Collaborative collage conversations 

Collaborative collage conversations – I have been making collaborative letter journals for a while but most of them occur with people who are over seas, so even though they are great fun and interesting there is no sense of immediate interaction.  Like the give and take of a conversation.
I had a go working in this format at my recent training session with Jo – it didn’t really work as I expected because we were making two collages (  so that we each had one to take home) . 

I felt excited to work with Jo, we had a great conversation before the art session and bounced around lots of ideas about how to work with the participants.

When we had the collage conversation She was very strict and didn’t allow any talking throughout. I found it quite hard not to look at things to choose in advance of her input. I added text by using cut out words from magazines and circling them from the bodies of text.  I had included some of my mandalas in the bags of scraps for the main session, I found I wanted to add bits of those. Jo added a window/ hole over the top of my section excluding some of the green , it felt restricting and excluding so I added another piece further down the page . We both had soup for dinner and had talked about my obsession with circles which seemed to creep into the designs as well. 

Jo disrupted the surface in the bottom piece too by poking holes with a needle in to the red paper on the left. I am gluten free and supposedly dairy free in my diet so I reacted strongly to the ice cream being added by adding the signposted food, which just jumped out at me when I was flipping through a magazine. It was fun and interesting for me to be quiet. When Jo uses this technique with a client she said she watches body language and placement of the pieces. 


I wanted to do more. My friend Diana came around to play. We couldn’t keep quiet ( we hadn’t seen each other for about a month) we agreed not to discuss making the collage. We started of quiet tentatively 


The colour scheme was muted and the text playful ( we make each other laugh a lot) . As we worked the design  seemed to want to explode off the end. Interestingly as an aside I managed to introduce ‘dance’  to this collage and one of the first ones with Jo. ( dance had become quite large in my life at the moment at least 2hrs a week) 


The second one is much louder in comparison. Diana wanted to add the circle of rainbow watches so I added texture and colour to the background while she ‘fussily’ (technical term) cut it out the rainbow  circle. The making atmosphere was light hearted and jolly – it wasn’t as intense as working quietly. Then I found the red acrylic sheet. It was much more give and take working on one sheet

I need to do this again in silence  and just on one sheet. 
Today 

I realised , that the person I most needed to have a conversation is , with my self- I always have trouble with my irritable , migrainey bowel when I travel – but I seem incapable of staying focused and looking after it – I can see a series of conversations looming on the horizon ( lol) 

Number 1 : ‘why can’t you be kind to me?’ Some times I worry about talking to my self in the 3rd person – this time it is my stomach complaining. The waves represent the inexhaustible relentlessness of  eating – everybodies eating , it’s always about food. What can I get away with, what will not upset me today? I definitely have a disassociation with the communication between my mouth and my stomach.  W ords I added say ‘it’s all about today, excuses , bad,health, everyday, why, food, forget,snackisfaction ( because it was there ) irresistible, selective blindness, I want to be healthy. Punishment, relentless’ when I think about children been blown up by bombs it seems trivial and insignificant – but I am ground down by it everyday and up until now seem unable to be kind and break the cycle. I start and stop , but don’t get off the treadmill 

Art journalling session 2 – session outline 

Session 10am-1pm then 2pm-3.15pm 

Co -facilitated with Jo from the charity in Dunfermline- the participants were  all counsellors interested in introducing art journalling to clients ( 4 participants) Due to the small size of the group Jo and I worked together on a couple of exercises so that we gave the participants space 

Start 10-11am I demonstrated  how to make two simple journals (see previous blog post) 

 Jo suggested that we started by making a ‘safe page’ in the journals, ( one of the participants had been unable to attend the first session so we revisited magazine collages) . Some suggestions for ideas if clients don’t know where to start were – to do a page of your favourite colour, use words that suggest what your safe space might look like., use found images to create an image of your safe space 

Group discussion 11-11.20

Coffee 

Exercise 11.30-1pm 

Demonstration-  Jo and I explored how to use pastel and felt pen to express feelings – I drew whilst Jo prompted me to be reflexive about my mark making in front of the group ( at their request  10-15mins)


The group divided into pairs and had 25 mins each working as counsellor/ client in the medium of their choice- 3 used Patel and crayon, 1 person used collage. 

