Saturday, June 25, 2011

My First Adventure Journal

I’ve long admired the travel journals of my fellow bloggers and have always wanted to create one myself. Who wouldn’t want to record everything about a fabulous trip to London, Italy, or Paris? The only problem is that trips like that are just not happening for me right now. When my friend Cathy went on a weekend excursion to Philly and came back with a wonderful little adventure journal, I thought that was a great idea. Even if I’m not taking a major trip, I can still journal about my little adventures, right? 

Cathy made hers by following these directions from Teesha Moore. She changed the size to make it a bit smaller and filled it with ephemera, stories, quotes, and sketches. Cathy was kind enough to make a journal for each of us when several friends and I went to the Artiscape retreat in April.

I spent every spare minute of the weekend working in my journal and then spent the next two months finishing it up and adding color and ephemera. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a wannabe journaler but I have trouble sticking with it and being spontaneous and consistent about it. I do think if I practice enough I may eventually become the journaler I’d like to be.

I used sticky notes to make lists of what I did each day or things I wanted to remember and stuck those throughout the journal. Those notes were invaluable to me when it came time to finish up the pages. Having a faulty memory is a huge reason for journaling in the first place.

I filled my journal primarily with lettering and doodling about what we did or funny things that were said, and then included ephemera I picked up along the way. 

I glued in bits and pieces from retreat literature, business cards from instructors and vendors, samples of class projects, logos from stores or restaurants visited, and even my retreat ID badge. 

Afterward, I used watercolors to add a splash of color. When we started out I worried about being able to fill all the pages in the book. But in the end, there were things I had to leave out because I just didn’t have room for everything.

A few weeks after Artiscape, my husband and I went to visit our son in DC and I’m still in the process of finishing up that adventure journal. I’d eventually like to get to where I’m so good at this that I can finish them off much sooner. (Although taking a while to finish up does make the adventure last a little longer) I like the idea of being able to pull them all out some day and fondly remember all the adventures I’ve had. And when senility really sets in, I’ll know that I must have led an exciting life even if I can’t remember a thing about it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Pathways

I've been pretty inspired by this month's theme of PATHWAYS for The Sketchbook Challenge. I think it's partly because anything with lines reminds me of pathways and I guess I like to use lines a lot. The page above doesn't use lines, but was instead inspired by a quote. (Another thing I like to use a lot.) I had so much fun with my experiments to paint with gouache that I wanted to try more of that. I also wanted to try lettering with gouache instead of a marker.

That's the nice thing about a sketchbook...having a place to experiment.

It's also a place to just let loose and have a little fun.

In the last post, I mentioned some little art books that I picked up at a local book sale. One was a book about Ernst Nay, a German abstract painter who I was not familiar with. You can read a little bit about him here. I can't read the book since it's written in German but I can admire the pictures. I really like his abstract paintings that use intersecting black lines and round shapes between the lines. (If you scroll down to the photos of the books in the last post you can see an example on the cover of the book about him.) Since lines remind me of pathways, I thought I would attempt my own abstract painting inspired by Nay in my sketchbook.

Of course he probably used oil paint on canvas and I'm using gouache in my sketchbook. I couldn't resist adding my favorite stripes and dots here and there. I especially enjoyed making the gray stripes.

What I really about abstracts is that you can crop in and create a new composition using a smaller piece of the whole.

I'd like to point out that before creating the pages above, I had never even opened the tube of black gouache that came in my starter set of five colors. Everything black in the sketchbook was done with markers and everything painted with gouache was done by mixing three primary colors and white.

See the lonely unused tube of black there? I took a painting class once and the instructor told us we should NEVER use black paint. He said it was better to mix your own black and gray by combining other colors. (Then why the heck do they make black paint???) I don't think that's the reason why I didn't use the black gouache. I think it's more about liking bright colors and not being very sophisticated at color mixing. I don't really consider what I do with paint as "painting" most of the time anyway. I think of it as just adding color to something. I don't believe there are any rules in art and I don't like when people say you should NEVER do something this way or you should ALWAYS do something that way.

Boy did it feel good to use that black gouache straight out of the tube! Another first in Pilgrim and another first for me on my little artistic pilgrimage.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pilgrim - Pathways

The Sketchbook Challenge theme for June is Pathways and this is my first interpretation of the theme. I've been working on mounting my map series (still!) so I had maps on my mind when I started this page--specifically road maps.

As you can see, I'm still not tired of making marks with gouache. I find it so relaxing and enjoyable. Now I'm even venturing into (ack!) painting with gouache.

A few weeks ago, one of the local universities held their annual used book sale. I've always wanted to attend but it usually falls on a weekend when I have other plans or I happen to hear about it after the fact. This was the year I finally went. Imagine an entire gymnasium filled with table after table of used books all neatly organized by subject matter.

I was torn between buying books for reference and buying books to cut up for collage. I guess I comprised because I bought some of both. The books above were from the art section and most are older than me and written in German. They are compact and lovely, filled with beautiful watercolor paintings. They were around $1 each. Except for the one in the top right corner which was 50 cents and contains the religious frescoes of an artist named Giotto. I thought I would cut this one since it was cheap and I have no idea who Giotto is, but then was inspired by the picture below.

The image on the right is a close up of the image on the left. I thought it would be fun to try to paint it with gouache. (Don't you just love the age on the paper? So pretty!)

I didn't get the angle of the face quite right, and it probably needs more work...but I don't HATE it so that's something, right? The best part is that I really liked painting with the gouache. It definitely behaves differently that either watercolor or acrylic and warrants more exploration.

The art books will go into my growing art library, and I was lucky enough to fine four huge atlases for 50 cents each that I can cut up for collage. All in all, it was a fun and productive outing that I'll make sure I don't miss next year!