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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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).

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.