Category: Creative Living Activity

Wandering

My First Wander

Last year I wanted to set myself the goal of getting outside each day, no matter what. I even bought a pair of snow pants so that I could keep up with it even on the coldest days. This never really moved from idea to project but the idea never left me.

Recently I listened to my first audio book, Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness and I loved it. (I mean loved it.) It occurred to me that as a book lover who never has time to read and a work-from-home entrepreneur that doesn’t get out enough, that these were the ingredients of a magical pairing!

What if I went out on daily walks and listened to books?

I thought I would try it out. I checked with my sister Shannon, expert in all things entertainment related, and asked about borrowing audio books from the library. She pointed me to the Overdrive app and I was on my way. As I went down the glorious rabbit hole of library audio books, I stumbled across one by Keri Smith. I love Keri so I decided that would be my first book for my first walk. You’re not going to believe what it was called…

The Wander Society

I didn’t even draw a correlation until I was out walking this morning, listening to Keri talking about “wandering”. As I listened, first my eyes tingled with tears and then they shone with recognition. I have unknowingly been a part of this society since I was a girl on a bike riding to the far reaches of her neighbourhood trying to get lost so she could find her way home.

There will be more to say about this book and its impact but for today, suffice it to say that the synchronicity suggests that the Universe likes my plan to go for walks and listen to myself and the writers, thinkers, artists, healers and poets who will accompany me.

 

 

 

Art Day: Drawing Together

On Sundays, my sister Shannon and I try to get together for Art Day. We work through classes or projects together, maybe try new materials or play in our journals. The real key is setting aside a couple of hours to hang out with our creativity and one another.

 Art Day Subjects

Our focus this Sunday was drawing. Each of us chose a subject to work with. Shannon’s was so sweet and small she could easily put it in her pocket to bring it over!

Scribble Owl

We did some scribbling.

blind contour owl

And blind contours.

And what Carla calls cheater blinds.

Art Day Shannon

We had fun.

photo by Shannon

To be honest, I still can’t quite believe that I can have fun drawing. It’s been the hardest of all the arts for me to get comfortable with. I’ve finally started to let go of my attachment of the results. I’ve stopped using everything I draw to assess whether I am capable of drawing. Instead, I have come to appreciate the way that drawing gives you the gift of a deeper relationship with what you choose to draw.  With every thoughtful line, you are a witness to its character.

Art Day Rain

What a perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday.

Art Day Rain 2

PS If you’re looking for some drawing inspiration, Shannon’s currently enjoying Intro to Realism with Karine Swensen offered through Carla Sonheim.

Hosting a Journal Jam

Hosting Journal Jam

Earlier this year, I watched a David Francey video and burst into tears.  My reaction was intense and immediate and I knew I had to pay attention. What was it about these four minutes that stirred something so powerful in me? What was it that touched a part of my heart that was ready to cry in an instant?

My longing to be around the table with openhearted friends in creative communion was demanding attention.

When I was in theatre, one of my favourite parts was sitting around the table with collaborators, sharing ideas, working through obstacles, riffing off one another, hashing things out. It’s electric! More recently, my sister Shannon and I have spent many a Sunday at the kitchen table for Art Day, creating together and talking through our experiences as we delve into a variety of art projects.  I love both the collaborative and the parallel creative conversations. They nourish my soul.

I believe these “around the table” moments are creatively essential.

This shared creative time reminds both us and The Universe that we believe in art, that we know creativity is important and that our creativity is worthy of time, attention, love and expression. It also reminds us and one another that it is safe and nourishing to express ourselves in the company of others, that together we can form a supportive and encouraging environment for us all.

Being around the table is one way that we can we honour the work and one another as creatives.

Space for Journal Jam

So, when I felt the call, what could I do but answer?

That answer came in the form of Journal Jam, a simple and welcoming circle of creative friendship, an evening of transforming the private act of journaling into a simple but magical shared experience.

I picked a date and a time – Friday, October 7 from 6:00-9:00 – and sent out an email to a small group of friends. I asked everyone to bring their journal and some food or drink to share, if they could. I would provide everything else, from a pot of vegetarian chili to a table full of tools and supplies.

Journal Jam Supplies
photo credit: Suzie Ridler

The invitation was simple:

We can have a bite and then we can write or doodle or glue in our journals.

We can chat or we can be quiet.

We can have a tea or a glass of wine.

