Monday, April 30, 2007

apple #1

I started this blog fully intending to post daily or near-daily, and now it's been six days since my last post. Life has intervened, I guess. That, plus I felt too tired to post whenever I thought of it recently.
I just completed an ongoing art journal and started a new one. This collage is from my new journal. The apple image is a colour inkjet print of an old drawing that I often use on my handmade note cards. My printer's yellow ink was running out, so the image ended up magenta. I hate to waste anything, and added the misprint to this collage.

I'm toying with the idea of creating a bunch of fabric patchwork pieces right now, and I find that every time I draw, I start creating large blocks of colour - hence the patchwork-y nature of the colours in this collage. The pencil text is part of a journal entry.

The journal was originally an art project for a first-year studio course I took at university, and I've ripped out some of the pages to make room for the collages (if you don't rip out pages, the finished book gets too thick). I've left some of the pages behind, and the phrase "a Book of Shadows" comes from the original art project. I created a book of children's rhymes and "spells" for a performance piece, and read from the book during the performance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

hands #1

Over the years there have been a few motifs that have appeared again and again in my artwork. Hands are one of them. I love tracing my hands and sketching my hands... and I love the shapes that hands make in their various positions. I once wrote a very personal fairy tale that included a maiden who gives away her hands to a wicked sorcerer. Maybe when I figure that one out, I won't need to draw hands anymore...
This has a scrap of brown paper and a bit of a journal entry, and is coloured over with my usual crayons.

Monday, April 23, 2007

uranus, neptune and pluto

This is another of the illustrations I made for the solar system visual art class. The black lines are made with china marker, one of my favorite drawing tools. I love them because they come in many colours, and you can make marks on top of wax crayon with them. This collage has scraps of magazine pages, and some handwriting in pencil in the background.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

abstract landscape #2

Another collaged fantasy landscape. I love the colours in this one - something about it reminds me of the hills in Scotland and England. The collage contains papers torn from magazine pages, as well as some torn tissue paper.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

pluto

This illustration is from a series I did on the solar system for an art class I taught at an elementary school. The class was learning about the solar system, so I incorporated their science learning into a creative visual art lesson. Each child was asked to illustrate one page from a children's story I had written about how the planets in our solar system got their names. I made a master set of illustrations myself, as preparation for the project. This is my illustration for Pluto.

The collage contains a large scrap of a business-reply envelope, and Pluto is torn from a magazine page. The colour comes from pencil crayons and wax crayons.

For the entire set of illustrations I created a simple "grid" of two lines intersecting at right angles somewhere on the page. The point of intersection was never the same place on each page, but moved about in a kind of progression from one page to the next. The point of intersection became the focal or "visual tension" point on each page, and helped me vary the size and scale of the planets in an interesting way.

Friday, April 20, 2007

starflowers

This is one of my favorite art journal pages, and I've used the floral motif in a lot of my handmade art cards. The background was a sheet of graph paper on which I had made a list of phone messages. I later scribbled on the paper to try out different colours of crayons. Finally, I coloured the entire page with crayons and added the flowers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

green grasses

I have been feeling much better in the last couple of days - probably due to the sunshine. What is it about springtime? You can't help but feel happy with green things growing...

The blue paper in this collage came from a concert program that had featured my singing teacher in London, Ontario. After pasting it on the page I wrote a journal entry in pencil, and then added the crayon. The blobs of colour were chosen instinctively. This is one of my favorite ways to work - not knowing ahead of time what I will create. I let the process unfold the way it wants to. Sometimes something really striking results.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

labyrinth #2

This collage began as a drawing by my niece, which I embellished and coloured over with Crayola wax crayons.

Monday, April 16, 2007

green stars

I got addicted to Sudoku puzzles a couple of months ago, and used to do two or three of them per day. The finished puzzles got added to my stack of paper ephemera to use in collages, of course!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

abstract landscape #1

This collage was a lot of fun. I created it at a collage workshop I attended in the fall of 2006, and the assignment was to create a landscape with torn paper. I used strips of glossy print ads I'd pulled out of my recycling bin, with the occasional bit of construction paper or tissue paper. I loved the various tones of light and dark I was able to come up with, and these are some of my favorite shades of green.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

labyrinth

I have longed for some time now to walk a labyrinth. It's my dream to someday own enough property to create a small one of my own, which I could walk every day if I wished.
This is one of my favorite collages, because of the rich colours and the bold graphic design. It's hard to beat red and green together.

Friday, April 13, 2007

blue flowers

I'm feeling a little better today. I'm a great believer in the power of positive thinking, so I'm taking advantage of this difficult time to put some of my beliefs into practice. A couple of my favorite e-newsletters are great inspirations for me. Check out The TUT Adventurers Club and Abraham-Hicks Publications. Both of them offer daily inspirational e-mails that I love.

