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

Grey and white boroinspired

I bought some yellow cushions to go on my grey sofa – daughter hates them – so I decided to make some boroinspired covers in grey after a friend gave me an old pair of jeans to work with.

I made the first cover very simply joining the grey panels together with 5 rows of running stitch.

One pair of jeans was not enough fabric to make 2 covers for the size of my cushion pads. I found some more jeans and a couple of grey shirts at thrift stores.

Two layers of jeans is quite hard on my hands to sew through – but I am making the design using patches again so at least my fingers get a break regularly

My design so far

I enjoyed sewing this but had to go much slower than usual because the thickness of the fabric made my hands ache. I finally finished it this week

Practicing sashiko rice stitching

I decided that I wanted to try more formal sashiko rice stitching after finding Susan Briscoe’s Ultimate sashiko source book

I am useless at drawing grids and straight lines so I found some denim and a navy shirt decorated with little polka dots.

I used the grid making stitches that were half the size of the space between each dot. This is Komezashi – rice stitch on a patch made up of different fabrics

Yokogushi and jujizashi – horizontal and cross stitch

Kawaru Komezashi – rice stitch variation

And Komenohanazashi – rice flower stitch – which I had to do on a slightly larger scale

I had a couple of complete fails – I found it very difficult to count the spaces for some stitches and needed to enlarge the scale – on the whole I enjoyed it and really like plain cross stitch – now I have got the hang of stitching in different places in alternative rows – my poor dyslexic brain definitely struggles with learning to be consistent lol

Stitching, a reflection of my mood

I have been art journaling for self care for about 5 years now. I have become used to how intuitive art can express my unconscious and my emotions. Until a few days ago I didn’t realise how much this would also be reflected in my stitching.

I made a really calming piece last night whilst watching Tom Ford’s film ‘Nocturnal Animals’.

If you haven’t seen it it’s quite dark and violent. When I am drawing mandalas in front of a thriller my shapes get very small and tight.

Looking at the above piece now makes me feel calm- I made four with the same pattern of stitches. Normally I get bored doing the same pattern over 4 patches and need to mix the texture and colour up.

I can’t remember what I was watching when I made this one

But I remember being engaged with the plot and finding it stress full. I think I detached from the Ford film because I had to make my self feel remote and mindful to stay with the film. There was a lot of time spent lingering on Amy Adams face…….

I am working on my 5th quilt at the moment and am making small patches and then attaching them individually in a search for ways not to prick my fingers so regularly. I like working like this, the contained space and with my sense of design being restricted. However, I am also having to have another piece on had when it makes me feel too constricted. At the moment this is an apron with big loose circles.

Quilt number 5 – it taxing my design skills. In the last few quilts I have had an overal idea in mind and I just needed to step back from those every so often to check how my ‘vision’ was coming along.

Number 5 is different. I keep having to think about the balance of colour and texture- I can’t just do 5 patches without placing them next to those already attached and thinking about how I need to do the next 5. I am quite pleased with the results. Though some patches have had to have extra bits attached because they were too plain or I didn’t like one patch next to its neighbor.

This was just blue crosses but it was tooo plain and just jumped out at me……

Number 5 so far

I am laughing at my self – I just did some reading around Fords film – I recognised how beautiful it was and that some of the scenes were amazingly framed – with stunning art in – I hadn’t realised that they were originals …..

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/jpvydk/nocturnal-animals-art-tom-ford-shane-valentino

Adding colour to my boroinspired stitching

I found some variegated coloured crotchet thread in a second hand shop the other week. I had been searching online for a big ball of rainbow coloured thread but it was going to cost far to much to shop it. The box of cotton balls had many more colours than the rainbow I required but I restrained my self to one of each colour and a couple that went in between below is my stash and my first experiment.

I finished my second quilt with some of the coloured threads- it is a present for someone – I will add a pic when they have revived it.

I bought some plain calico shopping bags sometime ago and decided to add a panel of boroinspired stitching to one side.

These have been great fun to do

I found a Great British Sewing Bee note book kit – I have a few of these – they were produced in 2012 to accompany a TV programme – the consist of a nice quality journal – fabric and instructions to make a loose cover for the book.

It had to be done …..