Catch up post: Third journal pages

Here are some more pages from my third journal, which is basically finished except for a couple of pages that still need something more. These pages are mostly more than a year old now and I can see that my “style” (if I even have one..?) is changing over time.  I’m well into my 4th journal now, and also my 5th journal, which is the Heroine’s Journey journal is half full now. But I’ll post some of those another time.

Kathryn page finishedGerrit new ZealandBack in Brunswick smDecadesImagination

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Evolution of a Page

Face it 1I began this page with no idea of what i wanted it to be about. I randomly glued down some black and white undercollage, just things that appealed to me, left over from the heroine’s journey classes. Oh yes, and the eye. Then I gessoed over the whole thing  and wiped it back a bit so you could still see some of the undercollage. And the eye.

I painted a few areas with yellow ochre and some with turquoise and attempted a bit of a blend between those two colours.I used my handcut spiral stencil when the turquoise paint was still wet and sprayed water through it, then put a paper towel over it to lift some of the paint where the water was to reveal the spirals. This worked Ok but was not brilliant, so then I just didFace it 2 some stencilling with paint on a sponge wedge.I still had no clue what the page might turn out to be about. I grabbed a few images I had lying about that seemed to go with the colour scheme…..I love the image of the naked woman staring at the skull…I found her when I was looking for images of the goddess  Inanna. The background was too full on,  and overwhelmed the images so I toned it down with some gesso tinted with yellow ochre. After I glued down the images I cut a few stamps with the ellipse pattern, not sure why, I think I watched an art journaling  youtube clip with similar stamps.

Face it finishedI thought the page might be about the Goddess, then i thought maybe it’s about time passing and accepting that. So I glued the clock face on the right. i stamped the ellipse stamp with a white stamp pad. They didn’t turn out very well, so in the end I went over them with a white posca paint pen. Then they were too white, aargh! So I toned them down by painting over them with some nickel azo gold paint (very watered down).

The next day as i was meditating in sanctuary, the words “face it” popped into my head and I realised that was the theme of the page..whatever it is, just face it. Whether it is the fear of time passing, of growing old, the fear of death, just face it, look it in the eye. there’s nothing else to be done.  I love this page now, I think it’s one of my favourites.

 

Heroine’s Art Journaler interview number one: Christina

As many of you know, for the last 18 months I have been teaching a course I have developed for women called The Heroine’s Journey. In this 7 part course we reflect on our lives through the lens of the stages of the Hero’s Journey (as identified by Joseph Campbell), using myths and fairy tales, writing, ritual, drama and art journaling. So far I have run the course 3 times, with another starting on 9th August. I have also already run a Part 2 Heroine’s Journey course, as many of the participants wanted to continue on with the process.

I thought it would be interesting to do a series of posts on some of the Heroine’s Journey participants and feature some of their work….so without further ado, may I present Heroine’s Journey art journaler Christina Christina black copy. Christina had not done much art journaling before doing the heroine’s course, but she has a natural eye for colour, harmony and beauty.

I interviewed Christina about her experience of the heroine’s journey, and art journaling.

Alison: What have you liked most about doing the Heroine’s Journey?

Christina: I don’t think I’ve ever given myself the luxury of time to do some creative work, like art work. I like all the new techniques I’ve been learning and I’ve been really surprised by how beautiful some of my pages are, so that’s been…startling and amazing really! And I really love some of my pages and feel happy to show them to people whereas in the past I would have found it very challenging to show my art to anyone.

I’ve also loved the camaraderie of the women in the group and I’ve had a feeling of safety within the group, where we’ve really exposed ourselves, both with our art work and with our feelings. There have been some very poignant moments and a few tears, both mine and other people’s. Holding that space for others…it’s been very beautiful.

A: Tell me about some of your pages…..this Warrior page for example?

 

C:  Well it was interesting how I ended up having this 15 year old warrior, standing next to my grown up warrior. I really saw what a warrior my teenager self was, way back then, she had to be. And also seeing her innocence. And then my mature inner warrior, how capable she is, how resilient. I enjoyed using the animal totems on this page too, animals that I felt an affinity with. They are my companions. The wolf is there behind me, he’s got my back, and the eagle flies over and is a scout, they’re both my scouts and my muses in some way too.

A: And the ancestors page?  Motherline Christina

C: Well I was really close to my Mum, and she died a long time ago and I really miss her, so I loved to put her photo here, when she was in her prime. And the Girl with the Pearl earring I included because my Grandmother was Dutch…and I loved the book, and the painting. She represents my European heritage. And I also used some maps of Europe in the background too. And then I included the perennial mother, mother Mary. That felt really significant to me too, to include the nurturing, overarching mother. And I’ve included the french thing in there, I’ve always loved everything French, I love the language, I used to own a french perfumerie.

