Don’t worry. This isn’t the kind of Throwback Thursday where you have to see a photo of me with braces and curly bangs and pretend I was cute. We have a little break between Get Messy Art Journal seasons, so Julia wisely suggested we go through our older art journals and sketchbooks and share a few favorites.
These days, my brain power is devoted to things like, Did I remember to put pants?, so when someone makes a good suggestion (or flat out tells me what to do)… whether it’s for a new post or which hummus to buy at the market (why do people always think I am friendly when I’m out shopping?), I don’t ask questions.
Get Messy Thursdays | Throwback Thursday
Hummus time (it’s lemon and dill, by the way).
Also On Tap for Today:
Starting Big Magic tonight (even though I kind of hated Eat, Pray, Love)
Wishing minions would come detail my car overnight (I cannot begin to describe the shameful amount of cracker crumbs that fell out of G’s carseat when I moved it yesterday)
Do strangers talk to you when you’re out and about?
It’s the final week of this season of the Get Messy Art Journal program (learn all about it here), and the inevitable has happened: I have run out of ideas and thoughts and brain power and found myself quoting Justin Bieber.
There is a little break between this season and the next, during which time I am hoping to recharge my creative batteries a bit. I’ve also been working on some watercolor Christmas cards and a few printable coloring book pages that I am hoping to share with you all soon. But who knows. I might just spend the time, you know, getting ready to have a baby.
Since I already told you about my mild case of Bieber fever, here’s that page. I really like these stamps and used them a lot this week (mostly on projects that I threw out recycled, but whatever).
There’s no deep meaning to this one, but I thought it fit well with the theme of the season. And think saying “no” (or “yes,” for that matter) is one of the most powerful things we can do. Like, I sort of wish I had said “no” to watching the GOP debate last night, and “yes” to going to bed at 6:30, but hey.
Materials used: Strathmore Artagain drawing paper (coal black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), random acrylic paints, Windsor & Newton Cotman brush (round #111)
I always spend a lot of time in my head, but I’ve been up there even more so lately. Worrying about what labor will be like this time. Wondering what I’ve forgotten to do. Wishing people would not make weird comments about leaving my job or having two kids or having a second child when our first child is under two or not having sixteen kids or having my hands full or whatever. But that’s what people do, it’s like they can’t help themselves. They’re always going to make weird comments.
Better to let go of all that worrying, wondering and wishing than be dragged.
Materials used: Page from Combray, scrap of Artagain paper (coal black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), magazine clippings, glue stick
And because I can’t go a week without writing in white pen on a black surface and quoting Hafez or Rumi or Thomas Merton or Mary Oliver or a random Jesuit… a page inspired by this line from a Hafez poem:
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.”
I sort of like that I cut the door so it can open. I kind of want to stick a tiny Clark in there.
And the entire season… all in one Flipagram thing…
I don’t have much in the way of actual words to share this week (which… let’s be honest… you’re likely 900% okay with this). I stuck to basic materials (scissors, paper, magazines, glue and a few pens) and made some equally basic pages. Sometimes basic is good. I think.
Oh. The one about cats? I don’t know why I made it. (You know I am prejudiced against felines.) It just happened. And I stabbed myself in the finger while cutting out the word meow. So. There’s that. Life as a grown-up.
Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 5
And a random feather I drew this week
True Life: This took ages. I wasn’t expecting that. And I might have avian flu from touching a real feather in the name of artistic research. I’ve been trying to teach myself a bit of patience and discipline by changing up my subject matter and focusing on just plain ol’ pen and paper. Unfortunately, I keep getting distracted by popcorn.
I got completely swept up in this week’s prompts and the chance to focus on favorite childhood stories. We grew up in a house full of books, with parents who loved to read to us, so there was a lot to draw from.
I zeroed in on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden partly because I had seven thousand flowers cut out and ready to be used, but mostly because it is such a good story. And while it certainly appealed to my imagination as a child, it really imparts quite grown up lessons on treating others well. Maybe I’ll re-read it. After I do, like, the important and necessary things.