Totally unplugged. Totally unpretentious.Totally old school.

The idea was to create a relaxed and easy space for enjoying the simple luxury of creative time in a friendly and welcoming space. The message was clear, there’s room for you here.

Journal Jamming

And so on a Fall Friday, Journal Jam was born.

There was drawing and doodling and dreaming.

There was chili and pizza and chips and chocolate.

There was water and wine and tea and pear spritzers.

There were well-worn journals and brand new journals.

There were women in different decades of life,

women who have journaled for years and women who had never journaled at all.

There was conversation and quiet, reflection and laughter.

There were stories shared and stories discovered.

There was magic around the table.

In one space, at one time, around one humble table, we can all come together and share a creative experience exactly as we are.

The First Ever Journal Jam

I hope you will consider hosting a Journal Jam. I am working on a guidebook/e-course to support you in doing so but you don’t have to wait!  As we say here in the studio, “Start where you are with what you have.” Keep it simple. Keep it welcoming. Make it happen. I promise, the magic will show up.

(Btw, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to “around the table“.)

A Creative How-To Tutorial: How to Make a Journal From Magazines

When you collage as much as I do, you have a lot of well-loved, well-used old magazines lying around. Turning them into journals is  ever so much better than tossing them in the recycling!

Here are some quick and easy written instructions for turning your leftover magazines into a special place for your creative expression, In the video, I take you through the entire process, step-by-step. I hope you’ll discover a new love, just like I did!

Thank you so much to Shannon Green for introducing me to the concept of using a magazine as a journal and to Dede Willingham, who explained how to create one in one of her Coffee and Art in the Morning videos.

Supply List

  • Two magazines. Generally ones that are have a slightly heavier paper work better. (I love using the Stampington & Company magazines for this project.)
  • Gluestick or tape adhesive
  • A wide decorative tape for binding
  • Scissors (optional)

Creating Your Magazine Journal is Simple

Start with two magazines. If you are going to add paint or collage to your magazine journal, anything that will add some dimension, it helps to have a fair amount of pages removed. This will create some space between the covers for the bulk that you are going to add.

Remove the front cover of one magazine and the back cover of the other.

Lining them up as best you can, glue together the exposed last page of the magazine with the back cover removed and the exposed front page of the magazine with the front cover removed. If the glued together pages show some ripples, smooth them out using your fingers, a bone folder or, as I do, a soft cloth on the tip of your index finger.

Use your wide decorative tape to create a binding down the spine of the two attached magazines.

Voila! You’re done!

Tips for Making the Most of Your Magazine Journal

Experiment with ways you can use your new journal. Be brave! These are wonderfully unprecious as they are made from materials you were likely going to recycle anyway!

I love to use my magazine journals for collage. I have an en masse journal, a glue journal (I call it a “picture book”) and a dream book for gathering images that speak to my dreams. I have had hours of fun gluing images in, leaving visible any pre-existing parts of the magazine that I love. I generally use glue sticks (UHU brand) and have found that with a heavier magazine paper I don’t get too much rippling. Working with glue tape and using smaller images, especially if you have thinner paper, can help keep things smooth. For example, I always use glue tape if I am putting in a whole-page image.

Try using a magazine journal as an art journal. Rip out a page and test how it takes paint. Use a first layer of gesso and see how that works. With a wet medium, you are sure to get some rippling but how much and whether you’d like to work with that is a very individual choice. If it’s too much for you, you can always stick to using dry mediums. Have fun testing how your various pens, pencils and mark-making utensils work on magazine paper. Sharpies work a treat!

You can also use a magazine journal as a pre-illustrated writing journal. Write your daily thoughts, ideas, gratitudes in all of the spaces you can find. Try light-coloured gel pens on dark-coloured backgrounds. Discover how your writing takes on a new dimension when it is paired with the found imagery of your magazine journal.

The possibilities are endless!

However you use your journal, it’s a great idea to work a little at the front and then a little at the back and then a little at the front and a little at the back. Jumping around the pages and balancing out your usage this way will keep the binding strong and square. And if you really like your pages to lie flat, you can be a little compulsive like me and take some time at the beginning to give them a nudge to open either with your fingers or a bone folder, again alternating working from the front and the back (See the video.)

When I discovered the process of creating a magazine journal, I was immediately hooked. I made three that weekend and immediately started using them. I love the feel of these journals in my hands and I deeply love that I am making use of every last bit of the magazines I buy, especially the ones that are a bit more of an investment.

