” From bright colors, unique borders, layering and creative ways with text, there are endless concepts we can draw from Frida Kahlo’s artwork and personal diaries to use in our own journals.
Frida’s pages would often have two layers of writing-one on top of the other, ( the paler one underneath was impossible to read, but the one in black ink , on the surface was usually legible). She liked to begin many of her pages by spilling a blob of paint into her book and closing it. This makes for a great intuitive exercise, and one you could try yourself. A few of Frida’s pages bled through, but you could put a piece of cardboard behind the pages before spilling the paint to avoid this.
After opening the book, you’ll have an abstract blob that you can play around with. Frida would use a crayon and trace around portions of the shape. You can transform the abstract images into self-portraits like she did, or just pick up whatever is on your worktable, like the bottoms of paint bottles or a coffee cup, set it in the paint and make a print of it on the page.
Using a small paintbrush and acrylic paint, write on the background. Don’t try to get the letters even. Your handwriting is a reflection of you and says more on a page than a typed or hand-stamped phrase. Make mistakes and work loosely. Doodle around the edges.
Overall, if you find your work is too rigid and contrived, try all of these exercises with your non-dominant hand. I promise it works everytime”
Wide Open-Inspiration & Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge by Randi Feuerhelm-Watts
“You won’t catch me brushing up on Matisse or Picasso. I prefer to research art created by the mentally ill, the homeless, the insane and the forgotten. They seem to all have one thing in common-the element of surprise. And they stir up a connection that I can’t explain.
That connection is what I felt when I read about the M&M guy. Living in solitary confinement, with three life-sentences, He would be the last guy you would think to have his art reviewed in the New York Times. Yet his work seemed to resonate beyond steel walls and touch a chord in us we couldn’t ignore.
Blogs, newspapers, magazines…. everyone was talking about the guy who saved up his plastic jelly containers and melted M&Ms in them with his saliva to make paint. The bristles of his brush were made from his own hair, secured with foil and plastic wrap. And so, he painted – small postcards of colorful lines and circles. Circles that had stories to them – stories of regret. Circles of one day after the next. Circles of the chaos he longed for. Circles within circles within circles.
And somehow, those of us on the outside connected to the nonsense of it all, for we too live in a world of longings – longing for the future, longing for what once was. Meanwhile we miss out on today. Gazing at these 6×4 inch canvases, we hear his voice – sensory deprivation, diminished depth perception and a life remaining spent recalling past and questioning the future. All this is heard through M&Ms and human hair. He gives us a gift we have forgotten- he gives us today.”
Wide Open – Inspiration & Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge by Randi Feuerhelm-Watts
Pope Benedict IX wanted to commission some paintings for St. Peter’s in Rome, and accordingly sent a messenger to the painter Giotto to report on what the artist’s work was like. On being asked to produce a drawing to take back to His Holiness, Giotto took a piece of paper, pressed his arm into his side to hold it steady and with a quick twist of his wrist, painted the most perfect circle on the paper: “See if this is understood,” he said.
The messenger,feeling that he had been made a fool of, nevertheless took the drawing back with him.When he showed it to the Pope and explained how such a perfect circle had been drawn without moving his arm and without a compass, the Pope and all those present acknowledged Giotto to be the most skilled artist of his time.
A Miscellany of Artist’s Wisdom – compiled by Diana Craig
The simplest , yet the most difficult thing to convey to students is to JUST KEEP TRYING! It’s not glamorus, not romantic, not mysterious….. to learn how to draw and draw well you just have to keep doing it. It’s repetitive , yes , maybe boring if you let it be but every single mark you make has the potential of infinite variety and can convey something different each time you draw.
One of my favorite beginning exercises to give is ,’draw 100 circles 100 entirely different ways.’ Use any media you want . Go ahead , give it a try! ( you can use squares or triangles if you want!)
Q: M. Matisse, how do you see an orange?
A: It depends on if I am going to buy it, eat it or paint it ”
– Ray Bethers-
The circle is one of the world’s most enduring and meaningful images. As the great American Indian philosopher Black Elk said, “Everthing – the power of the world- is done in a circle” He noted that the sun and moon are circles as well and even the wind at its most powerful whirls. The seasons, he said, form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. -source unknown-