Thursday, July 31, 2008

Irrational Exhuberance

Since my A.D.D. mind sends me on all kinds of thought diversions, irrational exuberance is actually a very natural state for me.
The word "irrational" has gotten the short end of the stick lately -- I don't buy into the traditional definition with it's negative take on that word. Irrational can mean some wonderful things - like intuitive, creative, non-linear, expansive, non-restrictive.
Rational thinking is certainly not the be-all and end-all to true inner understanding, in fact, it often stands in the way of really feeling what something truly actually is.
It is the rational mind which tends to say I CAN'T, so why listen to that mind?
Instead, say I CAN. Be Irrational!
I challenge you to some irrational exuberance today.
In your art.
In your choices.
In your journaling.
In your life.

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition." --Alan Alda

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

find yourself

and you shall be whole.

"Like a snowflake we are the beauty of one." --Kathleen Arnason

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TWO things to remember

NUMBER ONE: Don't say I can't.
Say I CAN.
I am learning to apply this with great vigor to my life.
figure out what you are good at, and do that.
I have spent so much of my life doing things I thought I should do, that I wasn't really interested in, or good at.
I am good at a very small strange thing - making collagy journals in a book and talking about doing this to others; I am really good at communicating the idea that you can find out so much about yourself by making these intuitive soul collages, then writing from your inner heart.
Once I read a description of a woman writer and she was called a diarist.
YES -- why not be who you really are - who cares that the world thinks a "diarist" is not a worthy title - I DO!
I am a creative journaler.
It is what I do well and it is what I love.
So that is what I do.
I CAN be this.
The trick is forging a clear path toward the object of your heart and not listening to the nay-sayers.
and mostly, for me the nay-sayer is ME, no matter how much I try to pin it on others, I am usually the one in the background saying "you can't do that."

SO I am changing my tune.
and I WILL.

"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us." --Wilma Rudolph

Monday, July 28, 2008


Our imagination creates our reality.
I really believe that.
I am now imagining a large studio space. I have wanted this for, well, forever.
I now have a room that is so packed I can hardly work -- it is about 9 feet by 13 feet big. and I love that I have my own space for my art.
But I am imagining a larger space.
With a view of trees.
Or water.
that would be so lovely.
and I also know that Nature Nurtures, and that never again will I be able to inhabit a landscape that is wiped clean of natural things. Urban life is okay to visit, but for me, my soul needs trees and sky and green to thrive. Concrete, glass, and steel pull my soul apart and make me feel disconnected to the earth.
I have experienced times in life where I visualized something I felt I really needed to move forward on my path, and often, it happened.
So - Mother Nature -- I promise to honor You with my art, can you deliver to me a studio in a natural setting? or maybe a studio with a view?

So I am very excited to see what happens with this studio dream. . . .
and although I feel a little guilty for asking, I am asking.

"Days begin and end in the dead of night. They are not shaped long, in the manner of things which lead to ends--arrow, road, man's life on earth. They are shaped round, in the manner of things eternal and stable--sun, world, God." --Jean Giono

Sunday, July 27, 2008


what is it about lobsters?
part insect, part fish.
They are quite funny creatures.

Once the fish-selling guy at my local Acme grocery store convinced me to buy one for my husband for his Father's Day Dinner. Thing is, once I got the thing home, I had to put it in a pot of boiling water. and that seemed just so cruel.
I thought about putting a pretty ribbon on it's neck, getting an aquarium, and giving the ole guy as a pet instead.
But finally I found some courage (or sadism.)
did the dirty deed.
boiled up the water and cooked the thing for a special dinner.
But I felt very bad about it.
I have not eaten lobster since.
Maybe this page emerged out of the pain in my soul for torturing an innocent animal.
I am not a vegetarian, but I try to honor the living things that give their lives so I can be fed. . . .

