Northbound and Notable – Northbound Notebooks

3 Tips to be a Healthy Artist

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

Being an artist of canvas, words or camera isn’t considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs out there, but it can become a danger to ourselves. Whether this be physically or mentally, our passion and involvement for our work can sometimes have crippling rewards. We’re sharing some tips just to remind all of the dreamers out there that you need to look after yourself in order to make your visions a reality.

Water. Water. Water!

Water is underestimated, I am guilty of only drinking the odd glass and refusing to refill it as I’m too deep in the ‘zone’ in my work. By swapping a small glass for a large container (bottle, jug, whatever tickles your fancy) not only encourages you to drink more, but in those moments where your pondering on what to write next you’ll likely take a sip. Refreshing your body equals refreshing the brain and hence, this magical clear liquid has just helped you clear your creative block. We need to be hydrated, we don’t want our creations to be dry so why should the creator be?

All Rise

Whether you’re scrawling on a typewriter at a desk or contorting yourself around an easel, it’s good to stand up once in a while. I don’t mean this as standing for a few minutes then going back to your seat, I mean create your masterpiece standing up! It is a strange feeling at first as you shift your weight from one foot to the other wondering what the ‘correct’ way of standing is whilst working, but pass that uncomfortable novelty and the rewards are grand. There are many desks out there that now accompany an artist for both sitting and standing (check out gadgetreviews top picks). However, these desks can be costly and if you don’t have a saw and hammer at hand you can make your own temporary stand up desk by using a pile of books. Simply stack them on your desk to a comfortable height and place your instrument on top. Of course please be aware to use sturdy books with a non-slip surface.

Silent Killers

Many of the tools that we artists use are actually more harmful to our health than we think. It’s not just oil paints that are toxic, oil paint has always been the most famous as we can smell the chemicals. However, any medium, whether it be paint or pencil or ink can contain harmful substances too, a good tip to remember is that if it’s pigmented – it’s got toxins in it - the heavier the metal in the pigment, the higher the toxicity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, even for unpigmented mediums (like toner ink) they contain other traces of nasties that can be carcinogenic if handled incorrectly. There are mediums out there that are trying to be more ‘substance-free’ like water-based oil paints and graphite pencils, but they can still be hazardous to our health. To have a (almost) toxic free environment try to keep the tools away from direct skin and food (this includes having your water contained). Have good ventilation whether it’s through an air conditioning unit or an open window (preferably somewhere the toxins can escape); good breathing space is not only good for your physical health but your mental health too, better than that, create your work outdoors there’s plenty of fresh air out there.

Read more →

Product Review – Book Darts/Page Nibs

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

Book darts

Book Darts or page nibs are essentially small placeholders for any budding writer, reader or idea maker. Sometimes there is a part of a book that you want to reread or a line that struck a chord of inspiration. Book darts are small enough that they won’t make your pages clunky, but large enough to make the marked page found easily. This item is great for students and review enthusiasts too, rather than buying an expensive book and highlighting the areas worth studying, you can mark them with the clips.  Unlike paperclips the book darts don’t leave creases, therefore if you are returning your book to the store they shouldn’t notice its use. The darts are made so they don’t fall off the thinnest of pages and come in different shapes to help point to a line or a whole paragraph you are interested in.

For more information visit Amazons most bought book dart here.

Read more →

Book Crawl - London

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

Calling all book lovers and savvy travelers, have you ever fancied yourself a book crawl? This week we want to share some wonderful places to visit around the world - first stop London!

Other than the busy streets littered with cream tea cafes and local pubs London also offers some beautiful historical monuments and buildings, including libraries.

The National Art Library at the V&A Museum

Adorned with carefully carved pilasters and a huge roof light, the reading room is the perfect place to explore and indulge in the history of art and creation of drawing, sculpture and painting. This library also boasts a courtyard area for small picnics or to read your discovered treasure in the sunshine.

(image from

Maughan Library

Just behind the Anglican church of St Dunstan-in-the-west is the Maughan Library. Though smaller than some libraries and only open to the public when there is an in-house exhibition,  the structure of this treasury oozes with grandeur; the circular formation and domed window make for a terrific experience if you ever desired to bathe in literature.

(image from

Bodleian Library

Though not strictly in London, the Bodleian Library is located in Oxford within the county of Oxfordshire. Home to the 'city of dreaming spires' coined by the poet Matthew Arnold the city pays homage to itself with quaint shops and England's oldest botanical garden - the perfect place for whimsical charms to be discovered. Nowadays, the Bodleian Library is most famous for being the set for the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films. But look to the ceiling and discover medallions carved in by the artists as credit to iconic figures of that day - take a private tour to avoid the mumbling crowds and discover the history to this gem.

(image from

What libraries have you visited around the world? Comment below!

Read more →

Writing Challenges/Competitions

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

Prose Challenge
Deadline: Weekly
Prose is a site in which they give a weekly prompt with a chance to win some cash. Most are just for fun, however, some are curated by agents and authors looking for new talent (be aware to avoid the sponsored or community ones). Prizes are within the $100-$200 with a low word count, even without submitting it’s a good exercise to flex the brain and get the juices flowing. To learn more check them out here.

Autumn House Press – Poetry, Fiction, non-fiction
Deadline: Varies on category
Submission fee: Varies on category (typically around $30)
Autumn House Press is a group that believe in promoting authors ‘first book’ and getting the names of the lesser known out into the literature world. They want to promote the new voices that will grace the generation with their words and poetry. They accept unsolicited manuscripts through their contests and
Read more →

Master of The Month - Gustav Klimt

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

Portrait of Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt July 1862 - February 1918

Klimt is an Austrian born symbolism painter best known for his figurative works with gold leaf. Not only did Klimt create paintings he also produced sketches, murals and other forms of objects d'art as portraits, landscape and allegories. His main influences were the female form and the methodical process applied to art in Japan. Though Klimt didn't travel far his regular trips to Venice and Ravenna are believed to have inspired him to use mosaic and byzantine imagery within his work. Before breaking success with his 'Golden Phase' Klimt received a lot of negativity due to the belief that his work were too pornographic. This came when he was commissioned to paint the ceiling in the Great Hall of the University of Vienna in 1894, the themes were too radical and risqué for the public that the paintings were never featured in the hall.

Nuda Veritas (1889)

After this incident he refused to take on any more public commissions. He decided to paint only for exhibitions and himself, he teamed up with other 'rebellious' artists and co-founded the Wiener Sezession, encouraging and inviting artists from neighbouring countries to exhibit their own unconventional artistry. Klimt continued to push the boundaries on natural female form and made his stand with the Nuda Veritas (1899), a nude red haired woman holding the mirror of truth with a quote above her head translating to "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad" this attracted much attention and artists with a flair for the avant-garde. Later Klimt had his financial breakthrough with his 'Golden Phase', popular paintings associated with this include the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907-1908). Adorned with pattern and gold leaf these paintings are amongst his most popular and can still be seen today in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria.

The Kiss (1908)

Read more →