Thursday, April 5, 2012

That House & Stormy Weather

Rare opportunity today. I took the day off to get away from the house and wander aimlessly around, with no agenda. No list of things to buy or do. No objective other than not to come home until dinner time. I did not go out into the wide world empty handed, though.... oh, no! I packed my tote bag with paints, brushes, glue stick, bits of paper ephemera, pens of all kinds... and my art journal. My one goal for the day was to sit somewhere, in my car, and journal without interruption or distraction for as long as I felt like it. And that I did.

A few stops first, though. Craft Warehouse, where I wandered up and down the aisles at leisure, looking at every little thing. I bought a length of chain in the jewelry department, but that was all. I find this unbelievable, but Craft Warehouse does not carry washi tape! Can you imagine? That HUGE scrapbooking department and no washi tape. *sigh*  Next stop, the other end of the parking lot to Chuck's Produce for a cup of spicy chicken cabbage soup and some beet salad to go... which I decided I would eat in the car once I got to Value Village.

On the way there, drove into a Mega Hailstorm. Traffic slowed to a crawl as none of us could see the road or make our windshield wipers work fast enough. As I pulled in to Value Village's parking lot, the gigantic black storm cell seemed to be directly over me. It proceeded to hail harder than ever. Any thought of getting out of the car was out of the question. The irony that this was the 40th anniversary of the tornado that tore across this city and took the roof off of this very building (which was called Ware Mart in 1972) was not lost on me!

While it continued to hail for the next half hour, I enjoyed my soup... then slid back my seat and started journaling. Working on the second installment of my 21 Secrets class with Aimee Myers Dolich, my prompt for the day was "That House", with instructions to think of a house in my area that had always intrigued me and let my imagination run. Here is the resulting interpretation...

This is a two-page spread. This side was done over the original illustration in the book (The Secret Garden) that I'm altering for this journal... so don't think I did these lovely watercolored tree branches myself. Those were already there. I just used my brush pens to write over them.

The crinkly snippet in the middle is a page of a rough draft manuscript from a story my grandmother wrote eons ago. I think she had been frustrated with this particular page, because when I acquired this manuscript, it was in a huge box of her writings that no one had touched for many years (she died in the 1970's)... and just this one page had been wadded up, and then re-smoothed and put back with the others.

My very own grandmother.

The other side of this spread doesn't look a thing like the other...

Very incongruous. But, let's just say this... one side led me to the other, so it works in my mind. It's not truly a piece of art, it's an art journal. So, it's okay if it's not  necessarily balanced or cohesive. Right?

If you are a very good friend of mine, and you REALLY want to know the true story behind this house that my friends and I broke into in 1973... give me a call and I'll tell you all about my life of crime and how that house has haunted me all this time!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Workshop Heaven

What a week this has been so far! I've plunged headlong into TWO online workshops that started simultaneously on April 2nd.

Firstly, the fabulous Deryn Mentock's jewelry workshop, The Art of Closure. We'll be doing all kinds of wrapped and hammered wire (copper, bronze, silver, steel) to make clasps and closures. Some of my tools are still on order, but I'm dipping my toe in.

I have the most amazing (and HEAVY) chunk of smooth stainless that's serving as my bench block, thanks to my husband, Karl. It weighs ten pounds! I'll have to find a smaller, more portable one if I ever plan to transport my gear to an in-person workshop.... but it is WONDERFUL to work on. (Note to self: Do not drop bench block on foot!) I still need a proper sand filled bench pillow, but a kitchen towel is standing in for the time being. Learning to use my new cheap, but effective, chasing hammer. You think hammering wire is pretty simple-minded and straight forward, until you try it. It's not quite that easy... but a little practice goes a long way.

 And this is how you begin the turn for a nice shepherd's hook... using round nosed pliers that are entirely too small for this class. (My larger, extra longs are on order.) Three inches of 16 gauge copper wire becomes a nicely formed "S" link... two shepherd's hooks going opposite directions... when you have the right pliers. Otherwise, you end up with one like my first attempt (see below), which is quite elongated. I had to shorten the length on my next two links. Third time's a charm!

Notice all my lovely hammering marks on the first two! Yes, there's an art to this... and I'm learning it. I had to skip the very first lesson which involved putting a patina on my wire with liver of sulfur, as this really must be done outside (severely unpleasant odor!). Since this is Katera's Spring Break week, and she and I are sharing the latest lovely coughing, snuffling virus, we're having to adapt and do what we can. It's also quite cold and wet outside, so I've decided not to risk getting pneumonia just to patina my wire. I'll try that out next week.

My second workshop is the 21 Secrets art journaling workshop, headed up by the amazing Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio. This one runs through the entire rest of 2012, which is a good thing, because there are twenty-one units, each with their own theme, assignments and techniques to learn. And yes, TWENTY-ONE instructors... including the likes of Diana Trout and Traci Bunkers, just to drop a couple of famous names! ALL of the instructors are fantastic artists, with unique talents to share.

I've only barely started the first one... and done just one page so far, in Aimee Myers Dolich's "Get Lost" class. Her first "detour" on our adventure of getting lost together was to recollect a time when you were lost, either physically or emotionally. I chose to draw on the emotional path... of the first few years of Katera's life, when everything was confusing, terrifying and raw. It certainly was not the most pleasant place to go with this, but it was the first thing that popped up for me from this prompt... so I went with it.  It was definitely a difficult page to do.

I wrote and wrote and wrote out my grueling memories... and only stopped because there was no more room on the page, and I really wanted to leave a blank space directly in the middle, signifying the sense of "aloneness".

This page was done in an art journal I already had under way... an altered copy of The Secret Garden. The page was pre-prepped with gesso, with masking tape binding several pages together, and a card stock index tab, which I incorporated into the design. I used water color, colored pencil, stencils, magazine and collage images and a regular black roller ball gel pen... which I purposely smeared and blurred with water here and there.

Thank goodness for the National Geographic, which is where I found the wonderful image of the little girl. She was actually watching a military parade, but when I cut her out, she had an entirely different feeling... quite forlorn & almost Alice-like. Her image has a double meaning, both representing my own "child self" that will always be within me, which is vulnerable and scared, especially in a new and terrifying situation. It also represents the lost dream of my daughter, as she might have been if she had been born without the disability and challenges she has faced.

WHEW! This is bound to be an interesting journey. I'll be very busy, but gaining some wonderful skills and insights into my own creativity. As usual, my life requires that I accomplish everything while in what I like to call "molasses mode", but I'm very excited to be part of both of these amazing workshops. Stay tuned!