Creativity Teaches Me, Every Day

Making art teaches me, every day. I am finding that exponentially with painting and paper art. Comparing it to my regular torch work I think it’s because I can let go and not have to worry about burning myself and I can stop and start as I like. I experienced that while building micro mosaics too.

My last post was about making a junk journal. Last year I made a couple other journals . The steps I took were from The Artstronaut’s Club. The first part of the process was painting large pieces of paper. I had some paints on hand but they weren’t great colors. I did it anyway because I didn’t want to go shopping for new colors and I wanted to get started. If we’re friends on facebook you can see a short video I made of the journal and the pages here. I was so darn proud of that thing. I made a book! Ha.


I started collaging in it and lost interest. What I realized today was that the colors were what was keeping me from continuing. And then my crappy, throw-it-together style of collaging didn’t help much. I just didn’t like what I was seeing so I avoided it.

Recently I thought, eff-it, and I decided to paint over the ugly colors and start over. What could it hurt? Above is an example of the ugly color on the left. You might not think so but wait until you see the other colors, updated, below. The gray on the right of this page may not be any more exciting, but it’s more welcoming to me for future work on the page for some reason. I don’t have to compete with the ooky-ness of that light blue.


In the photo above you can see the difference. The left page was a pale, glittery pink with a drab pine green. While the new colors are bright, and usually not my style, there is more richness that developed because of the layering. The yuck colors underneath actually helped with the contrast. This process has taught me to not just make the best of what I have, but to really use the supplies that call me.


The other lesson is that, in art, nothing is ever lost. If you can’t work with it, change it. Cover it up if you have to, but don’t abandon it completely. In a glass bead class that I took with Jennifer Geldard years ago, she did the same thing that I’m just now coming to be comfortable with. Cover up an ugly part and make something else out of it. Of course, with this technique, my beads would have turned into paperweights. And with glass beads made in a torch you can’t really tell if it’s ugly until it’s cooled. Thank you to Jesse Reno who taught the same thing in his class. If you don’t like it, black gesso it and start again. Keep the parts you like and work from there.160710a---3

So, the inside of my art journals are getting a revamp, and through it I’m finding my own voice for paper art and finding the methods I like to work with. In Teesha Moore’s way of building the journal that I learned (The Artstronaut’s Club) you paint the paper before you bind it into a book. It can give some interesting variation in the backgrounds as you cut and put it together. I’m finding that I like painting the pages after they’re bound and I like solid-ish areas of color as a background.

I’m also liking the layers that build up from re-working like this. It gives the book a little more heft and depth. I also like the leathery feel of collaging random paper pieces and then painting over it. It makes the pages feel leathery. You can feel the soul that went into the work, even if you can’t see the layers beneath.

Of course, now that I’ve changed the inside, the covers don’t go with it. (shown above). But I can re-work those too. Black gesso is my friend.

Doing art like this, just letting go and trusting your gut starts to bleed over into life too. It makes you see that nothing is permanent. You can change things. I’m finding that when I can let go like this on the page, I start to see things around me differently. It’s a personal process, and I believe that everyone learns their own lessons from the process of creating. I could go on and on for days about the things that I learn this way and it’s a good reminder to do more of it, regularly. Try it.

My First Junk Journal WIP

Yesterday I created my first junk journal. A junk journal is a book made with found pages and collage. You can use anything to build a junk journal. This one contains covers and pages from other books, postcards and promotional flyers, a gift bag, and some of my own printed images. Along the way you can tape in other ephemera too.

This is a long post but it’s mostly images. I started out wanting to make a gratitude journal but don’t want to limit myself. I tend to have tons of post-its and scraps all over the place with ideas, inspirational quotes, or things that just pop into my mind. This is what I will use this journal for.

It is not finished, and I’ll point out what I want to do further as I walk you through the pages.

First, is the cover. It is made from the cover of a book that I got from the Phoenix library sale … a coffee table art book for under a dollar.


I used fabric tape to help secure the binding but it wasn’t sticking so I scotch taped over it. I’d like to create a better solution for that. I also don’t like the color so I might collage over it. Or have considered painting on the entire cover as it doesn’t really strike me.

Below is the inside cover. The original book cover had a flap and I turned it into a pocket. I plan to write over large areas of open space with different colored pens as needed for the background colors.


The white page will be nice to write on and draw on. Below, the solid areas of color will be easy to write on but I may gesso over, or collage sections with images that are easier to see text against. I also plan to do doodle pen work on images just for fun.


Pages like the one below were built with different pieces from various mailers and pages. I bordered them with washi tape for added durability but I didn’t have much to choose from and would not have chosen these designs, so that might be reworked at some point.


