Friday, May 31, 2013

Why The Need Art Journal Page

When I turned to these two pages I had no insight as to how I would tie them together. They were on my pile of 'least favorites' for this book, so I wasn't emotionally attached to any part of them like I am with a few other pages. To help my gut make a call, I rotated the image a few times and then decided to land on the structural lines in the hallway and a few figures on the right. It also helped that the three main focal points which you see in the finished page were sitting on my desk in eye shot....calling my name. 

First thing I did was decide where the three faces would go, then, ever so slowly I began to sense a message in these two pages. What dialogue were they having? Was it in relation to one another, to their surroundings, or to other people. It gave a an idea, or more so a recollection of conversations that are all to familiar in our day and time....those of comparison. 

As I painted, marked, glued, and penned, I began to wonder why we are so critical of ourselves and one another. What is it within our species that triggers a need to compare the differences rather than the commonalities? Why do we make fun of or gossip and call it humor? Why don't we instinctively see people and notice the beauty, the potential, the good in them? I considered these questions in light of my own actions, as I am a participant in this folly as the next person, which makes my heart twinge.

The answers to these questions are not the point of the page, as I believe they will be different for every person. The point was to bring awareness in my own spirit the consideration of why, at times, I don't follow my inner voice when it screams "Ardith, this isn't the best way to think or talk about people." If you know me, you know I am not one who makes these types of comparisons often and work hard at being compassionate, but I do digress, I am human, and I simply paused today to consider why. 

I like the page. The juxtaposition of the figure in black along with the stone figures from long ago were unique to consider this subject. Art Journaling can help us heal, I believe it can also be a vessel for awareness, and awareness is the first requirement for a ticket of change. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hannah Hoch and Mixed Media May Art Journal Page

This book has a surprise on pretty much every page it seems and when I turned to the pages showcasing Hausmann and Hannah Hoch it did not disappoint. Although the bio was a bit short on both, it gave me enough intrigue to seek out her history and I came to realize that she and Hausmann were both some of the beginning pioneers in the art of photomontage, which is a type of collage that I adore. 

Their history wasn't the impetus for this page, the gathering of strong women was. This morning, our bible study group had its year end luncheon and as I sat there looking at all the women, listening to their stories of grace, of survival, of faith, and of connection, I realized rather quickly how blessed I was to be connected with such a strong, loving group of women....and I couldn't wait to sketch the moment as to hold it in my memory with much regard. 

Graphite Sketch

As I sketched, I read the paragraph about Hannah that explained how she lived in an enchanted cottage, surrounded by vegetation, fruit trees, periodicals from the 20''s, and various and many types of ephemera, almost as a record keeper of sorts, and I felt an instant connection with her. She was much more than that, was a woman who had strong convictions in the feminist movement and disregarded societies concept of beauty a great deal. It was those traits that I found the sisterhood with her, her strength, her boldness of creativity, her determination to not follow the status quo, and her love of collage.

Black lined it with marker

As my own art journal page progressed I gave a lot of thought to the connection we women have and found that it is probably one of the most important things we share with one another. My heart also goes out to those women who aren't blessed with a group of at least one or two really deep friends, or who were not raised by strong, loving women. This makes life a much more lonely walk, not impossible, but one where the lack of support is noticed at times.

Added a wash and collage element

 I enjoyed this page, learning about these two Dadaist's and most of all, making a visual record of a connection and memory that is sacred to me. Art journaling is far more than drawing and painting, it is visual form of record keeping that moves the reader, or creator, past the point of ordinary into extraordinary living. I am blessed to know it.

Added watercolors, acrylics, ink, collage, tape transfer, and neon paint pens.

As excited as I am about this page, I am over the moon, glowing with pride, and pleased as punch to let you know I was showcased on the Mixed Media May website today! For the month of May a different mixed media artist is showcased and I was interviewed. It felt great seeing my words, ideas, and way of life on a page with so many accomplished artists and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my process with you all. It's a great place to find new artists to follow as well, check it out! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's All In How You Look At It Art Journal Page

This turned out to be the weirdest page ever, hahaha. My intent was to showcase an ambiguous figure at our table in the backyard serving fruit and I chose to use one set of my pages that had color fields for backgrounds. The sketch started out with water soluble graphite 6B, which I didn't mind, but as it dried, the images seemed pale, which was frustrating. I also had to deal with the spine of this book, so I opted to use it as a tree that we have along the fence line and place it in the foreground. 

I continued to sketch objects, the fence, the hanging swing, the foliage, but the more I tinkered with the color, the muddier it got and the more I hated it. Two instances I actually placed Titanium White directly on the page to block out the background, it was bad, and then I decided to slam the book shut and let the wet paint just merge. 

