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Clarity is Hard

Clarity is hard

 

I’m so predictable, that after a weekend of excessive socializing, steady eating and drinking, listening and laughing, planning and moving, I crave a quiet moment to draw. I take my journal, a micron pen and my watercolors, and go for a walk along the neighborhood streets. I stop to take off my socks, in the warm morning sun, smiling at the worker on a coffee break. Continuing straight, I look down the narrow alleyways which arouse a feeling of a secrecy, hidden passageways calling to be explored, but I pass them by, knowing that I will find the window boxes in the direct sunlight of the wider streets. I think I want to draw them and capture their alluring charm, but I don’t stop. It’s not the window boxes. It’s more than that. Clarity is hard. So many small thoughts become impossible to piece together. Why try? Isn’t it enough to revel in a quiet mind without translation? We’re heading back north this afternoon. Good-bye Water Street doorways and Charleston sunshine. We’ll be back.

Prompts

Tomorrow there could very well be a blue sky and songbirds singing

March 27 Writing Prompt: "location, location, location"

I walked up Sagamore Hill with Sammy the other misty evening, and demanded him to sit on the mound of rocks at the very top so I could photograph him. He was king of the hill for that moment. I had almost allowed the grey-veiled day to keep us concealed within the walls of our dry and warm house, but looking over at Sammy, in his crate, I saw my own apathy mirrored in his passive body language. I knew it was time to redirect our early evening. Across the field and up through the woods we went, Sammy with his nose to the ground. Together we climbed. As we reached the top, the silhouette of the trees through the mist calmed me. I breathed in the quiet stillness of the air and felt at peace. The last time we had been here was in a blizzard. Tomorrow there could very well be a blue sky and songbirds singing, and we may even be able to see all the way to the ocean. Location, location, location.

pussywillow branches by Kim

We had an awesome group of ladies around the table Tuesday, even a couple of new faces, and everyone was able to emotionally stir us, with one form or another of creative inspiration; poetry, travel journals, drawings of dreams, movies, books and a story about the discovery of stacks of hat boxes and clothing in an historical building. We made a more organized effort to share. Thank-you to everyone!

Katrina arrived with some of her stunning travel journals and beautiful poetry. It was captivating listening to her read her poetry, and taking the time to slowly absorb the pages of her journals. 

Many of us have different journals for different tasks; morning pages, travel logs, sketches, poetry, bullet journaling, writing. How do we condense our work and pages, and what do we do with the personal writing that we wouldn't want anyone to read? 

I put everything into my one current journal; drawings, thoughts, grocery lists, photographs, business cards, and occasionally words I wouldn’t want anyone else to read. Here is a technique for how I create black out poetry from my stream of consciousness "get it off my chest” writing. There were two separate internal conflicts I wrote about following the loss of my beloved mom. They were written to liberate my emotions, not meant for anyone else to read, so I blackened out most of the words leaving only certain selected ones I chose to expose. This  is what I came up with: "Sitting, I remember mom. I hear her breath. Mom's childhood voiced deep experiences. I needed to collapse into them. Time alone is our friend. I sat quietly with mom."

I first tried this technique after learning about Austin Kleon from a friend.  Austin Kleon writes poetry by blackening out all the unnecessary words in newspapers and magazines. If you follow the link above you can watch a wonderful four minute video on how he does this. Below is a sample of just one of his hundreds of completed poetic lines:

A feeling of flow after settling into the ritual of evening play.” 

The found words in black-out poetry are such a simple way of preventing ourselves from adding in all the extra fluff.  Kim created  the following black-out piece from a paragraph she wrote responding to the prompt…"but something interrupted me” .

Tyler Knott Gregson has a new book of poetry, Wildly into the Dark, Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind. The poem below is from his new book and reminded me of a conversation we had about writing.

 Elizabeth, showed us these lovely watercolors of hers that she had printed up onto cards. They make such wonderful gifts.

elizabeths.jpg

She also gave me the book, Daily Rituals, a compilation, by Mason Currey, of writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, and scientists on how they create. This book has been on my wish list! Thank-you Mason, and thank-you Elizabeth! Kim suggested revisiting Maira Kalman, whose daily ritual is perhaps one we can all relate to.

Robin showed us her art journal and her wonderful example of how a bullet journal can be creative and practical. She also spoke to us about her daily creative rituals. I can’t wait to gather in her studio next week. The drawings below were inspired from a dream she had:

Leslie is preparing for another art exhibition, in June, at the North Hampton Historical Society. Leslie is an historical anthropologist who is passionate about old photos and clothing and letters. All her creations have an ethereal quality to them, bringing bits of the past into our present day. The image below is from a page of her tea-stained journal. She has taken an old photograph and been experimenting with a variety of ways to make changes to it. Her papers and boxes and small journals and drawings are a delight to the eye. 

Heidi and I went to the Cabot Cinema yesterday and saw a beautiful Turkish movie called Kedi,Cats in Istanbul.  I fully understand that not everyone likes cats, but the cinema photography is stunning, and the relationship between Istanbul and its cats is lovely. Watch the trailer, either way, and make your own decision. Perhaps I was feeling especially sentimental having just put our old cat, Romeo down.

