Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Real Life

Sometimes, life is busy. Alright, most times life is busy, LOL :) You have families (many with young children), bills, jobs, pets, grocery shopping, etc. etc. etc. So it can be difficult to find the time to work in your art journal, or knit that sweater, bead that necklace, paint that picture, whatever your forte (sp?) may be.

But fear not! 'Tis not impossible :) Trust me. I have found the key is to respect your artistic/creative pursuits as PART of your life, rather than something you reward yourself with once you have the time. Because, let's face it... you may NEVER have the time. That's just the way it goes. But, if you include your particular artistic endeavors in your daily routine, even if only for a few moments here and there, you will feel so much better... and, you'll get more done because you'll be more balanced. If you are a creative type, then you NEED that outlet to be part of your day. Heck, that's why we adults STILL doodle on napkins while we are waiting in an office... we are working out our next idea ;)

See? In no way is this even remotely perfect. The lines are all lopsided and sketchy, but it's something I threw together quickly while my children played on the playground last Friday. It's a nice memory, so I added some text so I'll remember it :)

This is another good example. While my babies were taking a bath this evening, they were playing with their bathtub markers (which they ADORE), and the ink from the markers were running in beautiful lines down the side of the tub. So, I took a blank spread of my journal and pressed it up to the tub... wallah! A background to begin working on at a later time! :) Plus, my kid's got the feeling of happiness knowing I'm using something they've done in my art.

And, just for your viewing pleasure, I present a spread that I'm working on... NO idea where it's heading, but heck, if we always knew how it was going to turn out, it wouldn't be half the fun!!! Keep creating, everyone!!! God bless :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Does It Mean to YOU?

What is your art or craft to you? Think about that- seriously. What is it to you? OK, focusing on that now? Good. Now... why is it (whatever it is)?

While driving on the highway the other morning, I looked out at the horizon, and I saw a big hill, way off in the distance. It instantly reminded me of the hills of Pacifica, California, where I lived for three months a few years ago. Pacifica holds a lot of significance for me, and I always get emotional when I think of it because it represents happy times with my husband. We are no longer together, but Pacifica causes me to remember how he loved me then. It is very special to me.

Anyway, when I saw the hill, I thought that I could somehow create an art journal entry inspired by the hills of Pacifica and everything that all means to me. I opened up to a spread in my journal which was all white except for a small rectangle that I had already stitched. I proceeded to dampen some of the paper and then I painted with watercolor. After the paint dried, I added some epherma- a print out of a map of Pacifica, and a doodle my brother had done once.

After I added them, I looked at the overall spread and felt... lost. I thought... should I write something? Maybe add another image? Or should I stamp a design? Perhaps more collage? I considered carefully the hills I had painted... I could write over them... that would look cool. But, I didn't want to cover them too much. They are the pivitol part of the spread, and I liked how they look.

That's when it happened. I realized that I was looking at this journal spread as art; as meaningful, as an evokative piece representing my lost love and all that implies, and I

chastised myself.

I told myself what I had read in book after book, blog after blog, even heard on countless youtube videos... "your art journal is a place to play. Don't take it too seriously."

Well, after I told myself that... guess what? I stopped working on the piece. I felt as though I'd lost something, lost some significance. Once I told myself to "stop taking it seriously," the art I had been making (a beautiful yet sad tribute to a very important time of my life) stopped mattering to me.


I had let others (who create fantastic art journals, by the way) dictate to me how to approach my creativity. Not that they didn't mean well! But... everyone is different. I even once read that a journal is an ideal place to work out ideas for later, larger works. After all, several famous artists had art journals specifically for that purpose. Which is great... for them.

But think about it... why should our art journals be places just to play around, test new techniques, mess with different materials, work out ideas for larger work?

Why can't your art journal BE the piece you are creating, all heart and soul, coffee drippings and pen-ink words blurred with your tears as you're creating beautiful, passionate ART from your gut?

It can. Because it's yours. And that's the entire point of an art journal, after all, isn't it? To be to you what you need it to be, regardless of what it may be for someone else?

I realized something today. Since I began art journaling on Valentine's Day 2012, I have been trying to create what I see in books and on youtube. And, while these resources are invaluable for inspiration, they are by no means the standard. The same goes for the creator's ideas about their own art journals- great for inspiration, but not the standard. There is no standard. It is whatever you want it to be. Sometimes it is good to throw caution to the wind and just scribble with a crayon, lost in bliss, letting your hand create whatever it wants. And sometimes, it is OK to open your journal and create your proudest piece to this date. Art does not need to be on a primed canvas atop an easel to be art. Your ART JOURNAL CAN BE YOUR ART, not just a place to play or test new materials/techniques.

The more I learn, the more I grow, the freer I become :)

Oh, and this piece is not finished yet!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meaning and Aesthetic in Art Journaling

I have been "Art Journaling" since February. I went to Michaels (Arts & Crafts store) on February 14, 2012 to buy a journal, and some supplies. I suppose, in retrospect, it was a Valentine's gift to myself.

I can't recall what exactly first got me interested in learning about having an art journal, but I *think* it was several of Suziblu's YouTube videos with her Mixed Media Art Journals... I've enjoyed watching her for a few years now, and I believe her journal work inspired me to start one of my own.

I bought the "The Journal Junkies Workshop" book by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler early on,

soon followed by "Journal Spilling" by Diana Trout.

Both books are chock-full of ideas and techniques. I recently re-read "The Journal Junkies Workshop" and am currently re-reading "Journal Spilling." When I first got these books, I flipped through and glossed-over a lot because I was eager to just journal! Now, however, I am paying closer attention, and getting more out of each book. Both are similar, and very unique unto themselves simultaneously. I recommend both, but I suggest you start, as I did, with "The Journal Junkies Workshop" first.

The hardest issue for me in my journaling that I still grapple with is meaning, second only to aesthetic. To me, a piece (or journal page/spread) IS art, whether it's hanging in a gallery or stuffed in your desk drawer. It is a visual representation of your feelings, experiences, wrapper from that piece of candy that you know you shouldn't have eaten, whatever. You write, draw, collage, etc. all of this and more into your journal. Sounds fun? It is... BUT...

I still have problems disassociating from the notion that 1.) it has to MEAN something (or at least have a cohesive theme), and 2.) it has to be somewhat aesthetically pleasing (it must look good!) Now, the whole point of art journaling is to let go, be free, just create and PLAY without the constraints of worrying how it will look or what it's about. Yeah... I'm not there yet.

Perfect example- here's a fairly "pretty" page with some paint, collage, and stencil.

I actually like how it looks so far, but it has no meaning. It's a bird bath and some letters... you know? I can't, in my mind, justify it. It is unresolved. Many of my spreads are unresolved... perhaps one day I will reach a place where I no longer care, but the artist in me, or rather, the critic, is always there... nagging. That being said, please enjoy looking below at some of my journal. I won't indicate which spreads are considered to be "finished" or not, because I don't like putting too much definition on my art... I rather leave much up to the viewer. It is up to you to decide what it means to you, and if you like it or not, whether you feel it needs more or is perfect as is. It's up to you to decide. Please click on the image to see it fully. :) and tell me... do YOU experience any similar difficulty relating meaning (or lack thereof) to your work?