Too many journals?

I have a journal problem. I can’t pass a new one up, even though I have a lot of them already. They are all different sizes and shapes. And these are just the empty ones!

Here is a list of the ones I’m in the middle of. I have only recently come to accept this part of my creative process and not fight it.

 

The big Strathmore one where I paint and glue.

One where I am rewriting the Psalms.

A book where I color and reflect upon the Psalms.

“Color your life” coloring and journaling.

A small magazine collage.

A large magazine collage.

A daily one with meditations, observations, stories, and art and ephemera.

Paper vintage ephemera collage.

One for testing new art supplies and the bison series.

A small leather book (handmade) with meditations on the oneness of God.

A biography of myself using stamps as the illustration / reminders / triggers.

A book where I put in my history and illustrated with printed pictures.

A small journal that I take to church to take notes.

A journal just for writing in with nothing else – no art.  It has meditations and observations on my life trying to figure out how to make things work better.

A dream journal.

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That is a lot of journals!

I use them in different ways, putting different things in them – different materials, different ideas. Some are open to the world, some are more private.

Having multiple journals going at once means that I can work on whatever I want when I want instead of having to feel stuck with one project at a time.

However, I do sometimes feel that I never get anything done, that I have too many “open tickets” to borrow a term from my husband’s work. When this happens I then look at what journals I’m closest to finishing and focus on them.

But it isn’t long before I will start another one!

Sometimes I think I have too many journals, and then I think of hermit crabs, who have to have several different shells to choose from when it is time for them to trade shells. My journals are my shells, where I put myself.

Here are some I have finished that were made with a theme. There are plenty others that are just daily writing or observations.

These include one where I wrote out my favorite verses from the Psalms (on paper I first gessoed and inked); one about the eclipse 8/21/17; a longitudinal study of a maple tree in autumn, and a tiny one that has pictures and words from magazines.

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Stone Hall

I have decided to go sketch outside once a week (at least).

This is my first trip.  It was Friday October 10/6/17

This was at Stone Hall park, a tiny Metro park near my home.  It was a private residence that was built 1918.

I found a little porch where I could sit.

Here is the dry watercolor pencil version. This took an hour.

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Here it is after I added water.

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A lady named Julie came by and unlocked it.  She was cleaning it up for a wedding that afternoon.  I asked if I could go in.  She said yes.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I’ve made up so many excuses to skip doing this for at least a year.  It was too hot or cold or sunny or wet or I was tired or needed to go to the bathroom or take leftovers home….and while some of these were applicable here, I went anyway because I had packed my supplies and a camp chair in my car.   I thought it would be a shame to not at least go and look.  I ended up spending over an hour here.  It was very invigorating.

Here is me inside the building.

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The inside/outside room

This week’s sketching adventure was at Summit hospital. There is a small patio that is surrounded by the building. It is inside and outside at the same time. The door has been locked for at least a year due to construction and remodeling.

I’d been there a year ago (an annual appointment with my cardiologist brings me here) and was planning to sketch then.  The construction had just begun, so there was no way.  This sign greeted me this year –

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I looked.  I could see no danger.  I didn’t test the door.

I got a pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop and sketched and photographed from inside, through the glass.  This was my view from the inside.

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This is what I sketched (this is dry watercolor pencil)

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It is more impressionistic than realistic.  I didn’t match up the angles in the top North East corner (9 to 10 on the clock), so there is a gap.  It is OK, and I was grateful to have done this – to have made time to do this.

But this wasn’t enough for me. I talked to three people to determine why it was still locked.  The second person didn’t even think people were meant to be out there.  When I told her there were benches, she changed and said “Ask Ann” and jerked her thumb behind her to a small window that was set up like a bank teller.  It turns out that Ann is in charge of the switchboard. I have decided that if Ann doesn’t know the answer, she knows who knows.  She made some calls. She learned that it was safe to open again.  She called a security guard to unlock it for me.

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I’m the first person there in a year.

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I was overwhelmed with joy and pride at my bravery in asking.  I quietly said the “Shehecheyanu” prayer  – – “Blessed are You, Lord, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.”

I chose a bench to sit on.  Here is what I saw –

One picture could not cover it all.

Here is what I sketched – (this is dry watercolor pencil)  This was 10-11 am, Friday October 13, 2017.  It was about 65 degrees.

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Here is what it looks like after, with water added. sum 10.jpgSketching isn’t about drawing everything that you see.  It is more than a photograph.  The filter is your perspective – not only externally, but internally.  It is what you want to show.  It is about editing out the trash cans, or highlighting the blue reflection of the mirrored glass.  It is choosing to draw only three lines of windows instead of 5.

It is more than a photograph because it shows things from a human perspective.

I took the results to the three people who I talked to in order to gain access.  I said “here is the fruit of our labors”   – and only the coffee shop person even remembered me.  I’d been gone for an hour and the other two had talked to lots of other people in the meantime.  They had forgotten about me.

