Sometimes it is important to take some time for yourself, to just relax and not worry about outcomes. I was stressing over the purses I’ve been making, among other things, and realized it was time to take a “me” break.
One way I do this is through working in an art journal. I have worked in many over the years, choosing different books depending on the media I was using at the time, or my preferred format for the image surface. When done “right” (which is just the way I do them, your way could be completely different and just as “right” for you) these books are a catchall of random thoughts, occasional quotes, grocery lists, cataloguing works in process, and more.
I had let the process go by the wayside over the past three years of working on freelance design, feeling like every minute needed to be devoted to something productive. Since these books are generally not for outside consumption, I could not justify spending any time working in one, even though I missed it dearly.
That changed last month when I signed up for Lisa Sonora Beam’s summer camp for visual journals and started working through her book “The Creative Entrepreneur”. I was reminded that working in such books is an important part of my process, and was necessary for me to get out of this place of stuck I’ve been wallowing in.
So first I purchased this, a 9” x 12” Aquabee Super Deluxe blank sketchbook, filled with heavyweight paper that is designed to take wet or dry media. I began working in it with no rules, and no expectations, just me and the page. I gave myself permission to put whatever I wanted on the page, and allow myself to go back in and work over pages if I wanted to hide something I had written earlier, or if the situation/my perspective on it had changed.
I also found Shelley Klammer at Expressive Art, and began doing a collage a day using old magazines from the library free table. The rule with these was that I would choose 2-3 images which caught my eye, and one phrase. I did this for about two weeks, with some eye opening results.
Finally, and this is where I am at the moment, I decided to pick up my copy of Lynda Barry’s book What It Is, which is about writing, but is a great inspiration for creativity of all kinds. I also checked out her book One! Hundred! Demons! after reading several of the interviews linked on her website.
In that book, she described her drawing process. It involves ink and a brush, on any paper which is available. It looked so fun I had to give it a try. My inlaws had visited China several years ago and sent me an ink set, which I promptly retrieved from my studio. Then I went to town in my sketchbook.
The results so far:
A bull and a seahorse, inspired in a way by the Percy Jackson novels my son insisted I read. I used some metallic pan watercolors on this one, and went back into the drawing with a white Sakura paint pen.
Hollyhocks and bees. The quote came from a large print Reader’s Digest I picked up at the library free table.
More sea life, and a tiger peeking in from another page. The big quote is from a story about an unusual fish. I wonder what secrets he can tell. Maybe the tiger knows.
My weekly grocery list/running tally of expenses. Makes meal planning easier for me when I can see it all in one spot. And it is more fun to shop when you have cool art to look at while you’re shopping, don’t you agree?
I started getting a little silly here. Is the spaceship taking off or landing? The yellow dots symbolize fireflies for me in this series. The fox looks like he is having a conversation with the mushrooms. I also love how the watercolors blended on the mountains in the distance.
Trumpet vines are all over town here in Athens. I decided to memorialize them in ink and watercolor.
Finally, a frog riding on a lily pad. I don’t think he’s trying to eat the fireflies, but I’m not sure. He looks like he’s having fun, though.
I did change from just using the ink stick and ink stone to using India Ink so that the watercolors wouldn’t make the drawing run, but other than that these are drawn straight from my head onto the page with no pre-drawing in pencil or anything. I added the quotes on some, and may go back in and journal on them. I’m also going to dig out my airpen and try drawing on some of the twill I have around here, to see how I like these in fabric. Some of the characters may also show up on the purses.
It was an odd, circuitous route, but I think my mojo is back. Sometimes a small detour is just what we need.