be credited with a doctor, who back in 1830s, campaigned-successfully-to set aside 60 acres of public cemetery parkland. Then formation of the nation’s FIRST park and boulevard system spurred the adoption of three separate park commissions, (Lincoln, West and South) all legislated funded. These three but separate entities acted unilaterally to create a ‘ribbon of green’ that encircled the city.  PS: Chicago Park District was formed in 1934.

Lincoln Park Refactory and Boat Station, now Cafe Brauer

Our Reserve of Leisure Activities

Every Chicagoan and visitor, especially in the summer, knows why we love our city so much… the LAKEFRONT! Historically, it was a means to escape from the industrial and heavily polluted city core; a major concern at the turn of the century. Accessible mostly to Middle class and upper class families due to expense of hiring a horse carriage. Michigan Avenue Bridge opened in 1918 and public transit north of the main branch of Chicago River didn’t exist.

P1020498

Leisure time in the park also contributed to the development of neighborhoods, particularly out of need following the Great Fire of 1871.

Park’s Architecture

Most of Lincoln Park Zoo and Garden architecture was constructed in the last 19th and early 20th centuries. Interesting differences between the park projects and the emerging ‘skyscrapers’ in the city’s central area.

During my ArchiSketch workshop, we’ll visit several Prairie style buildings that are worthy of several pages in your sketchbook.

Carlson Cottage (1888) is a quaint representation of the popularity of the Park at the turn of the twentieth century. Designed by Joseph Silsbee, who would design other buildings in the Park and Zoo, this fieldstone cottage is a reminder of the city’s past and ambition.

Cafe BrauerThis is an early reference to Arts & Crafts style, which originated in England in the late nineteenth century, with its organic appeal and direct link to “urbs in horto” (Chicago’s motto: City in Garden.) The cottage appears as though it emerged from the earth, nestled next between the two ponds. Yet, this small intimate women’s lounge seems unproportional when you step back; the fieldstones, the large corbels and low-hanging hip roof. An artistic conundrum.

Take a few steps and there it sits, hugging the curvature of North Pond… Cafe Brauer (1908).  Arts & Crafts movement wasn’t fully embraced in the U.S. It quickly became Prairie Style–the midwestern style popular during at this time and closely identified with Frank Lloyd Wright. Cafe Brauer, designed by Dwight H. Perkins, who also designed the Kovler Lion House. Cafe Brauer, fka South Pond Refactory, stays true to key Prairie-style characteristics:

  • Integration with landscape
  • Horizontal lines
  • Flat or hipped roof with over hanging eaves
  • Windows in groupings or horizontal bands
  • Emphasis on CRAFTSMANSHIP

Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Workshop

The last is central to the ever-lasting charm of these buildings.

Join me for ArchiSketch Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden while we sketch crawl our way to discover these buildings and several more.

 

 

Postcard image source: John Chuckman’s Chicago Nostalgia Blog

Exploration and Observation = Discovery

Exploration and Observation = Discovery

exploration-feb-2017

Did you hear? Scientists discovered a new solar system 40 light years away. While I heard conversations about the ‘what if’ of getting there; I was more impressed with the exploration and observation the scientists had achieved.

Exploration and observation are the first two tenants of creative thinking. This is the foundation of my workshops, ArchiSketch Chicago. Get OUTSIDE to wander and see your environment, not stuck inside some conference room in a brainstorming session.

Launched last summer, ArchiSketch is about exploration and cultivating one’s own observation and artistic talent. History is my muse and is the backdrop for story combined with easy drawing instruction tailored for each stop.

Join me as we move our exploration and observation outdoors into areas of the city that you may or may not be familiar.

“Joann has a way of presenting information and story to get me to STOP and LOOK. Even though I may cross this intersection on a regular basis.”

One of the greatest compliments I could received–a lasting impression to spark creative thinking in others.

Upcoming ArchiSketch Schedule:

  • March 9th Sketching Sullivan. A three-hour hunt for Louis H. Sullivan’s iconic designs, dissecting his organic & geometric design.
  • March 22nd 3 Plazas on Dearborn. 360˚ views from each plaza, skyscrapers, grand-sized sculpture and opportunities for sketching people.
  • April 8th Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden, this is preview of the Urban Sketchers 10×10 workshop lineup.