Get Messy Thursdays | Season of Words, Week 4
This is where the magic mess happens.
I’ve always loved the look of fold-out pages in other people’s sketchbooks. It seemed fitting to have something hidden away when drawing inspiration from The Secret Garden. Unfortunately, I am not a genius when it comes to spatial relations and math and planning and measuring. I taped together three pages of cold pressed watercolor, which I folded accordion style, and then labeled and re-labeled and re-re-labeled them until I got the proper layout.
And it still wasn’t quite right. But there’s little time for perfection when working against the ever unpredictable “When will nap time be over?” clock. So I just made do.
This is how the pages will look — all tucked in and unassuming– once we finish this season of the Get Messy Art Journal program and I bind my altered book.
The keyhole cut-out gives you a little peek at the inner spread, which is aptly… floral. I used as many of my favorite passages from the story as I could throughout the pages. I have no idea why I used that doily stamp. So there’s that.
Materials used: [In addition to those listed below the keyhole page] Pages from Combray, Strathmore Artists Tiles (black, trimmed in half), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), glue stick.
These are the outer pages (obvi… I think). I forgot a quotation mark on the right hand page. Please forgive me. Or just pretend it’s there.
One day I will stop being obsessed with white hand-lettering on a black surface. Today is not that day. Also, I want my own secret garden. Like, immediately.
Materials used: Windsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (ivory black, cerulean blue and Windsor violet), magazine cut outs, glue stick, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white).
And whaaa-bam! Here is the inner spread. I wanted it to look lush and sort of mysterious. The only mystery I am detecting at the moment (get it… mysteries… detectives…) is, Why did I include an owl atop that floral arrangement? Like, wouldn’t that be the scariest thing ever to come home to? Well, maybe not ever… but it would be weird.
The passage scattered throughout the pages is just beautiful and perfect. It’s about the fleeting moments when we feel like we will live forever. Doesn’t that make you want to re-read all your favorite childhood books?
Who wants to have a Secret Garden book club with me?
Also On Tap for Today:
Making my first batch of switchel (now that sounds mysterious)
This post is a day late. I mention that simply so you don’t fear that I’ve entirely lost track of days (though… some days…). If you’d like to learn more about the Get Messy Art Journal program, click on over.
Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 3
Materials used: Hot pressed watercolor paper (loose), purple watercolor, “found” words from a photocopy of a random book page, glue stick, velum, stapler/staple
I dip-dyed a few pages of loose hot pressed (which means it’s smooth and has essentially no texture) watercolor paper a few weeks ago and really liked how this sheet turned out. I wish I had spent more time on my found poem — it’s definitely something I want to try again. I covered the page with velum to give it a bit of mystery… and to hide the fact that it’s… not much to look at.
Materials used: [Left side] Photocopied book page (with holes where the “found poem” words used to be), Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (black, MB); [Right side] A whole mess of Golden High Flow Liquid Acrylic paint, neon yellow craft paint, Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (black, MB), Sakura Koi Brush Pens (yellow and turquoise), Sakura Micron pen (black, 01), scissors.
I tucked the original book page from my found poem on the backside of that page. It’s good to know where you come from, even if you’re a poorly crafted poem. The mess of paint is supposed to be a nod to Jackson Pollock (may he drip in peace). I had grand plans to actually throw paint onto a large sheet of paper (if you have a chance to watch film of him creating, take it) from my own adorable, mini paint can (which I planned to create from a soup can). But then I got lazy (no one is surprised) and did my best to drip, splatter and splash… without dripping, splattering or splashing on our white sofa and white rug.
I stumbled upon the quote I included while perusing Instagram the other day in the middle of the night while up wide awake thinking about baby stuff. I cut the corner (story of my life) to give a little peek at the next page.
Materials used: Strathmore Artist Tiles (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), scissors, glue stick, vellum, random magazine page
I was feeling serious and grouchy when I made this page, so my goal was to create something un-serious and un-grouchy. Mission accomplished.
