Art, Visual, or Creative Journaling?

Ready to do some artful journaling?  Wait. What? You can’t because you’re not a trained artist?  Well, that’s okay.  Me neither.  😉

Commonly called Art Journaling, putting colors and words on a page to express what’s on our minds is a way to creatively say what we need to say – even when we don’t realize we need to say it.  Our ideas need a place to ‘be’ – especially in this noisy world that constantly pokes at us.

I’d like to share something with you that I learned recently:

“Artful” journaling isn’t just for trained artists who are working out project ideas or practicing new techniques. Turns out, journaling artfully can be for anyone wanting to express him/herself through colors, words and images. A few terms are often used interchangeably. Knowing which is the best fit depends on our intent. 

  • Art Journal
  • Visual Journal
  • Creative Journal

Let’s break them down…..

Art journals have a long history. Well known (and not so well known) artists have worked out their artistic ideas, pondered mechanical development through images and words (da Vinci), documented historic events as they unfolded, and described works in progress. Sometimes called notebook, sometimes diary, other times journal. Whatever the term used, artists have been sketching/drawing/painting and writing thoughts for centuries. They use art journals/notebooks to work out their first draft (kind of like writing, don’t you think?).  Some current artists say art journals are generally associated with creating a product that can be/will be shared with others.

Visual journals also help us work out ideas, but have been historically associated with therapy. As a way to express one’s self, a visual journal acts as a safe place to work though personal ideas – thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc…. Colors, images and words help with healing. No harm in yelling at someone on a page, right? Visual journals are largely about the process for the person creating. Intention is more personal, less about sharing and more about processing quietly.

Creative journals seems to be a newer term, a hybrid of the first two types(?) – another place to explore and record what’s happening in our lives using colors, images and words. Creative journals seem (to me) to be the most relaxed (undefined??) of the terms used… as if to say, “I want to play with colors and words. I’m not necessarily happy or sad. I don’t necessarily need to be healed. I may or may not be artistically trained. I just want to throw paint at a page, doodle a bit, maybe add some pictures. I might throw in some words – found or created – for good measure. If I feel like it.”  It’s a place to think creatively (as much or as little as we feel like on any given day).  A creative journal seems to function on both the sharing/product side and on the private/process side – depending on the person creating it. The choice to share may also change day to day, entry to entry. I think I like this term best for these reasons…

Want to see a few creative journaling ideas? This fun one-minute clip will get you thinking….

 

All this talk about artful journaling and I wondered:  Do people still scrapbook? How is art/visual/creative journaling different from scrapbooking? I’m reminded of Beverly Goldberg as she lovingly cuts, glues and sticks pictures of her ‘schmoopy’ kids.  Or, as you’ll see in this clip, her devoted husband gives it a go.   🙂

To answer my question, I asked Google and here’s what I found (I’m paraphrasing):  Scrapbooking is defined as ‘recording family life events’ while journaling is associated with reflecting on and recording things we’re experiencing and/or trying to figure out.

Bottom line? Artful journaling (similar to keeping writing journals) is about process. It’s about exploring life, learning, and creative curiosity. It’s about figuring things out, whether privately or publicly. Or both.  As you’ll see in this clip, five journal artists share their perspective:  “Which type of journal you choose is really about your intent for its purpose.”   (18 min clip)

 

I’ve dabbled in “art journaling” over the past three years, trying different artistic techniques and materials as I’m learning, but realize I’ll probably call it “creative journaling” going forward – with my focus, my intent being on the process (as I do in my writing notebooks). Or, perhaps I’ll continue to keep multiple notebooks/journals to serve various purposes??

Side Note:  Though I describe my art-making as process-oriented (read: slow and organic), I’ve recently realized as I’ve been spending more time in my art/creative journal that my ‘making’ is quicker and more clear there.  I understand now after reading about these types of journals and hearing various artists’ perspectives about intent that my art for the public impacts my process; I consider what others may or may not like. That’s in stark contrast to my art journaling, for my eyes only… all bets are off. I sometimes choose to share parts of the process along the way, but I am selective, which affords me privacy and unrestraint.

My goal for 2019:

Continue building Creative Community in the new year. I look forward to encouraging others to discover their own creativity through writing, ‘arting,’ and journaling.  🙂

Do you keep a creative (art/writing/etc…) notebook or journal?

 

It Happened that Thursday

Thursday, October 19, 2017.  3:22 PM.

