Tuesday, April 10, 2012
1 April 2012 Journal Page
Jan asked, "Kelly, you say you are struggling with this journal. I'd love to know about your struggles. How are you pushing yourself with this one? You seem to set up challenges with each new journal. Perhaps you'll share that process with us?"
My mantra has always been to try to challenge myself with each and every page. I start that challenge by approaching each journal in a new way. I like to bind each book by hand varying the size, shape and binding. I take that same approach with my pages.
I don't like to make the same pages again and again. I am very selective about what I choose when I'm working. That said, I don't like to spend more than a few minutes looking for materials. I prefer to work fast, intuitively and to be challenged as I work. I make the materials that I choose work for me. I pick images and colors that mean something to me. I don't just glue crap down as some say. I take the time to move things around the page and figure out my placement all the while thinking about the various possible outcomes for the page. It takes me on average about 30 to 45 minutes to complete a page (and sometimes that is in stages and not in one big chunk of time.)
I worked and taught mixed media using acrylic paint in (and out) of journals for more than ten years. In 2009, I decided that I wanted to do something different. My students kept bugging me to teach collage. I said, "What's there to teach with collage? You just find something you like and glue it down." Well, I quickly discovered that like paint, there are thousands of different ways to approach a page! My students pushed me in that direction and my love of "painting with paper" began.
The last year or so, my students have been bugging me (this is said with love...those of you who have taken my classes know this!) about teaching paint. My heart wasn't in it. I've always stuck fast to the fact that if my heart isn't in it, the class will be crap. I learned that a long time ago when store owners would ask me to teach classes and I HATED doing it. So, I've been pushing back against a painting class for a long time now (3 years.) Why? Honestly because I felt that at the time I had done everything I had wanted to do with paint. I felt like my classes were getting stale and my heart just was not into it at all. I was tired of painting. All I wanted to do was to make books and to cut, paste and glue. I had fallen in love hard and fast with collage.
Several of my regular students have been asking me for months now to bring back the paint. I resisted. Hell, I didn't just resist. I fought tooth and nail. I wasn't ready. Then, when I sat down with this journal, I thought about it and the idea of painting in it started to creep back.
I started this journal in my texture class last month at Stampin' From the Heart. I bound the book the night before and brought the book with me to work in (I always work as I teach as it helps me to demonstrate the ideas.) We did about five or six pages that day.
Later that night, I picked up my paints and my brush and said screw it. I'm going to try it again. I fought like hell with the first few pages. I loved what I did on the inside cover yet it didn't feel like me:
I hated the first page. I pushed and pulled with it. I went in and layered and layered some more with it:
Then I pulled out my rubber stamps, tape and pens. Bingo! I even went in with a pencil and wrote some more. I don't love the page but I liked it and it really says what I wanted it to say and showcases how I was feeling as I started working with paint again. It's exactly what I wanted a journal page to be: not perfect. not pretty. REAL. HONEST. ME. Imperfections and all. I want emotion and layers of it. I can pick up this page and I know EXACTLY how I was feeling as I created it.
I struggled to rework the pages that I had started in class. Now those of you who have taken my classes know that I'm a big believer in working in a class and then taking the pages home and reworking them some more, making them into your own pages in your own voice. I also advocate making color copies of pages and reworking the copies. Yet, I struggled with this and I know exactly why.
For years I started with painted pages FIRST. I never stuck paper down (or if I did it was RARE) and painted on top of it. The first few pages were all built on layers of PAPER FIRST and then paint on top. This one, I was working ass backwards (to me at least!) So, you'll see (read) about me struggling with the first few pages. It wasn't until I picked up my pens, markers and tape and started making marks, drawing, doodling, coloring things in and then journaling on the pages that things started to click.
This was the first page where I started with a total blank page:
I painted the background first. Then I laid down the focal image and painted some more, pushing and pulling as I worked. I'm twelve pages in now and it's getting easier. I'm relaxed and allowing myself to get into the process. I'm playing with the wet stuff, making messes, pushing and pulling as I work. It's all good. I'm not beating myself up over the end results. I'm trying to stick to my path all the while reminding myself to focus on the journey and not the final result.
Am I done with working only in collage? No. I feel that my journey with exploring and experimenting in "painting with paper" isn't over in any way. Will this be the end of my painting and collageing? Probably not either! We'll see what happens. I have some other ideas that I want to experiment with and as always, I'll bring you guys along for the ride!
I'll share more of the pages here soon. I hope that this long winded response helps to answer your question, Jan! If anything else comes up as I work.