Friday, 30 January 2009

My Classes

I am excited about these classes. For several years now I have had the knawing feeling that there was something else I needed to do, to express. I loved creating my art and that felt really right but it wasn't the whole shebang. I was getting the same message whenever I had any kind of intuitive or psychic reading. It was bugging the hell out of me.

I am teaching two classes. One is called Creativity will Change your Life and the other is an Art Journaling class. These are in-person classes in Byron Bay, Australia. If you want to know the practical details just click on the name of the class.

From the beginning, teaching Creativity will Change your Life felt fantastic. It felt so right to be sharing what I know out of my own experience. I wasn't looking at how any one else had taught ( I wasn't aware of anyone teaching something similar.) I approached the class like I approach my art, trying to express the truth and trusting my intuitive hits. Maybe that is why it was so much fun?!

I think Creativity will Change Your Life is the class I wish I could have attended when I was beginning - or even later. A class that takes you on the actual journey of creativity. It isn't about skills like how to draw or paint, it is about how to go into the actual process of creativity. It might sound a bit crazy, but I think creativity is where we access another realm. It is an unfamiliar realm for a lot of people, but not unknown. It is where we go when we dream, or meditate. Maybe other times too. It is when we visit the wild natural realm of our inner selves.
We are so much bigger than we realise.

The realm is like a huge magical forest from a fairytale where anything can happen. And we can go there. 

We knew how when we were children. We all knew how. And we can all go there now, whatever our age. We just have to be willing, and of course it is easier (and a bit less scary) with some guidance. A guide who has been there, and visits regularly. (Guess who?)

We will be using what I call an Ideas Journal in the class. But the emphasis will be on how to access our creativity rather than skills.

That is the Creativity Class. The Journaling Class is less about the actual process of creativity and more about stuff to try in playing with the creativity. Ways to bring that forest over to this realm (day to day life). We will be making art journals like I play with in this blog - using techniques I have written about -and more. 

That feels like enough. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

What has Happened to Our Creativity?

1000 Journals Trailer

I like the idea (give out 1000 journals to see what people will do with them). I would love to see the movie.
But most of all I love the question.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Polite Changes don't count Journal Page

I started and finished this page very quickly.
It was initially inspired by Misty Mawn. She does beautiful work and has an inspiring blog.
She did this wonderful drawing in her art journal with water soluble crayons. I haven't used the crayons for a picture before and wanted to give it a try so I did a version of her picture. I hope she doesn't mind. 
I don't imagine she will mind because hers looks a lot better than mine does. It is kind of embarrassing.
I did the picture all with the water soluble crayons, used a bit of water and then sealed it with acrylic matt medium. This makes it so that you can write in pen over the top. 

I will tell you something kind of funny that happened. I used my new alphabet templates ( I bought them really cheap from a dollar store) and carefully lettered in Safe Polite Changes. It seemed kind of weird to carefully letter in the next bit so I grabbed one of my permanent markers, I think they are for marking laundery, and scrawled don't count on the page.

I turned the page over and discovered that it had bled through the previous page onto a very intricate black ink drawing that I had done - which I had liked very much. So, is that some kind of warning about unsafe changes? or just make sure your pens aren't the bleeding type?

I like the quotes on these pages very much. Both I heard on radio interviews.
the Soul is here for creative purposes, for experiences, not for security

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Artistic Journey, final

In case you missed the beginning, this story begins here. Part 2 here. And part 3 is here.

I have had a really difficult time with the final of this story, which is of course my story. I have made several failed starts. I find that the closer events are in time, the more difficult it is to write about them. 

What has finally pushed me over the edge into writing the ending is Connie. Sweet Connie and her beautiful comments.

I am concerned that she won't like the final chapter.

I did finally leave the studio and set out into the larger art world. 
The last four years venturing outside the studio has been huge for me. I do not have practiced social skills. I am quite introverted and can be awkward in group situations. I don't understand the networking thing.

But I have loved getting to know other artists. I have been lucky in connecting with a few people who believe in my art. I have learned heaps. About myself, about the art world and about art. My art has improved several fold (isolation wasn't good for my growth as an artist.)

