The Journal Exultation: The Evolution of my Own Look

So as I said in my last post, I recently started a new journal initially inspired by Pam Garrison's journaling class over at Creativebug. This brand new project is called "Exultation" but it took a few pages to discover my own spin on the class lessons. What follows is the evolution of that style in pictures and a few words.

I began at the beginning, following Pam's first lesson to the letter. Scribble then paint. Blind right-handed scribbles and then left-handed scribbles while looking. OK...I confess...I looked a little bit while using my right hand too. Once I started painting, I was conflicted. I hated the process of painting all those little spaces! It was quite difficult to manage all the details with my PD tremor getting in the way. I almost quit.

However, once I finished the first page (right-handed scribbles) with my own spin on filling in the spaces, I felt a wee bit better.

When I finished the second page (left-handed drawing,) I knew a seed of inspiration had been planted but that I had to find my own way of doing things. Some of those changes: watercoloring around the painted portions, layering painted marks over solid areas, shading with paint markers, a little bit of collage/washi tape, light background stamping.

Right away, I realized that I really liked having an actual image to paint, not just random scribbles. So I thought...hmmm...maybe if I hold my pen very loosely with my right hand, I could create some scribbly "coloring book" pages to work I scribbled away as casually as I could.

I painted the first page and thought "Yeah...this is pretty cool but it's a little stiff...I'd lost the playfulness by allowing my dominant hand (and my inner control freak) to guide the work.

I scribbled a second page to experiment on...I thought...this is going well.

I was wrong. Work on the second page slid out of control fast as I tried to fix problem after problem. The face turned out so bad, I had to collage something on top to save the page (which I was NOT going to tear out as I am working in a rather expensive Stillman & Birn Zeta Hardbound sketchbook.) When I finished, I hated this page passionately.  I knew now what I DIDN'T want to do: right-handed drawings, collage as a main focus, images of people. Fortunately, I was also able to pinpoint what I did like: a narrow color profile, washi tape, a specific, scribbly image, dip pen lettering, animals/birds/flora, all my previous additions to the process. This page became incredibly instructive so for that, I forgive it. 

I proceeded to fill many pages with left-handed scribble drawings. (I don't have "before" pictures for the beginning few; I was too excited to wait to paint.) Full confession: I've had a lot of practice using my left hand in the last 25 years due to extensive hand problems/multiple surgeries. The drawings are wobbly but very recognizable. Even using my left hand, I have to focus on staying loose. These pages though have that playful, wild quality I love. However, they're not so random as Pam's pages. Finally, they look like me. 

It takes me days to finish one page as I only have short blocks of time in the studio. I tend to work a couple of colors at a time, filling in all the spots I think need those colors. Next painting session, I work all over the page in a couple more colors. Eventually, I layer in painted and drawn marks, tape, stamping, watercoloring, lettering.

As I post more pages from this journal in future blog entries, I think you'll see my style evolve even further. It gets a bit more refined but also a bit more abstract. I settle into a rhythm with a particular image and my color palette gets more sophisticated and thoughtful. All in all, this journal is a place to simply play when I'm tired after work but still longing for some art time.

I heartily encourage you to take art class lessons and push the information until you find something that is unique and not just a mirror of the instructor's portfolio. It can take a bit of experimentation and a few flops but it is worth it.


Kris said…
I quite like your pink bird. You may have a whole new line of critters coming here. Still you but, with a much lighter feel than the Sparks.
Leone said…
Anonymous said…
I LOVE, LOVE your journal pages!! Your birds give the impression that they're looking at the world upside down. They're very unique.
This exercise really looks like very efficient in forcing you to let go. I am left handed, maybe i could try this with my right hand.
Carin Winkelman said…
I love what you've done with these. The cat is my favorite.
I went in the complete opposite direction with this class than you and went completely abstract. I love how it's giving me a whole new way to doodle. (If you're interested I just did a blogpost about them. I'm calling them 'pamdoodles'. :-) )
Bonnie said…
Love all your pages! They are very unique and fabulous. The sail boat is what caught my eye. I love how you talk about finding your own style. Something I've dreamed of my whole long life. If your face was really so bad on your least liked page, you did a great job of saving it. It's a very interesting page. I look forward to seeing more of your work!