Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jump, and learn to fly.

"In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one
is doing or what one knows."   --Henri Matisse

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Finding Inspiration

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”
--Jack London

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


"Civilization may be unraveling in a lot of areas; some of its structures may be collapsing; but it is also in the midst of a tremendous upheaval of creativity -- a flood of innovation and genius and love pouring out of millions upon millions of people -- a Great Awakening that is far louder and stronger and more interesting than the sleepy resignation and corrosive maliciousness and ignominious decline that the media prefers to focus on."
                      --Rob Brezsny

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why not be fabulous?

"You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life."

--Walt Whitman

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Yes words and No words

"Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style."

--Rebecca Solnit

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Some collages

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” ~Junot Diaz

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart…” ~William Wordsworth

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Go have some fun in your visual journal.

Two collages done today in my journal.

Just because they were fun, no deep meaning.
(and those images are photos run through a very fun app called "Dreamscope" on my iphone.)

“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”
--Khalil Gibran

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fast Speed Collage

Sometimes it's fun to watch things get made.

Here is a time lapse of a collage page in my Midori Art Journal - (sorry it's a bit blurry, and maybe too fast to really see much . . . )

I started with the blank pages in my Midori insert made from a calendar, and a Buddhist tapestry. I had some images pre-cut, and others I cut and tear in the video. (Unicycle rider, jellyfishes, artichokes). I glue those things down, add some dots and words and swirls.  and there's an outline in Copic marker. I play around with a stamp and fortune cookie fortune, the fortune never finds a place.

Some notes on materials:
I use a tear bar to make straight tears on pictures, and scissors to cut them out, and I also tear with my fingers.
I use spray mount (spraying in a glue box) to make the pictures stick nicely to the paper.
I use copic markers, and a tul black gel pen for the words.
I held the pages flat with large paper clips in the upper corners.

and some composition theory - not thought of while working, it just sort of happens from experience: I used lots of red and green, compliments which make a strong compostion, lots of repeating circles, and a balance of empty and filled space. You can see me moving things around until my eye is pleased with the placement. I find it better not to "figure it out" but just to do what feels and looks good.

here goes:

and the final page:

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."

Monday, April 4, 2016

Blogging with my buddy, Anais Nin

I love the diaries of Anais Nin, the original blogger when spilling one's ideas was a much more private affair. She wrote with such honesty and fierceness, at a time when the things she was saying could get her put into jail. And she did intend much of these words to be published, sort of like us bloggers today. I don't think we ever again will understand how oppressive that time was (the 30's and 40's). Most of her work could not even be put into print until the 70's, when she herself was approaching her 70's. She paved the way for feminism and freedom of expression and candidness for women in their both their sexuality and creativity.

I have all the volumes of her dairies, and recently, Volume 4 fell apart at the seams, pages came tumbling out all over my desk. So I, of course, took my scissors and got to it. I found it really great to cut out passages I wanted to respond to, and write out my answers in my own journal, Anais and I, chatting away!

and I also sent some of the pages through my printer, and printed some of my watercolor sketches on them. That also, was really pleasing to do, and makes a great start for a collage on a page in my journal, or as a card to put in the mail.

Anais Nin, one of my heroes, now is in my own journal for ever, connecting me to her wisdom.
I, we all, owe her a big debt for her pioneering work.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” —Anais Nin

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How I use my Midori

I have been loving the heavy duty leather and nice durability of my Midori notebook. It is so nice to change the inserts, I have sections for written journaling, visual journaling, and record keeping Here's a little video showing how it works.

Those big fat paperclips are from Target -- pretty great for keeping it open while I work.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Find joy in your journal

Joy in journaling -- I was watching a BBC gardening show (working out my disappointment at the 6 inches of snow out my window this morning,) and there appeared a little plump robin. I froze the screen so I could get my watercolors and paint him. Then I scanned this watercolor, and printed it onto a page from an Anais Nin book. (The book had fallen apart, so the aged pages have been a nice collage base for the last few days.)

I went back to my watercolor files, and printed a bunch of animals I had painted onto pages to use in the future, so fun!

Cutting out the bird, adding some words, and then, how about some eraser stamps?  I love carving white erasers because the shapes can be so lyrical and have a look of the hand on them, and are repeatable, making nice patterns. Then some washi tape, more words, and how about some stickers?
Perhaps a rose?

Such fun, to make beauty in my journal, and on this snowy day in Colorado, two days before the Equinox, where I am wishing for more green and more birds and more gardening, this page brings me hope.

