Friday, April 30, 2010

Art journaling and making what you most need to find!

A pile of art journals by Lani

I love coincidences! Little synchronicities that seem to confirm your journey is going as it should.   This morning I received a few questions from a blog reader about Art Journaling.  She had been a devoted writer of "morning pages" but now feels as though this practice no longer providing her with what she needs and is thinking she'd like to start working on art pages.  She wants to start right away and she wants a good, strong paper that will take a lot of messing around on; with collage, pastels, paints, etc.

I think, perhaps, a ringed journal might be better for scanning? I would appreciate so much your advice as it might help to focus me in this way as it is time.  ...First thing is to figure out how big. You've helped me to both accept and escape from the confines of the book.  Bought art books somehow do make me feel a little claustrophobic but the material has to be gathered together otherwise it scatters everywhere and that doesn't work. I have a 350 square foot beautiful place with no storage for everything! Can i ask you what size most people find comfortable? I like to work in all sorts of sizes but having a size limitation does not bother me. Too small all the time would bother me. Maybe I will start with the simplest binding as you did, just to get the work moving. I like working in all sorts of media on all sorts of background/supports.

So here's my answer:  I've posted a lot of videos  on the 14 secrets blog which might inspire some ideas, since there is quite a lot of variety there.  Personally I went from words with an occasional drawing to about half text and half art, to only art work and I find right now that a collage a day is just fine for me.  I'm becoming less enthralled with "the story" and I'm using "750 words" just to keep the ability to write from withering up entirely.  Throughout all of this morphing, one of the things I most enjoyed and continue to enjoy is making my own journals.  When I did the 3 hole thing even with my morning pages, I wanted it to be personal, made by me, so I got a piece of leather with six holes near the spine and leather laces knotted on the outside so that I could un-knot and empty the full pages and add new empty pages.  I liked that a lot until I discovered actual book binding.  As for favorite sizes, I don't have any.  I may find old book covers I want to recycle into my newest art journal and will adapt my pages to fit.  (See photo above)  I've worked both big and small and love the variety that's possible if you bind your own.   And my favorite paper right now is file folders.  They are already folded, all I have to do is cut them to size and bind them.  They are great, take a lot of abuse and my favorite is the old, beat up ones that are being repurposed.  I also like my own binding because I can easily scan my work and play with photoshop (one of my most favorite things to do)!

The really cool thing was just as I was answering these questions, I got a link this morning to a wonderful posting by Gretchen Miller of Creativity in Motion  with SUCH inspiring photos and links.  Gretchen created an art journal with paper bags from the tutorial on Yoli's Sacred Journey, definitely a wonderful blog as well!  Gretchen also shared another great resource, the blog of art therapist Erin Kenepp.  She also blogged about creating paper bag art journals!   She mentions Samantha Kira and Sabrina Ward Harrison both of whom I think the world of!  Great places to start this art journaling adventure!

Do take a look at these links when you get a chance and remember to "make what you most need to find*"! (*from Sabrina's website)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning through self-discovery

Carl Roger's said "I  have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-approprated learning."  I like that. Vernacular, self-taught learning!  And it makes so much sense.  I was over on Keri Smith's marvelous blog where I found reference to Walking on Water, a great book by Derrick Jenson.  The Carl Roger's quote was in this book.   And then of course there's this inspiring quote from Derrick Jenson himself.

"...the most revolutionary thing anyone can do is follow one's heart. I would add that once you've begun to do that–to follow your own heart–the most moral and revolutionary thing you can do is help others find their hearts, to find themselves. It's much easier than it seems...
There is much word to be done. What are you waiting for? It's time to begin."

So then I start to feel this motivation and energy rising up, like someone inside is saying "yes, of course, it's time to begin" and then I read a little further and Keri has written out The Rebel's Manifesto!  I believe Keri is one of the most brilliant women I know.  She says if this strikes a cord with you, copy it and use it freely and as much as possible.  Brilliant and very generous!

Thank you Keri.  I'm ready to get to work and learn as much as possible in a most vernacular, self-taught way and to continue following my heart. 


"Flowers" Collage by Lani with help from Elegia and Itkupilli and Dover Press.

This week's collage challenge is up, a photo of a an elegant painting of flowers by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder. And the word is "flowers" or "Kukat" in Finnish. Because I'm working on textures and layers in a photo manipulation workshop (see the column to the right of this text) I thought why not create a layer of flowers as a textural layer and blend it into another Renaissance painting where flowers are featured.  I like how it works out.  Once again thank you Elegia and Itkupilli for this fun activity!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gifts in the shadows.

Here's an excellent photo from here which I added some flypaper texture to (man oh man, do I love that flypaper!)

I'm taking the most amazing Extreme Journalism class with Juliana Coles right now!  Wow, what an experience.  What a brave teacher.  She's got us heading straight into the darkest corners of our lives, which I'm certainly no slouch at creating, LOL!  So here's what I've learned in the shadows so far today:

1. I can live my life with imagination and generosity, right now.  I don't have to wait for the perfectly unclouded day.  That day may never come. AND I can learn to create joy for myself and others right now and have a great time on a cloud filled day or any other kind of day. That is the life for me!

