Sunday, February 11, 2018

What I've been up to lately ...

So ... it's been awhile. Sorry. Life happens. And it's not like I haven't been doing *anything*, it's just that I haven't been posting. And, oh yeah, I started another blog, but it's a blog with a purpose.

In September 2016, I started teaching art journaling as part of the health program I belong to, so I started a blog to go with the class so students could still take part even if they couldn't attend every class.

Thanks to some prompting, I've decided to cross-post from the class blog to this one so more people will know what I'm up to and not assume that I've fallen into a deep dark non-creative well.

I'm going to spin the clock back to September 2016 and begin at the beginning ... here's a link to the first post I created for the new class. Funny to look back at it now from more than two years in the future. I'm very critical of my own past work and almost always feel the best thing I've ever done is the thing I'm working on now. Keep that in mind as you read this ... just in case you come across any glaring, laughable errors ...

Here's a link to Week One of the 2016 Class
And here's what it says:

Hello and welcome ... so glad you can join me in this exploration of creative vision journaling. Every week I'll be putting the text from the handouts here for you to read, as well as much visual content as I can. You'll also find the weekly handouts here to print out again.

This series of classes has been designed in the hopes that you will discover ways to use creative self-expression to document your life experience in support of your goals for better health, whether that be something as simple as relaxation, or as complex as setting life goals and working towards them.

Everything I post here will be either something I discovered through my own journaling process or information and links that I've found useful for myself. I'm not an expert, but I 've found over the years that journalling has made a significant improvement in how I value myself and my contribution to the world around me.

Like many people, I used to put myself at the bottom of my "to nurture" list, and although I loved what I did in the world ~ work, family, volunteering ~ eventually this led to personal burnout. These days I like to use the analogy of the oxygen mask in an airplane. You can't take care of the people around you if you aren't able to breathe yourself. So take some time ~ sometimes you don't need much ~ and nurture yourself through play, exploration, and self-expression. Let the games begin ...

Since the intro was a bit slim, here's the next bit you need to get going in Visual Journaling.

Rather than posting the whole thing, follow the link above to get all the info, printable class handouts and everything else. But I *will* post the photo because otherwise, this post will be nothing but a daunting block of text! 

Working in my Black & White Journal.
Yes, I have multiple journals going on at all times ... 
Once you have the link to the class, you can follow the class blog (which has links, photos and handouts for each and every class), or check back here as I slowly add links to past classes, even as I'm adding new classes to this year's series (we're on Series 5!). 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Journalling: 1 step back - 2 giant steps forward ...

Bet you wondered what happened to that journal I was going on about. Yep, I'm still journalling, but haven't had time to post lately. And let's not talk about what's happening to my computer. It (apparently) is reaching the end of a long and creative life ... riddled with feebleness and memory loss and just straight out crankiness. Are computer years like dog years, I wonder? I simultaneously long for and dread the inevitable upgrade. So I'm limping along for now ... several times I started this post and lost it. Today I'm ready to try again and hoping the computer gods are with me.

Since my last posting, I hit a roadblock and rethought the whole structure of my journal. The coiled book seemed like *such* a good idea when I began. But of course within weeks it was too heavy to carry around, thus defeating the whole purpose. I decided to go back to my original idea of working in individual signatures which I would stitch together at year end into one "annual". So, I took apart my giant coiled journal and rebound it into 20-page signatures, attaching the pairs of hole-punched pages together with masking tape (on both sides of the page, for strength) and gave each signature a "temporary" cover using the ubiquitous press clean-up sheets I scavenge from work.

And then I decorated the covers. I still intended to stitch them all together at year end, but man - the pile is almost 2" thick and I'm only at August. By the end of the year it might be 4" thick, and the idea of re-reading my journals (which I actually DO) also might mean snapping my little hands off at the wrist. And I was exhausted at the prospect of carting the finished volume to a photocopier somewhere. So now I'm thinking maybe I'll just make a slipcase for them at year end. And, as a friend pointed out to me the other day, it's like my very own personal set of magazines, which is pretty darn cool.

Anyway ... thought I'd share the new covers with you. They began (as most of my artwork does) as Something Else. Whenever I go off to an art retreat, I give myself the first evening to "not be creative". I let go of any expectations and just spend some time with the materials, absorb the joy of being with my art friends again and let my creativity find its groove. At the last retreat I thought I'd take a crack at making Soul Collage cards. But (as usual) I almost immediately broke 2 of the rules: I went for 8x10 (which coincidentally is the page size of  my journals) and I included text (just a little, here and there). Anyway ... fell in love with the collages and came home with the plan to shrink them down to Soul Collage card size. Only the proportion wasn't right, but I LOVED them. So I took the photocopies and glued one to the front of each of my new journal covers and added some washi tape, and a number, et voila!
The new journal covers ... pretty spiffy, hm?

