In the Studio – July 2022

by vliebenson@gmail.com
Abstract mixed media painting of a figure with the words All Shall be Well

July was a busy month in my art studio. I finished a lot of art journal pages and a few paintings. And I probably worked at least a little bit each day on something, whether I finished it or not.

If you read my last post you know I have been dealing with some health issues. So I’m using the term ”art studio” loosely. Technically, a lot of the work I did was in bed on a bed tray. But I’m extending the definition of ”art studio” to anywhere I am working with my art supplies ;-).

I painted the above piece, ”All Shall Be Well,” during the free taster weekend for Make, Create, Express 2022. I believe this was based on a workshop by Effie Wild and I went all-in on the grunge for this one. I figured if I put it in writing, perhaps all would in fact be well.

Intuitive Painting

Working on this one was so cathartic, I decided to go bigger and set up an 18×24 paper on my easel. Usually, I start my paintings with the background. I sort of absent-mindedly add swipes of color in layers. But, this time I felt like starting with lines which felt new and exciting. I had been thinking a lot about process painting and intuitive art. I usually paint intuitively anyway. But for some reason when I focus on it intentionally, I tend to add lines a lot earlier in the process than I normally do.

Abstract painting
Lifeline – 18×24. First layers.
Abstract outlines of people and buildings in green, pink and yellow paint
Lifeline – 18×24

Magical Collage

Another artist that was a part of Make, Create, Express was Rakefet Hadar. I didn’t actually take her workshop. Instead, I read her bio and jumped straight to scouring her website. Once there, I became completely enamored by her process and bought her book. She uses a lot of collage with text, painting, and doodling. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that is what I do anyway, but there is an element of magic to her work and her process that inspired the next several magazine collage art journal pages.

It’s a magical process to pour through magazines, books, and other ephemera to intuitively select images that feel “right” for the moment. I have a finite pile of magazines and old books, and sometimes I gravitate towards one or the other. But, images I may have passed over another day suddenly jump out as perfect for the collage I’m working on. 

Sometimes it’s a quick process. Especially if I don’t feel like staying in my studio or schlepping all my collage materials to the bedroom. I’ll quickly go through and pick some images and go work in the other room. 

But other times the fun is in pouring through the pages to find hidden gems to work with. I discovered I had a hidden stash of vintage Life magazines from the 1930’s and 1940’s that I had “organized” into a drawer and forgotten about. You can bet I spent a few hours going through those!

Then, after positioning the images and gluing them down, it’s a satisfying challenge to add paint, text, and doodles. This integrates them into a whole picture that evokes a feeling or emotion.

Art Journal Pages for a Purpose

Most of the art journal pages I created in July were in my 8×8 inch square Viviva journal (that’s a brand, not a misspelling of my name). But, a couple of months ago I decided to try out a Strathmore mixed media journal. It has a soft cover and the whole thing was too floppy for my taste. So, after starting one page, I put it away.

But, then I had an idea for a project (that I am not ready to share yet – sorry!) that would be a perfect fit for that slightly larger journal.

I was thinking about the different forms our creativity takes over time – our different “muses” that influence us. For example, “Muse of Treehouse Tea Parties” was my muse from 2013 to about 2017. She was a slightly mischievous faerie that threw the most divine tea parties. She inspired all sorts of whimsical art and illustration during her reign.

Whereas today, my muse seems to be some sort of mysterious alien that inhabits luminous, liminal landscapes under the night sky. They are completely obsessed with the moon.

And finally, the last spread, “Tornado”, was part intuitive painting, part intentional narrative. I was thinking of the playground near my house when I was a child. There was a big twisty slide called the “Tornado Slide” and it was painted red and white. But there was no vegetation on that playground. It was the old-style sand on the ground, splinters on the see-saw, burn-your-legs hot metal slide, playground of death. Except of course, no one died. We all managed just fine. 

And just for the record, I also always wore clothes on the swing!

Mandalas for Mental Health

And finally, there were mandalas. In between all of the painting and collage, when I was feeling particularly despondent about my health, I would create mandalas. Regardless of whether they were perfectly symmetrical or completely wonky, digital or drawn in my art journal, these intricate patterns never failed to calm and soothe my disregulated nervous system.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More