Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Inspiration

It's the color time of year in the garden.

I am working on some patterns for my licensing work, and I couldn't resist going outside to shoot some of the flowers, and choosing colors from the fabulous display Nature creates. After sitting at my desk and feeling so dazed with looking at a screen, it's like a little vacation to just go and be with the flowers.
and necessary for my mental health.

 Thank you Mother Earth -- for beauty so simple and so abundant as flowers.


I ask Spirit "what am I to do?"

"Be in love with yourself.
Be in love with the Universe," is the answer.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How we "spend" our time.

Isn't it funny that we say "spend time"?
I am trying to focus more on that idea, that time is a precious commodity, and if I squander it, there I go.
It is lost forever . . .
Nothing accomplished.

But I am not thinking of this in the way society often assumes - that work, work, work, achieve, achieve, achieve is the goal; that production and end result are the whole point.
Because they're not.

Learning to BE, learning to just settle into my body, feeling the earth around me, sending out feelings and intentions of love and connection -- THIS is a much better use of my limited time.

I'd so much rather spend my time as investment into the whole of life.
I'd rather spend my time sending out something as invaluable as loving energy - because this investment grows and comes back tenfold.

I do get frantic sometimes with to-do lists, chores, achieving stability in bank account, bills payed, clean house.  But more and more I am letting go of these needs.  I do try to meet the basic requirements to have a responsible life, but after that?
Spending time with my children (grown-ups now), walking with my dog, taking the time to greet a neighbor, asking a clerk how their day is going, and waiting for an extended answer, or just smiling and being.

Last night we were wandering around in Boulder at the Kale Festival (gotta love Boulder) and we stopped to watch the Kayakers on Boulder Creek.  One caught my eye and sent me a big smile.  He was concentrating on the white water, I am sure, but he took the time out to thank me for my audience with his expression.  This very small act made me feel so good, connected to this athlete for a nano-second, he knew I was appreciating his work, I knew he knew.  It was a nice bit of human interaction.
and if I had just walked across the bridge and not taken the time to notice, it wouldn't have happened.

I am working on being in the moment, and feeling the connection of all things.  What better way is there to spend your time?


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

Thursday, June 18, 2015

the gift of creativity

Photoshop is such a great tool for mixed media collage.

I love to just mess around in my journal, mixing papers and sewing and paint (that's what I did in this background), then scan and print it. I then can add other layers of image in lots of different media. This is a block print repeated, and a watercolor. Printing the final image up, and pasting in my journal gets my creative mojo flowing. It kickstarts my brain when the blank page says "what are you doing?!"

Another block to creativity is the sense that it's a waste of time. I constantly fight the cultural message that if I'm not producing (especially making money) I am not doing anything worthwhile.
Adding beauty to the world has to be the most worthwhile way to spend time.
and adding happiness to yourself, and thus spreading the joy in waves through everyone you come into contact with is another very worthwhile way to spend time.
Being creative is a gift to the Universe.
Belief in your own creative work is also a gift to yourself.

I vow this week to remember this as I invest time in my journal.


























“What art does is to coax us away from the mechanical and towards the miraculous.”
--Jeanette Winterson

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May One, my latest book

A very nice review on Amazon - thanks, Marta!

"May One is a journey through a woman's life, in a fascinatingly ordinary, random, one day out of each year rhythm. I've often been aware of seasonal and annual cycles, and what a cool way to explore this! It shows a young woman thinking, growing, questioning herself and the world around her, as she becomes more relaxed and comfortable with herself, allowing the images to come forward and speak for themselves. The evolution of her artwork is a delight to see, as it unfolds and blossoms!"

http://www.amazon.com/May-One-Emily-S-Townsend/dp/0988517965/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Making the self public. . . .

An artist puts images into the world.
A writer writes and puts it into print.
and sometimes the subject is boldly and obviously the self; other times, the subject is the self hidden in the story or image.
I think, perhaps, all creative work is about the self, and expressing the self.

My art show opens next Friday, and along with the show, I put together a "catalog" of art journal entries spanning 30 years. I have been worried about sending something so private into the world.
"Ha", you say, "she writes of private things right here on this blog, what gives?"

Somehow putting it in print and having it available for everyone seems scarier.  This blog post was found by you, probably because you are interested in art journaling.  Friends and family seem to never read this, or if they do, no one mentions it.  I get hardly any comments (they are filtered to stop spam, so maybe that's it?) so I often feel like I am writing to myself.

Recently I read two very powerful memoirs.

