Composite Photos Create Journal Backdrop

Computer software programs such as Photoshop and Corel Draw allow you to "stitch" together multiple photographs so they become one seamless image. I thought it would be fun to create a similar composite image without the hassle of computer technology! Printed three images from one scene which I took on a recent trip to Todos Santos, Mexico of a street-side taco shop: old man waiting for his tacos; the owner cooking; and the dining area. I printed the images on a B&W laser printer, trimmed each photo on a RotaTrim paper cutter, positioned them together on one journal page and glued them in place with matt medium. I filled the blank spaces above the photos with text from a free tourist magazine distributed in Todos Santos. The page sat in my journal until inspiration hit at some future time.
I added composite items from my day of floating around Todos Santos taking photographs in the beautiful bright overcast light. Ultimately the message that came through the journaling was the importance of intentional Sabbath rest, so that became the title/theme for the reflection.

Mixed Media Stacked Journaling Dump Sheet

Ever have a bad day? Get talked into doing something you really, really, really, REALLY wish you had never agreed to do? I created a mixed media stacked journaling "dump sheet" to do some creative venting and to emblaze upon my heart, mind, and soul that the answer next time is NO THANK YOU. I didn't

Step 1: choose a journal page and dump how you feel.

Step 2: add more layers of dumping; here stencil with crayon.
I was in a dark mood so I chose pages with black gesso and the exposed words "be loving and gracious when we'd rather not" because these words reflected why I thought I agreed in the first place. After the layers of mixed media stacked journaling which included crayon and water color, acrylic and printed portions the project I was lamenting doing, and Pilot markers with the insights gained about myself during the process of reflection, I added a border edge of lessons learned and glued on the take home message that I want to remember: "This will change you forever." In other words: What began as unhappy venting ends on the upbeat message of the lesson learned from the experience.
Step 3: add layers of words on top of words, gradually including "lessons learned."

Reflection Before Evaluation

Mixed media reflection before preparing a formal written evaluation.

A mixed media art reflection helped to "process" the my experience in supervising a 10-week ministry intern before writing the formal written evaluation. I chose a previously prepared background which had exposed words which complemented the unique aspects of the ministry intern. I like the words but the bright green around the words was too bright and bold as the primary background, so I toned it down by painting over with white gesso and then blue acrylic in the shape of my backyard swimming pool-which had been the setting for much of the ministry intern's summer activities. The green "grass" around the pool complemented the outdoor theme. I added mixed media elements that covered the wide range of ministry activities which the intern had participated in over the summer which helped me realize (and remember) what a tremendous help the intern had been in diverse summer ministry activities for kids, teens, and adults.
It is easier to write the official evaluation after having first created a mixed media visual reflection.
The theme behind the reflection.
Experimental background was too bright for this reflection.
Blobs of acrylic pain in greens and yellows spread with rubber scrapers.
The first layers: kids in pool; washi tape art project; pulpit & Communion table (top R)

Peace is a Work in Progress

I incorporated the theme of peace as I experimented with using cheesecloth in the process of painting a background in an altered book. Top left photo: 1) Paint the pages with two coats of white gesso; 2) lay down a piece of cheesecloth across both pages and paint with a random selection of thinned down acrylics; 3) let sit about 20 minutes and remove cheesecloth; allow pages to dry; 4) use fabric stamp on ink stamp pad in a variety of colors; 5) edge around the pages with washi tape which has the peace sign.  Wait till inspiration hits again...
 I prefer to use words in my art and I have a difficult time "just" doing abstracts. As an exercise in pushing my creativity envelope (several months later) I used the previously prepared "peace" theme as the background to paint the feeling of peace. It was interesting to me that I painted the two pages at the same time using the same collection of acrylic paints/colors but that the two sides ended up looking very different; almost like "ying and yang" or "Venus and Mars." I logically needed them to look alike!
 In an effort to blend the two sides and the two very different images/feelings of peace, I painted over the right side, edging into the left barely across the seam of the page and re-painted the swirl of circles (below). During the process of painting on top of painting on top of painting to achieve with paint the elusive feeling of peace, I realized that peace is a process...very much an ongoing journey and not a definitive achievement that is done once and for all.

 I used oversized letters intended for stamping on t-shirts to embed the message I heard during the painting and reflection: PEACE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. I think the concept of the journal reflection-without the words-would make a lovely oversized abstract once I work up the gumption to super-size and leave off the words.

Reflection on Writing

Integrating art with decision making is an excellent way to be thoughtful and to engage in "reflective thinking" (thinking-on-thinking) to assist with the process of thinking. Mixing art and reflection works well for anything that requires careful consideration. The art journal becomes a back-and-forth-conversation between...yourself and yourself! Begin by identifying the topic for reflection. In the example here, I was considering which topics of my PhD dissertation hold the most personal interest for me and which I would be willing to spend a significant amount of time in promoting and rewriting to ensure these ideas make it into great readership circulation. I chose a previously prepared page with the exposed words "integral to the unwritten story behind the making of a book" to set the theme for the reflection. I identified the primary book/article topic and stenciled the title on the outside edges [Postmodern Hermeneutic] with a Pilot marker pen. I also identified the key theological themes (left side of the page) and the overall challenge for readers (right side of the page) in the postmodern context. I stamped the words using custom stamps carved from wine corks (words with 5 letters or less) and Prismacolor art erasers (words with 6 letters or more).
  I also gave careful consideration to the unique aspects of my journey, and these are represented by my church logo (three "people crosses" under the tent/awning) and a picture of me in my cap and gown. These are collaged onto listings of colleges and seminaries for my church affiliation. I used simple collage materials in cream, tan, and taupe to make churches in various sizes to create a visual connection between my unique experience and knowledge with the world-at-large which I hope to benefit from the information "going public." This art reflection is a process for thinking on thinking; listening to self; listening to God; and being open to the possibility of a new answer through the art.