Sunsets

This was a journal entry from earlier in the month, but there was a beautiful sunset as the night plunges back down to freezing weather.  Winter isn’t my favorite season, though we have it easier here in Memphis than a lot of places. The jeweled sky reveals itself often enough, I shouldn’t forget that:

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Winter Sunset, January Visual journal, acylic paint, markers

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook hereInstagram@joymurrayart, and Twitter @joymurrayhere.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

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And Then Came Delight

It’s amazing to everyone, I think, that time flies by so quickly.  Here we are in the future.  People born in 2000 are 19 years old this year, a new generation, a new world.

I look back on 2018, my 58th year with wonder and melancholy.  I mark it as the year I really stopped being able to walk.  I can dodder around on my walker if I’m with someone, but the chances of falling are high and it’s risky.

At the beginning of the 2018, I could still manage a pretty fair distance with the walker.  And once I got home, I could wall walk — brace myself with my hand on the walls or furniture to keep my balance.  I remember the day I stood at the sink washing dishes and my legs kept slowly collapsing, my knees giving way.  I’d brace myself on the sink, lift myself back up, and then slowly seem to melt back down.

Now I use a wheelchair almost all the time – although I do have stronger day when I can stand at the sink.   A degenerative disorder is a tricky thing, you don’t know when to push, and when to preserve yourself.  I get in moods where I think exercise is the answer, but it never is.  My spinal cord is shrinking and there’s nothing that can be done at this point but deal with the symptoms.

I also  live in a city with limited public transportation, to put it mildly.  I have a great power chair, but it’s still hard to get places and the commute can be exhausting.  Not all the sidewalks have curb cuts.  Life seemed to be shrinking to smaller and smaller circles.

I also had to accept the fact that I was probably never going to get to work with children again.  It was okay.  I had a great run at Bridge Meadows, and helped many children who had been in foster care learn the power of art, stories and imagination in their lives.

Then, in October, I got introduced to the Carpenter Art Garden.  “Carpenter Art Garden is a non-profit organization dedicated to working with the children of Binghampton to promote each one’s creativity and self-worth through exposure to artistic, educational, and vocational programs.”

When I was a child, I lived in several places in Binghampton (we moved around a lot because we were poor.)  I also went to Lester Jr. High School, a predominantly Black school, in the early ’70s, when busing first started.  My first day, I was the only white girl there.  It was a wonderful and eye opening experience — and I learned to dance.

The school is now an elementary school, and Carpenter Art Garden is just cattycorner across the street.  I started to try to be involved with the Garden in some way.  I was welcomed and came up with an art journaling class for kids, 3rd to 5th grade for this month.  I didn’t write about it on my blog because I was afraid something would happen — no one would want to take the class, I couldn’t get transportation, I’d have another health setback.

But yesterday afternoon, it happened!  Six kids and I sat a round a big table in the Purple House, a house dedicated to art, with shelves and shelves of neatly arranged art supplies, and made the magic of art happen.

At first the kids didn’t know what I was about, what a journal was really for.  I brought in a few of mine and showed them how I combined text and pictures.  How you could fold papers into your journal, use it as a scrapbook, how to make pockets to hide secrets.  How to make a book that’s uniquely your own where you’re not judged — you can draw, write, complain, collect little bits of your life and keep them hidden away in your journal.  A place you can be and develop and re-imagine yourself.

They got it right away.  In the first class we were supposed to make journal covers and do collage, but they were ready to do everything!  One girl had already learned to fold an envelope and was able to help teach other kids how to make one.

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We made unique covers for each child’s journal, because we’re all unique
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One boy used gold paper and wrote art in an artful way
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This silver metallic cover was hard to photograph but looks great.
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Let the art begin — it comes from far away and is bigger than life – the young artist told me
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love and rainbows — and a few pink feathers
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I showed the children a journal of mine in which I’d drawn a lot of African masks, so one girl drew me wearing one — I like my winglike arms, too
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Another girl drew me, but she said the shoes were a hot mess.  I told her my feet were a hot mess so it was okay – and we both laughed
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This from a girl contemplating good and bad
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A girl made her own pocket, and sealed it up, without instruction.  Then she helped show the others how to make it.