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Most Beautiful Thing We Can Experience. . . .

is the mysterious.
When our friend, Rene Descartes, about 350 years ago, initiated the Age Of Reason with his linear and orderly Cartesian way of viewing the world, he did me, and you, and all of us, a great dis-service. He and the powers that followed him, assumed the natural world was an out-of-control, hysterical, chaotic mess, needing to be contained put in the box. (He actually called his treatise "The Passions of the Soul", then he denounced those passions as worthless!) Those men seemed so scared of their irrational, natural selves. Those thinking men, afraid of their own emotions and their intuitive sides.
I have always been much more connected to the intuitive, creative, irrational side of my own brain. I've been reading Jill Bolte Taylor's amazing book, Stroke of Insight, where she describes what happened to her when a stroke essentially killed the rational side of her brain, leaving the intuitive creative side in control.
She says it was Nirvana, that she felt connected to all life.
I tried living in the rational world, with its logic and rules and explanations for everything. I tried a career where each line had to be in just the right place, where I sat chained to a desk each day like a gerbil running on an endless wheel, just to get that paycheck every two weeks.
It was not for me.
I choose wonder and magic and irrational exuberance every time.
It might not make sense in a capitalistic, money-means-all world, but look where that ideology has gotten us -- consumption and greed, and a non-sustainable mentality which damages the environment and our own spirits.
I'd rather lie on the grass and be enchanted by images in Mother Earth's clouds than turn on the tv and be told I will be prettier, smarter, better if I just buy this and that product.
I choose mystery.
and magic.
and irrational nature.
and ART and CREATIVITY over the reasonable rational choices in life which they say are "safer" but really are just denying the creative self.
and I think I am happier for it.
and you will be too - now go work in your journals.

(and if your rational self has many reasons not to make art, if your wallet says you don't have the time or money to "waste", just laugh and crank up some good music, gather some collage materials and juicy markers, and make a mess. . . . you'll feel so good!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

peach pie

Sometimes, deep in the middle of summer, you just gotta say the heck with it, and go get you a big brown bag of organic local peaches and make a deep dish, sugary, gingery, full-of-goodness melt-in-your mouth peach pie.
then take a picture of it.
and journal about it.
THEN EAT, with ice cream.
mint juleps optional.

because life is to be lived.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just. Do. It.

I know that is a corporate-catch phrase invented by a company which enslaves poor little children in China making sneakers 16 hours a day in dark jail-like factories.
But Still.
Nike has put together three of the most powerful words we can implant in our psyches.
I have lived most of my life in that sort of mode, luckily. For some strange reason which I don't really understand, I have been willing to jump in to things I probably wasn't qualified to jump into. In fact, I have failed quite a few times.
I fail more than I succeed.
I have fallen off horses, messed up drink orders, gotten on the wrong trains, walked until blisters bled, etc.
and I start lots of things I never finish.
I have had some very "unsuccessful" trips, for example.
Trips where I ran out of money, energy, and enthusiasm.
Trips where I was lonely and even maybe, once in a while, in danger.
But if success is measured in attempting something and learning from it, then there really are NO unsuccessful travels.
So I just said, OH WELL, better luck next time.
I now have a lot of physical limitations.
But I try not to let that stop me.
I am going to a conference in Portland, Oregon, then Northern Calif. in August.
Right now, I can hardly imagine how I will get through those two weeks physically and with my diet restrictions.
But, oh well.
I'll cross those bridges (slowly and with a bit of pain) when I come to them.
and I still have a list of places I want to go, places I want to take pictures of, gather ephemera in, and work in my journal about.
I love doing this.
Even if it means uncomfortable body issues and an empty savings account the rest of the year.
Even if it means working in silly jobs and saving every penny for the adventure, and making it very clear to husband and family that I NEED these escapes to stay sane. and luckily, they understand and allow me my wanderings. It actually is mostly my guilt that keeps me from traveling more, guilt that I should be focusing totally on them. But I am moving into a mode and a time of life when my art is my focus and what I need to prioritize -- and for me, I need escapes and dreams of escape to keep my spirit fresh.
Before I die, I want to go to:
*New Zealand
*Prague and Dracula's castle in Transylvania
*Petra, Jordon
*Iguazu Falls in Brazil

and I will. I know I will somehow get to those places. and I will make journal pages while there and after I get back about the adventures and the mishaps, and I hope I will share them here and you will enjoy them.

and if any of you live in any of those places -- I will gladly give art lessons and foot massages in exchange for a couch to sleep on!

