The Artful Journey

Exploring my self and the world through art.


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29 Faces, Feb. 6, Blue Book, Blue Haired High Priestess Neela

Ever since I flaked out after face 19 or so last year, I’ve wanted a second chance at the 29 Faces Challenge.  Yesterday, I found out they started it again the first of this month!  So I’m joining in.  Obviously, I’ve already done my other 5 faces, so that’s cool, right?  I won’t link to them as 29 Faces because I did them before I joined.  But this one was done in response to the challenge.  It’s pen and ink wash, soluble graphite, and watercolor in my NEW Global Arts Handbook Artist’s Journal, heretofore known as the Blue Book.  I LOVE this journal.  I love everything about it.  I am going to do a post and a video on just how much I love this journal, but I won’t bore you with all that here, I will just post my Feb. 6 face with hopes that you get a little something out of my sharing it.

I have realized that I have a High Priestess/Guide with me on this art journaling journey, a female with blue hair and golden eyes.  She showed up about a month ago, and she’s with me every day, showing up and talking to me.  Today she talked about her boobs.  She shows up looking different each time, old, young, fat, thin, but always with blue hair and golden eyes, and she always has something to tell me.  I don’t think her skin is this color, so I will have to spend more time with her to learn that detail.  I think she could be my Higher Self.  I was once told the name of my Higher Self is Neela, and when I looked that up, it means Blue in Hindi.  I think she’s showing me her face!  I think I’m going to have to get a streak of blue in my hair again like I had several years ago.  I never felt more myself than when I had that streak.

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The strategic strip of plastic came off the packaging for a new book I got in the mail today, Celebrate Your Creative Self, by Mary Todd Beam, and I loved the way it looked.  Then when the piece was nearly done, I realized how great the gray would go with the graphite and how it would express censorship in an interactive way and I snatched it up and used my mini Hello Kitty stapler with fuschia staples to attach it.

I’ve realized that I like to add something to the page which makes me slow down, like moving this strip of plastic around to turn the page, etc.  It helps me engage more with my work.

Please let me know if she talked to you in any way, or if you’ve ever had a Guide show up in your own work like this!


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The GIRLS are in da houuuuuse!

Wow, who knew THIS would be the answer to my quest for the right journal?  This post has NO cussing, by the way.  I know, weird.  But it’s kinda all about the love for me now.

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Last night, I finished gluing the pages together in my altered vintage book, which I believe will keep the original title of “Better Than Gold.”  This gives me 40 pages to work on in the end, or 20 spreads.  (A page is one side of a sheet of paper, a spread is the two pages you can see when a book is open flat.)

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If you’re curious, I used a jumbo Uhu glue stick and burnished with a ruler.  The best tutorial on altering a book that I’ve found is probably Suzette Morrow’s, so if you’re new to that and curious, check it out.  Then you’ll see how I basically ignored most of her great advice.  Anyway…

Then I was seeking my next step, not sure how to proceed, so I went where I always do.  Youtube.  Nothing inspires me more than watching other people create.  So I was watching some youtube videos of some new artists (new to me, anyway) and ended up joining a new art community, Community Thrive.  I was hanging out there and reading how Mystele, the founding artist there, sometimes uses gesso to adhere her collage images to her surface.  That felt like a great idea for the new book, even though I’d never done it before.  I thought it would help me to not get too attached to the girls’ images when doing my pages.  I tend not to work over images because I get attached to them, then the page can’t evolve into what it wants to be.  This way, the gesso obscures the pictures a bit, making them more of a background, so that I can feel free to work over them completely, allowing all those girls to end up as guiding angels in the atmosphere of the finished page, even if you can’t see them anymore.  I felt I was guided to this next step.
So, today I sat down with all the images I cut out yesterday and I gesso-collaged girls onto every page of the book.

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For my process, I used a palette knife to spread a thin layer of gesso, laid the picture down, then scraped over the top, smoothing out air bubbles and spreading gesso around thinly and somewhat evenly.

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Then I took an antibacterial hand wipe and wiped a bit of the gesso off the faces of the girls to bring them back out just a bit before the gesso dried.  And no, the process wasn’t messy at all.  Why do you ask?  I just had to wipe gesso off my computer touchpad…twice…before it was totally ruined…that’s all…

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And I’m really happy with the results.  They’re just what I was going for in my first layer.

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At first I wasn’t sure about this project.  In paging through and gluing, I was angered again by the misogyny in the book, and I didn’t know if it was worth it to feel that.  But the support I’ve received from others over this project made me push through that.  It lifted me up through the anger and empowered me to keep working and see where I would end up.  I’m so very grateful for that support and so glad I pushed through, because today it has made me so happy to see all these beautiful, real, shining girls’ faces added back into the stories in this book.  All the time I was working, I found myself smiling back into their joyfully smiling faces.

