Back to Art Journaling and saying thanks

Art Journal Every dayI was hoping to be halfway done with the altered book I’ve been using for my Art Journal Every Day entries by now, but the problem is that I haven’t been too good with the “every day” bit. Weeks to even a month between posts have practically ground the art journaling to a halt. But I have picked up the Art journal again, so there is hope.

I thought I’d do a “Thank you” post, more so since I’ve been trying to kick off a project. It’s something that I’ve been playing around with in my head and something I’ve been doing some mail art to prepare for. We just don’t say those two words enough. On the other side of the spectrum, a simple thank you in our hands can make such a world of difference.

I’m pulling together a Thank You Postcard Project by repurposing old advertising free cards into mail art with a visual “thank you.” I’m using my stash of decorative/fancy table napkins, subway (and other) maps and other background materials to cover the original print. I’m even using some of my original photography in some. I’ve probably pieced together close to a hundred of my doodled flowers and I just can’t stop.

It’s not about me thanking you. I want to give you the medium to say “Thank you.”  It’s about saying thank you with a postcard.. more to come.

Art Journal Every Day: My little guy turns 10

I’ve been struggling a little with getting on with the art journaling. It’s mostly been sitting on my bedside table untouched the last couple of days, so I had quite a bit to catch up on. The weekend somehow gave me the chance to do an entry and a half (the other one still in progress), and I’m happy to be art journaling again.

This page had a totally different background before I started working on it again. I wasn’t quite happy with a white page I had stamped on primarily because the pigment ink was “staining” the opposite page.  Gesso to the rescue!  I put on a thin layer to cover the previous watercolor/stamping, and although some of the blue on the right hand page seeped through, I think it covered it pretty well, allowing me to use ink spray to create a totally different background.  It was “muted” by the gesso and the direct application, but I like the effect after everything had dried.

It made the masking tape holding the page together more obvious — I needed to do some book first aid with the binding falling apart on me, but I think that added to the layout’s charm.

Art Journal Every Day: Celebrating my boy’s 10th birthday by doing a spread with his traced hand on one side and mine on the other. Still a work in progress. I haven’t been too good with the “every day” part of the project but trying to catch up.

With my little guy turning 10 last Thursday, I’ve had a very busy week.  Goodie bags had to be packed, the cupcakes bought, and then I hied down to school for a 20 minute appearance that saw him beaming.  As we walked home together, he proudly told me it was a good birthday.  That was precious..

His birthday will always be very special to me because it marked a very big change in my life.  While I wasn’t even aware until the last couple of months of how much more profound that change actually was, I cannot be more grateful for the blessing of having this little guy as my son.  He truly makes everything worth it.

I’ve tried to make it a habit to do outlines of his hand through the years just to show how he’s growing, and I journaled within the outline of his, and zentangled mine.  (Yes, all patterns were taken from official patterns for zentangling.)

I have only a few copic markers which I used to write the text around the actual journaling,    and while I was reluctant to “fill up” the page, it felt quite bare without the other text.  I wanted it to be busy and “full”…An entry all about my little boy who isn’t so little anymore. The palm of his hand is almost the same size as mine — but I like the feel of holding his tinier hand because it still makes me feel like the mom holding that hand in mine.

Time flies, indeed! I keep telling him I wish he wouldn’t grow up so fast. I feel like the passing of time will see him drift away as he grows up and joins the world out there. That is both frightful and terribly exciting for me as a mother.

He has been such a gift to me. Every day, I thank God and I pray He keep him safe.
Art Journal Every Day- in sequenceMeanwhile, here’s the half-done (not quite) page I’ll be working on next.  There was a three-inch gash tearing through the binding, so I thought I would remedy that by pasting these paper pieced doddled flowers I had inserted into the back of the book for use somewhere within the journal.  And here they are. More on this journal entry later.

Mother's Day layout

 

Art Journaling and Chunky Agate Beads

Art journaling onTrying to keep a steady pace of output can be a challenge but I’m pushing myself to the limit.  The point is not to aim to finish a piece or to complete the work. You do it a little at a time.

How I envy those who can finish one whole layout in one sitting.  I’m not quite there yet.  There are days when I get swept up with all that’s happening around me and I don’t even open my altered book or pick up my tools.  So I’m grateful when I do get the chance and I begin a new project or continue something already started — because there are many days when I just end up not accomplishing anything related to the things I’m passionate about.

