Anyone that has been in my studio or my classes, knows that I have been practicing art journaling for several years now. It has gotten me through times when I just didn’t have any fresh new paintings in me. Since I was in elementary school, I have loved collage. I used to make calendars for my mom for Christmas, creating a different theme for each month and hand-drawing the calendar (this was way before Microsoft Word. No PCs in my house). I loved collecting images and then putting them together thematically, and the cutting and pasting is still as thrilling to me as it was in my childhood.
I have a growing collection of vintage magazines, including McCall’s, Good Housekeeping Life, Newsweek and National Geographic. I am interested in the stories as well as the advertising. I honestly don’t know how women made it in the 40’s – 70’s (although many of those same ideals and expectations are still around for us today). But I find the glamour mesmerizing, as well as the rationale that the softness of your hands after washing dishes will positively affect your husband’s desire for you.
In my new Retro Art Journaling class, I’m sharing my vintage magazines with you as we create some fun journals. The base of these journals will be booklet cookbooks, so many of your backgrounds will already be in place. We’ll use collage, paint, markers, gel pens and more to create one-of-a-kind art books. I personally have created a couple of these retro-themed books and have loved it. I know you will, too.
Find out more about this new class by clicking HERE.
Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
This is from my first visual journal, which is actually an altered book. I gessoed out the pages before adding acrylic, collaged photocopied images, collaged wallpaper, watercolor and permanent marker. See more of my visual journals HERE.
The mother and child image is universal to all cultures, and is always one that is close to my heart.
What are some of your favorite topics for your visual journals? I’d love to hear your comments!
So in yesterdays post, I spoke of how journaling has helped keep me sane through the years. About twelve years or more ago, I heard about the concept of “art journals.” I had been doing something similar, but not the the degree of the artist’s I found online – and I was so inspired! I have always liked collage and text, and this was a great way for me to combine both of them.
I began working in an oversized altered book — using gesso to block out a lot of the images and text on the pages. In it, I collaged photographs of Greek and Roman sculptures, stained glass windows, and any type of image that I found interesting. Then I painted, drew and collaged more until the images looked the way I wanted them to. That book, started in 2004, is still a work in progress. Some of the pages are complete, and have come out of the book. But many are still in tact. Some have just the background started, and others are almost finished — just waiting for that final je ne sais quoi.
A couple of years ago, I discovered spiral-bound sketchbooks that have thick mixed media paper, and are marketed as “visual journals”. My first one is filled primarily with just doodling.
As I’ve progressed, and I’ve seen my pages get a lot more colorful and painterly, and I’ve collaged a lot more.
I have four volumes in progress right now, with volume 1 almost complete, and volume 4 in it’s infancy. I’ve just added an ART JOURNAL page to the blog, with galleries from each volume. Stay tuned for more!
One of the things I enjoy most is sharing my love of mixed media with others, and hearing them say, “This is so much fun!” I got that chance this past weekend in my studio, during my Mixed Media workshops. We partied into the night on Friday, and part of the day on Saturday, and I was impressed with the variety of art that was made.
Artist Cheryl White attended the workshop and got the fever — not much of her journal was untouched before she left. She has written a blog post that features one of her gorgeous creations from the weekend. Check it out HERE. (Note: that’s her in the photo above [bottom left], working on the journal page that is featured in her blog).
The goal for my classes is always to inspire, but I find that I come out of them motivated and encouraged by the creativity of others. It’s good to make art, simply for the sake of having fun.
“One of the hardest things in the world is to see yourself objectively. I’m not sure it’s even possible.”
I recently (last week) decided to start doing at least one self-portrait every year. I’ve only really done a few “official” self-portraits in the past. Of course, each work of art has my heart and soul in it, but there are some that are more personally reflective than others. Let me share them with you.
Here’s the earliest self-portrait I can find, made in August of 1988, when I was fifteen. I hadn’t had a lot of artistic training up to that point, but I think I got a pretty good likeness. At least that’s how I remember myself looking. (Check out those bangs!)
I’ll continue by skipping the horrible self-portrait I did in college, the result of a class assignment. A family member owns it now and will not let me take it back and destroy it. Or atleast paint over it. If I have anything to do with it, that painting will NOT make it into the art history books. It’s humiliating on so many levels.
Here’s a charcoal self-portrait I did several years back when I was teaching and my students were working on self-portraits. I didn’t put a date on this drawing, but I’m pretty sure it was made in the fall of 2001, right after 9/11. I was expecting my second child and had lots on my mind. Maybe that explains the serious look.
Here’s something that started out as a self-portrait, but ended up not as an image of me, but a reflection of how I felt at the time…
This was begun in 2006 (top), when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The title was always the same, “Ou est la joie de vivre?” Translated from French to English, it means “Where is the Joy of Life?” It’s also a play on words, because the collaged images that I used were taken from a wallpaper pattern called ‘Joie de Vivre,’ which shows families happily working and frolicking, just happy to be alive, I guess. No worries in this ideal world. I worked on this painting over the next three years, keeping the collaged elements, but at some point I took out my likeness and replaced it with a woman who is turned away from the viewer. Possibly the journey in this painting is more valuable than the end product. But I think that’s true for all of my work.
Last year I made this 4×4 inch collage entitled “36” that I consider my self portrait for 2009. It’s definitely more lighthearted than some in previous years, thank goodness!
This painting, although I wouldn’t consider it a self-portrait, has a lot of personal connections. Also completed last year, “She Comes from Texas” uses the image of the Venus de Milo as the main subject. The title comes from a collaged passage, located below her feet. It is a quote Ernest Hemmingway, which I found in another book, written in the 1950s. It says, “With us, if a girl is really beautiful, she comes from Texas and maybe, with luck, she can tell you what month it is. They can all count good, though. They teach them how to count, and keep their legs together, and how to put their hair up in pin curls.”
Obviously, the point here is the irony, but I think the quote hit a nerve with me. Growing up in rural Texas, I often felt that I was viewed this way by the men and boys I grew up with. In our small-town culture, the main way I saw males communicate with females was through teasing. Most of it was light-hearted, but I tended to take things very personally, and really never felt very good about it. I learned to smile, though. As a matter of fact, one of my nicknames given to me from male coaches as a teenager was “smiley,” (in addition to “stubby” and “air head deluxe”). I thought that most men thought I was pretty dumb. Wonder why?
So here is my latest “self-portrait.” I’ve been working on it for a few months, but just completed it yesterday. There’s a lot going on here, but I think that is the perfect reflection of who I am right now. There is charcoal, paint, furniture molding, computer keyboard parts, a playing card, and collaged wallpaper. The central figure doesn’t look anything like me, but I think she reflects confidence. I’ve been growing in that this year. Probably my favorite part of this is the blue square behind the girl’s head — it’s a Post-It Note. Any mother or ambitious woman can relate to needing constant reminders, all over the place, all the time. It’s definitely been one of those years for me.
It will be interesting to see how my life, my style and my self-perception changes over the years. I’ll keep you posted.