Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Take that Mr.Prufrock!

This may be my favorite art journal page from this month, and it comes from a very unlikely source. This semester in A.P. English, my daughter Clara studied the poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. I helped her analyze and understand the poem and one line stuck with me, the saddest line in the poem to me - "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me." 
As this page came together, I thought about the poem and the mermaids. And I changed the journaling to read: "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. And I know they will sing to you." It is, not surprisingly, a message to my teenage daughter. 
As my month long revisit of art journaling comes to an end, I hope that I continue to hear the mermaids singing to me. And I hope that they sing to you. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Sunny Weekend of Racing

How was your weekend? Mine was spent in the lovely southern California town of Santa Barbara with Clara's track team. I watched my beautiful girl run through a great deal of pain in her hip.
To help her two relay teams - the 4x800 meters and the distance medley (girls run 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m) - win medals! 
It was a very fun weekend. And now on Monday, we're off to have that hip looked at. . . . because we're hoping for a lot more running this spring!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Happy Heart (art journaling, tutorial link and RAK thanks)

Recently, I received a wonderful RAK from Andria of the Drawing Near blog. She sent me a wonderful little mini-book stuffed with ephemera. You can read her tutorial for how to make one at this link. It provided the perfect elements for a happy mixed media art journal page about how happy I was to have my son Henry home for a few days for his mid-term break. I hope you enjoy the page and get a chance to go visit Andria's blog - it's a good one!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

On my block this week (art journaling)

I'm continuing to play with a type of art journaling where I draw and paint groups of simple subjects, each of which represents one of the things on my mind at that moment. Recently, I've done a clothesline, a plant with many leaves, and a swarm of butterflies. For my page today, I drew a variety of buildings each of which represents all the things on my "to do" list and called the page "On my block this week." I really like this type of art journaling and will surely create many more clotheslines, plants and neighborhoods. I'm also trying to come up with other groupings that might work - simple objects that I can sketch, paint and decorate. I'm thinking of a flag pole or line of bunting and a group of postcards in my mailbox. But I'm looking for more ideas. Got any to suggest?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Peek Inside My Art Journal

"I would rather. . . "
Just a simple art journal page today describing the choices I want to make.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Photo Pairs: Diagonal Lighting (Be Still 52)

Circle of Life
Waiting for a Light
This week's assignment in Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 still life photography class was to experiment with diagonal lighting. I'm not sure I ever understood the lesson exactly because as I moved around, the light was no longer coming in on a diagonal (and the lesson encouraged us to move around). The lesson also involved photographing a spoon, but I got reflections in the spoon which I found distracting. So I moved on to other objects.
But, at the end of the shoot and my post-editing session, I ended up with these two photographs which I like a lot. Plus, I'm really excited to take more shots with Henry's baby rattle (which I discovered in the silver drawer when I was looking for a spoon). So, it's all good!
I'm sharing these as part of Helena's photo pairs meme. I'll let you title the connection.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Art Journaling on a Large Scale

"Throw me to the wolves"
One of my art journals is an old road atlas. It is BIG, and it has taken me a while to figure out how to best create on this larger scale. For this page, I used a really large image and one of my favorite affirmations.
Advice at 50
And for this page, I followed the underlying grid of the atlas to create different cells full of advice to myself at 50. It has been fun to create art journal pages on different scales.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Art Journaling: Finding my Groove

"Our Time Together"
"My Garden of Life"
Most of the way through my month-long exploration of art journaling and what it means to me, I think I have hit my stride and found my style. . . well, actually, two styles. 
I love mixed media collage style art journaling for the way it allows me to play with my supplies and work out my feelings (like in the top page, which I made shortly after hearing that Paul had received good news on his most recent cancer check-up). 
I also really like pages where I make simple drawings that can be used as the backdrop for lists about things percolating in my head (like the second page where each leaf details one of the ingredients to success in my life).
There's still one area I want to explore: faces. I really appreciated everyone's feedback to my post with some initial thoughts about art journaling. My main take away from reading those is that I want my art journals to be fun and not hard work. When I look at pages where I try to incorporate more involved drawing in my art journals, they seem tortured and I realize they were not very fun to create (even if I did feel some accomplishment in their completion). I'm still on the fence about faces. I really want to draw faces in my art journals, and I want to get to the point where they are fun and easy. I feel like I can get there, but I still need practice which might be more work than fun. So, I will delve into faces a bit more between now and the end of the month. But I will also be creating pages in these two styles which feel really right to me just now.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2012: Scrapbooking a Tough Year