We talked about so much more. Katrina mentioned Mary Ann Moss and her online drawing course, The Art of Making and Keeping a Sketchbook, and another online class by Pam Garrison, Painting Petals. We talked about blogs and books and movies and the Morgan Museum where there is an upcoming exhibit in June on Thoreau and his journals. We briefly talked about Danielle Smith watercolor paints and the Moth Stories. Lots of good stuff! 

I went to visit a friend, Meredith,  in her Beverly, Porter Mills studio this afternoon. It was so much fun to see Meredith in her creative space, with her adorable Jack Russell, Ivy. 

Now I need to get outside with Sammy for a walk to see that blue sky from the top of Sagamore Hill before the next snowstorm arrives!

There was a blue sky and we were even able to see all the way to the ocean!

Keep writing and drawing

in your journals

 

"LET US GO FORTH TOGETHER"

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."  - Rainer Maria Rilke

GOOD DAY!

Another snowy morning and it was a challenge to get out of bed, especially with Henry cozied up at my feet.

Last week we had another successful gathering, devoted to making journals and accordion books. Sandy arrived at noon with a big pot of Mulligatawny Soup that was so so good. Thank-you Sandy! Such a thoughtful and generous gesture. I made a big batch on Saturday that received unusually high praises from Ollie. Perfect meal for this weather with a side salad and bread.

                                  Sandy’s Soup Recipe

                                  Sandy’s Soup Recipe

Sandy worked on an accordion book and journal for her husband, who’s 60th birthday is approaching soon. We had lots of papers spread out all over the kitchen table. Susie and I were both making accordion books for our daughters, and Shelagh worked on making a new journal. I’m looking forward to everyone coming back tomorrow and hopefully we can finish our projects, and get our new journals bound. The binding we have used in the past is the Coptic Binding. It not only looks nice, but it allows the book to open up and lay flat. The link I provided has wonderful step-by-step instructions and photos.

I finished the accordion book for our daughter, Anna, in the backseat of Ollie’s car, on the way to the airport Saturday afternoon. She was about to take off on the first leg of her trip for Palau. I had already finished the front and back cover with my note, but I still needed to glue in some photos. That project, right up to the end, before saying our good-byes, steadied my anxiously suppressed emotions, but as we helped Anna out of the car with her oversized yellow duffle and big dive bag, the time had come for the reality of letting go. This is where our books and journals and drawings and words can offer such comfort. They allow us to let go and hold on at the same time. Pieces of memory. My accordion books are an authentic statement of my love, a gift from my heart. One of my favorite quotes from the book Modoc, by Ralph Helfer is, “Distance does not separate, only the heart.” 

Please let me know if you’d like to come early again tomorrow to work on your books! I will be here from noon on.

We were talking about letters and I know some of you were interested in the custom stamps I have ordered from Zazzle. You can take any photo or drawing and have it made into a stamp. I just ordered some with a painting of a cow i had done years back. It is such fun to embellish your envelopes with art. And don’t forget about the stationary company, Felix Doolittle. Read about Felix Fu founder of this exquisite stationary company. His studio, as well as a separate retail store called "The Paper Mouse”, is located in West Newton, MA. I spoke with someone from the studio this morning, inquiring if we might schedule a visit and tour of the studio. We can watch the weather and discuss some dates.

one of the many Felix Fu watercolors

one of the many Felix Fu watercolors

Kim showed us, and generously gave each of us, a card from the Olivetti Pattern Series of Notecards and Envelopes. This elegant set features four distinct patterns made on the beloved Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter. "Cormac McCarthy used an Olivetti Lettera 32 to write nearly all of his fiction, screenplays, and correspondence, totaling by his estimate more than 5 million words. The Letter 32 that he purchased in 1963 was auctioned by Christies on 12/04/09 to an unidentified American collector for $254,500, more than 10 times its high estimate of $20,000. McCarthy paid $20 for a replacement typewriter of the same model, but in newer condition.” 

Kim also brought back a drawing pencil, sitting below in my basket of ribbons, inscribed with the Picasso quote, “Rien n'est plus difficile u’un trait”.

                         "NOTHING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN A LINE"

                         "NOTHING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN A LINE"

 

                             There will be no journal gathering on Tuesday, February 21st. 

In 10 days I am flying out to Whitefish, Montana for a Haven Retreat Writing Workshop with Laura Munson. One of the other 10 participants is a woman named Margi Hoffman, who has started the Murmuration Community. I’m really looking forward to meeting her, and hearing more about what she does. Check out her website. It is very inspiring. She believes that "in order to truly change our world we need to collectively learn to tap into the divine wisdom within ourselves, and use that knowledge as a guide to create a balanced self, balanced community and, ultimately, a balanced world. Previously a political campaign director, lobbyist and policy advisor to two Oregon governors, Margi has helped individuals and a wide variety of health and environmental organizations plan and implement their goals.”  Murmuration is offering a workshop, coming up on April 21-23 in Utah. Read more about it here. "Shadowboxing: Exploring Our Shadow to Embrace the Other”. Maybe some of us should go? Her most recent journal entry is titled “We are the Ripple Effect.”

Murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky. They have a remarkable ability to maintain cohesion as a group in highly uncertain environments and with limited, noisy information. Starlings pay attention to a fixed number of their neighbors in the flock, regardless of flock density - seven to be exact. When uncertainty in sensing is present, interacting with six or seven neighbors optimizes the balance between group cohesiveness and individual effort. In following the role of seven, the birds are part of a dynamic system in which the parts combine to make a whole with emergent properties, and a murmuration results. Starlings are essentially an invasive species in this country. They were famously introduced to North America at New York City’s Central Park in the 1890s by Shakespeare enthusiasts who wanted all the bird species ever mentioned by Shakespeare to inhabit this continent. 200 million of these birds now inhabit North America. They are not welcomed by everyone and resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, and even called a menace. This murmuration video  by world life photographer Dylan Winter gives me chills, and invites us to view the starlings with fresh eyes. 

In Margi Hoffman's words, which are especially poignant during these uncertain times, and as the starlings do so well, “Let us go forth. Together.”

Keep writing and drawing in your journals

xo Barb

 

 

 

 

                                            

 

 

"Gone to the Fields to be Lovely"

 

Hello to everyone! I hope you’re all well, despite the flux in our world

 

I was looking through a National Geographic book, 

                   “Simply Beautiful Photographs”, and the photograph below caused me to linger:                                                                                                             -                                                                                                                                                            

"Photographs have given us visual proof that the world is grander than we imagined”                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                               -Annie Griffiths National geographic photographer

A trio of tundra swans grace a cloudy day  Jim Brandenburg, photographer

 

I’m changing the time of our journaling group to Tuesdays 2:30-4:30, beginning this week on Tuesday January 31st. I will be making myself a new journal before class,  so if anyone wants to join me a couple of hours early please let me know, and I will have the supplies ready. 

I’m including a variety of links in this review, each of which reflects on the universal theme of beauty and resilience. Hope is out there. 

“We are part of a movement that is greater and deeper and broader than we ourselves know or can know.” -Hawken.  

I listened to a talk that Environmentalist Paul Hawken gave  on The other Superpower at the Paris Climate Talks 2016.  In his talk Hawken quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson from a lecture he gave in 1836, and the second quote is from Emerson's "Nature" Essays:

“Who looks upon a river in a meditative state and is not reminded of the flux in all things?”

 “The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new land, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.”  

Just recently my siblings and I spent a couple of days going through my mom’s belongings…a sentimental journey so many of you have already traveled.  Old memories and new discoveries that take time and attention.

“ There is beauty, often overlooked, in nearly everything” -Annie Griffiths

This was one of the many old memories, rediscovered. On July 26, 2012, for their 60th wedding anniversary, Ollie and I and my siblings gave my parents a painting by artist Carol Maguire, titled “ Yesterday”. Along with the painting, we gave them an accordion book filled with hand-written memories  from each of us, and all  ten grandchildren. Each remembrance began with yesterday...  Below is the painting and accordion book:

In looking at Carol Maguire’s website, I discovered that she is teaching a three day workshop at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham this summer from June 14-16, 2017. Each morning she will begin with a demonstration, and then we will paint from a variety of still lives she has arranged. I signed up for the workshop, which still has plenty of available space. The Arts Center is open Monday through Friday, so if you’re interested call them for details, and we can go together.

Camilla shared book artist, Alice Stanne's blog with us. She teaches a class at Mass Art called Books and Boxes. Look at her blog and make sure to scroll down to her older posts. For her sister’s graduation from college Alice made a book and titled it The Guide to Life After College. She asked friends and lifelong friends to contribute any words of wisdom, advice or meaningful quotes, and she added illustrations:

We briefly talked about The North Bennet Street School, and their large selection of  continuing education classes .

Leslie and Camilla compared  bullet journalsYou can follow this link and watch the 4 minute video.  I still haven’t fully grasped the concept, but it’s very interesting. They incorporate an index, which would be very useful as I am often struggling to find specific entries in my older journals. I may begin to number my pages, and try to make a table of contents for each of my journals.

Thanks to Leslie and Camilla I am now officially signed up for Amazon’s Audible Books. I have just started listening to Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken. 

Recent Journal Pages

Recent Journal Pages

If you haven’t seen this yet, watch this touching Michael Jackson Tribute, Heal the World music video, sung by children.

Here is one of Parker Palmer's favorite poems by Lynn Unger, titled  Camas Lilies. It was posted in today's “On Being" :  Parker writes: “ I take my work seriously, and I’m sure you do, too. But at age 75, I’m trying to learn (or relearn) that, in the end, what matters most is not my ability to “produce” but my ability to love…"

           Camas Lilies  by Lynn Ungar

Consider the liles of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?
And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”
Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

         The full Bloom of the Camas Lilies occurs during the last two weeks of May. 

               Something to add to our bullet journals in planning for future trips.  

                                            Keep writing and drawing

                                                    in your journals

                                                          xo Barb

Ordinary Pleasures

"Oh summer has clothed the earth In a cloak from the loom of the sun! And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue, And a belt where the river runs."

"Oh summer has clothed the earth In a cloak from the loom of the sun! And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue, And a belt where the river runs."

