Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blue Days & Conquering Posies

Journal entries: Feb 24 & 26, 2008

My artistic energies as of late have been solely devoted to working in my current art journal, a repurposed tome of illustrated children's poems. I prep my journals entirely in advance before I commence working on them: removing extra pages so the journal isn't too unwieldly once finished, gluing pages together to make a sturdy work surface, and gessoing all the pages to create a nice blank canvas. Sometimes, I preserve text or images from the original book and I use those as prompts for entries when I arrive at those particular pages. In this journal, I painted a bunch of pages in advance of my surgery so I could skip that step while casted. The surgeon would probably frown upon a paint-encrusted cast...although that would be cool! Since the surgery, this journal has served as a vital place for me to express all my inner turmoil and trepidations but I have also been using the journal as a forum for lifting my own spirits and as a very fun form of physical therapy. It is fantastic exercise to hold brushes and pencils & to try creating from the elbow and shoulder as opposed to the wrist. As a result, I am discovering that my style is evolving. I am forced to be imprecise and my lack of fine motor control gives the entries a sort of wiggly, energetic look. The entries above were definitely somber in tone so on the next spread, I deliberately set out to brighten my mood. Inspiration came serendipitously one day after I bought some lovely flowers at my local market.

Now I am not known for my green thumb; in fact, based on my past "gardening" history, you might think I was cursed. But I still can't resist getting my fingers in dirt once in a while and these "Ranuncula" won over my better judgment. They have wildly-layered petals in these incredibly saturated colors. That evening, I unconsciously began working on a journal spread that mirrored the flowers I had welcomed home to my front door. I really didn't realize the flowers' influence until I was finished and I recognized a similarity between my purchase and my art.

Journal Entry: March 6, 2008:

This project took a few days but aside from the sticker letter title and a couple of rub-ons (I am all about the rub-ons!!,) the painting and doodling is all me. I used acrylics, while gel pen, Sharpies, Staz-On, colored pencils for dark surfaces...a little bit of everything. In retrospect, I think it isn't too shabby given my current level of ability. The journaling is still a bit morose (I'm glad scans and photos blur out my writing) but in the end, these pages did indeed fill me with joy. I am a huge fan of fuschia-pink, sunlight-yellow, and pumpkin-orange so the pages turned out rather soaked in color. As a final touch, I added a couple busy little bumbles buzzing across the pages. It felt good to just play and allow myself to enjoy the process without concern for what artistic skills might now be compromised or lost completely. Actually, I found this piece very revealing: despite all my reservations, deep-down, I think I believe now that all will be okay in the end.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Infinitely Better than Purple

Following my right wrist fusion surgery on February 11, I was trapped in a bulky plaster, gauze, and elastic wrap dressing for 10 days. Then I made the 6 and one-half hour trek down to see my surgeon and received a shiny new purple cast. The doctor was running four hours (!!!!) behind schedule and they had settled me in the cast room, removed the dressing and then the stitches an hour after that and then...I sat there. Eventually, my surgeon wandered in, eyeballed the incision and ordered the new cast. I had had plenty of time to stare at all the possible cast colors, samples of which were displayed on a wall, wrapped around an old cane. Fire engine red, deep blue, some pastels and the most nasty array of florescent colors imaginable. Neon orange would have made me look as if I was wearing a road cone! Ultimately, I chose first colored cast in 6 surgeries. It looked really pretty - if such things can be pretty but it wasn't "installed" correctly and after a week, I had to have it removed and replaced by a doctor friend of mine. Plain ole white fiberglass...the kind of cast that starts to look very yucky in a very short period of time...bulky, all-around pain in the $#@! However, add in a bunch of drawings by my cartooning students and of course, my own budding artist (his little alien dude named Splurg can be seen right by my thumb) and you start to have something a little bit more bearable. A couple of evenings later, I was sitting at my studio table, sponging Staz-On onto a journal page and eyeballing my teen sitting gluing to his computer game. I must have sort of glazed over, pausing in mid-sponge. Daniel looked at me and I glanced down at my cast. Hmmm...vibrant, lively permanent ink...hard, ugly, white surface...the nerve endings in my brain made the connection and I began to sponge ink onto my cast, tentatively at first but then gleefully, wildly. I also ending up doodling with Sharpies and stamping here and there. My son rolled his eyes (as only a teenager can) and laughed, saying "Well, it was only a matter of time." Indeed.

In other matters, I have been journaling like crazy...which means each entry is only taking me two days instead of three. I have lots of pages photographed but I need to get the photos resized and fit for posting. Stay tuned! More art coming!

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