Re-Committing to Writing/Blogging

I haven’t posted since late September, so I am going to post a list of topics and try to get back to regular posting.

-Yoga Practice Book I’m reading and my own thoughts on my Home Yoga Practice

-Mini Double Sided Vision Boards as an Art Therapy activity

-Cut out poems using text threads as an Art Therapy activity

-My Mandala Project in progress and where it is

-My Still Life Revival and Oil Painting

-Paintings and Drawings, Abstraction or “Non-Objective” work and where it is

-Commitment, Focus, Discipline, Persistence with making a body of work, what distractions come up to self redirect

-Burning Bridges and Building Bridges, a DBT skill

-DBT class and what I’m learning so far

-The challenges of focuing on positive energy and reframing “problems” as challenges. The work of turning the mind towards compassion when in the midst of chaos or emotional reaction

-Daily Rituals and Gratitude Practices, Evolution

 

New Series in Progress

In August I started doing line drawings with fountain pens and Micron pens. Like a lot of my work, it started as materials driven; I had ordered a set of various thickness Micron pens and was playing with them during my daily drawing. At some point these images started repeating and I explored further. I started with small square paper.

At first I was limiting to the square format which I really enjoy. When I returned from vacation with a bunch of small squares, I decided to try to pick one and “copy” it to larger square wood panels, hoping to then follow that with larger scale oil paintings using the same image. I’ve been interested in using oil paints again all year and had a few forays into it.

It’s always interesting when you’re into a repeating type of line work what happens. Do I get more limited in repeating certain shapes? Do I cover the whole space? Do I discover new line work to add to the box of tools? All of these things happened. Color also became part of it through use of fountain pens.

There are plans and ideas you have as an artist and then the interesting left turns you take that are unexpected. How did I go from these:

To do hat happened the other day with a totally separate project, my Mandalas?

I had been making these mandala collages that were all chaotic and pieces together based on an old series from over ten years ago. On Wednesday I started adding ripped up tape and ripped up drawings to a blue mandala as shown above. The next day, I had this breakthrough where I had to follow an instinct to cover the whole piece in light blue oil paint. As I always do with mixing color, I didn’t mix it all first to keep the whole thing uniform. I’m not patient enough for that. So the color varies but it had the effect I needed of simplifying the piece that was feeling “too out of control”. I was inspired by discovering a British painter’s simple compositions, William Scott. While reworking the circle I planned to add linework similar to my drawings. As always with going from thin pen to oil paint, there is an adjustment. If you’re not waiting for the paint to dry, your lines will pick up the lighter color. And the lines are thicker. Depending on the brushes and nature of the marks, the quality of line changes and you have a kind of interrupted built up line.

The piece is called, “Find Your Center”, at least for now. I had added stitching work to the edges and inside which I don’t want to completely cover. I’m not sure yet if I want the stitching completely around the edges and how to make stitch marks as part of the line work, but it’s exciting to jump into this totally new territory that changes the nature of the pieces.

A client saw the drawings up in my office and said they were soothing. I’m hoping the circles will take on a soothing sort of simple quality, which is definitely a big turn from how they started. It makes sense that under this still blue circle, there is chaos and upheaval, symbolic of the meditation process for me where one starts with a “loud” mind and ends up with at least a slightly quieter one.

For sure I am feeling more inspired and excited about this work than I have been about anything for quite a long time…

Projects

I tried wirting a post about my unfinished projects yesterday for 15 minutes but it got too complicated. I’ll try the more organized approach. THis is a list of projects I’ve started in no particular order.

