New Post: Feature, Altered Books

Today is my first day back from vacation. I kept up a lot of daily habits while on break, but did not keep up my writing daily at least 15 minutes habit, so I’m starting up again.

The last assignment in the WordPress Blogging Fundamentals class was about having a Feature topic.

 

  • First, think of the type of regular feature you can commit to — something you’ll publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • Next, start your new post by clicking the button below. This can be the first installment, or an announcement of what’s coming.
  • Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

 

My Feature for this assigment is going to be Altered Books, no surprise, which I hope to post at least weekly about in order to have it be helfpful for preparing for my looming upcoming workshop on Altered Books and Gender Identity.

Last time my Feature was Gender Identity, which should continue to be a Feature and at some point  the two, Altered Books and Gender Identity, will of course come together in some way.

Anyway, I haven’t really approached altered books in terms of writing about what makes me interested in them and topics connected to that. Things have to have a starting point.

Some ideas for separate topics for this Altered Books Feature include:

How did I get interested in Altered Books as an art form.

What was my first altered book that I made.

What led to my using altered books in sessions with clients and supervisees and even for peer supervision.

Some nuts and bolts about altered books, how to make them, the important stages of making them, the materials used.

How altered books involve a great way to use almost anything as an material from paper clips to coffee filters to coins as some odd examples.

What it means to finish an altered book vs. abandon one in some stage of the process, especially with clients in art therapy.

More specifics about the workshop and using altered books to explore gender identity.

I had started writing about the first topic, but I think introducing the Feature is best for this post and I will focus on beginnings in my next Feature post.

 

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Learning the Fundamentals, Day 3: Visit the Neighbors

I’m going back to Day 3 to fully complete the assignment for the WordPress Blogging Class, Learning the Fundamentals. As I edit this post, I can sthat this Fundamentals Day 3 did not disappoint in terms of learning and discovery and going deeper into blogging through going back to Fundamentals. And discovering other random surprises.

Assignment: “Visit the Neighbors”, and find five blogs to follow. I follow 540 blogs and can sort them in different ways. Given that I’m trying to redo this blog, I was hoping to start over with following blogs, but I can’t really do that. I can go through the blogs I follow and reacquaint myself with them, but 540 blogs is too much to try to go through and check out.

I’m following the tips in the assignment and trying out specific tags in the Reader as a way to get to see unfamiliar blogs. I am starting with the tag, “Altered Books”, since that is my focus for now in order to get ready for my workshop and not suck the fun out of it stressing out about it in October.

The first one I visit is https://catseatdogs.com, by Clare. It’s a great title. The tagline is: Fabulous. Friendly. Homemade. Then I found all their social media and follow/liked it; this is a way to be more aware of when they post on her blog, and a way to get to know them more and what it’s about, which seems to be making art and journaling. There is also reference to the “Get Messy” community, intriguing and could lead me down a whole other distracting path. This blogger is using altered books in a specific way, as “found books” to transform into art journals; the post I looked at involved choosing what book/format to alter.

Second blog I’ve chosen: https://ravendustblog.wordpress.com The blog has 10 followers but has posts since 2014, and the fact that the About Page has nothing on it and the widgets and social media links are not filled, tells me this person, Dusty Corvid, is very specifically using the blog as a kind of “Log”, for classes in Foundation Textiles, “OCA”, Open College of the Arts, which sounds like a cool place for learning all kinds of arts.So it’s not a blog intended to have a large audience…the posts on altered books involve the blogger making an altered book as a work of art and not a journal, which is refreshing. Also the technique of putting a white wash over pages of writing is an interesting way to “undo” the original book in preparation for painting.The blogger had reservations about drawing in a book, another really great topic to discuss when talking about altered books. In addition, it turns out this blogger is a fan of Cy Twombly whose work I love. I had no idea Twombly was a cryptographer. Then I stumbled on a post where the blogger went to an exhibit of drawings of Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book ever, so I am excited to explore more posts.

Third blog is: https://orangemarmeladepress.wordpress.com This artist makes all kinds of books which you can see on their blog/website, but the post I really got excited about was the one where the blogger was helping clean up after an altered books class at a local library (I had no idea libraries offer altered book classes!), and finds a book in the trash that got started and was abandoned.

