...and that's a bit of an understatement. 8 months, phew. And now, after all these months, I finally have all of my art stuff in one place (it had been in storage for the past 4 months), and got a hankering to finish my Epson inkjet transfers experiment. They've been printed on their respective papers, had their mediums applied, for months now, and were just waiting for me to get the paper off. Last night, I worked on the plain copy paper transfers, and from my preliminary results thus far, the Epson Durabrite inks totally rock. Not a lot of ink running, like I had with the HP PSC 1350. Those pigment inks make all the difference.
One reason for the hiatus was a move that put most of my art supplies in storage, but the other reason was more personal, and in my opinion, important. I began doing art, and so experimenting, as its own process, has fallen by the way-side. Let me explain why that's so important for me.
When I got sick 4 years ago, I took a trip to Michael's, just wandering the aisles, trying to figure out what I'd like to do. I figured that some kind of art or craft would help keep my mind off of the pain. I had done crafts off and on for years, but it's not like I was intimate with all that was out there to do in the arts & crafts world.
Well, I found their tiny little section for collage art, and found the book "Altered Books 101". If I could of, at that moment, I would have done a hop and a skip. "This is it! I love books, I love the art I'm seeing here, I'm doing it!" I bought the book, and some of the collage papers in the aisle, and went home.
I proceeded to make a very cool collaged card for my sister's birthday, and felt like "I'm on my way!" I loved the whole process, and how it really did take me away from my pain, from everything, for those joyous hours. And I had this wonderful gift to show for my hours of escape, versus watching TV or just surfing around the Internet. I felt productive, for once.
Then the Great Internet Mixed-Media Technique Hunt began. I started with the alteredbooks Yahoo group, and branched out from there. I wanted to learn it all! But very soon, I became overwhelmed. My joy turned to trepidation, and suddenly, I found that I needed to learn so many new terms, and so much about art supplies. With each new technique I saw and wanted to copy, there was one more dang art supply I needed. Mediums and paints, gesso, Lumiere's, metals, ephemera, books, watercolor crayons, die-cutters, pencils, pens, rubber stamps, stamp pads, stencils, beeswax, brushes, punches, special scissors, fabrics, ribbons, pastels, polaroid camera and film...it's so overwhelming to someone new to mixed media, who wants to try it all. This is a problem I've seen in the mixed-media world, one that I would like to address in a post, but for now, I just remember how I felt like I couldn't do anything until I'd attained this or that supply. It's a problem because no one really tells new people that a magazine, a glue stick, some craft paints and a brush is totally enough to get started, and that the rest is just gravy.
And then there was the issue of seeing all that gorgeous artwork, and how these weren't crafters, these were artists. Artist - that can be such a loaded word for so many of us. "I'm no artist", I would think. "I have no right to even try collages or altered books or art journals. I'm not an artist." This wasn't a completely conscious thought, but looking back, I can see that's exactly what I thought - that I had no right to make anything.
The third issue I had was that of a talented but cruel woman who claimed to be an art teacher, taking a look at the few cards and techniques I had tried. She told me that nothing I did had any heart or soul, and that I must be a scrapbooker (saying that as if it was a derogatory term). She claimed to be helping me, because she wanted to see me loosen up and try art, but any critique that isn't specific, that's nebulous and cutting like this is not helping, and isn't a critique anyway. It's a way of cutting the toes off someone as they are just entering the water. I've been reading "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron, and she has a section that addresses people like this, which helps now, but at the time, I couldn't get past it. She just confirmed what my own inner critic had been saying - "You're no artist, so don't even bother trying".
So, I didn't, I didn't bother trying. I quit. For about two years, pretty much. Oh, I'd paint one color on a background page, and try to journal over it. I'd try an inkjet transfer, since I fell in love with those before I'd even known what mixed-media was. But there was no art. The cool and funny part is, though, is that I kept buying art supplies. I'd budget out my meager income, gather coupons, and slowly, I began amassing all the supplies I'd read about and wanted to try. It was hope. Hope that someday, I'd want to use them, want to try them. Hope that one day, I would be able to recapture that pure joy that came in making that card for my sister.
And one thing that I discovered that I could do, without the scathing judgments of my inner critic, were experiments. Experiments were just about me seeing how a technique worked, and what mediums worked the best. There's no pressure in that. I'm not making art, I'm just messing around, in a quite controlled way, lol. And because I was doing them anyway, I wanted to share my results.
Well, it's 4 years later, with a lot of work on quieting my inner critic, I'm doing art again. It started about 9 months ago, when I went to visit my friend Zura. She was my first introduction to art journaling, and has been my champion in working through my own issues with art. During my visit with her, I saw how easy and freeing an art journal could be. I saw her just sit down with a blank page, and just start painting, or gluing, or whatever, and she's let the page take her where it went. She didn't wait for inspiration, she didn't wait for some wonderful idea - she just sat down and went with it. So, I tried it that way, and there it was - that same joy and flow I'd had when doing my sister's card. It was all right there. So many of my preconceived notions about how you're "supposed" to do an art journal just fell away on that trip.
And four months ago, on moving in with my sister, I took up my art journal again in a big way, and finally, FINALLY, feel like I'm finding my style, my way. I'm finding that I like linearness, blocky neatness in the background, mixed in with some messy, swirly, flourishy-ness on top. I'm still in love with sepia's, and use it even over bright colors. I love to gather up potential images for a spread, and keep them in a Ziploc, knowing I won't use 99% of them. I love making everything matte. I love making pockets to stuff relevant receipts and pictures. I love documenting my week, which is, in turn, me documenting my life.
So, that's the big reason why the experiments have been on hold...I've been plunging ahead with art. That's not to say that I won't be posting experiments I do. I still have several huge posts ahead about how the Epson Durabrite inks inkjet transfers came out. But my posts will probably be sporadic, like they've already been, and only as I do experiments. I'm not too keen to make this an art journal or personal blog.
Just wanted the 5 people or so who might read this to know. :D
PS. Here's one of the first inkjet transfers that I did, about 6 years ago. This was a digital image I put together using Gimp, as a way to learn the program and layers. It was printed with my old, OLD HP PSC 750 on HP Matte Photo Paper (which is now their Everyday Photo Paper, although I think they changed the formula), and I used Omni-Gel as the transfer medium.