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“mean pocket” and “nice pocket”
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An Art mountain in the sky.  I like art.

We talked about secrets — how some are good, some are bad, and how they are powerful.  We talked about making mistakes into art.  And we laughed a lot.

At the end of the class, the kids helped clean up.  Some teenagers were there, too, to assist in the clean up, and to help out.  While I was doing my small art class, a potholder weaving class was going on, and other activities for kids who may otherwise would have nothing to do after school.

I left with a sense that a new beginning had happened in my life, as surely as it is happening in the under-served neighborhood that has created the Art Garden.  People taking action, taking things into their own hands, rebuilding a something new and filling their neighborhood with beauty.  They’ve been making the neighborhood a better place for quite a few years now.   It’s created a kind of magic that strengthens the whole city, and touches people in ways that can’t be foreseen.  It’s helping me, my heart, my perspective on life.

So just when I think I’ve reached a low point, that I won’t get to do the things I want in my life, I find that I have underestimated it all.  As the ever wise Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes says, “There’s treasure everywhere.”

All I have to do is keep cultivating delight.  I have to let fallow periods happen, then be ready when it’s time to bloom again.

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The Carpenter Street Art Garden and The Purple House

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can support the Carpenter Art Garden here.

You can now follow me on facebook hereInstagram@joymurrayart, and Twitter @joymurrayhere.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

December Art Journal

I finally got around to making my art journal for December.  I’ve worked in the same journal for a few months now, sketching out ideas, not really doing work I show, so it hasn’t been a daily habit and one journal lasted through the fall.

I’ve been writing almost daily, processing the changes in my life — again nothing much to show.  I’m more using the arts to reframe changes in my life, changing language, changing images, dealing with change in the ways that have always seemed to elevate me.  Art can take the weight out of a lot of what seems too heavy to bear.

Not everything you create has to be for others, and a journal is a safe, secret place to grow and center yourself.  I think a lot of what artists and writers create remains un-shown.  A lot of creation is a psychological safety net, there to catch you when you fall.

But I have an opportunity to teach Visual Journaling to a group of kids through The Carpenter Art Garden in January, so I’ve gotten quite elevated by that.  I am going to use a smaller size journal than I usually use, teach more collage and share everything I love about having my own book in which I can create whatever I’d like.

I don’t always get this elaborate for my title page, but I’ve seen some glorious sunsets lately (my apartment faces west and the sun sets behind two old oaks, now leafless.

december

I’ve been saving ticket stubs, bus passes and other collage material, but I haven’t had time until this week to “finish” journal entries.  I’ve made a few sketches, some truly wretched, but I did this one of a friend listening to a lecture on genetics, biology and the way we are all interconnected.  I took some time today to finish it.  I’ve been experimenting using pencil sketches collaged into more colorful backgrounds, so that was what I tried working out with this sketch:

billy contemplates

If you recall, I used this technique in a finished painting earlier in the year and have since started, but not finished others:

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St. Foster, Keeper of Stolen Wisdom, Mixed media, Joy Murray

You can read about the evolution of St. Foster here.

Anyway, it feels good to be playing around in my visual journal, making one with a mind to teaching children how to elevate their own lives, and realize that they have unique and important stories to tell, and their are many ways of telling them.

Also, after two months off (and a new psychiatrist), I’m back on facebook.  I was missing friends and sharing events and art.  So you can find me there, if you’re a facebooker.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here Instagram@joymurrayart and Twitter @joymurrayhere.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

 

 

Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory

I found a quote on my Good Earth tea tag:  “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”  It didn’t say exactly how.  Nevertheless, I pasted it on the front page of my latest journal. 
My journal is my constant companion and often it props me up when I’m sagging with fatigue.  Little quotes like that keep me going.  Since I sometimes write and draw in my journal at coffee shops or in the park, I often get comments from people who pass by.  They often say some variation of I wish I had time and the talent to draw. 
I try to tell them you don’t have to have talent (I don’t), but you need to make time.  Everyone claims to be busy, and I don’t doubt that.  I’ve been recommending Danny Gregory’s book Everyday Matters since it was published in 2003, because it’s a compelling illustrated memoir, and it’s also a story about how to make time for art in your life.  How to create yourself by observing the world around you, drawing what you see, and writing about it. 
Now I have another Danny Gregory book to recommend:  Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are (Chronicle Books, 2015).
He says:  “Art will make your life richer and more fun and better, and cooler, and less stressed…Art stops time.  When you draw or paint what’s around you, you see it for what it is. Instead of living in a virtual world, as we do most of the time these days, you will be present in the real one.  Instead of focusing on all the things whirring in your head, you will be able to stop, clear your mind, take a deep breath, and just be.  You don’t need a mantra or guru.  Or an app.  Just a pen.”

I’ve always kept a journal, but not every day and often I got rid of my journals.  When I started purposefully doodling, adding a visual element to my journals, it made me treasure my journals more.  It also took away the fear of despoiling a beautiful blank book.  Once I started drawing, doing some calligraphy and colorful front pages in the journal, I wanted to work in it, and I wanted to go back and see what I’d drawn and written.  It’s not great work, but it’s mine.  A celebration of the ups and downs of my life.  It helped me through the years when I had a mystery neurological disorder – drawing pictures of the spine, drawing a network of nerves in a simple gingerbread type figure, doing self portraits – it took the sting out of life.  It made me appreciate the details. It made me grateful for what is around me.
Art Before Breakfast is a playful and accessible book.  It stops time – and it makes you aware of all the time you do have.  We make time for all sorts of things in life.  If we elevate our own creative needs to the level of say, washing the dishes, then we create the time we need.  Keeping a little book to draw and write in close by makes it easy to take the few minutes you need to create and center yourself.
If you think you’re too busy to make art, then by all means, make art.

First, redefine what you think of as art.  It’s within you, truly.

This is not a typical book that emphasizes a certain technique or mastery, it’s a book that gives you permission to ignore all rules and just play:

Don’t let your brain stop you from drawing.

As for making time, develop an art addiction and take art breaks just like smokers make time for smoke breaks (and if you smoke, take your journal with you

When you were a child, you drew with abandon.  Find a kid to teach you abandon again.  Tell your story in your own unique and beautiful way
If you’re afraid to draw a picture, practice calligraphy and writing in cursive.  Develop your own font.
Gregory has written and edited several books to encourage the artist in us all.  In the book An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, How Books, 2008, he says, “Illustrated journaling has transformed my life and given me the clearest form of identity I’ve ever had.”
Can an art journal really do that?  Everyday Matters was a memoir that told how it happened.  In that book, he encourages illustrated journaling but also tells the story of how he came to accept his life after his beloved wife became paraplegic  after a subway accident.  The story unfolds in the drawings and his writings.  
In it, he explains there is ALWAYS something to draw
Years later, his illustrated journals kept him afloat while grieving for the loss of his wife in the stunning and profound A Kiss Before You Go, which I reviewed here and I encourage you to read.  It helped me understand more about grief and how to honor it. 
If you haven’t started drawing or keeping a journal, I urge you to read Art Before Breakfast.  It’s an invitation to make your world more vivid, playful and beautiful.  The instructions will lead you to judge yourself less harshly and celebrate your unique style and story. 
I’m much more likely to draw the empty plate after I’ve eaten
Writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau said, “After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.”  There are so many of my ancestors I would have loved to get a letter from.  Don’t let your life slip by, or wind up being a pristine blank book.  Encourage yourself and start to draw.  Create yourself.  Let Art Before Breakfast nourish the urge to leave your mark in the world, if not for your heirs, then for yourself.  It’s a gift you can give yourself that will reveal the treasure all around you.
You can find out more about Danny Gregory at http://dannygregorysblog.com/  He’s got lots of encouraging articles and has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter.  Get to know his work, then get drawing.  
Thanks for visiting my blog.  If you’d like, leave a comment.

I’m linking this post to Paint Party Friday.  Click the link and find a whole list of artist who are living creatively and have made art a part of their lives.