That is a whole other post I will have to use this link for. Lately I have been thinking about the altered book as a project that is just as interesting when it gets neglected, destroyed, abandoned or put in what I call The Art Box, a kind of limbo for art therapy projects.

I next made a new tag in my reader, “Art Materials”, and visited a blog post about getting rid of old art materials and deciding to keep some. This is the blog, entitled “Exploring the Magic that is the Right Brain: Writings, reflections, and a log on art practiceand specific post: https://encodey.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/judgment-befalls-the-art-supplies/ What do you do with art materials you “never” use or have developed resistance to? I love reading what other artists say about their materials and how they use them, and am writing more about it anyway.

Number 5, in the tag, “Gender Identity”, I struck gold again, and found a blog called janitorqueer about a person who is a janitor and genderqueer. I have always been interested in the job of a janitor as I am interested in a lot of unusual jobs people don’t think about or talk about to kids as something to do when they grow up.

 

And that makes five. This assignment was a treasure trove rabbit hall to go down. I think limiting it to five blogs is important, so you can really get to know five blogs and bloggers more than surface level…

 

Fundamentals, Day 4: Identify Your Audience

Since I started this Fundamentals class, I have noticed that when I see an assignment, my first thought is, “I’ve already done this. This probably won’t be helpful. I wonder what the next assignment is?” Part of that is my ADHD, which is after all a “learning disability”, so it’s kind of my approach to learning anything. Either or both of these all or nothing attitudes, “I can’t do this. I don’t know anything and I won’t be able to.” and “I know all this already. I don’t need to learn this.” This happened with the first assignment, and I was wrong, and in writing the post, I figured out a lot of new things that I want to do that I had no idea about when I started the assignment. With the assignment about the Title and Tag Line, I was even more surprised by the end of it. I had no intention of changing the title or tag line, nor did I have any clue that I would end up with the “Impossible Things Before Breakfast”.

By now, I am trusting that the whole reason to take “Fundamentals” and start from square 1, or, as the Tarot card says, Ground Zero – the Fool Card, which is number 0 – is that whole thing in Zen philosophy about Beginners. It’s the idea of starting at the beginning again and kind of making not a circle but a spiral. So today’s assignment is about my audience. I thought I already knew everything about it, so I will answer the questions with an open mind, assuming I don’t know what I think I know and do know that there is a lot I don’t know!

  1. First, brainstorm the kind of person you hope will read your blog. What do you want to say to them?

This is challenging, as I know some of the people who read this blog, but I haven’t looked at who is following it in a long time, so I actually don’t know for sure. OK. Looking at site statistics is too confusing for me, but I looked at who has been following me lately, and it seems like a bunch of other bloggers who are following me are involved in film, including the LGBT Film Festival in Toronto. Then writers and blogs about writers, art therapy and healer blogs and comic strip/animation people. What surpises me are the film blogs. If I were to brainstorm who would look at my blog, film makers wouldn’t not have come to mind. Maybe it’s that I love writing about films? It’s also very weird for me, as I was interested in film making when I started college and wanted to study it.

So I guess the kind of people I want to see and read my blog already are doing it. Maybe some visual artists as well as film makers, writers, art therapists and other healers would be great. Some people who are very obsessed with the nature of drawing more than any other medium in visual art. Other comic strip people too. And then of course people with ADHD and other mental challenges. What do I want to say to these people. I guess, Thank you for finding me, and thank you for following my blog. I’m honored and I will go on the page of followers and make sure to follow you back. Thank you to people who don’t blog themselves and are reading this! I also want you in my audience.

One thing I could improve a lot is to be more attentive to who is looking at this blog and notice when there are new followers. That was the third assignment about the Reader and following blogs. I noticed that I follow over 500 blogs, and it seemed so overwhelming I wanted to find out how to erase the Reader contents and start over with following blogs but coulnd’t figure that out. Now I think the way to go is to look at my recent followers and older followers and look at their blogs and make sure I’m following blogs I’m into that follow me. It’s hard to use the Reader to keep up with blog posts, so I also should be more aware of subscribing to blogs where they will email me new posts, so I actually easily have the link to keep up with their blog.