And a few other projects
I wasn’t the only one making messes this week. I put together a little paint set for Grace on Wednesday, complete with brushes and (supposedly) washable paints. I’ve really enjoyed painting with her — she has her own ideas about what should go where, and when it’s time for a new color. Also: She loves the brown paint. I do not. I am trying to be okay with that.
Materials used: Moleskine Watercolor Album, gold tissue paper (applied as background with matte gel medium), Strathmore Artist Tiles (black), black gesso, Windsor + Newton Artists Watercolors (Opera Rose), magazine cut outs, Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (black, MB), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), glue stick, pieces of gold leaf sheets (left over from other projects)
This is my favorite creation from the week (and in a long time). I love all the layers and fall colors that are not strictly brown/orange/red. Also: Wasn’t Hafez just a genius with words?
Also On Tap for Today:
Outdoor workout with the Mama Beasts (it feels like it’s been ages)
September was one of those months where I wrote 45 posts in my head… but apparently that’s where 41 of them stayed. In my head.
Here’s to a fresh month, a fresh start, and a fresh opportunity to have the best of intentions, only to get distracted by things like doctor’s appointments and laundry.
Although… if I’m being honest (something I try to be), I’ve done more imaginary loads of laundry than actual loads of laundry lately. Whatever, man.
Last week I shared a quick (and likely boring) peek at the altered book I started for the Get Messy Art Journal program’s new season, the Season of Words. I’m completely enamored with the mostly messy gold leaf, and am really happy with the plain cover (for now). I scrapped my original plan to bind my new pages ahead of time, and have decided instead to wait until the end of the season. I’m excited to have a little flexibility with regard to what paper and surfaces I use each week.
Here’s what I came up with for today’s Get Messy Thursdays.
Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 2
Materials used: [Inside cover/Author’s bio] A magazine clipping that I’ve had tucked in an art/inspiration folder since my senior year of college (Why? Lord only knows.), gold decoupage accent from Martha Stewart (which is to say, from her line of craft products… this was not a personal gift from my Queen… but I can pretend), black Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (size MB), matte gel medium; [First page/Dedication] Old Combray page with a velum overlay, white gesso, Windsor + Newton gouache and watercolor (gold and Ivory Black).
I loved this week’s prompts and the opportunity to set up our art journals like “real” books, including an author’s bio and dedication. I’m toying with making a little Table of Contents, too. This season feels surprisingly personal for me, to the point that I feel sort of weird sharing some of this. I kept the bio short and concise, though. I am a regular person. This should compel precisely no one to delve any further into this piece of crap book.
I put the dedication first, but when it comes time to bind this thing, I’ll put a blank page before it. Old (and irrational) habits die hard, but I have to keep the first page of any sketchbook or notebook blank. In fact… I need to go tuck a blank page in there now. It’s bugging me. Speaking of things that are bugging me, I like the cover… but I kind of hate the dedication. Perhaps that will get reworked. After I (finally) fold the laundry.
I’ve been pinning all kinds of hand-cut paper lately, and decided to break out the exact-o knife for a quick cut-out quote page, backed with some Proust covered in Opera Rose (doesn’t matter if it’s watercolor or acrylic… when it comes to this color, I am obsessed). “One wave at a time” is sort of a hippy-dippy mantra of mine, and a reminder to wait until the present crisis (or um… regular moment) has passed before worrying about the next one. You know the ocean is my True North (side bar: I didn’t realize the baby’s actual name was North West until last week… so there’s that), so thinking about waves always calms my frayed nerves. At least a little.
Materials used: [Left side] Sakura Micron pen (black, size 01), Windsor + Newton Professional Watercolor Tubes (Opera Rose, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Sap Green mixed with Green Gold), Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (black, size MB), Sakura Koi Brush Pen (pale blue shade from the 24 pen set); [Right side] Watercolor paper, exact-o knife, a trusty ripped out page from Combray, Windsor + Newton Galeria Acrylic paint (Opera Rose).
