Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Commonplace Book 1997-1999

These are selections from Volume 2. I used a spiral art book with ruling on the bottom half of the page. Originally I thought I would do more writing in it. As you can see, I was still winging it without a decent paper cutter, just scissored magazine clips and rubber cement. But I started getting deeper into associations. Synchronicities began to develop, sometimes two images seemed very similar such as the women and the owls.

Other times it was all about color or no color at all-- black and white photos of fog. And exploration of passion and longing and romanticism.

I was reading Possession by A.S. Byatt, devouring poetry, watching Portrait of a Lady, The English Patient, and the Mirror Has Two Faces. I also was bitten by the Opera bug.

Other passions I had at the time were music - it was the time of Lilith Fair, Enya and Loreena McKennitt. Also exploring Oregon's emerging microbreweries. And ending a 25 year marriage.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Volume 1 1993-1997

My first art journal which I titled "Comfort Journal" because that was what I intended it to be. You can find the definition in "The Woman's Comfort Journal" by Jennifer Louden. It started in late 1993 with two Nick Bantock postcards given to me by Todd Allison who I consider to be my personal muse. It was a lined blank book with a cloth padded cover and it splayed out because of all of the things I attached. The photos above were clipped from a magazine article about McMenamins Edgefield where I had spent an afternoon with friends and spent a deal of it wandering the grounds while I read a long letter from a 6 year correspondence with a mad poet from West Virginia. It all felt marvelously 19th century romantic. The first quote is from "Possession: A Romance" by A.S. Byatt which is still my favorite book. The word "quiver" is from a lexicon I was creating with my good friend Roadside Rosie. This entry is from 1997. The Anais Nin quote: "We don't see thing as they are. We see them as we are." still rings true to me.

When I review this volume I am carried back to a time when my life was changing a great deal and I first felt its spiral. It contains quotes, dream symbols, poems, lists, photos, recipes, tickets, stickers, rubber stampings, labels, cards, movie stills, questions, maps, envelopes, a scan of the woman on the cover of Poemcrazy, copies of antique photographs copied at out of library books, fortunes from Musee Mechanique in San Francisco, bits from magazines, quotes from books I read, bits of gift wrap, used postage stamps and probably fortune cookie fortunes, which I personally find to be the most reliable form of divination.

These photos show a recurring symbol for me, the spiral, whether it is the inside of a nautilus or the curve of a stairway. I like to assemble repeating patterns and this is probably when I started doing that visually. At this time I had begun to recognize that parts of my life I had thought outgrown and discarded were coming back into my psyche. And that was a huge discovery for me.

I finished this journal and began my second Summer 1997. So it took about 4 years. It was very sparse to begin with, but I would go back through and add things as I discovered them. I did not know anyone who was doing anything similar at the time, so I wasn't influenced by anything beyond the written descriptions of journals such as the Comfort Journal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Reclaiming the guest room. Well, space, actually. I have to get the bed together and leave room to walk and clear spaces. So far, I've found more things to do, projects to fondle, and things to coat with Golden Matte Medium. This room is a fright, especially with things drying on waxed paper all over the wee bit of floor that there is. Last week I sorted out a bit of the garage to finish sending Bhride's boxes and managed to locate quite a bit of fabric I'd forgotten about but it's so luscious I had to bring it in. My current fantasy? Having an elementary school classroom for my very own. How marvelous it would be to have a teacher's desk for my pens and writing things. All of those huge windows and counters and shelves, and 20 or so small desks to leave projects on. The cloakroom to fill with boxes. The chalkboards to keep reminders on. The bulletin boards to attach things to. Mail on one, photos on another, etc. The sink! The reading table to spread out large selections of things on. Good sturdy wastebaskets. An overhead projector to enlarge patterns with. A tile floor. And all of that glorious space. (Let's not think about asbestos...) That was fun, now back to my cloakroom sized room...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hunter Gatherer

Yesterday was a gorgeous not-too-hot day. In fact, it was the sort of summer day in which one would usually open the windows and let the breeze gently waft through, that is, if one didn't live half a block away from major road construction. So Gryphon and I ventured out. We went to one of Portland's lovely little neighborhood shopping districts, Nob Hill, aka 23rd Street. I left all of my usual trappings at home (camera, purse, journal, etc) and just went with a hat, sunglasses, a couple of dollars, a pen and a piece of paper, previously written on and covered with wine spillage.

I was wearing a skirt with large pockets.

