Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heart Connections Alongside Great Cats

This two page spread, besides it being the very last entry in this particular journal, seems another presentation that illustrates moving from the inner-viewpoint, to looking at the outer world.

The left page took place weeks after I'd completed, said my g'byes and gotten back home to Oregon from the Workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey. I'd been feeling like I'd wanted to do a "conclusion" page about the experience . . . and shortly I got a card in the mail from two of the participants with lovely compliments that brought tears to my eyes. OK ~ gotta get this page done. So I collected my thoughts (and a few precious items), looked inside my heart to talk about the feelings from that experience and those talented and tender women and this page emerged. The words across the top seemed to best sum up what the page encompassed and I found a font I liked and created similar letters. Now the colors and the gentle leaf pattern that weaves through the text came to me, wanting to reflect the card, business card and meditation card on the right side of the page. I did have a bit of a challenge with stitching in the lil' silver hearts . . . and honestly, not quite happy with it still. But over all, I love that the page f-e-e-e-e-e-l-s like what my heart felt!  :)  And once again, all you wonderful participants and Elinor and Muff ~ thank you for a powerful and sweet learning experience!

The adjacent page was more about looking AT things . . . but I gotta be authentic here, feelings ended coming out too. We'd gotten this reduced price set of tickets to the "Great Cats" Park over in Cave Junction and a perfectly cool, yet "without rain" day appeared. And since Cody, our Golden Retriever comes nearly everywhere with us . . . and there are no trees for shelter in the parking lot there . . . we needed a cool day for him as well as us (neither of whom enjoy hot, sun beaten tours). When we get to the park we join a tour already in progress and it really is fascinating, the information, tending and history of each of the beautiful cats. I'm not real comfortable with the fact that with each animal our tour guide could garner attention, she teased them into snarling, "performing their fiercest" for the gift of food. But . . . even sadder, the children loved it. Anyway, sorry for interjecting my opinion . . . I was touched by the elegance, strength and pure presence of some of these animals. The two who touched me most are imaged here, the regal lion and the noble white tiger. It was a day of mixed feelings . . .

And so this journal ends with a statement: " . . . held captive . . . we all ache for freedom". (I seem to have established a ritual of closing each journal with a quote or statement that reflects where I am in my life at the moment).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Split Page

The second half of leading my "Plein Air Experience" portion at the "Expand Your Art Journaling", tandem-teaching with Elinor Peace Bailey, had moved down to the secluded, dappled-sun shine "Guy Talbot Park" just down from the Vista House.

We settled right in doing several focusing exercises and then, to contrast with the mega-view we'd just completed up at the Vista House (see previous post), I was gifted this perfect lil' "Heal-All" blossom (brought to my attention by Sally, thank you, Sally), I did a quick sketch close-up. What I love in doing an intimate painting of something so detailed and in-your-face ~ is that as you focus your attention, begin adoring this lil' damsel of-a-blossom, you become astonished at the variety of textures and colors that are revealed to you. You become more aware! And so was my experience with this plant, which I later pressed and then, sealed with Mod Podge before I glued it on the page. Here you can see the participants busy discovering intimacies of their chosen subject. As the sun began moving westward we clustered back into our cars for an interesting, chatty ride home that even a traffic jam couldn't dampen.

The third and final day of our workshop was split between the two of us. We all gathered in the cozy garage workplace and Elinor took first lead. For my journal page I nested Elinor's portrait up against the map of the Columbia Gorge area ~ and to my surprise, her turtle-neck ended up being the exact color of the map's border. Love serendipity!

For today her portion of the class would focus upon making our very own personal doll (and coming from a world class doll designer ~ we were all excited). She gave us basics to think about around designing our paper dolls and it proved more challenging than I'd imagined. For some reason, I decided to create a male paper doll and when just playing with the facial expressions ~ I swear he looked as perverse as possible!! Not at all my intent ... so it took some revision. But here he is ~ still looking a little twisted! I became aware that male dolls are decidedly less interesting to create. I heard everyone around me playing with flowered outfits and ribbons in their hair and adding buttons to the shoes. My guy was boring by contrast ... but a good lesson ... non-the-less! When I finished up my journal page, I needed a way to 'sit' my doll permanently into the page. Yet, I wanted to be able to take him out and move him in different positions. My solution was a business sized envelope (a transparent one here - to less distract from the page) and, sorry "Beach Boy" (which is kinda what I've named him) but, you'll have to stay folded at the knee to fit.