  • Graphic Novel, I(3) (meant to read as “I Cubed”), memoir. Started in 2000. Stopped finally in 2017.
  • Children’s Book: The Flying Poodle, done in late 90’s, abandoned and lost
  • Art Therapist Made Activity Book for People with Airplane Flying Anxiety/Phobias, including: “Facts About Flying”, Word Searches, Coloring pages, Doodle and writing prompts, maybe crossword puzzles. Could be made like a journal format. Got to the idea point.
  • Memoir in form of Picture Book for adults, inspired by “Depression, A Picture Book” and another one. Got to point of using Word Search cutouts to make limbs on characters, did 2 pages, recent idea
  • Books: Using Altered Books in Art Therapy. Plan to edit the book. Got to the point of inviting some other art therapists to author chapters and emailed with Jessica Kingsley Publishers. They reached out to me last August about possibly writing some kind of book.
  • Poetry and art therapy with/as case study: book with a client’s poems written in session and between sessions and my response poetry. Tried to start with categories of poems and with client going through her poems and picking out ones she likes.
  • Possibility of trying to incorporate pages from abandoned graphic novel into some sort of other book with multiple media
  • The Art Box, a book also personal narrative, about my creative process and using pieces about work as an art therapist, artist and personal life to do with creativity. Memoir of Creativity
  • Some kind of compilation of my comic strips from my art therapy Instagram account, comic strip, “The Daily Grind
  • Website for my art, with newest work and prices to sell directly from website
  • Spreesy an app to use to sell art from social media, getting organized and trying to sell through it.
  • making this current website more organized, going through the “Pages” to make it more coherent and look better

It’s interesting that I almost “forgot” about “The Art Box” project, as it is supposed to be something I’m working on now. That was the idea in spring of 2018, to use some time weekly to work on it.

These projects are all in category of “Other”. The main projects are my art projects that I need to finish to sell the work on the website mentioned above. Current art projects:

  • Mandala collage paintings
  • Cityscapes
  • Abstract square drawings, made bigger on wood boards

 

15 Minutes: 2019 Sketchbook Project

Just as I finished my 2019 Sketchbook and have a Tiny Sketchbook to work on, thinking both were due on Feb. 15, they extended the deadline for 2019 Sketchbook but not the Tiny one.

I am currently working on the Tiny Sketchbook. This is the first time the Digital Arts Library has sent out Tiny Sketchbooks. I love making tiny work; I wanted to find a theme that was visually simple and consistent, and finally figured it out, so I’m almost done. Of course this post is abot the regular size Sketchbook 2019 and finishing it.

I’ve been doing these Sketchbook Projects for years. It’s always a black hole of ADHD. Several years ago I had two sketchbooks to fill and ended up filling one and then completely destroying it.

The 2019 Sketchbook was an arduous process and time consumer. My problem usually is that I love sketchbooks, so I spend too much time on it in relation to my “real” art, and it makes no rational sense but it’s a compulsion.

This time round, I think I already wrote about how I filled the entire sketchbook, about 30 pages if you fill both sides. I had already covered several layers of ideas. Finally I looked at it one day and thought, the whole point of this sketchbook was to use it for drawing and keep it simple. It was at the point where I couldn’t really draw a fresh drawing, so I pulled out all the pages and put in my own pages from a drawing pad that has very thick paper. The Pentalic Nature Sketch 7 x 5 inch 130 lb paper. I highly recommend it as a great surface for drawing. I was able to draw on both sides of the paper without it being see through.

So I started almost from scratch besides the cover, back cover, and inside cover. This sketchbook was finally useful in a bigger way to connect to my current work and drawings outside the sketchbook. I used to have a process where I would carry my journal sketchbook everywhere and draw or make collage in it and then eventually force myself to get the work to be made outside the journal on bigger different surfaces. It was a way to find my “series” and then have a launching pad! This year the Sketchbook did launch me into my latest series of work, entitled, “My Cabinet of Unnatural Curiosities.”

Last year I liked my sketchbook while making it but didn’t love it after it got digitized. This year, I already scanned the sketchbook so I know how it will look digitized and I really like it and feel good about it. I also like how the process, as painful as it was time consuming, spat me out at the other end of the creativity tunnel into  my current bigger work.

I am posting some of the images of the sketchbook.  Once it’s digitized, I will post a link to the sketchbook.

Links to see my 2014-2018 Sketkchbook:

This is the one from 2018: Sketchbook Project 2018

Everything Old is New Again…

15 Minutes: Everything Old is New Again

I’m doing very different drawings from when I started “Drawriting” with 15 minutes of drawing and 15 minutes of writing on the back of the drawing. These pieces below do not have writing on the back; I’m not sure if I will write on the back or not. perhaps this post is the writing part for now.

