Monday, April 13, 2015

Journaling Retreat ~ Day 1 Afternoon

The aftermath of a frivolous, abundant lunch (where we get to make our own sandwiches and eat as much as we choose) found us pondering our afternoon assignment: Desire Mapping. With a wild collection of collage materials, giant atlases for us to dissect and paintbrushes as well, we each turned inside to depict the elements of what our perfect life and surroundings would look like.

First I had to determine what my priorities were. Like: mountains, rivers, wild, wide vistas, elements of the western United States, being an artist, continued learning and nature and women. Oh - and fearlessness!!! So I cut up a bunch of paper and danced it around my spread out journal pages. I never found an adequate image of an evergreened river's edge so I watercolored it in first. I decided since I love warm colors, to have that red-orange as a uniting element and then, when I didn't have those colors where I wanted them, I masked off with artist's tape the area. Then painted it. Here's my crazy, delicious Desire Map. I still feel very at "home" just looking at it. You might want to try it!!! T'will make you smile. Promise!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dueling Paintbrushes at Journaling Retreat ~ Day One

Today breaks clear, brilliant blue and sunny warm at our first full day of the Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat. After we've welcomed the day with yoga on the sparkling lake's edge, we breakfast and then, settle out between the two closest cabins with a view peering into the shadowed, cool forest.

We've designed this "Dueling Brushes" demonstration to show how differently both Jean and I approach a journal page and how differently we paint. Jean takes her thirty-five minute time frame first. With this result! And then I take mine. As I've mentioned I'm struggling with this new journal size (it's smaller) and the quality of paper (some of the pages are just writing paper). So my attempt to solve the paper challenge is to glue a small piece of watercolor paper into the page where I want to
watercolor. I like the results . . . and I'm pleased with the traveling off the watercolor paper in small overlappings onto the writing paper.

I'm actually pretty pleased with the full spread visual. I like how the colors happen to balance themselves out between the pigments I chose for the landscape and the delicate hues of the pods in this
handmade black paper. Still I feel astonished that those holes I've had to cut for the paper clay insert add harmony to this unpredicted page so much further back from when the holes originated.

It's that magical serendipity of the journal that continues to surprise and please and enamor me. I'm still in love with this process. Ever new . . .

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ahhhh ~ Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat Arrival

Through lots of planning, excitement and hard work, Jean Warren and I launch our fifth annual gathering. The arriving is so full of anticipation. We get to start watching the months of imagining, inventing and tender caring that we both handle this endeavor with - - coming into solid form. Pretty thrilling!!!

Jean 'n I arrive a day early to get things set up and locate sites for specific processes - and of course, to paint and play a bit too! We often re-arrange the entire living room of our largest cabin, the Ponderosa to fit in all our working tables. So, naturally, other furniture has to go. The Resort is very understanding of this annual process but sometimes they don't have time to come pick up extra furniture that we want to eliminate for the duration of time we are there. Such was this lovable rocking chair! For a couple of days
we did this dance of moving her outside onto the deck in the daytime and then, scooting back inside to protect her from the moisture at night. She became somewhat of a mascot and both Jean 'n I made sketches of her. Then they took her away (she went to hang out in the passage way in the lodge between the restaurant and bar - we went by to say 'hi' often).

But I'm still struggling with this paper in the journal - that chair's page is writing paper and I'm afraid to put much water on the image to keep it from rippling. I'm learning ... and the adjacent page is similar paper. It tentatively mounts our little promo flier for this year onto the paper, but is ripple-y and thin. Yet I get to savor the rich paste paper that happens to sit in the middle of this page and it helps out that weak painting of the chair and our flier. Here's what the entire flier, front and inside, spread open to.

So we have a lovely mountain day, everything is in place and welcoming for the coming participants tomorrow. Sleep comes easy, for tomorrow it's "Start your engines, Ladies"!! ... and the fun begins.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fulfilling That Vision, Black Serendipity ~ September 14, 2013

Arriving two days preceding the start of our "Women's Journaling Retreat" allows this sweet cushion of time, in which we can do exactly what we want. Which is exactly what I proceed to do.

You know from the previous blog post that I'm in the midst of this new journal format and now am upon a black page. So when I flip the page to see the back side of the black seed pod paper, I'm no longer perturbed at not wanting to sketch upon it. Instead I'm charmed by the journal serendipity that pops up in ways that can ONLY happen in a journal. These blonde seed pods, flattened and preserved in the black handmade paper echo the shape and color of the hole I'd cut to accommodate my earlier paper clay insert! Love these magical happenings.

On the adjacent page ~ I'm going to do want I was aching to do when we were up at Mosquito Lake ~ I'm going to watercolor the water lilies in the water surface. But this page is mere writing paper ... so I'm trying this possibility of glueing in a small piece of watercolor paper and painting what I'd wanted. I'm pleased with my watercolor painting and find it kind of fun to try and trickle off the watercolor paper onto the journal's regular paper. It does ripple some ... but integrates the square watercolor paper into the whole page. AND - I got to paint what I really envisioned.