Let's be honest. My 2012 sucked. Even before Paul was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma while we were half way around the world, our daughter Clara had decided it would be the year she would test her independence and our limits. So, there were fewer happy family photos from the start of the year. Off we went to Ireland, and I did take a bunch of photos of our trip there. Then it was off to Barcelona and one of the worst days of my life (sitting on the curb in the ambulance bay, crying because I had just put my two teenagers on an international flight alone, hoping they would make it home, and praying because Paul was starting chemotherapy upstairs with doctors who didn't speak the same language I did). Sigh. I did wander about Barcelona a bit, taking photos to pass the time in-between visiting hours at the hospital. Three weeks later we flew home. Photographs from the rest of the year were few and far between; somehow I just couldn't take many photos of my poor bald, eyebrow-less husband. 
So, from a scrapbooking perspective, at the end of 2012, I had photos for about a dozen layouts for a family album, a bunch of travel photos of Ireland, and some photos from Barcelona which were rife with memories of a very, very tough time in my life.  The photos sat for quite a while. In 2013, I did make a nice photo book of our Ireland photos (you can read about it here). And recently, I made a photo book of the Barcelona photos (8x8 soft cover from Shutterfly) and completed 12 layouts with my 2012 photos.
On the whole, I got through the journaling by keeping it very neutral and objective. The cover page reads "In the summer of 2012, we planned a week long trip to Barcelona, Spain after I taught a summer class in Dublin, Ireland. Our plans changed quickly when Paul got sick and was hospitalized. The children went home early. I still captured some of the sights of this amazing city."  I have two pages of photos of the Plaza Espana; one with the kids and one with just scenery. On the first I journaled, "The kids enjoyed Barcelona before they left. They enjoyed eating outside; shopping; sleeping and eating late; and the warm air." On the second page, I wrote "After Paul went into the hospital and the kids left, I rented a room at a hotel just off the Plaza Espana. The room was very small but relatively inexpensive with a great location." Most other entries don't mention the unusual circumstances of the trip.
In the scrapbook, the only mention I make of Paul's illness is in the Christmas layout where I say how happy we were that he was home instead of in the hospital for the holiday.
I'm glad that year is behind us. I'm glad that scrapbooking task is behind me. 
And I'm really glad to report that Paul's cancer has now been in remission for two years! He finished chemotherapy about a year ago, and the Doctor still does a "Pet Scan" every six months or so. He had one this week, and it turned out all clear. I'm not sure they will ever say he is cured or stop doing semi-annual checks, but for now, I will wallow in this good news. 
And keep taking photographs.
Because 2015 is a much happier year to scrap.

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Love Yourself": Mixed Media Collage Art Journaling

When I first start art journaling, this is the style I used. 
Step 1: Acrylic paint background with texture and ephemera.
Step 2: Focal point image
Step 3: Embellishments and finishing top texture.
After all these years, it is still one of my favorite styles.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blog Dialog with Deb: Affirmations

Deb of Paper Turtle also asked an interesting question - what affirmations, if any, do you post for yourself? For me, I collect affirmations from Facebook and keep them on my phone in the photos section. Here are a few of my favorites:
What about you? Do you have any affirmations? Where do you display them?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Photo Pair at the Track Meet

Helena hosts a weekly photography meme asking people to share a pair of photographs that are related in some way. I call this action pair "Battle . . . Won."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blog Dialog with Sian: Your Old but Useful Creations

Sian, from over at From High in the Sky, recently asked "What's the oldest thing you made that has been in continuous use?" I thought about this and came up with two possible answers. The first is this trivet that I made in middle school when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I was one of the few girls in wood shop back in the early 1970's, and I was quite proud of this creation. My mom gave it to me sometime after I got married (30 years ago), and it's been in my cupboard and in my kitchen used off and on). The other option is a Christmas ornament that I made when I was five years old - it's the red construction paper Santa star in the upper right quadrant of this layout:
It has either been on my parents' tree or my tree since 1966. 
What about you? What's the oldest thing you made that has been in continuous use?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Me on Monday

Wintertime Photo Hunt Item #15: Bunting
What kind of a weekend was it?
 It was a first track meet of the season, with lots of fun races and team-bonding weekend.
Item #6 Winter Weather (really, this is what our winter has been like)
A BBQ with friends enjoying our "winter weather" weekend.
An Aria still recovering, volunteering at Guide dogs and end of my mid-semester break kind of weekend. 
Followed with back to work tomorrow.
How was your weekend? Check out Sian's blog From High in the Sky to see who else is waving hi on Monday.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On Soaring (Acrylic Paint and Texture art journaling)

When I first started mixed media collage, I worked almost exclusively in acylic paint and created a lot of texure using various acrylic mediums (gesso, gel medium, bead gel, etc.). When I moved to art journaling, it felt very natural to incorporate this style into my art journaling. This page features butterflies stamped in gesso using foam stamps and then painted with acrylic paint. The journaling is a sweet little letter to my daughter. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

