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?