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.

My year in Pictures: December

My year in Pictures: DECEMBER

The first official day of summer! December 1st is the anniversary of our engagement so we usually celebrate it. This year it was a Saturday so we did our usual lighthouse walk and enjoyed brunch at Succulent cafe.

 

Our book club Christmas party. We all brought food, and instead of discussing a book we played a game. The first sentence of a novel was read out loud, and then we all had to write an imaginary second sentence. Then we tried to guess which was the real second sentence. Anyway, we had fun.

My beautiful Wed night women’s choir Mystica. We were only a small group this term but we sounded great. We performed at both the choir concerts I organised in December, here we are at the Bangalow concert on 8th.

 

The Songbirds performed at the Bangalow Choir concert along with 5 other choirs. We have a new bird, Fiona who replaced Jessica, and she did really well at this, her first performance with us.

 

 

This is where I was at 12:12pm on 12/12/12…at art journaling class! it was the last class of the year. That’s our teacher Zom right at the back.

 

 

The art shop/gallery where our art journaling class meets is called Still@Thecentre and they put on a Christmas party and exhibition of the work from some of the classes they have there. I worked hard to get my first art journal totally finished for the exhibition, and here it is!

 

The Songbirds were asked to sing a few numbers at this art exhibition/Christmas party.

 

 

Our Christmas gathering. I had neither of my offspring with me this Christmas, since they are both in Europe, so we had a quiet day with just the two of us, until the evening when we ended up having some friends over for a potluck dinner. Carols were sung, and we played a hilarious game of Truth or lie.

2012 was a good year for me and I believe 2013 will be even better as we will be travelling in Europe for nearly 4 months of it! New Year blessings to you all,may you all have a wonderful year ahead.

Recent pages in my A5 journal

I seem to be using my A5 size journal as my more experimental one these days, where I try out things at my art journal class with Zom. This is the page I did last week….our prompt was simply to write about our favourite number! Not something I’d thought about much, but it only took me a few seconds to realise it was 8, I’ve always liked it, probably because its in   my birth date, 18th. It also makes me think of a crimson colour, not sure why. Anyway, no doubt  this is all fascinating to you but I really want to tell you about this page because I’m proud of it.

The process: used Zom’s idea of cutting out a stencil of the number and gessoing around it. Then painted the page with red and wiped much of it off. The paint takes to the ungessoed parts of the page very differently, so the eights really stand out. Painted a watery purple over the whole page and wiped it back. Then I used the negative part of the stencil I had cut to make some white eights. I had also painted some red and purple on a spare sheet of paper, then used a stencil and dylusions spray inks on this. I scanned the result and reduced it in size, printed it out and cut the large decorated eight from it.  Then I cut borders from the original piece of stencilled paper. Somehow it became necessary for me to be on the page “presenting” my friend,  the large eight. I would never have thought of devoting a whole page to a number, but I’m pleased with what I did here and the harmony of the colours and patterns.

Here is another recent page in my small journal. The inspiration for this page was the black and white photo of the Indian woman who seemed to be looking so meaningfully at me. This is a page about the sort of older wise woman or crone that I would like to be. For the heading I printed the words out on the laser printer and made a transfer onto clear sticky tape.The angel is from some old wrapping paper.

I seem to use a lot of angels in my art journal! I started this page in class, we had to use a credit card to apply paint in some way. I swooped some gold paint on this blue background and they reminded me of angel wings. Also it just happened that I had put this poem by Hafiz up on the fridge that week, to remind me that I probably still could have many gifts and talents that I haven’t even discovered or used yet…I love that idea! I cut the gold border to echo the triangular shapes in the backgound. The angel has one wing which comes out from the page 3 dimensionally, but you can’t really see that from this photo. Here is the entire Hafiz poem:

There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
There are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.
The Beloved does not mind repeating,
“Everything I have is also yours.”
Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend
If we break into a sweet laughter
When your heart complains of being thirsty
When ages ago
Every cell in your soul
Capsized forever
Into this infinite golden sea.
Indeed,
A lover’s pain is like holding one’s breath
Too long
In the middle of a vital performance,
In the middle of one of Creation’s favorite
Songs.
Indeed, a lover’s pain is this sleeping,
This sleeping,
When God just rolled over and gave you
Such a big good-morning kiss!
There are so many gifts, my dear,
Still unopened from your birthday.
O, there are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to your life
From God.

~ Hafiz ~