A client of mine once explored a concept she said was summed up as : “Everything old is new again.” Her words. I’ve been thinking about that idea, as I reflect on 2018, and now, in terms of my personal art making as a visual artist, about 30 years into making drawings and paintings, collage, etc. Even last May as I started a daily drawing practice, I noticed I was reprising my 2006 – ? work and had revisited that stuff in my sketchbook last year, coming from the “Inner Landscapes” series. I have the old sketchbook journal where the images emerged that later became buildings and Inner Landscapes, which I have now embraced as “Cityscapes.” Before, when I did these, I thought of them as buildings, but as expressing some kind of inside landscape of the psyche. Recently I’ve returned to seeing that it is my relationship with New York City and how the city is part of who I am…

More recently in the past few weeks, I have been revisiting my drawings of faces and leaves. It started with my redoing my Sketchbook Project, in December 2018, drawing faces and leaves. These faces started many years ago; I can’t even remember when. Then I reused them in my Scribble Drawings Collage series in 2007 and 2008.

A while back I drew two bees in my sketchbook project. For some reason I’ve been drawn to drawing bees, no pun intended. Yesterday, I started drawing hexagon hive shapes, due to thinking about bees and because it’s a great kind of drawing connector. I’ve got faces, bees, and mushrooms, so now I have the hive shapes in and out. I haven’t gotten far with it as you can see in the pictures of these works in progress.

Drawing on smaller paper is very rewarding because I can really do a drawing in one sitting and feel like it’s done. It’s hard to be patient with doing drawing/painting on wood and canvas because it takes a lot more time and the discipline to revisit the work and continue it.

I took some of the wood drawings I did in November, which were moving towards being city scapes, and tried to sort of add in the new imagery with limited success, still using fountain pens to draw with.

For some reason it is harder to add in this imagery. I will paint over the wood with white paint and start drawing on top, like the painting in the photo below. That painting has endured a lot, like an archeological site. I don’t know what the first concept was, but there was collage I pulled off years ago, and then drawings of buildings and white again. That was March 2018. Then I went into it more. Anyway, today I turned it “upside down” so I woulnd’t see buildings in the marks underneath the white paint.

The above wood drawing with oil paint is the only one I saved. The rest I painted on top of.

Day Before Workshop!

All blog posts related to this workshop will have the category that you can search, “Altered Books Gender Identity Workshop”.

I am excited for tomorrow’s Altered Books and Gender Identity/Gender Diversity Workshop that I am fascilitating at the Expressive Arts Therapies Summit Conference from 2-5pm.

I will be posting materials for the workshop, used in the workshop, and for workshop participants and others to have that have not been fully covered or to continue any topics about altered books as art therapy and gender identity and diversity.

I am going to be “showing” more than telling, in terms of directives that are useful with clients using altered books and directives about gender identity and both.

 

 

The main focus of the workshop can be summed up as:

Let’s play with gender, and let’s acknowledge and celebrate the gender spectrum. Your altered book in progress is your personal gender story unfolding.

I will try to post photos and images to these posts when I have time and hope to post photos from the workshop itself, which I will be writing up to submit to the new Trans Bodies Trans Selves book…

Online Art Exhibitions: The Sketchbook Project

I am currently involved with a two online art exhibitions. This post is about The Sketchbook Project.

As I have been working on my 2019 Sketchbook Project, “Pictures and Words: Buildings and Birds”, intensely in the last few days and weeks, and during summer break, I have become more intentional about utilizing the “Community Space” aspect of the Sketchbook Project, to get more involved and be part of this “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space” that continues to expand. You can find what I call “side projects” and events on their website as well as past sketchbooks and an easy way to sign up and partipate. They sell materials as well, something for another blog post. The latest project I signed on for is the “Tiny Sketchbook Project.” I haven’t received my sketchbook yet, but they look like they are a few inches in size! I also love tiny very small and small works… TIny Sketchbook Project Link

This is their website: The Sketchbook Project Website

It’s defined as a “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space.” You do have to pay to get a sketchbook and pay extra to be included in the digital art library and exhibitions. I am grateful that one of my clients told me about it in 2013, as it is very fun and unique; also, I’m obsessed with sketchbooks and of course, altering books. The one thing all my sketchbooks have in common is the amount of working and overworking involved. It’s never a simple process for me no matter what…

(It’s a perfect project for my ADHD: While avoiding something too stressful, I hyperfocus on the sketchbook, and have added hyperfocusing on promoting and participating more. I will be part of their “Infinite Drawing” series, and have done a canvas for “The Canvas Project.”)

