Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What are you up to Wednesday - part 40 (woyww 143)

Can you believe that this is my 200th blogpost? I know, I can't believe it either! I can't believe I've kept it up and even feel like keeping it up for at least 2000 more. When I first started this blog I was so apprehensive about it and now I can't imagine my life without it. So here's my 200th post and my 40th Wednesday post, which is pretty cool all in itself ;-)

Here's my desk as I left it last night:

Yes, that's another ribbon and circle drawing in my Studio Book. I can't seem to get enough of them. They are so relaxing and it's interesting to see how even such a simple concept can be executed in so many different ways.

I did the drawing as a little relaxing celebration, because I just finished a very long term work, namely the prepping of my second altered atlas! I'm so happy it's finally ready for use. It took so long and it became a bit of drag really. But now it's ready to go as soon as my In Between Book is filled up which should be within the next two weeks.  Here's how my next journal looks now:

I have called it The Moon Journal and not the Second Altered Atlas, even though that is what it is. ;-) I've named it after the images on the cover which come from inside the atlas. When prepping an existing book for a journal I take out about half the pages and this family atlas had some wonderful images and maps in it.
The front cover has an image of a view of the Earth as seen from the Moon's surface. I decorated the black sky with metallic pencils.

The back has a map of the Moon on it where I colored in the sections with the same pencils. The pictures are bordered with duct tape and then the tape is decorated with paint markers and a glaze pen. The markers in themselves write well on the duct tape, but the color does come of when it's scratched so I decided to cover the whole thing in sticky back plastic. That way the journal is fully protected.

On the back there's also a quote from the song "Orange Moon" by Erykah Badu, which is such a sweet little song and it seemed to fit the theme of my journal cover perfectly.

I enjoyed working on the cover, but the really big job of course was the inside of the journal. About 70 spreads were left after I took out half the paper and all needed to be covered in gesso first and then given some color with acrylic paint. I chose simple craft paints this time.

Most of the spreads were done with baby wipes (a technique I think I first saw done by Traci Bunkers and that leaves your hands very dirty indeed), but some also have been done with a brush or with credit cards or a combination of all three. Not one spread looks the same. Here's a sample of the inside of the Moon Journal.

I'm happy with it and I look forward to journaling in it, but for now just the idea of having ever to prep another book this way makes me want to run and hide. It's. A. Lot. Of. Work. ;-) It will be worth it though, I remember how much I enjoyed using the Altered Atlas and I'm sure I will love this baby too.

I hope you enjoyed this peek in my next journal and I hope you are all having an artsy Wednesday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

More spreads from the In Between Book

Slowly (well, I suppose slow is in the eye of the beholder) my In Between Journal is fillling up. I fill about a spread a day, but of course sometimes I skip a day (or two) when I just don't have the time to journal in the morning. I don't know what it is about mornings, but I prefer to journal then over any other time of the day. I actually eat a quicky breakfast at work just so I have time to journal at home, that's how addicted I am to this stuff! ;-)

Anyway, here's a few more spreads from my current journal for your viewing pleasure.

I like the fact that I'm adding a lot of my own photographs to these pages. I have to say that my smart phone is really making me take pictures on the go more often, especially when I'm on one of my walks. The fake polaroids from the RetroCamera app make it very easy to put a little caption underneath the photographs.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these pages and I wish each and every one of you a very happy and artsy week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stolen Ideas Project 2 - Extreme journaling

I think it was Juliana Coles who cornered the term 'extreme journaling', at least she's the one who advocates it most as far as I know. But never mind who came up with it first, it became the focus of my second Stolen Ideas Project! And not through Juliana by the way...

As you know I have the resolution to try new things this year and my Stolen Ideas Project is how I intend to do it. By stealing other people's ideas, prompts, nudges and techniques I can venture into a whole new world of art making (or just adapt my own tiny world a little). Now I know I said that I would use my box with the lottery tickets with all my suitable artsy books on them for this, but I figured there's no need to limit my expteriments to that.

What if I saw something interesting on the internet for instance or in a magazine or what if a friend told me about something I might like to try? Well, there's no need to be stingy and leave all those options out, so this Stolen Idea was not taken from a book but from a fellow art journaler. She is known as Artefaque on the web and she prompted this idea on the wonderful yahoo group Blissfully Art Journaling. The idea is to journal quickly and instinctively with a limited amount of supplies. Just go go go. Don't think about it, just do!
You can see some of Artefaque's pages over here, and here, and here. Is that cool or what? I had to try this!

