My blog has been languishing again. Lately it seems like there isn't enough time in the day to make art, much less to blog about it. I've got a four day weekend going right now and I'm going to get about one day in the studio. I made this journal spread a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd finally post the photo. This was an attempt at making the left hand page, which I had painted with some leftover pink paint, match with the right hand page, which had some collaged tissue paper that had been sprayed with Glimmer Mist and some blue and pink watercolor. I've been doing a lot of work with Medieval elements lately. This whole spread incorporates leftover bits and pieces from other projects. The Medieval tile design on the left is a t-shirt transfer and the woman on the right is from images I took from a book of hours when I was collaging the front of another art journal. Lots of small bits of paper collaged down in between too! Nothing fancy happening here but I like the result!
This journal page began with an ink blot. Okay, that actually traveled over here when I was experimenting on another page. I don't let it bother me. These pages had been gessoed at some earlier time and scribbled into with a stylus. Ignoring the ink blot, I began by making a grid of warm, analogous colors with my Inktense blocks and a water brush. Inktense blocks seem to work better on a gessoed page, but nonetheless, this came out looking horrible. Out came the red paint and glazing medium and I covered both pages. When that was almost dry I spritzed the pages with a little water, let it sit a minute, and then blotted with a paper towel. This is so easy and I just love the effect. Then I cut up one of the papers I had made while playing with my Gelli Arts printing plate and collaged the green elements down. Deli paper works so well for collage! After that I made a stamp using cut up pieces of fun foam that I glued to a stiff cardboard base with gel medium. I used gold acrylic paint with the stamp. I'm not sure this is done, but since I haven't decided what to do next I thought I'd at least post this much as an example of using my printing experiments for collage in my art journal.
These journal pages reflect what was going on in my head the day I sat down to play. This journal is getting pretty full! I've had to take out a lot of pages because it is already bursting at the seams. One thing I'm really enjoying is the spontaneous color combinations that are happening on my pages. Lime green and blue together are so yummy! The page on the left has a little window that opens onto another page, but there isn't anything to see through it yet. These two pages were started by laying down color with Derwent Inktense Blocks in several colors of blue and some lime green. I'm struggling to get results I like with the blocks, especially on un-gessoed paper. You can see how the scribble marks from the blocks did not blend out when I added water. It is nearly impossible to work on a totally flat page in an art journal so laying down the color smoothly is difficult. If the page has been gessoed first the color smooths out much better. (is "smooths" really a word? Say it out loud, sounds funny. Smooooooths....). I sprayed some Glimmer Mist through plastic canvas over the top. Nothing fancy happening here but but I rather like the results.
The quote I pasted into my journal is by Thomas Moore from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life , and it reads:
"I don't share many of my colleagues enthusiasm for wholeness. I like fragments and pieces, innuendos and suggestion. I expect never to feel like a whole person, because I'm so aware of the fragmented nature of many of my emotions, the plans I have for my life, the elements of character that are never fully present or rounded off. in the same way, I like to see sculptures of a goddess with no head or arms, or just a piece of torso. Temple ruins and the remains of a civilization make much more sense in pieces than if we were to come across a ghost town intact expect for the human citizenry.
Decay, corruption, falling apart, memory, traces of the past -- these are all aspects of life that are with us every day. They may hint at failure, ignorance, or some other imperfection, but they are a significant dimension of all kinds of life, including our own interior experience."
This morning I had decided that I would write something about my own inner search for depth and meaning in my art. I have several photos of journal pages that I wanted to share here and I randomly decided to post this one. When I looked at it closely and read the quote, which I had quite forgotten, it seemed amazingly serendipitous.
After several years of making art I have hit a point where I want to go deeper. At this point I don't know quite what that means but I am searching for answers. Part of this process has been analyzing what kind of art I love, what I'm drawn to, what makes me quiver inside. I have realized that I like fragments, bits and pieces that don't really go together in a logical way, but when put together in the same space by an artist develop some kind of synergy. I like the look or torn paper, fraying fabric, and multiple layers. Art that has some kind of mystery about it delights me. I think I love abstraction precisely because I don't know what it means.
It had not occurred to me before re-reading this quote, that the reason I am drawn to fragments, chaos, and complexity, is because that is so often my own internal landscape. Before I begin to sound like I need to be committed I will also state that I am also drawn to bright colors, and beauty. So now I have a better understanding of what I like and why. The tricky part is how to pursue these revelations as I make art.
When I am working on art projects I often have paint or ink that I don't want to waste so I will open my art journal and use it on a random page. This affords me the opportunity to see if I can marry the facing pages to one another. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but often I can find a way to carry the colors or themes across both pages. Reading Randel Plowman 's book "The Collage Workbook" inspired me to try making a word collage. How wonderful to find that I had words in my collection in the colors from the facing page. This color scheme happened by accident. The right hand page had been gessoed, and one day I added the aqua/turquoise paint. Another day I was testing out two handmade stamps I had created with fun foam, so I stamped the violet paint onto the page. Yet another day I was using my new Adirondack inks on something and "stamped" the wet stencil onto the same page. All very random, and yet it ended up yielding a color combo I probably would not have thought of but I really like.
I often wonder what my art journal is for. I play around, try new materials or techniques etc. but when I am working in the journal I often wonder if I am wasting my time. I make "pretty" pictures and imitate other artists. I'd like to see my journal leading me toward the development of bigger more finished/polished art pieces, but so far that hasn't happened. I suppose at the moment my art journal just serves as a place to work in that creative mental state. So much about practicing art is a matter of faith. I have to have faith that the practice moments, the moments that don't lead to a fully formed art project, are just as valid and important as working on something more concrete. When you are an artist that works full time at a non creative day job, it is easy to feel like your precious and rare art time is wasted if you are not working on a "real" project. Just screwing around feels like wasted time. I have to have faith that all this screwing around is teaching me something even if I don't realize that I am learning.