So now that I’ve written about my audience, here is the rest of the assignment, which would involve a whole new post. The other thing I’m curious about is whether posting on my “new” blog much more often, especially during this class, will result in a lot more traffic to my blog, or whether other things are more effective. While looking at the stats, I saw that in March there was a big spike in views because I posted about the controversial Karen Pence Art Therapy issue and posted about it on some Facebook groups and on Facebook. It may be that when I either take on a big issue and advertise about it, or when I advertise in several places about a post, more people will check out the blog. It’s still a mystery as to who reads and checks out most of my posts regularly, although some of you I see in my emails have been regularly looking at my posts, and I thank you.

  1. Next, start your new post by clicking on the button below. Remember to include a media element (an image, a video embed, etc.) you haven’t experimented with yet.
  2. Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Writing with a specific person in mind is a great way to focus your thoughts and goals. Exploring new media elements adds more tools to your storyteller’s toolbox and helps engage your readers.

I am not sure what kind of media element I have not yet experimented with, as I have already posted many of my drawings and also embeded videos, but I will try to come up with something new.

Another whole topic is Categories and Tags and the discipline it takes to always put in the Categories and Tags on every post. I once tried to go back and on every post that had “Uncategorized”, edit it and put in the categories and tags, but there were too many posts that I had been lazy on, so my other big thing with these new posts is making myself do the Categories and Tags right away!

Day Two: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline

Assignment 2: Write a post explaining the origin of your new title and tagline!

Right now the title of this blog is “Musings of a Creative Spirit” and the tagline is “Balancing the Artist and Art Therapist Self”.

I started the blog so long ago that I do not remember the initial title and tagline, which were not the above ones. I’m trying this basics blogging class to revisit my blog and give it a whole new look and maybe refocus it. “Musings” was a great word for the blog to give me license to think/write about all kinds of things and not have to have resolutions, to put forward questions, touch on topics, and go in all directions related to my tagline in any way and not always about the dual identities and balancing them.

Looking back at my last post, I see and am reminded that I want this blog to be an art protfolio, a place to work on my book, The Art Box, and my new drawings series and reflect on my creative process. Since the book is inspired by my work with clients, the blog will still be about my experiences as an art therapist. In addition, I want to keep up regular posts on topics that are important to me, especially gender identity, art therapy theory and practice and the art making process as well as culture.

So maybe the title, “Musings of a Creative Spirit” is now no longer serving me for this new identity of the blog. I’m thinking about words that might go with the new blog. Here are some ideas and phrases:

pictures and words,

process,

behind the art work,

balancing lines and images and words,

being an artist, art therapist, writer,

not balancing any more but commingling,

the idea that these identities are not totally separate, especially artist/writer.

That leads me to this possibility for title and tag line.

Pictures and Words: The Intersection of Artist and Writer

I then looked at some samples of great Titles and Tag lines, and they are all much more creative and humorous, playing with words, not directly telling you what the blog is, using metaphor, even quotes and weird words, so I really need to be more creative for a blog about creativity and showcasing my creativity. I think because my writings with the drawings are not humorous, I don’t go right away to funny and quirky. Here are some attempts:

Factory, Combine, Visual, Verbal

“Stop Making Sense”

Impossible Things, from Alice in the Looking Glass

Title: Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Drawritings

That last one feels better. Maybe I can include the Art Box somehow…

Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Drawritings in the Art Box

Look what I just found by looking up the word “Drawrite” that I just “invented”:

Je dessine mon écriture et j’écris mes dessins.

[I draw my writing and I write my drawings.]

Hugo Pratt. Quoted in Harry Morgan’s Principes des littératures dessinées (Edition de l’An 2, 2003).

Blogging 101 Day 1: Introduce Yourself/Your Blog

A few weeks ago, I considered closing this blog and starting a new one; however I did nothing, knowing to wait and see about big decisions such as that. I ended up coming to the conclusion that I can remake this blog and push the reset button. One thing I was planning was changing the look of the blog, for various reasons. So I thought I would start with the basics, using this great WordPress class about blogging for beginners, (Blogging 101: Blogging U , even though I am not a total beginner. The two week course is called “Learning the Fundamentals”.

Here are some good questions raised in Day 1’s Assignment.

The big question to start with:

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

To share my pictures and words with others and to be part of the blogging community.

  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?

I’ve covered a panoply of topics in the past since starting this blog. I can’t remember all of them, but I remember some. They included gender identity, mourning the dead from cultures arount the world, aspects of being an artist, aspects of being an art therapist. If you look at the bottom of the page on this post there will be a list of categories most used on all of my blog posts.