Next half of the day, after lunch, was my opportunity to share one of my favorite mediums to use in journal pages: Paper Clay (yes, just go to to see what amazing things you can do)! Seems I've started a tradition to use a paper clay creation on the beginning page of each new journal I start. I find it adds excitement, dimension and when one cuts out behind the stitched in paper clay object, you cultivate several pages with unusual hole cuts around which you must to design. First, comes the rolling out of the medium (thin enough to move around, but not too thick either), then, carve, imprint whatever you imagine up. Next, it must totally dry and then, you may paint it. And then, once again dry, you can seal it. Here's the initial piece I started, impressed with lace (thanks for the great idea Elinor), painted and sealed. See the lil' holes around the edge with which I can stitch it into my journal page? Fast at work here is Elinor ... imagination "robusto!!"

And finally, here resides my full page spread, showing in full how I integrated the two days together.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Plein Air Experience

The next morning was the my day to share with participants at the "Expand Your Art Journaling" Workshop my approach. I'm up early to get organized and after breakfast, with all bodies accounted for we divide up into two vehicles once again and forge out ~ destination: Vista House on the Columbia Gorge.

The grey misty day begins to warm with streams of sunshine burning off the clouds and we are blessed with lovely vistas. My plan is to allow everyone to tour around, familiarizing themselves with the perspective viewpoints and then, gather all to do a brief demo for them. I'm aware that my brain isn't feeling very organized and I wrestle with too many wonderful sights and how to arrange eleven artists with materials on chairs into a cohesive group. Finally, I settle upon a cozy spot just to the southeast of the parking lot where we can gaze out upon the magnificent river and catch some of the nearby cliffs too. I'm hoping all are within the earshot of my commentary, as I aim to speak about my thinking, my process as well as the pigments and ratio of water to pigments. I'm fairly happy with the demo, even loving my crazy "bloom" occurring in the upper area where the mist still lingered. Watercolor just has it's own way about itself - - that NO human hand can control or replicate! And here is the another participants' version of the Vista House surroundings. Pretty amazing, eh?

I offer everyone the opportunity to select their own favorite scene to depict in their journals. Almost all, save two, linger at the original demo spot and I move to the back, popping up to wander around assisting or answering questions. When I'm stationed at the back of the working group, I play with a quick contour ink line drawing and fill in some adjacent color, emphasizing the large "shape" of the group.

We break for lunch, savoring the beauty and majesty of this gorge carved out before our eyes, and then hop back into the vehicles. I've selected a more intimate site just down the road that offers us more privacy and quiet . . .

And here ... you can see how my pages nestle up against one-another in my journal (with my text added later) and you can see the differing results from my journal page approach when placed side-by-side with Elinor's different approach.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ My "Collection" Page

So once we had concluded the "gathering" and arrived back to our work tables, we launched powerfully into creating our own page. This expression completely from our chosen materials became fascinating ~ each individual's personality and spirit flowed.

Here is my "collection" page ... you notice how I resonate with a time past ... how I'm attracted to the small, intricate and detailed ... the lace, personal photo etc. My purchases included personalized, humanly touched items (like the hand written recipes or European sepia postcard with beautiful calligraphic writing) ~ things that tell a whisper of a story or a life experience. When I saw the colors coming together, I had to squeeze my tea bags onto the page, staining the lace, making things relate. And when I had the napkin with the spoon in place ... I echoed the accompanying knife by drawing it. 

My biggest challenge came with the sepia postcard. I wanted to be able to see both sides, the image and the writing and postmark. So I played with folding it and flipping it around in my hands ... I suddenly saw a "book" come to mind. I formed "pages" in the center and developed a way to stitch the binding as well as attach it to the journal page. Later come the coral bead and the feather. Now I have some deeper learnings from the workshop that I will detail in those pages. This also affords me some privacy, as most people paging thru my journal will not open my lil' hidden book.  

Now, I'm really happy with this very unusual journal page. Will I continue to work from "gatherings"for my journal pages? Perhaps . . . only time will tell . . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Gathering Day

I arose quietly, do my yoga and meditation in my "Chicken Room" (the chickens just watched, by the way) and patter down to breakfast and ready for our first day of the "Expand Your Art Journaling" workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey. Today is Elinor's day and it's going to be jam packed!

