Tuesday, April 29, 2008

be true to the small moment

a nest of eggs.
a rock spiral.
pretty blue colors in a swirl.
I love these simple things.
I made a collage of these simple beautiful things.
I printed it out and put it in the journal.
I try to use my journal practice to remember the simple beauty in life.
an egg.
a rock.
I am learning that my spiritual practice is this - looking at something that appeals to me.
making a collage of it.
writing from the soul.
Try It in YOUR journal today.
it is amazing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

where to find the MUSE?

What do you do when you are sitting in front of a blank set of pages and have no idea where to begin?
This is one reason I keep my scrap paper bag right next to me - I can just reach in and grab any papers that catch my eye, start to tear and arrange, glue down, add color and GO!
I also read tons and tons (novels, non-fiction, poetry, magazines) and watch worhtwhile movies, because this always seems to get my creative energy going - this page started with an inspiring poem I read in the New Yorker - about a caterpillar slowly inching along, unaware of what the future would be. (I will post this wonderful poem at the end of this entry.)
I also have two awesome daily inspiration books on my desk and it seems whenever I pick up either one and start reading, something touches me deeply - they are "Words to Live By" by Eknath Easwaran, and "Affirmations for Artists" by Eric Maisel.
Also - of course - reading the blogs here and clicking on random chains of links can get me going. I have to be careful of this, though, because this great huge web of internet can certainly lure me to random interesting but unrelated articles, or videos, or images and suddenly I find I have spent an hour looking at some flikr group and my journal sits like an abandoned wallflower patiently awaiting my attention.
So - I hope this visit here is not a side trip for you, but that your journal takes center stage for you today - and the MUSE finds you live and well!

A Measuring Worm
by Richard Wilbur

This yellow striped green

Caterpillar, climbing up

The steep window screen,

Constantly (for lack

Of a full set of legs) keeps

Humping up his back.

It’s as if he sent

By a sort of semaphore

Dark omegas meant

To warn of Last Things.

Although he doesn’t know it,

He will soon have wings,

And I, too, don’t know

Toward what undreamt condition

Inch by inch I go.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

digital PLUS

I love my my journal - the pages, the mess I make, the pencil rubbing across and the words I handwrite.
The feel of the paper and the heaviness of the book filled with collages.
But I **also** like digital journaling - this spread is both. The left is a page I did by hand in my actual book, and added on the the right is a bit I added digitally.
The line drawing is a Picasso - collage is about borrowing, right?
about being inspired?
and the quote just fits.
and the cupid on the left? I obviously didn't paint that.
I love using words and images and quotes and drawings that inspire me.
I challenge us all to use our own hands as we enjoy, but also to use parts of photos, words, quotes, drawings, paintings, from other artists.
I have a big collage bag - in it are lots of scraps of lovely paper, lots of old calenders, some cheap books with great images (those library book sales are wonderful), and tissue paper which can add great color without too much weight.
I dig and grab whatever catches my eye - no thinking allowed.
I tear and cut and paste.
Then I write.
I try to let the words come from my inner authentic self, the intuitive self that the journal is meant to express.
I got tired of writing laundry lists of to-dos, and gripes about my day. The art helps me get to this more creative place.
The collage is what gets me opened up.
and in this case, I take the page on my computer screen, and add another part to it.
The computer can be a collage tool, too!
It's YOUR journal - go nuts!

Friday, April 25, 2008

the gift of the on-line journal - private and yet, so connected

We live in amazing times.
We can click on these little metal machines and be connected to other little metal machines anywhere on the whole blue/green globe.
There are 6 billion of us, and we all know who the world leaders are, what McDonalds is, who Madonna is, how to play soccer.
We will all know about the Olympic Games.
We can click here and there in a blogger program, and find ten other people who are making journals that are quite similar in focus and intent to our own.
We can communicate with these like-minded souls.
This is an amazing thing - but my kids don't find it amazing. They find it routine.
We have so so much and we are so so not aware of how wonderful it is.

