The Dream at 53

 I pasted "The Dream at 53" headline in my art journal four months ago and thought it would be interesting to see what I collected that represents my dreams of who & what I still want to be and do. The cartoon of the old lady at the bookshelf was the first thing I added: I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would always be READING. The rest took more time and thought to accumulate and add. Some dreams are beyond my control (grandkids) and others
 required me to step aside from my doubts and fears and NAME that which I truly want to do. I added the eclectic collection of collage items over a four-month period, occasionally revisiting the page to reflect on my dreams. The ephemera includes photos, bits of my recycled art, stamping, washi tape, stencil, photographs, message from a fortune cookie, acrylic, and china marker. Perhaps the next step is to do an artsy theology entry on each dream on what will transform the dream to reality...

All Brings Joy

This messy collage is a compilation of memorabilia, block printing, washi tape, stamped lettering, photographs, and hand coloring with pencils and pastels. It captures the essence of a momentous event in the life of my congregation...and me.  
 The process of art journaling is an opportunity to "stop and smell the roses" instead of letting life bolt by. The celebration of charting the church (essentially an ordination service for a new church) occurred in the midst of one of the most intense pastoral care experiences of my ministry. I literally "sandwiched" the chartering service between a wake and funeral for a teenage boy who died after an altercation at school. The joy of the chartering celebration was a joy...but it got a bit lost in the intensity of the funeral.
Instead of closing the book on the JOY of November 17th, I re-opened the journal page and added a menagerie of art bits & pieces while reflecting and CELEBRATING all that God has done in the life of this little church that has now been recognized and blessed as a FULL MEAL DEAL BIG GIRL CHURCH. Art journaling is often not about the art...but about the process. Thanks be to God.

A Year in Review 2013

 I went back through twelve months of photographs and compiled this overview which represents the key ministry, mission, fellowship, and worship at Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church. For as simple as the collage appears to be, it was a tedious process to systematically work my way through all the main file folders of assorted activities and click on literally thousands of digital files. I collected the images in a Word document, resizing them to about 1"x1-1/2" then cutting the pieces apart and gluing in a collage in approximate order. The reflective point of the process was to identify highlights of the faithfulness of God in this little church. I used a china marker to write the year and the subheads of various ministries represented in the photos. Intentional collection and reflection is helpful for appreciating what God has been doing and also planning and preparing for the New Year.

Encaustic Christmas

Our family Christmas tree brought me much joy this year. We hadn't put one up the past two years because we traveled on Christmas Day and it seemed too much production to put it up only to take it down early. We always put up a "real" tree, and I didn't realize how much I had missed the tree and the joy that radiates forth from it being the centerpiece of our living room during the month of December. Most evenings I've been intentional about sitting for a few moments in silence and simply gazing at the tree and appreciating its beauty and the love and memories included in the decorations on the tree. Encaustic Christmas is an artsy reflection on this joy and appreciation which I've experienced through this seasonal decoration.
The mixed media piece is the last two/unused pages on an altered book that I started March 2013. The pages had been prepped with white gesso and yellow & blue watercolor which I covered with green art paper and then created a collage of six "Christmas trees" cut from different art papers. They represent
 the six different trees decorated throughout my house. I cut apart my last remaining Christmas card and scattered it about the pages. I coated both pages with two thing layers of clear encaustic wax and used a heat cut to smooth and seal the layers. I had decorated the tree with purple and turquoise with small silvers balls, and I wanted to re-create the experience of gazing at the tree with this art journal entry. I dipped the end of a wine cork in hot wax and pressed onto the collage-first with purple and then then turquoise. I filled in missing spaces on the imprint using a paint brush dipped in the hot wax. I used the end of a dowel rod (smaller) for the silver balls.  Technique Tip: To clean the brush, "brush" it on a paper towel which is resting on the heat source for the encaustics (I use a pancake griddle set on 200 degrees). I keep a "cleaning cup" of wax on the griddle; when I've cleaned off as much wax from the paintbrush as I can using the paper towel, I dip it in the cleaning cup (which gradually gets more and more muddy) and then wipe the brush clean with a paper towel. It doesn't get it 100% clean, but very close. Once the "clean cup" of wax gets too muddy, discard and start over with fresh wax.
 I'm not quite sure what it is about it, but I am fascinated with encaustics. Artsy theology mixed media art and reflection-is a great receptacle for experimenting with encaustics because the purpose of journal art is the process and not the product. In other words, there is no pressure to "produce" something worthy of hanging on a museum wall; rather the goal is the process itself of thinking, listening, and reflecting while doing art. It isn't the end result but the process.

