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This is the last spread of this project – mind I still have to go back and work the taped pages. The background was prepared with torn pieces of papers, receipts etc in this case – an alternative to shredding – then gessoed. Over this we were instructed to write “Today I feel…..” for at least five minutes. Then to the self-portrait. This was to be done with our hands – good ol’ finger-painting. I have resisted doing this for about a week, no idea why but determined to get it done today. Of course, once I started I really enjoyed it. I have taken artistic license with the colour – I am not orange – more a pasty shade of pale, plus my fingers were too wide to put in all the wrinkles, but the hair is almost right, I have had white hair since my early thirties. This was great fun to do returning me, as it did, to childhood playfulness. I will be using this ‘technique’ again – I would encourage all to try painting with your fingers.
Opposite the portrait the background is made up of my finger and hand prints, over which I stamped a few lizards and printed from a lino-cut a fabulous raven/crow. These two creatures have meaning for me. Oh and at the top-centre two runes which I pulled before starting.
It is a shame this particular project is over but I am going to continue in this journal to play and try out techniques old and new.
For this spread we had to randomly let our pen/pencil wander about the page without thought or attempting to create anything in particular. Then, as in cloud watching, look to see if there was a figure within and draw it out, this would be representative of ourselves at a time when we felt to be a misfit. I don’t have a problem with feeling like a misfit or an outsider – often if I get these feelings now it is an indication that perhaps the people I am with are just not on my ‘wavelength’, nothing more, nothing less – and as an adult I have choices.
To do this I shut my eyes to draw the lines as my first attempt was much too contrived, so I gessoed it out and went again. We had to journal around our figure – I ended up with two which came as no real surprise to me:
I have a sneaking suspicion these figures may say more about me than I realise :).
For this two page spread we were instructed to photocopy at least three of our journal spreads and pick out our favourite bits to re-use here. I knew which bits I wanted to use in the main, but decided to use all of the photocopied pages. I tore out the images I wanted to keep whole, the stencil figure, the face and the tree and glued them in place. I then ripped up the rest into smallish pieces which I glued to the pages, sanded and then painted with a yellow wash which came out green – I did this a couple of times to get some depth to the colour. I added the quote, which comes from a traditional women’s circle song, in between the washes. I am happy with the finished effect.
In case you cannot see it the quote reads:
“Be careful what you lean on
It may not hold you up
Or lean freely
And be prepared to make an art of falling”
The above is the name given to the technique for these spreads by Sarah. On each of three days we were given a list of various things to do on our pages. We were then to cut up each of these lists and pick at random the order in which we would work them on a particular day and spread. I have enjoyed working/playing this way and I now realise that I can use these techniques for work that I have wanted to do for a long time but was reluctant to do in an in-your-face downright obvious way. Now that I am getting to grips with the layering techniques I feel I can embark on the personal projects that have been gathering much dust in my mind.
Days 16, 17 and 18:
The next spread in the Soul Journal Journey was to create our house in a child like style – enjoyed that loads even though it falls off the bottom of the page. The right hand side is of the flats on the other side of the green and behind the trees, which is the view from my window. I am lucky to live where I do – almshouses which are listed buildings within a beautifully green oasis in the middle of the inner city. A young friend visiting from Spain on her return home reported that, “Jill lives in a park!”
We were then to collage making a pocket on the main body of the house. As I am playing catch-up I could see what the next step was to be and this was to make paper dolls which represented our family – an interpretation of that was fine. I am thinking to do family/relationships spreads later on perhaps – but I really didn’t want to do paper dolls. Not meaning to offend anyone, each to their own and all that, but it was just too cute for me – I cannot do cute. So being who I am I did my house and surrounds but no folks.
My house actually does look like the sort a child would draw, a friend described it as looking like a fairytale house. Here is my spread before and after collage:
Pages 3 and 4: squares
This spread is all about layering. We were given a list of 27 images to find and put on our pages in any order we chose, previously having coloured the pages with a dark paint. Returning to this after pages 5 and 6 we were instructed to draw squares etc around pics of our choice and to spread on and wipe off a pale colour. I did this and ended up with a basically pink page which I really didn’t like at all – hated in fact. The pictures sank into the page and it just looked awful to my eyes. I know the point of this is not to make pretty pages, but it is about getting to know ourselves – and I definitely did not like what I had achieved so I decided to go over it with, firstly oil pastels and then paints of various dark hues. I am much happier with this now and will leave it alone until I decide to fiddle some more :).
Pages 5 and 6: “I forgot to tell you….”
The pages were gesso’d first of all to prep them. Next the instruction was to write in a stream-of-consciousness style filling both pages, starting with the prompt: “I forgot to tell you…”. Well, I was surprised at what came out of this for me, it was really quite cathartic, as is often the case when writing in this way. It ended up as an almost letter to my mother who died earlier this year, many of the things I never got to say. I knew the next step for this spread was going to be to cover the whole thing up and I really wrestled with this as I felt that what had come out in the writing was important for me and I did not want to suppress it again. So I left it for a day or so until I came to a firm decision about what I wanted to do: leave the writing totally uncovered as was my initial emotional response, or follow the instructions and see what happened. As you can see I opted for the latter, however I did copy the text before doing so – so yeah it was a bit of a cop-out but I am happy with that. Next it was tape, all sorts anywhere, then gesso, then sanding that lot, then paint. I like the effect of this and am happy that I am getting to do the sort of backgrounds, many layered, that I have wanted to achieve.