The cheery jingle of an arriving text message caused no alarm. Just another afternoon heading home from campus. Youngest sister checking in. I glance at the phone while the car cools down. Falling below 80 degrees in October is always the hope by Floridians, but jack-o-lanterns turning mushy in Florida heat and humidity is the reality.

Text Message You need to call me now.Ready to head home, I begin steering the car out of its space  and head toward the main road. Her words stop me:  “Mom just called. You guys need to call me now.”

I dial the phone. Her shaky voice does not hide her concern. I can feel it: Life was changing in the instant. An ordinary instant, indeed.

Looking back, rereading the messages, I see the irony now:  The text message arrived at 3:22 from a sister born on 3/22. What were the chances?

Little did I know what was about to happen. But it did that Thursday afternoon. I waited patiently for my husband to arrive home. A rare business day in Jacksonville had him on the road, now rushing while phoning my mother for details.

6:20 PM:  a text to my sisters – We’re on the way.

The hour+ drive felt like eternity. Heading east, darkness engulfs the remaining orange slivers of the setting sun as we drive toward the coast. Heavy rain threatens to slow us down. I think about Mother Nature feeling the loss as Bob slips quietly away in the sterile bed that will comfort him in his final sleep.

Heavy traffic shows no mercy as tired commuters, oblivious to our pain and determination, push toward home. Our wish to arrive quickly to the place protecting him as he dies slowly matters not to fellow drivers.

7:36 PM:  A smiling security guard welcomes us and asks that we empty pockets, open bags, and obtain badges. He is here – business as usual. We are here – anything but business as usual.  We are here because life is happening on this Thursday. We offer weak smiles and a pleasant thank you for his service.

A short elevator ride delivers us to the third floor. Doors open. We are greeted by locked doors protecting patients in the most critical moments of life, and their families who wait anxiously, hoping for the best, uncertain of what comes next. Beyond those doors we will see Bob, detached from life support, waiting for his body to quietly succumb to his failing heart for the last time.

His sister and cousin are there when we enter the room. His chest rises and falls. I want to close his gaping mouth. He looks like he’s napping and could catch flies. I smile. He looks peaceful, probably for the first time in a long time. Living with his wife, my mother, has been his hell for the past few years. We had no idea how badly until recent months. He is ready to go to the place where his wife of 43 years waits for him. Later that evening I learn that she died on October 20, 2011 after a battle with cancer. Bob is waiting until the hour he can join her. We are sure of it.

people sitting in hospital roomFor the next several hours, as shifts change and families go home for rest, we sit in chilly ICU room 305, as machines hum and beep. Nurses stop in frequently to check on us. Bob breathes softly as my two sisters, husband and I share stories about our times with him. We laugh at how much he loved to check in to this boutique hospital, just down the street from his home. In recent months, he would arrive with a book and his order for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He raved about their soups. Have you tried the soup? he’d ask with a big grin. It’s delicious! Come on! Order a bowl.. it’s on me! 

He’s been a part of our family for only four years, but his gruff Queens disposition juxtaposed with his unending kindness for others has left an indelible mark on our hearts. A grandpa to my nephews and niece, a step-father to my sisters and me, a father-in-law to our husbands, and a volunteer and philanthropist to many, Bob was kind, tolerant, patient, and generous beyond words. Now, as our hearts hold him close, his heart is ready to go. We reminisce, sharing things we know would make him laugh.  We suspect he can hear us. We hope that he can. We hope that he is feeling how much we love him, appreciate him, and will miss him. He and Laura never had children. We became his family in our short time together.

By 1:00 AM, knowing it’s the date he’s been holding out for, we are torn:  Do we stay or do we go and return in the morning? Vital signs indicate slow progression as his body moves closer to death.  We struggle with what to do. Finally, we decide to head home and return early in the morning.

Man lies in hospital bedAs my sisters step out and my husband comforts them at the door, I reach over and place my hand on Bob’s hand. I tell him I will miss him. I sob. I know this is the last time I will see him in life. His hand flinches. I gasp. And smile. I squeeze his arm in return. I’m certain I felt his hand flinch. He was letting me know things will be okay, that he knew we were there, that we loved him and would miss him. I felt sure at that moment that he really knew how much he meant to us, to me.

Friday, October 20, 2017.  11:16 AM.

As the elevator doors open, we are once again greeted by the now-familiar ICU locked doors, keeping death and sadness inside as the world passes by.  We are buzzed in to the solemn space. We learn that Bob took his final breath a little before 10:00 AM, near the time his long-time wife did just six years before. Now it is he who rests in peace, leaving us to figure things out. Little do we know how life altering that will be….

