Friday, May 30, 2008


Parts of my life come in the mail.
parts are on wrappers from things I eat or buy.
parts are in bags of paper and pretty images I tear from magazines.
In my journal, sometimes I dedicate a page to these things - sort of making an altar to the daily bits that I have to deal with.
The quotidian tidbits that make up our lives sometimes feel like bothersome irritating distractions from the "real" life that we want to have.
I try to consciously embrace the boring daily tasks as well as the exciting marquee events of life.
Because how often do we get those stellar memorable moments?
and how often do we just live in the now -- opening mail, making coffee, reading a note from a friend, making phone calls.
I learned a long time ago to make my bill paying time enjoyable - use a lovely pen, put on some music, maybe even have a glass of wine, and focus all my attention on the wonderful reality that I can pay the bills! That I have a place to live, a family who loves me, a car to get around in, healthy food in the kitchen.
Gratitude goes a long long way toward creating happiness.
Junk mail is a horrible irritation -- but I am lucky enough to get some wonderful mail art from mail art friends quite often (because I send it out quite often) and it makes getting the mail an adventure.
Making life's small unimportant tasks into an adventure - that's your challenge for today.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

where ideas come from

at my journaling group the other night, someone brought in a magazine about deep sea diving.
I tried taking a scuba lesson once and was too claustrophobic to ever get comfortable underwater with the air thing in my mouth.
I didn't really notice the magazine or think it would interest me, then I opened it.
such blue green-ness.
Such amazing colors of coral and fish.
I tore out a bunch of beautiful pictures and dedicated one spread to these images.
I love the ocean and always have loved shells and sand and the salty water. I know I will never be able to actually go deep down under the water and pull off a Jacques Cousteau in person, but I can enjoy the images and create sea inspired art with them.
So it pays to open up a magazine that at first, seems not relevant at all to your interests.
Because you never know where your mind will want to go . . . keep it open and it might surprise you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


"All who wander are not lost," says someone from the Lord of the Rings, probably Gandalf.
How I love that phrase.
It is partly my A.D.D. and the way my mind goes all over the place, and part my need for escape from a stressful life, but I always have the idea in my back pocket of just hopping on a train and going.
I am lucky enough to indulge this whim now and then by hopping on a train and going into New York City for the day -- yesterday my younger daughter and I did the knock-off bag market in Chinatown (scored a great huge black leather purse which will hold EVERYTHING), got some to-die-for Pommes Frites in the East Village, and checked out the Patagonia store, where I wanted to look at a backpack/suitcase that is supposed to be able to check on planes, but also hold everything I would need including a computer. (yeah, right.)
I didn't buy it, I just needed to look at it and dream.
It seems silly, maybe, but I know what I need and I need to often imagine taking off into the world with nothing but a backpack, a plane ticket, my journal, and the freedom to wander; even if I can't actually do it, at least right now.
It is my conviction that much of the art and novels we have exist because the writer/artist needed this escape in the brain - to imagine a completely other place and to immerse oneself in this place - it really is wonderful to do this.
My journal is where I record lots of these fantasies and ideas.
And I couldn't resist this cover of the New Yorker becoming part of this page - so funny!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

more from the scanner:

So after you throw some stuff on the scanner and make an image, then what?
I love to use photoshop to add things.
Vintage images, stamps and maps are three of my favorite collage items. You just can't go wrong with a piece of a map.
a torn map is really good, too.
Which makes me wonder if it is just my wanderlust at work, my need to explore and reach out and connect with the world?
We artists are often working alone in our studios, our communication can feel very one way.
I can think of no greater bliss than getting out in the world, wandering aimlessly in an interesting new place, taking pictures, gathering maps or menus or bits of the the place, then creating collages with these images and ephemera in my studio.
and then there is the way we can collage the ephemera of our minds and souls!
Because this really is what the art journal can do -- we use the bits and pieces from our subconscious to find our voice, to find what we need to say.
Art often is the attempt to find a voice to the voiceless longings we have, the deep inner convictions of love for beauty, love for form, love for images that inspire and move us.
Some artists can spend months carefully re-creating a still life or landscape or figure.
I can't.
But I can spend a few hours throwing images together in a modgepodge, then adding the words that that mess has inspired in me.
In my studio I have a box full of shells and sticks and rocks and even some bones. These items fill me with emotion, and a connection to nature. I love to play with these things - my recent work included shrines in cigar boxes using lots of these natural bits.
and they make great collages items to use on the scanner!
and for me, this process gets me somewhere.
It releases some inner need and helps me find what I am needing to say.
There is technique of careful painting and drawing, yes; but also using the scanner, my camera, the computer, and all the other tools available and are all good!

this page was torn bits on the scanner, then doubled and made into a pattern in photoshop - then I added some vintage images ghosted in.
I normally would write on top once added to my journal - I am showing you the pages before I put in the words.