Once again I will be on the move, this time back to our Moffett way home, where the summer air has been so lovely and clear, and where linens on a clothesline inspire me, under the shade and comfort of great black oaks, and where I am never too far from the sound of the whispering breezes, gently playing the chimes. 

Music is everywhere, on porches and under tabernacles, inside churches, circling beach bonfires, blasting out of car windows, congregated at farmers' markets, it plays on. And if we turn it off and simply open our windows, on a bright summer day, our own nature's symphony will fill our ears. 

I finished a wonderful book called "Dwelling in Possibility, Searching for the Soul of Shelter", by Howard Mansfield. One review says. "you will look at your surroundings, and perhaps yourself, in a richer and more nuanced way." The cover of the book is beautiful but even more so are the depth of his words:

"To go house hunting is to dwell in possibility. But what is that possibility? One is that we'll be a new person in a new home. Given a fresh start our better selves will rise. That's part of the answer. But the real possibility we seek is habit; it's the ordinary. Give us room for tumult and quiet, for solitude and passing the time with friends. Give us room for ordinary pleasures, for a day well lived."

Hanging my clothes to dry in the warm summer air inspires creative possibilities for a clothesline series, or better yet  fills my ordinary moment with an ordinary pleasure.

"Why should beauty emerge from the world of the ordinary?

The answer is ultimately beacuse the world is natural."

-Soetsu Yanagi

 

 

 

 

 

  

BACK AROUND THE TABLE IN 2016

"There are those who make a difference in our day by holding open a door, waving us ahead in traffic, smiling for no reason at all. They may bring us a flower, a package, a plate of cookies. They may do their work so well we barely notice. They often offer a kind word. They should know they make our day. They should know our thanks.”                                            

                                                         - Diane Hanna            Stoneheart Collection of Story Pictures

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It felt so so great to have everyone back around the table for our first 2016 gathering. 

A bundle of inspiring conversations and ideas were shared this week!

One of you left your beautiful, soft, navy-fringed scarf behind. It wasn’t gift wrapped, but it still found its way to my head:

For the next few months I’d like to try changing our journal gatherings from Wednesdays to Tuesdays from 2-4.

I really hope this will work for most of you. Could you let me know as soon as possible because I don’t want to loose any of our regular group. Camilla and I discussed planning the following week, Tuesday, January 19th to be an evening gathering at The Castle Hill Inn from 4-6. Please confirm this, as well, so we can plan ahead for some wine and hors d'oeuvres!

Feel free to bring any newcomers interested in seeing what our group is all about.

As some of us attempted to focus on making journals, we found ourselves easily and excitedly distracted by all the exchanges going on! If you want to make your own journal I think this is one of the best tutorials for how to make a coptic bound journal. Leslie made journals with her mom over the holidays, and below is the lovely one she produced with it’s tea-stained pages:

Meredith showed us her awesome journal with all her collage work, and told us about Kara Bullock’s new online faces and portraits course. Check it out. It goes on all year.  I’m considering signing on as it seems to be a very fair price ($125), and a good way for me to get the discipline I need to explore new styles. Danny Gregory is starting a new online class, as well, called Expressing which begins on January 15th.

Portraits seem to be the buzz right now. I received the weekly journal review from Sandy Bernat, a very talented paper artist on Marthas Vineyard, who hosts a group like ours, and their focus was on portraits. They were discussing the artist Amadeus Clemente Modigliani(1884-1920). His portraits were known for their elongated forms, linear qualities and earthy tones.

   

 

 

Sandy’s group used the following instructions to create their own Modigliani inspired watercolor sketches. If you have time this week give your own Modigliani style portrait a try:

1.Beginning with a pencil, draw a U-shaped curved line in the middle of your paper.

2.Draw some hair.

3.Draw almond-shaped eyes and an L-shaped or U-shaped nose.

4.Draw a mouth.

5.Draw two lines for the neck(if you are close to the bottom of the page extend the lines off the page). Add shoulders and a collar.

6.Add several lines in the background to place your figure in an environment. They only need to suggest windows, doors and the like.

7.Paint with watercolors and use lots of water and work in layers.

We passed around Maira Kalman’s books, "Beloved Dog" and "My Favorite Things". I love her style, very simple and bold. Watch a short video about Maira to get to know her work. Try drawing your favorite sweater in your interpretation of the Maira Kalman style:

Meredith discussed the practical aspect of limiting your art tools. By keeping your supplies simple and readily accessible you will less likely become overwhelmed and more likely create.  Create a page in your journals displaying your favorite art tools and share them with us. Meredith showed us her new Pentel color brushes that are pretty cool. This is an old drawing of one of my many travel paint sets. The paints aren’t top quality, but this set with the water brush is still one of my most accessible and favorite go to art tools:

Kim spoke to us about an artist who inspired her with an awareness of collecting images from out of magazines or from photographs or anywhere…as a way to awaken ourselves to the kinds of things that catch our eye and spur our emotions and creativity. Kim suggested the possibilities of recreating our images into our journals but in an abstract way. The simple drawings can become remembrances of moments that caught our attention. 

 

Thanks Kim for always bringing your thoughtful and inquiring discoveries to our attention!