Dream Big.

and by the way - when I messed up the drink order, they fired me. I also have been fired by a movie theater for forgetting money in the register.
If you haven't lost at least one job, you are not trying hard enough.

oh yeah - I also substitute taught for a day at the local high school, and one kid moved all the chairs into hallway. Just to be mean. Fun Times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

me you we

images of myself often creep into my pages.
I don't know why exactly - sometimes I think I am trying to understand my body issues, and trying to make myself love the way I look, which sometimes feels like quite an uphill battle.
I also appreciate the e-mails I get (thanks, Shelly!) and the comments, although my hit counter shows many many more visits than I would know from the comment count, which is usually zero.
but that's okay.
as I struggle to affirm who I am, what I need to say, how I need to create, and as I struggle to understand why I am here and what I have to offer to this world, it is pretty durn cool that I can share this adventure with people all over the globe who are drawn to journaling.
SO -- thanks for looking.

I go for MEANING, not beauty. . . .

I want to express myself.
I think we all do, but often we are told not to.
I have a friend who said she didn't want to put a bumper sticker on her car because she didn't want to de-value it. . .
I thought to myself, what is more important - your ideas or your property?
We are taught in this world to just go along, to not make waves, to be part of the machine of our civilization without challenging anything.
I can't do that.
I need a voice - and it is damn hard to get that voice out into the world. I try to walk the talk in my own small way, but making art and sharing it is one thing I can do.
Sometimes I wish my art was more political, but my talent seems to be in showing others how to express themselves.
Even if it seems like it is just to themselves.
Because as we each find our own voice, as we each learn to validate what we need to say, as we each grow in our ability and our belief in our self-expression, I just know that our world will be a better place.
because what YOU have to say matters.
what I have to say matters.
I have had the urge lately to put some of my images on t-shirts and tote-bags, so I will let you know if I figure out how to pay for that. . . .
so use your journaling to record your ideas, for yourself and for everyone else.
happy journaling!

Monday, July 21, 2008

someone else's summer vacation

I have been cleaning out my Aunt's house -- 60 years' worth of a 90 year long life which I am going through in order to save what should be saved, toss what should be tossed, and sell the rest to help pay for her assisted living apartment.
I came across a lovely water color painting done by a friend of hers, most likely in the early 1950's. He was an art director for the museum of Natural History in NY, and he went to Maine to camp and fish, enjoy the scenery, and evidently, to paint.
There were little vignettes of a car being towed, row boats, a light house, lobster eating, and him at his easel, painting away.
They just show that the impulse to make images of one's life, of one's day, to communicate with art the simple beauty of doing something with intention, has been around a long time.
In honor of Tom's vacation vignettes (I don't know his last name) I scanned some of the images and collaged them in my journal, and here they are:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

collage papers

I have a big shopping bag full of papers.
When I am stuck, I dig around in the bag and just grab something that catches my eye.
Or better yet, I just reach in and require myself to collage with whatever I happen to pull out.
So what is in that bag, you just might ask!
Tissue papers, magazine tear outs I like, bits of wrapping papers, some xeroxes of photos, bits and pieces of maps and ephemera, and lots of scraps of older projects.
These pages to follow here were actually a surprise to me because I pulled out a xerox copy of a portrait of my son who is now 23 -- he was about 10 at the time of the photo.
This image just seemed to work perfectly with the hand and profile images, which were from a magazine
I also have tons and tons of collage papers that I make using my camera, adding some photoshoping and then some doodly drawing in that bag.
And not to get all capitalistic on you, my dear readers, but just FYI -- I do sell collage kits with these papers along with a blank journal, just for all you!
Look for a linky-link down there to the right for the collage kit, if you want to treat yourself to some of my collaged bright and amazing papers - I love to share!
Happy Journaling!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

pink and orange

what would life be like without color?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the ocean . . .

I haven't been in it yet this year.
I think it is time I go.
get me some sun and sand.
I will bring my journal for an art date at the beach.
happy July!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

pattern pattern pattern

I don't know why pattern turns me on so much.
I just love to scan and play with it, then collage it and add words.
Can't you just imagine the painstaking work of this artisan so long ago, sitting over a workbench, painting this glorious orange and gold teacup? I bet that room was dark and damp, it was Victorian England after all.
making beauty for every day use, I guess that's part of the inspiration of this.
Another teacup inspired page:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the storming of the Bastille !

