Category Archives: Art Journal Workshops

Satisfaction is Creating Your Own One-of-a-Kind Altered Books

Creating one-of-kind altered books is a deeply satisfying process. You simply choose a book you are thinking of recycling or donating, or you buy something at a used book store. Then you begin to alter it by collaging, painting, adding ephemera, or making any number of alterations to make it your own. The pages from my altered book below are mostly collage, however I kept the picture in the book of this man sitting in a lotus position as a focal point. When I saw the coral skeleton I thought, “Now that is a heart that embraces all of creation.” Who knows why we are drawn to this image or that one. We could spend hours analyzing our work. But we really do not have to – we simply feel something and that is what matters. And, if others enjoy, that is icing on our cake. Now we can share ourselves with them and perhaps inspire them to choose a book and see what happens…I feel blessed to be working with wonderful women weekly who inspire me with their creativity and enthusiasm.

Collage Pages from my Altered Book

Collage Pages from my Altered Book

To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage. – Georgia O’Keefe

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Art Journal from Your Places of Resistance

Art Journals and Self-discovery

I love many of the creative ideas that artists share on YouTube and elsewhere, and they can be great for exploring techniques. And, I have volumes of inspiring art books that offer inspiration and help on “how to.” But when I teach classes or work in my own journals, what is most important to me are acts of self-discovery. That means, letting the simple materials at hand, along with my inner guidance, direct the flow of the creative process.

Bottle Woman 2 art journal

Every artist, and that means YOU, who is willing to open a journal to an empty page, enters the abyss. If we are willing to put marks on paper, we are courageous, curious, and equipped to tap into the inexhaustible well of creative intelligence. So, while the prompts of videos and kits may be a great jump start, beware of becoming too reliant on them. Instead, drag out your collection of ephemera, humble paints, and papers, and draw from that well. Let your materials inspire you to experiment.

Yesterday, one my students came up with an awesome inner prompt for her journal:

Start Journaling from Your Places of Resistance

A women in my class decided to choose materials she found kitsch and judged as gaudy. She grabbed some shiny red paper backed with silver, red netting, and flowered tissue paper. For various reasons she considered these elements “lesser than” other materials, such as handmade papers and expensive looking ephemera. She considers herself an elegant woman and prefers more subdued colors and materials, so she actually chose to select materials that she found unappealing in order to confront her resistance. She then found some magazine elements for collage. So, she was surprised to discover that her finished pages emerged as both beautifully designed and elegant. She had managed to create simple and lovely images out of the materials she initially found garish.

She inspired us all to reflect on the importance of being able to go to our places of resistance and work from those places as well as our comfort zones. Instead of accepting that our thoughts about what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly are accurate, we can question them and move forward and through the resistance. Sometimes we may love the results and other times be displeased. There are no guarantees, but the journey is both interesting and surprising.

Alchemy often occurs as we surrender our judgements and simply face the unknown, working with resistance instead of fighting it. Often the result becomes a thing of beauty.

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Art As Escape from the Matrix

Play in Your Art Journal and be Free From the Matrix

Why make art? Why spend hours working and playing in our art journals? For me, it’s a way to temporarily escape the Matrix. Remember the movie, “The Matrix?” Remember when Morpheus tells Neo the Matrix is like a “splinter in your mind?” We feel the itch, the pain, the pointlessness of this dualistic reality – we get tired of being batted about by the play of opposites, the never ending wars of good versus evil. We know all too well we are tethered here, we are tethered by time, by our temporary forms, by the attachments, and the demands. Along with the joys and freedoms we experience, along with the glitz and premisses, we know we are plugged into a system that somehow runs us, that dictates the course of our lives, that calls the shots.

Art Journal Page

Art Journal Page

The creative process, however seemingly humble and insignificant we may sometimes think it is, offers reprieve from these demands. We can find ourselves in the flow, outside of time, and hopefully free from the internal editor or the voices of parents and figures of authority. This is why artists have been willing to sacrifice everything to devote themselves to the call of the muse. This is why we make time to sit and write our blogs or novels, our prose or poetry. We continue to pick up our crayons, put ink to paper, brush color onto the blank white canvas. And, humans will continue to express themselves creatively – to  sing, dance, draw, scribble, doodle, garden, write music, and explore the unknown until the end of creation. It is one of the ways we escape from the Matrix and tap into our unbounded source.

Start an Altered Book

Altered book Madona

Go to a used book store, or simply select a book from your library and begin the process of alteration. I’ll post more on getting started soon!

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein

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Art Journal Pages – Soul Work

When creating a collage, I begin with searching through magazines and choosing images. I often don’t understand why an image resonates with me; I just know it moves me. When an image moves me, I trust that on a deeper level of Self, it is speaking to me and that it can be used in my work to express a part of me, AND I do not need to consciously understand why. Artists need to learn to trust those impulses that reside in the gut, beyond the linear mind, beyond the noisy chatter that dictates what is pretty and acceptable, what people will say or think about what we produce. We have to embrace our bravery in order to do our soul work.

I call my workshops, The Soulful Art Journal, because my wish is that everyone who participates will access the joy that comes with connecting with the source of all creativity. For me the Art Journal is a place to perform meditation in action, to feel the release from and time and space, and from the constraints our daily living. The page below is one that originally held no meaning for me, but later, its message for me unfolded. By going Inside, there is freedom, mystery, and wonder. It is okay to be a bit grey, shadowy and moody. It is important for me to remember that and not try to hide my shadow sides. Both the light and the dark are parts of nature and deserve our recognition and respect. A beautiful page can take many forms, and what is important is how you feel about it.