 

Remain aware of what moves you tho next week, and either make a list of the things, or if you have time create symbolic drawings in your journal. 

A Year of Being Here, the daily mindfulness poetry project is now concluded. I’ll miss my daily mindfulness poem. The project curator, Phyllis Cole-Dai, leaves us with her verse "ON HOW TO PICK AND EAT POEMS", as well as these closing words: 

"If you enjoy the taste of the wild berries I’ve picked, grab a pail of your own and head for light. That’s where these poems grow; there, and in the dappled dark of the woods. You’ll have a fine time, searching for them amongst the bushes and the brambles, so long as you go slow and watch out for thorns and bears". ⎯ phyllis cole-dai (project curator)

Leslie read "For Grief" one of the final poems by John O’Donohue to us:

For Grief

When you loose someone you love,

Your life becomes strange

The ground beneath you gets fragile,

Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;

And some dead echo drags your voice down

Where words have no confidence.

 

Your heart has grown heavy with loss

And though this loss has wounded others too,

No one knows what has been taken from you

When the silence of absence deepens.

 

Flickers of guilt kindle regret

For all that was left unsaid or undone.

 

There are days when you wake up happy;

Again inside the fullness of life,

Until the moment breaks

And you are thrown back

Onto the black tide of loss.

 

Days when you have your heart back,

You are able to function well

Until in the middle of work or encounter,

Suddenly with no warning,

You are ambushed by grief.

 

It becomes hard to trust yourself.

All you can depend on now is that

Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way

And will find the right time

To pull and pull the rope of grief

Until that coiled hill of tears

Has reduced to its last drop. 

 

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance

With the invisible form of your departed;

And, when the work of grief is done,

The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned to wean your eyes

From that gap in the air

And be able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return

All the time.

One last thing we talked about was using gesso or paints in collaging pages. Kim applied white acrylic paint to paper bags, and by using the negative space technique created wonderful gift bags for the holidays:

 

Remember to  let me know if Tuesdays will work for you. Our next gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, the 13th, 2-4

JOURNAL PROMPTS:

What moves you?

Draw a sweater, really simplified, using bold colors

Paint a Modigliani portrait

Draw your favorite art tools

 

Keep creating and filling your journals !!!

xxx’s Barb

SOMETHING CLOSE

blind contour drawing of thanksgiving flowers

blind contour drawing of thanksgiving flowers

GUIDELINES

Here's what you need to do, since time began:

find something-diamond rare or carbon-cheap,

it's all the same-and love it all you can.

 

It should be something close-a field, a man,

a line of verse, a mouth, a child asleep-

that feels like the world's heart since time began.

 

Don't measure much or lay things out or scan;

don't save yourself for later, you won't keep;

spend yourself now on loving all you can.

 

It's going to hurt. That was the risk you ran

with your first breath; you knew the price was steep,

that loss is what there is, since time began

 

subtracting from your balance. That's the plan,

too late to quibble now, you're in too deep.

Just love what you still have, while you still can.

 

Don't count on schemes, it's far too short a span

from the first sowing till they come to reap.

One way to count, since time began:

love something, love it hard, now, while you can.

                                                                                  - Rhina Espaillat

 

May 27, 2015 Journal Review

 

Hey guys,

We're on again for tomorrow from 2-4. Last week Camilla Eagan joined us, and she and Kim and I painted pears. Camilla glued her pear onto the cover of her new journal.

While drawing and talking as we like to do, Camilla and Kim mentioned an article in the globe about a newly published Sketchbook Project book. There is a The Sketchbook Project Library that began in Atlanta in 2006, and moved to Brooklyn in 2009. It has grown from a small organization into a worldwide community of over 70,000 artists. Maybe sometime we can organize a trip to Brooklyn to visit the museum.  There was a good article written up about the book in the Austin Chronicle. Hopefully it will arrive at my house tomorrow in time for you to look through it and be inspired. 

Kim recently participated in a two day "Expressive paintings from photos workshop" with Nancy Colella. She is going to share some of Nancy's techniques with us tomorrow. It involves photographs with simple subject matter, bright colors and shadows. If you have any photos with those characteristics bring them with you tomorrow. I will have some photos here as well. I attached Kim's photograph of pears beside her completed painting below. Pears seem to be a popular theme. 

In looking above at the Sketchbook Project site, another thought for tomorrow is to glue a section of a newspaper article into your journal, and we can paint over them with Gouache. Gouache is an opaque watercolor so it is thicker and more vibrant. 

I am attaching a link to a section of the latest Brain Pickings Weekly entitled Nine Podcasts for a Fuller Life.  It has a most wonderful and beautiful podcast, interviewing Mary Oliver, on being. If you haven't subscribed to Brain Pickings, I highly recommend you do so, but be prepared to get lost in all the many directions it will lure you off into.

 

Hope you guys can make it tomorrow from 2-4. I'm thinking of extending the time from 1-4. Let me know what you think. I haven't been very productive myself this week, although I did make a new journal since I only have two pages to go in my recent one. 

Barb

Journal Review May 20, 2015

 

Hi guys! 