Because to find joy in your expression, isn't that the whole reason for this work?
For life itself?

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason.
I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me.
I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another.
No more walls.”
― Ana├»s Nin

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Jumping In

Naga is the Hindu deity associated with the snake, and also Nature Spirits which are the protectors of the rivers, springs and lakes. Yesterday, here in Denver, we had a bit of rain, very good for the plants which are just starting to think about budding. (Too soon because they will get zapped with frost and snow soon enough.) In Buddhism, Naga is associated with powerful dragons and wise serpents, guarding the West, and these entities are about flow. Naga also can represent humans with animal qualities, considered a good thing.

On this page, I added some bits of washi tape (the little green polka dot stripes on the edges) as well as sanskrit collage bits, an orange border, a pencil sketch torn from my sketch book.

Did the Naga images need these bits? I don't know, I just know that when a page pleases me, I look at it longer. Words bleeding from page to page, borders, repeat in the collage bits (the sanskrit paper) and background pattern, all make it more interesting to look at. The Naga also, just attracted me.
What does the Naga or serpent mean to me? I'm finding out by collaging with him!

Make the art first, then do the thinking.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
--Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Secrets from Spirit . . .

If you have been reading my blog, you might have started to get the idea that I think collage gets your mind to open up, and that the opening can be not just of the subconscious, but to something even greater. I think Spirit actually speaks to us through our art, that the silent voice of All Connection can articulate what we cannot always find in our own hearts.

Here are a few journal pages I did the last few days.
I started with some images I just "liked."
I glued them down, added some curls, some color, some dots, some random paper scraps, some words. These are the messages I received:

Being gentle with humanity requires strength.
We can send healing intention to all creatures.
And to Mother Earth.
Have an Intention of Connection.
What would life be without some mystery?
Embrace the question, the unknown.

So there you have it, those phrases and sentences might not be meaningful to all of you reading this, but they are very meaningful to me. And it was the act of collage that summoned them.

So make some collages in your journal, play with images without a direction -- see what mysteries reveal themselves.

What in your life is calling you,
when all the noise is silenced,

the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,

and the wild iris blooms

by itself

in the dark forest?

What still pulls on your soul?


Friday, February 26, 2016

the urge to create

You're a kid. You have crayons and newsprint, a few coloring books, glue and blunt edged scissors, and what comes naturally? To play around with all these things, and make a mess and maybe even a picture that ends up on the refrigerator. This trend now in adult coloring books is pretty awesome - we are finally realizing how whole brained it is to just mess around with color and line.

I, for one, need to create.
I need to cut out images, glue them down, add words, more images, colors.
It really lightens my heaviness to do this, it opens up some sense of wonder and love of beauty.

We all are meant to create beauty in our lives, be it cooking beautiful vegetables and arranging them on a platter, adding some interesting colored pillows to the couch, hanging all our earrings on an earring tree, putting the spices in a pretty row, sitting on the deck and admiring the way the light falls through the winter branches on the wood, pairing yellow socks with red shoes, etc.

For me, the act of art opens up something. Deep meanings and subconscious thoughts? Sometimes it's that, but other times it's just a sense that as a human being, I have the right to create. Birds make beautiful nests, spiders spin amazing webs, their work might not be for the purpose of beauty, but it seems to work better if our efforts end up with something nice to look at.

I don't know if my dog has ever just watched the sunset, I do know he can sit outside for hours and contemplate the smells, maybe creating stories in his head of the squirrels and other dogs the smells evoke. Is he creative?
I did read somewhere that Octopi like to find little rocks and trinkets to decorate their homesteads.
We should remember this and follow their example.

Don't think.
Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy.
You can't try to do things.
You simply must do things.
--Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

movement : meaning : mood : messages

Sometimes (often, in fact) I just tear and cut out pictures from books and magazines, and glue them down. The random factor is helped by the fact I use scrap paper as my journal page, and the underneath image just occurs accidentally instead of starting with a white background.

I do this because it helps remove my controlling/rational/logical left brain from the process.  I don't want to know what I am doing in advance, I want it to happen in spite of my intentions.

My random/intuitive/feeling right brain often can sneak in meaning when I work this way. When I feel pleased with the arrangement, I know I am on to something. It's not about pretty collage, it's about revelation. I felt satisfied this morning with this collage - I am not even figuring out why, although I did write the words "dance and enjoy the fruit of your labor," something I am working on in my life.

So my sneaky right brain created a message to myself through tearing out paper, cutting out images, and assembling them together on a page in my journal.

Tight control and rational thinking are so over rated in our world.  Let your journal help you break that habit.

