It's time for a new visual journal! I only have 5 or so pages left in my current visual journal, so it is time for making a brand spanking new one. This is my favorite part: collecting and sorting all of the papers and ephemera to be bound together. My last journal was a monster of a book and has ended up lasting me 3 years. From the beginning, I was committed to completely filling it, but three years is waaaaayyy too long to be working in the same book. Too much baggage to carry around. So, as much as I love a thick, meaty journal, this one will be much thinner and easier to finish. Not much feels better than holding that overflowing book in your little hands knowing every single page is covered with words and images from your own mind and imagination. So rewarding, especially for those of us who sometimes have trouble actually finishing a project. It is a major accomplishment. But this next time around, I plan on making it a little easier on myself.
My poor, demented bunny was supposed to look like this adorable one. But, he's kind of endearing in his own way. In an attempt to improve my drawing skills, I've been experimenting with blind contour drawings. They are tons of fun and are supposed to train you to see with your eyes instead of your brain. (My brain thinks it doesn't know how to draw a bunny, but my eye says, what bunny? You just draw this line, then a curve, then a circle here, and pretty soon you have a bunny!) The best part is that it frees me from the self-imposed obligation to draw perfectly. A blind contour drawing isn't supposed to look exactly like anything. And often something pretty crazy turns up so you get to laugh at yourself, too. Being able to laugh at yourself is a necessary ingredient for art and for life in general.
Blindly is the only way I'd even attempt to draw a person at this stage. Poor Craig and Eddie. They are actually really good looking guys. You might be surprised to learn that both of Craig's eyes are actually on his face IRL. And those are dreadlocks, not worms coming out of his head. But, hey! I'm learning here.
Strictly speaking, these are more like semi-blind contour drawings. In a regular blind contour, you never take your eyes off of your subject or lift your pen from the paper. Here, I've done a section at a time then stopped to evaluate how far off the mark I've come. I restart with my pen where it should be, but once that pen starts moving, all I see is my subject, and it is harder to make your hand to draw a 4 inch line curving down to the left midway toward 5 o'clock than you'd think.
This one, I am most proud of. I had to say a little prayer before attempting to draw Giraffey, my daughter's most honored and beloved stuffie that has been with her since her first Christmas. I could just imagine the nightmares Maisey would have after seeing my bad drawing of a demented giraffe, but she turned out lovely! Except for the extra circle on her head which will eventually become a crown of flowers. Oh, and the blue dots that bled through another drawing onto her head. But, her lovable giraffey-ness has been preserved though, I think. Thank God.
Before you criticize me for storing baguettes in dirty water, those are paint brushes, thankyouverymuch.
If you think you could do better (I agree, I'm sure you could!!), why not take a stab at it and send me a pic or a link to your blind contour experiment. I'd love to share it here with my next round of drawings! Seriously, try it! If art is good therapy, blind contour drawing is the yummy orange syrupy cold medicine you used to fake a cough to get your mom to give to you. Or was that just me?
We did a little traveling recently to visit family in Santa Fe and Austin. I used it as an excuse to make some mail art for a few friends.
This one was drawn entirely in the car during our road trip. Normally, I hate to draw or write in the car because of the bumpiness, but sadly I can't say it looks much different from my ordinary shaky hand drawing. Oh, well.
Each envelope held a hand written note (of course!) along with bits of interesting or pretty things I picked up during our travels: a cool business card, pieces of patterned paper, origami cups! My favorite part is decorating the envelopes and I love tucking in special goodies, but I might experiment with post cards next time. Maybe print pictures of our travels to turn into post cards later?
In an effort to get back to creating something every day, I've started keeping a pattern journal. I love patterns. Floral, geometric, black & white, simple, intricate--they all intrigue me. My thinking was simply to reproduce a pattern (rather than creating my own) in marker and pen each day and hopefully learn a little something about color and shape in the process.