I love that quote from Hafez, and it seemed appropriate for the Season of Words. The hand-lettering was inspired by Karen‘s tutorial on the Get Messy blog. I’ve been on a real florals kick lately, and while that flower has nothing to do with the quote… it looks pretty. And that’s got to count for something. I think.
Speaking of florals, I thought I’d share one of my favorite sketchbook pages from the week. Unless I am too tired to function (which happens quite a bit… this time around the third trimester is no joke), I try to draw or paint even a little something each night after Grace has gone to bed. It’s become a really good unwinding ritual for me.
After a brief hiatus between seasons, it’s time for another round of Get Messy Thursdays. It’s never too late to join the group, so if you’re interested in learning more (doooo itttttttt), please check it out.
I’ve spent much of the break playing with shells, attempting oven-bake pottery, doodling, and painting whatever captures my imagination (you can find more on Instagram). As much as I love doing my own thing… I’ve missed working through the same prompts as the rest of the crew.
Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 1
This week we’re altering books to be used throughout the season. I dragged my heels (a surprise to no one) and didn’t get much done until today. And, um, I’m still not done.
After digging through a huge pile of 75+ books (which I finally donated yesterday, thanks to the help of my able-bodied assistants mother and brother) for something pretty and lovely and ornamental, I settled on a plain white book, with a plain white cover. Go figure. The book, incidentally, is like… the first book ever written about Twitter. So while it’s not exactly the Gutenberg Bible, it’s got a special history. In its own way. Sort of.
The pages were a bit too busy (lots of dated screenshots), so grabbed my scalpel and performed surgery. I removed the pages with the intent of replacing them with some boring, old, non-distracting Proust.
I used sheets of gold leaf to cover up the book’s title, but have left the rest of the cover untouched for the time being. I didn’t want to do anything too un-do-able this early in the season.
I kind of like the that book’s serial number is visible on the back cover. I imagine someone finding the book in 100 years and thinking what is this piece of crap? that the number is an important code. Sort of like the numbers on LOST, but with a less disappointing ending.
The inside is still very much a work in progress. I tore out nearly half of the pages of Combray (I’ve used a number of pages already in art projects… so I figured, why not) and then dipped what remained in a pan of water tinted with violet watercolor. I can’t say this was the best idea… but I am sure I’ve had worse. I’m still waiting for the paint to dry (this is precisely how exciting my life is). Right now, it looks… like a soggy book.
Once it’s dry, I plan to fill in some of the missing pages by stitching in watercolor paper and velum. I’m realizing how particular I’ve become about paper. Again… the richness and excitement of my life, on full display.
Side note: Super cheap gilding gloves have really brought my solo Michael Jackson dance parties to the next level.
Hopefully this half-American, half-French mess will have dried and become something semi-pleasing to the eye by next week. In the meantime, you’ll find much more attractive book specimens on Instagram by following the #seasonofwords hashtag.
Also On Tap for Today:
After watching the Pope address Congress, I have become obsessed with watching videos of John Boehner crying. I think this can only mean that I am a very bad person.
I did a little bit of painting last week, but very little art journaling, so I decided to throw together a combination post for Weeks 4 + 5 of the Get Messy Art Journal challenge, Season of Serenity.
Several of these pages feature poems from Hãfez. I’m basically obsessed. I also drew inspiration from the gorgeous views at the Cape, my favorite podcast, beachside yoga, and a nearly-empty tube of gold gouache.
Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Weeks 4 + 5
Materials used: Sakura KOI watercolor (Prussian Blue), detail brush, clear alphabet stamps, fuschia StazOn ink (plus the black ink I never washed off the stamps… oops… plus a bit more blue watercolor to round things out).