Visit the ArchiSketch Chicago website for more information.

In addition to the ongoing Toastmasters projects, I also tap into other resources to expand my story development and storytelling skills:

Storyiz, Stanford d.school’s storytelling & visual communication studio is packed full of content and activities to create compelling & visual communication.

The Art of Storytelling by the masters at Pixar. This six-part class is free from the studio that behind Monsters Inc., Up and Inside Out. FREE.

Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez. A new book from the leaders in presentation development, design and public speaking to help leaders communication more effectively.

PS: The Willis Tower (fka Sears Tower) will be undergoing a $500MIL renovation and the kinetic sculpture “Universe” by Alexander Calder will me removed, and is not part of the new plans.

USk 10X10 Upcoming Class & Preview

USk 10X10 Upcoming Class & Preview

USk 10 Years 10 Classes 

ArchiSketch Chicago will be participating in the 10th anniversary commemorating the global community of urban sketchers. Around the globe, ten on-location classes are being offered in across three themes: little, medium and great stories. The 10X10 celebration runs from April 15 – June 17, 2017 in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, North American and South America.

The USk Chicago chapter has a full (and intensive) schedule of classes led by instructors with varied backgrounds; artists, illustrators, architects and designers. All with a mission of sketching the world, one drawing at a time.

Overall goals for classes/workshops are:

  1. Show stories from your city, one drawing at a time;
  2. Improve your drawing skills;
  3. Learn how to select, frame and design visual stories on a page;
  4. Learn how writing and drawing can work together to communicate more to your audience;
  5. Experience the advantages of group learning and seeing the many paths to success.

ArchiSketch Chicago will be conducting its Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Workshop, as part of the Medium Stories-Expanding Your View lineup on Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

This workshop will focus on the late 19th and early 20th century architecture and social aspects of visiting Lincoln Park Zoo and Garden and its ongoing preservation for future generations.

Buildings selected for Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Workshop are a reflection of nearly 100 years of design. Variety of architecture styles and structures to sculptures and landscaping. Changes that continue to make it a popular destination each year.

Sketching exercises will be tailored to highlight best features of each building. Workshop participants can expect to learn and draw:

  • Perspective
  • Scale
  • Light & shading
  • Volume & mass
  • Texture

I’ve set up an abbreviated INVITATION ONLY preview of this workshop, to be held Saturday, April 8, 2017, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Free.) If you are interested, please email me directly.

Join in the Celebration!

Chicago Classes begin on Saturday, April 15, 2017

Registration will open on March 15, 2017

You may register for all classes or select a favorite one or more. Register for all 1 O and receive a 10% discount!

Classes are limited to a maximum of 15 students.

 

More details to follow!

FaceBook- Urban Sketchers Chicago

Twitter – @USk_Chicago

lnstagram – @USKCHICAGO

Drawing is Thinking

Drawing is Thinking

When you were in school, did you get caught doodling?

Have you ever got the evil eye from a co-worker for doodling during a meeting?

You were on right page!

A study, sighted by the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, found that doodlers could easily recall ‘dull’ information 30 percent more than non-doodlers. Break out your pen or pencils and notepad…doodling is greatly encouraged.

Like writing, there are benefits of doodling and sketching:

  1. Cognitive development and increased memory
  2. Improved concentration
  3. Creative confidence

Drawing is essential for the brain development in children; as a learning process and technique for making observations or problem solving. While at the same time improving their memory skills. This combination leads to achievement in other subjects, particularly math and science.

It is our own translation, the imagery from our mind, which we create the visual references (aka details) that we’ll draw upon in the future.

Have you been to a conference or meeting with a live sketch artist? One of the pioneers in this industry, Sunni Brown, believes that she and her team develop concepts through pictures that words alone cannot describe. The pictures are not about aesthetic quality, but rather the quality of the learned and learning experience; developing a visual language.

Milton Glaser’s iconic logo

Drawing (sketching or doodling), like meditation, is a self-exploration that connects us with our ‘self’ on an intimate level. The adroit action stimulates us to a comfort level–enough to keep us awake, focused and engaged. Researcher believe that we reach deeper levels of concentration and this is where we develop richer concepts.