2. Joy, imagination, generosity and creativity don't have to be expensive. In fact, the best stuff is free. A walk in the park, a smile, a hug, a kiss from my favorite Bergamasco Boys, or a kind word from a teacher or friend. Free, all free.

3. Sometimes the shadows I create have to do with thinking someone has done something wrong, or hurt me.  If I look at the life of someone I think has done me wrong and if I am in a safe place of my own, I may notice this person is suffering quite a lot.   I may notice if I look carefully that they have a shadow or two themselves.  Do I really want to get all tangled up in that unhappiness just to demand an apology or try to get them to see things my way?  Probably not.   Actually, definitely not.  In fact I could say I was wrong to try to do that. 

4.  I can be brave, defend myself, keep myself safe, and I don't have to worry about shadows.  There are actually a lot of gifts there if I am willing to face them.  What I thought was big monkey on my back was actually a gift!

Monday, April 19, 2010

This week's Collage Obsession challenge is up...

"Seabright Beach" Collage by Lani with help from Elegia and Itkupilli.

This past week's collage challenge is up, a photo of a bathing beauty that looks as though she belongs in Seabright, NJ in the 1940's. And the word is "beach".  So I collaged her into a Gerity family photo from the '40's.  Once again thank you Elegia and Itkupilli for this fun activity!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Fotoshop Fun Course for the non-linear learner

A current favorite photoshop collage by Lani.

The trial eCourse for playing with photo manipulation programs is going along well (which I call Fotoshop Fun so as to avoid any copyright issues).  Along with various Photoshop programs, some participants are working with the share-ware (free) program gimp with great success.   I believe the course will be ready for actual participants at the end of May, at which time any kinks will be worked out.

Just a word of warning, though, my approach may be a bit non-linear.  I don't learn in a linear way, I love experimentation and play, so that is also the way I love to teach.  I have found plenty of good, solid, linear type tutorials to which I'll link you to, if the need arises.  One thing I have noticed in my exploration of various photo manipulation techniques is that if I find images I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images we love.  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by these images and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more about our various programs with greater ease.  So far, so good.

As part of the course we have a blog, a yahoo group which allows us to discuss our struggles and triumphs in real time, and we also have a flickr group where we can share images easily.  Hope to see you in the course really soon.  If you are interested there's a TOP SECRET discount button for blog readers over on the column to the right.  (The new Resilience Art class will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for two for the price of one or just one for half price!)

A picture made with photoshop brushes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This past week's Collage Obsession challenge is up...

Collage by Lani with help from Elegia and Itkupilli.

This past week's collage challenge is up, a photo of a home that looks as though it was abandoned in a big hurry. And the word is "home".  This was a timely one, since I'm just back from NJ visiting the Gerity home which is feeling empty since the beloved parents went into assisted living.  Rattling around in the empty house was a little unnerving but creating art about the experience is most helpful.  Thank you Elegia and Itkupilli for this therapeutic activity!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Resilience and post-traumatic growth

 Rutherford, NJ in spring by Lani

I came across an article by MJ Ryan on resilience which seems very timely, since a little more resilience can never hurt us. Ryan says that that the research of psychology professors Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun shows that not only do we have the ability to grow through the challenges of our life (which they call post-traumatic growth) but that "the benefits of doing so include improved relationships, new possibilities for our lives, a greater appreciation for life, a greater sense of personal strength, and spiritual development." That's really good news!

So how do we cultivate resilience? Ryan narrows her resilience factors down to 5 factors.
1. a commitment to finding meaning in what’s happening to you
2. a belief in your capacity to create a positive future
3. the willingness to grow
4. the choice to laugh
5. practicing gratitude

How can you put these into practice right now? Ryan says that if you are going through a change that you are struggling with, she always asks: "What could possibly be right about this?" If we think about challenges in this way, it is easier to find meaning and to grow from our experiences. She calls this “creative construing,” or the ability to assign a meaning to what we’re going through.

Ryan also suggests telling yourself a story that includes not just the past and the present but a possible future: "I know I am having challenges now, but in the future things will be easier." This will give us hope and something positive to work toward (things that I have found on my list of resilience strategies).

Ryan also says find as many ways and places to laugh as much as possible. Cultivate friends who laugh a lot!

Finally, to cultivate her strategy of gratitude, Ryan asks herself the question: "what in my life or myself can I be truly grateful for right now?" She's an author of books on gratitude, and she's been very impressed by gratitude's power to focus us on what is right, good, and whole in our lives. This is of course about what we honestly appreciate, not what we think we should feel gratitude for.

Ryan also tells a story of a 17-year-old named Lauren, who had lived in 12 different foster homes since she was 8. When she moved from place to place, her possessions fit in one plastic trash bag. She was about to “age out” of the California foster system, with no place to live, no money, no job. But she was happy nonetheless. When she was 10, she lived with Mommy Jean. Mommy Jean gave Lauren a rock and told her to carry it always in her pocket. Each time she felt it, she was to think of something she was grateful for. Every day since then, Lauren has been touching that rock and finding things to be grateful for.

Ryan says that if she could, she would hand us all a little pebble right now. Not only to help us practice gratitude but to remind us that, like Lauren, we can survive the challenges that life sends our way.

I don't know about you, but for me, this little article is a wonderful reminder, and I'll just go find a pebble for my pocket!

A painting in the Gerity home, in Rutherford, NJ