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast. I recently listened to an episode with Rami Nashashibi, a Palestinian-American who uses graffiti, calligraphy, and hip-hop in his work as a healing force on the South Side of Chicago. Something that really struck me from this episode is how much of the good and powerful and beautiful we never hear about when it comes to other religions and cultures and ways of life. Media loves the bad, the upsetting and the ugly. I found myself thinking about this teaching from the Koran, which Mr. Nashashibi shared in the interview, for days.
Those quick flower sketches sort of reminded me of blue and white china. I think I will likely keep working on this page and fill it up a bit more.
Materials used: The aforementioned gold gouache, neon acrylic paint (pink and yellow), gesso, black Faber Castell Artist PITT pen (1.5)
I made the gold and neon background a few weeks ago, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I covered up a bit of the paint with gesso and started scribbling on a favorite Hãfez quote, just as inspiration struck… I started writing in lines from the poem atop the neon, regretting having slapped down that gesso sort of haphazardly.
I love the neon/writing bits, but sort of loathe the gesso/writing monstrosity. The upside: I’m excited to try this made up method on a new page soon. Please remind me of it when I’m fresh out of ideas.
Materials used: Rolled strips of magazine cut-outs (rolled on a toothpick and sealed with matte Mod Podge), Faber Castell gelattos (sealed with matte medium), magazine cut-out (adhered with a plain old glue stick), Sakura KOI watercolor (Prussian blue)
One of this week’s prompts called for incorporating “paper rolling.” I had no idea what that was. So at 4 o’clock one morning (I have reached the point in this pregnancy where I just don’t sleep) I took to Google for a tutorial. Word to the wise: “rolling papers” is different than “paper rolling.” I now know a lot about weed, and a tiny bit about rolling up strips of magazine paper for art projects.
I like the simplicity of this spread and was definitely craving white space. Probably literally and figuratively. It’s been a go-go-go few days. Sometimes less is more. And that’s more than enough.
Materials used: Magazine cut-outs and tissue paper (applied with matte Mod Podge), black Micron.
More Hãfez. I love this poem. The collage is sort of mosaic-ish and came together quickly. The writing is kind of messy and I kind of want to re-do it. But hey…
Materials used: Watercolor, gouache, silver and white washi tape, white gel pen and a super cheap letter stencil, ink spray, purple paper, magazine cut-out
And lastly, my favorite of the week. Purple and grey are one of my favorite pairings. After applying a wash of purple watercolor, a strip of paper and washi tape, I filled in the page with grey gouache. I love the chalky finish of gouache.
I had such a wonderful time at beach yoga last week and loved the teacher’s cues for staying mindful and present (focus on now… nothing from before…). I added the “nothing for after,” because my worrying tends to be about what could come next. This brain of mine can come up with all kinds of worrisome scenarios for tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.
Meanwhile, the well dressed lady is from an ad for bathroom fixtures, so there’s that.
So I got a tiny bit brave today and made my first Periscope broadcast, doing a little flip-through of my sketchbooks and art journals. You can watch it here… until it expires and vanishes… or whatever happens to Periscopes? Clearly I have a lot to learn — most specifically about positioning my tripod and iPhone and sketchbooks and so on. Oh, and about not rambling.
I got a few art journal pages done in response to this week’s Get Messy Art Journal Challenge, and since it’s Thursday… here’s a peek at what I’ve been working on.
Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 3
Materials used: Tissue paper (applied with matte gel medium), magazine cut-outs (letters and a lovely lady), black ink, Micron pens, gold ink spray.
I’ve learned so much from the rest of the Get Messy crew and love scrolling through their images on Instagram (check out the hashtag #getmessyartjournal) and on individual members’ blogs. I was channeling the talented Julia when I drew on that magazine cut-out and love how the whole spread came together.
I was sort of thinking about divinity and an appreciation and value for self when working on these pages, and how those may lead to serenity.
Materials used: Watercolors (applied with a small round brush), magazine tear out, brush pen, black Micron (size XS, I think), glue stick
A sort of different approach to serenity (and one I think is critical), is bearing a sense of humor. There’s so much we can’t control. Big things and little things. It helps to laugh.
