Sunday, March 30, 2014


vows page one
page one of Vows journal page

...let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Kahlil Gibran, Xian zhi

vows page two
Vows, journal page two

These two journal pages are my response to last week's homework assignment for my CalArts class. For this assignment, we were to choose either a marriage announcement or an obituary and create an art piece about the person. I chose a marriage announcement about two gentlemen who were both professors and in their early 40's. They had celebrated their vows in a small church amongst close friends and family.

I imagined them not at the beginning of their relationship with each other, and because of their ages, more aware of what they want out of their relationship and out of life. I pictured two people who respect and understand each other's needs and dreams and who will be there for each other through difficult and happy times.

Vows, journal pages one and two

During the week while working on this journal page, I also had a dream which fit perfectly in this theme. I wrote it out and adhered the handwritten note to the page.

Last night I dreamt:
I was on a staircase, grey, metal with large gaps between steps, and wires and bolts holding everything together.
It all seemed to be suspended high above, with the beginning and the end not in sight.
I misjudged how to climb to the next step and found myself hanging onto to the outside of the staircase by one of the wires and in between steps.
Then you came along.
You had a strong rope.
You threw one end out to me.
I took hold of it because I trusted you completely.

joining sunday sketches

Saturday, March 22, 2014

daily gratitudes

gratitude march 16 14
douglas fir cone

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.


Last month I made a little handmade booklet, 3 x 3.5 inches, for journalling my gratitudes.

This month I began doing quick sketches of moments or things I am happy about and want to take time to remember.

These are a few gratitudes from this past week.

gratitude march  21 14
deer collage

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you ...
Ralph Waldo Emerson

gratitude march 22 14
hummingbird collage

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, March 16, 2014

documenting time

mini-journal containing thoughts on my style

The act of drawing serves to remind us that hands are agents of thought and experiment. It's expressions have the potential to leap across great divides of time and place, but its practical utility is as a manisfestation of the mind struggling with the meaning of what it encounters and what it wants to explore" Jonathan Kingdon, Field Notes on Science and Nature, edited by Michael R. Canfield

This past week I continued to prepare for April's fake journal month by studying how naturalists, scientists, and zoologists keep field notes. I've been reading Field Notes on Science and Nature, edited by Michael R. Canfield which features biologists, anthropologists, geologists and illustrators. Reading about Jonathon Kingdon's years of first hand research and seeing his taxonomic illustrations was fascinating and energizing.

journal page left side depicting sumi painting of jewellery box

The value of taking field notes lies both in the actual information that is recorded as well as in what is gained in the process of recording itself. Taking time to write out an idea or observation forces us to pause and consider. Recording the daily unfolding of experiments - their success or failure - encourages an honest assessment of how each day's work fits within the underlying goals and theory of the project.
Michael R. Canfield

My journal keeping has always been spontaneous and haphazard which has its advantages in working through emotions that I may not be fully aware of but influence my behavior. However, in the past year, by joining cousera art courses and online journal prompts, my journalling has become a balance between calculated and spontaneous entries.

Last week's cousera journal assignment aimed at documenting a history and context for my current work or interests in art. I made a mini-book and wrote how I developed my current style of drawing.

So how did I acquire the style of art I have now? My earliest memory of asian art is receiving a Japanese lacquer jewellery box from my Father when I was 7 years old. It has a traditional asian sumi painting depicting a landscape, Mount Fuji, a river, a bridge, temples and mountains on a gold background.

journal page, right side with line drawing figure and mini journal

Fast forward 20 years, and I had moved to Japan for the second time and was taking a sumi painting art class. The simplicity of a black line attracted me as well as its tradition. There is a certain amount of control which opens up to bursts of spontaneity. Over the years my drawings have been moving toward the simple lines and that constant friction between calculation and spontaneity.

joining sunday sketches

Saturday, March 8, 2014

quick sketches and fake journal 2014

Baudelaire, pen sketch and notes

But what is an eternity of damnation compared to an infinity of pleasure in a single second?
- Baudelaire, Paris Spleen IX

This week flew by and I got a lot done! I really enjoyed my reading and class lectures on Baudelaire and Nietzsche.

Nietzsche sketch
Nietzsche pen sketch

The latter half of the week found me exploding with the desire to draw, so while listening to the lectures I drew. The notes meander in and out of the sketches.

being defined sketch
Nietzsche quote and face sketch

April is Fake Journal month and I'll be participating again this year. I spent the week thinking about who I would be and have settled on journalling as an amateur naturalist. So come April, I won't be journalling as Juana but as a fictional character. I'm still working out the details. If doing a fake journal intrigues you, head on over to the fake journal website run by Roz. The link is in the sidebar.

fake journal 2014
handmade journal with shibori fabric

I also wanted a journal that would be dedicated to the fake journal and made another one using the Japanese stab stitch binding.

For the cover, I dug into my stash of papers and cloth and found a vintage Japanese Shibori cloth that I bought years ago when I was living in Japan. It's a beautiful blue with a fan design.

fake journal 2014
inside pages

joining sunday sketches

Saturday, March 1, 2014

the contest of expression

february journal pages
journal pages, february 28, 2014
“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.” Robert Henri

February was a busy month. I started three courses through modernity, symmetry, and an art course. I spent the month reading selected essays from Kant, Rousseau, Marx and Darwin for the modernity course. The symmetry course is introducing a whole new perspective and the art course is rounding it all off.

I needed a sketch book for the art course and made one using some old drawings for the inside pages. The image above shows the older drawing (eyes at the bottom) and some notes.

The two faces were inspired by the prompt, child-like drawing, over at a year in the life of an art journal. The face in the middle is a self-portrait and the one on the right was me having fun with shapes and color. The journal cover below was inspired by what I've been studying and includes my favorite Darwin quote, symmetry observations and random sketches.

in a perfect world

This week's homework for the art course was to answer the question: In a perfect world, what would art be to me?

In a perfect world, art would be nothing more than an expression of oneself. It would not be an expectation, a perfection or an ideal. If we look at art as expression, we can see art everywhere: our neighbor's garden, a home-cooked meal, a handwritten letter, the rainbow and even the geometry of a rainbow, and the list goes on. As we grow up, I think we lose some of the freedom we had as a child of expressing ourselves without worrying too much about the how or the why or even the where. With maturity and experience, we gain the knowledge of contest - our art in relation to someone else's art, which leads to wanting that ideal art work.

handmade journal cover, february 2014
journal cover, two pages, left side 

turning on a dime

At the same time, as history has shown us, that never-ending climb toward an ideal and competition with our contemporaries, makes us a better artist.

Darwin believed that "truth emerges from the contest of ideas." He also noted that "nature cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they may be useful to any being."

handmade journal cover, february 2014
journal cover, two pages, right side

If I had that perfect world, I would lose that contest, and as a result, that pursuit of a better self and truth. So I think I will take the world that I have and keep the contest and the climb toward a more truthful self.

joining sunday sketches and a year in the life of an art journal
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