5 Things I am Tending (Sketch and Watercolor Art Journaling)

Once upon a time, I took an on-line class with Junelle Jacobsen. Her style of art journaling features sketching, water coloring, doodling and paper piecing. I enjoyed it a lot and wanted to give the style a try as I return to a focus on art journaling. When I took the class, I made several clothes line pages and that seemed like a good starting point. I journaled first - describing five things I was tending in my life that day. And then I sketched a clothes line with clothes and objects to represent these things. I sketched using the stabilo all pencil and then added water colors. I'm very happy with how it turned out!
I also took a little bit of time to finish this page:
I had sketched it out during Junelle's class but never completed the painting or journaling. It was very relaxing and fun to do. I can definitely see myself continuing with this style of art journaling.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Grow Kindness (Dry Art Journaling)

Over the years, I have studied and experimented and played with a lot of different styles in my art journals, using all kinds of different supplies. Early on, most of the images I used were stamps or purchased images. But I wanted to move to pages that contained my work exclusively (or almost exclusively). So, I created a lot of collage sheets with my photography and personal ephemera to use on my pages. I also thought I had to learn to sketch, draw and paint. One style of art journaling I have studied is called "dry art journaling" because it doesn't involve paint or other art mediums. I do like those types of pages so I wanted to try at least one this month. This one, called "Grow Kindness," includes a focal photograph I took, a heritage photo of my mom, Hungarian postage stamps from my travels and assorted papers. I think it satisfies my desire to have my art journal pages be authentically my own, even if I don't draw and paint on them. I'm also wondering whether my desire to have authentic authorship of the pages is something that I want to hold on to or let go of. I hope to figure that out this month.
Edited to add: The dry art journaling class was taught by Kelly Kilmer.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Some Thoughts on Art Journaling

This month, as part of my year-long exploration of creativity and move to selfhood, I'm focusing on art journaling. I have over a dozen complete art journals - some focused on a theme, created as part of a class, but most with pages about whatever I felt moved to create on that particular day. I have about half-a-dozen incomplete journals. In many of those, I have some backgrounds and half-done pages. As I start to re-immerse myself back into art journaling, I find myself making fresh pages and working on existing backgrounds and completing half-done pages.
I like to use Strathmore Watercolor 140 pound cold press spiral bound paper pads for my art journals - I have them in lots of sizes (9x12 is my "go-to", but I also like working in the 11x15 when I want to work larger, and I also enjoy the 6x9 size). I also have two 6x8.5 artist books with cotton rag paper and a huge road atlas that I'm working in, as well as a few sketch pads that double as art journals. 
My initial thought about art journaling is that it's different than scrapbooking because I don't have a set project that I'm trying to organize and accomplish. Instead, I am simply . . . playing. I'm creating and seeing where the process takes me. Once again, I am really happy that I have a small art store in my studio and have everything I need to happily create art journal pages. Right now, I'm finding that my subject matter is very introspective (thinking about who I am, how I got there, and where I am going). I'm interested to see where else my art journaling takes me this month.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scrapbooking Pairs: Half and Whole

I'm still enjoying scrapbooking. In fact, this week I did all my layouts for 2012. It was relatively easy because I only had photographs for 12 layouts total and most of them were very simple (plus I used several premade, empty layouts form my bin). One of my favorite layouts was made using Amanda's March Scraplift Challenge, which features uneven quadrants. Here's what she did:
My version is up top. It's all about Clara playing basketball her freshman year in high school. I made a companion page, and here's the two page layout:
I'm also linking up to Helena's Photo Pairs meme, calling this one Half and Whole. Back tomorrow with some more art journaling.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1 photo, 20 words: Language of Flowers

A surprise gift and lovely book tie-in at book group.
In the Victorian language of flowers, freesias symbolize everlasting friendship. 
Linking up with Abi at Creating Paper Dreams who challenges bloggers to tell the story of one photograph in just 20 words.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Me on Monday: A weekend check-in

What kind of weekend was it?
It was a:
-watching Clara and her team mates run in an intrasquad, practice track meet (and capturing item #7 someone dressed for the season for the winter photography scavenger hunt - Clara's dressed for the track season in her uniform!)
-art journaling 
-travel plan making (Clara and I will go visit Eastern Kentucky University in a few weeks; plus, Henry's coming home for break a week from Thursday) kind of weekend.
It was also a:
-Friday night date night (love that phrase stolen from Deb Turtle) with Paul at one of our favorite local restaurants
-Paul assembling the new grill, so we have to have people over for a BBQ
-load after load of laundry
-list making for things to do during my mid-term break this week kind of weekend.
But mostly it was a:
-Hanging out with Aria, trying to keep her calm and rested, as she recovers from major surgery for a torn ACL ((poor thing will be confined, with the cone of shame, for about ten days total; and then still have limited activity for many more weeks) kind of weekend.
How was your weekend?
Sian of From High in the Sky gathers folks who are waving hi and blogging about "me on Monday." You can check it out here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some final thoughts on scrapbooking