Success as an artist is much much harder than I ever would have imagined. I don't want to go into all the ins and outs of the last four years. I don't feel that I have enough wisdom or detachment to tell you what it all means. 

When I was young, my father wanted me to get an education so that I would have "something to fall back on". For many many years I judged him for that. I don't anymore. Now I think he was right.

Our culture does not value art or artists. I am not complaining, it is just how it is. 
I believe that art and creativity are vital to an individual's and even more to our culture's well being and spiritual health. Which is one of the reasons I am now teaching creativity.

I think being a full time artist is more of a vocation, like being a nun, than a career. If you want even a remotely comfortable living it might not be for you. If you can do anything else as a job and be happy, it might be a good idea. You will probably need a second job anyway.

But in spite of the small chance that I will ever be successful in the world's eyes, I am still oddly happy that I am an artist. Even if I never can make enough to live on from my art, I am strangely happy that I am too stuck in my ways now to be practical and have a "real job". I am willing to do other work to support making my art.

How can I possibly express the deep love and gratitude I feel every day that I can be creating? How can I convey how deeply I am fulfilled by this vocation? How much I believe in what I am doing? How right it feels?

And I am very happy to now share the wonder of being creative with other people. I love teaching creativity, and it takes away the pressure of trying to make a living from selling my art.

I am coming up to my third solo show, opening Feb 13th. If you want to know more go here. My website has more pictures. Click on the oil paintings.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Creativity Journal Page

These pages were a long and convoluted journey. Again, strong background colours are very limiting. You have to come up with something even stronger over the top. I don't think I have succeeded here, but it was fun trying.

I have a few new techniques for you to try.
First I started with cutting a window. You are looking at the previous page here. It is neat to have this communication going on between two sets of pages. You might need a bit more planning than usual to make it work.
It is bad, but I started these pages so long ago that I don't remember where I read about this technique. If anyone recognises it, please give me a heads up and I will add the credit.

You start with water soluble crayons and lay down the colour thickly. This wasn't thick enough, I had to go back for a second time to get the strength I wanted.  
Then go over it with a brush and water. Because the crayon is thick, you won't be able to write over the top of it unless you seal it with matt medium (just brush some over the top). I was very happy to find out about this trick as I have 'killed' a few pens trying to write over water soluble crayon.

Now, what do you put over colour like this?
I thought I would try a black line drawing. I started with the furniture and the portrait 'painting' (magazine cut-out). But it seemed too delicate. 

Then I read about 'zentangles' and thought I would try them out. It's fun. Really it is just doodling. You start with an outer shape and fill it in. Don't think about it too much.
I used my new Identi-Pen for a strong line.

The crow is a photocopy from another journal page.
I decided not to do the writing in black, cause I wanted it to fade into the background a bit.
Click on the picture to read the writing. You will be amazed by what it says.

Oh yeah, and I added some colour into the doodles.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Artistic Journey, part 3

Part 1 of this story is here. Part 2 is here.

DD was now living in a country town with the man she loved. The only school she knew of that taught the old skills of painting was back in the city she had just left. She wasn't going back.

One day DD was sitting in a local coffee shop, bored, and happened to pick up a local newspaper that  someone had left. It was a depressing paper, one she never read. In it was an article about a new art school opening up, one that would be teaching traditional painting skills!

The next three years DD spent learning how to paint and draw. At times it was very painful as she had to unlearn slick habits she had learned in graphic arts' school. But at the end of those three years, even though she still wasn't a very good artist, she had the skills to possibly get to be a good artist - with a lot lot lot of practice.

So she painted.
And painted.
And painted some more.
And some more.
Every day, all day, she painted.

She fought discouragement. She fought procrastination. She fought fear. She fought self-doubt. She never defeated any of them. 
But she learned how to persist.
And she learned how to have courage.
And she learned how to love her creations even when they disappointed her (which was often).
For eleven years she stayed in her studio and painted.