Someone asked me the other day where I got my images ~ for collages, my journals, these covers, and other things, and I have to admit these journal covers benefited very much from one of my art friends bringing a stack of Communication Arts magazines to the retreat, combined with my own little stack of National Geographics, but generally I just keep my eyes open for anything that looks interesting. Most of what I work with I pick up in the everyday ~ newspapers, flyers, junk mail, etc. You never know what's going to go with what. And I love it when things come together and tell their own new story.

The astronaut on Journal #1 came from an article in NG about a man obsessed with space travel. The lightbulb on Journal #2 was an article in CA about brainstorming as a group, and the bird was a matchbook cover. The elevator in the canyon on Journal #3 was a CA ad for something having nothing to do with either elevators or canyons, the feet underwater were from an ad about foot pain relief (!). Mr. Intuition on Journal #5 was an ad for a sales conference + I added the text and new eyes (the old ones looked too sneaky for me). The hands at the top of Journal #6 were from an ad for virtual team building over a phone network ("almost like being there"). So you really just don't know where fun stuff will come from.

As I remarked to a friend the other day, advertisers are pretty shameless about stealing powerful words and images to convince us we have a hole in the center of our being that can only be filled by their product. I feel no guilt whatsoever about stealing back those images and repurposing them to fill my own (alleged) inner void with creative expression - and it works pretty well.

FYI ~ Journals 1 through 5 are already full, and I've still only posted halfway through the first one here, so I guess I better post some more pages here shortly ... but I don't think want to push my luck with the computer gods today. I'll see how they feel tomorrow ...

In the meantime ... release your expectations, follow your intuition, and keep an eye out for cool images, whatever their source.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

On how we never know what will work ...

There are people (I hear) who use blogs for promotion. As you can probably tell by the frequency and tone of mine, that's never really been the point for me. When you get down to the bare bones, I'm not really sure why I blog. I know I have a few lovely friends out there in the world who read me (you know who you are, right?) but I've never sought to bulk up my followers list, or getting insanely rich from my creative endeavours (as if!). But despite my lack of any dedicated action in that direction, I seem to have stumbled into print lately, and I thought some of you might like to know ...

Mr. B., who is naturally cynical, is wary of situations where someone (particularly someone who doesn't actually *know* you) appears to be doing something to "make you famous". His main criteria is whether or not you PAY to be published. He therefore does not count any of my contributions to The Sketchbook Project, where I paid a fee to have my books digitized and posted online. He's right, of course. I could've literally stomped on each page with a muddy boot, send them the money and *voila!* ~ famous online!

I would argue (in my favour) that I *could* have done that ... but didn't. Each Sketchbook Project book was patiently created by hand (twice ~ since I always make one for myself), and with perhaps a little reservation about this year's book (not my best), I'm pretty pleased with the results. And (as much for my own convenience as anyone else's) here's the list:

Time Traveller, Builder of Bridges, The Science of Story, today i am inspired by ..., and lastly, this year's contribution: the sum of one's parts. If I'm a little less pleased with this year's effort, it's only because I was *so* going in a different direction when I started, and had to start again when my first *genius* idea hit a fork in the creative road. I know I will get back to it when I figure out how to bring it to fruition. All I can say is watch this space ... eventually.

So, apart from paying to be famous (can you say vanity press?), there are the other kinds of being published, and I've been lucky enough to have two (2!) recent appearances in bona fide actual published books that other people can buy on Amazon (surely, Mr. B., *this* qualifies!).

The first is:
Art Journal Kickstarter
Edited by Kristy Conlin

One of my favourite journal spreads  from La Musee d'une Vie Inventee appears on page 20.

As it's one of my favourites, it'll be no surprise to find I've already talked about here on the blog:

My second appearance is:
A World of Art Journal Pages
Edited by Dawn DeVries Sokol

I've got two pages in this one on page 42, (or maybe a double spread counts as three?). One of them again a favourite. The other not so much. Not that I don't like it (I do), but of all the pages I submitted, I didn't think it was the best, or even one of the best ~ I threw it in for variety! Which leads me to my point: it's really hard to know what other people will like.

And if you don't know what other people will like, there's really no point in trying to please other people artwise. The best thing to do is what *you* like, and if you keep doing what you love often enough, eventually you'll get mad skills, have gobs of followers and be made insanely rich as everyone clamours to publish you everywhere. The last part of that sentence was a test, by the way ... all you really want are mad skills and to be able to do what you love. Well ... that's all I really want. You can want fame and fortune, too ...  if you like. Wink.

And a big shout out to all those folks I know who also appear in these books ... a surprisingly long list of  dear friends, people I've taken art classes with and people I've been taught art by.  I never imagined we'd be in print together ... my dreams are humble. I'm sure Mr. B would approve.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Yep ... still journalling ...