During February, I focused my creative energy on scrapbooking. During the month, I've been sharing my thoughts and layouts on my blog (you can see them by clicking on this link). Before I turn my attention and blog space more fully to art journaling (my focus for March), I wanted to share a few final thoughts:
1. I really enjoy paper scrapbooking. I have a lot of albums (the book shelf above has two shelves of 12x12 scrapbooks, plus a couple 12x15 scrapbooks and a variety of other, smaller sizes tucked into the top shelf. I have about 10 more 12x12 albums and a dozen or so other, smaller albums on other shelves throughout the house. I make annual, chronological family albums (I'm "caught up" through 2011); albums for trips; birthday albums for the kids; school days and sports albums for the kids; December Daily/Christmas/JYC style albums every few years; and the occasional week/day in the life album. I like this organizational style and am committed to staying with it through next year (2016) when Clara graduates from high school. 
2. I like making photo books but not digitial scrapbooking. During this scrapbooking flurry, I made five photo books at shutterfly (three for Clara's running seasons; one for Clara's volunteer work with animals; and one from our 2012 trip to Barcelona). For each of them, I used the "simple path" version of the photo books. Basically select background (I went very basic - subtle black/white texture for track; themed for travel and animals); select photos; push a button and let shutterfly place the photos for you in chronological order; lightly rearrange photos to better tell your story and highlight the correct photos; add journaling; call it done. For my Barcelona book, I considered using their more advanced software or making a photobook at Mixbook with a variety of digital elements. I tried a few pages and decided it just wasn't for me. I am blown away by the digital pages that people make, especially now that I've tried my hand at it a little bit. But, that's just not a creative path I intend to follow. 
3. I love the fact that I basically have a small scrapbook store in my craft room and that I don't have to buy anything to make pages that I love. Also love the fact that I organized everything last year, so I could find things quickly and easily.
4. I love the stories that my layouts tell. On the left is the simple page for Clara's 15th birthday for her birthday album. When I discussed this album, here, I shared the page from her 14th birthday and mentioned that at the time "Clara was in a particularly difficult stage." And then I see her, at 15, running the half-marathon and raising money for the leukemia and lymphoma society and I say a prayer of thanks for how far she came in that year, and I appreciate that it is the scrapbook that marks that progress and tells that story.
5. Photo management/organization is a major task, especially if it gets too far out of date. I think I mentioned I had 2500 photos on my photo roll on my iphone. Huge mistake. It took hours to download, order, organize and delete them. The photos from my DSLR on my computer were easier to deal with, but still a bit of a pain. The box on the right hand side of the photo has what I believe to be all my photographs now printed out, organized by year and event and ready to be scrapped. Note to self: use your big camera more, and don't let things get so out of hand!
6. Not all albums have a natural ending point, and it's a little hard for me to live with that ambiguity.  I had assumed that Henry's sports album would end at the end of high school. Now that he's played a couple of years of Club Soccer at University of Oregon, I wanted to include that experience as well. Luckily, I was able to pull a few team photographs (like this one taken at the national tournament) off their facebook page. His sports album is a three ring binder type album, and it will be easy to add photos.When making Clara's Volunteering with Animals photobook, I realized that I would probably take more photos of her volunteering at Guide Dogs for the Blind, but that it was okay to make the book with the photos that I have now. The book covers two years of her experiences there and at the Peninsula Humane Society. It tells a story, even if it isn't her whole story. I guess that's why I like chronological albums and trip albums. I can gather everything and tell a story from beginning to end.
7. I enjoy all the various parts of scrapbooking (taking the photos, editing the photos, organizing them into events, choosing the appropriate paper and embellishments to go with each event, and the actual assembly). Right now, with all those photos printed and sorted, I hope to grab some time this week to do some scrapping. I'll definitely keep doing this, even as I focus on art journaling in March.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Yeah, I still love art journaling!

Each month this year, I plan to focus on a different aspect of my creative pursuits to find out where each one fits in my life. In February, I focused on scrapbooking and had a great time accomplishing a ton. For March, I set my intention to focus on art journaling. But, at the beginning of the week, I wasn't really feeling it. I had three photo books I wanted to finish before the sale ended at Shutterfly on March 4th, and I had a huge photo order I received that I organized and then wanted to start scrapping. But, this morning, I set aside those feelings and decided to turn to art journaling.
I started by thumbing through my stack of art journals (complete and in progress) and looking at an art journaling book I received for Christmas. I pulled out some new supplies wanted to use(water color crayons and washi tape) and gathered some images.
And then I began to play! I had so much fun creating these pages. The first one I made from scratch, using the crayons to create the background and then adding layers with lots of my favorite supplies to make something like a bulletin board or graffiti wall. The second two were completed on existing backgrounds. I' really looking forward to playing in my art journals this month!