Yesterday I went on a walk alone in the woods of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton - it is a spot of woods that almost no one goes to - Einstein used to walk there and it is a magical place filled with bird song and unseen flowers.
I was totally alone with my thoughts and didn't come across another human, until I was leaving to go to my car, and someone approached me.
"Are you here to be in the movie?" he asked me.
They were filming somewhere and there had been a call for extras.
I didn't stay to be in the movie, but it was a surreal thing to be asked.

All alone, yet so much human activity is always right there.
I work in my journal and it feels like an important exploration of the inner me, yet I share these pages and hundreds of people see them and think about them. It is really quite an extraordinary thing. . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

. . . and now for something completely different. . . .

. . . as Monty Python used to say.

I got sidetracked last weekend with some knitting. I was visiting my Aunt and needed some knitting to keep me busy while we talked - I grabbed an old project and realized it would make a great journal bag.
Here are some photos - and I learned a big lesson - what I thought was a huge mistake only made the bag better! I cut up an old pajama I never wear anymore to make a silky lining (pens and such get lost in the yarn if it's not lined) and I accidentally put it in backwards - after all those teeny machine stichings, I knew if I tried to tear it out and correct it, I would cut and ruin all those knitted stitches, so I went and found some green bias tape and just covered the raw seam up - I love the result. The green picks up the color of the few random rows of green wool I had knitted in.
Having a special bag to take your journal out on dates is really fun - I like to do the collage part at home near all my papers and glue box, then throw the journal and lots of cool markers in this bag - go to a coffee shop or the library and sit and journal to your heart's content. I find that I write more thoughtfully if I have lots of time to sit and think, and every now and then, a curious soul asks what I am doing and a new journal convert is made.
After the photos I will add simple directions if you want to knit a bag like this:

cast on 100 stitches on big fat round needles - use wool if you want to felt it.
knit in a circle for about 75 rows, depending on how deep you like your bags. (you can add some funky colors now and then for fun stripes.)
When the bag is deep enough, knit back and forth on 25 of the stitches in a rectangle to make the bottom (I made mine a darker purple as you see)
cast off all edges.
sew the rectangle around the bottom, and cast on ten stitches on either side to make the handle - knit gradually decreasing as long as you like your handle.
Wash the whole thing and dry it to make it felted.
Line (backwards if you want to enjoy a mistake like me - covering up the seam with contrasting bias tape - mine is bright green.) I gathered as I lined it so it would hold things in better, and not be too floppy.
Put in your journal, and GO!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

do you believe in what you are doing?

I have been reading Anais Nin's diary - she lived in Paris in the 30's and was a friend (lover) of Henry Miller and his wife, June, among others. She lived to write in her diary - and she has such utter and total conviction for this process. Every thought is carefully recorded in an eloquent and beautiful way. I admire her committment to the process. I seem to always have doubts.
Right now, I am committed to this work - the work of collaging to access the inner (right brain) subconscious part of me.
Collaging with color and paper and images to get to that intuitive place, then writing in my journal.
I also am committed to sharing this work - leading groups and workshops and putting my pages on this blog daily.
The use of color and collage helps me understand my true thoughts better, and this is something I want to share with the world.
Yet, always, somewhere deep inside there is that nagging doubt that what I am doing is self-indulgent, immature, silly even.
If I had the utter and total conviction of the rightness of this work, like Anais Nin, I would be more fearless, more clear, more focused and dedicated.
I know what I am doing is the right thing for me now.
So, why the self-doubt?
I also take care of three kids, a husband, occasionally my aging Mom and Aunt, so I know I am not indulging myself by ignoring my other responsibilities.
It most likely is because in this capitalist society, unless we make money we are not valued.
I would love to sell more copies of my book and make money, but for now, I am trying to trust the Universe that I AM doing the right thing.
That I DO have something to contribute.
That the process of making art, writing words to know myself and the voice in me that is connected to all life is worth my time, and teaching this process is worth my time, and writing about it all here is worth my time.
I will keep reading Anais' Diary because her clear inner conviction helps to strengthen mine.
Thanks, Anais!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