Working on patterns has been "my time". Time for me to shut everything (and everyone) out for a little while and just focus on creating in a way that is easy and fun. And leaves me eager to come back tomorrow for the next round. On days when I have a little more time, I chose a pattern to reproduce that is more detailed. On days when I am pressed for time, I chose a simpler one. I don't worry about reproducing the pattern perfectly. I don't use rulers or covet straight lines. I've been surprised at how much I enjoy the process. And right now for me, that's the point.
Things I've learned so far:
~Copying a pattern, even a small one (my journal is only about 4x6 in.), takes more time than I thought. The simplest patterns take me about an hour. But I am not hurrying and I allow myself to thoroughly enjoy the process regardless of how long it takes.
~Because the patterns take a little longer than I initially thought to reproduce, I try to do a pattern every couple of days instead of every single day as I originally intended. But if I can eventually commit to a pattern a day, it seems the best way to get the most out of the process.
~Although I love the simplicity of working with markers, the limited color palette is always disappointing. But it does require me to think about color combinations more deeply. How to simplify a palette, how colors work together, etc.
~Quilt patterns are my favorite and my best.
~I cannot draw a straight line to save my life.
If you'd like to try your very own pattern journal, start with a small blank notebook (I used one I already had on hand). Begin collecting patterns from books, magazines or online to copy. Remember patterns are found everywhere--literally! Visual patterns simply repeat certain design elements, whether flowers or triangles, and can be regular or chaotic, symmetrical or mathematic. Consider patterns in clothing and other textiles, advertisements, architecture, nature, and art. Check out my Patterns Pinterest board and soon you will have way more than you need to fill an entire book. Better yet, you may begin to "see" patterns everywhere you look.
The advantage of a simple project like this, besides cultivating daily art practice, is that it challenges you to "see" what's around you and what you are drawing more actively. Plus, you can begin to notice what aspects of certain types of patterns or color combinations you are naturally drawn to for use in your own artwork. Your pattern journal will be a repository of ideas for backgrounds, detailing and other mark making for future projects. Best of all, it is just another place to explore and enjoy the process of art making without the fear or intimidation that often comes with creating an original work of art.
Does this sound like something you'd like to try? Please share! I'd love to see what patterns you come up with.
Do you love handmade journals as much as I do? (Silly question, of course you do!) Then you need to know about an awesome journal giveaway over at the lifestyle blog Little Yellow Couch. This month they are featuring everything Bookish and giving away four one-of-a-kind journals made by Jacob Deatherage of Ex Libris Anonymous.
And he saw the studio he was about to abandon for his bed as it might have appeared in a documentary film about himself that would reveal to a curious world how a masterpiece was born. --Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
Am I the only one who day dreams of being interviewed for one of those beautiful, $15 magazines like Where Women Create or Studios? "Why, thank you for your kind words about my humble little studio. And, yes, (blushing ever so slightly) I guess you could say this is where the magic happens...."
I went through a brief period wanting to draw my surroundings. Until I got bored with my surroundings. Then I attempted drawing flowers from the seed catalog that had just come in the mail. I quickly got bored with that too.
I did enjoy the drawing and watercolor. I'll have to remember that next time I run out of ideas.
A beautiful envelope and gift from a dear friend. The advantage of having such a huge journal is that it can hold everything. This one is, quite literally, bursting at the seams. I may have to rebind the whole thing once it's done. (Yeah, like that's going to happen.)
Have you noticed that when listening to Pandora, you can read lots of cool information about your music, including song lyrics, the most perfectly written bios, and--my favorite--"features of this track"? I get all kinds of giddy just wondering just what exactly "repetitive melodic phrasing," "acoustic sonority," or "extensive vamping" actually mean. If I knew, it wouldn't be half as exciting. I'm content just to roll the words around on my tongue.
As soon as I made my declaration to eagerly jump back into blogging, I get sick and spend the next week and a half accomplishing little more than a losing few miserable games of Spider Solitaire. Typical. But I did rediscover some photos from a year ago that have been stuck inside my broken camera. Maisey managed to get the camera to work long enough for me to upload these pictures I forgot I had taken.
