Sunday, April 26, 2015

Making the self public. . . .

An artist puts images into the world.
A writer writes and puts it into print.
and sometimes the subject is boldly and obviously the self; other times, the subject is the self hidden in the story or image.
I think, perhaps, all creative work is about the self, and expressing the self.

My art show opens next Friday, and along with the show, I put together a "catalog" of art journal entries spanning 30 years. I have been worried about sending something so private into the world.
"Ha", you say, "she writes of private things right here on this blog, what gives?"

Somehow putting it in print and having it available for everyone seems scarier.  This blog post was found by you, probably because you are interested in art journaling.  Friends and family seem to never read this, or if they do, no one mentions it.  I get hardly any comments (they are filtered to stop spam, so maybe that's it?) so I often feel like I am writing to myself.

Recently I read two very powerful memoirs.

One, My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, is a series of 6 books written about his life and difficult situation with his father.  It's been compared to Proust's Memories of Time Lost and I think will become very well known the next few years as a literary masterpiece.  I can't say why it's so compelling, other than his writing is so heart-felt and so direct and so real, you feel like you are a Norwegian man living in Sweden, observing his wife and children and writing about the immense struggle with his relationship with his father.  He is a brilliant writer, and so honest it almost takes your breath away as you enter his world.

Another memoir I just finished is called Storm of the i by Tina Collen.  A friend told me about this book, and reading it I am so struck by our life parallels.  Tina is also a very honest and direct writer, a very creative artist, who struggled her whole life with a difficult relationship with her father.  Her book includes lots of her art, fold-outs, ephemera, and I think it is brave and brilliant and very revelatory.

It also reminded me how scary it is to put it out, and at the end of the book she says her brother-in-law kindly warns her no one reads a memoir unless the person is famous.  Well, that's partially true, but if a hundred people, or ten, or even one reads, and absorbs the lessons and power of the telling, it's a job worth doing.

or so I tell myself.

So as I am about to send my little journaling memoir into the world, and put up a pile of art at Inspire Life Studio next Friday, I was so helped and encouraged by both Karl Ove's and Tina's willingness to be vulnerable, open, and painfully themselves on display for the world to both love and hate, as the world tends to do.

The act of saying "I Matter" is something everyone should be able to do.  Seeing others do this really helps.  So here I go. . .

and here is self-portrait of me at Inspire Life Studio:

"The journey from the head to the heart is the longest to take."
--William Sloan Coffin

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coming up:

A companion book for the upcoming show, 29 years of journal entries, all from May One.
Making this book really opened my eyes to what happens when an artist goes from words (the beginning entries) to images (the most recent.)
The progress was so much more graphic than I realized, and skipping from May to May, year after year shows it.  It is hard to express feelings, but it turns out, they are better expressed for me in image than in word, which ends up being demonstrated in this book.

I am excited to release it into the world on May One, along with some of my art at Inspire Life Studio.

Karl Ove Knausgaard's speaks of his experience of a painting of clouds by John Constable, recounted in his memoir, My Struggle:
Suddenly he is in tears, arrested by "an oil sketch of a cloud formation from September 6, 1822 . . . the feeling of inexhaustibility.  The feeling of beauty.  The feeling of presence."
He has always been unsettled by paintings, but he has never found it easy to describe his experience of them:
"because of what they possessed, the core of their being, was inexhaustibility and what that wrought in me was a kind of desire.  I can't explain it any better than that.  A desire to be inside the inexhaustibility."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You're invited:

"I hereby appoint you a dissident bodhisattva in charge of overthrowing the sour and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality," and replacing it with an authentic reality built on the principles of insurrectionary beauty, ingenious love, reverent justice, rigorous equality, and rowdy bliss." --Rob Brezsney

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A busy month . . . .

It's been a whole month since I've been here! How does that happen?

We went on a camping trip to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, we went East to visit parents, I am getting ready for an art show that opens May 1, and been working on a book to go with the show. So I guess that's how it happens.

I am eager to work in my journal again, to help me focus and center.

In the meantime, a few pages to fill the space:

The moment he looks back at the Constable sketch, “all my reasoning vanished in the surge of energy and beauty that arose in me. Yes, yes, yes, I heard. That’s where it is. That’s where I have to go.”

 --Karl Ove Gnausgaard, looking at a Constable landscape, from his book My Struggle