Thirty-one days in a row, I showed up to the canvas. And THIS emerged! I am overwhelmed with awe. I have learned that one day at a time really works. I am not as concerned about the rest of the year. Although I did find myself sad that January is over, a strange new emotion for me. Usually I rush this month and push through it to get to the warmer seasons ahead.
What caused this sadness? A parting grief, because the canvas will never be this combination again. Even though I am documenting each day, and even have plans to create something with the digital images, I come to like it the way it is.
Like yesterday, when the "door" was still white.
But now it's greenish yellow and full of texture and glitter, and it's still a door symbol. A door leading to February. And when I enter the room tomorrow, what new adventure will beckon me? What element will call out to be added? That is the joy that comes in the morning. Until then, I gaze at its form and enjoy what has become a companion of sorts.
To see the progression of the canvas follow me at Instagram and check out #souldare
playswithpurpose Such subtle changes have such dramatic impact (This comment from my friend, Kelly, on Instagram, summarizes how I have been feeling, as I add one element each day to the canvas)
Each day presents its own challenge.
Sometimes exciting, sometimes daunting.
This daily canvas practice metaphor-izes before my eyes each day. I don't really think of the metaphor in the moment, but the daily accumulation of actions beckon me to think outside the canvas. It's more than a creative challenge.
The metaphor of daily change eases it's way into my consciousness with each choice. Each day reveals how change subtly effects life. (Although some days, it is a bolder stroke that catches my eye, but mostly it's the subtleties that rise up with the wings of metaphor into my contemplative soul.
On day eighteen, I chose to glue envelope strips to the bottom; half blade of grass, half flames licking the edge. Open to interpretation.
Another awareness: while I practice my art in solitude, I intentionally chose to broadcast my progress to an audience. Those listeners, seekers, watchers of social media. And I welcome the interaction, for I am not alone. I prefer to work alone, but this project is part of the way I process life. How community matters to me, just as much as solitude.
But back to subtle change, and how it impacts the canvas, the artist, the audience and how it informs the experiences of life.
On the canvas it creates texture, dimension and interest. It's barely perceptible to the eye or documenting camera phone. But to the one who enjoys the pleasure of the canvas' presence on a daily basis, the small marks and choices bring unexpected joys. Today I added some blue marks on the "grass-fire" and then sealed them with glitter medium that dries clear and sparkly. I could not capture this with my phone, but later in the morning during my coffee and journal practice, a glint of light caught my eye. The blades were shimmering like the freshly fallen snow outside. Like ice crystals on blades of grass.
The subtle changes to the canvas, frankly scare me, the artist, each day. Because, I wonder if they are enough. It's funny how easy I begin to judge the process, rather than just witness the changes.
Mostly, I respond to what's on the canvas by bringing something from the surrounding environment to the day. But a subtle fear, desire or concern hovers in the back of my mind: how can I sustain a whole year of daily changes? That's when metaphor and reality combine to give me relief.
One day at a time! One change at a time. Being responsive to the change, rather than commanding it to work for me, frees me to enjoy the process and the outcome of each choice.
And learning that one decision does not have to control the whole. It can be added to or impacted by a new choice. Early on I chose to paint a blue square in the upper corner. It kept mocking me day after day. I was going to paint over the whole square with fuschia. But as I carefully cut the paint into the curve of the "S" . . . a heart presented itself. And then I decided, I would not obliterate the blue, just enhance it.
Some of the fuschia paint found its way down to other sections, adding a happy blush. And now the blue feels better, more at home where it started, now accompanied by an infusion of fuschia joy.
How does the subtleties affect the audience? Only they really know, but when I read a comment, I know that the changes on the canvas are impacting them. And so, I extrapolate a principle.
One that goes like this: any change in my life or another life does impact the other. Maybe for good, maybe for not. But either way, change is happening every moment and sometimes we are aware and sometimes we are not.
To be subtle or bold is a choice that faces me each day, and sometimes the subtler ones make me the happiest.
Here is a slideshow of some recent changes:
I stand outside the canvas. An observer. A witness of what has been happening over the past seven days. But I am also on the canvas, marks made by my hand and ideas generated by my brain. Even underlying emotions, doubts and questions exist both on and outside the canvas.
