Friday, October 28, 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday!

Today we celebrate our arrival at a full year on "The Journey." What a great year it has been. Yes! Yes! If you weren't here with us, you can check out where we began.

Sunrise on October 28, 2011
 A fresh new day in a fresh new year of art and journaling

Technically the journey started about ten years ago when I realized with great certainty that a change was required. That something important and necessary on the road to fulfillment had been left behind, that I'd been languishing on the wrong path.

By the time 2010 was halfway through, and many false starts abandoned, we reached the point of heeding advise from a fellow traveler on the creative quest: quit waiting for "retirement" to begin studying and making art, do it now! And so, I discovered my first online class, a very beginning exercise in color theory. There was very little interaction with fellow students or the instructor, a well know and talented quilt artist who paints whole cloth quilts, but still and all there was paint on paper, a fine text to reference, some "aha" moments, and a first step down the road.

Just in time for this new resolve, a brand new mixed media retreat was fashioned and brought to Chicago, "Create" by the magazine, "Cloth, Paper, Scissors." Knowing nothing of visual journals or mixed media, I was drawn to attend by the promise of something different than a quilt show, and the perky personality and designs of crossover artist, Melanie Testa, I signed up for a full day class in visual journaling. This was my breakthrough. I felt an instant connection and camaraderie with Melly and the type of art she did. I could understand how all my years of textile art experience could only be enhanced by learning to draw and express my own visions on paper first.

Pokey Bolton captured this photo of me making my first ever mixed media journal page in Melly's class. I later discovered I was the "poster girl" for the registration page for a number of Create retreats.
Melly offered her help as mentor to my next step in the process: using the blogging world to find my community and record my journey. Her ready assistance and support made it possible for me to begin attending a stream of online drawing and design classes in both textiles and mixed media, while starting this diary to chronicle the trip. It has been not only a way to reach out to others, but an invaluable reference tool for myself: to see how far I've come.

My earliest and most favorite drawing and painting explorations have been with my furry friends as inspiration.
So what has this year of blogging and art brought forth?

 A record of my travels so far.

 An appreciation for my own abilities (a bit of the self love I was lacking.) 

Expanding the skills to record what I see, create and share a story (visually and verbally), connect with strangers and through that connection become friends.

A link with the broader world of creativity and exposure to new artists and ideas every day.

Connections with lovely people from all corners of the world, from the next town over to places like Australia, Finland and Tunisia.

My growing stack of journals and sketchbooks, including handmade storage boxes and folders.
Some statistics will wrap up the activity of my year--

The blog by the numbers:

32 blog posts hit over 7700 times
65 public followers

A visual record on flikr:

a photostream with 23 sets, 297 images, and over 19,000 page views

The formal study of art and design:

at least 20 classes and workshops with 8 different artists

The media in which I record my art:

8 different journals/sketchbooks started

2 recycled paper storybooks created

2 collections of small watercolor paintings (totaling 32 pcs.)

2 boxes, 1 folder, and 1 journal cover from painted canvas 

2 lutrador hippo themed story books

Some of my favorite projects have involved drawing in my handmade journals and books.
 Textile art:

3 machine technique quilts (in progress)

3 embroidered panels (ongoing)

4 mixed media pieces (ongoing)

9 hand technique textile panels (woven-based, embroidered and quilted) (two completed and sewn to jackets)

My most recent painting, using a never-ending inspiration: my garden.

Looking back on all this mountain of productivity has both amazed and delighted me. It has shown what I am capable of, what I want yet to do, and where my next year is likely to go. And yet, if you asked me a year ago where I thought I'd be at this moment, my modest answer would have been that I hoped I'd be able to draw passably well. But life has brough me so much more than that. I wouldn't want to jinx anything by trying to define the future. I'd rather embrace it with anticipation and delight in all its surprises. I'll see you there, my friends!


  1. you sure have come a long way in such a short period of time.

  2. Congratulations!!! You have come a long way and I look forward to seeing where the road takes you next. Thanks for allowing me to follow along. Wishing you much more joy filled art.

  3. Wow, Cheryl. Yeah! My heart feels soft. I am so happy for you on this artistic journey. You have been doing so well. And, well. I have never thought of myself as a cross over artist! :)

  4. What a year! Happy to be one of your following friends!