Here is the link to my latest Sketchbook, (2018), “Inner Landscapes”, from The Sketchbook Project:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/19305

I highly recommend participating in the Sketchbook Project! It’s a very democratic inclusive approach to art and exhibiting art. Anybody can participate. Here are the links to other years I’ve made sketchbooks; each year is completely different from the last year.

This one from 2017, entitled “Many Minds” is my favorite of the five completed sketchbooks:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/18294

 

This one is my 2016 Sketchbook, “When Objects Talk”. I mixed together two drawings series, one that involves comic strip art:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/17880

Here is my 2015 Sketchbook, “Marks on the Edge”, involving mixed media including yarn, fabric, sewing, colored tapes.

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/17107

Here is my first Sketchbook, from 2014, “Mosaica for Khakasa”,worked on mostly in the fall of 2013. It’s the most complicated in terms of the process and times spent on it, as well as having things I do in altered books, like extra pages, changing the size of the page, and making windows. I also incorporated Chinese Funeral Paper and dried flower petals.

The Sketchbook Project is on all social media and easy to find. It’s home in Brooklyn is the Digital Art Library. The sketchbooks travel all over the United States and in Canada. I’m predicting they will branch out to other countries soon.

 

Picture and Words Project: Limbo

This post should have two photos, a drawing I’m working on, and what I wrote on the back of the paper.

I started this particular drawing at the beginning of August. One of the key ideas about drawing that I wrote about and is important to me is the not knowing how the drawing will end up or look, and trusting the process and the mystery and enjoying it. That is one thing that connects this drawing process to the Altered Books I’ve been writing a lot about. You don’t know what will happen next, or if you will cover what you’re doing now or how things will end up. The book just unfolds as you make it, like with drawing…

Here’s what I wrote while continuing the drawing two months later:

” I started this drawing in August. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up a drawing from a while ago. I can’t get back in it, or I don’t know if it’s perhaps finsihed. This drawing is very unfinished and I felt like going back into it. Sometimes when I use a lot of colors and all different pens, I get frustrated with there being too much color. Then I cover it with a dark color to get it to feel less chaotic. For some reason, this drawing didn’t give me the urge to cover it. I got the urge to fill it up and started on the left side but jumped to the far right side. I haven’t used this paper in a while. It’s think. Also it’s not smooth so you sometimes have to press into it. This drawing still feels like it’s about freedom. Anything can happen next time I work on it. Do I fill up all the white space of leave some of it alone? Is it another cityscape? Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. It’s a weird limbo. Maybe the title is Limbo. Then I look at it again and feel impatient. I want to finish it quickly. Then when I pick up a pen, I just draw and don’t care about it taking hours more. Would it look different if I spent 3 full hours on it instead of 15-20 minutes at a time? Not knowing is a big part of drawing for me. It’s none of my business how this will look. All I know is the now of drawing it.”

Altered Books Process: The Invitation

I had a very long document about the stages of making altered books with clients, so I decided to make it into shorter parts and post each part separately on this blog.

This is about the stages of the evolution of the making of the altered books, and the activities and art therapy “directives” I recommend using. The first part is of course the beginning, which is the introduction to the project. I’m changing the document by including some examples from my experience. The beginning part is perhaps the most important part of the process, as many clients stop/abandon their chosen book at some time during this process.

The first part I call “The Invitation”. I’ve found it works best when the invitation comes from one of my altered books out in my studio; the client sees an altered book and asks about it, so I bring one or two out to show them what it involves and then invite them to do one if they seem interesteed. Often I get excited when they are interested and have to be careful to watch my enthusiasm level. at times I’ve brought the project up as an option, when a client is looking for a new project and seems to want something unusual and unfamiliar.

In some cases people will want to bring in one of their own books that they have a personal connection to. Pertinant Issues to Process include the client’s relationships with books, reading books, and with writing, and what it is like to contemplate using a book to make art with. Usually, given that most people are unfamiliar with altered books and are uncomfortable with treating a book this way, they will find it easier to choose a book you have in your office.