Jo and I did the soft eye flicking through a magazine and chose words and phrases that appealed to us – I found that I had chosen the word ‘colour’ but my words lacked colour or were in  black and white. So I added wax crayon and circled words that had more meaning to me than others 


Group discussion 

Lunch 1-2pm 

Exercise 2-245pm 

Before this session Jo and I discussed different ways that we could use collage in pairs – Jo suggested having a silent dialogue

We suggested that the participants worked in collage collaboratively in 2 journals at the same time so that they each had an example to take home – this diluted the experience a bit, some people found they had two seperate conversations. Jo has found it more intense  if you just work on one page and watch as the other person makes their part of the conversation. Looking at body language and how images and text are placed on the page 

Examples of conversations 

1. 


2.


2.45-3.15 pm Evaluation/ discussion 

Jo fancied the group producing an evaluation of the session as collage/ mixed media. So we each produced an index card that illustrated how we felt about the session- one of the participants cards was two sided. (Mine is bottom right these sessions always make me very happy) 

Art Journalling session 2 – making journals 

Following on from my recent introduction to art journalling – I did another session for the counsellors and in September will do one for the group workers. In this session we explored how to do art journalling / expressive art with clients. 

There was a request for me demonstrate how to make a couple of different types of journals we made an accordion  and a pamphlet stitch journal 

1) Accordion fold journal  – I couldn’t find an easy step by step illustration on the Internet so I photographed one I made – there are lots of videos on YouTube 

Accordion fold – you will EE’s   6 sheets  of paper that are  the same size, I am recycling an Edinburgh International brochure 


fold all the piece in half to make fat halves 


Take one sheet and fold again into quarters , then rip or cut into strips along the folds 



Fold the strips in half again , these are the joining strips for the other pages 

Open up a strip and apply PVA glue , thinly all over ,take one of the other sheets of paper and lie it down on the wet strip in line with the fold


Take another piece of paper and lie it down on the other remaining glue strip 


If I flip the two sheets over at this stage you can see the strip which is yellow on one side gluing the two pages together 


Repeat , glueing all the strips to the remaining sheets  to create a long thin strip 


Fold this  strip, using the folds and glued strips as a guide ,into an accordion shape.  


Make 2 thicker pieces of paper/card the same size as the fat halves and glue them to the first and the last page – this makes the journal stronger for carrying and keeps  it together.  when you have finished working  on the pages- you may want to tie it together with a ribbon or apiece of string. 

2 Pamphlet stitch 


http://www.quietfiredesign.com/Galleries/Techniques/3HolePamphlet.htm

I always use a variety of papers in my journals to make ‘folios’  – the one we used today were made of Matt magazine pages, book pages ,white cartridge paper and one of my doodles. We use the metric ‘A’ system for our paper sizes in the UK – the paper was approx A4 ( 8.5″x10″) before folding. 

Art Journalling an introduction 

I facilitated an introduction to art journalling for some group workers and counsellors in Dunfermline yesterday – they are hoping to introduce some journalling to their clients so I have written an outline of the session. ( The group had a big range of art experience , from seasoned art makers to those who were quite anxious of using art materials ) 

I have been art journalling with my friend Debbie and following Shelley Klammer , Lisa Sonora and Orly Avineri –  so they have influenced my  work heavily .  I also draw from my art practice and teaching experience 

This CPD session shows you how to start art journaling – using simple techniques to explore feelings and emotions through art materials – have fun using found images, explore collage and expressive techniques with crayons and 

Materials and equipment 

Pastels and paint 

Sample technique books 

Examples of journals 

Blank journals 

Box of collage bags – scraps / paper / my prints 

Scissors 

baby wipes/ paper towels 

Magazines 

Glue sticks 

Paint 

Palettes 

Make up sponges 

Stencils 

Paintbrushes 

Washi tape 

Pencils 

Biros

black sharpie 

White signo pens 

Letter stamps 

Ink pads

Pastels 

Colouring pencils 

Wax crayons 

Abstract photos 

Photos of journal pages 

Aspects of self cards 

Soul cards 

Forgot to take hair dryers or drying tool 
Morning session 10am- 12.20 ( with 15 min coffee break)

Intro session 

Introduce my self 

Group explain who they are and what art experience they have 

Look at some art  journalling examples and ideas for how group could use them for self care. Through out the day I would explore ways that they could use this technique with their clients. 

