It is almost impossible to imagine that this is my first Art Day of 2018. It’s an incredibly busy time but I was up early on Sunday morning and thought, “Why not pull my paints out?” I took the opportunity to finally get to the first mixed media lesson of Carla Sonheim’s 365 course for this year: Target Animals.
One of the things that Carla said in the class was that we would learn something about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, when we worked on this project.
I think this is true with every creative work we do.
My learning with this lesson was about developing the discernment to notice when things are difficult or messy because I need better tools or I need more practice. Plus, I learned, once again, that I love working with animals!
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
What a perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday.
PS If you’re looking for some drawing inspiration, Shannon’s currently enjoying Intro to Realism with Karine Swensen offered through Carla Sonheim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?