If the client chooses to try the project, I bring out a bunch of different kinds of books to choose from and explain how it can be easier to pick one of these than to bring one from home. It is best to have a variety of choices of books that you supply, so the person does not feel like they have to “ruin” a book of their own and feel that the therapist will hold the “bad” part by giving permission to “destroy” a published book. Most of the time, the client chooses one of my books and we dive into the process.

At this point I have to decide whether I am going to do an altered book with the client, in “parallel process”,  or sit with the client and witness their process without doing one myself. It’s not much different from other times when I decide to do artwork in the session. Sometimes I will ask the client directly, “Will it help you if I do one while you’re doing yours?” In some cases I do start one and then can be aware of times in a session when I stop working on mine and just have it in front of me, as the choice is still there to not actively do mine alongside the client. It’s an important moment to be aware of when a client who naturally talks and makes any kibooksnd of art in the session chooses to stop what they’re doing and start verbal processing, and when they turn back to the art work. My clients tend to talk during the art making process, and thus, we have two dialogues going on, the verbal and the non-verbal. With altered books this is the same.

On several occasions I have had a client follow through on bringing in their own book to use, which has been memorable, as most do not. One graduate student of a psychology related program brought in a copy of the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and had the obvious goal of getting out their frustration with all different aspects of the program and being a grad student. I was able to find on hand a copy of a Melanie Klein for Dummies book and decided to alter it while my client altered the DSM 5.

At this point, we have the book or books and are ready for the next stage.

Altered Book Project Update

I was going to try to keep up on a daily basis with this new Altered Book, but everything got away with me. The Altered Book has a life of its own. These are photos from Sept. 7 until yesterday; I have photos from today for another post. As the book is on a page full of wet stuff, I can’t take photos of other pages I’ve changed, so I will comment on these photos below spanning about 22 days!

These photos represent the phase after beginning described in the last post. You’re getting deeper into the book and discovering more, but still adding first layers you will probably return to; thus, there is no pressure about having a finished page…

I also think of this as the chaotic jumping off creative period I would associate to the Fool Card in the Tarot; anything goes, and weird unplanned stuff happens; I felt like I was starting all over, as if this book was my first altered book project…

This is a page I had fun using more paint and glitter glue after the two below. The theme is introduced for this phase of  covering pages in the book and putting something on them to start the process of making the book mine.

I use binder clips often to hold together pages. The page on the right is the table of contents. I thought I was going to leave some of the text but most of it is already covered up. I used white out and pen and then a lot of clear glue on top with the black glitter glue. On the left you can see some white marks from trying to cover text with oil pastel.

The next pages are the forward that I covered with white oil pastel and crayon.

Here, above, and in the photo below, you can see how I’m trying to cover several sets of pages with white and black acrylic and use binder clips to keep them from curling up and getting stuck to each other. The most annoying part of the process is having to wait for wet media to dry so I can work on top of it!

Below is some commentary and an attempt to write about my own secret regarding wanting to write and finish my own book, called “The Art Box”. It seemed fitting to write about it in this book, but it may end up getting covered up with something… I considered not posting this page right away, as I felt some kind of weird embarrassment about it.

Using Personal Things from your life, or pieces of them: I recently sold a drawing to a friend in Berlin through her seeing my latest work on Facebook; I got her check from Germany and liked the paper she wrote on, so I put it in the book. This is the point when I started collecting personal items or finding notes and things that I kept around wondering what to do with them, and finally had a proper place for…

I have told clients countless times to bring in personal photos to add to their altered books and to other art work. I have done this before, but not much, and not this way. I found a photo I took recently of street art and printed it out. The colors are vibrant and it might even look like it was painted onto the page. It also ended up being part of a new exploration of faces that came up out of the blue recently… Synchronicity.

The above photo is upside down. I cut up pieces from a restaurant experience. The server gave us paper and crayons. The drawings are my 11 year old’s doodles.

 

This is an example of a page that was ripped off so you can see the next page underneath. More drawings from the restaurant and the drawing under the second page where you can still see the chapter title (How to Use the Secret) are glued and taped on. That drawing is one of mine I found that I never finished… Same with the photo of the page below.