Important to create a safe space with no expectation of art skills, no right or wrong way of art journalling , it is for your self, try and work in an intuitive , not over thinking kind of way 

Warm up exercises 

1) taking a line for a walk – What an angry / sad / happy / content mark / line would look like in pencil and pastel 


2) Abstract Photos – images of walls , water, fabric , my abstract art , stairwells etc 

A) Look at the picture write down what comes into your head when you look – don’t over think it do stream of conscious stuff –

B)  then write down what it makes you feel, weather, time of day, mood etc 

Discuss with the person sitting next to you 

Art journalling 

Choose something that has been with you this week – not a really deep emotional  ‘thing’  but more like an irritation – or a feeling 

Sit with it for a bit 

Then take a magazine and with soft eyes not reading the articles flip through the pages and rip out any whole pages with things that you like or attract you 

Try not to think too much – words / images/ patterns / texture 

When you have a pile go through and get rid of excess page by cutting or ripping out the pieces that attracted you 

Suggestion – choose a large piece for a background and stick it into your journal 

Then place some of the other images / text onto your page – when you like the arrangement stick it down 

Use collage bags / letter stamps / words

Discuss with the person sitting next you and come up with some statements about the work so far to share with the group 

Group plenary 

Afternoon session 1-2.30pm 

Introduce paint 

Stencilling 

Washi tape 

Aspects of self cards 

Give the group freedom to choose what work they do 

Clear up 2.30 

Plenary 2..45- 3pm 

A few Images from the day 








Links 

Instagram                                                       Tesswyatt , orlyavinerie, howardDebbie,shelleyklammer, lisasonora

Web links: 

Shelley Klammer https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/

Debbie http://www.facebook.com/earthaddictart

Orly Avinerie https://oneartistjournal.com/

http://lisasonora.com/

Kilgreggan , Gourlock  and the Clyde Estuary , via a self portrait 

There  are lots of windows and mirrors in the Airbnb. Reflections of a lamp in the bedroom caught my eye. So I had fun layering it in Image Blender and Prisma to create a self portrait 


Today we went over the estuary in a little ferry to Gourlock for coffee ( black Americano 6/10 , hot chocolate 2/10 ) the Victorian pier at Kilcraggen  attracted my attention so I played with my images of that too 




A mandala had to be added in the mix of course.

The train station at Gourlock is all new and shiny. 

They have an interesting exhibition of old photos and railway posters on a couple of walls that celebrate old paddle steamers and  Gourlock’s importance during WW2 as an international naval base. 


I only got one good photo because there was lots of reflections and shadows from the new architecture. This map  illustrates how it is possible to see Bute and Arran from the sitting room at Kilcraggen. Slightly different light from yesterday 


The light changing on the same view last night whilst I was sitting on the sofa 

 

Kilcraggen

We decided to go away for a few days after Easter. Jon found an Airbnb with a ‘view’ over the Clyde Estuary, a couple of hours from Edinburgh.

Kilcraggen  flourished with the building of its pier in 1848 . The area was developed as part of   the industrial expansion of Glasgow, with  villas and castles built as summer residences for well to do business men who then commuted by ferry and train back into the smoke and the grime. ( West Rosneath peninsula heritage trail A.Bray ) 


When we arrived yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day, warm enough to sit outside near the pier  and eat ice cream. 

The Airbnb is set back from the estuary on a road that runs parallel to the waters edge. The house is built on a steep rise with panoramic views. The changing light was so beautiful we decided not to close the curtains that evening

The house is owned by an artist. The walls are covered in paintings. The rooms are filled with plants and an eclectic range of objects. It felt as if the sun was streaming in from 3 sides.  I became visually overloaded so I laid down on a sofa. 

Jon had opened the windows so I listened to a variety of bird song as the sun warmed my feet.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had lain indoors and had that happen. It’s four years since we moved to Scotland in July. Jon and I decided that it must have been at one of our family homes, because the sofas had not been in the correct position in Abingdon. 

The flat in Edinburgh is a lower ground and basement as I am sure that I have written somewhere before. The light streams into the flat between March and October , but it can be a long dark weight during the winter. 

I wrote and drew in the visitors book because there is equipment provided. 


‘The sun is shining so strongly I am not used to it flooding a into a room from lots of angles. I am in love with the view from the sofa looking across to Bute and Arran. Jon is sitting in the garden which is unheard of in April in Edinburgh , marking some papers. I have become unused to the tranquility and birdsong. I love my flat,  but the day is constantly  punctuated by the sound of buses and cars driving past the window. The ceilings creak 

with visitors to the CAB but it’s quiet at night and the weekends. Here it is so still’ 

This morning I walked around the gareden collecting photos of spring flowers and I could hear the waves on the shore. 



Now,  Jon has lit a fire and the room smells softly of wood smoke. 

Inner Spaces with Erin at Glastonbury 

I just spent 3 days in Glastonbury on an art retreat. Glastonbury was something else – I don’t know what I was expecting. Anything goes, fairies, angels, goddess’s . The high street is a multicoloured eclectic  feast. 

One of the highlights of my visit was an hour spent in the Chalice Well Gardens, wandering with friends in the sunshine exploring and then lying on the grass in the warmth for a few moments. 


Erin’s workshops were a mixture of talking, short demos and lots of free styling. I felt quite liberated and my never NEED to draw a mandala again. 

I am extremely untidy by nature- drawing mandalas over the last three years has really honed my hand eye co-ordination, but lately it was an addiction and any bored moment that threatened was filled with detailed circles. 

Working with expressing my inner space through collage and paint was like breathing freely, after struggling up a steep hill with asthma on a cold morning. 


The first night I had terrible nightmares about screaming and a nasty beastie coming to get me. I worked on these along side my Inner Space work.

The first morning we got up early and walked up Glastonbury Tor, forgetting to check the visibility and weather before hand. It was cold and wild , the wind threatened to steal my phone out of my hands on a couple of occasions 


I love using bright colours , thinking about my inner space after the walk – had me painting in blue and orange, my blue seeping into the hard alien world and neutralising the noisy orange 


We tried different techniques mark making , sewing ( I forgot how much I love to sew) and burning our fears which was cathartic 


The resulting papers and fabric  were such fun I had to do a few more. 




They were glued and stitched onto my journal pages. I seem happy to let go of mandalas but circles are going to remain a recurring theme

We made patterned papers that were stitched and ripped to make great edges and loose fragile pieces to add texture and interest. I like the way sewing allows a freedom between the pieces which tends to get lost when you use glue 


Deb made a surreal pink rabbit stamped sheet to represent an outer world and after my initial laughter he became a motif on my pages- when I get back I am going to have to carve  mine own little monster to represent my nightmares.

The next few days we woke up to beautiful clear skies- Deb and Kath went back up the Tor to experience the sunrise. I wanted to add some colour to my moody grey photos so I overlaid my Tor with my orange / blue picture – it went through a prisma filter as well. 

We did a powerful group constellation therapy on the last evening and worked with how we can access strength and help within our selves by considering all those that donated their genes to create  us. I love group work and sitting and painting with these women all week and then the  doing the constellation was powerful. I have been fighting  putting my name down on the waiting lists for art studios in Edinburgh , that is going to happen now  and I am going to work exploring more abstract  messy pieces. 

The last morning we worked on how ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can be explored through our bodies and then into paint and collage 


I also worked on a ‘happy’ painting making  on some abstract circles – I only realised half way through that there were 12 of us in the room 

Two finished spreads  

Focused Spells 


What does the inside / outside feel like?