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!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Journals ~ With an Ending, Also Comes a New Start

My last entry completed my road trip to my beloved Telluride summer-before-last, and it also finished out the final pages in that journal. Sort of a sad, but exciting time to this journaler. Especially because this next journal is one I actually made myself. Yep, I've been taking on bookmaking - - with none-but-the-best bookmaker, Denise Kester!! I'd been all too long drooling at the amazing books Denise makes and finally took the leap of joining one of her all-to-rare classes. To date I've made three books and this next journal was my very first.

In planning the book, I decided to challenge my ole'
journaling habits. Before even going to take the class I talked with my wise instructor. I wanted some pages to be watercolor (140 lb.), both hot and cold press alternating with some of Denise's standard writing papers and other, long-in-my-flat-file-drawer papers. With all that together ... I headed to the two day class.

First day is deliciously messy, gooey and magnificently freeing!! We make Paste Papers for the cover and inner signatures. Slather on paint
and through a plethora of techniques, remove, create pattern, layer! Yep, that's it in a nut shell. Then, overnight these all dry.

Second day, is the actual bookmaking. You select the dried Paste Papers you want to use for where and what, trim, shape and get into position for the bookmaking. WHAT a process - boggled my lil'
mind! But here you can see in brief, my putting together the book, from scratch!

You start with the backbone of the book, begin covering with beautiful materials (that you made the day before), and lastly stitch in your book signatures with your paper in them, tenderly into place. WELLAH!! Here's my book, who came to be known as my "HeartBook". From it's imaginings, it began to take on personality and even the beads I choose were meaningful. Once
I began working in it, friends gave me different quotes, this one in particular spoke to me and became part of this books story.

So now that you've see "her" birthed ... you'll begin to see what her inner workings begin to reveal ... in the next post! I have to say, this book has stretched me, and witnessed me stretch in ways I could not have imagined ... stay tuned ...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Telluride Plein Air ~ Homeward through Silverton & Bryce Canyon

Starting homeward day, a bitter sweet air floats in the breeze today. We start on our trip home, leaving my beloved T-ride. Yet our travels in the westerly direction hold adventures too. So, off we go.

Because I'd left my favorite and best gortex coat in the classroom in Ouray ... we were leaving via Ouray. But as you can see from the sketch, going over the Red Mountain Pass is thrilling! Not only the colors of mineralized landscape, waterfalls and
mining remnants, but the views too as we head to Silverton. Touring the streets there provided smiles at the charming ole' town and the bustle of the summer months. After lunching in Durango, we start into desert landscape. Long stretches of emptiness, broken with Indian Reservations, unusual rock formations and a sand-pelting
wind. Our attempt to stop at the Four Corners ($8 per person entry fee) was discouraged by that wind, 100 degree temperatures and a very long line to just stand in the four different states at once. We overnight-ed in the eerie town of Page.

Next day we reach Bryce Canyon mid-day. Rock shapes become magical and color drenched! We locate and check into our KOA Campground 20 minutes from Bryce, where we'd reserved a tiny cabin. Charming and very, very small, the cabin also had no AC nor cross ventilation. Cody was suffering and, I have to admit, we were too in the 100 degree, sun-drenched temps. So we launch off to find a nearby (well, we got lost so it wasn't so near) reservoir for a dunk! As the sun began to set we head back to the Bryce Canyon Park for the sunset. Absolutely magnificent! ABSOLUTELY!!! Even Roland said it brought tears to his eyes - the unimaginable beauty! We are impressed!!! We dinner-ed at a restaurant where the waiter was the chef and old, found relics were all over the wall - - a taste of local color for sure!!

Next day we are up early for the magnificent Bryce Canyon sunrise (wow! again) and return to our lil' cabin. As the heat rises, we find we are so uncomfortable we make a decision to leave and seek a cooler climate. I'd researched the Highway 12, headed north and a tad east and we found it fascinating. Such diverse country - - first we travel across colorful, solid rock undulations that roll together like "silly puddy" (remember Silly Puddy?), then after lovely, green-stretching agriculture fields we begin to climb. I'm in heaven - - high country with groves of my Aspen friends and free range cattle!! Gradually we curve down into a wide valley of horses and lush fields - - the quiet town of Torrey. We find an air-conditioned hotel with this bucolic view out our back window and picturesque sandstone ridges around us. We'd "arrived" - - so much for us ever being desert rats!!

The double page spread exemplifies one of my very favorite journaling exercises: linking together two images across the center, spiral binding of the journal. And this illustration gives you a sneak preview into our last rubbing shoulders with the monumental red rock formations of Utah, Capitol Reef. Another mesmerizing spot amongst Mother Nature's gifts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Telluride Plein Air ~ From Lake to Parade to Class

This journal spread covers a lot of territory in our Colorado Summer. First we attempt a second 4-wheel drive up Tomboy - - and WOW - - even Roland eventually opts to turn around after facing giant lopsided granite rocks in the road. I'm rather relieved and we decide to go to Alta Lakes as an alternative. The terrain is wild, scenic and Cody gets to tip-top in the cooling water (yep, there he is with his red bandana!!). The day leisures away as we meander towards the Telluride MountainVillage with plans for a pizza dinner at the acclaimed "Crazy Elk" pizzeria. We'd forgotten this was the start to Fourth of July Weekend and parking is challenging. But the pizza was worth it and our evening ends gently back in town.

The big Fourth of July Parade is THE event in Telluride.
Hether has placed chairs in good spots along the main street and get all nested in as the crowds gather. First the town is buzzed by airplanes and hang gliders over main street!! The audience is nearly a fascinating as the parade: children in outrageous outfits, outlandish parade floats as well as every club in T-ride represented, including the Bearnaise Mountain Dog Club. T'was hilariously entertaining!! Then the entire town sludges-en-mass down to the Town Park for the Bar-B-Q. After eating til
ready to bust and chattering with ole' friends, I wanted to stay for the kids activities. The "Balloon Toss" was so fun but the one I really wanted to see was the "Kids Fish Catch" where kids hand catch the live fish and then release them. But t'was way later in the afternoon so I wandered back home. My stomach couldn't believe my bubbly hostess had organized a pot luck for evening and I was certain I'd pop (but didn't, in case you were worried). A day full of fond memories and being so alive in such a magnificent place!

I'd arranged to teach a Plein Air Class in Ouray at the Weehawken Creative Arts Center. We sail off early morn from T-ride to get to Ouray in time to set up. The discreet building sits along the Uncompahgre River, before you get into town. A lovey, spacious room is where my students and I collect and I take them over some plein air basics and examples. Then we move outside for a quick demo. I find the view looking into town tarnished with smoke (from New Mexico fires), and the river a milky grey from some kind of run-off. But finally, I find a charming little mining shed perched on the side of the ridge gazing northward. Ah-ha - - the subject for my demo (and here's the finished piece upon which I worked after arriving back home in Oregon). Then students set up and begin painting their chosen subjects and I pop around helping, making suggestions. The casual critique is held inside and it's impressive what everyone's accomplished. I feel like I'd like to return to teach another class should the situation present itself.
I especially love this grouping of images on my journal page. Well, I'm sure it's the sweet memories but also, I was pleased how combining several photos of the Fourth of July Parade came out. I got to savor the parts of the raucous gathering that I especially loved! Oh ... do I LOVE my journal!!!