This new found awareness surfaces, as I add a new element each day. Seven days in, and I find myself thinking ahead. What color will I add tomorrow? Now that most of the canvas has color on it, what else can I add? Should I add collage? Should I scribble with a charcoal pencil or write words with a permanent marker? These very questions alert me to a fact about myself. I plan ahead. Living in a moment is harder than I thought.
Then the fears of the un-blank canvas crowd in. What if I run out of ideas? What if one thing obscures another? What if I don't like a certain element or color choice? I have to live with these fears and inner concerns. To live with them breeds other insecurities, like what if I can't keep up, what if I miss a day, what if I get stuck? While all of these are real concerns, it occurs to me that it is not unlike facing a new year, with all those blank months so conveniently boxed into days on the calendar.
I don't know what those days hold, anymore than I can readily predict what will go on the canvas each day. I have to be in the moment. Live out each day and choice as they happen. And enjoy the process and the proceedings as I go.
This is freedom. This is good. Surprises and even disappointments are ahead, but there is no need to figure them out. I can relax. I don't have to brace myself for what may or may not happen next. I am learning to breathe deeper. And to exhale more completely. It's all part of being a witness to my own life and the work I choose. I am grateful.
The new year is often likened to a blank canvas. A blank canvas rested in my art studio. This excited me, because I woke up thinking of how I might use it. In the past when, I had a quality canvas to create with, I hesitated. I didn't want to ruin it. I wanted to save it for something important or special.
I pulled out my quality Italian easel that I got at a garage sale for mere pennies in comparison to its original cost. I placed my treasured blank canvas on the easel. I spent most of the day just sitting with it, watching the shadows play across its face as the sunlight shifted throughout the day. I took some photos. I didn't write about it until now.
About middday, I decided to paint with my leftover morning coffee. The liquid dribbled down the canvas leaving a subtle tint.
What if I added one layer or element to the canvas for the next 365 days? And just like a whole year stretching out before me the blank canvas invites me to participate and practice. To wait and see what each day will bring. (If you'd like to watch what emerges follow me at Instagram: kelrohlf.)
Here's a glimpse at Day Two.
photo taken around 7:30am on January 2, 2016
an hour later the sun inspired me to trace the lighted shapes with a pencil
No promises, but I'll try to document the process here every few days or so for my own record, and possibly to inspire you to choose your own daily practice.
Experimentation is messy fun done with no expectations. It’s play. Experimentation is not caring about the outcome, but caring about the fun of seeing what happens--
and that is raw art.
(Quinn McDonald, Raw Art Journaling)
What fun it is to experiment and play with words and art. Once a month, I facilitate a workshop type class where we play with art and celebrate our created self. I wanted to build on our theme of "Seeing NEW" by playing with words as our focal point, rather than image this time.
This desire led me to adapt an idea from Quinn McDonald's book, Raw Art Journaling. I passed around random pages from Anne Lindbergh Morrow's classic, Gift from the Sea, to each participant. They bravely experimented with this somewhat intimidating technique.
I encouraged them to scan rather than read the text, in order to circle phrases that stood out to them and SEE what would surface. And to our glad surprise, each one came up with a message just for them, which also encouraged the rest of us, as they read them out loud.
Here are four of the offerings from our journey together. (We photographed the pages. Some were clearer than others, so I will share the text under each found poem.)
Found by Kelly
a walk in the country
awakened to a new sense
to a true appreciation of
the here and now and the individual
the saint, the poet
never quite forgotten,
member of the family
the spontaneity of now
the vividness of here
Found by Janet
State of solitude
Take or leave it
Avoid rejection ~ WallFlower panic
We never need be alone any more
At our side
Found by Carol
"coming of age"
competing with another
find her true center
follow the advice of the poet
to expand the neglected sides
the art of inward looking
has been too rushed
Found by Tracy
spiritual freedom and peace
luxury of choice
complication of life
security, comfort or beauty
wind, sun, smell
Have you ever tried to find a poem in a text before? Would love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Often, I find it helps to have some kind of prompt or challenge to jumpstart my creative practice. I adapted Jenniebellie's challenge to make one layer a day on several backgrounds. My twist was to take seven basic layers that I usually incorporate and do all the layers on one canvas.
After I chose my seven techniques, I printed them out and cut them apart. Next I chose the order randomly, and challenged myself to use what I had on hand to fulfill the prompt.
Here's the order that presented itself to me.
For my focal image, I picked two magazine images and glued them with a glue stick onto a piece of watercolor paper.