Joan Didion wrote in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” She reflects on the loss of her husband who suffered a heart attack as the two ate together.

Sitting by a windowShe is right. Life changes in the instant. Pain and sadness not withstanding, life continues on, though. Bills must be paid. Houses cleaned. Widows looked after. Roofs repaired because hurricanes don’t care that homeowners are sick and dying. In the weeks that followed Bob’s death, I feel like I grew up, in spite of already being 50. It was a life altering time for me, for us. As the country celebrated Thanksgiving, we sought respite as we tried to figure things out…

Fast-forward one year.

Man sits at dinner tableIn the months following Bob’s passing, I’ve heard him in my ear so many times, telling me to remember this, do that…  and I smile. It was he who told me in the sweltering July of 2015 to make a decision: Business or hobby? You decide! And so I did. I’ve often said in his absence how much I’ve continued to learn from him, as though he’s guiding me.

Thank you, Bob. I miss you greatly. I appreciate all that you brought to our family in the short time you were with us.

It happened that Thursday in October. Life changed in the instant. Indeed.

Drawing Them Out: Faces Reveal Artist’s Growth

As 2018 unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on my creative journey.

What began as art discovery (a form of therapy, if you will) during a difficult time in my life – personally and professionally – has developed into a way of living that is as necessary to me as breathing and eating. My head often feels like it will burst to let the ideas out!

When everything in art was brand new to me three years ago, I was taking it all in and sampling techniques, tools, and materials – but not choosing anything specific. Window shopping.  I suppose that’s how I discovered ‘mixed media’ – I tinkered in a little bit of everything. Now, while I still prefer using a variety of media, there are certain things I prefer.  Drawing and faces make my short list.

I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s faces, taking in the lines, curves, shapes, colors, tones, textures, how light hits high places and recedes in low spots, the crevices, scars, freckles, moles, placement of features, how the features move when the person speaks, the color of the iris, the white reflection in the pupil, the shape of the lips – up or down, a big toothy grin or a closed, smiling mouth…. the list is endless.

I’ve noticed as long as I can remember, but more in the past few years. Often when I’m looking at someone, I get distracted by what I see, and worry that I’ll miss what’s being said. When I look at photographs, I am mesmerized. I study the details.

credit: RobinLK Studios. 24×24 mixed media on art board

In 2015-16, I began curating faces from online images in Pinterest and Google, to use as reference tools as I developed my drawing skills. I didn’t draw too many faces those first years, but the first photo in my curated collection became a reference for an early piece I created in a workshop I attended. The 24 x 24 art now hangs in our home. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but I didn’t focus on drawing faces. Yet.

I was still dabbling.

Looking at a face is like looking at art for me.  I am infinitely curious when I look at someone’s face…

In Pam Carriker’s book, Mixed Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces, she says, “You’ll find when you begin sketching and using faces in your work that you notice the tilt of someone’s head when you’re talking to them or how the light is shadowing their face.” When I read this, I thought, “I do that all the time!”

My focus is narrowing. No longer just window shopping as I did in 2015, I’m figuring out which subjects interest me most, which mediums feel ‘right’ in my hands, how compositions, combinations, and colors convey what’s in my heart and my head.

Pam goes on to say, “Each face that emerges is like meeting a new person. They are who they are, and they don’t have to be perfect… Let them become who they become.”  I love this!

I am literally ‘drawing them out’ – new people who have (apparently) been hanging out in my head and are now emerging. Their faces are the evidence of my own growth as an artist…..

Here are a few new friends I’d like to introduce, because as I develop my drawing skills, these ladies will become fondly remembered as the faces who appeared first in 2018, willing to emerge with all their quirkiness and imperfections.   🙂

Where will the process take me next?  Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest: @RobinLK Studios

Ten Tips: Keeping Art Brushes, Sponges, and Stamps Usable

One of the things I learned from our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party was that sharing tips I’ve learned about the process in the past three years is a “how-to” I can gladly contribute. Here are a few things learned along the way….