Monday, May 26, 2008

blogs and connections and why we are here

So this blog, which now has a counter, has me thinking a lot about connection and sharing art.
I have not had great success selling art in galleries - three shows, one with a few sales, one with one sale, and one with no sales at all.
The my last show, which was at the local and very supportive library, I told myself if I did not see success, I would refocus all my efforts away from making art that hangs on the wall to making art that sits in a book and reflects who I really am.
and, hence, this blog.
I know somewhere deep inside that art is really about validating our own inner need to communicate.
Lots of us just can get what we need through normal daily interaction, some of us write books, or poetry, or even blog on line about our inner lives.
I pick up a blank book, collage in it, and then add words.
This seems to be my outlet and helps keep me sane.
and I share these ideas here.
I am not sure what doing this all means, but for some, the few who comment and a few others who send e-mails telling me they have learned something valuable here, it seems to be helpful.
It encourages their inner voice, and validates the act of making art and words in a journal.
The counter, actually, helps me feel okay about spending my time and energy doing this, when I know it's not going to make me any money or give me any prestige.
Knowing some people read and care, for now, that's enough to keep me going.
But the journal itself - it is a life line for me.
Having a place for total personal self expression is not optional for me.
I love making the collagy pages.
I love adding words that are MY words, my feelings, my inner sense of what is what. It helps me "put the world to rights," a lovely expression from an aging aunt of a British friend of mine.
So - go **put the world to rights** in your journals.
You'll be better off for it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

something new

okay - here's a little trick.
got a scanner?
throw some stuff on it - I put some beads, shells, and feathers.
These are peacock feathers that are all sewn in a strip - pretty, Huh?
Choose some items that have meaning for you - an old photograph or stamps always look great in this kind of collage.
Tear up some cool paper and lay on top.
I used some sheet music.
put a box over the whole thing to make it dark.
photoshop the image a bit if you can, or just print out the paper.
You now have some creative collage paper to start working on.

Spray mount it into your journal, and you can add some words or images or ink some colors with a stamp pad.
Because why not make it fun?
I just love playing around -- life is so stressful that without a fun pile of papers and journaling supplies I would implode.
lose it.
So let's just let our journals help us on this path.
xxoo - hug and kiss those you love, your journal, and YOURSELF today - life is too short and too precious to NOT do what you love.
We all need more happiness and love, and less stress - create some love in your life today and the world will rejoice with you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

a little video

The quality is not too good, I know that I need to work on my video skills -- but I wanted to share this little film I made of a moleskin watercolor journal I work in. There is music, so mute if you need to, but if you can listen - the music is really awesome - it is "Miles from India" a cross cultural celebration of Miles Davis with Indian sitar:

there are those days. . . .

that you just need a smiling dolphin to make you get to it:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NY Times Travel section

So these pages are from a series all done by tearing up a New York Times Travel magazine.
I LONG to travel - right now I don't have the time or money, and mostly I have too many people depending on me here to get away.
I do try once a year or so to do something in another place to refresh my spirit, but as I get older, and money gets tighter (I thought it would be the other way around) I am beginning to know that the vagabonding I dreamed of when I was younger might not happen.
One day, I want to get one of those around the world plane tickets, and with no agenda, just go here and there, stay a week or two in whatever spot appeals to me.
A tropical island, an eastern European city, a farm in Thailand. . . .
I would take pictures, write in my journal, and discover many new things.
For now - I read tons of travel books, and of course, use the internet to connect everywhere I can in the world - couchsurfing is a great place to find cool travel-y minded people.
My biggest fantasy is one day, to have an international art journal meet-up - maybe we all rent a huge farm in the South of France. . . . and just journal together for a week. We could each teach a workshop on a journaling technique that has helped us let loose in our books.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

there is just something about ORANGE and PINK

on Sunday, the New York Times shows up with a magazine insert all about travel.
I love travel, and I love the thin magazine pages of their magazine, and how easy this paper collages, and I love the exotic and colorful images.
So I just tore and cut and tore and cut until I had a big pile of pretty colored papers, then I played in the journal using these images, some tissue paper, ink, and of course, my juicy markers.
Then I wrote some words.
I ended up with six journal pages and here are two; I will post more tomorrow:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