“When you draw an object, the mind become deeply, intensively attentive. Drawing is thinking.” Milton Glaser, acclaimed graphic designer continues, “It is that act of attention that allows you to really grasp something to become fully conscious of it.”

Here’s John Hendrix, author (Drawing is Magic) and illustrator, “As adults we often stop having fun. Drawing when we were kids was fun. Finding enjoyment is the essential first step to finding good ideas.”

When we ‘draw out’ our ideas, we’re releasing our imagination.

John Hendrix’ book “Drawing is Magic”

Every heard the phrase, “conceived on a napkin”? What tools do you need to facilitate thinking? PENCIL AND PAPER. No need for a computer, tablet or special app for you smartphone.

When we externalize our ideas on paper it makes it easier to re-constuct them, transforming the “spark” into a good idea, great idea… a gift to mankind idea.

Drawing is more than thinking: it’s MAGIC.

 

References:

The Atlantic, Cognitive Benefits of Doodling

Sunni Brown, TED Talk, “Doodlers, Unite”

Write It Down!

UPDATE 1/14/16:

I’ll be delivering this speech at Ignite Chicago on January 31, 2017, held at the Catalyst Ranch.

5 Minutes / 20 Slides / 1 Passion


I’ve attended this several times and it is always a fun night.

Your cheers and claps would be greatly appreciated, register via EventBrite using the promo code SPEAKERFRIEND

See you then!

 


This is the speech I needed to complete my Toastmasters’ Advanced Communicator Bronze level in my quest to improve my communication skills.

What if…

  • There was a process that could improve your ability to learn and recall information?
  • That same process, and its simple tool, could help increase your concentration?
  • And, spark your creativity?

Benefit #1: Learning and Memory

Writing by hand, has been proven to stimulate parts of our brain, called the reticular activating system (RAS), which filters all the ‘stuff’ our brain needs to process everyday.

When we write it down, we give importance to that which we’re focusing on at the moment. I’ll repeat that in case you’d like to write it down, we give importance to that item at that moment.

A name. A date. An address. The morning to-do list. Weekly shopping list. Your bucket list.

The physical process of writing, placing pen (or pencil) to paper, brings that item to the forefront.

There are several research studies available that examined {college} students who took handwritten notes versus students who used a device (notebook or tablet). Which group do you believe performed better overall? The students who took handwritten notes.

It is the physical process of writing–placing pen to paper–that brings that item to the forefront. Writing it down improves our ability to learn and recall information.

Interesting observation about the students who used a devices; the researchers concluded that they were essentially scribing the professor’s lecture; an important skill when we need to transcribe something verbatim.

Writing, either cursive or print, (my own–an awkward combination) is very important to brain development. Do you have kids in school? Ask them about their method of notetaking during class.

Benefit #2: Focus

We are confronted with barrage of information from ALL directions EVERYDAY! Let’s face it… most if it is a distraction.

Did you know the adult brain processes 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day. (There’s a joke in there, I’ll set that aside for another speech.)

The deliberate ACTION to process a thought slows down our brain; thus requiring more mental energy. We are engaging our motor skills when while writing.

Research is suggesting that writing (reading and drawing) are droplets in the ‘Fountain of Youth’ to ward off the detrimental effects of Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia. Not protect, but lessen the effects while keeping our brains active as we age. 

Write the letters. Break out the journal. Send the postcards.

During an interview, acclaimed author, Truman Capote, said that he wrote the outline and first draft of “In Cold Blood” before he sat in front of the typewriter. Joyce Carol Oates uses hand-written notes and drafts beforehand, too.

Benefit #3: Spark Your Creativity

A pathway for our thoughts, ideas and emotions, writing, as well as sketching, is a channel from your head outward. I personally believe that the heightened creativity is really the result of benefits #1 and #2. Bringing an item to the forefront and concentration.

One of the simplest and beneficial gifts you can give, in my opinion, is a sketchbook (or journal) and pencils to anyone. Enable an individual to cultivate his/her own creativity through the expression of ideas, thoughts and emotions.

Now, some of you might be thinking, pen and paper… that’s sooo old school! You’re not the only one.

