Monday, May 30, 2011


Thinking of those who serve our country; their families, loved ones and friends.
Thank you!
And then there is this.
I was so excited to find Misty Mawn's new book out at my local BN on Friday. 
I have been absorbing it all weekend. This is the kind of book that makes you want to drag out all of your 'art' toys and dig in. The book is loaded with Misty's artwork, which is generously placed through out the entire book; end to end making it a visual feast that feeds the desire to not just look, but to engage in artistic activity. 'Unfurl'.
This is a new page in my 'informal gathering' journal.
I have been keeping the journal open when I work on other projects and then when I find an element I like I add it to a page. Today I was working on a custom journal and several of these pieces came out to play.  I've got pages with snippets of paper on it, another has a feather I found in the yard a few days ago. I am keeping at it, just working in the moment and being spontaneous. 
'A visual journey of ordinary objects, 
of stuff I love and things that inspire;
to be inspired
to reach beyond
to search within
 and to know 
where to look
to emerge from
 what is left behind.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An Informal Gathering

An Informal Gathering
of Oddments,
A Visual Journal
by Susie LaFond
14" tall by 17" long
(it's a huge journal)
This is one of my current projects and I can't share too much about it because it is going on a journey soon. There is a story behind this journal. One afternoon I was hopping around the web and I came across some pics of 'inspiration boards' basically a collection of images tacked up on a wall or on a board, or even hung from a wire or string as a way to keep the creative fires stoked. I actually have an inspiration board hung on my wall which I change around every few months to reflect my current passions and to display art objects that have come to me through swaps. I love looking at it every day. It makes me happy. It reminds me to be creative every day, no matter what else is going on, to keep going even when other aspects of my life are in 'the rough'. 
What I really wanted at that moment was one entire wall to use as an inspiration board and since I don't have a free wall at the moment I got to thinking why not just make a giant journal with big, sturdy, white pages to capture it all in. A place where I could tape in whatever stuff comes to me and that make my creative heart go pitter patter with excitement.
And the above journal is what I came up with.
I always have tablets of big sheets of watercolor paper on hand that serve as the base for my many Etsy journals so I ripped off the back chip boards of 2 pads and they became the back and front of the journal. The paper in those pads became my pages. (Some might wonder why bother re-binding the pages and just use the pad of paper as is, well I did think of that. In fact I went to my nearest
Blick to check out their pads of papers; some quite a bit bigger than what I went with, money was the deciding factor, I already had lots of pads I could use at home, the number of pages in a really big pad is not many and I wanted lots of pages, the paper itself; why use really good watercolor paper when I don't intend to use wet medium, when bristol would be just fine and the main reason ended up being storage and ease of use, too big and working in it would become an issue and once it's full where would I put it? Re-binding the paper was about adding sturdiness and made a huge difference in how it handles. Had I worked in the pads as is, the end result would have been a floppy, pages falling out creation. Using heavy chipboard for both cover and back added heft and much needed support for pages that will end becoming full and heavy given their length. I am pretty rough with my journals. Re-binding this journal was a smart move on my part.)
I trimmed off any roughage on the edges of the chipboard and then primed them with 2 coats of gesso on both sides as a way to seal the chipboard. At the time I thought I might want to paint the covers but after messing around with it, I went with creating a fabric cover for it instead. I removed the paper from the 2 pads and punched them with my 'bind it all' and wire bound them. The fabric cover hides the wire coil. I wondered how sturdy it would actually be once I bound the pages in but this is one hefty and sturdy journal.
I began filling the pages around 2AM, in the wee hours of the morning.
Because I want this journal to remain an open place for whatever strikes my interest, I am going to try and maintain a few rules as I work in it because I want to be able to open it up and glue or tape down whatever it is I want to capture in that moment. I want these pages to 'inspire' me to create beyond it's boundaries; on canvas, wood,paper and in the creation of other journals. There are going to be times when I might feature a collection of images from all those art mags sitting in bins to remind of the work of some of my most adored artists, a poem, lyric or found poetry may make an appearance in these pages from time to time. This journal's only purpose is to 'catch' and 'gather' the stuff and give it a resting place. The pages are not meant to be finished or complete. And that is what inspired the title I came up with; 'an informal gathering' of whatever I am drawn to. If a page happens to become cohesive and holds deeper meaning then I will embrace those pages as special 'gatherings' And because this journal will hold 'bits' and 'scraps' the pages might never, ever be complete because if I see an image that happens to make it's way to an already full page, that will be ok.
My Rules
Collect, cut, tear out, rip, without fear.
No thinking. No pondering. No worrying about composition.
Keep it loose.
Glue sticks, masking and painters tape are all welcome here. Use them liberally.
The use of decorative washi tape is VERY welcome.
Avoid wet medium but if I must, oh well.
Let the words find the page if they desire a place to rest, but don't loose it if a page seems pointless, vague or unclear.
And if all else fails break all of the above rules and do whatever feels right at the time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let 'em Grow and Doin The Full Tilt Boogie