Wish I would have snapped a shot of that epic muddy mess, but unexpectedly, the moment came where I knew what to do and I forgot to grab the camera. Rather than just start over, I began scrubbing this page...and I mean scrubbing. Pages in this journal are 140lb. watercolor paper so I wasn't afraid of messing the paper up, I just sprayed water, scrubbed, sprayed water and scrubbed. What this did was give the background an aged look, still a bit muddy, but I liked it. The marks in the paint stood out, the text came through, and as I was heading to blow it dry, my eye caught a glimpse of what this page looked like turned another direction. 

Yep, the diving platform was right there and I had just so happened to sketch several from my trips to the pool, so I felt this part of backyard living or embracing the summer was calling out to me. The pool was there, the post, it just seemed to fall into place. I sketched back over it all, added the diver, added the large text which I love, and then glazed transparent Golden Fluids to alter the colors. What is totally weird about it, even though I am done, is that when it is turned back the first way, I still see the backyard, the chair, the fence, and it's as if a window is hanging offering a view from the deck. Go figure. 

I learned a lot with this journal page:
1. Giving up and starting over is not always the best through the mud.
2. Turning a page is often a saving grace. 
3. The spine of a book is a pain in the butt in some cases, opt for a sewn book or work around it. 
4. Water soluble graphite does not mark well on glossy acrylic, opt for cheaper, flat paint. 

Last night I played around with a limited set of black Sharpie, 4 Neon paint pens, and my journal with blue painters tape. Now this process, I loved, but I was used to painting on a dark background so that didn't scare me one bit. The perspective was easier to grab hold of and the neon on the tape made this piece have a glow in the dark illusion to it. I may try some pages with black paint. I most likely wont use the painters tape again because as the brilliant Juliana Coles pointed out, it does not always stick well to paper. Duh...totally forgot that. 

Regardless, I am a firm believer that if you wish to become a better painter, you MUST sketch every day and/or work in an art journal. It gives you the freedom to try new things, improves your skill set, and teaches you what doesn't work before you head for your canvas. Go out and sketch....the toilet, sketch something, ;) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Journaling, Workshops, and Sketching, Oh My!

Well, there are days and then.....there are days. If you know me personally, then most likely you know some hint of my medical journey, my miraculous medical journey. One day I will write it out, the craziness of it, the unexpected miracles along the way, but for today, I just chose to spend some time journaling about it, or at least about the spine. 

The amount of x-rays I have filed on my computer would convince someone that I was studying to become a Radiologist of some sort. I 'collected' my own, used them when I taught Science, and have a folder of them on my FB page so that home school friends can show their kids what fusions, joint replacements, and screws look like. I even have a plan that when this body decides to kick the bucket, it will go to a local med school so I can leave the world teaching. 

This morning, after choosing the next page in my book, which just so happens to be a chapel, I decided to sketch two versions of my spine, the lumbar and cervical, but not anatomically correct. I basically wanted to get a combination of the screws and plates combined with the hips and brain, but in a really loose, Sharpie sketch process. I then decided to write out some thoughts on living with chronic pain and my journey of kicking 14 meds a day down to one. Life today looks nothing like it did 5 years ago. Yes, there is always pain, but I have come to understand it now, not fight it, and that has allowed me to create, share, teach, and go places I truly never thought I could go again. Oh, and to the doctor who said once upon a are looking at paralysis in both legs....boooyah. I know they have to tell us worst case scenarios but really, tell us with less excitement next time.

Next step, after ghosting the text with gesso, I began to sketch other figures, float in some transparent colors with Golden Fluids, and used my new, neon paint pens to highlight and isolate the screws/pins. I then collaged a few pieces on top, added some more juicy tidbits, and let the page rest. I am considering creating an entire series using my own spinal anatomy, we will see. 

As part of Juliana Coles 'Field Notes' workshop, we are sketching the world around us every day. I have incorporated the sketch practice as part of my daily pages, and am finding that it is transforming my artistic style by leaps and bounds. I doubt I would have pushed myself to sketch as often if it were not for this workshop so I am totally loving the impact it is having on me! These are a few 5-10min sketches I have done with my mini travel kit that stays in my purse. It makes riding in the car or sitting in waiting rooms the perfect time to sketch. 

Yesterday I was able to go and teach a fantastic  torn paper collage workshop in Ocean Springs at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Arts Center. It was lovely, the students were eager, pushed their comfort zones a bit to loosen up, and I do believe everyone was thrilled with their works when they headed out. This type of workshop does my heart good. We talk tips, shortcuts, impact, intent, and products, all within the context of having fun, slinging paint, spreading glue, and ripping paper. What could be more fun? 