more before and after words

Materials used:
collage papers, magazine images, stamp pads, juicy markers, ink, antique photo of little girl, some art quotes that resonated with me at the moment . . . I do tend to just grab whatever comes to hand. Not much planning, and sometimes the pages end up quite chaotic. But I think that expresses me well.
I don't always choose chaos in my life, it seems to choose me, but in the journal - the CHOICE of chaos is mine.
I own it.
That is a sort of empowerment, isn't it?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

collage first, then add some words

a "before" and an "after":

today - a video

I, along with eleven other women, worked on a Goddess Myths altered book - altering a book is a lot like art journaling - the pages just happen to already have words on them. I sent this around and around the country, and each artist signed in on the tags you see on the first few pages, then collaged a few pages somewhere in the book.
That is Georgia O'Keefe's hands on the cover, she was quite an Art Goddess.
The music is Alicia Keys, Superwoman:

Friday, May 16, 2008

yesterday's colors, today's words

Yesterday I showed you the collage done in my journal inspired by amazing spring colors of flowers.
I added some words.
I find that when my collages are expressive, exhuberant, flowing with my feelings and energy - then the words also are more expressive.
I guess I have learned to use the collage as a tool for getting to the inner voice I am hoping to use when I write in my journal.
Sometimes, the collages are grey and sad.
and that's okay, too.
and sometimes when I am stressed and pressured, just making a happy looking collage brightens my mood.
Art Therapy.
In my journal, who always listen and doesn't judge or question. A nice friend, indeed:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

color COLOR color

I am reading a fascinating book called "Chromophobia" -- yes, our culture is scared of color.
SO many of those shiny slick home magazines are filled with images of pale white empty rooms, museum-like in their unlived in quality.
Cold and really pretty unwelcoming. They don't look like rooms where you can make art, that's for sure.
And so many of these clothes we wear are black.
Black shoes, black jeans, black jackets . . . .
Seems like we are encouraged to conform in the color we live in and the color we put on our bodies.
Take a look outside right now at those Spring flowers.
Notice anything?
Exuberant Wild Succulent Crazy COLOR.
Colors Gone Wild.
Pink and Red and Fuschia all jumbled together.
No restraint in color when it comes to flowers.
I love Hot Pink and Bright Orange together!
No, I am not chromophobic. . . .
And here's an admission - I once painted a bathroom bright orange.
Many people (including the husband) thought I was a bit crazy.
I loved the bathroom.
For about a month. Then I did get a bit tired of it.
maybe if I had just painted ONE of those walls hot pink, it would have worked. . .
but in my journal, I am letting the color flow.
I let whatever colors speak to me fill the page and I layer color upon color, they don't have to "match."
Color gone wild - try it.

Here is the page before the words - let the color shine!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

papers to feed the soul - day TWO

so with 5 hours on a train yesterday, and my newly collaged journal filled with wonderful collage papers, I had time to add words - here are the results:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

papers to feed the soul!

Mother's Day I was lucky enough to take a little shopping trip into New York City with my daughter. We went to the mother lode of paper stores - Kate's Paperie in Soho. This store is just so amazing - I walked around in awe admiring all the amazing textures and colors and handmade bliss of paper.
and today I have a long train ride, so I made some pages in my journal who, of course will accompany me, and I will write on the train - I thought I would share with you the pages before the words are added. All of this paper is from Kate's Paperie - I do scan their paper and print it before collaging into the journal, because some of it has very dense texture and doesn't take words well, but the originals with all their bark bits and layers and rippliness are the most awesome. They are now hanging on my studio walls as inspiration, and will no doubt be sneaking their way into a collage or two.
Happy Journaling!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Some people keep gratitude journals - places where they only write out things they are grateful for. As I get closer to those *wisdom* years, I am learning that gratitude is everything - with it, I am happy. Without it, I can't be.
Being grateful for what I have is the key to serenity and getting through the day.
Instead of feeling like a failure, I focus on my accomplishments, adding them up in my mind until I am strong and ready to face a studio of blank pages and half finished projects - - I know I will plow through the struggle times, and get to the finish.
All the worry and stress melts away if I keep in mind all the many many blessings in my life.
This morning on the way to the studio, I used the 20 minute drive to go over all the things I am lucky to have in my life - with no judgment.
I have a great place to live, an amazing family, the security of not being threatened with homelessness or hunger, loving friends and loving family who care for me and about me.
and, of course, I am so very grateful for the time and space to be going to a studio where I can follow my bliss and my calling to share journaling and the creative process with the world. . .
I am grateful for so much, and if I focus on all the wonderful gifts in my life, the stress really does fade and diminish.
So - I am going to ask my journal to help me document and celebrate all these blessings.
Try it!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope today if you are a mother you are well celebrated.
I hope if you have a mother you can celebrate, that you get to do that either in person with her, or with a phone call or e-mail to tell her what she has meant to you in your life.
I hope that today I can remember all mothers who make sacrifices and have dreams and look to the future with their lives and actions and make their children the most important accomplishment they ever have.
Today - may you feel the blessings of love in your life.

