Sunday, 22 June 2008

Art Heals... I Swear

I've been ill for so long, in fact I'm sick of being sick, if that makes sense. Being ill is hard, it takes away your focus and purpose. The working man or woman may think that it could be great fun being at home all the time, watching TV, reading, surfing the net... but in reality when you are ill you have no focus.

You watch TV, but don't really remember what you watched as halfway through the programme you were in pain and it made you miss what was said for 5 minutes, or your drugs made you sleepy and, "you know...I'm sure I nodded off for a few minutes then".

But the worst of being ill, is not knowing one day to the next how you will feel, not being able to plan your life, not even the minutiae. You may have 2 great days, so you think "tomorrow I will clear out that cupboard" you don't even realise that you are feeling a little better, you just have the energy to focus on something and... strangely... you are looking forward to clearing out that cupboard. You can't remember what's actually in the cupboard, there may be new shoes, new art supplies, an unread book... and so clearing out that cupboard has become "something to look forward too".

Then tomorrow dawns bright and clear... and you feel crap. You can hardly get out of bed, your head is pounding, you feel sick and you think to yourself, "but I was going to clear out that cupboard today..." and you realise that you don't feel well enough... not even well enough to clear out a cupboard.

I guess that's about when I discovered the healing nature of art. If I am in pain, I find relief in focusing on scrawling in my art journal. It doesn't have to be artistic, it doesn't have to be a fabulous work... just splotching paint or ink or watercolour pencils or wax pastels takes me to a different place... and suddenly two hours have gone past.

Since I added art to my life, things have definitely got better for me. I have started to *enjoy* more, I have started to relax more, I enjoy letting go and making art heals me... I swear.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

What is Ephemera?

I was talking to my friend today about Art Journaling and said that I often use ephemera, "what's FMerra?" asks she....

Ephemera is *actually* bits of paper that should have been thrown away, pieces of paper such as leaflets and newspaper cuttings, sweetie wrappers and train tickets. Pieces of everyday life that are mostly discarded, the minor documents of your life, things that you use fleetingly and barely remember... thats what makes them ephemeral (Meaning: Being only present briefly)

And Ephemera used in art journals (and scrapbooking and keepsake making and altered art) should mean something to you, evoke a memory, remind you of a trip, a meeting, a hug, a good time... you keep that sweetie wrapper because your man gave it to you on your first date, you keep it tucked inside your diary, its a little reminder of *then*. You keep that train ticket because you went to visit your aunt and you had such a cool time. *Real Ephemera* means something to you.

And... that's why I don't understand packets of ephemera sold in art supply stores:
  • Firstly:- by the very meaning of the word ephemera, it is generally designed to be discarded, not purchased

  • Secondly:- Reproduction copies of postcards and cigarette cards and bus tickets have no memory evoking properties, they are just faux snippets of someone else's time

  • Thirdly:- You keep, save and use ephemera to add to your journal or scrapbooks to help you remember a time or can a reproduction cigarette card do that? It holds no memory for you...

...think of that sweetie wrapper and that train ticket - add them to your journal or scrapbook, write about *that* time, make art about *that* time, use the ephemera as a starting point for your recollection so you can document that memory and the related ephemera together.

So my answer to "what's FMerra?"... little paper pieces of me and my time gone by.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Virtual Journaling?

I've been a journal keeper for such a long time, one-line diaries when I was small, 'a week to two pages' as I got older, and a 'page a day' during my working career. I've had Filofaxes in all sizes, from the smallest handbag size (is it called the Micro?) through to the huge desktop A4 size. Every one of these diaries has a snippet of my life inside it and they are all stored up in the attic...somewhere.

In recent years I've moved onto journals, there's more freedom in a blank page than there is on a lined one that has today's date at the top. I guess over the last few years my journals have morphed from daily records, into travel journals and now more so into Art Journals. I love the freedom, the freeform, of Art Journaling. I don't just have to use words, I don't just have to use pictures, I don't have to write, I don't have to draw, I can stick 'that' in becase I like it.... I guess that's why I like Art Journaling so much.

But just like my diaries, my Art Journals are pieces of me - snippets of my life are kept inside... so I find it odd this new fad of recording your life on a weblog, of 'sharing' your soul, sharing your art, sharing your life with the entire internet viewing world... and have thus bucked the trend for so very long. But my friends are persistent, they tell me they love my journals, they want to see more entries, that I should "upload" them.

And then as I surf around the net, I find so many other AJ'ers sharing their work, sharing their knowledge, being lighthearted and open... and I know it's time.