Ann was particularly taken by my sketch and said “Do you do this for a living?”  No – I’m not paid (yet) for my art.  I do this to live.  But I don’t make money at it.  She brought up a local artist, Phil Ponder.  To have my art compared with his is a huge complement.  She said “You have real talent”.  I am pleased with my work, but I don’t think it is that great.  But this is inspiring.   She also thought that it would be a shame for this to stay in my journal – that I should make it so it can be on display in the hospital.

We will see.  This would involve asking more people, making sure that it will actually be on display and not hidden in a corner.  It might involve re-painting it on bigger and better paper.  Getting it framed.  Do I pay for that – or do they?  Do I want to go through all of that work?

The buffalo series

I went to a moving sale for an art store.  They drastically reduced their prices so they didn’t have to tote everything over to their new location.  I heard about the sale a little late, and it was a few more days until I had a day off and could go.  This meant that the supplies I was looking for weren’t there – and certainly not the colors.  I decided this was a good opportunity to try out new kinds of art materials as well as new colors.

I chose a vintage postcard of an American buffalo (really, it is a bison) that a pen-pal sent.

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I made a limit for myself that I could only use the materials that I had bought at the sale, and only one material type per page.  I used carbon paper to transfer the outline of the buffalo to my sketchbook.

Here it is in pastel –

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This is artist crayons –

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This is colored pencil –

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This is acryl-gouache –

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I will add more versions here as I do them.  There is only one more medium to use from that sale, but I am enjoying this enough that I may continue doing this in other mediums – perhaps even in collage and washi tape.

Here is “Jerry’s Artarama jumbo jet sanguine”, charcoal pencil, lamp black pencil, and Derwent onyx.

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Hidden pictures

You know those picture books where you’re supposed to find a hidden picture? There may be an elephant or a rabbit or even a cartoon character hidden within the picture. You know that you’re supposed to spend some time really looking deeply into this picture to see what is hidden there for you. Otherwise you’d pass right over it after just a glance.

What if life is like that? What if everything is a hidden picture and we’re supposed to slow down and look very carefully?

I like to think of that with God. I like to think that God is hidden within everything and that if we just look really hard will see God hiding in plain sight right front of us. Just like with those pictures. The elephant or the rabbit or the cartoon character was always there. We didn’t have to uncover anything. We just had to slow down and take the time to look, and the only reason we knew to do that was because of the title of the picture. It was there all along.

Try this with everything. Try looking for the hidden – this hidden beauty in everything. I promise that you will see amazing things.

Grief message – our loved ones are still with us

Our loved ones remain absent from us for as long as we mourn. Their spirit cannot intersect with ours while we grieve. They are afraid to plunge us further into the pit of despair, so they do not approach. Plus our “certainty” that they are lost to us forever in this realm creates that reality. We see what we expect to see.

Bodies are not permanent. Death is inevitable. However, we are more than our bodies. Once we open up and remember that the soul (the part that matters most) is immortal we will once again be able to interact with those who have passed.

It will be in a different way, of necessity. We will see with our hearts instead of our eyes, and we will feel with our souls instead of our bodies.

This is not a skill that Western society teaches because it isn’t even seen as possible. Western society speaks only of the afterlife – of meeting souls again only after we die. However, this connection is still possible during life. It takes practice – but more importantly, it takes knowing that it is possible. Take some time soon to “call up” your loved ones who have passed from this dimension and invite them for a chat. You’ll both be glad you did.

Earl and the Geese

He was waiting for the birds. Every year around this time they flew over his land with their squawks and chirps or silently, only the perturbation of their wings a sign to look up.

So few people looked up anymore, he mused. So concerned about staying on the sidewalk, not veering off the path, not tripping over a root or rock. They never looked up unless told to, and then reluctantly, squinting as if they only half wanted to look.

Duke, his loyal hound, almost never looked up. His neck wasn’t built like that, not when he was walking. He could look when he was sitting, when his spine was closer to being perpendicular to the earth that he loved to sniff and dig at. But even he would stop and take a glance at a gander or a goose when it honked its hello from on high.
It was a sign, he’d learned after all these years of living alone in the woods, that it was time to decide whether to hunker down or move on. Maine in the winter wasn’t easy for someone even in their 40s, and Earl had passed that decades ago. If the geese were high, he’d stay. If low, time to go south to his sister’s house for the season. Maybe she’d let him in if he apologized and meant it this time.

False sincerity can come from a fear of frostbite, and she knew it. It wasn’t any use letting him in if his words weren’t from the heart. Otherwise, it would be a long winter, regardless of the weather. If things weren’t right between them, the coldness outside would be nothing to the coldness in the house between them.

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Notes on the story –
This short story was inspired by a card left in a book by a patron. Her name is Peach McComb, and she is a professional artist. She makes cards of her artwork to use as business cards. Since I was through with the “Short and Strange” series, I decided to write something inspired by her card. I taped it in my journal and chose to only use one page, forcing me to limit what I wrote to just the essentials.
This story is like a sketch instead of a full rendering. I chose to leave the rest up to the reader. Consider these questions – Why are the brother and sister estranged? Why does he live alone in the woods in Maine, far from family? How long will he keep going back to the woods once the weather improves? What did he do before moving there? Is it significant that his name is Earl and his dog is named Duke? Feel free to write the rest of the story and post it here.