freedom of expression

There is a little article in last weeks' New Yorker entitled "Studio Visit - Sachs and Co." about a West Village artist named Tom Sachs. He is called a do-it-yourself sculptor, and his projects have included moon rocks, wooden shotguns, and a life-sized replica of a Bosendorfer grand piano. He first got famous from making a concentration camp in a Prada hatbox. . . .
Conceptual art interests me a great deal, but it is part of a very narrow world of connections and networking and who-you-know that I have the good sense (and lack of correct background) never to aspire to.
I do enjoy reading about those rarified few who make it in that strange world, and reading about his studio with it's numerous staff and big budget art work did inspire me.
I am pretty sure I will ever have a staff to help me make my art, and I don't think I will ever have a West Village studio, or shows at the Lever House, or be written about in the New Yorker, but some of his ideas are wonderful and worth thinking about for even the small scale collage artist:
"Never draw what you can trace, never trace what you can scan, never scan what you can photocopy."

Collage artists should keep that in mind.
It's really about you making and saying whatever you want to make and say. It really is NOT about pleasing anyone else. We have to SO unlearn the "Don't Color Out of the Lines" behavior that was drilled into us in kindergarten.
and here is the page inspired by part of his Glue Gun Manifesto:

Here is the whole piece from the New Yorker:


Monday, April 21, 2008


This page started with a digital collage.
The image on the left is the collage - I printed it out and added it to my journal.
Then, the words.
I usually add color to help create mood.
and I love to let the words have beauty, shape, pleasing scale and color.
Juicy markers are so essential for me to enjoy the journaling process.
I am a marker junkie.
and a color junkie.
and a shape and image junkie.
Okay - I love making messes.
and although I want the words to be authentic and mined directly from my subconscious intuitive right brain, I do notice that when I slow down and write with care, I love the way the words look.
and hopefully, loving the way they look makes me like what they say.
and even if I don't like what they say - I have honored the words I write with color and shape and design.
I really love alternating lines of large and small writing, and then adding color to the words.
and I do think creative journaling needs to be about honoring the effort and time we put into this process.
making it pleasing.
Yes, even the MESS can be pleasing!
Organized Chaos - sort of like my life.
Happy Journaling!

(you can click on the picture to see it larger, and as always, I love reading your comments.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

*COMPOSING * Pretty pages?

Should you try to make your pages "pretty"?
This is always a question - should art be decorative and pleasing to the eye, or should it challenge us to think?
Modern artists have broken the rules of prettiness for us, and allowed us to let the visual imagery that pleases us be, yes, UGLY.
But what do we want our pages to do?
They don't have to be pretty, but I admit I am slightly pleased with myself when the page turns out balanced, composed, nice to look at.
Not something I would hang in a frame, but something I can study for a long time without wondering how I would change it.
But if I am after mining the gems of my true authentic self - would that make a pretty page?
I have noticed as I work in my journal now, knowing I will likely post the page on this public blog, I care a bit more what they look like - when it was just me seeing them, I was a bit more free.
This goes with the territory of knowing the work is public.
But, in all my art, I try not to work for an audience - my self expression is more important to me than pleasing the crowd.
Because the crowd is fickle and there will always be some one who's opinion is different than yours, anyway.
Here is a page done with my journaling group - I tore up a Da Vinci sketch of horses, just pasted it sort of willy nilly, added a drawing of my own hand, and wrote some stuff.
I really wasn't trying to make it look good, but I do notice I worked with a consistent palette of colors and maybe drew lines that matched up a bit.
So, even our messes can be organized.
Just a bit.
It is not about what is pleasing to an audience - it is about what is pleasing to YOU!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

collage about what you feel

So if you have been reading this a while, you will know my mantra is to:
Collage What you Feel!
This page reflects a mystery in my life I just haven't solved yet. I keep longing for Paris.
Even when I am in Paris, I long for Paris.
Is as if I have some unfinished business from a past life there and I just can't crack the nut.
I love reading books about Bohemian Life in Paris. There, the arts and the artists are revered, honored, extolled.
Their life seems so full of love for beauty - good food, good art, good films, beautiful shops.
I have spent about 8 weeks there over the last 5 years in four different trips, but I just don't seem to get this out of my system.
So I journal about it to figure it out. I journal about it to enjoy what Paris can give me. I journal about it and make collages about Paris to figure it all out, and I enjoy the process.
SO, if you really want to do this right, pour a glass of red, get some good cheese (and bread if you can eat it), put on some Edith Piaf, and maybe wear a beret.
Explore your love.
Don't ask WHY - just do it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

some ideas on using the computer as a collage tool:

