In Which It Is to Laugh

Last night while I was at the library I scanned one of the art journal pages I’ve been working on.

Which is good, because I’m not going back to that library any time soon after the way they’ve treated my mother and me.

I just don’t want to be stuck here forever. Acrylics, collage, ink and gel pen.

Originally the mammoth skeleton was because being stuck in a rut feels like straying into an antediluvian tar pit. But then our car got hosed, literally stranding us, and then we got trampled by the fossilized attitudes of the local queen bee and her minions.

So, you know. Check out my layers of meaning!

Maybe in a few million years whatever life still exists on this miserable planet will dig up my skeleton and find it educational.

In Which I Repine

The thing is, every time I feel moved to get back into blogging and otherwise sharing my art, I get stymied by my technology.

I don’t have a smartphone, or indeed a dumbphone. And I don’t really want one, but there’s apparently no way to use Instagram without one. You can’t set up a Flickr account without one, either, because Yahoo won’t let you. And anyway the only photos I can take are with my Kindle Fire, which as you have seen doesn’t really cut it as a camera.

I don’t have a camera, and I can’t justify spending money on one, especially when I’m not sure how well it will work (because I definitely can’t afford a good one).

I can scan stuff, but to do that I either have to rummage around in the downstairs studio/guest room/storage room, or go to the library, and scan what I need onto a flash drive and then take it back to my computer and I just don’t have the spoons to do that most days.

Technology used to be my friend, allowing me to do stuff I couldn’t do in real life. Now it’s increasingly just another obstacle.

In Which I Make Vague Noises

I have not been arting a lot recently, although I have done an index card for every day of 2015 (not always on time) and am continuing to mess around in the crap journal.  Right now my brain is mostly taken up with writing and computery things.

My mom talked to my sister today — a couple of weeks ago Betsi sent her an envelope full of art inspiration, so naturally we teamed up to send one back.  Apparently I am good at thinking up art prompts?  In fact, having sent three cards full to Betsi, I went on to make two more as my daily cards because dang it, it was fun.

I still don’t have access to the scanner or a decent camera, so since these are very simple I have recreated them:

words1 words2

If any of these bring you inspiration, please run with it! And then come back and tell me all about it. :)

In Which I Show Off My Toys

So that’s reasonably successful so far.  I’ve done a bunch of stuff in the crap journal, made index cards for all but today, located the Aeneid and the black-and-white book in the mess (yes! I have been CLEANING! Tremble, mortals), and figured out how to take a photo that’s not complete rubbish in the interim.  It involves a lot of guesswork and balancing stacks of books, though, so don’t prepare to be dazzled just yet.

None of my recent art is worth writing home about, so today I am doing a thing I have been meaning to do for a while, one of the Three Solemn Tasks of the Initiate Art Blogger: posting about my basic art kit.

My traveling art kit.  Ooh fancy.
Ooooh fancy.

It lives, if you will believe it, in a cheapie little makeup (?) pouch with a zipper.  My mother picked up at the discount store as a stocking stuffer a couple years back, and it works swell, as Mr. Beaver would say.

It contains, on any given day:

  • black Pitt pens in assorted nib sizes,
  • a hard pencil for sketching and at least one eraser,
  • basic colored pencils plus blender,
  • a good pencil sharpener,
  • sharp scissors,
  • bone folder,
  • and a glue stick.

The current glue stick I think may be discontinued, which is a shame because it is ace; it grabs fast and sticks hard.  I am not sure what I’ll do when I’ve used it up.  Not shown are a mechanical (soft) pencil, white and black gel pens, and the kneaded eraser.

The best part is that all of that only fills the bag about halfway, so I have plenty of room to wedge in a travel watercolor set if I want it, or some colored felt pens, or several rolls of washi tape, or even a tiny sketchbook if I am travelling extra light. Otherwise I just stick it in my shoulder bag with any given journal, and then I am fully prepared if I have a sudden attack of Art while sitting in the pharmacy drive-thru.

Originally I kept my watercolors in it, because that seemed to be the done thing — all the books and all the blogs say ALWAYS CARRY YOUR WATERCOLOR SET!  But the truth is I paint a lot less than I draw or collage, so I ditched the paints for the colored pencils. I can always put them back in on a day when I feel painty. This is what I had to learn for myself — your Basic Art Kit will evolve over time, and it does not need to look like anyone else’s.

In Which I Multitask

I have always READ about people keeping two or three or six journals at once, and thought wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have that much to say?  Creative work for me is generally more like whacking the bottom of the ketchup bottle until it spurts out some dubiously appetizing gunk.  (I don’t even like ketchup.  Maybe I should have made this metaphor about acrylic paint.  Never mind.)

What I’m saying is, I am such an obnoxious perfectionist and so bored with my own thoughts that I’ve been like “what would I even put in six journals.  Half the time I can’t think of anything to put in any journal.”

But. I am trying it.