As I look a the full spread open, I'm again wiggling in joy at the balance that occurred unplanned. Look how the strong dark values in the lily painting even's out that strong black seed pod page. I just thrill in how journals seem to design themselves ... way better than I could have even imagined!! Now ... on to the start of the retreat!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Anniversary Texture, Sierras in Black ~ September 11 and 14, 2013

Early September is usually pretty active. Not only am I packing and preparing for my Women's Journaling Annual Retreat, but it is also my birthday and our anniversary too. So this page has whispers of how terrain between Roland and I had smoothed out, the lace-y laser cut paper pattern from the anniversary card Ro gave me (sometimes draping words with a filtered or translucent paper will give you a bit more privacy on a journal page - and I inserted it with photo corners so that I can take it out to read when I want to), the business card from where we dined (disappointingly) and the bitter sweet last evening at home before I take off for the Sierras where the retreat is held.

All that echoes against the opposite page ... the first full day at Lake Alpine Resort up in the California Sierras. Both Jean Warren and I arrive a
day or two ahead to finalize locations for different creative processes. This day we took off, up to a nearby duo of glacier formed lakes called Mosquito Lake.

Now I'd mentioned that with this journal, I really wanted to mix things up, right? Well, there we are at the pristine lake, I'm all seated having found the perfect scene I wanted to paint. I get out my materials from my pack, open up my journal ready to watercolor - - and - - as you see, it is a black journal page. I really, seriously considered skipping the page and going on until I found a watercolor page, but at last, decided to stick to my commitment. I worked, rather uncomfortably, with the black page. Using a white Schwans Stabilo pencil,

graphite pencils and some of my wax crayons for the color accents I depicted the lovely, sparkling lake and white cabins before me. The lettering was with white gel pen. I'm mostly pleased with the image - - but even more with the fact that I stuck to my aim of testing out new materials, papers and increasing my open minded attitude. (PS You'll see in the next pages ... I develop a way to cope with my yearning to paint on watercolor paper when the journal page is NOT a watercolor page!)

It remained a perfect day up in the azure sky-ed mountains ... one of my favorite places here on earth!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Birthday Traditions ~ September 3, 2013

When I made this journal, I wanted to challenge myself. I was feeling like I'd become kind of 'cookie-cutter' with my journal page designs in my ole' big Canson 10 x 14 inch journal. I chose to make the shape and size different as well as mix in un-predictable papers. So already, just four pages into this new journal I'm feeling "bothered" that some of the paper is watercolor paper and some is mere writing paper. My watercolor paintings ripple the pages and I have to use less and less water. I notice I'm feeling "squeezed" into this smaller 8 1/4 x 8 1/2 inch page format. I'm wondering why I decided to be innovative!!!? But I need to remember - - that stretching one's self is never comfortable. And it is through these feelings that we get new experiences and creative
stimulation. Ok? Ok!

Notice what a fun element the back side of the Paper Clay insert has become on these following pages? And even what is pages ahead, like that yellow glowing area showing through the hole on the right page, has an effect upon the page design. I'm often surprised with the serendipity and how wonderfully it works out!

But with all that aside, on these two pages, I celebrate my birthday. Roland gifted me with my favorite dessert, the Marion-berry Cobbler from the Standingstone Brewery in Ashland and it of course, landed on my journal page. It was a time of confusion and crazy unplanned mishaps ... between visitors dropping in to a disappointing dinner out to cancellations for my Women's Journaling Retreat ... one of the cheery-est memories I could pluck from that time is my favorite cut-outs from birthday cards. For two years in a row now, my dear "Aunt Karen" has won out as my most favorite card! See the little kitten in the back pocket of a pair of jeans? That's it! This page always makes me smile!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A New Journal's First Page ~ The Fires ~ August 30, 2013

I seem to have created this tradition for starting a new journal ~ inserting a PaperClay object. If you haven't used this diverse product, I love that it's just white cellulose, can air dry and can be painted with anything you choose. Found at most craft stores! For each new journal I like to contemplate a theme, or characteristic I'd like to focus upon for the period of filling this new journal. With this journal, I chose "deep instincts" and deliberately left the piece unsealed, so that it felt more organic, earthy. I always have to cut through several journal pages to allow the PaperClay piece to fit. What I like about doing this on my first page is that it starts the page (eliminating that scary blank-white-first-page syndrome) and also projects those open holes through the next few pages, adding a design element I get to work around.

That summer was bereft with five large forest fires that encircled our valley. Burning 35,000 acres, the smoke poured into our area, forcing me to wear a mask for our nightly walks and cut out most outdoor activities. These images of flames 'n smoke were the theme for the remaining summer and fall.

But I had to insert a bit of optimism and aliveness onto that page ... and so ... a quick sketch of the spikey, green water chest nut ripening on our near by tree.

Even tho the summer was a rather bleak one, I do like how the two page spread opens up and starts this journal. And I'm off and running into this brand-spanking new journal . . . y-i-i-i-i-i-i-p-p-p-p-i-e!!