Chunky Agate Bead PendantI fell in love with these beads a while back and had them in my stash but they were tucked away in their leopard print brown bag. I finally figured out a way to pull them together the way I wanted them instead of the way it was strung together originally from the bead store. I’m not quite happy with the wire wrapping but I’m wearing this pendant around my neck just to give me an idea about how it actually feels when it’s worn. I think I will re-do or add more wire this evening, but I like it just as it is for now.

It’s rough on one side and smooth on the other, but the rough side has a whole lot of oomph and character.  I just need to refine the wire wrapping and the bead placement.  I’m all excited by the possibilities but even more excited by the thought that I’m creating again.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that I can get these done by the weekend so I can post one or two in the store as new offerings.

I dream of the day when I can set aside time to do only the things I want to do and not the things I need to do to be able to do the things I want to do.  That statement is meant to make sense only to me. (Reminder to self: Buy lotto.)

One of these days, I’ll set aside a whole day and do just that: do the things I want to do.  So maybe I’ll spend the day in the city or just hop on a long distance train ride to somewhere and come back — just like that.  It’s something I’ve been thinking of doing once every say — two months or so… Just me time by myself not too far away from where I actually am.  It’s a thought.

 

 

 

Keeping up

Keeping up with the journaling

I’m trying to get back into the habit of posting here more regularly again. It’s lunch time, and I’m trying to make sure I don’t go beyond the break to write.  Just like I’ve been trying to be good with doing my art journaling.

You try to sort through the many thoughts running through your head and try to remember the ones you wanted to write about.  I’m kind of stumped.

It’s a beautiful but terribly cold day.  I made the mistake of walking out without my headgear nor my gloves, which made me postpone my plan to walk to one of my favorite bead stores to pick up more craft wire.  It’ll have to wait for until later.  Or tomorrow even.  I’m in no rush.  The promise of warmer and higher temps makes me smile, but I’m not holding my breath.  How many times has the weatherman said we were going to hit this and that and ended up 10 degrees lower than promised? (Again, someone make sure that Mother Nature gets the memo, please!)

I need to dig into some Fourth Grade arithmetic because the tyke has a unit test tomorrow.  Unfortunately for him, he seems to have gotten the gene that made numbers disagree with me when I was younger.  But we are both trying.  Motherhood and homework are bestfriends and inseparable, and I only wish I wasn’t grappling with other issues and could be at my 110% for the boy.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I think I’ve gone through that the latter part of 2013.  My world has settled to a numbing calm, but it’s also ground to an almost halt.

Sometimes I find myself standing still in the elevator or while waiting for the bus and I find myself wandering off in thought.  And there’s that creepy wish within not to move an inch this way or that.  Like I just want to stand there and not have to go… to anywhere.  But I always need to go — out of the elevator, out of the building, onto the line, and on the bus.

Spring is just around the corner, they say.  (They were counting down to it in the news this morning.)  Again, I’m not holding my breath.  In the 14 years I’ve been in New York City, I’ve experienced one of their worst winter storms one April maybe a decade or so ago.  (Too lazy to google.)  Almost a quarter of the year done.  Six months to the most challenging time I’ve had to go through.

Another audible sigh.  Of relief.  I’m still standing.  My world is in a status quo that it isn’t.  That statement doesn’t and yet at the same time makes a whole lot of sense to me.  At a time when I am weighed down by a forced moratorium on raising expectations, I’m actually bouyed by the thought that I made it through the last six months.  Scarred but not beaten.  Not feeling the winner but holding the trophy…

Lunch break’s over.  Time to get on with life again.

Art Journal Every Day: Just Believe

Art Journal Every Day: Spiral

This layout picks up from the previous multi-page layout, BELIEVE,  which had a dangling letter on the front and back end.  Because I had an “e” dangling from the “BELIEVE” layout, you see the back of that letter as the first portion of this next spread.  It was a watercolor background which made for easier journaling, and I played around with shapes and writing directionally — literally.  Somewhere in the midst of completing the days you see here, I wrote the passage on the right based on my daily readings as a reminder of the verse which resonated with me.

“Change my heart, oh, God.  May I be like you.”