One, My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, is a series of 6 books written about his life and difficult situation with his father.  It's been compared to Proust's Memories of Time Lost and I think will become very well known the next few years as a literary masterpiece.  I can't say why it's so compelling, other than his writing is so heart-felt and so direct and so real, you feel like you are a Norwegian man living in Sweden, observing his wife and children and writing about the immense struggle with his relationship with his father.  He is a brilliant writer, and so honest it almost takes your breath away as you enter his world.

Another memoir I just finished is called Storm of the i by Tina Collen.  A friend told me about this book, and reading it I am so struck by our life parallels.  Tina is also a very honest and direct writer, a very creative artist, who struggled her whole life with a difficult relationship with her father.  Her book includes lots of her art, fold-outs, ephemera, and I think it is brave and brilliant and very revelatory.

It also reminded me how scary it is to put it out, and at the end of the book she says her brother-in-law kindly warns her no one reads a memoir unless the person is famous.  Well, that's partially true, but if a hundred people, or ten, or even one reads, and absorbs the lessons and power of the telling, it's a job worth doing.

or so I tell myself.

So as I am about to send my little journaling memoir into the world, and put up a pile of art at Inspire Life Studio next Friday, I was so helped and encouraged by both Karl Ove's and Tina's willingness to be vulnerable, open, and painfully themselves on display for the world to both love and hate, as the world tends to do.

The act of saying "I Matter" is something everyone should be able to do.  Seeing others do this really helps.  So here I go. . .

and here is self-portrait of me at Inspire Life Studio:


"The journey from the head to the heart is the longest to take."
--William Sloan Coffin

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coming up:

A companion book for the upcoming show, 29 years of journal entries, all from May One.
Making this book really opened my eyes to what happens when an artist goes from words (the beginning entries) to images (the most recent.)
The progress was so much more graphic than I realized, and skipping from May to May, year after year shows it.  It is hard to express feelings, but it turns out, they are better expressed for me in image than in word, which ends up being demonstrated in this book.

I am excited to release it into the world on May One, along with some of my art at Inspire Life Studio.

Karl Ove Knausgaard's speaks of his experience of a painting of clouds by John Constable, recounted in his memoir, My Struggle:
Suddenly he is in tears, arrested by "an oil sketch of a cloud formation from September 6, 1822 . . . the feeling of inexhaustibility.  The feeling of beauty.  The feeling of presence."
He has always been unsettled by paintings, but he has never found it easy to describe his experience of them:
"because of what they possessed, the core of their being, was inexhaustibility and what that wrought in me was a kind of desire.  I can't explain it any better than that.  A desire to be inside the inexhaustibility."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You're invited:


"I hereby appoint you a dissident bodhisattva in charge of overthrowing the sour and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality," and replacing it with an authentic reality built on the principles of insurrectionary beauty, ingenious love, reverent justice, rigorous equality, and rowdy bliss." --Rob Brezsney

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A busy month . . . .

It's been a whole month since I've been here! How does that happen?

We went on a camping trip to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, we went East to visit parents, I am getting ready for an art show that opens May 1, and been working on a book to go with the show. So I guess that's how it happens.

I am eager to work in my journal again, to help me focus and center.

In the meantime, a few pages to fill the space:



























The moment he looks back at the Constable sketch, “all my reasoning vanished in the surge of energy and beauty that arose in me. Yes, yes, yes, I heard. That’s where it is. That’s where I have to go.”

 --Karl Ove Gnausgaard, looking at a Constable landscape, from his book My Struggle

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Journaling Out Loud





“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist will answer you, I am here to live out loud." --Emile Zola

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How many times has art saved me?


"There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic."
--Anais Nin

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Studio remixing

Since my computer had the little coffee mishap last week, I had some time in the studio to reorganize and make more space.
I do much better making art if I have an environment that invites me in.
Otherwise, I end up puttering around and never getting to it.

I also started a Pinterest board with art studio images, to get me motivated.
I like the open-ness of lots of these spaces.
An inspiring space facilitates inspiring art.
(I wish we all had loft studios in New York, but making our own space nice is the next best thing.)



















I also started filling in the latest junk journal.  I am very happy starting work on pages that aren't white.  The bits and bobs of the random collage get me going, make me more creative, make me more loose.

Also, looking at so many journals that are posted on line, I am dismayed at the level of just re-creating stencil and gesso and girly faces.  (and birds.)
So many pages out there have the same look.
I don't know about you, but this process for me is about discovery.
It's not about making pretty little postcard art I can post.
It's not about knowing in advance what you are going to do on the page.
It's not about following a step by step recipe of how to stencil and layer.

Yeah, I get that people only post what they are proud of.
But listen - let's all learn to be proud of our own crazy individual styles, of our own experiments and mishaps and mistakes.
Of our mashups.
of our remixes.