My thoughts on weeds.
Call me crazy but I think this little weed is gorgeous. I say let 'em grow. And if you are one who carefully tends your lawn and garden then I will respectfully applaud your efforts and stand back in appropriate awe and wonder as I walk past your yard. Seriously, I don't have enough hours in the day to do yard work. I am always impressed when I see gorgeous carpets of green and gardens that make my jaw drop because I know how many hours of love and care that go into tending them. We do keep our lawn tidy but I don't put any effort into weed or pest control.
These guys are constant visitors and they like to munch on the dandy-lion blossoms. I fondly refer to them as our organic weed control system. Not to mention they do it for free.
If I were to describe myself as a botanical being I would no doubt, be a weed. I've thrived under conditions that were not always ideal or fertile. I blossomed in a dark place with very little light and almost no tending. I continued to bloom time and time again no matter how often I was yanked up by the roots and tossed aside. I feel a kindred bond to most things that go unwanted because it was my 'normal' day to day existence. Nothing wrong with weeds, let 'em grow.
 And I continue to sprout journals about as quickly as the weeds are growing. This beauty is the collective efforts of some amazing art pals from Mary Ann's Remains of the Day class. The cover was created by Stephan Du Toit, Susan Wachob, Maria Moesch, Jan Brown and Kristi Wilson-Bovee.
The pages are all from various page swaps hosted by class members.

All wrapped up snug. And if you think this is pretty cool then just consider this your personal invite to what is sure to be the biggest summer create-a-journal party you are going to find anywhere else on the web. We are all going to be doing the Full Tilt Boogie.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The View From Here

The view from my place in the world as I look out my kitchen window,it's raining. It's chilly and a cold, damp wind is blowing. It's a good day to be inside. It would be an awesome day to bake cookies. I will have to think about that. For now I am happily creating. My DD's are at an end-of-the season dance party. Our final recital is tomorrow and so this afternoon is pretty much mine.
I've been working on the little house journal I will be putting in my Etsy shop once it's done. I soldered a little window and added a tiny glass bead bird to the corner and decided it would be the perfect addition for the cover of the journal.
The little house this journal will reside in, is also coming along, pics coming soon. I've also been engaged in quite a bit of paint play and will share my results when those projects get farther along.
Wishing one and all a pleasant view from wherever you are.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mail Order Catalog As Visual Journal