So what would be different now than before:

I have a new found awareness of setting intentions and goals that all are connected in terms of improving the blog and my organization skills.

I think I need to come up with a sort of schedule, like Tuesdays is about Art Therapy, Wedneday is another topic, and then even if I don’t post on those days, I can use them as starting points. So the goal would be to post more frequently and be more aware of what I am posting over time. In terms of topics and uses of the blog, see below.

The other main thing involves my newish art project, “Pictures and Words”, and the fact that I no longer have an artist website. I’ve thought of setting up one, but I decided I will first attempt to make the blog partly an artist portfolio website, where people could see work I’m making and buy work. I don’t know yet how to do that or if it’s possible but that is one of the bigger goals.

Writing for a more specific reason than before. This blog could be where I post drafts of chapters of my book, “The Art Box”.

  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Other bloggers of all kinds, also artists, art therapists, people with brain health challenges and diagnoses and their families/friends, anybody interested in the brain health field, art lovers and many others I don’t know yet.

  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
  • I would like to have an artists website as part of the blog if possible. I would like to have experienced more clarity on my “Pictures and Words” series as it intersects with The Art Box book.
  • I would like to have a clearer vision of the book in progress, The Art Box.
  • I would like the blog to look better and be more consistent and organized.

Gender Feature Story 1: The Shoes Review

In writing my other Gender post, I was reminded of the day I was on the Payless Shoes Website and saw a very cool review because it was a self described “gentleman” wearing “ladies shoes.” I then went back to the website just now and hunted down the review to quote it here. I posted it on something when I first saw it a year ago. It bears reposting just because it’s so great how gender and gender identity are not some side topic but are part of everywhere. I proposed my Gender Identity Altered Books Workshop and the person in charge said it may be too specific a population to do a workshop on, so I explained that it is extremely relevant to every clinician and ubiquitous and in fact everyone needs to be trained in gender identity sensitivity.

Anyway here is the review in all its glory. Thank you to this person who bravely put himself out there! And FYI, while they should be “unisex”, they are Mary Janes and look like non fancy practical shoes but have that element that makes you think of little kids (female) shoes.

“I just received my “Geanette” Mary Jane shoes today and have been wearing them most of the day. I could not be more pleased with them. My new “Mary Janes” are very comfortable and nice looking. I am a gentleman who enjoys wearing women`s shoes exclusively and find these to be very suitable for around the house or street wear. This shoe would be excellent for women as well as men, as it is a true “unisex” shoe. I am a red-blooded male and have already received a few compliments on this attractive looking shoe. I heartily recommend these well made nice looking shoes for anyone. I think I`ll order another pair just in case they are discontinued.”

Here are the shoes if you’re curious or want a pair, whatever your gender!

https://www.payless.com/womens-comfort-plus-geanette-mary-jane-shoe/77840.html?dwvar_77840_color=black#q=mary%20jane&prefn1=gender&prefv1=Women&start=3

 

New Blog Feature: Gender, starting with Gender Activism Presentation

I’m taking the Blogging Fundamentals Class very slowly and not in lesson order (knowing ones learning style is helpful!)

Assignment: Make a feature for your blog to post more regularly on a particular topic!

Challenge Accepted! My Feature will be posts on Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Activism and Related Issues. I hope to try to post weekly and make it on Thursdays but I’ll aim for two posts per month. I may post more than weekly. For example, this post is a many part post as there are many subtopics to it.

Today I’m did a presentation at nearby school PS 234 to a 5th grade class about my activism as an artist and art therapist, especially around gender identity and trans/alternate gender rights. Also to tell them about mental health stigma and activism, being part of the Open Path Collective and LighthouseLGBT affirming website of therapists. Activism in different fronts and through different means, ie. individual personal, making art, then on community level, sharing it on social media platforms for activism, such as this blog, and especially Instagram. I brought in foam door hangers as an art activity for the kids to do at the end. It was a big hit, so I was very excited when I left. I got the kids thinking about guerrilla art and talking about the bathrooms in their schools. One kid said she was only going to use the gender neutral bathroom on the floor below their classroom…

Here are some photos from my solo art show, #BathroomArtOnly, October 2016. I’m going to start the presentation talking about an old art project from the 90s about gender and this more recent one.