So, on an empty Sunday morning I took out an extra large moleskine cahier (really there's no need to use one of those, I just happened to have one lying around unused and it is a nice size for this kind of thing), some simple supplies and leftovers and worked for three hours straight without stopping, just filling page after page after page. I have never journaled so fast and so wantonly in my life! Here's the result (yup, that's a lot of pictures).

I only filled the front of every page and I filled a total of 23 pages! It was amazing! It's very liberating to just go at it without any reservations, ideas and a minimum of supplies. It really frees your mind to work this way and broadens your horizon.

Still, I don't know if I would always want to work this way. Although I'm not a person who plans a page in advance, I do like to work more deliberately than this. I do like the whole layout of a page to be pleasant to my eyes and I like to work a little more slowly and calmly.  I like the process too much to rush through it.

It was a wonderful experience though and it feels like it might be a very good way to get out of an artistic rut. I wasn't in one at the time, but it still felt like everything shifted in my head while doing it. So, I totally recommend you try this Stolen Idea at home and go extreme in your own little way!

Wishing you all a wonderful and very artsy weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What are you up to Wednesday - part 39 (woyww 142)

How the Wednesday's come and go! Sometimes it feels like nothing has happened in between. Well, my last post happened and I'm happy with the responses. I was a little worried it might be taken the wrong way, but it seems most people do get what I mean. Thanks for the comments, I find your perspectives very interesting.

Now let's get back to the business of artsy stuff shall we? Here's my desk!

The other night I felt like doing some playing in my Studio Book. So I filled two pages. One is a letter drawing dedicated to my father who's birthday was on the 20th of February. He's been dead for over 25 years now. I'm not a person who normally remembers dates like this. By this I mean that I don't really think about dates and stuff and then miss a person more. For intance, as fickle fate would have it, my mother died on my birthday almost 14 years ago, but I never think of my birthday as The Day My Mother Died (insert dark brooding music here), if you know what I mean. But this time for some reason I did think of my father and felt sad. So why not do a little drawing about it? It's very simple, I know, but also very to the point. ;-)

After that it was time for some lighthearted fun and I did the following nonsense. It's not completely finished yet. The white areas still need to be filled with color. I will probably do that tonight or some other time soon. I love drawing shapes and filling them in with color. It's like a coloring book for grown ups!

In the meantime I'm still busy filling the next altered atlas with color, unfortunately I have run out of baby wipes, haha. I have also done a second stolen idea project of which I will probably tell you more on Friday and of course my journal, The In Between Book, keeps me busy every day as well. progress on ROD Square whatsoever, but there's still plenty of time for that.

I hope you're all having a very artsy Wednesday too, and if not, what are you waiting for!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blogging for reimbursement

Last week a very wonderful and talented blogger announced another round of an annual artsy swap. I participated in this swap last year and I loved it. The only difference is that this time she charges a few dollars for participation, because it is so time consuming for her to organize it all.

This really got me thinking about artsy stuff, blogging, money and time and how more and more blogsy people are starting to look for ways to generate either money or recognition or some other form or reimbursement from their blogs or whatever they offer on it. And frankly...I'm getting a little annoyed by it. In fact...I'm apparently so annoyed that a week later I'm still thinking about it and wondering if I should write a post about this or not. As I'm writing this I still don't know if I should, so if you're reading this it means that I decided to share my (not so) little rant just to see what you think about all this.

First of all let me say that there's nothing wrong with wanting money for your time (if you're a professional it's even a given) or recognition for your work (that's just common decency). The costs for the above mentioned swap for instance are very small. Really, what am I upset about? I can afford it, it's worth it,  the hostess deserves it. Of course. But my naggy voice won't leave me alone and says "If as many people were to participate as last year she would make as much from this swap as I make in three weeks at my regular job".

In my experience art swaps are free, they fall in the range of art trading, you just don't ask money for them, unless it's for material things like stamps and envelopes. It's a matter of principle, it's an act of love. I can see that hosting a swap with hundreds of participants takes a lot of time, but asking money for it will not in itself diminish the amount of time it costs. The asking of a fee will however probably help cut down on the amount of participants, but then that wil also cut down the amount of time required which kind of counters the reason for asking money for it in the first place. Wouldn't it be smarter to limit the amount of participants or to go for a different system where the participants do more of the work? I don't know... and it's none of my business of course. It's this person's swap and she can do it any darn way she wants. And no, it's not my intention to diss this person at all (she's a great source of inspiration to me and thousands of others), it's just what got me thinking about this whole subject about money, reimbursement and artsy blogs.