Messiah: The Global Christ

Messiah Global Christ is a mixed media journal entry reflection on the connection between the diversity of children in the world created by our Global God and the diversity of people in the church particular and the Church universal. The art project originated from Christmas VBS 2012 where the theme was "Family Tree Christmas." The children created a mixed media panel that combined the genealogy of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew with pictures of their family and elements of "Christmas." I wanted to continue this theme to reflect on the connection between local congregation and global mission. The pictures on the far left are "ornaments" cut from close-up pictures of children from our summer VBS 2013, and the represent a wide range of socio-ethic backgrounds. The pictures on the right page are images I took on mission trips to Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Zambia. I see a connection between being intentional about diversity in the church given the diversity in God's world. The "packages" under the tree also represent the greater gifts the church can offer to the world through ministry with widows, aliens, and orphans (left side) through helping with food, shelter, and water (right side). The exercise in a conversation piece for children and adults to consider the role of the Church, the message of the Gospel, and Jesus as Messiah and the Global Christ. Merry Christmas 2013!

Paper Towel 'Canvas'

Mixed media memory of Thanksgiving weekend at Mo Ranch.
When I feel like experimenting with something new I randomly pull one of my art "how-to" books off the shelf and turn to one of the pages marked with a post-it note. Mixed Media Revolution by McElroy & Wilson suggested using a paper towel for the "canvas" for a mixed media art (experiment). I used the materials in my travel art kit and made this experiment on Thanksgiving weekend.
I put a paper towel on top of a piece of wax paper (to protect the table in the hotel room), and then I randomly laid down liquid acrylic in nearly all the colors I had available in my mini travel tubs. It was pretty wet once the paints were laid down so I let it dry overnight before continuing. Fall leaves were lovely at the retreat facility where we were staying, so that seemed symbolic of our Thanksgiving weekend and important to include in the art. I dipped the leaves in the acrylic and pressed onto the canvas. The imprint of leaves around the borders were made from two leaf stamps and four colors of ink.

Altered Art Bookmark

 I was tired of flipping back-and-forth in my art journal looking for the current page I was working on so I made a super simple bookmark. I used a piece of pretty cord (this was intended to be a belt; I purchased it on a mission trip to Guatemala but never used the belt). Cut it to size and then squirt a big blog of Sobo Premium Craft & Fabric Glue in the space in the binding; insert fabric; press tightly until the glue sets. Voila! Instant bookmark.

Thanksgiving 2013

Mixed media reflection on Thanksgiving 2013
Choose a clean/un-prepped page and use Xylene to create an image transfer of a labyrinth.

Fall foliage leaves painted with acrylic and pressed onto the journal page.
Tube acrylics work best, but I had my travel kit with only liquid acrylics.

Write your prayers of gratitude as you "walk" the labyrinth in your journal.

Trust & Respect & Grace

This captures the essence of my experience in officiating at a funeral for a teen.
 Some events have such a level of intensity that they require intentional time to reflect on the experience, in particular, where GOD is present amidst the chaos. This journal entry captures the key theological themes I experienced in the process of officiating a the funeral for a teenager.

Souvenir elements from the bulletin, prayers of the people, etc.

