Words and Images: Art Journaling

I love Art Journals. I get excited when I see them and feel that pull/push from inside that says, “I want to do that! Let’s do that!” I promise myself that we will, we will. But every morning my journaling consists of words, words, words, with only the occasional image pasted in or little bit of color added.

You’ve heard my confession before: I’m a shy artist. I don’t even dare to use that word about myself, but I am pulled to book art, art journals, cool mixed media art that uses found items and text. What I’ve learned from so many creative teachers is that if you’re drawn to something, go ahead, play, explore, see what wants to be expressed.

I’ve dabbled some in art journaling in the past. When I lived in Barcelona, we availed ourselves of all the culture we could stand, partaking of all the good food, local sights, and community events; we went, we saw, we participated and I saved. Everything. Here are a couple of pages from the journals I created from those days. I didn’t call them art journals, I just cut and glued and added color and wrote a few words. Mostly I wanted to keep the ephemera as mementos, memory-building. I’ve barely dabbled since I returned to San Diego a decade ago.

art journal 1But this winter many serendipitous occurrences have constellated that tell me: Now is the time. Go make some art journals, wild woman.

First: At our Vision Board workshop in January, several of us were so impressed by V.C. Groves’s art journals, we asked if she’d consider leading an art journal group. She said “Yes.” We said “Yes.” We began to plan our first meeting for sometime in February.

Then: Sadly, my friend and another beautiful art journalor, Erin Perry, died. How I used to love to go to Erin’s home/studio in Morro Bay and marvel at her bins and boxes and stuffed away and stacked up ephemera and embellishments. She’d let me open a few of her many art journals and altered books and I couldn’t help but sigh as I paged through them. That old longing would return.

Recently I had breakfast with Erin’s partner, Margot Silk Forest, another beautiful artist whose company is Sassy Feet (she creates art from shoes and teaches others how to do it). In talking about my love of Erin and her work, Margot asked if I’d like to have some of Erin’s books on art journaling. Would I? I thrilled to receive this one in the mail the other day, Erin’s tags and sticky notes still attached. I like to imagine some of her energy and inspiration is held within these pages.

IMG_3792Finally: my sister Jackie (you may know her as Jackson Gray, creator of Jackpots Pottery), and my brother-in-law, Craig, and I got together for dinner and to exchange Christmas presents. (I know, right) This is what Jackie and Craig gave me. Have you ever seen such riches!

IMG_3778Now I just need to go shopping for the supplies on the list V.C. sent us as we begin our art journaling adventure. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Are you a journal keeper? Do you use words/language only, or do you play around with art journaling, too?

Capturing Wild Women in a Retablo

I went to Mexico a few days before my December writing retreat to learn to create retablos with Judy Dykstra-Brown. I’d met Judy at our writing retreat the year before and was enchanted by her art—walls of her beach house hung with a small portion of her retablo collection. Judy creates visual stories in these small niches whose ancestry is in the Mexican “laminas,” small oil paintings on tin, wood, or copper which are used in home altars. Before I left for Mexico, Judy suggested I think what story I wanted to tell with my retablo and to bring items that I could include in the niche.

2015 was a year of the Wild Women. My book, Wild Women, Wild Voices was released in April, and much of the year centered around the book, completing the final steps before publication, the actual release, and in many months following, promoting it, celebrating it, and celebrating wild women in general. My “story” would be Wild Women and my retablo would be in honor of the book and what the idea of Wild Women means to me.

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