A:  I like the muted colours you’ve used in the background, it almost looks like you’ve stained it with tea or coffee or something.

C:  Yes I wanted an aged look. I had some other ancestor photos I could have used but they were more 1960’s photos and didn’t go so well with this old “Ancient Mother” look.

The above 2 pages were made by Christina during  Part one of the Heroine’s Journey which she completed last year. She has also completed Part 2, and the next pages are from that course.

Christina has travelled quite a lot, and has spent some years living in Canada, which she loves. She told me she really enjoyed making this Special Places page, sifting through her travel phtographs and remembering special places.Place Christina

 

 

Joseph Campbell said “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”

During the Part 2 course we made a page about entering the cave and finding the “treasure”, whatever that may be, perhaps some new knowledge, some new strength or self confidence. The journalers could choose  from a series of different images to represent their treasure. Christina chose a Holy grail image, which is hidden behind an opening door in the cave.. I asked her about this page.

A. Why did you choose the Grail image for your treasure, instead of the treasure chest or stars?

C. I’ve always had a thing for the Grail. A few years ago I did a workshop where we made a goblet to represent the Grail. I think the Grail is more mystical than a treasure chest. My red haired warrior is going on a quest, a mystical quest to get the Holy grail.

A. (On this page I introduced a new technique of scrunching and glueing down tissue paper to create a textured cave roof, which we then painted black or dark brown, When it was dry we rubbed  Inka Gold paint lightly on it, which was picked up by the higher ridges.  A.  I know you enjoyed the new process I introduced, of working with tissue paper to add texture. Can you say more about this?

C.Well I loved to create texture, I enjoy tactile 3 Dimensional art, and I also love gold, so I really loved rubbing the Inka Gold onto the tissue. I also tried rolling some tissue paper, as well as scrunching it,  to make stalactites hanging down.

A. yes everyone in the class was impressed with this innovation of yours.

C. i also put gold leaf around the image of the grail…you can only see this when you open the doors.

A. So finally I thought I would include your butterfly and flower head page. You have used a photo of yourself in your thirties I think. What was this page about for you in the end?

Butterfly head ChristinaC. Well as you had suggested I used some of the positive comments that the other Journeyers had written about me, as undercollage, along with a couple of my favourite poems that we had as our readings. I included a couple of tulips amongst the flowers to represent my Dutch heritage. But ultimately I think the page is about freedom…the butterflies represent freedom. I’m thinking of writing “Fly free” somewhere on the page.

A. I was impressed with the way you have made your butterflies 3 dimensional, in that you have only glued them down the middle and the wings are sticking out from the page.

C. Well, again, it’s that 3D thing that I really like. It was really interesting to see the things that the others wrote about me and to think, “so that’s how you see me!”

It was great to have Christina in the Heroine’s Journey group, and I really hope she continues art journaling, now that the course is over.

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Doorways and Thresholds

This is a “how to do” post aimed at my Heroine’s Journey (Part 2) students…and of course anyone else interested in art journaling! We have been studying the Stages of the hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell) in relation to our own lives and making an art journal to celebrate our lives and our journeys. Today we looked specifically at crossing the thresholds/doors/portals.

Here is the evolution of this first page on doors: First I painted a light background, mostly white mixed with Paynes Grey and Ultramarine blue…a bit like this page here:Grey background

then I cut out different sized arched door shapes from coloured tissue paper and glued them in, taking care to only put the Matt medium on the page and not directly on the tissue paper. Then I used a stencil girl stencil with arched doorways to jazz it up a bit.

Blue doorsI  wanted to add a doorway with doors you can actually open so I enlarged and printed out a photo I had taken in Tuscany of a door in Siena which I then backed with black cardboard (I used spray adhesive for this as I find it works better than Matt medium for large gluing projects, spray both of the surfaces!) It’s necessary to back the picture with cardboard so the doors will be strong enough when you cut them.

Blue doors cuttingYou’ll have to use a scalpel knife to cut the around the doors,  cut the centre line and the tops and bottoms but do not cut the edges which would be hinged!

Blue doors hand

 

I cut a rectangle of a starry sky, slightly bigger than the door opening and stuck it on the left hand page, and then stuck the door over the top, being careful to line it up so you can see the stars through the opening doors.

 

Blue doors 3

Blue doors 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stencilled a few butterflies in a pale blue, on the right hand page.Blue doors 5 I tend to use butterflies a lot in my journals to symbolise the soul or spirit, so on this page they represent the soul calling me through the doorways, into the adventure, whatever it may be.