Elinor presents her perspective and process in journaling (very different from mine). With Elinor, she spends a good deal of time and thinking gathering, accessing and discriminating from exterior objects or stimuli. So our plan for the day is first - - gathering!

We divide into two vehicles, Eli's and mine and we launch off to four different places from which to gather our personal expression.

First we travel to a charming historic Washington town, Camas, and a store with the same name, "Camas". Elinor had pre-selected this diverse antiques shop and we poked around endlessly. Personally, this was my favorite stop with old handwritten recipes, lace doilies and foreign postcards and music sheets. It was like pulling teeth to get me out of this store.
Next, we cross over the Columbia River, heading into Portland's Pearl District, en route to "Cargo", a fascinating collection of primarily Asian collectables and other bobbles. From giant Chinese furniture to eccentric cards to antique Asian bookkeeping bound books (yes, I got one for the unusual paper and writing to collage). T'was like leaving a whirlwind stepping back out into the blue sky day.

A slight jaunt across town, where we plan to lunch outside before slipping into "Scrap". We realize the park we'd hoped for was not there and set up my outdoor chairs (I had for tomorrow's plein air work). Just settling in to munch on our sandwiches and "C-R-U-N-C-H" ... we realized a large truck had side swiped a moving vehicle as well as Elinor's, ripping off the mirror. I did a later sketch of her approaching the wounded cars. We were distracted for near an hour and finally toured the store "Scrap".  T'was a store of donations of the wildest things - I even found some Letraset rub on letters there!! Honestly, I think we'd all lost much of our wind from the accident incident and decided to eliminate the next stop, "Collage" from our tour. We pointed the vehicles en route home to Elinor's.

Renewed when we all returned to our Vancouver nest, all set up for our creating and we settle in to create from our gatherings. Already ... it had been a full day ... just wait to see what ensued ...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Arrival

This whole story is a sample of what "serendipity" or "chance", when grabbed, can create. A long while ago I took a writing class that offered different "prompts" to incite creativity. I selected this crazy image ~ I loved the joy, wildness and expression of this woman! The idea of tandem-teaching with her came to my brain ~ and I followed up online.

Long story short, Elinor Peace Bailey and I created a three day workshop, "Expand Your Art Journaling", and from my personal journal, you'll see how I expressed the experience in my pages.

I launch off to Vancouver, Washington where Elinor lives and where we are holding the workshop ... about a five hour drive from where I live. I pass thru rain and break into sunshine as I'm crossing the bridge to Washington. Upon arrival I find that I've arrived when Elinor and her sister, Muff, are out shopping. So, what else would a visual art journaler do? Yep, pulled across the street and wiggled into a comfy position in the driver's seat and start sketching the joyful yellow home. I'm near done when the colorful twosome drives up with all the food for the ensuing weekend. I help unload and get nested in.

Now when I'd spoken to Muff earlier, she'd told me I'd be staying in the "Chicken" room. I really did ponder what the heck that could really mean ... silly me!!! I didn't know Elinor Peace Bailey yet. It really was the Chicken Room!! I mean every wall, every counter or shelf space contained a chicken (painted or otherwise). There was even a big, rooster-like fella hovering from the top book shelf lookin' down upon my bed. But, never fear, he was friendly. I checked :) And after a fun dinner out and lots of chattering, I slept well admidst all the chickens.

Next day, we had planned the "Meet & Greet". Our workshop was set up in the breezy, spacious garage area with a fascinating audience to watch us ... yes, all of Elinor's amazing dolls (did I tell you she's a widely known and talented doll designer?) With Elinor's usual playful spirit, she'd gotten us all name tags with ridiculously riotous lil' creatures. I had to save mine, he made me smile and his energy was contagious ... so here he is in my journal.

Late afternoon, the diverse participants began arriving, wandering into the well lite garage space. Elinor started off the workshop, welcoming all to her home and then, gave a brief introduction into what our time together would involve and a overview of what her part would be. Then, she handed it off to me and I smiled greetings to all eleven new faces. Some were from Elinor's connections, doll makers and quilters (can you believe from Montana and back East?), and some were watercolor talents (a couple all the way from Southern California). We shared introductions and then dove into poking thru all the journals Elinor and I had pulled out to share with the group. It was frivolous fun pondering the pages and asking how each different one had evolved and what it meant to the artist.

As the sun set, we all headed off to our nests for slumber ... with visions of journaling mysteries and juicy solutions dancin' in our heads ...