So this is a digital collage. I do work digitally and I enjoy it being part of the process. I love using photos I take and manipulate, arranging them in photoshop. and there is a place for this in your journal.
This photo background is a rock spiral I shot in Nordcappe, Norway, and the added little landscapes are mountain scenes, and some flying cranes. I whited out some areas for the words to be added.
I like to print the digital collages out, spray mount them in my book, then add the words.
and colors.
and more images.
because it really is just one more medium in collage.
I often scan after I have added some hand drawn stuff, print it out and keep it going.
draw and scan and print it out.
draw and scan and print it out again.
The computer is one more medium to add to your collage palette - so it is really fun to photoshop, scan, draw, photoshop some more, paste into your book, draw and write some more.
So here is the finished page - after being added to the book and words and some more collage work done:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

from a "friend"

So this is a collage.
a really cool collage.
Not my collage at all.
I took a photo of this collage, which happens to be about 12 feet long and 5 feet wide at the National Gallery of Art - it is by Robert Rauschenberg, my favorite artist of all time.
It would be a great journal spread.
He does what I do in my journal, but at a huge scale.
I would love to be able to work in this scale - just spread out huge massive pieces of paper and fill them with images. He does it by having his photographs printed up oin very large format, and dipping them in developer, then he can ghost the images in layers on print paper by rubbing the back, releasing the ink onto the paper.
He really inspires me.
I love image transfer, and want to get more into this in my journal - I have tried the nail polish remover kind, but it didn't work.
I am going to try to gel medium kind - where you simply print an image then lay it on get medium to get the ink to transfer, and I will let you know results.
I also like the little packing tape transfer method - but this only gives you an image as wide as the tape, and uses magazine photos.
SO - here is his awesome collage to inspire you - do check out the original one day in the concourse of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

(You can click on the picture to see it bigger.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

again - from the archives

Orange is such a happy color.
I have this idea to make a set of journals - seven or so, each one designated to one color of the rainbow. (remember Roy G. Biv?)
and each day I would say "What color do I feel today?" and I would pull out that journal.
I would work mostly in that color.
or in that color a bit.
or maybe not even in that color, but if that was the color of my mood, that would be the journal of the day.
and yes - these journals would fill up a seventh as slowly - but at the end of a year or two, I would have a set of journals which each one would be a certain mood - I could tell what mood predominated, what mood came up often, what mood inspired more journaling. Journals certainly don't have to be arranged chronologically!
Because it really is about what we FEEL, not what we THINK. This is why I love to make messes - because that gets me closer to the feeling place.
Maya Angelou said:
"If I make you think something, you won't remember it, but if I make you feel something, you will never forget it.

SO very true.
and this is a page from a thing that made me feel deeply - Christo's Gates - an installation of thousands of saffron colored banners in Central Park three Februarys ago. It was something they had to work on for 25 years to get permission to install.
I was lucky enough to be there the morning it opened, and the energy, the joy and love in the Park was unbelievable - I took a bunch of photos and journaled about it.
If I were doing the rainbow set of journals, this would certainly be in an orange journal, a journal of JOY!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

from the archive

I am just back from my Eat Pray Love retreat in Colorado and still doing laundry and such - so no time for new pages but I wanted to share an old one with you - I love letting the words go willy nilly here and there.
and some bright orange never hurt anybody.
an old photo adds character and feeling. . . .
Start with some bold color - maybe from some torn paper which always has great energy. Start to write just whatever the color speaks to you about . . .
Happy journaling!