Finally I collaged a woman walking towards the doors and some butterflies .Blue doors 6 I used some alphabet stamps to write the word “Threshold”, stamping it first in white, but it was too hard to read so I stamped over it (and slightly to the right and down a fraction) in black. I quite like the effect. The word “Doors” I stamped in black using some alphabet stamps that I have been carving myself from ezy carve rubber (bought at the art shop..but you can also use ordinary erasers).Alphabet stamps You have to have special carving equipment for this  but the Speedball lino cut set is not very expensive. Carving my own alphabet stamps is kind of satisfying but it’s difficult, easy to make one slip and ruin the stamp, and time consuming so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everyone!

Doorways page number Two. For this page I first painted a double spread with a few colours, mixed on the page…Raw Siena mostly with some Yellow ochre, white and a couple of patches of Paynes grey mixed with white. Then I cut some door shaped stencils from some spare glossy photo paper (excellent for stencils).Brown stencils I just folded the paper in half, cut half a door shape , then opened it out and voila! symmetrical door shapes.

 

 

I used a sponge spouncer (love that word!) to stencil different shades of brown paint through the door shapes. Then I made myself a new foam stamp, one I had been intending to make for a while, based on the rectangular shapes in Klimt’s painting, “The kiss” Brown stamp I love this stamp!

 

So then I stamped it with dark brown paint, and when that was dry, with a light gold colour paint.

Brown 1

 

I was quite pleased although there was a bit too much tonal contrast, I knew it would detract from the photos of doors that I wanted to collage over it, so I toned the background down a bit. To do this I mixed a watery mix of gesso and raw siena  and painted it in a wash over the whole page, rubbing it off a bit with a paper towel as I did it.

Brown 2

 

I like the way it looks not just like doors but like a whole city of buildings, doors and windows. Then I printed out some more of my Tuscan doors. I cut the actual doors out of the largest one and replaced them with a starry sky. To me the stars represent the mystery…of what might be beyond the threshold, the unknowable, the great BEYOND!

Brown 3Using the “Rule of three” to balance the composition I added 2 smaller doors. There was a beautfiful blue colour in the starry sky which I wanted to bring into other places on the page for balance so I stencilled 3 patches of blue. Then I used my handcut alphabet stamps again to stamp the word “Doorways”  vertically. I was a bit disappointed and wished I had just written it instead, the brown stamp pad I used was very mottled and uneven. BUT I try to let go of my perfectionism in my art journal, so it’s ALL GOOD.

Brown 4Finally I wrote something about one particular threshold crossing in my life, when I left Sydney and moved to the North Coast. I wrote really small, with a fine gel pen, which smudged a few times (that’s what happens to left handers, I’m used to it!)

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you make a Doorway or Threshold page.

My third journal

I’ve decided to get back to my blog, now it’s 2016! Here are a few pages from my third journal which is almost finished. Church in the Pines World Traveller Son Gerrit in NZ Guilt into Gold Kabir's Song Mandala page Autumn Tree poem Door to FreedomI mostly love my pages actually. This is what I use: Acrylic paints, stencils (home made and bought, including a plastic lace tablecloth), collage, scrapbook patterned papers, home made foam background stamps, gesso resist, occasionally a spray ink. And of course black and white pens, mostly uniball gel.

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More Travel Journal Pages

I’ve been continuing to work on more pages for my 2011 Travel Journal. Luckily I had kept quite a lot of pamphlets, maps etc from our trip, and since the journal is a loose leaf one in a ring binder, I can add lots of pages retrospectively. I alsokept a brief diary of all the places we went so it has been easy to write about it. I have enjoyed this process so much,reliving  memories of that trip and designing pages to celebrate each place we visited that I’m thinking of making my next travel journal in a similar loose leaf format so I can keep adding to it after the trip is over. This prolongs the pleasure!

Anyway, without further ado, here are the pages I have done over the last few months.

Vaison la Romaine Les Baux Pont du Gard Collioure Castelnou Carcassonne Dordogne FontevraudThese are all in France, Provence, Carcassonne, the Dordogne, the Loire. I’m still working on the Paris pages.