and the Declaration of Independence.
You might think I am confusing my holidays -- but really, when in 1789 the Paris peasants and intellectuals revolted against the monarchy and released the prisoners from the Bastille prison, they were declaring their independence from tyranny.
Much like the Americans had done 13 years earlier in their declaring independence from Britain.
and in honor of these two holidays, I am declaring something myself.
I am going to make my art what I do.
My Number One Priority.
I have spent the last 25 years in service to my family.
yes, I also helped myself in that process, and I did allow myself lots of time to make art, but my family always came first.
As they should have -- they needed me.
But as of today, that needs to change.
I have found myself becoming more and more resentful and unhappy, and it has gone on long enough that now I have physical symptoms.
I have been working on my health for some time, and dealing with both conventional medicine, diet, yoga, and meditation and exercise to figure out how to feel better.
But I have finally come to the conclusion that it is my art that will save and heal me.
My journaling, my studio time, my collage making, my mail art, my curating shows and teaching workshops -- all of these things are what I need to do to be me.
This probably won't really change my life all that much, but my attitude will be different.
I have taken up the flag of liberty to make art!
I have decided that following the vision of creating is what I NEED to do to live, and although I am happy to help my family as much as I can, from now on, a clean house and dinner on the table is not what I do.
all the neatness of a happy family has to fall a bit on their shoulders, and I am not going to serve them they same was that I have been.
adults can cook and clean and shop, after all.
So -- Happy Bastille Day, everyone.
Declare your Independence and take your life back if you have been held captive by something other than your own vision!
It might be chaotic, but like this page - all the fish in order is just not what life is about - learning to live with the jumble is part of the path:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

some digital

For this, I threw some stuff on the scanner, then some photoshopping to make one version with just the background and the other with the stuff showing, printed it out, added some words and the little print down there on the left, and here are the pages:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

getting some inspiration:

We went to see South Pacific at Lincoln Center in NYC last Saturday - it had just won 7 Tony's so we were very excited.
For me it was so memorable because I had been in this show 30 years ago with an incredibly talented High School cast.
(I was just a dancer.)
My memory might be tainted, but I swear our high school production was just as strong as this one. The voices, and those songs. . . . wOw!
I love journaling about events in my life - it is a little scrapbooky, but then again, the memories are worth saving!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't Look, Laurel!

Unless, of course, you don't mind seeing a preview here.
Three more pages from our shared journal:

and a note on this last one - My Aunt had the most beautiful little tea cup in brilliant orange paisley - the pattern just longed to be released and collaged.
sigh. I love the richness of the color and the beautiful delicacy of the fine china!
I photographed it, and used photoshop to isolate the pattern to make a background, then added the teacup back.
several times.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


GOTTA head out to the art store, because today I am teaching a workshop in bookmarker collage at the local library to the kiddies.
**PHOTOS** to come if I can remember in the chaos to actually get out the ole camera and snap off some photos.
sometimes the paper, ribbon, and glue flies and I don't remember in the hullaballoo to take any photos. . . .
Happy Art Making!

Monday, July 7, 2008


a journal is a record.
a journal helps us know where we have been, to see where we are going.
and although it is best to live in the now, to be totally immersed in what is right in front of us without dwelling on the few minutes we just passed through, or the few minutes that are right ahead of us, I do like what a journal does to record my thoughts.
that is why I also love to include important photos, and work around them.
This snap shot was shot by my uncle at some point in an apartment in Yonkers in the 40's.
My aunt stands at an ironing board.
Her face is just barely reflected in the mirror behind her.
It is a beautiful moment captured in time, and now, it will live on in my journal.
moments are all we have.
and although I try to totally live in the current one, my journal does help me to honor them as they pass.
Here is the page that this photo inspired:

Friday, July 4, 2008

what is an art journal for?

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
-T.S. Elliot

doesn't that just say it all?
Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

my "day job"

as an arts activist and curator resulted in this:
a Mail Art Show at the Plainsboro Library Gallery.
I had 142 entries from 22 countries including Denmark, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Portugal, Germany, France, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Finland, the UK, Australia, Turkey, Belgium, Laos, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
Hung yesterday, it's hard to see the whole show in a photo - but here is a try:

and you can watch this youtube videos showing more of the work:

and the video of the 20 winning entries to be auctioned:

Now back to some journaling for me!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


OMG -- IT'S JULY! and today I am hanging a mail art show at the library - I will have photos.
How does this relate to journaling?
Ask. . . .
I will think about that and have an answer for you tomorrow!
(along with some photos of the show. Stay Tuned.)