What a beautifully perfect morning. I finally got to bed at a decent hour last night, allowing me to be fully awake at this early hour. We had a good group yesterday, always something for me to look forward to. Kim was back from France and had some great photos as well as drawings to show us. She saw an  exhibit of exquisite book art while in Chartres, which got us on to the discussion of what exactly book art is.

Elizabeth decided to make an accordion book for her daughter's graduation, so I helped her with that.

Kim had made a lovely little one for her daughter. If anyone else is interested, I am always happy to help make those. They are quick and make really nice gifts.  I attached a photo of the outside of one i had made for Charlie's birthday one year. They can open up to as many folds as you need for photos or drawings, and on the back you can write a note to whoever it is for.   

Leslie was still interested in a watercolor demonstration, so I took advantage of the lovely card Susie brought with the peony watercolor on it, and attempted to show how I would go about applying and blending the paints. Hope that was somewhat helpful. It is actually a wonderful image to practice on so maybe we can all try it next week.

Express Yourself has theirannual show tonight at the Wang, amazingly inspiring and upbeat and FREE. It starts at 7 and is open seating. 

Look at their site to see how young people's lives can be powerfully changed with art.

 

Have a wonderful day! And thank-you for supporting my journaling.

It is so nice to be able to have this weekly time with you guys!

xx Barb

Journal Review May 6, 2015

Hi Guys!

During my two days in Burlington, I stopped into a large communal gathering spot to get a coffee, and I noticed beautiful poems, written by teenagers, encircling the room. They were collected through an organization called "The Young Writers Project" founded by Geoffrey Gevalt. I attached two links. The first one is to a beautiful short memoir written on Thanksgiving day 1995, by Geoffrey, about his daughter, Lily.  I highly recommend you to watch it, and the second is the link to an overview of The Young Writers Project. Enjoy. 

Envelopes and the mysteries of all the possibilites of what the letters inside could be seems to be a recent theme. Some of us attached envelopes to the inside of our journals. Others decorated envelopes with drawings and pretty stamps to be mailed off to someone they love. I have The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy  a beautiful series of stories told through decorated letters and postcards that I will show you next week.

Elizabeth brought me a lovely book called The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer. Thank-you Elizabeth! 

I'll share a line from it which is perhaps why we all get together: 

" Sitting still is a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it; Going nowhere as a way of cutting through the noise and finding fresh time and energy to share with others."

I showed a short video that gave a crosshatching demonstration, and will have a handout on that for next week. I am panning on showing a watercolor video next week because I know many of you are interested in doing more of that. The Handbook Journal Company makes a wonderful watercolor journal that comes in a few different sizes for those of you who want to focus on doing watercolors. 

Below are two quotes from Kim's journal entries about drawing and beginners, both applicable to our sketchbook journaling gatherings:

"Day after day.                                             

Never fail to draw something

Which, however little it may be,

Will yet in the end be much,

And do thy best."  - written in 1340

"To bring possibilities into your life, unfold the beginners mind in all situations. In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts mind there are few."  - Roshi

I discovered an illustrator named Jess Polanshek, owner of a small illustration business called Polanshek of the Hills Illustration. Check them out. I purchased a book of hers called The Quilted Forest and decorated an envelope for my mom for mothers day with some of her illustrations. They combine pen and ink and patterns and nature and lovely colors. I attched a photo of my envelope which I am now off to mail.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

xox Barb

passages of time

Summers wind down, the air has changed, and I pause, before driving away, to embrace a spontaneous moment. Warm interiors and the gradual layering of clothes will begin to replace porches and bare feet, but the music will linger on in my heart, and the passages of time will continue to strengthen my love. 

Summers wind down, the air has changed, and I pause, before driving away, to embrace a spontaneous moment. Warm interiors and the gradual layering of clothes will begin to replace porches and bare feet, but the music will linger on in my heart, and the passages of time will continue to strengthen my love. 

Paper Art

Seastone Papers : Inside of Sandy Bernat's studio in West Tisbury, on Marthas Vineyard, is where I've spent my last three mornings. This is one of my completed projects. If you had ever asked me whether or not I had any interest in making paper, I would have assuredly said no, but that was before meeting Sandy two Saturdays ago at the Tisbury farmers market, where I first laid eyes on her beautiful coptic bound journals constructed of some of the most exquisite hand made papers I have ever seen. She uses locally harvested fibers and botanicals, as well as cotton rag and hemp. The cover of the book I bought has bits of a hornets nest added, as inclusives, into the pulp. Sandy is both an english teacher and a paper artist. She has traveled to remote areas to study the art of handmade papers. With her papers she creates individual books, each of which is a unique and individual piece of art. The three classes I took were "Monoprinting with a Gel Plate", "Collaged and Printed", and finally "Making Gel-Printed Books".  I plan to return for a papermaking sampler class. You can visit Sandy's website, but for a real treat stop by her studio on your next trip to Marthas Vineyard, or maybe even sign up for one of her many classes. I may see you there!

