Keyframe

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What is it like to move to another country?
To leave everything you’ve ever known behind?
What if not only is it another country, but culture?
What if even the language is different?
How would you find your way?
How would you know when you have inadvertently stepped over a line?
As if land were suddenly water, or you must suddenly live in the sky.
Alienating. Fear. Excitement.
Like learning to walk again.
Is this what paraplegics do? Are they unexpectedly immigrants?

(detail)
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I found this slip as I was trading cars (always stressful) and while meditating on how I long for community but have a very hard time maintaining it. So many people have violated my trust. The idea of all my ancestors cheering me on came to me just shortly before I found this. It helped validate my message.

Here is the legend from a map used as part of this. I like these – you need a reference point to know what you are looking at.

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Here is the definition of the word –
Keyframe
n. a moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life—set in motion not by a series of jolting epiphanies but by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next, until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images—which prevents you from rewinding the past, but allows you to move forward without endless buffering.

Ingredients:
Strathmore visual journal
Glue stick
Magazine photos
Fortune cookie message
The distance key from a map

Created 3-2-16

The pictures were taken with my phone. Maybe I’ll remember to scan this and switch them out. This gives you an idea, at least.

(edit – here are the scanned, and thus brighter, images)
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Memory map exercise

Here is an exercise to dig down deep.

Choose a picture of a place where you spent a lot of time as a child. Perhaps this was your old family home that you moved from. Or a family friend’s house. Or your elementary school playground. It is important that this be a place that you have a lot of memories about.

Make a color copy of the picture and paste it into your journal. Don’t use an original picture or you won’t feel free to work with it like you need to.
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You might be able to find a picture online of this place if you no longer have a photograph (you moved, for instance). Use Google image search and put in the address in question. You might be surprised what you can find, as real estate agents often take many pictures and leave them up even after the house has sold.

Write a map grid around the edges – evenly space letters on one side and numbers on the other side.
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Use this grid to refer to elements in the picture. What happened in each place? What does that remind you of? You can go as deep as you want, and as off subject as you want. Nobody has to see this. Keep writing about what happened in that one area until you wind down. Move on to another area. Repeat. You can use different colors to help keep track of your wanderings – first thoughts, tangents off of that, for instance.

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You don’t have to start at the top and work your way down. You can write about whatever catches your fancy first and go from there.

Many different things will come up while you do this – memories that you’d long forgotten. This is a time to cherish the beautiful ones and heal the hard ones. You are older now, and stronger, and better able to work with them. Events are tricky things when we are younger – they might be too heavy for us to carry. When we get older, we have more tools at our disposal. This is a special time that you have to work on them, a second chance.

At the end, thank yourself for giving yourself permission to do this work.

Signals and signs

Signal and sign1

What is message and what is mountain?
What is writing and what is river?
Is a road a word?
Is a map a manuscript?
Signal/noise
Unreferenced symbol
Un-received messages
Lost languages
The boundaries between mountain and lake are often the boundaries between cultures and countries.
Decay of transmission
There must be at least one who can understand for meaning to be transmitted.

Details –
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(middle)

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(top left)

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(bottom right)

Ingredients –
Bought ephemera – Asian map, page of Asian writing
Paint- olive green, manganese blue, white, mixed with water. Dabbed on mixed very lightly with a smished paint brush and wiped off with paper towel.
Gel pens, matte medium
Strathmore art journal

Created 2-11-16

Objects in life

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Objects in life are closer than they appear.

Thoughts that arose while making it:
Scale is important. Compare this to this. Otherwise you are lost, even with a map.
Everything is relative. How do you indicate place when a part of the frame or reference is missing?
The edges are there but the middle is blank.
How little rivers look like lightning.
When lost, follow the river. You’ll find people. (Are they good? Is this safe?)

Ingredients:
8.5 x 12 inch Strathmore visual journal
Matte medium, glue stick.
Map. Card stock. Distress Ink (rusty hinge pad, crushed olive spray)
Gel pen. Art paper (K and Company designer paper by Susan Winget)
Created 1/29/16.

Search party

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Full image

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Right side detail

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Top left detail.

Created 1/24/16. Our scanner broke so there is a backlog and I’m posting a batch of them. The images were taken with my cell phone. The colors are an approximation – they are a little lighter and less intense in the original.

Thoughts that arose while making it:
Framed. Blood trail. Tracking through the woods in misty rain. Hair clues. Musical notes. Organized search party. Tracks crossing water, trail washed out. Switchbacks, doubling back, retracing steps.

Ingredients:
8.5 x 12 inch Strathmore visual journal
Card stock (Pacon watercolor)
Tissue paper
Deli paper
Matte medium
Watercolor
Loose hairs from watercolor brush
Map pieces
Glue stick.

