Art journal session with Zoom

March 16th

Intro

Monika and I did our first art journaling session via Zoom tonight. I am awake on the 17th at 4am. The meanings and ideas that we’re thrown up for me going round and round my head. I got up to write them down.

Monika and I decided that we would to art journal too this evening because there were only a few participants. And it would feel weird just watching the whole time via a screen.

Making process

As I flipped through the magazine looking for images and text about how I felt – living during the time of Corona. I was amazed at how many words caught my attention (in retrospect this doesn’t really surprise me because everything I am doing in my art practice at the moments is working with text). I have been using these particular magazines for my personal work over the last month and I thought I knew them very well. Shifting my focus to how I was feeling opened up the text and images for me again.

I have been particularly loving a double page spread about trees, waiting to use it in a collage. I have also read all the quotes. (normally I wouldn’t encourage people to stop and read in their flip through the pages).

The text I collected was: ‘mother love’, ‘the end of the world’, ‘farewell my friend’, ‘the gift of time’, ‘I feel trapped’, ‘home’, ‘life is for living’, ‘all change’, ‘ I’ve connected with my self on a deeper level.’

This quote by Jeanette Winterson

‘ Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything. Of time before time, she says little. Of time to come, she says much ,but who listens’.

As I cut out the words that had jumped out to me and looked at the images in more detail. I realised that if I turned the tree spread upside down it looked like lungs. I stuck the whole page onto a patterned piece of paper.

I had a scary conversation with my daughter about her night asthma (that’s where ‘mother love fitted in) and my chest has felt tighter than usual since a bug I caught last month. The tree branches went off the page and looked like they were held or truncated by the rectangle.I felt trapped just looking at them. It feels like being contained in a bad way just writing about it. Echoing my feelings and worries about the respiratory effects of the virus.

I also found an image of a women emerging from a bird cage. The lid was open and she was rising up on a chair. At that moment this was too much like an escape, so I drew a bubble around her. She became shielded and isolated from the tree. These were the only two images that I wanted to use.

I added my text and then started writing into the collage, changing the meanings slightly in black biro.

The end of the world as we know it

The gift of time socially isolated and shielded

Mother love, not being able to hug or cuddle my children or friends.

Farewell, my friend – who will I loose?

Life is for living, who chooses who lives and who dies?

I placed ‘ I feel trapped’ above the cage and cut up ‘ in my’ from other text I had discarded, and finished the statement with ‘ home’.

I had chosen ‘home’ initially because of what was happening between my husband and I. We are separating and he has moved out of our flat. He complained today that his new space is ‘ not home’ ( it’s rented accommodation, next door, so that we can still socially isolate, but have more space for our selves).

I found my self circling the printed text with a black biro which has the effect of making the black on white backgrounds seem to hover or float, accentuating the the words and the woman caged.They hover in bubbles in front of the tree. It is as if I photographed it capturing a moment in time. In our debrief, Monika picked up that ‘time’ was a theme coming up for me.

I worked very fast so, I free wrote around the edges of the tree page. I realise now that this also accentuates the containing of the ‘lungs’

‘ the tree represented life and lungs, breathing, ventilators, my Covid19 collage, who chooses who lives and who dies, it all seems so random, men, BAME,people old, a 107 year old lady was released the other day. Who has underlying conditions?’

We had planned to do another collage session after our group check in. I had used up all my collage collection but still had another page from my tree. With the first collage, I had waited to stick down all my pieces until I had cut out everything. This time I was more intuitive. The text on the second tree page would be upside down if I turned the tree into lungs again. I hadn’t wanted this one to be the correct way up either, but I knew I wanted it to be less constricting. I carefully cut the text and replaced it the right way up.

‘Trees exhale for us so we can inhale them to stay alive… let us love trees with every breath we take.’ Munia Kahn

My new selection of text was: viewpoint, uplifting, inspiring, engaging, ‘the earth is like a child that knows poems’ Rainer Maria Rilke, holding boundaries, new beginnings, facing the reality of change, you can’t numb difficult feelings, with out numbing other emotions, such as joy, happiness and gratitude.

I also made a found poem : feeling lonely, regrettable life, pent up misery, liberated, healthier decisions.

I couldn’t believe it when I was leafing through the pages I found three more images of people sitting talking to each other in bubbles. ( the magazine was therapy today…..) I stuck everything down and as I was tidying up I saw the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland, and he represented time again for me and the feeling of having fallen down a rabbit hole.

Reflecting on the session Monika I talked about how well the Zoom technology managed to hold the group. I had been worried that we all would feel isolated. In other Zoom sessions over the last month this has been the case. However,the session was inclusive. The themes we explored were echoed in each other’s work and it felt possible to recreate the relational through and in spite of the technology.

This art journalling technique was inspired by Shelley Klammer

Making ‘zine’ formats

I can’t remember if I have written about these before. I like working in a ‘zine’ format because of the 3d element. My friend @dar63 on Instagram started making some recently and I loved her lush layers and jewelled colours do I asked her if she fancied doing some collaborations. We have worked together in the past.

You can tell which pages are mine because of the black ink doodles 😂😂

I have been experimenting with using water soluble pens and spraying my mandalas so I used some of these as a base layer.