But the title of this layout is “JUST BELIEVE” because of the admonition you see around the spiral on the left side.  I find that these days, my faith has become stronger even if I have put the blind faith hat on — where I don’t go beyond believing.  I don’t even think about it… I just believe — and trust that all will be taken cared of.

Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (Another Multi-page Layout)

Here is the second multi-page layout in my altered book which spells out BELIEVE through various pages. The totality of the pages looks like this:
Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) -1
I wanted to be able to write about ‘believing in happiness’ again by reinforcing this through “happines” quotes throughout the layout. I used the MISERABLE Font and found the right size that would enable me to spread out the “e-l-i-e-v” in a two-page layout and then have “b” and the last “e” fold out from outside the two pages as you see above.

I tried to do the embellishments in the various spreads using the same theme, which were watercolor and pen layered flower doodles which I did individually then pasted onto the book. I also printed the Happiness quotes on kraft paper.

If you look at the alpha sizes, the ‘B’ is pronouncedly bigger than the rest as in a Title Case.
Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) 2

The scribblings in ink around the watercolor flowers came at the same time as the journaling. I had to fill in the empty space and show a more cohesive background beyond the colors, so I did this for every layout.

Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) 3

I didn’t let my journaling be confined by the pagination.  In face the entry for this day continues onto the next journaling box which had to be after the middle page layout of the ‘l-i” which I filled in instead with a sun doodle which is a favorite graphic of mine.  (Easy to do and literally shines with positivity.)
Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) 4

 Here you’ll see the tiny journaling space which I wrote on anyway to finish the entry from the previous journaling box.

 

Art Journal Every Day: Believe
When I do my journal entries here, I don’t really care about breaking up the words in syllables or whether or not it comes out readable. I write very spontaneously, and I keep in mind that the only person who should understand what I wrote or tried to write is me.
Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) 6
For this next layout, I had a lot of space and decided to be more playful with the whole layout, putting in a pen outline of my face which was a reproduction from a photo.

Although it isn’t anything like the watercolor photos decribed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s blogpost/tutorial on Super Easy Watercolor Portraits.  It was easier, too, that I had used a ‘line drawing’ version of the photo I chose for this.
Art Journal Every Day: BELIEVE (multi-page layout) 7

Much of the right side was watercolor on a book page which would have made it difficult to write the entry, so I pasted one of my grid watercolor backgrounds onto the page and journaled there.  This whole layout made room for a total of 3 days’ journaling which was an added bonus.  I could’ve done a fourth on my face but I liked the way I traced the impression on the page and decided to keep it as it.

So can you believe all that evolved from this?

 Art Journal Every Day-BELIEVE original

Art Journal Every Day: “Life isn’t fair but God is”

My journal entries are very raw and frank that is why while I used to share my journaling openly, I’ve opted to blur the journaling this time around. I’ve also used my entries to encourage myself to move forward and be more optimistic. For the most part, it’s a continuing effort. But at the end of the day, just seeing the entries that are already done gives me a sense of accomplishment. To me, it’s a very concrete manifestation of physically moving forward which helps me motivation-wise.

Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close upsHere’s a layout that I rendered by doing layers of text. First, there’s a highlighter background rendering of the lyrics of a favorite song of mine by Rupert Holmes, “Touch and Go”.

There are two main lines here (totally unrelated to the song) but they are really visible only when you look closely it have the book in your hands.

On the left is the title of this post: “Life isn’t fair but God is.”
Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close ups
Then under the main journal entry which I wrote using a black fine sharpie, I write “It will get better.”

Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close ups

It’s very busy but that was the whole point of layering the texts with minimal drawings. I had started doodling these type of flower scribbles when I was in high school and haven’t really used them in any layout so I did on this one.

This is how it end up looking once done:
Art Journal Every Day: Life isn't fair but God is"

Til the next entry..

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE (A multi-page layout)

I have several of these multi-page layouts in my altered book but I tried to think of words which evoked positivity and then executed it in different ways.

This layout started out as this:

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - original multi-page layout before journaling
The left hand page was a watercolor layout I pasted on the book page, and I picked out four different fonts for the individual letters of “HOPE”. I painted the pages and concentrated on the fourth of the right side page that I needed and then traced the letters onto the page and cut them.