Using a transparency in my art journal

Aphrodite europe blue Aphrodite Europe orangeA while ago in our art journaling class we were invited to bring a black and white photo of ourselves at any age, which we photocopied onto some transparent plastic. I used a photo of myself aged 24, taken in France when I did my big Europe trip. I cut an oval shaped window and stuck the transparency over it. When you flip it one way the Botticelli Venus shows through my face, and when you turn the page a map of Europe shows through. One page I painted blue (smeared over with Raw Umber) and the next page I painted a kind of pale orange Terracotta colour. The two pages belonged together, since they were linked by my transparent 24 year old face. But I didn’t really have a clue what to do with them after that, so they just stayed like that for quite a few months. The composition was a problem for me with a circular collage in the middle of each page and the oval shape of my face on the facing page. I wanted to make the pages about my trip to Europe in 1979 but I didn’t think a lot of small photos around the edge of the oval would look very good. Eventually I decided to cut the central page into a circular shape. I loved the effect , and this gave me the idea to write in a circle shape around the transparency of my face. I enlarged the nymph fromthe Botticelli painting and she holds a welcoming cloak out from each side of the pages. She seems to be encouraging my young self to travel to Europe. I did collage a couple of photos of me in Europe at that time. I made the second page more about my enduring love affair with Florence, then and now. I included 2 photos of me in the same spot, with Florence in the background, one from 1979 and one from last year. I also used some scraps of an Italian patterned paper I love which Gerrit bought for me in Florence last year. Both pages are quite busy, yet I love the way they have turned out. They are two of my favourite pages from this journal. Let me know what you think! Thanks for visiting.

An Old Photo of my Parents

Olive and DonI don’t have many old photos of my parents that are useable. They are mostly tiny pictures, sepia and often blurry! Disappointing for an art journaler! My parents were quite old when they had me, having already had four children and thinking they’d finished, and then 8 years later, I came along! Anyway, I did have this photo and, thank God for photoshop, I was able to blow it up and tweak it a bit to make it useable. This is an A4 size journal (Strathmore mixed media, it’s the best!) so I increased the size of the photo a lot and it worked out quite well except their feet are blurry. On the top left I had collaged a piece of an old sheet music cover, one of my mother’s favourite songs, and on the right is a copy of her handwritten music manuscript of an old hymn, “Lead me to Calvary”. Fortunately I have one old song book of hers with several examples of her writing in the back and front. Both of these collaged pieces were not the originals, but photocopies, so I ripped the edges and painted them with Nickel Azo gold paint to make them look old. Then I stuck on a cupid and a 1930’s fashion drawing. I collaged around the edges with 2 small paper doilies sprayed with brown ink, and some pieces of coffee coloured scrapbooking paper. Before I collaged anything I had used a flower stencil and some brown dylusions spray on the background. So there you go, that was a bit of a reverse chronological explanation of how I made this page. Oh yes, then I wrote something about my parents who had a successful and happy relationship for 60 years.

I have not used this blog much in the last year or so because this wordpress site seems so slow to upload and often times out. So I’ve been very frustrated with it! I intend to make more of an effort to post more in coming months! Love and light to you all.

Behind the Masks

I was inspired by a prompt video by Christy Sobolewski to make this page using only one stamp in many different ways. I made the stamp from scratch by cutting out diamond shapes from some craft foam and gluing it (just using Golden Matt medium) onto a wooden block. This page is quite textured as one of the techniques involved spreading light molding paste on part of the page and pressing into it with the stamp. I collaged the joker/harlequin card because it seemed to go with the patterns on the page, and then I decided it was a page about Who am I behind all the masks of the ego. This was quite a different page from others I have done, for a start I’d never used molding paste before. It was a bit challenging collaging over such a textured background!

A Box of Darkness

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to realise that this too was a gift.”  Mary Oliver

This is one of my favourite pages from my art journal so far. I started with the black background and the picture of Saturn. I’ve always been drawn to images of Saturn.  I am a Capricorn, so Saturn is my ruling planet although I don’t think that is why I love the way it looks. It always seems so majestic, hanging there with those gorgeous rings around it. I had the idea a while ago to make a negative of a photo of myself and write about how I sometimes just feel negative. But I’m a bit tired of photos of myself, so I used this Goddess statue instead. I am always attracted to classical statues whenever I see them on journal pages or mixed media artworks. So, I LOVE the Saturn and I LOVE the statue and I LOVE all the bits and pieces I used to make the border. These include: an antique zodiac, antique pics of sun and moon, some text about what it means to have moon conjunct Saturn (which I do), and a chant that I wrote  for a ritual once about going into the darkness and giving birth to yourself. The entire border was black and white until I had the idea to paint it with Nickel Azo Gold which gives everything a yellowed antiquey look. LOVE!

So anyway, perhaps it is because I am a Capricorn (I’m actually an agnostic about astrology!) or not, but I do get negative and depressed sometimes. I wish I didn’t of course, but I also know that depression has it’s gifts. For one thing, if we were happy all the time we wouldn’t even know we were happy because we would have nothing with which to compare it. The “box of darkness” refers to the Mary Oliver quote above and I’ve also used it as a way of acknowledging the gifts that depression can bring.