This is another drawing from my afternoon with my niece and nephew. I think it's my favorite of the "abstract flowers" ones.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

sunbird

I have an uneasy relationship with my faith - Christianity. I live for sacred music, but being an intelligent, educated woman, there are parts of the doctrine that - out of concern for my own sanity - I tend to block out of my mind every Sunday morning as I sit in church.
Still, I look to the faith for spiritual nourishment, and I'm always trying to reconcile myself with the symbol of Christ, and its meaning. My long-time interest in Jungian psychology tells me that every symbol lives in each of us. If I can't wrap my mind around the idea that a literal Christ died to atone for my sins, I can at least try to see the transformative power of the Christ-image in my own life.

These have been difficult weeks for me. Since my boyfriend and I broke up, I wander through my days with a low-grade ache in the centre of my chest. The colour seems washed out of everything. I'm restless, and I don't want to be alone with myself. I can't concentrate on my writing. Nothing seems worthwhile.

(And I just spent an ill-advised afternoon listening to Jann Arden. How much worse could my despair get?)

There is a MacKenzie-sized hole in my life right now, and it's all I can do to keep reminding myself that every end is a beginning, and new life will follow the death and decay of the old. I was sitting on my toilet in the dark just now, blowing my nose after a crying jag, when I had a sudden vision of Mary Magdalene sitting by the tomb, weeping.

I could imagine her pain - feel her despair. She'd already watched her teacher die on the cross; now she had lost his body. I heard her beg the gardener, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

And the gardener was Jesus. She didn't even recognize him.

How often do we mourn what is lost, not realizing it has been transformed, and stands right in front of us?

This collage is from 2005. The image came to me spontaneously - a crow flying towards the sun. I love crows - they are amazing, intelligent birds. One of my favorite Lieder is the Schubert song Die Krahe (The Crow), from the song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter's Journey). For many summers I was heartbroken at the disappearance of crows from my hometown of London, Ontario, due to the West Nile virus. (The crow population is now slowing increasing again.)

The man's face was cut from an issue of Runner's World magazine, so I know he is a runner, but have no idea what his name is. I liked the gold colour of his face, and thought he would make a good sun god.

the owl was a baker's daughter

This is one of my early collages, from 2005. The image was inspired by the title of a book by Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman. Woodman, a former high school English teacher, was searching for a metaphor to describe the internal distress that is particular to women with eating disorders, and found it in the description of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

In the play Ophelia cries, "They say the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table!" Later, Ophelia is held up, "mermaid-like," by her garments as she drowns herself - until the weight of the water pulls her down into the mud.

I combined the symbol of the owl with a mermaid's tail. The collage elements are photographs from magazines - primarily fashion magazines, which I like for their bright, crisp colours. I went over the collage afterwards with a thick Sharpie pen, to add detail.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

fishies

The background of this collage began as a piece of construction paper that my niece "wrote" the alphabet and numerals on, using a plastic template. She was only three at the time.

I was obsessed with drawing fish during the period when I made the collage (summer 2005), so some fish ended up in this piece. When I scanned the image, some pink crayon marks that had been on the large fish didn't come through. I've realized that my scanner doesn't like pink crayon for some reason. (shrug)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

gratitude

Former clients gave me a small journal when I moved away from my hometown. I decided to use it as a gratitude journal, although I keep forgetting to make entries in it.

This collage has bits of wrapping paper and a scrap of a pastel drawing. Sometimes I print out the gratitude lists on the computer and then paste them into the book as collage elements as well. Creating the book is a three-step process: I paste in random collage elements ahead of time, then write the gratitude lists day by day, then go back later and colour over the lists to finish each collage.

Monday, April 9, 2007

picasso quote

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Pablo Picasso

This is another drawing from my afternoon with my niece and nephew. The crayons were awful - normally I use Crayolas, but my sister must have acquired some weird, no-name cheapie ones for the kids at some point. They didn't spread well over the page, and I remember being frustrated at they way they were blending with each other. I was afraid the paper was going to tear, they were so "sticky."

easter hangover

It's not a real hangover. I don't drink.
It's not even a chocolate hangover - I don't eat chocolate.

It's the feeling of letdown and restlessness after several days of intense spiritual and physical activity. We can visit the world of the numinous, but we don't live there. The symbols and rituals bring us into communion with the divine energy of the universe, but we can't hold onto the experience.

As I try to absorb everything I've been through since Thursday evening, I feel overwhelmed.

Happy Easter.

The drawing is one I made while colouring with my niece and nephew a few weekends ago. I love putting huge blobs of brilliant colour on paper; they were neatly colouring their colouring books. As I finished page after page of my blobs, I noticed a change in their attention. They pushed aside the colouring books and begged for some of my loose sheets of paper. Then they started making their own blobs of colour. I felt my work as a colouring anarchist was done.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

shopping at IKEA

I've decided that my favorite time to shop at IKEA is first thing in the morning. Especially if I have to shop on a Saturday. (If you've ever shopped at IKEA on a Saturday, you'll know what I mean.)