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I am now feeling a love for this book, and it makes me realize that this is how this book and its original darkness will be transmuted.  Through love.  My love for all the girls and all of us women, and my love for art, as well as the love I’ve felt from the people supporting me in this project.

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And I feel I’m also being led to the way to do that best.  I’ve been exploring and discovering there is a whole movement into intuitive art, art made without thinking, art that is brought out from within, art that just ‘happens’ itself into being, art that begins nowhere and meanders its way to pure magic.  In my personal experiments in Juliana Coles’ Book of the Night workshop, I’ve found that is the art that ends up speaking the loudest.  That is the art that ends up being divinely guided and going places I could never have imagined it could go.  That is the kind of work I want to do in this journal.  This is how I tend to work anyway, but I’ve never really submitted to it except in my abstract paintings.  I’ve never honored it as the true path to my authentic artistic voice in my journals.  That is what I intend to do now.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also intend to buy a tablet and start a video channel, and I’m excited to maybe do some of these pages on camera so we can experience the process together, and so that I can watch it all again and again!  This way of doing art is about so very much more than just the finished piece, and without letting you look over my shoulder, I don’t really know how to share all the magic that happens.  And if you haven’t worked this way or watched someone work this way, you can’t imagine what kind of magic DOES happen.  I mean, seriously.  It blows my mind.

Hopefully I won’t just totally choke on camera, and it will be fun to do and fun to watch.  I’d love to have my tablet figured out and my first video up around the beginning of February.  I’ll keep you posted!  To subscribe to my channel in advance, you can find me as The Artful Journey on youtube.  I’m building some fantastic playlists there, full of my favorite art and art journaling videos, so be sure to check those out while you’re waiting on that first video.  And nag me if you think it’s taking too long.  That totally works on me.  It’s hard to create in a vacuum, (and I fight severe depression all the time) but with the added energy of just a few interested viewers lifting me up, miracles can happen.

I would love to hear any recommendations of artists you feel use a very intuitive, no-thinking approach to channeling their art onto the page or canvas (or whatever), so please share your favorites!  I will be putting together a running list of my own and would love to check out some new ones to include!  If you work this way and have done a video or blog post about it, please include the link in your comment so we can all check it out.

Thanks for joining me on the journey…bye for now!


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Altering a vintage book to transform the wounded feminine.

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**WARNING**  Adult language ahead.  Full-out ranting, actually.  This is a new blog, so you all don’t know what you might be in for, but this isn’t your typical craft blog that’s all sunshine and pretty flowers.  I cuss.  A lot.  And I’m angry and disappointed about a lot of things in this world.  And since I’m exploring my life, my work, my personal journey through art in this blog, I’m going to be talking about the shit that comes up.

So now you know.  If you don’t like cussing, you won’t like hanging out with me.  I’m sorry about that.  I get that it’s harsh, that it is disruptive of the peace, that some people think it’s a sign of ignorance, but for me, it’s liberation.  It’s truth.  It’s rebellion against the establishment that would have us women be forever young and ignorant and innocent and virginal, thin to the point of starvation, pale, long-haired, quiet, polite, well-behaved, always nice, shaved bare, mostly-naked, heavily made up, and posed on all fours on a bed, pouting our lips, waiting to be put to use.

So, okay, knowing how much misogyny (the hatred of women) bothers me, there’s a big risk for me in seeking out vintage books to alter, particularly since I like children’s books best, due to their thinner spines, thicker pages, and their imagery.  The risk comes because children’s books are some of the worst sources of anti-female-empowerment propaganda you can find.  And I guess it’s time for me to process some of that through art, because I picked up a book in the thrift store yesterday that has it all up in my face today.  I’d seen it there before and left it, but yesterday I just had to bring it home.  Its pages are thin, so that’s a downer, and they don’t lie flat when open, so that’s a big downer, but I love the size of it, the weight of it, the feel of it in my hand.  Something about it felt ‘right’, so I took it despite these features that would normally make me pass on it.  Again.

Then I paged through it at home to see what I was inspired to do.

Cry, first of all.  Weep bitter tears of anger and frustration.  This book was published in 1966, and every single story throughout this book, which appears to have been used in the schools, features ONLY boys as the active characters.  Every child that goes off to try something, find something, discover something, is a boy.

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And each boy goes to men to get help for his adventures.

