Above: The first page spread in my 2012 fake journal. Read more about the journal, as well as a transcript of the text, in the post below. The journal is a 7 x 10 inch (pages slightly smaller) journal I handmade with Nideggen paper. The ink I used is just the normal Preppy Pen cartridge. The drawing is made with Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watersoluble Colored Pencil and gouache. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I can truthfully say that the two weeks before the start of IFJM 2012 were two of the busiest of my life: classes to teach, a talk to prep, classes to attend (in which I was a student), work to complete. I'm happy to report, that despite all that I started my IFJM journal as planned on April 1 and have been able to work in it each day since.
However, the journal is not at all what I had planned earlier in the year. I am going to write about how all the changes from my original intention came about so that people who are interested in the decision making process can see how I go about it.
But first here is the text you'll see on the page spread above:
no anger. just numb. no regret. They want you to feel regret and shame. There's none of that. Just silence, an empty silence, as if I'm waiting for what's next—but it doesn't matter if I wait because everyone else is planning, fighting, jostling over what is next for me.
And I am waiting, in this silence—listening to the purr of the fridge from the pantry and the soft chucking whir of the cable box…no television to drown it out, to mask it. I thought I was a bit addicted but I don't miss the TV at all, which is just as well. I may be giving in prematurely but if I lose it will be just as well to be accustomed to the silence. That type of silence. What I feel isn't defeat. It's just calm. A muffler in the distance. A large truck…so long to approach. A train reverberating on the tracks. There's a great deal to hear.
[Image Caption] April 1, 2012 6:48 p. window #4
So Where's the Stonehenge Paper and How Did I Arrive At This?
In an earlier post this year I wrote about selecting a journal for 2012 IFJM.
By the end of that post I knew I was going to be working with Stonehenge paper and it was going to be in a long, landscape format. But then life happened.
I want to write about it today to demonstrate that change doesn't have to mean you give up a project or goal. You can adapt your projects in ways that will retain their meaning and usefulness.
Briefly (because the details would be overwhelming and I want to get on and post my other pages), I started thinking in February that I would work on architecture this month. To accomplish that I started thinking what type of character would look at and draw architecture on a daily basis? How could I accomplish this task in a very limited amount of time. (At that time I thought I had about an hour to spare each day for this project.)
I began to feel a character speaking to me. She went to the same spot every day and drew. It was a corner near me. I sat for a bit wondering why she did that. (I was also considering if I could sketch on that corner all month long.)
Then my thoughts shifted. Because of the nice weather and the desire to have a bit of a walk each day as part of the process, I found myself thinking about drawing a particular bridge within a short walking distance.
There was at first one reason for why this person would return to that spot each day. She was waiting for someone. Or, immediately another reason popped into my head—she was missing someone. My mind has rather a dark turn to it (I did after all kill off my author last year). This idea quickly spun into simply missing someone. I knew I couldn't go a month with a sad topic like that. I've done sad topics before, but this one would be very dark. It was getting darker by the minute. (I decided to save this idea for a time when I was under less personal stress, and also not making my IFJM journal public. I do believe there is value in the resultant idea that needs to be explored.)
On March 1 I met Frank. He's a lovely little plastic toy chipmunk—actually he's about life-size. You'll see him in my regular journal at some point. On that evening, while out with friends, I decided that it would be hilarious to have the author of my fake journal sketch Frank wherever she went. I could still sketch architecture, but I would be moving around more, I wouldn't be focusing on something sad, and Frank would be interesting.
My goal of working on architecture could continued as you can see, but the topic and focus was shifting to Frank. And to fun.
On March 2, however, I looked at the reality of sketching Frank and architecture every day for a month and realized that what I envisioned was a 90-minute-a-day project at minimum (without counting walk time). I knew I could not squeeze that time commitment into my days in April.
Frank was scrubbed and the long landscape journal was scrubbed.
At least I knew I wanted a somewhat upbeat topic and a very minimal amount of drawing time.
I began to get a bit nervous—what type of journal and paper would I be using; what topic; what medium? I put the whole project to the back of my mind and focused on pressing tasks at hand.
Then, frustrated one night I started to scribble with a pencil and drew the first of many fantasy people in pencil and light washes of gouache.
The playful approach freed up my mind and my ideas. I didn't want to work with fantasy people all month, but I knew I wanted to work with watercolor or gouache. I also thought I would work with toned paper and gouache. So I got out a pieces of Nideggen, Designo, and Kraft Stonehenge.
I tested all those papers for various painting techniques with which I might want to play over the next month. One by one the papers "fell" to the wayside. Nideggen was left standing.
Nideggen doesn't come in commercially made journals. Each year I use a commercially made journal for my fake journal because it helps me distance myself from my character (and gives me a chance to try an new sketchbook). But I loved the way my experiments were working on Nideggen. Nideggen was what I'd use, I'd work some reason out for how my character had that book.
One evening a couple days before the end of March I looked out the window and saw the early spring sky, the bright clouds…I've always been interested in clouds. There is always a bit of sky around isn't there? "I think I could draw clouds for a month," I joked to Dick the next morning. He laughed and agreed.
By that evening I knew who my character was, why she had one of my journals, and why she was drawing clouds.
I'll not give the "mystery" of what's going to happen away. I only have a sense of what is going to happen because I let things evolve. But I'll have more to say about "evolving" in my next post.
In the meantime, if you choose to read along you'll find out about my character in the next several weeks. Now you know, that once again, what was thought of as a straight path to a straightforward project actually contained many twists that both my conscious and unconscious mind worked out because I gave it some breathing room.
Oh, and my daily time expenditure is under 30 minutes—perfect for right now. (Though that doesn't include scanning time—hence the back up.)