Been awhile since I posted some journal pages - sorry 'bout that. Sometimes life gets kinda busy. I'm still creating pages (which is a good sign) ... so here are three more for you:

... and here are the inevitable notes:

Page 1:
The symbols used on a family crest to designate the order of sons. I found these in an old genealogy magazine. Nothing about daughters, not surprisingly, but history is history I suppose. Maybe we should invent some symbols of our own. Being the oldest child, I kinda fancy a crown of some sort. :)
~ Random planning ... an idea for a roll-out closet (I can hear Mr. B rolling his eyes already). More useful plans about alphabets for a zine swap I'm involved in. I'm pleased to say this *did* develop into something.
~ I tore a piece of washi tape putting it down, so I drew a little roof + smoking chimney to fill the gap. Sometimes it's these little things that satisfy me the most. Go figure.
~ More random musings about writing and time travel(?).
~ The collage is one I did at a retreat. The headless woman was from an article about old collars. For the stenciled bit I used one of Chris Cozen's pod stencils, a lovely little set. I've embellished it with extra dots and lines as well.

Page 2:
~ Basket making card from one of those ubiquitous sets of cards that were popular in the 70's. The Lifetime Collection of Homely Arts (or words to that effect). It goes with the other circles, of course.
~ A diagram loosely based on Susie Lafond's journal that I saw on Pinterest. I called it Gathering Up, but I see she's actually called it: Wild Rumpus. Great name. So amazing ... wish I had time to try my hand at all the beautiful things I'm inspired by.
~ And a song by Ferron that simply would not leave my head one day. I finally listened to it and realized I'd got many of the lyrics just plain wrong. Memory is a curious beast ... I caught the feeling if not the words. There was a time when I attended a Ferron concert every time she came to whatever town I lived in. Haven't done that for years, but her early albums are pretty much burned into heart ... just not all the words apparently.

Page 3:
~ "Never on Sunday" ~ Another article from an old genealogy magazine. Sometimes a story just sticks with you. I was particularly amused by the last line: "I don't know where they buried the horse."After all, the horse was the innocent party here. :)
~ The writing is just some random fiction from me. Oddly, the picture I have in my head is of my grandfather, a man I hardly knew, who did indeed in the photo look like he was wearing a pair of spittoons on his feet as he crossed the yard half-covered in patchy snow. Not sure what made me think of it ... just started writing at this came out (as with so much of what I write).
~ The triangles are from The Buzzer, an occasional publication on BC transit. I'm attracted to the artwork they choose for it because they're working with a quite limited colour palette (black plus 1 colour), reminiscent of printing that seems to be dying out with full-colour digital printing so prevalent these days.
~ And a postcard for "The Foreigner". I never saw the play, but I love this postcard, a sort of Magritte-ish kind of character collaged surreally with flowers and nose-glasses. What's not to love?

That's all for now ... more pages next week!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Journal 2015 & where it leads to ...

So ... jumping ahead in the journal ... thought I'd show you how a random jotting can develop into something else, or somethings else (something elses?). Here's a section of the March 20th journal page:

A few days later ... I was thinking about a journal I've been working on for the last few years, La Musee d'Une Vie Inventee, and how I've been creating pages in it in the third person. It's all commenting on the life  of an unnamed "her", as in: She always felt ..., she knew ..., she wondered..., etc. I realized that this little scribble was the seed of another page in that journal, so out it came, and I created this:

And (since I was on deadline with my contribution to the Sketchbook Project) it would also nicely fill that last empty page, and neatly summarize the sketchbook, so it also became this:

Okay ... so none of this is earth-shattering, but it all started with that one little scribble, which only confirms my suspicion that I'm onto a good thing getting back to journalling regularly ...

More pages to follow in a few days ...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Journal - Jan 29 to Feb 13

O my gosh how tempting it is to do *something else* when you are on a deadline. Sketchbook Project is due to be mailed out by Tuesday, and what am I doing? Working on my blog, tidying up the ATC collection, working in a journal I haven't touched since last summer. What is it with (my) human nature that so loves to procrastinate? I've even been known to *clean house* when a deadline is looming. Oh well ...might as well roll with it ... here are 3 more pages:
And now for the notes:

~ Kosuke Sato & his hamster ... funny how when you find stuff online, it's not exactly as written about in magazines at the doctor's office. Here's a link to the adorable hamster bartender.
~ It was kind of odd (while reading about Kosuke Sato) to look up and see a striking and inappropriately(?) dressed young Japanese woman walk by. All those sequins so early in the morning. Amazing.
~ More from the The Cariboo Alphabet ... thinking about wrestlers and ersatz animosity.
~ Haven't read Daniel Handler's new book We Are Pirates, but it sounds intriguing. As to his watermelon comment and Jacqueline Woodson ... people closer to the situation than me have commented on it (including the two people involved), but I will say that sometimes you don't know when what you say will cause pain for others, so it's best to think twice before speaking.
~ Cartoon characters ... can't remember what they were originally saying, but this came to mind, so I removed the original words and put mine in just for fun.