I really liked this old photo from a vintage magazine, and the colorful rubberbands caught my eye, so I arranged them together. In this process, you get to make several decisions, which can be part of the challenge, but also built my confidence, as the page evolved. With each decision, I realized that I do have some basic color and design knowledge that emerges while using a mostly intuitive approach to quickly adding elements based on the prompt.
My second prompt was "add color." Since acrylic paints were on my table, I grabbed three colors and white. I poured random blobs of paint around the page, and spread the color with a brush.
I sped up the drying process with my blow dryer, and then moved onto layer three, which was spritz water or ink. I used yellow ink and water, and let the ink and water drizzle down the page. The effect was very subtle and caused the picture to crinkle, but I liked it.
Layer four was my most challenging, to doodle or scribble on the page. I really never know where to start with this step. This time, I happened to notice a floral print on the wallpaper in the photo. I decided to doodle a floral border with a black pastel.
With three more layers to go, the decisions became more and more driven by the previous layers. I chose a stencil that seemed to compliment the emerging design. I placed it over the open spaces and dabbed gesso with a sponge brush onto the page. Will I be happy? How much is too much, always hovers over me, while I add each layer.
With each layer, I was conscious of my focal image. I liked it so much I made sure to not put too much media over it.
Sometimes this is hard,especially since it was my first element. Normally, I add the focal image near the end of a page. Layer six was to add a repeated stamped image. I saw a stamp on my shelf across the room, and the red ink pad was on the table. The stamp complimented the floral border that I doodled earlier.
My last layer, to add paper scraps, ended up being a decision that took a bit of thinking. Usually, I randomly glue scraps of paper to a page first. So this time, I decided to intentionally glue the scraps of paper in the blank space near the photo, to make a type of journaling box to use later.
I have been enjoying this challenge so much that I've been sharing the idea with others. I hope you'll try the challenge.
One of my students suggested to write responses on a separate piece of paper, to process how each layer affected her, as she made her page. (Or if you want, write your response to each layer right on the page, and see how the writing adds to the layers.)
Enjoy the process! Here's to seeing NEW!
As I continue to explore life through the lens of art journaling and mixed-media techniques, my eyes have sharpened. I see things in ways that I never expected. I seek out patterns, color combinations, and fresh approaches to combining techniques that I've learned from other artist's online.
I am happiest, when I am in the midst of magazine images and colorful mark makers like Crayola crayons, Caran D'Arche Neocolor II, Portraits' Watersoluble Oil Pastels, Gelatos, acrylics or watercolors and a glue stick.
I love sharing ideas and inspiring others, so once a month I gather materials and head over to a local gallery to teach a small group of women. We journey together to discover our created selves, to express our unspoken desires and to SEE how integrating who we are and what we want makes us who we will become.
Our theme this year is "Seeing NEW!" Using various techniques and projects, we are widening our perspective. Today, we worked on accordian books, which we adapted from ideas demonstrated by Daisy Yellow. I had prepared two books before class, and had a blank one, when I arrived home.
After being in the midst of these creative ones, I wanted to play some more. I recently learned a technique from Jenniebellie's Monthly Challenge. In December, she challenged us to embrace a childhood game of making inkspots, using acrylic paints and scraps of paper.
It occured to me that the creases in my accordian book would be a perfect place to create some colorful "inkspots."
We definitely will be applying this technique to a future project in class! That was as far as I got with this book, so it will be fun to see what I add to the other side.
Here are some more photos of the books in progress.
three books from one manila folder
side one of "love" book
side two, I love the blank canvas panel with bird!
opposite side of "models" book, traced the images and then cut out and glued over security envelopes that I "harvested" from the mail
I love adventures. To travel and experience a new place inspires me. But I don't want my adventure to be defined by place only. I long to seek adventure every day.
While away this winter, I recharged my daring soul. I lived on a small boat with my husband and our dog, Kokomo. We explored the gulf shore of Florida. (Panama City Beach and Dunedin) Click here
to read more about those adventures.
I soaked my soul in the sunshine, quieted by the crashing surf and relaxed by the warm breezes. I carried my art supplies along to create in unrushed, uncharted, uninhibited ways.
In January, I followed along with Lisa Sonora and her FLOW
Challenge. (I made a journal out of greeting cards, which I learned from Jenniebellie
.) I glued ephemera and fodder from our daily life into a glue book. And I sketched, doodled and experimented with colors and mixing media.
