& we’re back! A little later than expected and a bit soggier, but modus operandi has returned. On to this week’s topic…
One of my favorite things about mixed media collage is, of course, the fanatical use of layers and the level of customization within each layer. Learning to do this requires a great deal of trial and error, with heaps of inspiration from the works of others. The latter worries me, though, and I try to be very alert to copying another artist’s idea or style in any of the works I exhibit or sell.
I’m learning, however, to use my art journal as a place free of those rules. It is, essentially, a private space, not a canvas meant to be hung on a wall or an ATC to be traded, which also makes it my favorite place to deconstruct the techniques of others and answer gnawing questions like “How’d they do that?” or “How do I get that look?” It’s a great place to follow tutorials or be inspired by prompts without serious regard for whether or not the finished product looks like mine…or Suzi Blu’s pages…or Linda Woods’ journal…or Da Vinci’s Codex (in 3-D! click the link!).
I remind myself—and maybe you need to, too—art students regularly learn by copying, reproducing works by masters in the sketchbooks or on the easel. You learn by doing, recreating the techniques of others to utilize, eventually, in your own way. It’s funny, I would have no problem whatsoever following a recipe by Martha Stewart, Jaden Hair, or a dozen other sources. I know the recipe is theirs, but the creation is my own, and I need to take that attitude with me into the studio. I need to keep the faith that my own style will emerge from my narrative, my tweaks, my resourcefulness.
Suzi Blu says, “My journal is a beautiful sacred place where I give myself permission to make the worst art imaginable.”
Inspired by her Art Journal Playshops on YouTube, I completed the first prompt. Suzi’s video:
My journal page (yes, the photo is of me!):
Use your journal without rules or boundaries, as a place for free exploration. Use it to learn what those other mixed media and art stars know and don’t make excuses for cribbing from their “recipes.”* We’re all learning!
- Want to see more images of my art journal? Check out my Flickr photostream.
- Do you struggle with being fears of being a copycat? Leave a comment below!
- Have an idea for a future modus operandi feature? Want to know how I achieved a certain effect or what I used to make a project? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at miscellanea (dot) arts (at) gmail (dot) com!
* Though it should be obvious from everything that came before, I think it’s important to be explicit on this point: I am not condoning copying other people’s artwork, techniques or style for your own business. Don’t open up an Etsy shop and fill it with Poppets®; that’s illegal and unethical. However, if you were working your way through Claudine Hellmuth’s book Collage Discovery Workshop: Beyond the Unexpected, and your journal utilized her style and colors, don’t beat yourself up about it. That’s the point I’m trying to make.
Thanks for reading!