Day 2 of Writing Class: List

These are the choices:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I’ve Learned
  • Things I Wish
  • Things You’re Good At

I wrote a whole draft of a list of Things I’ve Learned, but I decided to do something different with the same topic.

Things I’ve Learned about My “Writer” Identity:

  1. I’ve been hiding in the writer “closet” for years, at least 30 years.
  2. I was struggling with this beast back in 1985 in my writer’s journal for an English Creative Writing class in high school.
  3. It’s always been, “What do I write about?”, “What do I have to say that people will want to read?”, having this urge to write but not having anything to write or write about, least of all fiction.
  4. I try in every way possible to destroy my thinking of myself as a writer or at least place obstacles in my pat. I left the 1985 writers journal on a subway two weeks ago. I was terribly upset and angry at myself. I had lost a big clue to who I was, not as a teenager, but as a budding writer back in 1985. When I first discovered that journal in the spring, I felt like I had been given a time capsule to this person that had been me, at least, what she wrote and how she thought about writing. I found it at this point where I had started writing a lot more again, so it seemed so just right that it fell into my lap.
  5. Did I lose that journal to tell myself that I can’t write or to make things hard for me, did I lose that writer in me, or that key into my mind as a 17 year old, or, did I lose that journal because I don’t need it and have already incorporated that writer inside me and need to focus on what I am writing now or my writing process? the Maybe both are true. The reason I was carelessly carrying around this old green covered Meade notebook was that I brought it to my therapy session that morning to show my therapist. This is a new therapist I am working with after several years hiatus from therapy. One main focus of my therapy is my struggle to be ok with being a writer and with my writing. It seemed even more of a message from the universe that the last event with that journal was for that very purpose. I texted my therapist about it right after I lost it. I seemed to need for him to know that he was the last person to see it and hear it.
  6. The more I write, the more I delete my writing and sometimes edit it but no longer just look at a first draft as finished. I used to write posts for this blog and fling them out there. Now even for the blog, I write many drafts I never post.
  7. I started writing something new in the spring that was a new kind of writing and a new sort of genre I tried out, some kind of  personal narrative. I did not know until then how much my work as an art therapist from the past especially was going into my writing. The other thing I discovered was writing and my daughter, writing about being her mother and writing with her. I already considered her a good writer back when she got excited by writing in second grade.
  8. The whole writing issue, beast or monster is intricately connected with my  GraphicNovel, started in 2000, which is a sort of memoir of the mind. This graphic novel has been torturing me for the past 16 years, most of which have been “writers block” years. It was started with the goal of publishing it; that goal has always been there despite my success in squashing it.
  9. My writing and my art have been coexisting with my Graphic Novel illness. I only realized it with writing recently when I saw that the more I write the more likely I am to get back to the graphic novel, and that whatever I’m writing somehow seems to be an act of avoiding working on the graphic novel, but sometimes seems to get me back to it. The art coexisting has been going on since the beginning. This last project involving cartoons, Bathroom Art Only, is the first series of work where my art directly connected to the graphic novel and sort of spilled into it and the art work threw me back into it after a long block. Then the door closed a few months until my writing flung me back at it. At other times, my art has seemed to focus on being as different and far away from the graphic novel as possible, as if it is trying to keep me away from it.
  10. The graphic novel has become a strange realization of my personal “Pictures and Words” struggle. More on that another time. End of list!

 

Everyday Inspiration Day 1

This is a topic, “I write because”, where I am excited to say that today, I wrote because my 9 year old daughter was writing; I have a love hate relationship with writing, but when we write at the same time, I enjoy writing and don’t feel all the usual crazy stuff and insecurity and everything else that comes with torturing yourself writing and in between writing.

The prompt was a great 4th grade prompt: Cake or Cupcakes, which do you prefer? A very important question that I have pondered quite a bit.

It just so happened that we went to get cupcakes today with her friends and friend’s babysitter Heidi. I already knew my daughter was writing in favor of cake.

So here is my writing that I did in the 20 minutes that she did her piece. I’d also like to say that writing for 20 minutes is great because you enjoy it and have fun but don’t go too much into it and get caught up. For the ADHD writer, it’s great. No time to get bored or distracted except within the topic.

Ok, here it is. I have to add that my daughter asked me to put it in this blog!

Actually it is probably more fun to read as a post on its own, so I will make a separate post right now, write now!

Day 2: Write a List

Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.