Last night I was unable to sleep. I have had so much on my plate at work that my mind continues to race long after I've left the office. At 2am I finally got out of bed because I was bored and lying there in the dark was a ridiculous waste of time. After pacing my tiny apartment for 20 minutes, I ended up pulling out the 55 art journals from the Journal Project. I flipped through every single book.
At first I felt sad. These journals used to take up a huge amount of my time and I LOVED them. But when life snuck up and bit me in the ass I had no choice but to stop sending them out, I needed to nurture myself instead of nurturing this art project.
As I flipped through pages of art that ranges from awe-inspiring to down right bad, I realized all of it was relevant and worthy of consideration. And when I say bad, I don't mean not good or not interesting...I mean, bad as in problematic. Bad adhesive choices, cheap paint that peeled or remained tacky, non-sticking stickers -- the missteps of new paper artists – and in those artistic blemishes I saw beauty, grace, and integrity. I saw hope -- artists knowing that the doing and failing is part of learning; warped paper teaches swift lessons about water based glue on thin paper.
The journals chronicle lives lived. Marriages, divorces, having and losing children, artistic journey's, vacations, new jobs, lost careers...each person tells their story -- some with words, some with images -- some happy, and a few so painful that I couldn't look at them too long.
All of the journals are tired and worn from being shipped; a few are literally falling apart and I've had to retire them. The covers are stained with wayward paint and glue and ink. Some smell weird from being packing away in odd places. One artist had a small, but major, house fire while in possession of a journal. The smoky smell adds a whole new dimension to her pages...and even to the other art in the book.
All 55 journals are compelling when taken into consideration as a single body of art. Each artists work is elevated by the work around it. The shift in perspective from one life to another creates a tide of American life. There's a ebb and flow to the journals that is jilting, yet I found it comforting in some ways. If I could reach into peoples hearts and pull out the best and worst of them, and their memories, I think I would find what it is these books -- and for that, I am grateful.
I am grateful to have these journals in my life and I look forward to sharing them with other artists. I have updated the photo gallery with pictures and have 10 journals ready to go. The game plan is the same as when I first launched them:
You may keep the book for 15 days only; my hope is that you work in the book for at least 10 of those days. You must return the journal with Delivery Confirmation.
Ship the book back to me to be photographed. I will send it to the next person in the group. I will post pictures on my blog of each book, but not the name of the artist. I want you to be able to write anything you want in the book.
Never remove pages from the journal or alter pages other than your own.
Keep your artwork as flat, dry and sticky-free as possible.
Do not alter the cover.
Do not give the book to other artists without speaking to me first...if you will make sure the book comes back, I may be receptive to you handing it off to an artist you know will follow through on the project.
If you'd like to participate, please email me your:
city, state, zip code
In the past I have gotten flamed about several elements of this art call, so I'm going to re-address a few things about this project -- just so people are perfectly clear on these points. There are only 5 things to remember, but they are big so be sure to read them all.
1. I photograph and post every page completed in the journals. I have tried putting a first name and city, state on each picture -- but with almost 100 journals floating around that has been difficult. Also, the point of the journals is to give people a place to be genuine and to bring their authentic selves to the page...and for most, that means NOT putting their name on the work. So I am no longer putting names or anything on the photos. If you work in a journal, remember the number and you can put your name on the work via the comments section of the photo on my blog. You can also sign your work so that it appears when I photograph the pages. Maybe even create a title page of sorts; whatever you do is up to you, but YOU have to do it, not me. If that's a problem, please don't request a journal.
2. I do not work in every single journal. There's not enough time in the day for that. I do not screen artists that work in the journals...so some of the work is less experienced than others. I can't not help that. Some of the journals have more pages done in them than others...and some of the journals have NO work in them. SOMEONE has to start the journals...so that means you might get a blank journal. I can't help that either. I often try to kick off each journal with at least a few pages, but depending on demand...I often will send them out totally blank. I do have a few artists that have worked in multiple journals -- they are willing to be the first to work in a journal specifically because they like the blank slate, but they usually like to have the next journal they work in be almost full. If you'd like to be one of those people....just let me know. If you MUST have a book that has lots of pages done it, please don't request a journal because I can't promise you that.
3. I have NO IDEA what I'm going to do with the journals when this is over -- if it is ever over. I want to find a way to exhibit them, but I'm unsure when and where that will happen. I don't intend on doing anything to make money off of them, but I want to be clear: I have a huge amount money in this project. The shipping/mailing is outrageous, and SEVERAL books have been kept. Not lost, I mean kept by an artist because they really like the work in the journal -- I even saw photos of one in a book on art journaling that came out last year. Someone liked their work enough to submit the journal for publication, but NOT to return it to me -- and now will not respond to my requests to have the journal back. This project is a labor of love, but it costs me on several levels. Cut me a little slack, or don't request a journal.
4. 15 days is as long as you should keep a journal -- no longer. I get some of the most horrendous mail from artists on the waiting list (I know, that sounds ludicrous, but its true). People are waiting for a book as if I'm able to conjure them out of thin air. If you keep a book for longer than 10 days, then someone is sending me hate mail for not getting them a book within the timeframe they have to work in it -- say over a vacation -- which means they will keep the book too long as well. The cycle is never-ending and so painful that I makes me sweat just writing about it. So please, if you can't get the book back in 15 days, please don't request one.
5. Every journal must be returned with Delivery Confirmation. I need to be able to track it down if it doesn't arrive. Delivery Confirmation don't guarantee delivery, but it does say that you mailed me something. When you mail the journal, email me the date you mailed it and the Confirmation Number. I will let you know when I receive the book. If the book is lost while in your possession, I will note on my blog that it was lost to you unless you can provide a Delivery Confirmation Number. Check out the gallery to see what that looks like; I don't do it to be malicious, but I do think its reasonable -- if the book is genuinely lost in the mail, I totally understand and will just list it as lost. If you don't think this approach is reasonable, don't request a journal.
These five issues are the biggies...though there are certainly more. If you have concerns or questions about this art call, just drop me an email. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. This post includes photos from several of the books. I hope these pages will inspire you to jump in with both feet. The List of Five isn't meant to discourage anyone -- I hope you will lean into this project with a full heart and an open mind.