Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Time in Stillness

I love this spread because when I look back upon it, I remember all the leisurely bits of quiet art time I stole from the middle of life's chaos.  These pages give me hope.  No matter how grim or busy or confusing or uncertain the world beneath my feet, inside there is an island of calm and beauty that waits ever so patiently for me to visit as long and as often as I need.  This island is unfailing and steady, a beacon to focus on whenever I feel darkness gripping a bit too tight.  Journaling used to be such a frenzied affair for me, mimicking my everyday life.  And then, something changed.  I allowed myself to get quiet for a few minutes here and there.  I learned to duck my head into the eye of the storm and stay a bit until I regained the courage to reenter the fray.  These pages - this journal - document my time in stillness and they hold the key to the way back should I ever lose my way again. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

All You Have is Today

I'm not sure where all the flowers came from in this journal but once I started doing them, I've found it hard to stop.  I love the flowing, organic nature of the coal-black sumi sketches and the vibrancy of the gouache and colored pencil work.  It is a very soothing process, sort of like creating and completing my own coloring book pages.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bloom...Right Here, Right Now

I have just a few more spreads and my "Scraps" journal will be complete.  Soon I'll need to decide on my next journal project.  I've thought about doing a series of loose pages playing with various background techniques...sort of a collection of abstracts with or without focal imagery.  I'm also considering creating my first fabric journal as the chilly autumn days are making me want to fall into my substantial fabric stash.  I'll probably spend some time browsing my library of art journaling books for some fresh inspiration.  I'm sure before long I'll have my next big idea and I'll be off and running.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Enchanter's Nightshade

I've been working on this little page since Halloween (hence the "Thurs 31") and I think it is finally done.  I used to sit down and begin a page from a blank background, developing layer after layer in a single, grueling session until the page was complete.  With this journal (and probably all future journals), I create a bunch of backgrounds over the course of a few days and then I cycle back around and add bits here & there to pages as my whim dictates.  This continues for another several days and then I suddenly have two or three spreads complete all at once.  The results feel more loose and serendipitous than my previous work.  I like that a lot!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Story So Far...

Ahhh...I hear the soft roar of rain starting up off in the distance as I type this...and here I am with nowhere I have to go.  Today I can just curl up in the warmth of my home and listen to the rhythmic patter of water on my roof.  I can putter around in my journals, sip a cup of coffee, and watch old movies on the telly...lovely.  There'll be time enough tomorrow for chaos, fretfulness, and breath-holding.  Today I rest.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spirit Extraordinaire

After three blissful days, in which I refused to do any chores, errands, or work for school, Tuesday has me back at the grindstone trying to catch up after all that down time.  I'm not really one for "balance" and all that good stuff...it is usually all or nothing with me: go in guns blazin' or curl up in bed & sleep (and I do the latter precious little these days.)  It is a mindset I am trying to change, especially in light of my complicated health problems which demand a bit more moderation, patience, and self-caretaking.  It is hard to break old habits.

One habit I am happy to cling to, however, is art journaling.  The days of marathon art-making sessions seem to be over; instead, I poke around here and there, seemingly getting very little accomplished.  And yet, when I gathered some of my journals to show my new class of journaling students, I realized just how many journals I have managed to fill over the  years.  Whew!  In the huge stack of bulging books pulled from every corner of my house, I found evidence that slow & steady does indeed win the race!  Good to know... 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some Deep Thoughts Prompted by a Page I Hate

True story:  I loathe that hand collage on the right hand side of this spread; I want to rip it out of the journal every time I see it.  I've had a long time goal of eliminating magazine image collage from my work, especially if those images are basically unaltered and just slapped on the page...ick!  I've managed to purge my studio of about 80% of my image collection, either by throwing it away or donating it to a middle school journaling class I teach.  I've kept stuff I can alter (lots of generic vintage or copyright-free material) and images that can serve as accents for my own hand drawn or handpainted focal points.  If I get the urge to fill a page with collage (or prepurchased, scrapbooky-type items,) I have a journal just for that product-dumping style.  In general though, I want to stretch my brain and harness my painting & drawing abilities to create imagery that really reflects a piece of me and not someone else's vision.

Now before I get a bunch of hate mail incorrectly assuming that I am bashing art journalists that lean heavily on images sourced from magazines, please understand that this approach is what I have deemed necessary to expressing my voice.  This is my path prompted by my personal philosophy.  Do I wish more people would venture past cutting & pasting?  Yes.  (And I feel that more & more people are bravely venturing into what they can create themselves.)  I think there is deep value (beyond respect of copyrights) in generating your own imagery, whether you are using your own photos or doodling your own characters.  I think it helps to confront fear and reveal the uniqueness of the individual.  I also know two more things: 1) everyone has to start somewhere and collage is an excellent way to begin defining and expressing your voice and 2) not everyone likes to draw and paint.  Collage work is its own art form and can be very beautiful, expressive, and profound.  For me, it just doesn't "fit."  (And remember I am specifically referencing the use of images swiped wholesale from magazines and used as the primary image on a journal page.)

It is most important to journal in whatever way feels "right" to you.  No matter how much I hate that hand collage now, there was something that felt "right" at the time I created it.  It voiced something I couldn't put into words (or my own images) and for that reason it has value.  So I won't tear it out or cover it up.  I'll let it stand as an honorarium to whatever internal dialogue I needed to express on that day.  And I'll move onwards, following the sometimes undeniable urges and often barely audible whispers of my soul.  My journals will reflect both what I know for sure and what I can only guess.  If you follow your heart when journaling, it doesn't matter what techniques or mediums you use.  The result will be something authentic and worthwhile.      

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Soul Surfaces

November 2013 is here and I am quietly following along with Art Every Day Month.  I do art every day anyway - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - so this is actually a piece-of-cake challenge.  However, I'll only be posting as time and energy allow.  And besides, I doubt that posting glimpses of my daily art routine would be very exciting for anyone; sometimes, all I do is stick down a piece of washi tape or sketch out a flower in sumi ink.  I do have those days where I spend hours in the studio but when I'm in that rare, treasured groove, I am loathe to break momentum for picture-taking.  So I'll just continue posting recent work which in today's case means another spread from my "Scraps" journal.  I'm close to finishing this one so very soon, I'll need to decide on my next project.
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