Friday, September 30, 2011

Art Journal: Wordgames

This page came together pretty quickly. I had just cut away a rosebush that seemed to be sick for several years now, never producing beautiful flowers. It tried, but the roses got dried out or just brown before opening up. And after all these years I felt it was time to give up on that rosebush. So out came the saw to cut through the thick branches.

By trying to cut them in smaller pieces so that they would fit in the green bin, I hurt my fingers several times, despite the gardening gloves and me trying to handle the branches as careful as I could.
When all the work was done, I got my symbols, I got my words and I expressed it all together in this page.

I took a picture of the branches that were cut and glued it on the page. Outlined it with a marker and made it blend in with the background. For that purpose I like to tear the paper of images so that the blending in is easier.

It was way too graphic, and looking for a solution by rummaging through some textured stuff, I came across a sample of textured wallpaper. Just some brushing on of undiluted acrylic paint and you have a wonderful stamp!
The words that were hanging in my mind for the past days, were stamped on an old book page, a part came from the title of the book itself.
Then it only needed some borders and letter stamps to strengthen the words: the wordgames that were such a destructive part of my life and which are now - just like the rosebush - cut away and put away.
Such a relief!

The way such a page comes together is a process on its own. There are some things that you want out, want to express and then there is Life which helps you to tie together the emotion, the feelings, the symbolic imagery and the words. There is no particular order in this process. There are just elements that keeps lingering in your mind and finally it all comes together.
All expressed, on just one little page with some extra symbolic meaning added to the mix as well... I love art journaling:  this way of expressing yourself with simple things like paper, paints, stamps and a wall paper sample!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Raw Journal: Just More of the Same

Somehow this page seems to be a newer version of a similar page from my Little Red Book:
which says:

"This too was on repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat for a long time."

Though this time this new page was made based on an observation from someone else which I needed to write down because of the new meaning that was given.

I guess that despite all the things in life that changes and all the actions you undertake to make changes, some things will just never, ever change. No matter what you do, how much you try to turn it inside out and upside down, it just won't change. It kind of feels like moving a mountain with your bare hands.

The question is, will the mountain defeat you or do you accept it? Can you work with it, around it,  or is ignoring the mountain an option? In my case, ignoring it might be the best strategy for now...
And this all leads to another question: how many mountains are there in my life? Something to think about!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The meaning of circles?

Working in an art journal can be quite a coincedence of things that play in my mind, objects that surround me, things that I have heard, sentences that were spoken. I start with a simple thing like painting a background and from there a chain of choices are made.

There were foam circles on my worktable that I wanted to glue on wood to use as a stamp. But I had no small pieces of wood around, so I glued the circles unto a piece of cardboard instead. The life time of that stamp is of course short - no cleaning possible - but at least I had some dots to stamp with.

But the glue had to dry thoroughly before I could use it, so I turned to an empty paper roll to use as a stamp. It gave me great circles to colour in with pencils. From there, the idea started to flow. Though I did change my mind several times. I repainted the background white, part of it in purple red. I started to draw lines.

And before I glued the text to the page, I used the newly made stamp to stamp white circles all over the page. In the middle of that process I remembered that the circle is the symbol of Soul and that this page had a lot of circles...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes you need less words

A page that turned out to be full of symbolic meaning to me. Though the text is clear, there is a lot of fog into the page as well. I had glued in some text and after several days, I teared these away. It was saying too much, I needed less words on this page.

The little Russian dolls are symbolic for the many layers we have inside of us. And the little line of text: "Through the Chaos, Objects appear Fresh"? I guess that was meant as a wish!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Art Journal: The Bridge

I found this picture lying around in a drawer which I really needed to clear out. No need to say that the drawer was left in the same state and I started to lay out the photograph on the different backgrounds of my art journal.
Nothing seemed to work at that time though, and the picture found its place on my worktable for several weeks.

That is the reason why clearing worktables is such an inspirational activity: you come across things that you wanted to use, but still hasn't. It is fun to rediscover these little treasures under a pile of papers after a few weeks!

So when I refound (a new word) the photograph, I cut away the background, sanded the water and added gesso over it, blending it with my fingers. The text was something I wanted to work into a collage for a long time, so that was easy.
Just a line of poetry to finish it off.

How many bridges do you need in your life's journey? Do you cross the wild waters by foot and get wet, maybe even go under for a while, or do you first build a bridge?
How many times have you turned around and taken another path in the hope that it will lead you to a safer place to cross these rivers?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Page from Raw Art Journal

This little format of wired book is wonderful to work in. Though I seem to be unable to paint on a small scale, for art journaling this size works wonders for me. This is my second art journal called "Raw". The first one was the Little Red Book which I already filled up completely.
ReBuild and ReInvent is the theme for this page. Accompanied with a cheerful picture.

And I love Found Poetry, the messages that underline my intention of the page. This one: "Move, to get free".
Moving, or taking action is the only way to change things. Just watch the news: Egyptians caused the biggest change in their history by taking action. Libia is undergoing their change by the movement, the action, of people who no longer accept life as it used to be.