I will be teaching other workshops at the Mary C. as well as in Mobile this summer and fall, so if you are looking to attend one, you can visit my website for all the details! 
Hope your Sunday is full of love for yourself and others, and hope the bones of your serenity stay strong as ever. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Conundrum of Dreaming Art Journal Page

Ever since I was a child I have had violent dreams. Some, due to life experiences, but I tend to think that the imagination which I reign in during my waking hours goes rampant when I fall asleep. My dreams are in vivid colors, many I remember in graphic details, some I wish I didn't, but all in all, they affect my mood the next morning and at times it is a struggle to shake their influence or impact. 

This journal page tinkers with the idea of dreams, their oddities, their undermeanings, their very nature I think. Dream angels tend to show up quite often and I have come to know them as a protecting force in many of my dreams. Working through dream issues artistically gives me a safe medium to delve into areas I might need to swim in for a bit, discuss with my therapist, or draw inspiration from during the next painting. 

This page started out as an advertisers page in the back of my art book, so I chose to highlight some areas and cover the rest. Chagall's 'Fleurs' were interesting, though vague because of the black and white printing, so I enhanced them with acrylic skins. I also found humor in the ladybug head on the priest's body, then decided to sketch in an angel in the background. 

Besides considering dreams, I wanted to test out my new Neon paint pens, and they were quite dreamy themselves. This journal is turning out quite nicely and I am totally letting my looseness flow rather than attempting to be controlling and tight with my pages. I also don't want my style to appear 'formatted or fixed,' so the chaos of each page is actually intentional, much like my mixed media paintings. 

Hope you might consider altering your own book, if you do, please share some pages with me! You can see my entire journal with its progress pages on my Facebook Page Here. 

An Up and Coming Artist - Meg Alexander

I adore the young people in my life and one of those young ladies, Miss Meg Alexander, invited me to her art show at her local school today, and it thrilled me to see her excitement for the arts, her talent, and to know how well she and her classmates are being educated in the arts. 

Meg's mom is a dear friend and has taken art classes from me, and as Meg has explored the new horizons in art the past few months I began to notice that she has a really mature eye for composition and a mature perspective to discuss the arts for a young lady her age. As a self taught artist myself, seeing the younger generation actually getting to experience art and be educated in it when so many schools are cutting the art programs does me good. It makes me have hope that there are many places where we still value the arts and hold it dear, even within a public school system. 

Meg completed several remarkable art projects this past semester including throwing her own bowl in pottery class, painting a replica of Monet's work, using geometry to create an underwater scene, and using a grid system to draw and paint a version of Mary Cassatt's piece. The entire show was amazing, considering how young the students were, and I couldn't have been more proud of Meg and what she had accomplished. 

I hope her aptitude for art and her eye for composition continue to grow and develop and one day I will be visiting Meg's work in her own gallery! For today, I was thrilled to be able to view it next to her other classmates, they did a great job and hats off to their teacher as well! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Page Prepping and Rosemarie Beck Art Journal Pages

Today was one of those magnificent weather days that make you excited to be alive, blessed to be breathing clean air, and want to hug trees all day. Thanks to my dear hubs he built me an outdoor studio so on days like today, I can sling paint to my hearts desire and not worry about the mess, all the while watching orange headed Skinks scatter about. 

I scored an amazing new journal that I can't wait to break in, love the words of affirmation on the leather cover! 

Most of the afternoon though,  I spent prepping journal pages for my mixed media journal and class, "Field Notes," by Juliana Coles. The class is amazing so far and never did I expect to have so many incredible assignments, videos, and suggested ideas thrown at me in an online workshop. These pages were prep work and will eventually be filled with tons of assignments during the course of our class. 

I also spent some time reading the first section of Nicolaide's "The Natural Way To Draw" which is written so precisely that just about anyone willing to put forth the effort can learn to draw. Thanks to his inspiration, I became inspired to finish one of my journal pages using some of his suggestions and chose the beginning page of the interview for Rosemarie Beck, a fascinating figurative artist who was with us until 2003.  

(This is the quote at the beginning of the book)

The photograph and interview of Rosemarie, from my journal "Perspectives On The Arts" was a juxtaposition in contrast and ease of conversation, so I opted to try my hand at gestural sketching using my non dominant hand. I used graphite, a blue Neocolor Pastel, Micron Pen in pink, and a water soluble graphite stick. Each study lasted only about a minute or two, and then I wrote a few quotes and thoughts from my own voice as well as Nicolaide's across her dress. The journal page was more about letting loose, trying something new, and reflecting on the brilliance of both of these artists who have blazed a trail for me. 

This past weekend was full of surprises, a great Artwalk, and a beautiful Mother's Day where I was able to spend it not only with my own mother, son, and family, but also with my step daughter and her family which made it so much more special. She is an incredible mother and it is a joy watching her grow as a parent. Art is about life, and the most beautiful parts of it, in my opinion, are the celebrations of family.