More and more I feel like I'm confronted with the following kind of stuff:
  • A whole group of  bloggers promoting and praising a book (or class, or blog) of one other blogger and all acting as if they're doing it so spontaneously, when you just know it's just a publicity stunt.
  • Bloggers giving away a freebie if you link to their blog.
  • Bloggers giving away a freebie if you become a follower.
  • Bloggers using their blog just to promote their Etsy shop over and over again. That's what sidebars are for, people! (I'm not talking about someone who mentions their Etsy every now and then, I mean people who only post when there's something new on Etsy.)
  • Bloggers mentioning their online class in every post they publish.
  • Bloggers referring to their posts as 'content'.
  • Bloggers reffering to their projects as 'services'.
  • Bloggers reffering to their art as 'products'.
  • Bloggers giving away awards to other bloggers but only if you follow this and that rule and so promote them and at least three other bloggers (I wrote a whole post about awards here).
  • Bloggers doing giveaways if you put their 'button' on your sidebar.
Nothing is free and everything comes at a prize. So much marketing is going on that I'm getting frustrated by it sometimes. Why can't a giveaway just be a giveaway? Why does it have to boost your amount of followers? And why would you want those kinds of followers anyway? People that become followers because you give something away are not the same people that become followers because they love your blog!  

A positive opinion about a book because the author asked the reviewer to promote it is worth nothing really. I want real opinions, both positive and negative!  I want information that's not biased.

Whenever one well known mixed media artist has something going on you can bet that ten of her colleagues will tell us about it on their blog too, which is annoying if only because you want original posts, not the same thing on ten different blogs.  I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine. It's not the promotion in itself, it's the way it's orchestrated, faked.

I like people who promote something simply because they came across it and loved it. I like people who give stuff away for the sheer joy of knowing that it will end up in the hands of someone who adores it. I like people who trade art, because they love to exchange little treasures with like minded spirits. I like people who keep blogs just to share what they do and inspire us, or to get feedback on their work,  and who don't worry about  things like 'building an audience' or how to artificially upgrade the follower count. I like blogs where people post information without asking anything in return, just because they thought you might find it useful.

I guess it comes down to two questions: why do we make art  (or do crafts) and why do we blog about it? As time goes along it feels like I'm moving in the opposite direction of most blogs. More and more this blog becomes and act of love, something for the sheer enjoyment and connection it gives and so does my artsy stuff. Less and less I have the need to be receiving anything for it. Yes, of course I love it that my follower count goes up. Yes of course I'm over the moon with every positive comment I get. Yes, of course I was thrilled when I was published last year. I have an ego too! But I don't want it to be the focus of my art and my blog. While this is happening to me it seems more and more bloggers are trying to choose the more professional route. There's a reason artsy business classes like Kelly Rae's are doing so well. But it influences the simple honest quality of the blogs involved and that worries me a little sometimes.

The blog often no longer is a place of expression and community alone, it becomes an instrument for promotion and marketing or even a source of income. This is understandable but it still makes me sad and even more resolved to just keep things the way they are on my own blog (no awards, no advertisements, no tutorials for a fee, honest book reviews, giveaways without strings attached to them, etc.). No, this will not make me famous and generate thousands of followers, but that's not why I got into it in the first place, so who cares? 
I know I'm not alone in this and I need to believe that there are still many bloggers out there for whom the joy and love of the work itself trumps the marketing or the need to be reimbursed for their efforts.

Now I've written all the above I am decided to post it as is. I run the risk of being misunderstood, but so be it. I am very interested in your responses and opinions even if they are completely opposite to mine.  If you've read thus far I am in awe by your patience and thank you for your attention. ;-)

Hope you're all having a wonderful artsy week! I promise my next post will contain some pictures again!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Patterns in the snow

You may have guessed by now I like taking photographs. I'm by no means a 'photographer'. To me a photographer is somebody who actually knows what they're doing and can tell you something about camera's and shutter time and aperture and all that stuff. I'm more a documentalist than a photographer. By that I mean that I like to record things, be it writing or in images. To me that's what photography is, a way to very quickly record an image, not a search for the perfect settings. And I just happen to be one of those people that sees images everywhere! ;-)

One of the things that fascinate me are patterns. I don't know why this is, but I always end up taking pictures of things like tree bark, wood grain,  fencing, structure, repetitive items etc.  The recent snow gave me the chance to take some pictures of patterns left in the snow or affected by the snow. So here's a little sample of what I'm talking about.

Now the last picture has little to do with patterns, but I just thought it was cool. This is a shadow of me and some trees cast on a frozen pond. Wouldn't this make an fun painting?

As you can tell I'm having a hard time letting go of winter. It was so short lived, wonderful, but short lived. I wish it would return so I could explore it a little more. Oh well...

Winter or no, I wish all of you a wonderful and artsy weekend!