I have a lot of intuitive paintings in the studio. Large ones. And a lot of scrap and collage papers I’ve collected over time.
Since my contemplative painting practice is about being free and pure in the process, without the pressure or influence of making a ‘good piece of art’, I end up with lots of painted pages of all sizes. The relationship with some of them ends when the painting is done – others like to hang around and be seen for awhile, and I might even add marks or layers here or there.
But eventually, over time, each feels complete and I can let them go. Sometimes to people who love them, or to be used as wrapping paper, cards or whatever, and even – the one I love most because it continues their life and story in new ways – to become new art.
I have a thing for homemade and re-purposed, saving resources (like money and our beloved trees) – AND the way papers (and paint) tell a story when they’re held in our hands – and how that telling continues when we engage with mark-making and expression on and through them over time.
For about a year now, I’ve been slowly taking a lot of those intuitively painted pages, along with some studio scraps, and prepping them to turn into spiral bound art journals intended to become altered journals for new art-making adventures.
This is not a new thing at all – among others, the ever-inspiring Alisa Burke has been creating loads of these as well. But what I love is how everyone’s take on this is a bit different.
I find that these journals are fantastic for anyone who just hates the blank page, although mine all have some blank pages for days when you want that clean, spacious feel. They are also full of imperfectious(!) potential and spirit, as handmade things can be… just waiting to be given one’s own unique approach to mixed-media alteration and goodness.
They are great to paint in, collage in, put photos in, write, doodle or experiment in. You can add pages, rip them out, and really just do whatever strikes your fancy. They make wonderful starter pages for practices that use a focused study, like mandala-making, as well.
I have only completed one so far – and I used it for a simple morning 28 day art practice, spending 20-30 minutes each day on a page. After the 28 days, I did some touch-ups and added details to finish the book here and there. But it was a journal that was allowed to feel free from the need for perfection, growth or purpose – just a place to be present with my creative energy and curiosity.
You’ll likely recognize some of the pages, if you’ve been around here before – but here is a short flip-through video of the before and after of that homemade studio-scrap art journal:
That little book holds so many glimpses of my life’s story earlier this year, and things that were being processed in my conscious and unconscious awareness. I love that it is both materialistically simple – AND that it feels precious to my personal holistic-creative journey.
I finally got around to binding a few more of these babies – and have made just a few available in my shop! Most are made with just paintings, but there is just one that is smaller and very much like the one in my video above – with a wide variety of pages.
If you are more interested in making your own – that’s awesome, and it’s so fun. I personally use the binding machine and binders linked below, and I love it.
The machine and binders I use, plus the paper cutter that makes it oh-so-easy…
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