I think I was having one of those days while working on this page.
Materials used: Magazine cut-out, black watercolor paint, white Sakura Gelly Roll pen, gel medium.
I like to think of these next two pages as sisters. For the first, I dug into my stash of floral arrangement cut-outs (there is something oddly soothing about cutting out flowers, and I’ve quickly amassed quite the collection) and paired one with a really beautiful quote about the passage of time.
Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don’t forget when you leave why you came.
–Adlai E. Stevenson
Aren’t flowers the perfect reminder that life is fleeting and meant to be both beautiful and appreciated?
Materials used: Black Micron pen (XS), Sakura watercolors (applied with a detail brush), purple and yellow gouache
Using the magazine cut-out above for guidance, I quickly sketched an imperfect version of that same floral arrangement and pulled an excerpt from the Stevenson quote to practice a bit of lettering. I really like working with watercolors and gouache on the same page — the finishes are so different.
I love how the pages look side by side. (If I do say so myself… yikes.)
Also On Tap for Today:
Watching every tripod/video set up tutorial on the Internet
This season, the Get Messy group (join the challenge here!) is focusing on serenity. I couldn’t help but laugh as I sat down tonight (eleventh hour, for life) to start another round of pages for this week’s Get Messy Thursdays post. This week has me craving some serenity. But hey. So life goes.
This photo was taken before the sun set… the others, not so much. In fact, if I get my act together, I’ll replace them tomorrow with ones less likely to give you a migraine.
Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 2
Materials used: Tissue paper (pale purple and black + white striped), alphabet stamps, black archival ink, Mod Podge (applied with an old gift card), black + white striped washi tape, white gel pen, super old magazine clipping.
Today was sort of the ultimate Throwback Thursday. I spent the morning helping my mom clean out my childhood bedroom and Lord, have mercy, did I have a lot to toss. There were a few things worth saving (I can’t wait until Grace fits into my kindergarten and grammar school sweatshirts), a few things I understood why I kept at the time (there was a whole box dedicated to things I thought I needed when applying for my first job), a few things I am glad I kept (a paper from a philosophy class I took with like, the worst professor ever… His comment below the grade was, “but as you know, I disagree with you.” Hahahahaha. Yep.). And there were things I thought I threw out (literally and emotionally) years ago. Stuff has such a way of bringing up… well, stuff.
I saved a few things that seemed perfect for art journaling, including a few magazine tear outs (including the one used above), photo prints from years ago, and drawings from a studio art class I took during my senior year at BC. I did not, however, save a piece I drew and titled “4 cups of water: a study.” More like, 4 pieces of crap.
I love how these first pages came out. The tissue paper was really fun to play with — I am looking forward to adding a few more colors and layers to future pages. The white stripes sort of disappeared into the white background, making the black stripes perfect for writing on with white pen. I quickly listed a few reasons why I am not feeling so serene (a lovely, but teething child…) and a few ways to bring some serenity into my day.
Materials used: The sérénité page from an old French dictionary, an Instax photo taken at Castle Island in Southie, a photo I took years ago of the Brewster flats at low tide, liquid acrylic paint, white gesso, Sakura watercolors, Faber Castel PITT artist pens (sizes XS and 1.5), gold ink, white gel pen, good ol’ glue stick
This turned out a little more scrapbook-y and collage-y than intended, but I think you get the gist: I feel most serene by the ocean. It must be the mermaid pisces in me. Also: I just realized I don’t know how to draw a fish.
Materials used: Black gesso (applied with a palette knife), white acrylic paint (applied with a small round brush), white gel pen, magazine clipping, grey paper, vinyl mailbox letters, plastic moon overlay (from a Studio Calico kit, I think), glue stick
I like this quick, little page, but after I finished, I was like… um, gazing at the moon for hours sounds both lovely and… kind of weird. I do love the moon, though. I am always excited to see it hanging up there.