It feels good to be back online and posting on the blog tonight. I purposely left my laptop behind on our trip to Vegas, and I didn't even seek out the business center or any of the Internet stations at the hotel. I just wanted to be technology-free and enjoy spending time with the family we were meeting there, as well as experiencing the city. But I missed being online, and I've missed journaling even more than that.
It is really hard to journal when you're out of town, and wearing yourself out having fun. I prepped 5 pages for the Vegas trip, and I only used two of those. I only journaled on the first night we were gone, because I was utterly pooped by the time we made it back to the hotel room on the second night. The good thing is that I collected ephemera galore, all kinds of fun and crazy stuff, and I can't wait to get to the art table and play with it all!
I actually didn't do much more to my Vegas pages other than some writing. When under a time limit and feeling wiped out, I found that the words were more important to me than the art part. I was glad to have the journal to get down some of my first impressions of Las Vegas. I've been before, but I was all of 9 years old, so naturally it was a whole different experience as an adult.
This third page that I'm sharing was actually done on Thursday night, before we left for Vegas. This was one of Moira's challenges for the 30 Day Craft Cleanse group that I've mentioned before. She challenged us to do a page about our "craft demon," whatever little monster lives inside of us and urges us to buy, buy, buy. I used to shy away from challenges and prompts, but lately I've been enjoying them, and this one inspired me immediately. I read the challenge, and went straight to my journal despite the fact that I hadn't even packed my bag for the trip yet! I knew I wouldn't have time to do my usual painted background with lots of layering, so I worked directly on the page with Bic Mark-Its, fine point Sharpies, a pretty pink shade of Twinkling H2O's, a few crayons, some stamps, and a magazine image. In the end, I taped my demon's mouth shut!
It felt great to get in that last-minute journal time, not knowing how much I'd do while I was out of town. The downside to having company (my folks) in town is that my art time is so rare, and I only get 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there. Don't get me wrong; I love having my parents here and I've looked forward to this visit for MONTHS. I'm very fortunate in that I have parents that I would choose to have in my life even if they weren't my parents; I just enjoy their company that much. They are incredibly supportive of most everything I've ever done in my life...but even they are a little puzzled as to why their daughter is collecting bits of trash off the streets of Las Vegas, nabbing the "Do not disturb" sign from the hotel, and gasping with dismay when someone almost throws away the napkins from the burger joint when we had lunch. As my mother watched me tearing up a brochure advertising an escort service (complete with a naked woman named Hailey on it!) she confessed, "Honey, I don't understand this kind of scrapbooking..." lol!
I'm never quite sure how to explain what I do to people who don't art journal. My friend the illustrator never has this problem. She can proudly show off whatever she's working on, and people get it. She's working towards the goal of writing and illustrating children's books. My sister-in-law makes jewelry, and she gets heaps of praise for her lovely creations as well. She sells her jewelry online and at local craft fairs and artsy boutiques. And back when my primary passion was scrapbooking...well, that was much easier to share with other people. My pages were meant to be shared. I loved pulling out a scrapbook and sharing photos of our latest trip to the zoo, or my son's most recent school photos.
But my journals are like the dirty little secret you hide in the laundry hamper when the company arrives. They aren't something I can just pull out and share with everyone who walks in my front door. When people see my art supplies and ask what sort of arts and crafts I do, I'm shy about talking about my books. Anyone who opens up my journal is opening up the truest part of me that exists in a tangible form. I don't sugarcoat in my journals. I don't try to present only the best parts of me. I get ugly and I get mad, and I show off my weird thoughts and my dark places and my insecurities. Sometimes it's in code, or hidden in a poem or a song lyric, but it's all in there somewhere...
Some people don't understand a practice that has no real purpose, in the sense that I'm not trying to get into art school, pursue a career, or sell anything I create. I just do it because it feels good. It makes me feel better when I'm nervous or upset, and it makes me happier when I'm already happy. I paint, I collage, I draw, I write, and I'm happy. I turn the page and I do it all over again. And again. That's all. I don't expect it to lead to anything other than a saner, more balanced me. If that's all that I ever get out of this practice, well...I think that's enough. More than enough, really.