What Ideas Do You Have for Using a Magazine Journal?

Finding Shapes in Your Neighbourhood

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As a novice drawer, it’s been good for me to find simple creative practices for encouraging myself to draw. One fun and easy exercise that I’ve come up with (and one that encourages my photography too) is to collect shapes when I’m out and about and then draw them in my sketchbook or journal.

This week while on a mail run for Give a Girl a Journal, the window of this church caught my eye. It inspired me to pull out my camera for one block and see what shapes I could find.

One neighbourhood block. Five pictures. Lots of inspiration.
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One of the gifts of drawing is the way it inspires us to actively look at the world around us.  When I first noticed this window, I saw only the simple pie shapes. When I got closer, I noticed more detail. When I started drawing, I noticed more detail still!

As well as opening up our vision, drawing invites us to practice decision-making. Now that I had noticed all these levels of detail, what did I draw? Would I realistically render every bit of what I saw? Would I pick the simplest shape? Something in between?

Each of us will make different choices in different moments with different subjects. Drawing gives us the opportunity to exercise those muscles and in so doing discover something about our creative voice.
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One of the first things I realized when I started to explore drawing was that I had a really small visual vocabulary. In truth, it was still the vocabulary I had as a kid, which makes perfect sense because that was the last time I had drawn very much at all.

With reading and writing we are constantly expanding our language vocabulary, our facility to comprehend, create and recreate letters, words and sentences. We can do the same with our visual vocabulary. Getting out and collecting shapes is a fun and unintimidating way to expand your range, right on your own doorstep!
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This expansion of our visual vocabulary can come from looking at the world around us but it can also happen when we look at art. In many of the drawing books and classes I’ve encountered, artists have depicted trees and plants with lines that are dotted with little circles. The first time I saw this I thought to myself, “What plant actually look like that?” When I went out looking, apparently many of them! LOL!
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It’s fun to discover what you can create by looking for the simple shapes in whatever is in your line of sight. Starting to see objects as combinations of circles and lines and squares and curves can suddenly make them seem possible to draw.

As you discover these simple shapes, experiment with different ways that you can create with them. These life-inspired motifs can become embellishments for your art journal, simple symbols for your doodling or the beginnings of interesting backgrounds and textures!
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You can start with a basic representation of what you see and then riff on that shape. Let yourself expand the possibilities and your range with a little bit of playing. You never know what you’ll discover! (As a Sagittarius, I’m surprised I haven’t played with arrows more!)
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And you don’t have to limit yourself to line. You can add colour to the mix too. Play with different colour stories – realistic, monochromatic, random. It’s just a little doodle in your sketchbook or journal. There’s no way to get it wrong!

Whether you find drawing as intimidating as I do or whether you’re looking for a fresh way to play, I hope that collecting shapes becomes a fun way to expand your visual vocabulary as a part of your creative practice.
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Pick an area in which to look for shapes. It can be a block when you’re out for a walk or it can be a corner of your own backyard. It can be the top of your dresser or the inside of your purse. It can be the subway car or the waiting room.  Everywhere you look there are shapes to be found.
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If you have a sketchbook, a journal or a sheet of scrap paper (basically, anything to write on) you can go directly to it and with a pencil or a pen (or anything you like to write with) gather the shapes you see. If it’s easier, take some photos. Gather as many as you like and then transform them into simple shape drawings later.
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Notice what catches your eye. Notice what shapes your hand enjoys. Have fun, enjoy the process and trust that as you look for shapes and draw them, you are growing your visual vocabulary, practicing your mark-making and strengthening your creative voice.
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Art Day: Shapes & Stencils, Watercolours & Words

Shapes & Stencils

Every Sunday is Art Day at our house! Since the kittens have arrived, we haven’t braved a wet medium – until now! We spent the afternoon exploring a colourful watercolour lesson from Lynn Whipple and The Year of the Spark!

Watercolour Stencils

We had fun with stencils and shapes.

Watercolour Stencils

And watercolours.

Watercolour Shapes

There are about a million things we could do with these beauties!

Be True

We added words.

Shapes & Words

And will eventually string these all together.

JRS Art Day Table

I think the colourful table shows what fun we had!

Art Day Shannon

And if that’s not enough, there’s Shannon’s smile!

What will you create this week?