Seastone Papers : Inside of Sandy Bernat's studio in West Tisbury, on Marthas Vineyard, is where I've spent my last three mornings. This is one of my completed projects. If you had ever asked me whether or not I had any interest in making paper, I would have assuredly said no, but that was before meeting Sandy two Saturdays ago at the Tisbury farmers market, where I first laid eyes on her beautiful coptic bound journals constructed of some of the most exquisite hand made papers I have ever seen. She uses locally harvested fibers and botanicals, as well as cotton rag and hemp. The cover of the book I bought has bits of a hornets nest added, as inclusives, into the pulp. Sandy is both an english teacher and a paper artist. She has traveled to remote areas to study the art of handmade papers. With her papers she creates individual books, each of which is a unique and individual piece of art. The three classes I took were "Monoprinting with a Gel Plate", "Collaged and Printed", and finally "Making Gel-Printed Books".  I plan to return for a papermaking sampler class. You can visit Sandy's website, but for a real treat stop by her studio on your next trip to Marthas Vineyard, or maybe even sign up for one of her many classes. I may see you there!

Making time

Last Wednesday our sketchbook journaling group had a discussion about making time to journal. My only suggestion was to carry your journal and simple supplies along with you at all times. There will almost always be moments throughout your day if you are aware of them. You only need a few minutes here and there. You could try challenging yourself to make one entry a day for a couple of weeks. Make it a habit and making time will come more and more naturally. Personally, I have plenty of time to submit journal entries, but I still don't do it as often as I would like. For me, it's not so much a matter of making time as it is just becoming more impromptu and less concerned about controlling the outcome. Making time starts with being ready for unexpected moments and then diving in. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SKETCHBOOK JOURNALING

I have a sketchbook journaling group that meets on Wednesdays at my home for two hours. At the first meeting we made our coptic bound journals. Since then we have been getting together and encouraging eachother to fill them. We started out with a patterns theme and experimenting with drawing and colors and words. Now we're going to do some experiments with collaging. Last weeks three suggested assignment were: 1. photocopy a photograph, glue it into the journal and embellish it with paint or words, 2. draw something you wear and love. 3. copy a piece of art by a favorite artist My pages above have a photo of Sammy wearing a new necklace that I made and lost within 24 hours, a drawing of a favorite button bracelet of mine, and some casual gouache reproductions of artists, whose work I like.  If anyone is interested in joining us, please send me an email. We meet from 2-4 on Wednesdays. We share ideas on many things and links to artists and quotes and books. Two that I shared this week were Misty Mawn, who has a wonderful creative website, and Maria Popova's brain pickings, which my sister-in-law introduced me to and I now support. 

I have a sketchbook journaling group that meets on Wednesdays at my home for two hours. At the first meeting we made our coptic bound journals. Since then we have been getting together and encouraging eachother to fill them. We started out with a patterns theme and experimenting with drawing and colors and words. Now we're going to do some experiments with collaging. Last weeks three suggested assignment were:

1. photocopy a photograph, glue it into the journal and embellish it with paint or words,

2. draw something you wear and love.

3. copy a piece of art by a favorite artist

My pages above have a photo of Sammy wearing a new necklace that I made and lost within 24 hours, a drawing of a favorite button bracelet of mine, and some casual gouache reproductions of artists, whose work I like. 

If anyone is interested in joining us, please send me an email. We meet from 2-4 on Wednesdays. We share ideas on many things and links to artists and quotes and books. Two that I shared this week were Misty Mawn, who has a wonderful creative website, and Maria Popova's brain pickings, which my sister-in-law introduced me to and I now support. 

OAXACA, MEXICO

I am returning to Oaxaca city sometime next year to take spanish lessons, visit artist's studios and draw. I will stay at MaryJane's Casa Murguia, which is totally charming and in the perfect location. I have been there twice now and it is a place I am falling in love with. If anyone wants to go with me, please contact me. I just returned from a week there overlapping with the Dia de Los Muertos celebration. My friend, Sarah, is the one responsible for opening my eyes to the colorful and spirited Oaxaca because she has been leading tours there for several years now through her business Hearthstone Travel. During my visit there I was in the middle of another Sketchbook Skool session, titled Storytelling, my third one now. I have completed 18 different lessons, from artists scattered all over the world, and each one offers such a new perspective. All three sessions are available online at Sketchbook Skool. Danny Gregory has launched an extremely successful business! I can't wait for the next session to begin. 

BOOKCOVER

 

 

 

Here is my cover for a book I've contemplated after spending a couple of years in graduate school, and learning how important it is to listen. Thank-you so much, to Jean-Christophe, my most recent Sketchbook Skool teacher, for his wonderful lessons on drawing, and for giving me the confidence to put my imagination to work. I got inspiration for this cover from a little gem of a book called, To Dance With The White Dog. I have always loved the natural world and animals and Granny Smith apples that I ate from my grandmother's trees, and slowing down to listen and connect.

REALITY VS. IMAGINATION

In the middle of my third Sketchbook Skool online course. My 15th teacher, Mattias Adolfsson is from Sweden, and he is just as amazing as all the previous teachers I have spent a week learning from. During this week, Mattias is encouraging us to reacquaint ourselves with our imaginations. He asked us to draw something from reality and to detail it with something from our imagination. I started with a tree outside our kitchen window, against the grey sky of this damp October day, and as I was drawing the tree, my mind began to wander towards Halloween which is quickly approaching. From there I remembered back to a particular dinosaur costume that I had made for our daughter, Anna, so long ago. She loved that costume so so much that she never wanted to take it off. She insisted on wearing it everyday and everywhere, wherever our travels took us. So much fun exploring with our imaginations.