I arrived at the store about eight minutes before they officially opened, and when I saw other customers walking in the main entrance, I followed suit. I didn't want to browse through the showroom - I was on a mission to get a new plunge-pot coffee maker - so I headed straight for the Marketplace. Nobody stopped me.

It was amazing - so empty of people, so full of all the beautiful, simple IKEA things - I felt like I was in heaven. I picked up my coffee pot and then wandered through the rest of the Marketplace all alone, enjoying the absence of crowds. In the rug section I stopped to look at some merchandize, and an IKEA employee called over to me as he passed by with a huge cart of goods.

"Ma'am, how did you get in here? We don't open for five more minutes."

"I walked through the door."

He shook his head and continued on his way as I laughed to myself. How did I get in, indeed? If they didn't want me in the Marketplace, they should have somehow prevented me from getting in there...

The drawing is a page from one of my art journals from last October. It didn't scan very well - the colours are much more saturated in the original, and there were some gorgeous pinks that didn't show up at all. (I tried to fix it in Photoshop, but that didn't help much.) I often make notes to myself on yellow Post-it notes, and I love putting the used Post-its in my collages.

i broke my bodum

It was sitting in my sink this morning, and I accidentally hit it while drying the dishes. My mother bought it for me from IKEA, and I treasured it because I used it every day to make my my herbal tea. Just checked online, and the closest IKEA is open this morning at 9:00 am. Gonna be there.

The drawing is from my art journal sometime in March. I paste collage elements on the blank pages of a book, several pages at a time, and then later go back and write, draw, and colour over the pages - usually with children's wax crayons. This page includes a scrap from a bill envelope, and a bunch of doodled circles in pencil. The embossed rectangles are the impressions from collaged papers on the reverse side of this page.

loss, and freedom

This post was originally published in one of my other blogs, an organized existence, which is about my life as a professional organizer.

I have frequent insomnia, and I often think up blog entries when I'm lying awake in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, many of those ideas have nothing to do with professional organizing, and then I realize I have no forum in which to share my nocturnal inspirations.

So I've started this blog as a repository of everything that won't fit in either of my other two blogs (the second one, tell it well, showcases my professional writing samples). I thought the following post would be a great place to start, since when I wrote it, I almost didn't post it to an organized existence - it's so personal.

The illustration is from one of my art journals, and it dovetails with the post because all of the collage elements have something to do with the Gilbert and Sullivan show, The Gondoliers, where my relationship with my ex-boyfriend began one year ago.

If you've read some of my earlier posts (look here, here, and here for some examples), you'll know that I encourage people to get in touch with their deepest dreams and desires. Sometimes it's not until we know what we truly want that we can make decisions about which direction to take in our lives.

The cyclical nature of life means that for every birth there is a death - but also for every death, there is a birth. It's no mistake that Christians, for example, celebrate Jesus' birth in the winter (when everything in nature seems to have died), or his death in the spring (when everything in nature seems to be coming back to life). When we live our lives in sync with these natural rhythms, the pain of loss can lose some of its sting.

My boyfriend and I just broke up. We remain great friends, and love each other deeply, but we are moving in different directions. For either of us to give up our dreams for the sake of the other would mean a loss of something so intrinsic to ourselves that it's unimaginable.

And yet I am almost paralyzed as I sit between two extremes: the pain of losing him, and the joy of finding myself.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but what if what I wanted isn't what I really want? (And I just went looking for some food to stuff into my mouth, which you KNOW can't be a good sign.)

Sometimes we can't know. Sometimes we're walking blind, and when we hold out our hand to find a wall or a piece of furniture to orient ourselves in the blackness, we hit instead a knife blade that slices deep.

But what if the blade cuts things not apart, but together?

I am in the first year of a kind of bodywork training called the Alexander Technique. Without getting too esoteric, the technique is about becoming aware of your habits of poor psycho-physical use, and replacing those habits with better use.

I've discovered that letting go of old habits and discovering something new is very frightening and disorienting. One of my instructor's favorite commands is to "not know."

"Don't KNOW," she intones with discouraging frequency as she works on me with her hands. (Discouraging only because it means that for the millionth time I've been trying too hard, and cutting myself off from true knowing in the process.)

"Don't know, don't know, don't know," I direct myself with fathomless panic inside my head, until suddenly her hands, in cooperation with my open mind, find new freedom and release within my body.

Don't know.

It reminds me of the Rainer Maria Rilke quote from Letters to a Young Poet, where Rilke says:

"...have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.

"Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

"Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

Loss, and freedom. Perhaps deep down, they are really the same thing...