Ten tips for keeping brushes, sponges, and stamps usable… (because it gets expensive replacing them!):

  1. Do not leave brushes/sponge brushes in water for long periods of time.
  2. Do not let paint, ink, or adhesives dry on brushes, sponges, or stamps. Let them rest in a brush tub, to keep them moist. Use the scrubber in the bottom to gently loosen paint.
  3. Change water often when painting, especially with watercolors.
  4. Use paper towels, a fabric cloth, and/or baby wipes while working on a project – rinse and wipe tools when switching between tools during a project.
  5. Use the correct brush for acrylic vs. watercolor paint. Acrylics are too harsh for natural hair brushes and will damage them.
  6. Avoid pushing, jamming, or squishing brushes, sponges, or stamps into paint, ink, adhesives, or other mediums.
  7. When finished, clean brushes and sponges in warm soapy water and pat dry.
  8. Lay brushes horizontally to dry to avoid water running from bristles to ferrule (thing that looks like a collar).
  9. Store brushes upright once they are completely dry. *Never store brushes with bristles facing down.
  10. When finished with a stamp, use a product like StazOn to clean the excess ink, especially when using permanent ink. Gently pat the stamp with the cleaning product. Follow with a dry cloth or paper towel. Gently pat the stamp and let it air-dry.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for playing with colors?  Follow RobinLK Studios on Facebook for the latest information.

Our First Art Party is in the Books: Feedback + Lessons Learned

Sunday, February 25, 2018, RobinLK Studios hosted our first-ever Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party.

Our project:   Mail Art

Our party experience:   Wow, it was a LOT of fun!

 

My party experience: Wow, it was a LOT of fun and a LOT of work before and after, but very much worth it(!).

Like any good party, details matter. This event was no different. Three weeks of intense planning and preparation led to wonderful feedback from guests. Here’s what they shared with me in text messages, Facebook comments, and before leaving that day:

  • “It was sooooooo much fun!”
  • “…a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends”
  • “…such an enjoyable time… making stuff and meeting new people”
  • “…a wonderful day of creating!… cannot wait ’til the next time!” 

I was thrilled to see guests playing with art supplies and making messes like a Kindergarten class. It was absolutely as I envisioned it:  loosely structured, creatively encouraging and inspiring, an opportunity for folks to leave their inhibitions (and To Do lists) at the door, and focus on Just.Having.Fun.

With more than 10 different types of art supplies to work with, everyone had plenty of options. When invited to ‘pick what spoke to them,’ they quickly surrounded the tables of supplies and began looking, touching, and selecting things they liked. I stood back and smiled.

Armed with their colorful selections, guests headed back to their seats.

They placed drink and food orders and began thinking about how each piece might fit together. They moved pieces of scrap paper, images, fabric, text, and organic materials (twigs, sand, seashells) around, tested color combinations, and shared ideas with friends – old and new.

Before long, any chance I had of sharing tips and samples with them was long gone! As one guest (a teacher friend) said, “Your students are so engaged, they’re ignoring you!”  🙂  She was absolutely right!

I remember the ‘teacher’ part of me feeling a little concern…. knowing after 24 years in my chosen profession, that giving no instruction can lead to all sorts of outcomes – desired or not. At this point, I had to just go with it… and make mental notes about what to do differently next time. The fun, creative atmosphere outweighed my concerns for the rest of the afternoon… mostly.

I walked around and answered questions. I watched how guests used the art supplies, how they pondered their choices, and how they interacted (or not) with those around them.

For a gal who enjoys the process more than the product, this was an amazing afternoon of watching, listening, and learning!

I made mental notes as I moved around the room – things I’ll share at the start of every party from now on:

  • use tools lightly: no jamming, squishing, or smashing
  • use supplies sparingly: paints, adhesives, and other media dry fast. Ink glumps.
  • basic purpose of tools/supplies: adhesives, paints, gesso, and ink + various tools for applying all those good things
  • use clean-up supplies while making art (not just after):  water jars, brush buckets, trash cans, ink removers, paper towels and baby wipes
  • the location of our water source + time to fill water jars and brush buckets
  • samples of the project and time for everyone to look at samples and ask questions before jumping in

I also noticed that while most guests were quite happy being left to figure things out (the nature of our art parties: why-to vs. how-to), a few might have preferred more How-To, which left them feeling a bit dissatisfied (I think).

I believe I can address that in two ways:

  1. Be even more clear in my art party description that our events are more why-to than how-to.  Hopefully, this will help everyone make an informed decision about joining us. I felt it was clear in the first party invite but I’ll review the wording.
  2. Ensure we go over the topics listed above before everyone gets started.