Scan something, tear it up, glue it down.
Find an image you love in a magazine, tear it out, start from there.
Sketch and embellish.
Carve an eraser stamp and stamp the heck out of that page.
Art journaling is about going within, not copying others' style.
Yes, we all need the boost of posting a pretty image and having the world say Ohhh Ahhh.
But let's be brave.
Let's make some messes and share them.
Let's be proud of our process, and not always look for a neat and tidy finished page.

So after you shovel some snow, warm up and get a cuppa tea, get in that studio, and mess around.
You'll find something unexpected, and maybe something you totally love.

"Tune yourself to your own highest vibration, then make a mess. What comes out might surprise you." --me

Saturday, February 7, 2015

this

coffee spill disaster. keyboard not working right. cant type the first word I need to type which is __ournal. yeah, I bet you can gess the letter that wont type. and the other one. G_ess. this is very bad news for e. __e. sorry.







Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Passion.

What does your passion look like?
What really turns you on?

If you don't know, this is a great thing to journal about.
Tear out some images, glue them down.  Add some colors.
There, now you're loosened up, so now you can write some words.
Quick.
Don't think too much about it.
What did you find out?

I think one of the most powerful tools we have as visual journalers is that when we play around with color and shape and image, our right creative brains are loosened.
We can experiment and mess around, and thus access the more sub-conscious part of our mind.  And this is the part where the secrets of the Universe are.  (Just ask Rumi.)

I see so many journaling "lessons" which show exactly how to make an art journal page; videos where the artist goes through a lesson of paint, color, stencil, whatever, expecting you to follow along and learn that technique.
This is art.
It's not art journaling.
Someone said "creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, art is knowing which ones to keep."

If you are trying to make pretty pages to share on a blog or facebook, what will you find out?
Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's pleasing to make a page you like, a page that looks finished and even frame-able.
But if you let that become your goal, you'll be missing out on the true discovery of your own inner mind.

Try to let your mistakes lead you somewhere.
Let your playing in your art journal ask the questions, don't work to force the answers.

All this is hard to put into words, but if you mess around, I think you'll know what I am talking about.
Just start with something that catches your attention, play with that idea or image or feeling.  Tear a picture out of a magazine that attracts you.

See what happens.

 
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.

--Pablo Picasso

Friday, January 30, 2015

Journaling as a spiritual practice


I have been a diarist for most of my life.

It started with me as a little kid making words on paper, and maybe adding pictures.
Scribbles and doodles that did not get saved, but helped me to think more clearly about the world and myself.

The angst of middle school resulted in numerous lined spiral notebooks filled with sorrows and joys, thoughts and feelings splashed all over the pages.
In high school, much of my writing had to do with friends, boys, the group, or a lack of a group. (I destroyed those journals when I went off to college, I was so appalled at them. Yes, I wish I hadn't.)

Thirty years later, I still use my journal for some of this psychological spilling.  But it is much more now.
I record desires and hopes.
I wish for better habits, goals, discipline, reason.
I sometimes still do let it all get splashed out onto the page, but mostly I use my journal to redirect those rants into positive affirmations.
To find the inner truth of my sub-conscious and let it speak to me.
These books are a beautiful record of where I have come.

The last few years I have been making my own journals from 22" x 30" watercolor paper.
Making the book and binding it myself makes it so much more mine.
I can really beat up the pages with collage, ink, watercolor, penwork, fiber and ephemera, lots of words.

I am excited to be starting a new project, a year-long art journal workbook I will print and pubish. This will be a starting point for someone just exploring this practice.
and it will be a get-back-to-it point for anyone whose art journaling process needs a jump start.

Sometimes I wonder what this shelf full of 30 years of journals will come to.  Maybe a landfill, yes, but more importantly, it's what these books have helped ME come to.
They have helped me live a much more focused life.

I know one part of my life work is to share that with the world.




"As a day well spent procures a happy sleep, so a life well employed procures a happy death."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Connections

In the history of discovery, scientists, philosophers, artists and poets have something in common, they start with a problem, and they make some new connection which solves this problem.

So many great advancements are accidents, while someone is looking for something else, they stumble upon a whole new way of looking at, or doing something.

*Alexander Fleming, while on vacation, left his lab dishes dirty and a new fungus grew which killed all the bacteria - penicillin was discovered.
*The microwave oven was invented when a scientist investigating rays had a chocolate bar in his pocket that melted.
*A Swiss scientist found burrs attached to his dog's fur, and developed velcro from this idea.
*Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped his rubber onto a hot stove, and vulcanizing rubber was invented, changing the durability of rubber, and the whole industrial system.
*In September 1940, 4 boys and their dog in the Dordogne region of France went into a cave following the legend of buried treasure. What they found, the prehistoric cave art of Lascaux, was one of the most magnificent finds of neolithic art in the world.