Though we might not be in need of a revolution, we do need to move once in the while to stir up a change in life and get ahead.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Ingredients of Life

What would happen if you change the ingredients of your life? Would life still be, look, taste and feel the same - because the main ingredient is still the undeniable You?
Or would life become different? How much do you have to change to achieve the difference? And do you have to change just one or two ingredients, or do you change the recipe all together as well?

Loads of questions that emerged in my mind as I looked at this old recipe and wondered if the cake would taste as good as it did in the Fifties. And then started to compare Life with the cake in the picture.... :-)
I am still trying to find the answers to all these questions and I am glad that I made this page with the picture of the cake!

Do you stick to your default recipe of Life? Or do you make changes? How far do you go? Have you ever switched back to the old recipe?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A New Art Journal: Raw

 My Little Red Book has been completely filled. It was time to start to look around for a replacement. I loved working on the small pages ( 16 cm x 16 cm) of that little book. Luckily I had another version of that diary lying around and could not resist using that as a successor of the Little Red Book.

So there I went: tearing pages out, glueing several pages together to improve the strength of the pages and adding a layer of gesso over the page to hide the text underneath it.

I had noticed while working in the Little Red Book, that somehow I lost the idea of making the pages pretty or beautiful. Instead of artfully decorated pages, it soon became all about the thoughts, feelings and ideas that I wanted to express on the page. It was kind of raw, with everything on the page enhancing the mood of my expression with no regards toward art or rules of art.

Since I loved that feeling, I decided to work in the same way in this new book. Expressing myself in a free, raw way and leaving it up to the viewer to interpret the page and decide on  her/his own interpretation.

This way of working gives me a lot of freedom and helps me to express myself without the restriction of bearing my soul to the world of internet. You might understand what I am saying, or you may not understand it at all.
Maybe you discover a different meaning of the page, or maybe it stirs up your soul. Or maybe it does not say anything to you at all (and you get ideas on how to improve such a page).
Whatever it is that you feel while looking at it, I hope that it inspires you on some level. :-)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Beauty of Wastepaper

We were talking on the Dutch Art Journaling Forum about protective sheets on our desks to catch sprays and splatters from ink. They are not easy to find here in the Netherlands.

Personally I prefer to 'catch' all these ink and paint spills on thin rice paper, let the paper dry and re-use them again.

Even stamps are 'cleaned' on these sheets by stamping them untill all the ink or paint has been absorbed by the paper.
This means less cleaning to do in the sink. And adds fun motivs to the wastepapers too.

Just place a page under the page you are working on, and one on the opposite page as well. You can also brush leftover paints from your brush unto these papers before rinsing the brush.
After a while the papers have become pieces of art on it's own - spontanious splashes of colours in unexpected colour combinations. Use them in collage and as a background for wordstrips!

----------Dutch Translation----------

Op het Nederlandse forum Art Journaling en Mixed Media hadden we het over speciale vellen om je werktafel te beschermen tegen verf- en inkspetters. Deze kun je niet zo gemakkelijk vinden in Nederland.

Zelf prefereer ik dun rijstpapier om deze spetters op te vangen. Ik laat ze drogen en gebruik ze dan weer opnieuw.
Zelfs stempels worden 'schoner' gemaakt door ze eerst op zo'n vel te stempelen totdat de verf of inkt door het papier is opgenomen.

Je hebt dan minder schoon te maken in de wasbak of gootsteen. En bovendien heb je ook nog eens leuke motiefjes staan op je 'restpapiertjes'.

Na verloop van tijd worden de papiertjes vanzelf kleine kunstwerkjes: spontane spetters kleur in ongewone kleurcombinaties. Gebruik ze in collage of als achtergrond voor woordstrips!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tutorial: using existing books as a journal

TJ from Studio Mailbox sent me this book a while ago for me to alter. I am planning to use it as an art journal and thought it would be fun to share the preparing of the book here with you.

This book had hard covers and a sewn binding: ideal for altering the book. The paper inside is a bit old, but not yellow or brittle at all. This means that I have the perfect base to start with.

To make room for all the painting and collage, I rip out several pages so that the binding will be able to hold all the extra weight that will be added.

Sometimes, I will tear out as much as half of the amount of pages that are in the book!
After tearing out a page, look for the opposite page that is now loose in the book. Remove this one too.

It always feels a bit wrong to tear out pages, but the spine will not hold long if you are not brutal enough at this point.
You can save the pages and illustrations though for collage. And you can always use the text for Found Poetry.

The next step is glueing several pages together to strengthen the paper. This way it will be able to carry all the paint and collage even better.
In this book I will glue 2 pages together. If the paper was thinner, I would even glue 3 pages together.

My favorite glue to use at this point is Gel Medium, you can buy these in big cheap(er) pots in art stores.

Place a waste paper behind the page that you are going to glue. Brush the glue on, press the other page to it and use a plastic old ID or credit card to smooth it over.

 Let the book dry completely. As long as the glue has not dried, it will be too fragile to work in.

My favorite way to prep a page is to start with a thin layer of gesso. Just the process of brushing this over the pages is relaxing and often opens up my ideas and inspire me.

The cover is almost always left as the last thing to do. When the journal has been filled, I know what I want to put on front. It is all about keeping open to possibilities, though you could say that it is all about not being able to make a choice as well... :-)

Have you been using existing books as an art journal? Or do you buy blank books for journaling?