Friday, April 11, 2008


So here I am on the third day of my three day Eat, Pray, Love retreat.
LOVE - what a loaded word.
Love really is more of an action than anything else, so how can I contemplate this while alone in retreat from the world? Love implies there being others, implies connections and embraces and sacrifices and more than one alone.
So, my love day is not exactly the same as the lovely episode described in the Eat, Pray, Love book, where the author falls in love in Bali with a wonderful man.
My day of love seems to be about, first of all - self love.
I do what I need to do to love myself, so that I can love others.
I journaled about these ideas, and came up with images that really run the gamut of kinds of love, love for children, animals, art, perhaps even love for ideas.
I know that I love to read.
I love to collage.
I love to meditate and walk in nature.
but love is really more of a verb, not a thought.
"How well did I love?" -- that will be a question all of us ask when we are facing the end of our lives.
Sometimes I love my children so much it hurts, that I feel like I didn't do or say the right things at the right time.
Loving ones' children is like this, and it stretches us beyond what we thought stretchable.
Loving a spouse for 24 years, as well - that is a long long time to pledge love to one single person, and we have had our ups and downs. and after lots of downs this year, we are actually in a very nice place right now - both learning to love and respect the other in new ways.
I also have friends that I love very much, whose friendship I cherish and need.
Friends who hold me together when I am falling apart. . .
There are many kinds of love - too many for one day. I need a week to just journal and think about love.
no, a lifetime.
hopefully, I will have a lifetime of love.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day Two - PRAY

So I am on day two of my Eat Pray Love retreat.
This morning I got up pretty early, though not as early as the 3:30 A.M. time that Elizabeth Gilbert had to rise at the Ashram she was studying at, to meditate.
The problem with meditation is there are always uninvited thoughts barging into the quietness that is being created.
I imagine sitting on the banks of a still still lake, and the thoughts are ripples that I let slowly fade out.
This helps until the next thought, one second later.
Well, it's all a process.
Today I will meditate a few more times, do some journey work, and make more pages.
Also here high in the mountains we got over a foot of snow last night - I find myself just gazing out the window, watching the chunks of wet snow fall off the pine trees that surround this cabin. That is a form of meditation, too, I suppose.
Praying is really an act of awareness, as much as anything else.
as is making these Pray pages for my journal. . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


That beautiful fruit was my breakfast this morning - let me explain:
I have been reading this wonderful, wonderful memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love; it is about a year she spent living in Rome, India, and Bali just learning to be - she ate her way through Rome, learned meditation in an Indian Ashram, and fell in love in Bali.
I am inspired by her example to take a retreat - some time off to pursue pure pleasure, enlightenment, and bliss. I don't have a year, but I do have three days.
So right now, I am totally alone in a cabin high in the Rockies near Winterpark, Colorado. I am surrounded by snow and pine trees. This is DAY ONE of my eat, pray, love retreat, this is the day dedicated to good eating.
TO totally enjoy the pleasures that nature gave us in our food - today I am going to prepare three healthy wonderful meals, and enjoy the process of the preparation, the eating, and even the cleaning up after.
I made this fruit plate for breakfast - drizzled in honey.
For lunch - fresh eggs with mushrooms and monterey jack, and for dinner, I got a grass-fed filet mignon. I am totally dedicating this whole day to eating the best I can, to enjoying the beauty and health of the food as well, to knowing my body appreciates good nourishing things.
Today the only goal is to eat well - I also took a long walk, and I worked in my journal, and I will read a bit, nap a bit, etc.
But the focus today is on the FOOD.
Tomorrow, the day is PRAY - that will be much harder and austere. SO I am really enjoying the bliss of the food and luxury today.
Here is the first journaling pages about this wonderful day - and do look for the upcoming journal pages on Pray and Love!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

an ART journal/a writing journal

So I used to just have words in my journals.
then I discovered that if I made some art, played around, did some collage first, then wrote - the words reached deeper in - instead of just shopping lists and gripe lists and what I did today lists, I got to the authentic voice I had hoped for all along.
and sometimes, it is just about pictures.
drawings or collage images I cut out and paste in.
but even then, I have found the words, when honored on pages with interesting images, somehow have more life and meaning.
and you can even make your lettering decorative.
make sure you have juicy markers, make some bumpy lines and fill them in.
I love for the words to be as interesting as the images: