Above: Some small Japanese double pamphlets I created for the participants who sent in wrap-up comments about their posts. I was making sample pamphlets for the May MCBA Visual Journal Collective meeting and realized that I had enough of my cover paper to make little booklets for these folks. I used Arches Text Wove for the paper to create these 6-3/4 x 5-3/8 inch books. ATW, now called Arches Velin (but I'll never get used to that name) is a great paper for visual journaling. It's light weight, but strong. It takes watercolor washes. It loves being bound into books! I write a lot about it over on RozWoundUp. The cover paper is a Fabriano paper I can't find locally any more and used it because it was such a wide sheet I could have fore edge flaps on these booklet covers. I decorated the black paper with metallic rubberstamp ink before cutting them down. I hope that these will be little tester journals, portable and compact, will be a way to experience a paper they might not have tried, or to revisit an old friend; maybe even a book for next year's IFJM?
I think a hugely important part of a project like IFJM is the wrap up. (Scroll down the posts in that link to find wrap ups written by a variety of people, not just me, as well as thoughts on wrap-ups.)
The wrap-up is as important in my mind as the actual creation of the journal. I've written posts in the past detailing why I think it's so important, but briefly I just want to say that by looking back at a completed project and comparing it to the goals you set out to begin with is a great way to judge the successfulness and usefulness of the project. But most important it is the ONLY way to then set even more specific goals for your next project, to take you to the next creative place you hope to travel.
In this post I share comments from participants you sent me a final wrap up or a link to that wrap up on their blog. Check the participants list in the right-hand column for links to the various posted fake journals.
Dana Burrell wrote the following detailed write up about her process, goals, and progress. To me her experience shows the benefits we can derive from projects like this when we focus intensely for a month. Dana set goals, yet remained flexible when she ran into time and energy constraints. I also love that she overcame her fear of screwing up the "whole journal," as she started each new entry.
This emotion is one shared by many. A project such as this, more than regular daily journaling, forces you to overcome that fear and just keep going.
I'm especially glad that Dana has found aspects of the IFJM process that she is going to take into her regular journaling. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next year.
Dana Burrell wrote:
My character was a 50-something gardener and designer. She keeps a small journal with her and sketches people she sees during the day. She was to journal minimally to document her gardening activities but she somewhere around day seven she developed a personality. She’s torn between work and family and it’s reflected in her journaling.
My goals were to:
- Use a folded maze journal I made specifically for this project. It’s made from one sheet of Fabriano Artistico HP. Each page measured 5.5” x 7.5”… portrait orientation.
- Work daily, allowing approximately 30 minutes per session.
- Carry journal with me everywhere.
- Sketch people’s faces, capturing them fast, in less than 5 minutes. Live.
- Sketch directly to pen with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen I’ve had for a while but hadn’t gotten used to.
- Add color with a set of ten Neocolor II watercolor crayons.
- Journal minimally. People drawn can be people she’s working with or people she finds interesting.
The journal went with me everywhere which certainly helped me sketch my subjects. I had enough on my plate so when the crayons became more of a bother than I planned I changed to my small palette of twelve M. Graham paints. I was able to work daily although a few days were so busy all I wanted to do was to go to bed. Even the short 30-minute allotment seemed too much then. On those days I forced myself to quickly sketch someone from TV and finish the page. No DVR at my house so the sketches were done quickly out of necessity. I scanned and uploaded to Flickr everyday… not one of my initial goals but one that helped me stay on track… I felt accountable.
My main goal was to sketch faces working directly with the PPBP. I’ve always admired gesture drawings and wanted to try my hand at capturing personality with a minimum of detail. Since I’m relatively new to watercolor journaling I’ve been doing more detailed drawings of small objects… drawing people was a huge stretch for me. I thought it would help me to loosen up and learn to edit the details. The journal size was perfect. It easily fit in my purse along with a small pen case and my mini watercolor kit. I found the PPBP easily bled if I hit it with watercolor too soon so I often would sketch at lunch and add watercolor later. I found working directly to pen was freeing. Every day, just as I went to draw my first line, I felt the fear I would screw up the page and therefore the whole journal. Once I committed to that first line the sketch was easier to complete.