In the middle of my third Sketchbook Skool online course. My 15th teacher, Mattias Adolfsson is from Sweden, and he is just as amazing as all the previous teachers I have spent a week learning from. During this week, Mattias is encouraging us to reacquaint ourselves with our imaginations. He asked us to draw something from reality and to detail it with something from our imagination. I started with a tree outside our kitchen window, against the grey sky of this damp October day, and as I was drawing the tree, my mind began to wander towards Halloween which is quickly approaching. From there I remembered back to a particular dinosaur costume that I had made for our daughter, Anna, so long ago. She loved that costume so so much that she never wanted to take it off. She insisted on wearing it everyday and everywhere, wherever our travels took us. So much fun exploring with our imaginations.

SPONTANEOUS SUMMER ART ... more to come

I just finished this 24x30 inch painting of Star.  Sweet Star. He still has a calming affect on me. I miss his gentle eyes. There are many layers to this painting. The colors finally came together. I've been taking classes at the Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs. Every morning from 9-12 there is a different class...Mondays is watercloring, Tuesdays life drawing, Wednesdays more watercolor and acrylics, Thursdays color theory, and Fridays acrylics. For a minimal cost you have a studio at your fingertips with talented instructors and fellow artists. The best thing is it's just there, and you don't have to pre-register or put down any deposits...you just show up, and as in my case sometimes at the very last minute.

 A spontaneously creative summer.

Maybe today I'll make some necklaces, and if I don't have what I need there is a wonderful beadshop in Vineyard haven. It's called Beadniks. There is also one in Chicago, although I've never been to it. I just made this necklace with some Turquoise beads I bought in Boulder, Colorado. I love them on my new brown dress from Lucky. 

necklace.jpg

If you don't feel very creative and you need to fill your well there is inspiration everywhere you look on Marthas Vineyard. It's an Island filled with artists and farmers and fisherman, and most everyone is just so happy to be there that they are incredibly friendly. I was dropping off some things at the thrift store in Edgartown, and a young sparkling woman with an engaging presence called hello to me from across the street. "Come inside!" she urged, "and see our new gallery with the wonderful work of a New Orleans artist!"

The artist is Chris Roberts-Antieau, and her work is wonderful and all about joy, and she had to repeat 9th grade and was not recommended for college, but she said fortunately, "she never learned what NOT to do." You should check her out. 

 I'm still in the middle of Danny Gregory's online Sketchbook Skool, and it's going well. During our first week we were encouraged by Danny to draw what we see, and in the second week Koosje had us doing a self-portrait a day. I discovered that these self portraits became so much more than drawing. I really had to see into myself, and face some realities like I'm approaching 60, and i've got some aches and pains and grey hairs, but that's ok. 

Our third week was taught by Brenda Swenson. I attached a link to a cool little movie she made about herself similiar to some of the ones Danny makes. It's really good. She had us doing continual line contour drawings of three objects for the week. At this point I'm getting a bit behind in assignments and jumping around from making necklaces to painting cows to other random spontaneous art activities.

We are on our fourth week with our new instructor, whose name is Cathy Johnson. It goes so quickly! I have yet to watch her demo and instructional videos or to complete any of the homework, but stay tuned...more to come. 

DRAWING TOAST

                                       SIMPLY ENJOY

I never did actually get to "simply enjoy" this peice of toast in an epicurean sense as it was totally stale by the time I got around to completing my drawing. Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool course #2 started on the 4th of July, and our first homework assignment was to do a "deep dive" drawing of a piece of toast. I toasted this piece of wheat ciabatta bread two days ago, and then suddenly realizing that I needed to be somewhere, I hid it in the cabinet so noone would eat it or throw it away. This rediculous little piece of toast had the perfect amount of air pockets and gently browned edges, ideal for a drawing. Danny instructed us that it should be a pen and ink drawing,  and he clearly wrote that we should omit labeling and names. Of course I added color, labels and names. I can't resist color, and I wanted to remember the exact bread so I could buy it again on my next trip to the store.  I am finally settling down into a summer mode, and although it seems a bit indulgent how carefree i'm feeling, I'm trying not to care.  Isn't it amazing how we struggle with the concept of allowing ourselves to slow down. Is that me or does everyone feel that way? I was talking with my mom the other evening, and she asked me what I did all day and I realed off  this long elaborate list of  how I took a long walk with the dogs, painted, hit golf balls, read my book and gardened when I hadn't done any of those things. They were all the things I had planned on doing. I was obviously feeling guilty about my idleness. How was I going to describe drawing toast? Especially when people all around me are working so hard.  Nevermind. I'm simply enjoying and trying to be carefree which takes practice. 

Now that my 23 year old daughter is working two jobs from 8 in the morning until 10 at night she's quite fatigued and a bit testy, but happy to be productive. I'm very proud of her impressive work ethic, but when I made the mistake of telling her to chill, she became a tad critical of my leisurely attitude, suggesting that I get a job. She may be right, but for the time being I'm going to allow myself to simply enjoy whatever peaceful moments of the summer I can.