Insider - Art Journal Page

Insider – Art Journal Page

Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

– Thomas Merton

The beauty of creating an art journal is that everyone’s art journal is unique. In my classes I am constantly excited and moved by the work of the participants and amazed at the never ending possibilities of the creative self. Each artist has a signature, a style and flavor that makes her work unique. Just like each snowflake is one of a kind, so is each page, each creative work.

Women Frozen in Time and Place - Art Journal Page

Women Frozen in Time and Place – Art Journal Page

As one of the world’s most wonderful writers, Maya Angelou says,

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.

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Mixed Media Art Journal Page: Fabric on Gesso

Phoebe's Garden - art journal page, fabric on gesso

Phoebe’s Garden – art journal page, fabric on gesso

This is why I love teaching  the Soulful Art Journal classes! When a 16 yr. old girl I’ve just introduced to the mixed-media art journal, produced this wonderful piece, I have to admit, I kind of wished I’d done it myself. There is so much for the imagination to play with when we allow ourselves the freedom to explore different media and approach the process with an open and curious mind, when we allow ourselves to follow our hearts. Following our impulses let’s us discover what works and what we like. It gives us a push into the unknown. We discover that we do not need a map. We do not need to know what the end result will be. In fact, one of my teachers said to me, “What would be the fun in that?” The media has a way of telling us what to do.

Kids have an amazing reservoir of creative energy. They want to express themselves authentically and be free to experiment in a safe environment. There is something safe about working in a journal. It can be an intimate dialogue between you and the muse. You never have to show it to anyone, but you can and probably will. You don’t have to be intimidated by expectations that you should produce perfection, but your pages will be perfect because they are yours. This is why so many of us are hooked and have become best friends with our journals.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

– Pablo  Picasso

Love,

Kartika

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New Journal Pages

Kartika's art journal page

Kartika’s art journal page

I’m loving these pages! They make me happy. And, I’m so lucky to be able to create and to work in my own journal while having classes in my home. I get to work with wonderful women who are kindred spirits in my “Soulful Art Journal Workshop.”

This week, I’ve been having some personal sessions with a friend’s 16 year old daughter. There are those people who take to the creative process like the proverbial ducks to water. They sink like stones into the zone of timelessness. They begin to journal and experience the joy of self-reliance. Self-reliance comes with this territory as we learn to trust ourselves and our perceptions of what works and what doesn’t for us. We learn to let go of the fear of what others will think of our creations. We take the flying leap that is required to dare to make art, to accept that we can and are creative beings who can start whereever we are on this path to self-discovery.

Kartika's art journal page

Kartika’s art journal page

Having the time and the resources to play with art, to be creative, is truly a blessing. But even if we’re extremely busy, it’s important to carve out some space for some kind of creative expression, especially for those of us who say things like, “Someday when I have time, I will write a book,” or when I retire, “I will learn to paint.” Tomorrow may never come.

“If you have never kept an art journal, the prospect of doing so many seem intimidating, but the beauty of keeping a journal is that you don’t ever have to share it. It can be a unique and private place in your life for personal exploration. Journaling may allow you to express yourself in a way you never thought possible and can help expand your artistic skills and confidence. – Dawn DeVries Sokol

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The Soulful Art Journal Workshop: It’s all about the layering

Mixed media art journal page

Mixed media art journal page

Experimenting with layering:

Yesterday afternoon was the 4th session of my Soulful Art Journal Workshop. It seems the participants are focusing more on layering and becoming more comfortable using mixed media. The technique of layering adds interest and dimension to art journal pages. It requires experimentation and time to find what you like and what works for you. This is one of the pages  I finished yesterday and it was very satisfying to see how it evolved as I added layers.

The layering process involved:

  • Starting with some paint strokes using black gesso. I love colored gesso and I just bought some grey and black. They are now staples in my art supply stash along with the classic white.
  • As I collaged, I continued adding acrylic paint by rubbing it on with my fingers. I absolute adore M. Graham and Co. and use the color Terra Rosa regularly.  It has a rich earthy look and reddish tones.
  • I also added areas of color using oil pastels. I picked up a nice little box of these at one of my artist friend’s yard sales. I was thrilled because I’d never used oil pastels and I love the oily texture and strong colors they produce.
  • I finished my layering process with some Ranger Ink in Distressed brown. I could not make art without it! It is so versatile and looks beautiful layered over photos and collage images.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the techniques of layering, and I’m fascinated to see what I will discover next.

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The Soulful Art Journal Workshop: Working with Mistakes

Sunday was an interesting and fun Soulful Art Journal Workshop. This was the second session in a series of 4.  The workshop is working in the mixed media art journal, so on Sunday I introduced ink. I love seeing what the women come create. I worked on my own mixed media piece along with the other women, and some of us were struggling with the inner critic.

Altered book pages done in collage and mixed media

Altered book pages done in collage and mixed media

Why I love Titan Buff paint color 

Making art requires us to be flexible and learn ways to deal with so-call “mistakes.” In reality there are no mistakes because art is just a process of trying things and learning what we like and how to make what we like happen more and more.

What do we do when we don’t like what we are producing? Do we have to rip out the journal page and start a-new? This week while teaching my workshop, I used myself as an example. I admitted that I hated what I’d done so far, but I kept changing the paint color. Finally after trail and error and going over the color with diffferent colors a few times, I pulled out my tube of acrylic Titan Buff. It is a staple in my paint stash. I always have a Titan Buff on hand – all artists have their equivalent of Titan Buff (often it is Gesso, another favorite of mine). Titan Buff is a lovely, creamy off-white color. It is a paint color I love and it works well with all of my earthy tones. And, it covers beautifully.  It accepts layers well, so you can paint over it or stamp on it with great effects.

So that’s my little story for Sunday’s The Soulful Art Journal Workshop.

Happy art journaling and happy art making….there are no mistakes, just opportunities.

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