 The background prep includes the sponge painting in the teen's favorite colors and a collage of elements from the funeral. Then I identified my overall experience of response from the community-at-large regarding this tragedy, and it was clearly GRACE. I wanted to show the overwhelming response of people coming to grieve with the family. I layered a piece of art paper with holes to give texture and depth and to symbolize the 1,600 people in the "sold out" congregation. I facilitated a conversation on this them-grace experienced amidst the tragedy-with our youth group to help the teens identify God's presence amidst a tragic event. The journal and interactive teen conversation complements a theme we talk about often-what I call the "theology of the pit." When we fall into the inevitable pits of life and invite God into those pits, they become holy ground.
The black square is the pulpit and "RESPECT," and "TRUST" my experience from the host senior pastor.

Repeating the favorite color theme, I "stamped" people using a hollowed out end of a wine cork.

Abundance with Encaustics

 Background prep: white gesso in an altered book. Smudge on several colors of Inka Gold Metallic Rub. Add a layer of pretty paper. Cut out a watercolor flower from another piece of art paper and layer on top. Edge the page with washi tape. Now: time to experiment with encaustic wax. Begin by coating the pages with a layer of clear wax/encaustic.
 This is the "disappearing tissue paper" technique in Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch. Draw a design with very soft pastels on a piece of tissue paper cut to the appropriate size. Layer it on the pre-coated (with clear wax) page and seal with a heat gun. I added encaustics on top of the watercolor flower and fused the wax with a heat gun. During the art process of I had been thinking about my prayer for our son & daughter-in-law. I kept thinking "abundance" but I waited and listened, and prayed, and I realized that my prayer for abundance for this is peace, hope, and love. I added a second "disappearing tissue paper" with the words "Peace Hope Love."
 Then I stenciled "abundance" into the wax with a graphite pencil.

Experimenting with Encaustics

Dry pastels and oil pastels on corrugated cardboard.

 I had a fun evening experimenting with encaustics (hot wax) with an avid high school art student who also wanted to experiment. We fired up the pancake griddle, filled the mini muffin tins with assorted colors, and experimented with mixed media and encaustic wax. Among the experiments, we used soft (dry) pastels on corrugated cardboard with oil pastels topped with encaustics. We also used dry pastels on tissue paper that we then embedded on a board using layers of clear wax. There was no goal; simply to experiment with some of the ideas I've ready about in books on how to incorporate encaustics into mixed media art.

Dry pastels on tissue paper topped with clear wax.

The palette: wax in mini muffin tins.

Adding hot wax selectively with a paint brush to board covered with dry & oil pastels.

Using a hot (travel) iron to spread the previously applied encaustic wax.

Heart-Cry of Prayer

 This altered journal entry begins by subtracting text on the right side of the page (use a dark marker to scribble out the "extra" words on a piece of text until the remaining words form a core theme for your reflection). The remainder of the pages are covered over with white gesso EXCEPT the lower left side which is a  photograph that has been covered with clear gesso so that the photo shows through. Take key words and phrases from the remaining words left exposed by the "subtracting text" and create a series of words/prose. Here I used upper and lower case letters to individually stamp the words. I embellished the edges with B&W paper strips and flowers cut from art paper. The words (bottom left) are key themes of my prayers and they are written in basic graphite pencil on top of the clear gesso which is over an image in the (altered) book.

Use baby wipes to clean the edges of a rubber stamp to make a clean print on the letter.

Excuse to Experiment

 An art journal is an excellent excuse to experiment with new techniques and materials. I bought several colors of Inka Gold Metallic Rub because they just simply looked like fun! The size of the jar and the application process reminds me of shoe polish. I wrapped my finger in a paper napkin, dipped it in the waxy-vibrant-metallic material and experimented by drawing different flowers on pages coated with black gesso.
 I was killing time as a passenger on a long card ride and had no plan for the journal page other than to experiment with the new product I'd purchased in So. Cal. I added the detail of the leaves & stems with colored car doodling. Then the page sat in my journal for awhile until I was at a meeting and reminded to "stop and smell the roses" and name/count the joy. I filled in the petals with names of people and churches who have been supportive of my new church development during the journey. Instead of racing on to the next thing-as I often do-the journal pages helped me to give thanks and to celebrate.