Like many mixed media artists, I see endless possibilities in the most insignifcant items. Yesterday I received an Anthropolgie catalog in the mail. I looked through it and found that almost every page held an image that would be great used in collage. I swooned over things I wish I could afford to purchase and smiled that if nothing else, I would rip out  the pages to hang on the fridge as part of my ever growing, 'wish' list of things I would like to have someday. That is what I thought I would do.
So today, my art table was covered with collage fodder I had pulled out. I had several projects I had intended to work on; the catalog had since been covered with stuff, so I unearthed it from the pile, it was already opened to a page and in the process of moving it, several images fell onto the opened page. I was about to move them when I noticed that one of the photos I had cut, had landed on the catalog page in such a way as to make me stop. I liked the way it looked. And in that moment I was struck with the idea;
instead of using the catalog to harvest images from, why not repurpose the catalog and use it as a journal instead? Well why not? Look.
Anthropologie catalog page.
Look at all the great white space to journal in. The background imagery is rich with possibility.
I used one of my favorite 'girls' and some vintage ledger paper which I added some stitching to and glued them down. I couldn't resist doing another page in the same manner.
Nothing I have done to these pages is all that noteworthy. I will continue to add to them and eventually will add my thoughts to the pages. At first I wondered at the folly of spending time working in something that would hardly stand up well over time. After all, what can I expect from something that came to me free of charge?
I continued to play. I've been playing in it all afternoon with nothing more than the scraps that were on my art table.
And then I thought, I wonder what would happen if I gessoed the cover. And so I did, keeping in mind that the paper might not hold up well to wet media. I figured if I ruined it so what. I just wanted to see what would happen. I applied the gesso with a small foam roller so I could easily control how much gesso I was putting down. It took 3 thin layers to block out the cover image. I was impressed. The paper warped slightly but that is ok. I didn't even wait for the gesso to completely dry. I slopped on some watered down acrylics, wiped away the excess, sprayed on some glimmer mist and barely stopped to take a breath. Play.

And the text in the corner says,

I keep a small jar of found text on my art table which I dumped out and these were the words that stood out. Perfect. Indeed, I will flood the surfaces will all manner of insignificant fragments and in so doing, disclose at times, very significant parts of myself. Flooding. Spilling. Creative release.
 This isn't really earth shattering news to anyone who loves to collage, write, and play with glue and paint. It's all part of keeping a visual journal, in this case, a catalog of great images that I can manipulate. The catalog as journal.
As I played and time slipped by I was reminded that keeping a journal should be in part, spontaneous and that having to think too much can get in the way of the creative process. This happens to me every so often when I work in what I consider my 'real' journals; working in something so completely non-precious proved to be an excellent place to just let go for a few hours; no constraints, no boundaries. I didn't think twice about what I was grabbing and gluing down, other than what appealed to me right then. Bliss.
 I found myself thinking that if I continue to add to this catalog/journal and I will, the fragile, glued binding might never hold up, the pages may eventually all fall out, the ink used in printing might fade and there is nothing archival about the quality of the paper. It's thin and rips easily. These are all qualities I would never accept in any journal I have made or have purchased so allowing myself to let my 'creative' gaurd down and simply embrace whatever happens on the pages was rather like being allowed to go out and play in the rain, splash in puddles, make a mess. It was a simple moment of creativity. Nothing more. Nothing less. I encourage everyone, go out and find a puddle and play in it for a little bit. It's good for the soul.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Everything is blooming. I look outside and the grass is once again green. Meanwhile inside, I sit and create; lots of projects in the works. I am working on a custom 'HuG' style journal; pictured above and am making progess on this sweet little house shaped journal which will be tucked away in it's own little house.

This is still under construction.
This time of year we are busy with dance recitals. This past weekend was our rehearsal. On Sunday, our day began at 2:30am and ended at 10pm; rehearsal began at 6am and ended around 9pm, mind you that is running through 3 different entire shows, with each show taking about 4 hours of rehearsal time and there is plenty of down time, but it's still a long day. Most of us bring coolers of food and beverage and make it a fun experience; better known as 'picnic at the performing arts center'. It was a cold, windy, and wet day so no one really minded being cooped up inside. The actual length of each show is just a little over an hour and half. So for the next 2 weekends it's all about dance at our house.
Stay tuned for updates on journals, artwork, and other projects that I will be sharing soon.