and these are the little pages from my traveling journal I showed you yesterday on the page in the big journal where they now live.

and on this Mother's Day - join me in thinking of all the mothers in Myanmar who need our help and consider donating to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee:

UUSC has a long track record of outstanding disaster relief where other excellent charities may have failed. The have established partnerships with native relief organizations and have infrastructure already in place, able to receive and distribute aid. As I understand it, they target their work at reconstructing the essential local services, reestablishing their basic framework and structure, essential for longer term survival.

Here is the website:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

taking the journal out

You can't always have your "BIG" book with you, so here is a solution:
I always have a little mini-journal in my purse, along with some juicy markers.
That way when I find myself out at a cafe, I can write, and add the pages later to the big journal.
The other day I found myself with some time at Chipotle Grill (best place in the world to get tacos!) and I wrote these little pages.
I was listening to the webcast of the conversation between Oprah and Eckert Tolle (great stuff!) which I had downloaded to my ipod, so these pages are my random ideas and reactions as I was listening. . . .
I then scan and print the little pages, then put them in the main journal with some collaging. . .
I'll show you that page tomorrow - so come back!
Happy Journaling!

Friday, May 9, 2008

a JOURNAL date

So I took my own advice to heart.
I snuggled deep under the covers with the rain beating down outside, and here, spread out all over my bed, is my journal date - juicy markers, a good book, a glass of something good to drink, inks and scissors, some papers to cut and tear, and my computer with an inspiring movie keeping us company . . . .
because if you don't make journaling enjoyable, who will?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

the JOY of discovery

When I sit down to collage in my journal, I don't know what I will be doing. In making art, it is the process which brings me insight. Planning ahead, and just executing something which I already know how it will turn out doesn't do it for me.
Because if I want to get to that authentic place of self expression, if I am using my journal to discover my true inner feelings/thoughts - knowing in advance what the collage will be dampens that voice.
and yes, sometimes the playing, the messing around, the journey of seeing what happens means the page is not so pretty.
sometimes something tears or spills or doesn't work.
but very very often, it is this VERY mistake that surprizes me.
The spill or tear that results in something totally new and wonderful.
and I have discovered something.
then the words are different too - more real, more me, more what I really wanted to say and not what the planning careful me would have said - a to do list or gripes from my day.
So try to let your journal lead you.
Try to let a spirit of adventure mean some pages are messy and uneven and not so perfect.
because that's how we are.
messy and uneven and not so perfect.

the flower collage on this page is not what I thought of when I started - but the purples and greens are beautiful and work for me. . . . I enjoyed finding this out.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

before words, after words

So yesterday I told you I like to collage in the studio, then write somewhere else.
The collaging and the writing are different sorts of things - although I know doing the collage first unleashes a sort of right brain/intuitive/wholistic consciousness part of my thoughts, and I do want to collage to inform what I write, I have noticed the good effect of the art part stays with me.
So I find that the writing can take place elsewhere.
and that in fact, honoring my journal with my complete attention, on a sort of date, makes it happy.
and a happy journal is a happy me.
So today, I thought I would show you my pages from yesterday before the words, and after the words.
A comment I got was that when this person sits down to write, nothing comes. I know that feeling, too. but I have found if I keep at it, eventually, the words do come, and even sometimes words that I really care about or words that show me something I didn't know about myself. The words get me to a place of affirmation and sort of create the thoughts I want to have. Because, at least for me, it is very easy to get into a negative thought pattern in life and I have to work pretty hard to keep the positive center and let the negative fade out.
This is why I collage first - it gets my mind in a positive creative place, where then my thoughts are also created from that place, so my words reinforce this.
I collage to help the words be authentic and real. not to make pretty images. I know lots of your art journals aren't about this, but for me, that's why I am here.
make sense?