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine.
The landmine is me.
After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”

--Ray Bradbury

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Midori scrap paper collage, part 2

I just spent two weeks in Tucson, dog and house sitting for my niece.  I love being in a new place with no distractions to hike, explore, contemplate, and work in my journal -- we hiked in Saguaro National Park, where the iconic saguaro cactuses fill the dry landscape.

I gathered some materials from the tourist office, from the gem and mineral show I attended, and from the park for journaling ephemera, and just messed around a bit.  Is there a theme?  Not really, sometimes it's all about playing around with no intention, some revelation might occur, or not.  This is an important aspect to creativity - to mess around with no goal.  Some of the collages I like, others not so much, and that's okay.  I might add more work to some of these, I might not.  It is good to let the control-oriented, rational mind take a back seat for a while.

Here are some of the results:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Random scrap paper collages

In this previous post, I explained how I like to create a Midori journal insert made of random scrap papers, trimmed and sewn into signatures with no organizing plan. When the pages are opened, the random combinations really do inspire interesting collages.

After inserting the booklet into my journal cover, I will add this and that (images, ephemera, stickers...) for a few days, until a page spread seems full enough of images and words. I try to leave some blank spaces for journaling later. To take this book of partially complete collages to a coffee shop or on a hike gives me a kickstart in creativity when I sit down to write.

I don't worry if the words I write complement the collage, although they often do.
I also open the book to any page to begin work, no need to follow the sequence of pages as they appear in the book. (A date stamp helps keep track.)

Most of these images were cut or torn from a National Geographic I happened to have on my desk at the time. Another trick I use is to NOT plan the collages, I simply take the pictures my eye is attracted to. When the left brain/control center/rational thought process is removed, I seem to connect more with the right brain/intuitive/creative/emotional side. The work ends up feeling more relevant and real than if I had controlled the process.

and here, some of the collages before I add more words:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of 
arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid 
in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, 
and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

--Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mixed media owls with Tibetan thanka background

“Quand le hibou chante,
la nuit est silence.”

(When the owl is singing,
the night is silence.)

--Charles de Leusse

Monday, January 4, 2016

Journaling in a Midori

Japanese Midoris are a system for journaling which are well-made, compact and flexible, not to mention portable.  They have totally changed the way I journal . . .  I am now using them as my art journal, calendar, note keeper, to do list, etc.   My habit of only journaling in hand-made books worked for me for quite a few years, but I find now I need more flexibility and the Midori journal really achieves that. It's smaller, refillable, and a pleasure to hold.

The system is basically a heavy leather cover with elastics that can hold in any number of inserts which you can buy or make yourself.  I like to combine a few plain-page purchased inserts with some scrap/junk paper inserts that I make myself.  I also like to add pockets and clips to hold paper supplies and ephemera, so all I have to do is grab some pens, double-sided tape, and perhaps some inks and stamps, and I am ready to take the show on the road.  It's so nice to have a separate section for lists, reminders, and day-to-day tasks, and another section for calendar items, and a third for pure art journaling.

Here is my cover, and a few of the inserts I have already filled up.

To start making a junk-paper insert, I like to gather pages from the pile of large books from the thrift store.  I use a tear bar to tear out the pages, and pile them up in random order.

I cut the papers into 8 1/4" x 8 3/4" sheets using my amazing paper cutter, and I then fold them in half.
The extra scraps of paper left over make nice small pieces that fit nicely into the little pocketed folder I made in my Midori, useful for collage.
I assemble the folded sheets into signatures.  (It's nice to also include some blank papers so the pages are not all covered in images.)  A signature is just a stack of folder papers.

Once assembled, I trim the signatures' edge so they fit neatly into the Midori cover.

I use my sewing machine to sew the signatures (you can use a large straight stitch, or of course, sew them by hand if you prefer.)  I tie the thread ends to hold them together.

It's fun to see the random arrangement of papers; it kickstarts my creative brain to have some image or color to work with, so the collage doesn't start with a totally intimidating blank page.

I insert the signature booklet into the elastic band. I like to insert one junk page signature, along with two blank page booklets.  Since they stack, you end up with alternating sections of blank and picture-filled sections.

A page ready to collage!

Assembling my journaling materials and I'm off. It helps to use binder clips to hold the book flat.
Some ephemera, stamps, glue, pens, ink, and a page is done.

“A good journal entry - like a good song, or sketch, or photograph - ought to break up the habitual and life away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.”
― Anthony Doerr

and more Midori ideas can be found at my Pinterest Midori Board