The borders are strips of collage that are folded over and taped down from behind. They give thinner pages a little more durability.


Below, the pinkish border on the right is from drawings I’ve done in Procreate, on the iPad. It’s fun to see my own work incorporated.


Below shows another border on the left that is from scans of other journal pages that I’ve painted, collaged, and further decorated with pen work. You can click the images to see a larger image.


Whoops. The photo below is upside down. I messed with my photos enough already trying to get them from Apple Photos to Photoshop, optimized, then here. So I’m leaving it.


Heavy images on the one below, again, I’ll have to work in a way to make more writing space, maybe. The eye is me, from a photo I used Procreate to paint over on the iPad.


More work pieced together on the left. Many junk journals have different sized and shaped pages, like lots of irregular tabs all over the place. I found that I liked making my pages more uniform, like a regular book. That’s why there are so many piecemeal parts on the page, building them out to full size.


I think this book came to about 40 pages to journal on. Twenty spreads in all. That should keep me busy for a while but I already want to start making another one. I need another library sale for more images to choose from!


Above, for the right border, and below on the left border is a swatch from one of the “creatures” I drew on the iPad. I really like how the colors came out, even if my printer doesn’t print true to the image.


Theres’ a bigger piece of my creature, below, taped in.


My favorite, from a page of the Phoenix Art Museum flyer on an exhibit of Warhol’s portraits. And on the right side, a business card from Jesse Reno, whose three hour workshop I took at Artfest Rising. I love being able to use business cards and postcards like this for reminders, like in scrapbooking.


The other side of Jesse Reno’s card and a little of my own work along the top and a nice big spot for writing in the white area. I like the black swatch too, as white pen on black is very impactful.


Below, pages from the art book I got the cover from and promotional postcards I’ve received in the mail. This is turning out to be so special with all of the elements that I’m afraid to write in it for fear of messing it up. I have to remember, it’s a “junk” journal and I can always make more.


I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like all filled up. As it is, in it’s very unfinished state I’ve already flipped through it multiple times. It just feels so good in my hand, and to think that I made a book, is pretty cool.


Below on the right is a a paper gift bag that I incorporated. I kind of see it as lined paper to use with a colored pen. The bottom right corner is a gap, and how many junk journals are left but I’ll fill it in with a rectangle of something else I find to tape in.


The other side of the bag and some more white space waiting for me.


Bottom of the left page is another portion of one of my iPad drawings. Love seeing it in here. You can click on the images for a larger view.

You know me and eyeballs. I love the one on the left.


And, last page with the pocket inside the back cover. Maybe I’ll use them for the post-its until I have time to transfer the information to the pages, by hand.


Below is the front of the cover. I don’t like handmade copper clasp but it was nearby. Maybe I’ll put a bead there and have the strings wrap around it. I feel like it needs some kind of closure thought because as you collage on the pages the book gets thicker and doesn’t stay closed well.


So, there you have it. My first attempt at a junk journal. It’s bound simply, through the spine, with waxed linen. I can’t wait to play in it … although I might be distracted by making more to have on hand. Thanks for following the journey this far. I’ll keep you updated with anything I find particularly interesting as I work in it.


Letting go of old stories.

I have a handwritten note taped to my office door alerting those passing by to be quiet when I’m in meditation. I thought it would be fun to make a more decorative sign that I could flip over when not in use so I pulled out the paints and collage elements and thought that would be a good project to acquaint me with the materials.

At this age in my life I hear the voices in my head telling me that I’ll never master a new medium, and they are discouraging. I know they are lying. While I crave the idea of mastering something I also know that I have to start somewhere. I fight back with the voices telling them that it’s not about mastery, or being good at something. It’s about having fun and indulging in something that is enjoyable to me.


So, I sat down and I started. I have to keep reminding myself that it takes time, and layers, to get to an end product that I will like. As I pasted and painted I don’t see an end result but I keep going. It’s like life. You keep adding experiences along the way. If you keep trying to see the end result you miss what is happening in the moment. You are also spending your time trying to control things into a very narrow focus. If you do that, you don’t let yourself to see what could happen along the way. You let your brain tell you where to go instead of experiencing maybe something better that you’re not being open to.


That all sounds pretty nebulous, but it resonates inside me. Where I am right now is a place of exploration. Of letting go of control. Following my heart rather than trying to limit and force things. Seeing what is there to come out. As with the paintings, they’re works in progress, as is  life. It might, probably, turn out to be something I would have never dreamt of or expected if I can just let it evolve naturally. I feel like I’ve dipped my toe in, and while it can be scary to think about plunging in fully, It’s exciting too.

It’s hard to let go of old habits but like I’ve heard, it’s just one decision away. Time to let go of old stories. Maybe putting them on the pages will release them.