When we neared our final 30 minutes together, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the afternoon and hoped everyone did, too. Guests began collecting up their new projects… in most cases, several pieces. They told me how much fun they had, and a few even offered to help clean up. As any good host would do, I assured them that was not necessary, and wished them a safe journey home.

source: pxhere.com

Then came the clean-up. It was then, really then, that I realized what no directions or expectations could lead to… guests took my  invitation to “come make a mess!” literally (which was great), but I was faced with huge clean-up and many damaged or thrown-away art supplies and tools. Oh, nooo!

Two hours later, after cleaning matted brushes and sponges – several rescued from the trash, and seeing how many broken tools there were, the remaining 7+ boxes and crates of art supplies were finally packed in my car and I was heading home.

So, what will I do differently for future art parties, now that I’ve had time to self-assess?

  • Organize more thoroughly – less fluff and more function in containers and packing – save the vintage containers (no lids, really heavy/really fragile, or awkward shapes) for other art events
  • Streamline set-up so everything is ready on time
  • Use the first 20 + last 20 to get everyone set up and cleaned up, collectively
  • Talk about how-to and why-to keep our work area clean as we make a mess – just as I do in my own studio
  • Include more How-To and Why-To (tips and techniques) at key points along the creative way – a “creative pause” maybe… ??

Our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party is in the books, and I’m over-the-moon thrilled!! A HUGE thank you to everyone who joined us for the first party. Many are friends and brought friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting {and more importantly} being a part of my (now: our) creative adventure. I appreciate each of you so very much and look forward to more Sunday afternoons together.  🙂

The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge

I also want to extend a special Thank You to Mike and his team at The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge, who have opened their restaurant to us for our Sunday afternoon creative messes. Fair pricing, terrific food and beverage, and lovely accommodations all make this a wonderful B2B relationship.

Supporting local businesses is an important part of who I am as a consumer. Being able to support (and benefit from) local businesses as a fellow small business owner is also exciting! My sincerest thanks.

*If you haven’t yet stopped in to this neighborhood gem, I encourage you to. The food and atmosphere are terrific now, with the new ownership!!

Finally, thank you Bob, for asking me back in 2015 what I was going to do with this interest in art.  I know you’re watching over me and I know you’re proud. I wish you were still here so we could talk about it, but I know you’re guiding me. Please – keep leaving me signs. I’m listening with a heavy heart.

Sharing the joy of creating and inspiring others to discover their own creativity is what it’s been about for me since the beginning. Finally, I’m figuring out how to share that message and get others involved. I have finally discovered how to make magic…..

Want to know when our next art party is happening? Follow us on Facebook for the latest details.

Find “It” ….. {Monday Motivation}

 

credit: Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge
credit: Bird by Bird, by Ann Lamott
Find what ‘it’ is that makes ‘creating’ your Happy Place…..
Is it the process? The product? Small pieces that help you manage the project?
Figure it out and get after it!
Happy Monday

🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Build it. Write it. Paint it. They will Come.

Remember that movie, Field of Dreams, and the oft-quoted line: If you build it, he (they) will come? How many times have you used that sentiment in your own life? Yep. Me, too. So here goes….

To make the Tax Lady happy last year about this time (or, at the very least, to keep her from scowling at me), I promised to increase my small business income by 20% – working toward a respectable number, thank-you-very-much… one that would be moving north while my expenses move south. You get the picture.

Fast-forward a year. I’m ready to see the Tax Lady. I suppose when you start with nothing, the only way to go is up, right? I seem to be heading {slowly} in that direction, and I’m pleased. For a little lady, she can be tough. And this gal crumbles under that kind of pressure!

baby crying
photo credit: theanxietylife.com

So what happened that I’m ready to face the number-crunching-question-asking little lady?? I painted. I wrote. I attended. I lost sleep. I gained gray hair. I lost my eyeglasses (more than once), but found them just in time to finish those tiny details….

I worked hard to build it. And now, they are coming. Customers. Slowly, but surely, the word is getting out. The dollars are coming in. Still just a few, but hey, 20% more than the year before. I can face the Tax Lady with pride and satisfaction of work well done and a goal reached.

Now, I work my buttola off even harder this year to make {more} things happen.

Because

that’s

how

I

roll.

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Build it. Write it. Paint it. They will come.

 

Bloom!….. {Monday Motivation}

 

bookshelf with art and writing books

Spring is here…. Time to bloom!

What’s on your bookshelf {or should be}, just waiting to be read {or reread??}?

Hope it’s been a wonderful Monday!

🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

What’s happening in the studios these days?

Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios