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November finally showed up yesterday. Cold, windy,  the trees suddenly dropping the rest of their leaves — all the maples across the street are bare already and that hurts, because that’s what I look at when I look out the windows of  my work room.

If you’re going to get the blues, November is the obvious time to get them.

This is a two-page spread from the November chapter of my book (pages 178 and 179 in When Wanderers Cease to Roam, for those of you who are reading along). It’s called Comforts of the Blues and it’s a collection of all my [blue] wubbies.

A wubbie is any tangible or intangible thing that makes a  November state of mind tolerable. I got the word wubbie from a Michael Keaton movie from the 1980s, Mr. Mom, where he plays a stay-at-home dad (at the time it was a hilarious, wierd idea)  and in one scene he has to convince his youngest kid to give up the filthy, ratty, embarrassing blankie that the kid drags around for comfort. The whole psychology of the scene went right over my head because ever since then, I’ve identified all my favorite things in the world as my beloved wubbies. Without my wubbies, I couldn’t face Winter.

These two pages 9see above0 are among my favorite pages in my book.  In my mind I’d wanted my whole book to be like these two pages, a kind of thrift-shop cluttered catalog-memoir, a catch-all for the stories, musings, odds and ends of an ordinary life lived with awareness, humor, and a smidgen of artfulness, and no whining. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s what all you art journalers out there want, too; you want to make a record of what you think, and feel, and see, and value most about your life and your planet. And you want to do it without whining.

We all get the blues — unless you’re a 16-year old girl picking out her goth wardrobe for the day this is not a news flash. But let’s not spend all of November moaning about how awful it is that Summer is gone annd even the best days of Fall are over and the new Republican Speaker of the House doesn’t believe CO2 is a carcenogin. No! That kind of gloomy thinking doesn’t get us anywhere!

Becase the the most interesting thing about us as creative people, and why we feel the need to communicate something true about life and ourselves to other people, is that we don’t all use the same recipe to cure our blues. We each create our own happiness, we each find comfort in our own peculiar way, and your wubbies aren’t my wubbies. And I’m nosy enough to want to know what your wubbies are. I bet you are, too.

So here’s my tip for your November art journal:

1. Get out your wubbies. (If you need a prompt, here’s a scavenger list: a piece of warm clothing, a favorite piece of furniture, a sentimental object from a far-away place, something from your jewelry box, the most valuable book on your shelf.)

2. Draw each one.

3. Describe what makes each object meaningful to you, why it gives you comfort on a cold day. In 100 words or less.

If you need a writing recipe, try this: write one sentence about the way the object feels on you/in your hands/when you sit on it. Write another sentence about what you were doing the day you first got hold of this object. Write another sentence about what you want your heirs to do with this object when you are dead.

Example: Don’t write This is my favorite pair of shoes. They’re Jimmy Choo. They cost $450.00. (This is just a caption to an illustration, and captions are boring.)

Instead, write (as per above recipe): These Jimmy Choo high heels make me feel like Wonder Woman. I was 29 and I’d just been fired and was walking to the bus station when I stopped in at Bergdorf Goodman and saw these on sale — I hated my old job, but I was scared of being out of work; I couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad so I bought these shoes. I want my grand-daughter to have them: put them on and be brave.  [80 words]

See? Now you have more than just a caption — you have a story. And that’s what you need to put in your art journal besides art: you need stories. Because it’s the stories that tell us who you really are.

Anybody want to share a three-sentence story about their best November wubbie?

12 comments to Art journal lesson for November: Get out your Wubbies.

  • august

    Due to my respect and admiration for you, I will not share three sentences about my wubbie, my favorite beloved thing in the world, the one object that gives me comfort on the cold drizzly lonely days.

    However, I will break out the watercolors and try to paint a picture of little Jimmy Choo.