Her friends asked her when she would have a show. 
"Not yet" she said, "I am not good enough yet."

There was another hitch. DD was scared to come out of her studio.

The tale of this journey ends here.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Artistic Journey, part 2

If you missed the beginning of the story, it starts here.

After DD arrived in Australia, she needed some work so she became an artist's model. She was good at it (since she knew what an artist needed) but after a couple of years she was pining to be on the other side of the easel. 

The trouble was, DD didn't think she really was an artist. She knew that since when she was little she wanted to be an artist, and she loved being creative -but was she an artist? She doubted it. 

She decided to go to graphic arts school and become a graphic artist. DD spent two years going to evening classes and graduated with top marks. She got a job in an advertising agency. She made friends with the wrong people (being oblivious to office politics) and ended up getting fired after 8 months.

One day, at the age of 28, she asked herself the question "If I found out that I was going to die in a year, what would I regret not having done?" The answer came in a flash, unequivocal, she would regret not having painted and drawn.
DD wasn't sure what that meant, whether it meant she was an artist, but she knew she had to find out. She decided to give herself a year of painting and see what happened. Would the desire grow, or just would it just be a small excursion?

She went to adult education classes. First she took watercolour, then acrylic painting. 
One day another student, an outspoken Russian woman in her 60's, came up to her and said "What are you doing here?"
Confused, DD said "pardon?"
"You don't belong here", said the woman gruffly. "It is ridicules. Why aren't you studying at university?"
And with that, she applied at university for her post-graduate degree.

By the end of the year at Uni, even though she didn't fit in and wasn't very happy, she knew she was an artist. The seed she had planted had begun to grow.
And that was the end of her relationship with the Aussie (cause you can't be an artist and have a jealous lover.)

DD fell in love with an English man, moved to the country and began painting. 
But soon there was a hitch. Even though she had a post graduate degree in the visual arts, no one had taught her the skills of painting. She found that she couldn't paint the pictures in her heart. She didn't know how.

She needed a teacher.

this story is continued here

Monday, 19 January 2009

An Artistic Journey, part 1

Once upon a time there was a little girl named DD who loved to draw and make things. Most children love to draw and make things, and I suppose she was no different. Her and her big sister would make elaborate doll houses from cardboard boxes, and their dolls would have wild adventures going to see Vanilla the Wise (a large troll doll) up on the hilltop (coffee table).

As she grew older, her 5th grade teacher told her that she should outline everything she drew in black to make it look better. DD resented the teacher fooling around with her pictures, but she knew better than to say so.

DD got older and was asked what she wanted to do with her life. She remembered a drawing she had made when she was ten, it was of  a horse drawn cart full of easels and art supplies so that she could go around as a traveling artist.
But she was older now and knew that was a silly dream.
"I want to be a graphic artist," she answered because at least it was some kind of artist.
Her art teacher told her that all graphic artists do is stick down other people's writings and pictures. She knew she didn't want to do that, but he didn't give her any other suggestions.

DD graduated high school with good marks. Her father suggested she become an engineer, like him. She would have liked to go to art school, but compromised with a fine arts major at a liberal arts college.

Many adventures, and a few men later, she apprenticed herself to a sign writer. He wasn't a very nice fellow, but she learned to paint signs and started a small business. More adventures and DD fell in love with an Australian man and went with him to Australia.

is continued here

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Monster Journal Page

Here are a couple of journal pages that I am excited about. Why? Because they might be an indication of where I want to go next with my art journal. More drawing. 

I try to allow the direction of my creativity to move in terms of what makes me feel excited. Sometimes my head gets the better of me and says "no, you need to continue on this or that path because... some fear related reason. Some "should".
Following the excitement often involves facing some insecurity like 'it won't be very good' or 'I don't know how to do that'. 
This started just with drawing. I didn't have any idea in my head what to draw, just started with its face and continued. Then I put down a wash of watercolour in the background and some water soluble pencil on the monster and the little people. Its dress is cut out fur from a magazine photo.

These pages stayed like this for ages, maybe a month. I would just look at it and not feel any inspiration.

