Circling back

I’ve been learning to draw faces. Today is day 50 of this #100dayproject. I can draw a recognisable face with no real effort now. What I can’t reliably do is convey a specific emotion, but hopefully in the next 50 days that will come.

I’m also doing #100daysofcollage with Froyle Art and loving it. We’re doing a different colour each week. These are in a small Dylusions journal, so not overly time consuming. I’m using up some of my stash of gelli print and hand printed papers.

But I’m also circling back to my earliest art journal love, Tim Holtz and Distress. Sometimes I put it away for a bit, but I always come back. I just got some new paper dolls, transparent wings, and some other bits and pieces. Heaven! Thanks to Fiona at Create for having great stock.

Journal homage to Dr Wayne Dyer

I’ve been a follower of Dr Wayne W Dyer for decades. I have his books, CDs etc. and refer to them semi regularly. A while ago I bought a withdrawn library book, The essential Wayne Dyer collection. I’ve taken out all the key messages, which I’ll handwrite into my journal; the act of writing helps build neural links. I’m gelli printing on some of the pages and I’ll use them in my art journals.

I’ve been making a small art journal of collages and adding words or phrases I’ve cut out of the book. Seeing them helps me remember his key messages, and creating art with them further develops the long term memories because, for me, art involves emotion.

I recently started following Froyle and she’s doing a #100daysofcollage project. I’m already doing a face a day for 100 days but her enthusiasm has won me over and I’m going to do my Wayne Dyer journal as another 100 day project. Here’s some of my first pages.

#100dayproject

I’ve done a 100 day project before; it’s a good way of doing a deep dive into a topic. This year I decided to improve my drawing skills with the aim of being able to draw faces in my art journals. I signed up for Dina Wakley’s Facing the facts class at https://dinawakley.com/store/.

I drew a face at the beginning of the journal so I can look back at where I started. When I did an Advanced Diploma of Creativity (Honours) over 4 years by distance with The Learning Connection we did some drawing, and I improved, but didn’t keep it up. It’s definitely a skill that needs constant use, for me anyway.

I’m on day 10 and already seeing an improvement and feel able to start making the faces a bit more my own. It’ll be interested to see what I’m achieving at day 100.

A lot of Christmas, a little art

Tony has been home for days in a row; yesterday I took him to see his friend Len who isn’t doing so well,. Tony had a rough night and was super tired today – we need to watch next weekend that we do even less.

I haven’t had a lot of art time, but managed to squeeze some inky finger time in today. I’ve been making gelli print papers with my new Klimt inspired stencils by Elizabeth St Hilaire for Joggles.com. I’ve worked on deli paper and Hahn sumi-e rice paper. Once that was done I played in my 6×6 Dina Wakley art journals for a couple of hours. Some of the pages are cut and extended so the writing looks odd unless you see it in person.

The joy of Kraft

Kraft, not craft! I love the 6×6 Dina Wakley Media heavy Kraft journals. It’s more like cardstock than paper so paint doesn’t bleed through and the substrate never warps. I’m still playing with creating basic backgrounds, exploring colour and pattern. I’ll go back and journal on the pages eventually but for now I’m enjoying pushing paint around.

Creativity helps

I’ll skip the details but Tony wasn’t great today. He was home for a bit while I was working from home, so I could attend a bunch of local meetings, but I ended up taking him back because he said he felt “absolutely dreadful”. The rest home staff said they’d call me if he got worse.

I felt we’d had far worse days at home but until now he’s been remarkably well in their care so think they got a surprise. As I said to one staff member, he was assessed as needing rest home care for good reason! He’s feeling and looking better now but hasn’t really eaten anything today.

It was an unsettling day, so after dinner I grabbed the new art journal I’ve started and made a bunch of backgrounds. The thing about creating backgrounds is there’s no real thought involved. I grab 3 sprays to lay down some colour, add more colour through a stencil or two, splashes or drips of water to activate the sprays and maybe some dark splatter. It’s about getting my hands busy and distracting my mind. I find it soothing – I believe art is good for the soul (but not so good for the colour of my hands!)

A stack of journals

I decided to have a quick count of how many journals I’m using at the moment. It was more than I expected! I’ve got 10 journals on the go, but each one serves a specific purpose.

I’ve got a weekly diary journal. A small journal we’re recording Tony’s journey in. A 6×6 heavy Kraft journal I’m using to explore colour combinations; there’s something lovely happens to colours when you leave some Kraft showing.

A huge Dina Wakley journal that has 3 different types of paper – I bought that size by accident. A small Dylusions one I’m doing this year’s Creative Jump Start in; CJS2021 was in January and February but with Tony’s health I’m doing it slowly this year.

I’ve always got a basic Dylusions and Dina Wakley journal on the go because they are where I play just for the fun of it, but also where I “download my head”.

If you can’t say it

What cannot be said will be wept. Attributed to Sappho.

If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint. Edward Hopper.

Every work of art stems from a wound in the soul of the artist. Ted Hughes.

These quotes speak to me to my soul. I paint because it’s good for me and because I can say in my art journals the things I have no words for – or the words I can’t speak. Words are tricky things for me. I can talk a good talk (to quote Shane Koyczan) but there are topics I can’t verbalise on, and words I just can’t say. A lot of addicts are the same; it’s our old foe, shame!

I read poetry, and sometimes use it in my art. Of course what we take from poetry is subjective too. What I read and feel, and what someone else takes from it might be quite different.

It’s the same with art, and journal pages. The meaning might be clear to me – or not – but it’s up to the viewer to find their own meaning in it. Even when the meaning is unclear, making art and sharing it is always an act of putting your soul on display. And, for some of us anyway, our pain…

At the Legato Exhibition in Italy, 2010, with the NZ Ambassador.

Lean in

A few years ago I read “Lean in” by Sheryl Sandberg , Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. I don’t agree with everything in the book, but the concept of leaning in has its uses. Last night I wrote about my struggle to set a new routine.

Today I’ve realised I can ‘lean in’ to the lack of routine, the early nights and so on. It’s not something I need to fix for now.

I visited Tony after work but he wasn’t feeling well. At 6.30 he said I needed to go home and cook my dinner, his way of saying he’s had enough. I reheated last night’s leftovers and cleaned up, then headed for my art desk.

I’ve had a good play with paper and paint, but have still found myself in bed at 8.30. And it’s ok. I need to just lean in and do this. I also need to just sit with the “you should be busy” discomfort it causes me, because that desire for constant busyness is common in addicts. Here’s what I’ve been creating.

I’m not quite ready

Since Tony went into the home I’ve been going to bed early quite often. Before, I’d go to bed about 10-10.30 but often I’m tucked up with the iPad, magazine, writing paper and a pen by 8.30. I’m not sleeping well though, waking in the night, probably out of habit from years of caregiving.

I’ve said to a couple of people today that I need to just stay up, no matter how I feel or how cold it is, and get back to my usual routine. Hopefully doing more and being properly tired will help me sleep better.

But you know what? I’m not ready for this to be normal. There’s a new normal ahead of me, but that’s not here yet either. I’m going to cut myself some slack and slide off to bed if I want to. The day will come when my old routine feels ok again, but today isn’t that day.