and in this collage are a cartouche, the Rosetta stone, and some other antiquities inspired images - if you read the words, you'll know what it opened up in me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

collage, then words

I have been having so much fun with digital collage.
Yesterday the birds were singing and it was a glorious day - so I first made a collage using photoshop with trees and birds and colors.
I printed it out spread across two pages and spray mounted it in my journal.
Then the fun began.
I sat outside on the deck and spread lots of wonderful markers around me.
I doodled and colored and wrote over the collage.
Just working outside is so wonderful.
Sometimes, I do the collage part inside with the papers and glue and all the messy materials - then the journal can travel to be written in. Visiting coffee shops is another field trip the journal likes to take.
My journal gets around!
It sort of is honoring the writing portion of journal keeping - taking it to a place with atmosphere. Sitting and writing with thought. I am still reading the Anais Nin diaries - and she sometimes traveled with her journal as her travel companion - she writes of going to Morocco with no other goal than to write in her journal.
Our journals can accompany us anywhere - and they should!
Happy Journaling today - try taking your journal on a date!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Self Expression? or **ART**

an *ART* journal.
that can be intimidating.
I use my journal to find my voice. yes, it uses art to get there, but I feel like the main goal is not to make a pretty book, but to mine the inner gems of my subconscious that are otherwise hard to get to.
When I was just writing words, I too often ended up with a daily to-do list, or a gripe-fest. (anyone with a family will understand this!)
I wanted to figure out what I was really thinking/feeling.
Get to those inner thoughts that are really meaningful and worth writing down for the future me to re-read and remember.
and I found that doing some collage and playing with color first would help me get there - help me find the more authentic voice.
So now my pages are often about the words, but the words come after the messing around with images and color.
sometimes the result isn't pretty or polished looking - but this journal isn't about making pictures to hang on the wall in a frame, so I try to let go of the feeling I want to go OOOH and AAAH at the pages.
and having said that, when a page makes me OOH and AAH, it does make me happy.
If prettiness happens, so be it.
I just try not to judge.
We have enough self-criticism in this world without our journal becoming one more place we need to prove something!

bits and pieces of my day, thoughts and feelings, words that (hopefully) will mean something in the long haul, that is what ends up in my journal - call it Soul Collage:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

another page from the "joint" journal

yes - that little planet image on the journal page below pops up - I have only tentatively played with experimental and three dimensional journaling tricks like pop-ups and fold outs and doors and windows that open.
usually my journal is more about my needing to say things than about fancy art decorative techniques.
but a little fun -- always a good thing.
If my journal thrills and titillates me, I am more likely to pick it up and mess around with it, so I do try to make it fun.
another important place is the cover - I tend to add little bits as I go, this and that over time, until by the end it is so full of stuff that it is a big mess.
a happy creative mess of inspiration!
Right now, the cover of my current journal is a bit "composed" and balanced with Mona Lisa printed on some sheet music, held on with yellow tape. . . . but I know by the time this book is filled, the cover will be much more FuNkAliSCious.
Not BalanceD at all, sort of like me!
So - if you feel stuck, put on some GREAT music, dance around the room once or twice, and let your art imagination fly!
Pick up some colorful papers, juicy markers, and play PLAY play!

Friday, May 2, 2008

okay - now I am FEELIN' It!

I am working on a joint journal project with Studio LoLo
and, not to spoil the surprise, but I couldn't resist showing some of the pages here.
When you know the person who's journal you are working in, it makes it kind of special. Although I do very similar things in this shared book as I would do in my own, it also feels a little bit like a letter.
an art letter.
Because I know she will read each word and pour over each picture.
We are sharing this journaling adventure like a cross-country game of add and pass.
It always feels nice to be heard, and, here, our journal pages are read and recieved.
That feels like a gift.
I love the comments I get here - they also feel like gifts.
These gifts feel like fuel for the journaling fire.
and working in a book I will mail all the way across the country.
back and forth, back and forth these journals go - like a game of ping pong.
At the end of the journeys, Laurel will keep one and the other is mine.
So - if you have never journaled with a partner, try it.
It's really fun.
(sorry to ruin the surprise Laurel - I won't tell you whose book is whose!)

something different today

I opened my journal.
I sat there staring at the empty page.
but I am just not feeling it.
I just don't feel like collaging and writing.
I would normally just plow ahead, and write about that. . . .but instead
I have been surfing the internet.
and I want to share this blog:

Jen is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania - reading through her life, and the lives of the teachers and children she works with, and the countless homeless children, sleeping on the streets . . . .well.
It just makes you think.
and think hard.
about all we have and all we take for granted.
so - read her blog and leave her a comment and let her know we care.
So many in the world need so much, and it is way too easy to forget that.