Because the pages with the letters had acrylic paint, I had to use permanent ink to draw and write on them.  Note that ordinary black signpens will not adhere to the paint and tend to stain the other page. As this was already a rather “colorful” layout, I decided I’d stick with an all-black border and background theme.

I did the first layout with doodled flowers and hand-drawn dates.

Art Journal Every Day -HOPE

After I finished the first entry, I then started drawing on the empty spaces behind the letters to make the multi-page layout more cohesive. I also made sure each journal block had a distinctive border to frame the entry.

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

I also maximized the blank spaces behind the letters as much as I could. Black worked for the most part but I needed to use silver and/or gold for the darker page painted with violet. I kept the floral embellishment to black, though.

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

For the final layout below, I decided to use some spray painted
filofax grid pages I had sprayed with ink. I simply pasted it onto the blank center and wrote on it.  I wanted to do more journaling than drawing on this particular spread, and it was just easier writing on a water-color or ink painted journal space than the practically whole two-page spread that was painted with light purple acrylic paint.  I drew randomly on the other blank spaces to fill it in.Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

I am very heavy on the written journaling and have yet to move on to symbolic or art-based entries. I am trying, but this works better for me.

I’m finishing another multi-page layout again right now and will probably be able to share that next week. (If not sooner.)  Some of the entries are short and other go on from page to page.  I don’t necessarily choose to confine my entries on one page.  I let it flow and just move on to the next page if I’ve run out of space.

I’ve tried to work on part of a layout or a layout every day but I don’t stress about “catching up” if I miss out on a day or two.  If I do, I just write when I can.  I write in the “now” so whatever day it is when I finally write again, I pick up from there.

Time to do today’s entry.

Art Journal Every Day: I will overcome

Art journal Every day: I will overcome

I finally found an app that will help me blur the journaling around the actual layout after searching high and low in the app store. Thank you, Photo Blur!

Can you believe the layout above began with the pages below?
Art Journal Every Day: original layout before journaling

I’ve been trying to spend a little time each day working on multi-date layouts (where I put a sentence or two about a given topic featured on the page) or in completing actual journal entries.  I just finished working on a multi-page layout and will begin another one, and I can’t wait to see how that progresses and turns out after I am done.  It’s very refreshing to see something which I thought was already “done” get totally transformed into something different once I finish working on it.

I like the way I have made it a routine to pray, journal, pray, journal, pray, draw.  And then when I can, I try to get some reading done.  The downside is I haven’t had much time to write the cards and letters I have been making a mental list of, and neither have I been good with the e-mails.  I am trying to structure my time in such a way that I make a habit of beginning my day with my usual prayer/s and then I try to get some reading done if I wake up early enough.  (Today was a struggle, though, because I didn’t get up until almost 7am!  I know I should’ve straddled out of bed at 5:10am when I woke up..but I was summoned back to bed, and it was too tempting not to catch some more sleep before the day began.)

At lunch time, I try to catch up on my daily readings from KerygmaFamily if I haven’t already done it by then.  And if I still have time, I write on one of two journals that preoccupy me in real time writing.

It takes me time to finish a layout but I try to be good about it.  There are times when the journaling is done for the day but it takes me a day or two more to finish the actual page.  I like seeing the book taking shape… I find it so inspiring to even just glance at it on my desk without opening it, seeing its many colored pages.  I like that someone who can’t even draw a face without the help of tracing an outline can come up with this.  It’s something very personal that shows me what I am becoming and where I’ve been. 

My first layouts in 2012 were mostly symbolic without much journaling, but these days I find a greater need to write.  Sometimes in ways only I can understand.  I layer writing over writing and then just trust that I will understand it if I ever go back to it.  Otherwise, I am happy with the way it has come together.  It doesn’t need to be read, it only needs to be seen as a whole.
Instagram Buzz
I posted this on my Instagram with this caption:

Art journal every day: I will move on – I started doing #artjournaleveryday in 2012 when I first bumped into @balzerdesigns, Julie Fei-fan Balzer’s website . To this day, she is an inspiration to me as a non-artist trying to come up with personal art. She has generously shared her comments and techniques. I recently returned to #artjournaling using my #alteredbook which had lain dormant for most of 2013. This year, I promise to take better care of me and focus on myself while taking care of others.

I got the biggest surprise of my life when Julie left a comment and made my day. She truly inspires and makes a difference in so many people’s lives.