I’ve written more than once about my need to move away from doing only (or mainly) book reviews and pick up other topics, food and photography being two persistent interests. Another hobby has recently developed, probably borne from working on altered books with my son when he was little. It was great fun and the capacity for creativity is truly endless.
More recently a friend had been encouraging me to try out art/junk journaling, and it wasn’t difficult to get me on board. I love the beautiful designs and creations, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that so many of the materials used in projects come from items we all have in our homes, accumulating without us even realizing. Thrifting, which I did last weekend, bringing home a lovely haul, is also another option, much less costly than buying new and with the added benefit of a wider variety to choose from because stock isn’t dependent upon the latest craze.
However, I was also to discover something else that made me quickly love this process even more, namely the feelings stirred within. Partly it was an ability to just keep going, even when my creation didn’t have the same lovely look as, say, one I saw online. Also, there was an almost mysterious feeling of peacefulness accompanying the work, one that gently sweeps you into it, allowing you to let go of the worries you had before you sat down.
I began to experience this last week when I attempted my first project: a mixed media page in a journal I wanted to continue to write in, but also fancy up a bit. I followed along with a friend’s video, gluing pages to make them more sturdy, Modge Podging a magazine page to it, adding and spreading the acrylic paint with an old credit card, mixing it up a bit with another color. I had to stop a few times to do chauffeur duty, run errands and the like, go to work and so on. Indeed, it took a couple of days to get this far, and periodically I would stop to gaze at the lovely colors, mixtures of green and blue that I have always loved. Here, though, something seemed off, and it began to dawn on me that the bold colors stood out perhaps a bit too much. They were so…intense.
There was also the sensation of much missing—though I thought this was because I’d not added anything yet—along with the undulating manner in which the paper had dried. Once I was able to sit back down with it, I realized I’d painted. The. Wrong. Page. I quickly glued my painted page to a couple of others and then out of nowhere decided to throw on some mustard-colored paint. I’m not really sure why. It was a bit impulsive, but I didn’t hate the way it looked, and I suppose I was willing to try, then dislike it, because I could always do something about it. This is such a wonderful reality of art journaling, because so much in life isn’t like that, and any perfectionist tendencies honed in other endeavors can inhibit creativity in this one. That was something I knew I’d have to get used to, but it really did help me feel more confident to move ahead and go with the flow.
Next up came the gesso phase, which wasn’t a smashing success, but with a little blotting its appearance really changed a lot, and I was soon ready to start adding some ephemera. Here was where I knew better what I was doing—mostly. Stephanie had sent me some beautiful butterflies and I felt they were a great metaphor for the direction I was heading, or at least hoped to be. Looking at doing many things quite a bit differently to how I’d done in the past, perhaps even becoming a bit of a new person in the process. Though I don’t always feel it in a grand, soaring manner, I still saw the possibilities for change, as if I had new wings after having undergone a transformation to get this far. So those were the only two words I wanted on this page, along with my butterflies.
From gesso to impulse addition to playing with different looks for the finale.
In these sessions I learned from practical experience how to bond with the materials, and I’m excited to do a lot more. In the end I recognize that it’s not a masterpiece, but it came from the heart and was a labor of love. It means all the more that the butterflies were gifted to me, recalling that so much we aim for soars higher with the support and encouragement of people who care about us.
Precise definition for ephemera, a semi-new word for me (that is,
I’d heard it before but had to look it up recently) found here.
More to come about another project I recently did and loved!
There is also much, much more at Stephanie’s website, Layered Pages, where she has loads of fun and lovely projects.