Above: ©2014 Michelle Himes, a page spread from her 2014 IFJM journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Michelle Himes has participated several times in International Fake Journal Month. In 2014 she joined in with the experiences of a character who plans and reads about gardens. She wrote the following wrap-up at the end of her project—
I had a lot of trouble coming up with a "character" for this year's fake journal, so I went with Roz's suggestion to think of a technique that I wanted to try and then figure out who would use that technique.
I wanted to try a line and wash technique that Gerald Brommer calls "color independent of line" in one of his workshops. I like how the technique looks, and thought it would be quick and not too labor intensive.
I decided to use gardens, since it was spring, and gardens lend themselves well to this technique. In hindsight, maybe should not have restricted myself to a single subject, especially that subject, since I do paint realistic, close focused flowers in my real life.
My "character" was someone who plans and reads about gardens, and works hard to make her garden beautiful—in contrast to myself who never gets around to doing much garden work and must buy flowers at the grocery store if I want to paint them. It was hard to distance myself from my character though, because real flowers and real weather were occurring all around me. Perhaps it would have been better to have placed my character in a different climate—maybe tropical, so that she wouldn't be writing about what was actually growing here. Perhaps it would have been better to have used a different subject matter as well as a new technique, but I was trying to keep it simple.
I liked and always wanted to try this technique, but honestly, coming up with an image and a quote that would work with it every day was a bit challenging, and I did get bored with it on occasion. I had also intended to put a bit of gardening advice on every spread, but since April is early for gardening in my area, I ran out of things that could realistically be done in the garden—thus the change of location/climate would have helped with this.
I loved the idea of using quotes though, and plan to use them in my regular journal. And as usual, since I am not a disciplined, every day journaler, I fell behind and did not complete all 30 page spreads. But I like what I've done with the 24 spreads that I did do, and I would really like to finish the rest at some point.If you follow the link to Michelle's fake journal blog above, or click on this link, you'll be able to see the other spreads of her fake journal.
I think we can all learn from Michelle's experience—there is a fine line in selecting a character that is close to us but not too close. I think personally it is sometimes better to err on the side of the character being too close so that we can rely on things we know to ease us through the rough patches in the month. On the other hand it is sometimes difficult when you are too close to the character to get the type of distance you are aiming for.
I think the use of the line and wash technique is lovely and I think an approach like this where you take a style and work in it is a great way to experiment with the style in a concerted block of time. I find the pages charming, and I'm eager to look up Gerald Brommer and learn more about his art too. I couldn't find a website for him but there are tons of paintings on the internet of his, and I found this workshop listing from last year with lovely stained paper collage work.
Michelle also encountered several hiccups that we all may encounter depending on the character we pick and the subject matter he or she might sketch—specifically the problem of April being too early for the types of garden advice inclusions Michelle hoped her character would do.
But what I'm excited about is that in all this she came out of her project with new ideas for her REAL journal. That's one of the best results we can achieve.
Take a moment today to go through Michelle's fake journal for 2014 and think about things you might like to try in your own art. Be inspired to jump in, set some time aside, and go for it.
You can also visit Michelle at her regular blog: Michelle's Watercolors.