I had a minimal plan when I started. I was amazed my character developed her own story. I’ve often heard authors interviewed say this happens but I’ve never believed them. About a week into the project my character surprised me! Suddenly she was getting wordy and developing a family I hadn’t planned. I plan on doing IFJM again next year but don’t expect a return of this character… she’s moved on in more ways than one. I will keep my goals of sketching direct to pen… from life… and I’ll keep my time limitation to 30 minutes. I don’t want to put so much pressure that I stop working on the project.
After I take a short break I’m going to be continuing my exploration of faces and the PPBP… maybe even all bodies. I’ve wanted to attend life-drawing sessions but have been afraid of baring myself (my art… not me) in front of “real” artists. I know this is my internal critic talking… this year’s IFJM has helped me muffle his argument. IFJM has been a great start for a daily journal practice and to help solidify it I’m going to sketch along with the Every Day in May project. EDiM has great daily drawing prompts that I can weave in with my journaling. It fits in with my 2012 new year’s resolution… If not now, when? Or in other terms… Carpe Diem.
Other participating artists wrote wrap ups on their sites.
Chris Wise has posted her wrap up on her Flickr page. She also set out her goals for the project. She used the project for experimentation and revisiting an actual trip she'd taken before! The one negative she related was that she only had time during April for her fake journal.
Every April, each of us who participates in IFJM faces the same issue of time constraints. I know personally it's very difficult for me to give up my regular journaling so I make a plan for my fake journal that will take as little time as possible and fit in my day. Last year I allowed my journal to expand into all my available time. It told me a lot about myself, my daily structure, how I use journaling in my life, and also about how many layers of fake I can juggle! I love to see people pushing their own boundaries by allowing the fake journal time to expand!
An equally valid and valuable approach is to journal as much as you can during the month, in your fake journal, allowing in advance for the reality that you won't journal every day, but will complete the entire month. (That's kind of a metaphor for life.) Dianne Carey found that is what happened to her. You can read Dianne Carey's wrap up here.
As Dianne focused on Japanese philosophy of art and sought to simplify her approach she also approached the idea of abstraction. She followed these inclinations in her fake journal, and unintentionally created a story progression. (I love when that happens.) She commented that she did "fall back on" her normal pen and watercolor technique, but I see that as the creative ebb and flow of the process. She pushed using a brush, and then switched, so she got to do both. I think it is important to listen as we work through the month, listen to what our mind says we need to work with.
As to working on flat pages to make scanning easier, and binding after the fact, Dianne seems a little apologetic—I'd just like to say, if it makes life easier during April it's fair, and I'm often making "journal card" journals myself throughout the year.
Iona shares her wrap up experiences on her blog. Her fake journal is filled with sketches of buildings and building details—a wonderful focus for the month. I hope one day to focus on buildings but I know I'll need a lot of time each day!
Her main goal was to journal every day and despite the roller coaster month of April she only skipped 3 days. I hope she'll join in again next year!
You can find Liz Nowell's full wrap up on her blog. She used this time to do a creative project and focus on moderation! She wanted to avoid the "fanatical" approach that often accompanies her creative projects.You'll learn in her write up how she moderated herself and her character, and worked out a flexible way to keep going with her project even though her initial plans for drawing when socializing with friends didn't occur.
Liz Nowell's tactic of giving her character a "vacation" from scanner access was a great way to keep on track with the project and not worry about blogging. For some artists the choice might be to suspend posting at all until the completion date of the project.
I know for me since I spend most of my day at the computer, having more stuff to scan is a bother. I let my pages build up and scan them in a clump. The scanning process also becomes a reminder of what went on the week before. Whatever you decide works best for you may be different. The goal is to keep journaling for the entire month.