So, it makes sense to ask a question with an open-ended answer. To let the various connections and fragments happen as they will, and see what answer emerges. This is one magnificent way to use your journal.

Do you have a pressing question for your life?
Maybe:
What is the most authentic work I could be doing?
What is the best way for me to use my skills?
Is there something I could do to create a life that feels more fulfilling?
I have this particular struggle, what is something I could do to help me through it? How can I change my perspective on this one problem?
Am I where I am meant to be?

I have been reading Zen Buddhism, and one deep understanding I am getting is that being in a Zen state is to believe that where ever you are, at that moment, is exactly where you are meant to be; that whatever you are doing at this moment, is exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

So put together the serendipity of discovering something new and unexpected along with the idea that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this very moment.
What do you get?

I don't know the answer for you, but you can ask your journal.
Jot some possibilities, whatever comes to your mind. Create a collage of images that appeal to you. Play with some answers, even the most outlandish ones. See where this takes you. You just might find a revelation that you were looking for, but could not uncover because you were assuming you knew the answer already, but that answer was not quite right.

You just might connect two or three things in your life; people or events or projects, that will be determine your future.  You might discover yourself.

Good luck!


"I think on some level, you do your best things when you're a little off-balance, a little scared. You've got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing."
--Willem Dafoe

"Each person is an enigma. You're a puzzle not only to yourself but also to everyone else, and the great mystery of our time is how we penetrate this puzzle."
 --Theodore Zeldin

Monday, January 5, 2015

Get going, it's 2015

This is a page from Egon Schiele's journal.
What are you working on?


"We’ve gotta carve out some time and space from the day to day noise…the laundry, the groceries, the homework, the job, the spouse, the friends, the television to go away.
Live and learn?
How about Isolate and Create."
--Chase Jarvis

Friday, December 19, 2014

Flowers in the Winter

We have less than two days until the Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year.

A great way to rejuvenate is a visit to a Botanical Gardens -- here in Denver we have a wonderful tropical pavilion, filled with heat and humidity and birdsong and colors.

Yesterday I took my brother, who is visiting from Oregon, there.   He is a botanist, so it's always a treat to visit plants and trees with him.
I know I will be bringing the watercolors along next time.
Maybe an art date is just what you need this busy time of year!


“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.”
--William Kean Seymour

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back to basics . . . .

Visual journaling for me has been a progression, and a many-years-long adventure.

When I first started keeping a journal (back in middle school!) it was spiral notebooks filled with words. In college and architecture school, I had sketchbooks and idea books, but these did not get to the essence of what I wanted to say, they were just a place to take notes, a place to record what other people were saying.

As I started on this visual journaling path, I added pictures and sketches to illustrate the words.  I started to let my right brain/sub-conscious tell me secrets through the process of letting my mind wander, letting my creative brain take charge. Words then became less common. Images took over.  I found that there was a pre-language place in my brain, and by collaging and painting without direction, I could more easily access the creative and non-verbal, it felt like I could access secrets and discovery of things my rational self didn't always have access to.

I still work this way, but sometimes, to shake things up, it's nice to go back to the beginning, and let the spiral of evolution bring the work to a new place.  I can start with lots of words, then see what happens after that.  It's good to shake it up, to not get in a rut, to try new ways of working.

I recently attended a workshop based on Spiritual ideas; not art. Some of the speakers were artists, and I listened closely to what they had to say. One in particular got my attention. She has lots of interesting talk and ideas. I ended up sitting with her at lunch, wanting to hear more about her process. When I got home, I looked up her website - there was nothing there. I was not surprised. It is so easy to talk about art, it's so hard to do it.  Don't listen to others who declare themselves masters. Find your own work inside yourself, keep at it, work long and hard.

If you are serious, you will punch in and work a solid 8 hour day.
If you are serious, you will keep at it even when frustrated, or bored, or scared.
If you are serious, you will work through the anxiety and doubts.
You will learn to follow through with your ideas, and not just have them.
Doing this, you not only contribute to your own evolution, you contribute to the evolution of us all. How many of us really commit to the process of finding our truest voice?
of finding a totally unique and personal way to express ourselves?
Doing this is a huge gift to the world.
Make your work and your life a gift. Don't just follow others' shallow talk, find your own evolution.

I am going back to basics a bit - putting words on paper.  Then working through with my ideas to completion, seeing where I am to go.

Stop reading about art on the internet.
Go make some.

Namaste.