I think it was actually avoidance. I didn't want to jump in again. I judged the drawing as 'silly' and didn't want to continue this juvenile piece of work.
I finally pushed myself to go back to it. I drew in the tree and then the girl came in, sleeping at its roots. The last to enter was the little man feeding the snake. At this point, I was finding the drawing interesting again. 

I ripped out some sky from a magazine and glued it on the two pages. I left the words on even though I didn't know what it said.
More colour. More strengthening of darks. A dress for the young woman, cut from some pattern that I liked in a magazine.
Finally the writing. Something that had come through a while ago about how humans are able to bring things from the psychic realm into the physical realm. Pretty amazing ability that. It is,  of course, what creativity is all about.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Trust a Witch Journal Page

This one makes me laugh. I got the quote from a fantastic book that I am reading, "In the Night Garden" by Catherynne M. Valente. Highly recommended for those of you who share my fascination with fairy tales.

It is good advice for young girls. I think of it as urging them to trust in the wisdom and experience of the crones (post-menopausal women) in their life.
I began with the plastic wrap crinkle technique. Go here for an earlier post about this and other ways to create journal page backgrounds. I will definitely do this technique again, but next time I will try a gentler colour. These bright beginnings are limiting in terms of what you can put on later. The foreground has to be strong so that the background doesn't overpower it.
The writing is done mainly with letters and words cut from magazines. I did use a few alphabet stickers and old letraset letters that I had from my graphic artist days. The border was added with water-soluble crayon.
I put the white lines in to make it easier to follow the writing. I tried doing this with my white gel pen, but it was piss weak on the acrylic background. Then I remembered my new Zig Opaque Writer! Wooee! It is like using a white-out pen only better. I think it would cover anything.
Some judicious black and white pen usage for more snap and one witch's hat cut from black paper. All for one of my more graphic pages.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Tutorial on Gluing with Gel Medium

Here is a helpful tutorial by Claudine Hellmuth on what gel medium is and how to glue with it.

I use either an acid-free glue stick or matte gel medium for my gluing. The glue stick is easier in that there is no brush to clean up, but I haven't tested it for longevity. I am trying not to get too perfectionist in my journals so I am okay with that.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Quickening Art Journal Page

I didn't really want to post two black and white journal pages in a row, but these pages were the only ones in my journal finished that I hadn't already blogged. 
I have 16 double-spread pages "on the go"; meaning started but not finished. How does that feel? Good! 32 pages of possibility.
These pages started with removable masking tape and black gesso. I wrote a post on this and other methods to begin pages here
I found it a little difficult to know where to go next with such a strong black and white contrast. Next time I might do it with a softer colour to have more options.
I ripped strips in a magazine picture and fit them inbetween the grids. Now it is no longer checks.
I added a photocopy of an old photo of my mom and dad together when they were young. And some words from a computer print-out. Just what I felt moved to add, there was no thinking or logic to my choices.
My childhood photo in the bottom right was photocopied onto clear acetate. So the grid reads through the photo.
The writing is from the folk song "the Drowners"  written down in the book "the Ill-made Mute" by Cecilia Dart-Thorton.
After that, I added the silver line border. Do you think it is finished?

Once again, I didn't plan these pages. I just slapped down what I felt drawn to. And once again, I feel there was a message for me in the pages. A message about letting go of the past, that the past is not real. And that this is bringing the Quickening. Yippee!

Perhaps doing pages like this is kind of like dreaming. Dreams bring messages too.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

a Boring but Meaningful Journal Page

These are journal pages that I made after our trip to Adelaide. They are very simple, just gluing on some writings from my small moleskin journal, sketches I had made, various tickets, and bits from a zoo map.

I wanted to try out visual diarying as this is how many people use their journals. I find it interesting that people say when they only use their journals for writing it has a tendency to be a cathartic exercise, but when it becomes a visual journal it tends more towards gratitude and enjoyment. I have certainly find this to be true for me.
Perhaps this has to do with the nature of left brained verbal thinking and right brained visual stuff.