Liz Nowell also found things in the experience that she'll be taking along into her regular journal—and she's already looking at aspects of the process she had resistance to. I hope she joins in again next year.
Michelle Himes found that she loves the idea of journaling but realizes she don't "have the discipline to be a daily journaler." She writes about her alter ego Flat Mickey and her efforts this year at this link. It's all good information gained when we can rethink our projects to better fit our creative needs.
Mary Harper wrote to tell me that her job is to provide creative work for clients all day, and this project allowed her to take hold of her own creative desires again. She wrote the following:
My world--accessed by creating someone else's! I majored in drama back in the ancient history of my college days, so I was familiar with submerging my personality and letting another created one come to the fore. But I hadn't done it in, well, forever. I picked someone completely different from me (an 11-12 year-old boy), and a medium that is very far from what I normally use (colored pencil with ink on ledger paper). I know I wanted to start with the drawing of the treehouse, but not much beyond that. I found your entry on handwriting interesting--I picked all caps for my journaler partly because I never write that way, and partly because my beloved dad always did.
I really had to push for a while after that first day, to make myself sit down and think like Sam, my journaler. I decided to make many of the drawings of objects related to his late father (a number of these objects actually belonged to MY father), but this choice became somewhat problematic with the story that began emerging, so I just kept that idea as a major, but not absolute, component. I think next year I will try to come up with a character AND a drawing subject together, somewhat like what you did this year. I just spent too much time figuring out what to draw. I included objects drawn from life, from memory, and from imagination, so the quality varied quite a bit. I also got pressed for time on several occasions, making the drawings quite hasty.
I really came to feel I knew Sam (both of them!) after a while, and that was a treat. By the end of the month, I also found that I could wrestle my mind into a creative, dreamy mode once a day without so much angst. That's the biggest plus here. I am planning to do more challenges for a month now, to keep this going.
What a great gift to discover—to turn on that creative dreamy mode!
Denise Clardy wrote to tell me that she "had a blast."
The author of my journal, Ursula, shares my fear of journaling: never write anything down someone will read it and will know of your failures and vulnerabilities and will be able to take advantage of that information.
The Fake Journal format allowed me to set aside those fears. After all it would be Ursula's mistakes and shortcomings not my own. When she discovered that it was easy for her to write about her observations and about other people but did not write of her own thoughts and feelings - that was my light-bulb moment. The realization just kind of snuck up and hit me between the eyes. Unexpected insight but valuable.
Did you guess that Ursula IS the 'You Are Here' sign? Ursula Rae Here (U. R. Here). She isn't in the weekend pictures because she isn't working. I have no idea where she went when she left the 30th Street Station!
That unusual approach allowed her to have a valuable insight into her own journaling process. I hope that she will take advantage of that insight to dive into her regular journaling with renewed passion and attention.
I heard from some other participants who elected not to write wrap ups. Their goal was to keep the conceit going. I wish them good fun with that and continued insights and creative adventures. I know from their emails to me that they have created mental write ups of what worked and what didn't work in the process for them.
From the wrap ups shared here I think you can clearly see that how a given artist approaches a fake journal is going to vary significantly based on the artist's goals for the project and their circumstances and interests.
What seems never to vary is that everyone walks away with at least a little bit of insight into their creative process and what is or isn't working for them. Sometimes the insight is as simple as "fake journaling doesn't work for me." Other times the insight comes as a series of questions, "What if next year I did this, and then tried that, and only worked with this media, and had that for a subject…Or what if tomorrow…"
Again, I'd like to thank everyone for participating, for pushing their own boundaries and limits, and sharing the results with others. Your generosity encourages others to push their own boundaries and "just see" what might happen if they do the same, maybe not for a month, but maybe just a day, or an hour, or a few minutes of creative endeavor.
(I'll have a brief wrap up of my own 2012 journal in a couple days. I've been stuck in meetings.)