Sunday, April 24, 2011

Challenge #8: Organized and Diorganized

Contemporary life is hectic, and keeping up with the household chores, the responsibilities of work, the emails, the social networks, the text messages, and the phone calls can quickly bury you under a pile of to-dos and must-dos. Take time to reflect on the organization of your life. Think about everything from your mundane, daily routines to you big, special hopes and dreams.

How do you get things done? In what ways do you keep yourself organized (or even disorganized) physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? What routines and rituals do you use in your daily life to make certain that everything that needs to get done does get done? How do you tackle your daily tasks and plan for those rare and special occasions? When do you throw your plans out the window, and when do you stick steadfast to them?

Reflect on one specific aspect or think about it all in general terms.

As always make certain to leave a link to your response in the comments, and remember that it’s ok to show a work in progress or to simple post a written response.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Operative Words

I have been on Spring Break this last week, and when it started, I had grandiose plans of posting quite a bit to the blog and working more in my journal, but I've been busy working around the house trying to get things ready for June's Studio Tour which has meant reseeding the backyard and cleaning out and painting the garage which I will eventually convert into a studio for the tour. I'll share more in a future post once, I get more accomplished. Nonetheless, I have had little time and energy to post or to journal.

Today is a day off from all the physical work, and I am devoting it to working in the studio and taking care of some neglected work. I wanted to share my response to the Operative Words challenge from a couple of weeks ago. I haven't been able to keep up with my own challenges like I had hoped, and this response isn't complete. But I wanted to share it in progress.

I began this spread by stamping three random, red lines with watercolor soaked string and then writing about a phrase that I had picked out from my Random Word response. I looked over my Palimpsest page and highlighted four words and phrases. "Beneath the surface" stuck in my mind, and I wrote for several minutes. With some editing, this is what I wrote:
Beneath the surface lie our hopes and fears. They swell and undulate deep within and often only show slightly on the surface. Deep currents flow within us. Often we stoically hold our external facade steady and solid as not to give a glimpse of the turmoil that churns deep within. At times it all becomes too much, and the turmoil swells and breaches the surface causing great upheaval and volcanic explosion. Some people carry their fears, emotions, and inner lives close to the surface, cracking waves and explosive upheavals often. Emotions can run high, and they thrive on the drama labeling it as an essential part of identity. Yet the stoic individuals who push the pain and the fear and the happiness down, see this as part of their identities. Calm, cool, and collected or volatile, explosive, and emotional - two sides of the same coin. How deeply do I carry my inner world below the surface?
I then added the red-violet watercolor by tapping and dabbing my paintbrush randomly. After that dried, I added the indigo, red-violet, and umber watercolor pencil in successive layers. I then hatched and cross-hatched with black ink to give the umber shapes more definition so they looked like wholes and cracks in the surface. I then used silver paint marker and black ink to highlight two phrases and the last sentence of my writing. It is this sentence, a question to myself, that has struck me as the most compelling, and my point a direction for finishing this spread or for beginning future pages.

That's the beauty of the journal and of art. There is always more to ponder as one thing leads to another.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Challenge #7: Chaos and Order

Life can come fast at times creating a lot of action, turmoil, upheaval, and chaos. The to-do list gets long, and there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. For some people, the day is scheduled, compartmentalized, and structured. For others, the day is spontaneous, freeform, and perhaps tumbled together.

How do you deal with order and chaos in your life? Are you structured or spontaneous? Are you balanced somewhere in between the extremes? How do you react when things do not go according to plan? How does it feel when things go just as planned?

Reflect on your tolerance for chaos and your threshold for order, and create a response that echoes the role that each plays in your life. Do you make order out of chaos or chaos from order?

Don’t forget to share a link to your response in the comments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random Word

Back in November and December, I read Patti Digh's book Creativity is a Verb, and a word popped out at me in the closing pages. Patti talked about how life is a palimpsest. I had run across the word before, but didn't really know what it meant. Originally a palimpsest was a manuscript page, usually on parchment, that was written on, scraped off, and reused. New writing was written on top of the removed text. Since parchment was expensive and time consuming to produce, old manuscripts were often recycled. Some times, some of the original writing can still be seen. The word "palimpsest" has now come to mean anything with visible layers. Sounds a lot like my art.

So, I began a page in the journal (the left hand page). I looked up "palimpsest" in a dictionary and a thesaurus. I added definitions and related words. A search online led me to several artists, and reading through one artist's statement, I came across the word "obfuscation". Obfuscation is the concealment of meaning in communication by using ambiguous, confusing, or misleading words and phrasing.

In the rectangles, I added some of my own thoughts, and both words have led to ideas for artwork and themes for artwork. Although I began this page months ago, I keep going back and adding to it. The right hand page lists Patti's Creative Commitments and contains the upside down drawing of a Picasso portrait of Igor Stravinsky - an exercise Betty Edwards uses in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

I love stumbling upon an idea or word that can spark so much.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Challenge #6: Operative Words

Operative words are the essential words in a sentence, story, poem or script. Performers and spoken word poets often stress or emphasize these words in some way when performing.

We often look for operative words in our writing and highlight or visually emphasize them so they stand out. That way we can come back later and quickly find and use these words as sources for further investigation and exploration.

Look over some writing that you have done. If you don’t have any, take about 10 minutes to do some writing – perhaps use a random word as a prompt or perhaps something a bit more meaningful. Look over your writing and chose important words or phrases and highlight them in some way. These are words and phrases that you are drawn to so trust your gut reaction. Circle them. Make them bold. Use a different color. Try to find at least three operative words or phrases in your writing, but feel free to find as many as you’d like.

Pick one of these words or phrases to use as a source of inspiration.

Don’t to forget to post a link to you response in the comments even if you don’t get it finished.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Challenge #5: Random Words

Part of our approach at times is to let randomness and happenstance to enter our process. Open yourself to chance by picking a random word to use as a source of inspiration.

Grab a book or dictionary that you have close at hand, and open to a random page and point to a random word. Don’t like that word? Pick another. Not ready to be completely random? Pick a random page, and choose a word to which you are drawn.

Just don’t do this repeatedly in order to pick that word you already have in mind or one that fits your mode of thinking. Let chance take you in a direction that you are not ready to go. If you find the word challenging, let it challenge you and see if you can respond to that word even if it’s the silliest most unusual word.

Great News

We got some great news today. Our proposal for a new book was accepted for publication by our publisher North Light Books. So hopefully, some time in 2012 a new JFJ book will sit alongside The Journal Junkies Workshop in bookstores.

For the new book, we really thought about how we personally work in the visual journal - not just the techniques, but the methods, themes, and practical ideas. We really considered how our approach differs from others out there. Where The Journal Junkies Workshop is a basic resource book for working in the visual journal, the new book will actually be a year-long course with ideas and techniques broken into monthly missions giving the reader some very specific prompts and themes to work with (all of which have been ideas that we have personally reflected on and worked with throughout the years in our own journals). It will be full of new and specific techniques, but each month will ask the reader to focus on and explore certain themes and techniques giving the reader a glimpse into our modus operandi - mode of working.

We'll post updates along the way.

Oh, just a hint, the JFJ Challenge is actually centered around ideas and themes for the monthly missions of the new book, so we are giving you a bit of a sneak peak. But the book is going to be filled with a lot of cool new ideas.

We are very excited.