While doing the research for this speech, I ran across an article on the Harvard Business Review entitled “Dear Colleague, Put the Notebook Down.” The author states, if you are invited to a meeting with her that you ‘should leave your hipster journal and pens at home’ insisting that taking notes by hand is a waste of time. She wants to be able to ping you digital references, assets and links for your immediate consumption. She went further, after you get back to your cubicle and transcribe your handwritten notes into a project management application, approximately 10-25 minutes, that is a WASTE OF TIME. This time adds up over the course of a fiscal year at a cost to the company.

Coincidentally, the same day I read this article, I received an email from my favorite hipster journal company announcing its latest product the “Smart Writing Set.” The three-part system consists of a newly designed Moleskine paper tablet, a stylus and smartphone app. The notes and drawings made in the paper tablet are digitized via the mobile app, available for iOS and Android. Moleskine is not the only company with similar technologies.

Recap, the benefits of writing:

  • Stimulates our brain for learning and memory.
  • Helps us concentrate by filtering distractions.
  • Heightens our creativity by providing a channel from our head to paper.

Writing is a mental workout. Keeping our brains SHARP!

History of Pencil (sidebar)

In the 16th century, a dark grey almost black substance was discovered in England, it became the first marking element when the herders where marking their sheep.

Woodworkers in the 17th century were producing graphite as marking tool. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the graphite was encased in wood.

Cross the pond to New England, during the mid-19th century, in Joseph Dixon’s woodworking plant, he mechanized the production and patented the machine that planed the wood for pencils. His machine could produce 132 pencils per minute. Dixon marketed his pencil as “American Made.” The Dixon Ticonderoga is a staple and one of our most enduring products, ~ 1/2 billion Ticonderoga pencils are manufactured yearly.

References:

Wall Street Journal, “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?” (April 2016)

Mashable, “7 Ways Writing by Hand Can Save Your Brain” (January 2015)

New York Times, “The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel” (1966) George Plimpton

BuzzFeed, “Joyce Carol Oates Has The Most Inspiring Writing Advice For Authors” (July 2015)

 

Guastavino Vault of Lion House

Kovler Lion House
Kovler Lion House

Guastavino Vault of Lincoln Park Zoo Lion House

During the Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden workshop held on Saturday (the FIRST public workshop!), I had the pleasure of working with an interior designer who was very enthusiastic about Chicago architecture and working on her drawing skills.

One of the highlights for Molly O. was the Guastavino vaulted ceiling of the Kovler Lion House. Crazy how two women with different backgrounds could get so excited about a vaulted ceiling in a big cat house on a very hot & humid summer day.

“We must be the only people in this space who are looking up.” True. Standing just inside the entrance with sketchbooks and pencils in-hand, we discussed the engineering and masonry this landmark. We did stop to admire the two female lions who were spread out on top of the cool rocks…panting.

What is a Guastavino vaulted ceiling? These soaring tiled vaults can be seen in several iconic buildings around the country. Most notable are Grand Central Terminal, Boston Public Library, U.S. Supreme Court, and many more. The Guastavinos also created spaces for some of America’s wealthiest families, including the Rockefeller Chapel at University of Chicago.

The Guastavino Co. was most prolific during the late 19th to mid 20th century; designing and creating some of the most spectacular and endearing public spaces. It all started with Rafael Guastavino Sr., a master builder in his native Spain, he came to New York with his son, Rafael Jr. in 1881. Bringing with him is tiling system, based on centuries old building method. The construction of self-supporting arches that were lightweight yet strong, fireproof and elegant. Then, a system of interlocking and layered thin clay tiles were placed with quick-setting mortar–creating the decorative pattern. Guastavino’s system, which was patented in 1892, were cost-efficient and flexible.

Visit these spaces in-person. Even the best professional images can’t truly capture the caliber of craftsmanship and hours investing in the details.

P1020394There are ten (identified) Guastavino projects in Chicago:

  1. Lincoln Park Zoo, Kovler Lion House
  2. Elks National Memorial Headquarters
  3. Temple Isaiah
  4. St. Hyacinth’s Catholic Church
  5. First Unitarian Church, Hull Chapel
  6. Chicago Theological Seminary
  7. University of Chicago, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
  8. University of Chicago, Harper Memorial Library
  9. M&H Theatre
  10. First Methodist Episcopal Church (Evanston)

 

 

Resources:

National Building Museum. Places for People; Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces

NPR. How One Family Built America’s Public Palaces

MIT/Guastavino.net (most complete collection)