When I came home, I wasn't sure what my art practice would look like. But I did want to incorporate the new found freedom of making art wherever I happened to be. On our boat, I didn't have a dedicated space. I would spread out my supplies inside the cabin or outside in the back of the boat. Or I would take a few select supplies to the beach, walk to a spot, sit and create.
I was pleasantly surprised with myself when I arrived home. I couldn't remember if my art studio had been left in haste. I found it fairly organized and space on the floor available for creating in a new art journal. I decided to try art journaling in a compostion notebook. I decided to leave my supplies out and just pop into the room between unpacking, household chores and errands.
On Thurday, I woke up early to go get my nieces and nephews off to school. I had fifteen minutes before I had to be there, so I grabbed some paper ephemera, ripped them into pieces and glued them on the blank two page spread. (I had glued two pages together with a glue stick the night before to give the page more stability.) I finished gluing down the random pieces of paper, which included a page from a knitting instruction book, a page from a children's songbook and a page from a vintage clay modeling book.
Later that morning I had another fifteen minutes, so I slapped some acrylic paint and gesso on the pages. In the afternoon, I had the leisure of an hour or so to play. I dug out my oil pastels, graphite pencils and pastel pencils. (I learned from Jenniebellie that pastels can be smooged AND released with water.) I liked the effect of running a wet brush over the marks that I made with the graphite pencil.
I just grabbed whatever supplies were at hand. I made some circles and finger painted with gesso. I glued the word "adventure" on the page. And after awhile the two circles on the right started looking at me. Circles became eyes, and eyes became the owl that is now peeking at us at the top of this post.
I learned that time nor space can keep me from creative play and fun discoveries. (You don't need an art studio or exotic place or eight hours to make art, you just need to start. And having an adventurous spirit helps, too.)
How can you make time and space for your creative quests?
This weekend, I made my first ever collage to giveaway. I decided to make it on a 12x12 canvas. The process always intrigues me. I start out with an idea and it morphs into something, I never could have imagined.
I wanted to incorporate a bare branch, winter tree with some magazine collage. I knew I wanted to paint the edges of the canvas first. I was thinking a dark gray, but couldn't get the tube of paint open, so I grabbed a dark blue, which led to more blues and white. Here's how the backdrop developed.
Next, I gathered several images from a Real Simple magazine.
I had etched the phase, "ever follow that which is good" from a King James version scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:15. I used a dot stencil with sparkly spray ink to add a layer. The I randomly glued the above images down. (It was hard to keep them glued down on the canvas. First, I applied Elmer's glue stick to position them. Then, I smeared glossy gel medium over the top. Next, I added a copy of a tree I had collaged for the recent GOD+ART series, I did over here
At this point, I was not liking the outcome. I had covered several of the magazine images with dark gray paint. A couple tree images and the hourglass remained. I had to walk away before I really hated it. (I was feeling pressure because I wanted this to be special for the giveaway.)
Pausing is always good. When I returned, I pulled out my Neocolor II crayons to add some highlights. I just kept working with some paint layers. Including using a piece of screen to spray sparkly green paint over whole sections. Since this was a winter tree, I used the polka dot stencil again with white paint to create "snowflakes."
I was very satisfied with the completed collage.
Tomorrow, I will be...
When opportunity knocks, I will...
"Each morning is the open door to a new . . ."
Watching other artist's work in quick time fuels my creative tank! Enjoy some inspiration with three talented art journaling artists.
I love the music. One thing I learned from her was that you could doodle paint on a magazine page and then incorporate it onto your page. She uses copies of her art from other art journals, too.
Please know that I am not promoting anyone artist or their classes. I just want you to see their process and glean ideas for your own pages. Enjoy!
Below is my attempt at drawing a face. I am not confident with eyes so I used a stamp to make the eye. The little girl in the art is a copy of a photo from my childhood. I was at a petting zoo. I was inside the pen with goats, while my mom, grandmother and baby sister watched me bravely approach the goat. I always wondered who took the photo: was it my dad? (He's not in the picture, so it could have been him.) I like the whimsy of this page and it celebrates my childlike imagination.
Make a photocopy of one of your favorite childhood photos to use on your art journal page. Let it inspire a trip down memory lane or a flight into fanciful imagination. YOU CHOOSE!