  • Deborah

    Leonids. Three dogs. All dogs. (nouns) (and adjectives)

  • Sallyann

    I can’t think of what my wubbies may be, other than my cat, Myne. But then she is my year round wubbie. She changes to fit my need, whatever that may be.
    i don’t feel particularly down about November. I love all the seasons except the one I call “MUD” and none of us cares for the mess of that! But then when I think of mud, I think of puddles and so perhaps puddles are a wubbie for me? Great thought.
    Yes the leaves are gone from the trees, but oh what glorious leaves they were and they will return in the spring. November brings me Thanksgiving, which to me is the greatest of all our holidays because it reminds me of all I have to be grateful for. November brings my silly red hearts fleece pajamas to the forefront. November brings me the pleasure of more visits to the library and makes hot coffee or tea taste even better.
    No gloom to November for me. Just the same, my favorite color is blue so I think I will enjoy painting blue things and will throw in a few grey November sky backgrounds to make the blue “POP” Thanks for your post. It fill my day with happy blue thought. Sallyann

  • A mug of hot Lipton tea gets me through the blue days. The warmth is tangible while the house is too cool and outside is even cooler. I’ve been drinking hot tea in cool weather since I was a child and that was childhood was half a century ago.

    There – 3 sentences. I think that’s the best I’ve done in a long time. I just realized I do a lot of “captions” and need to mend my ways!

  • Nadine

    My old cat Farfel was my cold weather wubbie.

    Farfel knew how to use a winter sunbeam to warm up his coat so that it smelled like what I imagine a hearth fire might smell like: earthy and peaty. I often would put on a black turtleneck and curl up with him in his spot so the sun would warm me, too.

  • Janet

    When we were living apart in distant cities, the love of my life gave me a little roughly-carved, coffee-colored onyx turtle. Wait for me, she said, I’m coming. We have had 30 years together, and now I am glad that the days pass slowly, cancer lurking in the wings about to gobble her up.

  • Carol

    Fall in general brings fabulous memories and little transgressions in time to Grandma Bessie, round and plump,smelling of fresh bread from the oven and always full of great advise.
    A slice of hot bread and a cup of coffee, please don’t skimp on the cream. After all we need lots of me to go around!
    She has been gone many years, but her memory is very strong each time I bake bread and hear her telling me to keep kneading.
    I can only hope my granddaughters have such good memories of baking bread with Grandma.

  • Joan/Jesse

    The year I turned 50 I decided to re-invent myself, to stretch myself in directions that were not expected nor comfortable for me. One day while browsing through Neiman’s, the store with the fabulous shoes, I spied a pair of bright red knee high leather boots daring me to put them on. Normally I would look for something practical and on sale, but not today. I slipped those babies on and another woman walked out of that store…I winked at every man I passed, harlot that I turned into that day!
    (5 sentences, sorry!)

  • I will take the challenge but it will take a few days.

  • Barb

    YES! That’s it! There is no whining in your book. til now I have not been able to exactly pin down why it is so real but uplifting. I have chosen watercolor, yoga, beading and sewing for my restoratives. I am a textile person so I am about replace the disappointing substitute “wubbies” with the real thing with which I can go on to create a highly effective buffer against the cold weather. I am replacing knits that pill with a scrumptious thick woven purple wool caftan. I really appreciated your suggestions tonight.

  • I have to change the subject for a minute.

    To get to your Blog, Vivian, I first have to go to your France Book section. I read the whole thing today, for the first time,
    My excuse is, I am anxious to see the latest entry of humor/ art tips, insights–

    VIVIAN – and everybody– listen up. THIS IS GOING TO BE A GEM OF A BOOK! I love it already, and you only gave us a piece of one chapter.
    Tell me when it’s going to be published. I will have my name on a list at Barnes and Noble to order copies of it.
    Thank you.

  • Well, I have to say that your blog is one of my year-round wubbies. And you describe the reason, because it’s a “thrift-shop cluttered catalog-memoir, a catch-all for the stories, musings, odds and ends of an ordinary life lived with awareness, humor, and a smidgen of artfulness, and no whining.”

    Other wubbies: daily walks (no matter what the weather), my watercolor pencils, a beautiful inlaid box from Iran & a brilliant red rug from Afghanistan (both from a dear friend), travel memories, Doublebluff Beach, my cozy Whidbey Island blanket and that first cup of coffee in the morning. If I had a cat it would be at the top of my list!

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