Page 2:
~ Have seen this quote attributed to both Francis Bacon and Marie Beyon Ray, so not sure who actually said it. Don't know who did the original artwork - one of the many things I've collected for my Black & White journal. It would be nice to think I had a *plan* when I started working on this, but it was only *afterwards* I realized I'd connected all three things together (quote + snowflake + heat from hand in the picture).
~ More on ersatz animosity for the amusement (read: manipulation) of the populace. Yuck.
~ Upworthy, a palate cleanser for the human spirit after contemplating the deviousness of politicians. More on Upworthy on page 3. The video I saw was Ash Beckham, at the Boulder, Colorado TEDx event. I loved the idea that "coming out of the closet" is any difficult conversation you've ever had to have with anyone about anything. For those of us who haven't had to come out of the closet in the sense it's usually meant these days, it was a great way to plug us into how it feels
~ 9 great reasons to come downtown. Image clipped out of Writers Festival program (I think?). So I wrote my reasons, interestingly enough, I didn't do them in any particular order, i.e. wrote reason 5 first, then 7, etc. No idea why ... knew I'd fill in all 9 eventually so just did it that way for fun.

Page 3:
~ Sketchbook comic. Very funny, wish I could remember who drew it. I picked it up as the local event at Heritage Hall several years ago and it made me laugh out loud, so I kept it.
~ More about Upworthy, another of their inspiring videos. Three girls + spoken word about the realities of America and their generation. And then me writing about how it made me feel.
~ The "girls" ... my nephew's daughters ... have started sending them fun stuff on a regular basis to keep them amused. A new experience for me, and one I'm enjoying.
~ Austin Kleon's weekly summary. If you haven't subscribed, you really need to do that. His comments, links and stuff are pretty cool. Every week I learn something amazing that reminds me it's great to be human, creative and conscious.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Journal Experiment - Jan 15 to Jan 27

Wait? January? Yes ... because I'm posting these pages sequentially, and waiting till they ripen on the page, i.e. till I've had enough distance from them that I feel comfortable posting them. Today three more pages, when I was just getting the hang of doing them regularly. I'm creating them faster now, so the speed should increase as time passes. Or words to that effect. Here we go:

And the inevitable notes:
Page 1: Jan 15
~ Photo of Barbie feet from a zine I did on anatomy. When I was a child I thought you'd know you were "grown up" when your feet took on this shape. Yep, pretty naive.
~ Page from Scavenger by Seth Fitts, who I discovered at the Sketchbook Project when it was on tour in Vancouver one year. I can't tell you how happy I am when looking at his work. Well, I could, but it might be a little awkward for both of us. You can find more of his amazing work here as well. He's up there with Shaun Tan, Nick Bantock and Joseph Cornell in my own personal artist/star rating system.
~ Child's drawing? No idea whose... came to me in some stuff to use in collage. Probably from my friend Rose who brings me little delights to add to my journals. She knows me so well.

Page 2: Jan 19
~ Random jottings, all me I'm afraid.
~ Save the Humans photo clipped from the newspaper. Taken at the BC Parliament building in Victoria. No idea when ... or by who ... just saved the photo.
~ Rules for Public Library (circa 1930's?) ... another gem from Rose.

Page 3: Jan 23-27
~ 7 books for Downtown Abbey addicts. Heard on the radio, probably CBC. I'd already read The Buccaneers (suggested by Mr. B's Mum years ago and I loved it). Since I enjoy Fay Weldon, I think Habits of the House will be the next likely read.
~ Child Motion Development from a Russian Health Encyclopedia I acquired somewhere. I particularly love Figure 11 (bottom right corner), although I can't say why.
~ Knitted polar bear sweater which is unraveling ... as seen in the building I work in as a GIANT poster, so I went to the Admin office and asked if they had it as a smaller format, which they did. I thought it was the perfect marriage of concepts ... wearing a sweater instead of turning up the furnace, which uses energy which creates global warming which means the ice floes the polar bears depend on are melting/unraveling ... genius. Wish I'd thought of it (or a similarly clever concept).
~ DIY reusable gelli plate ... if you are a gelli plate person and haven't looked at Linda Germain's Printmaking Without a Press blog, you really should. I'm just sayin'.
~ Cube books in a box ... an idea in progress. I mention a class with Roxanne Padgett, one of the top three teachers I ever had at Artfest (which I *still* miss!). She's AMAZING (yes, I'm shouting that). Go look at her stuff here.

It occurs to me it's no bad thing that I'm annotating my journal with online notes here ... like having my actual journal be hyperlinked and searchable for myself. Such a good idea ... so glad I thought of it.