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Women are featured only as moms, and even then only rarely, and all they do is frown and make dinner and nag kids about doing their homework.  A girl reading this would get the picture, very clearly, that girls don’t matter.  Girls don’t do anything fun, important, smart, or exciting.  They stay home.  They cook.  That’s it.  Boys are the real people.  Boys matter.  Boys make things happen.  Boys go outside.  Boys leave the house.  Boys go into the world.  Boys do everything great.  And men, of course.  Men are making history.

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Men help boys make things happen.  Men know stuff, do stuff, think stuff.  Women serve men and boys and nag them.  Girls don’t even exist.  Even all the PETS in this book are male.  Every character that could be non-gender-specific is male.  Every question is answered by a male.

I’m turning 44 next week.  So this is the shit my mother was raised on in school.  And, because I was raised in a tiny, rural, very poor, very shitty school district in Idaho with very old books, it was probably pretty representative of the shit I was raised on, too.

I have something to say to the publishers, writers, and educators who propagated this bullshit.  FUCK.  YOU.  Whoever made this book.  In 1966.  Fuck you.  How could our mothers possibly have gotten any other message except that THEY DON’T MATTER.

How could I have heard anything but that as a girl growing up?  I didn’t.  I heard you loud and clear.  I have all kinds of self-loathing and deep, horrible, wrenching depression and anxiety thanks to this education.  And I’m hip to the fact that it’s still going on.

But it’s no longer unnoticed, working subtly in the back of my mind.  I see it.  I see it everywhere, all the time, to this very day.  And today, I’m calling you on your shit.

According to the messages we get from the media (and this includes women’s mixed media art, but that is a whole ‘nother rant for another time):

Women are never sexy enough, never thin enough, never young enough, and exist primarily to be a hole to fuck, a caregiver to children, a maid, and a cook.  And we like it that way.

And by god, we had all better look like we just spent five hours in a makeup chair while we do it, too.  Because women are sad, pathetic, subhuman beings whose facial features when left in their natural state are so repulsive that we are expected to put a layer of paint over our features to create new faces, faces more pleasing to men, faces that are younger-looking and more sexually provocative.

Our natural body hair is just simply unacceptable unless it is on our heads and long and slutty and easy to grab when men want to control us.

We need to teeter on 4-inch heels that keep us from moving safely or quickly in the world, and which cause us pain and spinal deformity.  They make our legs look longer and thinner and constantly remind men that really are we’re good for is a good fuck.

We must bare our legs and breasts to everyone at all times to keep men titillated and remind everyone of where our real value lies. And real women wear skirts, the shorter the better, again to bare those legs and to keep us easily sexually accessible at all times.

If we are not constantly trying to be more beautiful, younger, thinner, sexier, and more pleasing to men, we are not a real woman.  And by the way, the standards for all of those things are set by people who use computer graphics programs to produce imagery of women that REAL women will never, ever, EVER be able to match.

So yeah.  Angry crying.  Wrenching sadness from deep down inside.  Serious thoughts of burning the book.  Then I thought, well, I’ll take the text block out and reuse the cover, making my own signatures.  But this book is cemented together.  The pages aren’t stitched, which is why the book doesn’t open flat, and there is cement (glue) all down the spine, making it impossible to remove the text block.

My artist-hero, Juliana Coles, says there’s no right or wrong, no accidents, that everything is just a problem there to inspire your creativity as you work to solve it.  I believe that.  So I delved more deeply.

Then I got another idea.  And that’s what I’m sharing with you today.  I’ve gone through and thinned out the book so that it won’t fall apart when I’m working in it.  I left three pages, tore out three, left the next three, and so on, all the way through the book.  I am going to then glue together each of the sets of three to make one sturdy page.

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Then I’m going to cut out pictures of girls and glue on every damned page of this journal, re-inserting girls into this fucked-up misogynist world.  I don’t know where it will go from here, whether the journal will end up themed on every page to empower women and girls or if it will be an ‘anything journal’, with girls in the background, the precious, beautiful, re-discovered foundation of every page, no matter what the topic.  Maybe once I’ve re-included girls in the stories, I’ll just burn the damned thing after all, because it will still make me so angry to think of all the school girls forced to consume this mindfuck.

Or maybe I will claim this container as mine, transmute the evil inside, empower it with feminine presence and power, and form a personal relationship with this journal unlike any other.  Maybe I will fill it with the intense magic and mystery and profound power that ONLY comes from the Divine Feminine.

I will follow my heart in this journey wherever it leads, and I plan to tell you how it goes.

For now, I’m going to sit with a pile of magazines and books and a pair of scissors and cut out girls.  GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS.   Girls, god damn it.  GIRLS!