I’ve neglected my blog. Bad. But I have been more or less obsessed with art journaling. For some reason the little 5×7 #Stalogy 365 Journal is compelling while a 5×7 blank white canvas is terrifying. The journal stimulates my creativity but the canvas obliterates it. So, I’ll go with the flow—with what works or at least what gets me motivated to make marks on a page that turn into something where nothing existed before. I even convinced a good friend of mine in Phoenix to join me in going through a new book, 101 Mixed Media Techniques by a group of mixed media artists. It’s basically a compendium of lots of different techniques grouped into general categories like Art Journaling, Gesso and Mediums, Transferring, etc. We decided to do a chapter a week, picking three techniques in the chapter and producing work that utilizes them. It’s been a lot of fun and we can then go back through the book again choosing techniques we passed by before. Here are a few of the spreads I’ve done exploring things like gesso over painting, using found objects, working with texture and modeling paste and creating backgrounds. Next week will be stamping. Such fun.
This week’s workshop was a winner. Finally, someone was able to explain and demonstrate how in the heck art journalers create those fabulous layered pages I have always admired but never been able to create on my own. Thank you to Karen Dawn for putting together this Visual Journal Meetup group in Edmonds, WA. If you are curious, the technique depends on using very thin, tissue paper like layers, stencils, spray bottles of ink and acrylic paint, patience, and, at least in my case, that reckless (lol) spontaneity that young people seem to have in spades.
The finishing touch on my collage paper is the white drippy stuff that runs from one corner all the way to the focal point. Across from me at the table this week was a young lady (maybe 12? or so); when I tried (oh so carefully) to add a couple of drips of white acrylic liquid to the paper project, she said, “Here, let me show you how this works,” and proceeded to make three LARGE drips of pure white paint onto one corner of the paper. Then we quickly held it up so it ran down in rivulets, and I was left to figure out how to “make it work!”
I think it ended up pretty well for a first attempt at collage. But, more importantly, I was gently reminded how easy it is to take your work too seriously, to forget what it means to play, and that the often the best art comes from working out those ‘happy’ accidents. You should only be so lucky as I was to share your workspace with a child who so effortlessly shatters your pretensions of “making” art.
A shoutout to the Visual Journaling Meetup in Edmonds, Washington for hosting such a supportive environment. I spent the better part of two hours this morning trying to tap into something these artsy people call the inner self. Evidently it is a process of self discovery and self expression that even psychologists think may a worthwhile means of increasing emotional wellbeing. Well, I am all for that!
The day did not begin on a particularly auspicious note–I managed to drive off with my morning coffee still perched on the top of the car. So uncaffeinated and a bit nervous I joined a handful of journalers for what turned out to be a feel good morning of playtime with paint, paper, and a pleasant exchange of personal stories. Thank you Karen Dawn and company for making me feel at home, and for giving my overwrought journal page the ultimate compliment, “That’s very . . . creative“. It may not be good art, but finding that creative zone was really my goal.
Over the weekend I happened to find a lost car key on the sidewalk during one of my walks. Luckily the owner had a strip of laminated paper with a phone number attached to the top so I was able to call and return the key. The man on the phone seemed surprised, either that the key was lost or that someone had found it. I too was a bit surprised, not that I came across a piece of lost property but that finding it and being able to return it to the rightful owner reminded me of what Judaism teaches about good deeds as mitzvot. I learned (or re-learned) two things from this experience. First, that we are sometimes dependent on someone else’s misfortune in order to do a good deed (or fulfill a divine commandment in Jewish thinking), and Continue reading
I especially love walking these days since I am recovering from a particularly nasty bout of back pain. Mill Creek, WA is only a couple of miles down the road from my apartment, and a favorite respite of mine from apartment life. Usually I walk with a friend, but today was a solitary venture if you don’t count the abundant flora and fauna along the way.
I tend to focus on the bigger picture, always looking for an interesting point of view, a strong composition on the iPhone display. But I miss Lorna, my walking buddy, who always astounds me with her eagle eye for detail. I would have missed the two mottled gray and brown hatchling turtles sunning themselves on a mottled gray and brown boulder, the tiny hummingbird that was perching motionless on a solitary limb right above my head, and the teensy ducklings huddled and nearly hidden in the reeds of the Mill Creek pond, with mama mallard just ahead of them—one eye on the water and the other on her brood. I don’t know how Lorna spots these little wonders. Even when she points them out I have to mentally adjust my internal viewfinder to make out whatever little wonder she has spied out.