November 1 2015 memory map

11-1-15 map watercolor

This was inspired by the artwork of Walter Inglis Anderson as well as that famous Moody Blues album, along with –

Topographic maps. Botswana agates. The glorious colors of fall leaves. The aimless trails left by burrowing insects in wood. Cloisonné. Geodes. Fractals. Intestines and the villi inside them. The meandering shiny trails left by snails on spiderwebs and across fallen damp leaves. “Ghosts of leaves” – Tannin stains on sidewalks left from falling leaves and rain in November. Rorschach tests. Misty mornings. The smell of decay and over-ripeness of wild muscadines rotting on the vine. Unknown secrets, so dark and forgotten that no one even knows they are secrets anymore.

Shrouds, palls, and veils.
Inlets, coves, and fjords.
Maps, puzzles, and labyrinths.

Lightning amongst the clouds on a humid late summer’s night. Tendrils on grapevines, blindly reaching, binding. How the letters don’t touch each other on Torah scrolls.
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I mostly let my mind go free and “filled in the blanks” on a blank piece of paper. I selected color moment by moment. There was no pre-sketching or planning. This took a little over an hour to do. I kept another piece of paper nearby to write the words for what I was seeing/remembering/being inspired by. I think of it as a sort of memory map that works both ways. It shows me where I have been and shows me where I’m going, and something more.

Watercolor on 8” x 6” medium-heavy paper.

A picture of something that inspires me. Found on a walk at lunch at the Hermitage library. There is a small creek that runs beside it. This is a wonderful log with insect-wandering-doodles.

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Lines on a humid window.
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Inuksuk journey

This piece is about finding myself in a land that doesn’t have any maps.

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There is a map on the left-hand side. It goes from being highly populated at the bottom to being barely populated at the top. There are a lot of place names for cities and villages on the bottom part of the map. But when you go further north, the place names get fewer and farther between, and they get different. The place names further north are the place names from the people who live there, and they are in Inuit.

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They are harder for us to pronounce. Their alphabet looks entirely different from ours. It is full of circles and triangles. The Inuit did not have a written language for many years. The way that they explained to each other how to get from one area to another was with these huge stone sculptures, called inuksuit (plural of inuksuk). They aren’t art sculptures, they are assemblages of stones that are found in that place. The inuksuit are the only way to navigate in a land that is filled with snow and ice. They didn’t have cities and roads like we do, so they couldn’t say “Go 3 miles and then turn left onto Main Street.” There was no Main Street. There were no streets. It is a land of ice and snow.

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It is really rude that this land is called Newfoundland. It isn’t newly found. It never was lost. The people who lived there had found it. To say that it was found by new settlers means that no one was there at the time it was “found”. To call it Newfoundland is insulting to the people who were living there. It is to say that they are not people and that they do not own this land.

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I have used tissue paper to cover up some of the names and settlements of the people who moved in after the Inuit. I have done this to try and reclaim the land. I have also done this because I don’t want to look at those areas. These are scars upon the land. In a way, by putting tissue paper I am putting up a drift of snow. I am reclaiming that area. I am saying that area should not be in the possession of the white people. It should be in possession of the people who lived there before, and who still live there.

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The inuksuk that I have used is a direction finding one. All inuksuit are different. One may indicate where is a good place to hunt, another where is a good place to find caribou or yet another that is a dangerous area.

 
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This particular one shows you where to go. You look through the big inuksuk towards the little inuksuk. It points the way. When the little one is in the center of your view, you know that is the direction to go. You are pointed in the right direction.

But think about the people who were there before you. How did they figure out that was a safe way to go? It was very kind of them to leave the stones for you to tell you that this was the best travel route. But think about it. In order to do that, they had to come back safely. They went to the trouble of figuring out a safe passage to start off with and then they came back to put up a marker.

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It reminds me of a sponsor in AA. They have gone through the difficulty of becoming sober and then they committed to helping you find your way too. It is the same as in Buddhism. Someone who is enlightened, a bodhisattva, renounces going to Nirvana for the sake of everyone else. Instead of leaving this plane of existence, they stay so that they can help others find their way. They show you where it is safe and where it is dangerous, just like these rocks do.

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(better light)
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I like this particular inuksuk not only because it indicates direction but also because it looks like a torii gate. They are part of the Shinto religion in Japan. They are not gates to keep people out. Rather, they are an indicator that you have stepped from the secular into the sacred. They let you know that you are on holy ground.

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This is made with canvas, acrylic paint, a map of Newfoundland, two Canadian stamps, watercolor pencil on water color paper, tissue paper, and matte medium.

Here is a behind-the-scenes illustration of how I created the main Inuksuk.  (which is composed of two Inuksuit)

Here is the reference picture from a book from the library.

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Here is my solution to how to “paint” it.  I drew the stones onto heavy watercolor paper, using watercolor pencils.  Once I was happy with them, I cut them out and glued them together on the canvas.  I essentially created my own stones and stacked them. This meant that I could edit an area without affecting the entire piece.

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