Art Journal Dirt

Here’s the Art Journal Secret of the day: You can’t money your way to creativity.

There are lots of people out there on the fringes of the art journaling community who want to sell you stuff to “help” you be more creative. They want you to believe that you’d be another Picasso (or Matisse, or Wyeth or Rockwell…whatever your poison)  if only you had the right tool: the right set of applicators, the right collection of pencils, the right squirter of wax or glue or paint.

And actually, the opposite is true. Beware any endeavor that requires a new set of clothes, Henry David Thoreau warned. By the same token, Beware any art that requires an expensive new thingy.

The true sign of a poseur is the high cost of their tools. The cheaper the materials, the more authentic the art. And the purest cost of artistic genius is: Free.

So I’m back to the old Home Depot for the paint chip freebies. Those wonderful brochures that paint companies put out to get you to buy their gloss and semi-gloss paints have superb art direction and excellent copy (short, to-the-point text that evokes your deepest desire for color and mood) — and are so inspiring.

Consider what they do for Brown. Brown: the least interesting color of the spectrum. Brown: the synonym for boring. Brown: the last color I would paint on my walls.

Except if Brown is called Bread Basket, or Terrazzo Tan, or Belgian Chocolate, or Pony Tail.  That’s the kind of  Brown that I could live with!

Those people at Lowe’s are geniuses.  They have made Brown luscious.

And (above), here’s Brown acting like Cider Toddy, Fragrant Cloves, Brick Dust, Brass Mesh, and Sauteed Mushroom.  That’s the kind of Brown I want to wrap around me in silk sheets and have for breakfast.

So, you might ask, What’s in a name? Everything: a Brown by any other name would be Crud.  And I should know:

Yes, this illustration (page 38 in my book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam) is my interpretation of March as a paint chip brochure.  Only, of course, I made an anti-paint chip brochure (in that I used the worst names for Brown that I could think of); it seemed funnier that way.

Either as a way to fuse some lovely words and associations (two or three word poems, really) with beautiful shades of color that you have deconstructed from a scene of your choosing (a landscape, a memory, a still life, a Summer Day, etc. – see Lesson Twelve-teenth [ie: in the future of this blog]) ; OR as a way to list a series of words that are evocative or funny or descriptive (see: March Mudness, above)…Paint Chip Pages are a very useful and thought-provoking and viewer-friendly way to give your art journal a change of pace.

And as far as materials go, they couldn’t be simpler to make. Which is the truest proof of their invaluablility

I’m writing this on Thursday night, feeling like  I want to celebrate; in fact, I think that from now on, every Thursday night will be a holiday in VivianWorld. It will be the TGITetc.  Holiday:   Thank God It’s Thursday And I Don’t Have To Go To A Do-Gooder Meeting With People Who Make Me Want To Be A Do-Badder.

I havn’t resigned yet from the group [that I told you about in my last post], but I plan to do it shortly. As soon as I finish writing a memo, which I will email to each of the group members  with my resignation note, that I think will be extremely helpful to the ladies: How To Tell Your Ass From Your Elbow.

Here’s a peek of my first Helpful Hint from  How To Tell Your Ass From Your Elbow:

Elbows are pointy. And that immovable, self-centered round mound of wind-baggery blubber thing that you’re sitting on while you yak about “empowerment”?  That’s your  ass.

Helpful, yes?

P.S. That memo? About How To Tell Your Ass From Your Elbow? That’s a joke, friends. ha ha. I’m not really going to email it to my nemeses.

Although the world could use some pointers.

8 comments to Art Journal Dirt

  • Vivian, be careful. One of those ladies you want to trash might be a real helper later on.

    Be careful.
    We know you are right, and they know you’re right, but TELLING them is just going to have them want to do something in retaliation.
    Trash yr book in the newspaper, entice one of the ferel cats out of your yard, ( how awful)

    Don’t do it. it’s a lot of work for you, with no return that is going to be good for you.

  • I remember the mud page!!! A high spot of March reading. Clever and funny.

    Who ever noticed MUD before? You are a trend-setter. Brown personified.

  • Jennifer

    At an earlier mention of paint chips I felt an urge to go to my local hardware store and pick some up. I have always loved paint chips and used to bring them home with even when I was a kid. I don’t art journal though. So a couple weeks ago, after picking up some paint chips I ended up striping the wallpaper from the hallway, refinishing the surface of the walls and painting them “Lonesome Dove”. :-)

    Years ago, I remember underlining that Thoreau quote about being suspicious of endeavors that require new clothes in Walden. I think of it quite often all these years later.

  • Shelley

    Vivian, I would love more How To Tell Your Ass From Your Elbowl helpful hints. You elucidate things I wish I had the command of language and the sharp wit to put into words.

    I would love to steal your helpful hint and share it with a few folks in my world, but I’m attempting to practice restraint.

    I’m eagerly awaiting a Vivian journal page or two complete with thought-provoking paint chips to illustrate the concepts of “elbow-ness” vs “ass-ness”!

  • Shelley

    That should say Elbow (not sure what an Elbowl is)…

  • Marina

    I really loved that page in the March section of your book….and I so agree. It is very tempting to keep buying stuff to make my art better, but I know what I really need to do is just keep drawing and practicing

  • I agree with Pinky. Tread lightly. I’m having the same problem with my book club- different but similar. I’m not much of a joiner, either, but I do love to discuss books. A new woman in our group wanted to give a gift at Christmas from our group to Heifer.(A group that gives farm animals to poor families in third word countries) I’m sure this is a wonderful charity in many ways but to me it just conjures up butchering animals. I expressed my feelings in no uncertain terms and the rest of the group already knew how I felt. She wanted to give money for a goat- can you imagine- a cute little baby goat. After much discussion we agreed on a beehive. I could certainly get behind that. We all put in our $20 and at the end of the meeting she said she’d send the money for the goat and walked out the door. I’ve been writing “quit the club” letters ever since, but can’t get it right.
    It’s awkward since they meet at my house. And a couple of the other members brought her and I hate to offend them. It’s not just the goat,though. She’s also an outspoken conservative. It’s been quite awhile since Christmas and I haven’t quit yet.

  • Deborah

    Looking at the paint chip names makes me hungry — for food and for paint chips to play with.

    The mud picture was one of my favorites in the book — but I kept asking myself why? when there were so many pretty (almost twee) pictures that could have been my favorite, why mud? But it’s the naming of the mud, the humor, of course.

    I think maybe there’s a BOOK in this elbow/ass thing — we could each contribute a story or two. Sure hit a nerve with me.

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