Here’s the thing: I hate messes.  I know, I know.  Art is messy and that’s all part of the unbearable beauty of it, and also you wouldn’t know it to look at the state of my room.  But I hate ’em.  I don’t like my food touching.  I hate coloring outside the lines.  I can’t stand getting glue on my hands.  I freak out if I step in something wet.

So I’m trying this: keeping several different journals to prevent cross-contamination.

  • The Black And White Book: is a cheapie black spiral-bound sketchbook.  I decorated the cover with a couple of stickers, and I use it when I want to do basic black and white doodles, zentangles, whatever.  There’s not a lot of variety and some of them are pretty underwhelming, but I do that kind of drawing more to relax than anything else, so it’s okay. The black-and-white book is a box to keep my doodling in so it doesn’t get all over everywhere.
  • The Art Journal: is a Strathmore visual journal.  It’s basically the same as the black-and-white book except that the paper’s nicer and it costs about three times as much.  I have performance anxiety about this journal, because the first one I kept was during my aunt’s last illness when my mom and I were wearing ourselves out trying to help take care of her, and I was too damn busy to self-censor very much and so it is a touching and intimate chronicle blah blah blah long story short I made the mistake of letting people look at it.  Now it’s ART and I can’t do anything mediocre in it.  Sometimes I can get past this (I have posted a few pages from my current Art Journal on this blog) but frequently not.
  • The Aeneid: is a vintage Latin textbook (it’s not actually just the Aeneid, it’s a bunch of different Latin poetry and one million footnotes) which you have also seen previously on this blog.  I like the illustrations, I like the ratty cloth binding, and I like the way Pitt pens work on the smooth paper.  The Aeneid is a nice comfortable corner to climb into when blank pages are way too intimidating; I can color in the illos or draw out of them or just doodle right over the Latin like a vandal (har har).
  • The Crap Journal: so called to distinguish it from a junk journal, which is when people take random crap and make gorgeous art books out of it.  This, on the contrary, is when I take a lovely handmade book (well, a lovely handmade cover around some cheap flimsy pages, but still) and make random crap in it.  Arrange all my washi tape by color.  Draw flowers on one quarter of the page and then get bored. Whine endlessly about how much I hate journaling, and art, and my life, and the weather.  Use up some of my sticker hoard.  New Year’s Resolution: do not share this journal with the general public.  Just don’t do it, self.  The crap journal, hopefully, is going to be my dumping ground/sandbox where I have Official Permission to half-ass things.
  • The Index Cards: are my daily practice. I am not, at this stage in my life, going to write and do art in an actual notebook every day.  It’s just not going to happen.  I am, however, doing pretty well at the index cards.  Because they’re not bound they don’t have to look good together and I don’t have to worry about ink bleeding through, and because they’re index cards I am not wasting good paper and so if all I want to do today is write UGH in large black letters, I can do that.  (I have in fact done that.) When I’ve done enough that it doesn’t look like a blank index card anymore, I’m done.  I can go back to bed if I want to.  Also they pile up pleasingly fast.

There are no pictures of any of them today, because my life continues to be a star-spangled disaster and I’m doing well just to string together coherent sentences.  But, y’know.  That’s where I’m at.

In Which I Make It Through January

Index cards for the last 4 days of January, 2015
Index cards for the last 4 days of January, 2015

Still no camera or scanner in working order.  But I did make 31 index cards in January (and so did my mom!).

I’ve had better months, but I’ve also had worse, so I’m not gonna complain. (Much.)  I’m trying to think of the index cards as being like taking my meds — I don’t always want to do it, and if I miss a day it’s not the end of the world, but I really will feel better and more able to cope if I keep up with it.

I’m trying to get back into art journaling too.  It’s hard.  I feel like I’m always forgetting how to do it — the way I’ve forgotten how to write creatively — and have to keep re-learning, which is infinitely frustrating. Some days I feel almost like I’ve got it together, and then the next day I’m feeling desperate and trapped and incompetent again.

But I made it through January, one card at a time.  Now I just have to make it through February.

In Which There Is A Spiffing Hat

Index card with colored pencil and felt pen.
Index card with colored pencil and felt pen.

In addition to all the other goings-on, I have mislaid my camera, so all I can give you is crappy webcam snapshots of my art.  Which is discouraging.

I have, for approximately the twelfth time, forgotten how to keep an art journal, and so I am resorting to the index cards again.  I am doing one per day, whether actually on the day or not, and this is one from last week.  My friend Nan is the remorseless fiend responsible for my Captain America situation, so it is only fair that I make her watch Agent Carter with me.  (It’s on ABC! You should watch it too if you like any of the following: spy shenanigans, the 1940s, Marvel superheroes, women being awesome, extremely British men being adorable, the above hat. /end plug)

I got a gift card to the craft store for Christmas, so I spent part of it on the Polycolor pencils I have been eyeing for a while.  They are pretty sweet!  More testing is required.