Sunday, June 24, 2012

art workshop page

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul." --Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

a Solstice page, step by step

Today is the longest day of the year, Solstice; and a time I am grateful to be in this sunny climate, able to be telling the stories of my life by working in my journal.
I thought I would show you step by step the process of making a page. Mixed media really is all about layers, layers, and more layers. The richness in the collage comes from using lots of different media to add depth to the work. So, let's begin: I started with a fold out page in my hand-made journal, sprayed with a bit of red ink.
Then I assembled a little pile of papers that seemed to like being near each other; some wrapping paper, a page from a book, some painted paper I had scanned and printed, and bits of a map.  Keep that scrap bag of papers handy, you might be grabbing some more as you go.
Tearing bits and pieces, I made a layout that I liked, with a few large images in the center and a border made of strips of different torn papers.  I used a metal tear bar with a crinkly edge to help make straight but interesting looking strips.
Outside, I spray glue on the pieces a few at a time in the glue box.  I use an old catalog under the pieces I am spraying, so I can turn the page each time and always have a clean underlayment to spray on.
Here's what it looked like once I got those papers attached; yup, it's a bit different from the layout, that's what happens when you take your work outside and take it apart to glue it, some things end up in new places.  That's okay!  and the page from the book tore because it stuck to my fingers, again, not a problem.  Happy accidents = interesting work.
I draw a light pencil outline of a figure on the page, and get ready to paint.
Some watercolor to outline the figure, keeping the wash light enough to let the papers show through.
I add some marker to outline the face and figure a bit, and start lettering.  I like to use lighter color Copic markers to make the larger letters, and outline them in black.
I felt like the figure needed more defining, so I stamped a spirally pattern on the clothes.  Seriously, I have never been sorry when I stamped a spirally pattern on anything.  You just can't go wrong with spirals.
and a few details showing some of the stamping.  I like to use a date stamp somewhere on each page.  and that confidential stamp always works.
and here is the finished page:
"Let us now crawl under the canopy of the currant leaves, and tell stories.  Let us inhabit the underworld.  Let us take possession of our secret territory."  --Virginia Woolf

Monday, June 18, 2012

journaling in community

I was hired to teach a one day workshop to a group of talented, inspiring women in Bailey, Colorado. The historic cabin we worked in was an 111-year old log building, originally a post office. It was right on the banks of the Platte River, and surrounded by pines trees and huge rock outcroppings.  There were hand carved details in the woodwork, some awesome antique finishes in the cabin, and lots of art created by previous owners, who were well known artists.  HERE is more info on the cabin.

And the setting itself was so wonderful -- I would have liked to wander around outside more with my camera, and some watercolor paints and sketchbook to capture some of the detail of the place. (note to self, go back to paint outside!)

For our one day workshop, we worked in the morning tearing watercolor paper into thirds and hand binding the pages to be an eight page, fold-out journal. We then painted the pages, and let them dry while we enjoyed a marvelous lunch. Then we had the afternoon to tear and cut and play with paper and color and ink and chalk. Beautiful pages were made, and meaningful conversations were had. I hope again to take some groups up to this magical place to work together in our journals, and I can't think of a better place to be surrounded with beauty and quiet.

Here is a link to the art journal party page where I posted more images of our day, with some information on the cabin itself, and how to schedule a workshop.
"Little by little, one travels far." --J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, June 17, 2012

today's thought:

"We humans have always defined ourselves by narration.  What's happening today is that we're allowing multi-national corporations to tell our stories for us.  The theme of corporate stories (and millions drink them in every day) seldom varies: to be happy you must consume, to be special you must conform.  Absurd, obviously, yet our identities have become so fragile, so elusive, that we seem content to let advertisers provide us with their version of who we are, to let them recreate us in their image: a cookie-cutter image based on market research, shallow sociology, and insidious lies.  Individualism is bad for business  --  though absolutely necessary for freedom, progressive knowledge, and any possible interface with the transcendent.  And yes, it's entirely possible to function as a free-thinking individual without succumbing to narcissism.  This can be tricky at times, I suppose, but then so can the tango  --  particularly if you're dancing alone."

--Tom Robbins

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

what are you going to make today?

"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival; a joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all. Even if they're a crowd of sorrows... still, treat each guest honourable. He may be clearing you out for some new delight."   --Rumi

Saturday, June 9, 2012

map + stamp = happiness

A collage always seems pleasant if it holds a map or a stamp, or better, both. I was lucky enough to get some topographical atlases at the latest library book sale, so I have plenty of lovely Colorado topo maps to use in my journaling. and this little Kingfisher stamp from Hong Kong always is nice to add. A watercolor of a beet, some words, and I have a journal page that makes me happy. How will your journalmake you happy today?

"It is not the level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes are within our power... a man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him." --Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Thursday, June 7, 2012

today's journal page:

Last night we had a super violent thunder storm - sirens went off three times around midnight with announcements blaring, "Severe storm warning in effect, take shelter immediately." Wow, I have never heard a public broadcast blaring out into the world like that; I asked my neighbor how often that's happened, and he said he has lived here since 1969 and he remembers it happening three times. The lightening was relentless and magnificent. I watched through our big picture window and the flashes and booming, hoping our maple tree's sturdy and strong roots could hold on. They did, and this morning there are just branches and lots of leaves to sweep up. As long as the storm does not kill us, it's power is quite amazing and beautiful to behold. Such can be our moodiness, our fear of failure, the emotional storm that often comes along with the creative way of being. Welcoming the storm is sort of a wonderful courageous thing to do. I have been working with this idea lately, accepting when emotions are difficult, letting the expression flow into my painting and collage and journaling. How fun, and how wonderful, to turn our emotional storm into something beautiful and expressive.
"The ground submits to the sky and suffers whatever comes. Tell me, is the Earth worse for giving in like that?"   --Rumi

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

still looking.

"Some things cannot be spoken or discovered until we have been stuck, incapacitated, or blown off course for awhile. Plain sailing is pleasant, but you are not going to explore many unknown realms that way." -- David Whyte

Friday, June 1, 2012


What is it that keeps us fresh, interested, working forward? I know it is very, very easy to drop into a rut as an artist, getting good at one technique, using that as a crutch to easily pop out our creative eggs every day as a repetitive pattern, not pushing the boundaries or struggling with anything new or different or innovative. Indeed, as artists, we are mostly required to have a signature style, an image and a "look" that defines our work. But that really works against creativity and play. We need to be brave enough to try new things. One of the beauties of art journaling is it allows us the chance to play, to innovate, to make messes and experiments, to try all kinds of new techniques and media. Change. Good for the soul. Make sure you mess around a lot, don't get stuck. I just traveled back East for a brief visit, and although the planes and trains and buses and suitcases and logistics were tiring, the new scenery was just good for my soul. Get out and move. Try something new. Make a mess. Have fun.

Focusing only on the results stagnates the process.
"The biggest bursts of speciation that we know about in the history of the earth are soon after great cataclysms, like the extinction of the dinosaurs, which create new opportunities, and all sorts of new forms spring up... So, quite often, the reasons for creativity depend on accidents or disasters that prevent the normal habits being carried out." --Rupert Sheldrake