I added designs to the front and the back and added gesso to surface to seal it and add texture

I added a variety of things to the surface

Strips of typed text, large text, more gesso, stitching, white pen , spray ink and magazine images.

I like drawing of the inside of the zine. So that when they are standing up you get an interesting juxtaposition of the two sides

The bottom design in the above pic includes a zine designed by a friend Fran that is based with me in Edinburgh.

I hand stitched the edges in this case

Group work and art journalling

I ran an art journalling session for group workers. They attended my initial session which introduced art journalling for self care back in May.

I started the session with a selection of journals that I have worked on collaboratively with friends from Instagram and FB. After talking to the group work facilitator we felt that collaborative work would be a key part of our art work with clients.

As a safe way of working collaboratively I got the group to work on sheets of A4 circular stickers so that they could explore the materials provided

I showed the group how to make a couple of journals using different folding techniques – a Zine format and a concertina fold. We noticed that the folding and handling the paper was relaxing in its self.

http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/

The concertina journal is made using the preliminary origami fold and glueing together 4 shapes with the top single points all facing the same way ( I do quite a lot of origami and wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you know the group quite well)

We decided that we wouldn’t work further with the concertina folding because it was quite problematic. I asked the group to work in pairs and come up with ways that they could use the Zine journals in a group work

Situation.

We chose to look at making a sample journal that the participants could use as a teaching tool . We initially decided to explore how colour could be interpreted.

I provided a range of materials and equipment

Magazines

Ink blocks

Pastels

Colouring pencils

Paint / brushes

Glue sticks

PVA

Scissors

Paper sample bag – printed matter/Photos/ coloured paper/

As we worked the group decided that they wanted to keep working on this aspect during most of the time allocated. We discussed the work in progress in pairs and as a whole group.

I am new group work so to I tried to let the group work in a self directed way as much possible. I am not sure how successful I was. I attempted to make my comments related to art techniques and encouraging members to stick to the task we had agreed upon …….

90 days of Collages for self discovery with Shelley Klammer 

Back in February I started doing the above collage exercise with Shelley Klammer – there are no prompts- but if you tag Shelley and sign up for her newsletter she will send you related stuff , which I have enjoyed reading. I wanted to explore art as therapy in a more controlled way and doing this with her 100 days of arttherapy Journalling has been an interesting exercise. 
This was the first time that I had signed up to do anything with such a long commitment. I always have stacks of magazines and materials so it was an easy task to do. You scan through magazines with ‘soft eyes’ and pick out images that interest you – to be assembled as collages- pick a title and then post on Instagram. 

I really liked the discipline of working with a focus everyday. However life always gets in the way – Shelley encourages you to work as continuously  as possible within the 90 days- so when I knew I was busy- at the weekends -I did a few in advance or took small kits with me. 

I have worked in a few different ways during the 90 days. I have included my doodles- images from Happinez magazine http://www.happinez.com/

‘Shrine’ 

Produced very simple ripped designs – images from Flow magazine http://www.flowmagazine.com/

‘Bubbles’ 


Sometimes I have spent ages cutting out images and producing complicated layered stuff images from Happinez magazine as before 

‘Love is us….’ 


I have really enjoyed working in this way and it has added more skills to my arsenal. I am not sure I would commit to working over such a long period of time again , though I am pleased with my journal when I flip through it and I do feel a sense of achievement. 

The course is called ‘collage for self discovery’ I am not sure I have any concrete feeling of self exploration that I can put my finger on – I have enjoyed looking at everyone else’s collages and being influenced by different styles – particularly the simplicity of Uma – ( IG name  textilleria) who uses very simple ripped pages to good effect. The 100 days of prompts has been much more thought provoking and demanding and I am only half way through -even though I started them both at a similar time. 

Here are some more of my examples over the 90 days – images from magazines mentioned before unless otherwise stated 

‘Kites that give it to the wind’ 

‘Colour therapy’ 

‘Fragile’ – images from Psychologie magazine  

‘Split’ images from ‘Psychologies’ https://www.psychologies.co.uk/

‘Joy’ images from Psychology today and women’s magazines 

‘Life in a fish bowl’ 


Stripes 

I have been developing collage techniques over the summer. They have morphed into layers of strips of magazine pages/ words and images. I began working like this because I didn’t have any acrylic paint with me on holiday . I am enjoying the way the layers disrupt the surface and meaning of what you look at.  I have been experimenting with adding texture with  doodles, mono printing and  book pages

    

Since returning from holiday – I have developed the technique further adding Strips at different angles and creating images that almost recreate my migraine aura – this last bit occoured accidentally   
 I have also tried working on a larger scale. I am pleased with the image below – it reminds me of my window onto the street – the Edwardian window frames – the railings and houses beyond all dissecting the view and the light – this is 2.5’x3.5′

  
 I also tried an even bigger canvas 40″x50″ it’s funny this one was fine when it was lying flat – but I haven’t put the strips on straight and my varifocal lens seem to be playing tricks on me – I can’t look at the canvas with out getting irritated so I am storing it on its side. I have included some process photos below 

   
    
   
 
I have brought the stripes into mixed media work too- here is a piece I just finished whilst working with Debbie Howard in Oxfordshire