A year ago I was sinking in a wicked and unrelenting depression that would drag me to the deepest depths of despair before it would finally let me go. I had been blessed with a number of commissions for custom journals and had a pretty little pile of book spines cut from old books that I had used for journal covers left over on my desk. Somehow in that mental fog I managed to come up with the idea to use the spines to make a mobile. Having a particular love for Dangly Things, I kept myself occupied making these pretties until I ran out of book spines. They (and a few too painful to read journal entries) were the only products of that dark time that eventually turned into the longest creative hiatus of my adult life. It's funny looking back to remember that these little bits of paper and fishing line literally gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. At least for a few weeks. Never underestimate the power of small things.
Except for the feathers, I made the mobiles entirely from things I had laying around the studio. Which makes me very happy. I would never have thought to add feathers had my BFF not surprised me with a feathery earring from a local jewelry artist. I already had the beads and spines in place but was struggling with what else to add to them when, without really thinking about it, I took the earring out of my ear and hung it from the mobile. Perfection! I drove over to Hobby Lobby the same day for a bag of feathers. That will probably be the last time I ever attempt to work with feathers again, though. If you've ever cut and shaped them, snorting their feathery bits that cover every surface within a 10 mile radius into your screaming sinuses, you understand why. Just thinking about it makes me need to sneeze. Oh, but I love the texture they add!
As it turns out, I've had other dangly things on my mind lately.
~ Something like these but with found objects or beads and leather laces. I think I need to learn macrame.
~ I'm not into dream catchers normally, but these gorgeous jewel-toned ones by Dreams By Andrea have me itching to try my own version.
~ I've finally saved up enough bottle caps for a bottle cap windchime like this one. Maybe this weekend's project?
Take something cute and hang it from a string...and I'm gonna pin it. If you could use your own dangly inspiration, check out my Pinterest board filled with all kinds of pretty things hanging from string, wire and more! I'm fairly certain you'll find more than enough creative projects to keep you busy for a lifetime. (I love you, Pinterest.)
What are you hoping to create this weekend? Please share!
I used to think facing a blank canvas was hard. But you know what is really hard, as in suffocating every creative or original thought that you might possibly have? A blank blog post. Especially when your blog has already been languishing away with barely a once-a-month post for the past year or more, the blank screen can be paralyzing. And it's not like I haven't tried. I've written and rewritten this post in my head a hundred times but never made it to the computer. Some of the problem is just not having the time I'm used to to blog and search the internet for new inspiration. But mostly, it is just facing that Blank Screen, getting back into the swing of writing, creating, and sharing. I want to do it. I need to do it. I'm not ready to let go of my blogging past. I do occasionally have ideas worth sharing, but it takes a lot more motivation than I seem to have had lately.
So I've been waiting around for the perfect get-back-to-blogging idea to pop into my brain. A segway from the spotty blog post past to the happy blogging-is-second-nature-to-me-now future I envision. Then it occurred to me, I tell myself and everyone else not to be intimidated by the blank canvas. Not to worry about the outcome, but to just jump into it and trust the process. Get some color on the page and just have fun. And it's darned good advice. So I decided (for lack of a better idea) to apply that to blogging. I'm just going to jump back into it and try to have fun with it again! Don't judge me too harshly if you notice my eyes are closed.
So, here are some journal pages I've worked on since I last shared in, oh, October 2012 or so. Most are as complete as they ever will be. Some may have a few things added here and there eventually. Did anyone else get hooked on that show Lie to Me? Not the best show on earth, but I loved it. Especially learning tricks to discerning when someone's lying or not. An awesome skill to have. Must research microexpressions when I have a chance.
Whew! Am I ever glad that's over with! They say taking that first step is half the work. Honestly, it felt like the 3 hours I just spent editing photos was at least 2/3 of the work--but whatever! With that weight lifted, I feel like nothing can stop me now! Right after I take a nap. I'm exhausted.
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