Portrait Friday: Mary Ann Moss

March 13, 2009


Above: Image © 2009 Mary Ann Moss. A stenciled journal page from one of Mary Ann Moss' visual journals. Click on the image to see an enlargement.

I don't spend much time surfing around on the internet. I know there are wonderful things out there yet to be discovered (by my eyes, though others are enjoying them already), but I don't have the patience for it. When I look at visual journals I prefer to hold them in printed form. That said, Typepad has a handy dandy feature that allows you to see who is referencing your site. Since I figure people wouldn't reference my site unless they were also into art materials or visual journals I like to go and check these out every so often. That's how I found Mary Ann Moss' Dispatch from LA.

I'm glad I did. It's a bright, welcoming blog site with very fun journal art, photos from her day, notes about her life (she is a second grade teacher by day), cats, and of course her journaling.

I just like the way her eye works, her design eye. There is a crispness in the collage chaos that she embraces and I enjoy that. It's funny because when I asked her if I could have an image to post on my blog and asked her about her journaling she said, "I dig making collages that's it. I'm motivated by my love of design—creating something with a life of its own from a pile of scrap."

The visual journaling world (or whatever you might want to call it) has a lot of practitioners using a lot of the same items (often the same images and stamps). There's a lot of cross pollination and influence and all that is good when it propels people to new visions. I like Mary Ann's work because when I look at it there is a clear personality informing it and coming through it to me. She isn't the first person to use stencils, but her use of them is clever, bright, and informed by her design eye! I'm drawn in by the pages.

I encourage you to go and check her site out. I am most intrigued by her use of stencils over very layered pages. If you go to "Got Spraypaint?" you'll find a bunch of posts using stencils, most of which she cuts herself (though she told me she does have some extremely large ones that are not handcut).

Also if you go to her 100 Pages Album (through this link or by going to the main page and looking at the top of the right hand column) you will see pages with great stencils used throughout. Cutting your own stencils is a great way to add something unique and individual to your pages. And also a great way to let your own design eye come out and play.

In a happy bit of syncronicity or serendipity, I learned that she was just about to launch an on-line class in stenciling! If you are interested in taking part in this class experience, check out the post "A Beautiful Mess." (Hey she does teach second grade so you know she'll be patient!).

If an on-line class isn't going to work for you at least go visit her blog and view her work (and her cats) and thank her for putting up some great eye-candy!

Take a moment to think about your journaling process and how you can make it more personal and more uniquely your own. What are your strengths? Do you mix patterns well, know color theory, express mood in color well, play with type, have an ability to turn everything you see into icons? Whatever it is that really speaks to you, go explore it. The worst that can happen is that you'll learn stuff about yourself, learn new starting points, learn new avenues to turn down.

Whatever you do, learn to look around and notice things, everything. Mary Ann has a great little page called Found Type (left hand column below the cat posse). Now I thought only graphic designers made collections like this! (And book designers at that.) You don't have to live in L.A. to find interesting remnants around you. Look around for all the wonderful visual display that can inform your use of type, color, pattern, and negative space in your visual journal.

Let your mind, eye, and hand find things all around you, in your life, which speak to you. Find ways to get those observations into your journals. Find the visual jokes and sad tales that call to you as you walk by. Work with the components of life all around you. You'll end up with something rich.

  1. Reply

    I’ve enjoyed Dispatch From LA for quite awhile — for the graphics of course, but also for MAM’s voice, which is breezy yet compassionate — and for her taste in poetry. She often posts a very good poem — never her own, as far as I’ve noticed — along with the images.

    • Roz
    • March 14, 2009

    Nancy, I saw some of those poems, usually with a photo she’d taken. Lots of interesting posts. I also find her discussions of teaching and images of her second grade students’ work amazing. Kids create fantastic stuff if encouraged and she is definitely doing that.

  2. Reply

    I absolutely love Mary Ann Moss’s style, you wrote a lot of nice things about her! I was also reading your myth buster about chronologically filling your journal – I enjoyed reading that too. The more I work in my Art Journal (collages/text) the more I skip around, finding my freedom within the pages. Love that!

    take care!

  3. Reply

    Woohoo! I am taking MA’s Stencilry course [registration OPEN til 24 April] and LOVIN’ it!!
    She is a hoot! A gifted designer, her enjoyment of the Process is evident throughout her videos. Lesson 1 alone provided More than my money’s worth — which is saying something because my New Zealand dollars aren’t worth diddly-squat, so I paid at least double!
    This is absolutely the FUNnest thing I’ve ever done. I Urge y’all to get in on it! Better Late than Never 🙂


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