We walked, admiriring marvelous old houses and many tiny gardens, windowshopped, discussed the madness of short sleeved sweaters for women -- now displayed with arm socks, visited favorite shops, drank pints at McM's Ramshead where I wrote a short note for my journal (now glued in). I put a quarter in the Bad Karma Newsbox and selected a rolled up strip of glossy blue paper entitled "genuine photograph of heaven 1999". I don't know how many of these newsboxes exist. I think there is one on 21st street as well, and the first time I saw one was in front of Higgins which now has a retro newsbox with past newspapers in it. What we didn't see were any filled horse rings, another random-acts-of-art-in-Portland feature. I adore this city. By the time we were tired and ready to go back home, my pockets were bulging with "art supplies". Those little music posters, free stickers, advertising postcards, art booklets, a weathered (and expired) poster for an event that I pulled from a telephone pole. I want to make an entire book of those.

I've been reading Janet Marillier's new book, Wildwood Dancing, based on the fairy tale, the 12 Dancing Princesses, in which the narrator/protagonist, sews a special pocket onto her gowns for her pet (and undoubtedly ensorcelled)frog to ride in. I could have used a frog pocket for my gatherings. Gryphon is well behaved enough that he probably will never need it, but it might be useful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Beyond, But Not Without Craft

I have little patience with simple craft. Simplicity, while good and cleansing in some forms, lacks enough depth to last. That is possibly the difference between art and craft. Can you create any art without some sense of craft? I doubt it. Sometimes the craft itself is simply a particular discipline; the order in which we create and the intellectual property we employ to wield our own craft to create our own art.

We can use simple craft to explore techniques which is why I keep a "running" journal, adding new forms and ideas, learning and exploring. If I do not, however, infuse what I produce with some bit of my self, then it lacks any message and is easily discarded. Likewise, the assemblage can withstand rearrangement if the components are meaningful either individually or as a grouping. I love pondering the intricacy of another artist's work such as what compels them to repeat certain elements but not others. Judy Vogland's love of tea surfaces in work after work, including used tea bags. Donna Bauermiller's evolving circles phasing in and out of moons.

I am not opposed to coloring books or paint-by-numbers or other simple pursuits. They allow you to focus on color, application and experience how things go together. I would not keep the end result any more than I would keep a completed puzzle book. Not unless I had collaged over the pages or had annotated them in some way. Actually, that might be a fun project...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Need My Zines!

Stamp Out the Rate Hike: Stop the Post Office

Everyone needs to check this out. I currently have a subscription to Art and Life as well as several different zines that appear to have ceased publication....mutter, mutter, and occasionally I will order/subscribe to Gleaner Zine and Tublegs. I don't want to lose my publications because Time Warner needs more corporate welfare!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Personal Symbols

Celebrate Your Creative Self by Mary Todd Beam ISBN1-58180-102-5, Chapter 8: Creating Your Personal Symbols recommends keeping a Symbol Diary. I've gone a bit further with a notebook I use to "download my brain" in. It's an index. Under Icons & Symbols, I list the following:

Doors, mailslots, stairways, turrets, towers, paths, labyrinths and mazes

Spirals, stars, feathers, fans, fleur de lys, sailing ships, rowboats

Stones, rose petals, shells, trees, the Moon, nets

Keys, books, lexicons, wands, wings, violins, martinis, suitcases

Mermaids, Pirates, Faeries,

Mother Bear, Damselfly, Gryphon, Cat

Palm tree, Cedar, Oak and Pine

I take photos of these frequently, doodle them, collect rubberstamps that incorporate them, clip magazine photos of them, or collect information on them or even the objects themselves.
The journal page (circa 2004) above has stars, many spirals, and center of the page a stamped image called "Maiden Voyage" by Acey Deucy which I use frequently. She has a ship on her head and her face is not unlike my own, so it expresses a part of me. The spiral has been one of my life symbols since 1993. Its significance is that life, like the seasonal year, keeps going around touching on things repeatedly. When I was in my mid- twenties, I gave away or sold quite a few things because I thought I had outgrown them, but I found decades later, that my interests haven't changed so much after all. I find myself doing things I never expected, such as having lunches with a group of old girlfriends from junior high. I hadn't seen some of them since those years, but we still had something untangible in common. I am happy to make rediscoveries.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I have heard the mermaids singing

This is the beginning of my art blog. I've put off doing this for years and finally am ready to begin. I want to explore in some depth my artistic/creative process and uncover those elements one by one. Some that I've been aware of are pretty trivial, i.e. I always think better with a pen in my hand, whether I actually use it or not. I've been aware of that since my early twenties. Also that some sort of collaboration or conversation enhances my creativity.

I keep cards and pens with me whenever we go out, in case we (the other half of we is Gryphon) decide to idle over coffee, tea, pints, or martinis. Today it was Hillsdale McMenimins and pints.

The writing style is inspired by Donna from my Visual Journalling group, although mine is definately "rustic".