Books, Diaries, Art Journals, Artists Sketchbooks, Scrapbooks, Artists Books, Altered Books, Sketchbooks, Tomes, Volumes, Crap Books, Glue Books, Visual Journals...whatever you want to call them...Taboos, Artists Fears and how to Get Over It

I've made a LOT of books over the years. When asked to describe my art/my work I usually say "Mixed Media Book Artist" because BOOK form is primarily how I work, it's where I feel most comfortable. I've always described my BOOK classes as "journal" classes as that's usually what I call them and while we usually do a lot of mixed media techniques (be it acrylic techniques up the wazoo or tons of unique collage techniques) while we learn we usually make a BOOK or JOURNAL in my classes to hold whatever it is that we've made 'cause that's what I Love to do and that's what a lot of my students love to do. Lately I've found that the word JOURNAL might be TABOO. I've submitted classes called JOURNAL only to have them rejected because someone else is already teaching a "journal" class. If I change the name from JOURNAL to BOOK the class might be accepted. Weird, huh? Some students see JOURNAL and get FREAKED out. They think that I'm going to transform into some scary demon that stands over them screaming that if they write and express themselves onto the page that people will (gasp!) read their thoughts and think badly of them. Here's my two cents:

I consider myself a Mixed Media Book Artist. I do almost 99.9% of my artwork in BOOK form. Yes, sometimes I WRITE on the pages (gasp!). Some times I paint, collage and write. Some times I just paint and collage. Some times I just paint. Some times I just collage. I don't plan things out when I go to create, I just sit and do it. When I do "write" I don't worry about the future or who will read it. The writing is for ME. When I sit down to do a "political" page (so called! I call them "real life/real world" pages) I sit down and do them for ME. When I sit down to paint or collage. Guess who I do them for? ME. I make art for ME. I work in book form because of a few reasons:

A. It is where I am most comfortable expressing myself whatever that expression may be

B. Storage. Books are easier to store than big canvases (though I love canvas as well).

C. I can bring them anywhere and everywhere with me.

D. It makes me happy.

Over the years I've gently tried to nudge to my students that whatever Painting/Collage/Mixed Media/Art Journaling/Altered Book/Insert Technique Here that I am showing you in a class can be done not only in "THIS" form but also in many MANY other forms. Some get it, some don't. Just because someone calls what they are working in a JOURNAL, doesn't mean that you should be freaked out by it. IF you want to work (collage, paint, draw, stamp, write-whatever) in a book, call it whatever you want-just do it, and do it for YOU. If you don't want to work in a book, but yet you have never tried, dive right in-explore it and just test the waters. If you don't like it, move along to something else (don't knock it 'cause you haven't tried it yet). IF you do want to write or express your self in either the written or pictorial form but you are afraid of someone else misinterpreting it and judging you or worrying about you, please please please don't. Please.

I openly share my artwork-ALL of it-with people. I don't worry about someone judging me. I don't worry about the good, the bad and the ugly that I put in there. It's ME. It's REAL. When I die, when I croak, my son will get my journals-all of them. When he opens them up he'll see ME-a real person on the pages. He'll see that we all have our good days and our bad. Our ups and downs. Life is a roller coaster and there ain't too much you can do about that!

IF you are in a situation where things are volatile and you might feel violated if someone did discover your "journal" do whatever it is YOU (read YOU!) need to do in the book, and then paint over the page, glue over the page-hide or cover over what you need to express. But don't tear pages out, don't burn your journals. We're all made up of many layers-think of your books like that. They do NOT have to EVER be anything PRECIOUS or SPECIAL or BEAUTIFUL or UGLY or PERFECT or ??. THROW DESCRIPTIONS OUT THE WINDOW. They are ART BOOKS. They are what you need them to be. They are there for you.

and do not ever EVER compare the work that YOU do to anyone else's work OR to what is being published in books, magazines and blogs. It IS YOUR ARTWORK, damnit! It is for YOU and not for anyone else. Make art for YOU and not for anyone else. That's what I do...and the handful of times that I didn't do it for me, it shows and it shows bad.

Work in whatever medium(s) fit YOU, not what it hip or trendy or cool. You want to make mail art? Do it. You want to make fabric art? Do it. You want to make collaged Wood Panels. Do it. Whatever is what makes you happy and keeps you sane-do it.

I'm shutting up now so you can go make some art.


Happy Father's Day to my own Dad!!! Love you! Thank you for all that you've done-and it's always been LOTS!

Happy Father's Day to my David-thanks for making me a Mom and helping me bring Tristan into this world...xo xo xo xo I love you-*mwah*!


~jolene said…
(going to email you or my comment would be longer than your entire blog).... :-)
Maija said…
Thank you for articulating the process so well!
Right on, girlie!
Fiona said…
Totally agree - do it for fun, call it what you like, don't get hung up. Play. Find a format you like. What's the problem. Vie la difference as the French cliche goes......
Oh,. and I'm a book gal too!
Anonymous said…
Lovely post, thank you!

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