July 30, 2012

art journaling, a personal historical perspective... part 1

My Art Journaling Journey to date: A Retrospective- Part 1... (lol!!)
(photo heavy post)

This post is a bit of a 'walk down memory lane' about how I got started in art journaling. Where did this come from, you might ask? Well, I took one of my journals to work with me last week where I got some mixed reactions: a few strange looks, a few interested ones, and a couple 'hey, that's really cool!' comments. So, I thought I'd take a look back at where I came from art-wise, and how it came to be that a 43-year old woman would bring gelly roll pens to work so she could doodle during her break! Let's see if I can connect the dots (pun intended- lol!), shall we?

From a journaling sense, I've always loved notebooks and school supplies, and I think I tried keeping a diary off and on, as most adolescents do... I'd find a cool notebook, write a dorky-sounding entry or two in it, then abandon it. My grandmother kept a journal / diary as long as I could remember, and I had always found it fascinating to see what she had written; it was neat to go back and read things like the entry that said she was watching my brother and sister because my mom was at the hospital waiting to deliver my other sister!! Even with that, I never kept up with my own journaling. 

Fast forward to my mid-30s during my treatment for depression, where my counselor suggested journaling.  So I picked it up again using regular spiral notebooks. It was therapeutic, but writing in long-hand is slow, so while I was writing I would get 'out of the moment' and start to think too much about what I was writing (if you know what I mean), and it would get awkward again. After doing this for a couple years I wrote more sporadically, then finally quit altogether.

Artistically, I started out doing card-making with rubber stamps, then moved into traditional scrapbooking using photos, and dabbled in other things like making Artist Trading cards (2.5x3.5 inches) and inchies (1x1 inch pieces of artwork). After I moved to Phoenix, I realized I could attend Art Unraveled, a week-long art event that includes workshops on all sorts of things, taught by instructors from all over the country.That year (2007) I took three classes); one of them was called 'Off the Wall' and was taught by Kelly Kilmer. (little did I know that this class would basically change my life, and what I thought about journaling! and I'm being totally serious about that... lol!) 

I remember some aspects of the class quite vividly... some people brought their journals to work in, but for those of us who didn't have one, Kelly handed out large sheets of paper to work on (like, 20x30 inches large). I remember being scared to death of that paper!!! seriously! LOL! I had never worked on anything larger than a 4.25 x 5.5 inch card, or at the most, a 12x12 scrapbook page! She suggested tearing it into smaller pieces and starting with that. (I was concerned that since I didn't have a paper cutter, it wouldn't be straight-- LOL again: I needed some loosening up, didn't I?!?) 

Anyway, this is one of the pages I made in that class: the techniques taught (I think) were how the paint fades from dark to light across the page, and the placement of the collage elements that draw your eye across the page. I like this page alot since it's one of my first efforts, and I have it hanging up in my craft room.

This page is another reminder of one of the other things I remember very vividly about that first class: it's collaged paper, paint, rubber stamps, and other things that create layers, texture, and interest on the page. I remember my overwhelming feeling about starting it was, "what am I supposed to do?" and "what if I do it wrong?" Of course, there is no 'wrong' in any of this process, and you can do anything you want to do, but that's something I (being a perfectionist from way back) hadn't learned yet! This page also stays in my craft room, to remind me of those things.

graffiti-style journal #1
I liked what I did in that class, so when Kelly came to Scottsdale in the fall to teach classes at a local store (Frenzy Stamper), I went back for more. This time, we worked with paint, stenciling, mark-making, and book-making to make two small pamphlet stitched books. Again, these were all things that were very foreign to me at the time, but I was starting to learn that I liked getting messy with paper, paint and glue!! 

graffiti-style journal #2

After that I decided to start my own journal. And no, I didn't use the ones I made in the class; I think I didn't want to 'mess them up' or something... just one of those hang-ups I still had about perfection! Instead, I used a 99-cent composition notebook. Cheap, yes- but in retrospect, I really wouldn't recommend it, especially not for someone just starting out. The pages are extremely thin and because of that they don't take paint well- the paper gets really wet and can warp or even rip. (I was sometimes frustrated that I couldn't get the pages to look as good as I wanted them to, and now I realize that a large part of that was due to the paper.)

Here are the first completed pages in my composition book journal-- they turned out very 'scrapbook-ish' looking in my opinion. At this point, I still hadn't worked out my art journaling style. Plus, pretty much the only supplies I had at that point were acrylic paint, a few metallic pens, and Sharpie markers. (While Sharpie markers have their place, I've found that there are so many fun supplies out there to use, lol!) The other things that's 'scrapbook-ish' about these pages is that the writing is very much 'who, what, where, when' type of writing, much like the matter-of-fact journaling I do on my scrapbook pages. I had to work my way into writing on these pages like I had done in my earlier, written journals.

for me, art journaling sort of encompasses the best of written journaling, but better-- when I get into the flow of a page, making the art on the page (backgrounds, collaged paper, pen detailing, etc) is similar to meditation. 

Some pages are more about the words, like this one:

Some pages are purely about getting emotions onto the page, like this one made earlier this spring after I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer: 
To me, there aren't any words needed on this page: the colors, shapes, and feeling of this page captured what I needed it to when I made it.

Some pages have plenty of meditative penwork and doodled details like the details on this one:

Some pages are purely about cutting and gluing pieces of paper (meditative, again) to other pieces of paper, like this one:

 Remember what it was like in kindergarten to use the scissors, paste, and crayons? Who said we have to give that up when we 'grow up,' anyway?? Not me! For me, art journaling isn't about 'making pretty pages' at all (although sometimes they may turn out that way, that's not my goal); it's about using the art as a way to get out my emotions and document my thoughts and emotions in a visual way. (plus, why should school kids get to use all the fun supplies, anyway?!? haha!!)

if you made it this far, thanks for reading the entire thing! I recently realized just how many journals I actually have, so I think they deserve a post of their own, which will be Part 2-- coming soon to a blog near you.   :D


Desert Mermaid said...

I took a class with Kelly in Feb. of 2008 ... and yea, it blew my journaling brain open! I love your pages!

Mare said...

Loved this post and LOVE your work. Happy Weekend my friend...