Today I’ve got a gallery of images created in April for 2017 International Fake Journal Month. (Don’t know what IFJM is? Or what fake journal is? Click on the link.)
This year’s journal was a loose sheet journal. All the sketch pages were 6-3/16 x 9.25 inches. In keeping with my goal of using what I had on hand these were all pieces of paper cut for making greeting cards. (Fold them in half and they’ll fit one of the standard envelope sizes.) Some of the test pieces and my color chart are on smaller bits of this paper. I had exactly 32 pieces of this larger paper. I did not worry about having enough because for IFJM it’s like my regular journal—I’m not going for a finished piece. Messes are included. I did have smaller sheets (that folded into smaller cards) and I used those for a couple test pieces and charts which appear at the end of the gallery.
The paper is French Paper’s Speckletone. But I can’t tell you which “color” it is because the paper is 20 years old and custom cut and the wrapper is gone. (I’m not only using what I have, I’m clearing out all sorts of stuff.) I’d guess it’s Kraft or Natural. I also went through a Sand and Old Green phase, but it’s obviously neither of those!
There is a lot of serendipity in life if you let it come in. If you do your preparatory work and set some parameters for a project in your head and then go about your regular work (or play) the ideas stream in. Often this is the way you can find out what you want to work on next, or what needs to be worked on next.
If I hadn’t had a limited palette of watercolor paints out on a particularly day in March, working on this toned paper for another project, I would not have thought about painting the man with the glorious white beard I found on Sktchy. And if I had not done that I would not have spent 30 days painting with a limited palette (which did grow a bit) on this paper. Well, my character wouldn’t have…
That’s the issue with this year’s project. I painted from inspiration images on Sktchy and so I posted the finished sketches on Sktchy so the muses (which is what users of Sktchy call the folks who are kind enough to post photos of themselves are called) could see how I captured them. That seems only fair.
But since it was my character who was doing the sketching I had to balance saying things on Sktchy that only my character and I AGREED UPON. That meant I had to live with a character that was very close to me and that always makes doing IFJM a bit more difficult. I like more distance. Somehow I convinced myself this wouldn’t be an issue. It might not have been much of one except for one thing…
Sktchy decided to do a 30-drawings-in-30-days project in April. “Great,” I thought, I could do both IFJM and the Sktchy project at the same time. I thought I could simply post my images on Sktchy and be done with it. So it would all fit in the very limited free time I had in April. But I didn’t read the whole notice from Sktchy. I didn’t realize they were going to provide PROMPTS. I don’t care for prompts. They make me grumbly. Readers will remember how grumpy I got in 2015 when I elected to do a MCBA Visual Journal Collective Project as my fake journal for the year.
I decided, however, that it would still be OK, I could do it. I decided to try to aim for a character more interested in prompts. I fell wide of the mark. I met the prompt challenges, but it added hours to my time each day because I had to find an image that met both Sktchy’s prompt, like “color,” and my own internal guidelines about DETAILS.
OH Yeah, I forgot to tell you that in my sleep-deprived state, when I was setting up this year’s tag line, I went with “Details Matter.”
A frequent participant sent me a note alerting me of the reuse of the tagline. New Roz, swamped in elder care and video editing for classes had about 30 seconds of, “I’d better change that,” replaced with, “Eh, Details always do matter.” So I let it stand.
It’s a reminder to me that I can only hold so much in my brain at one time. I think that’s a really humbling reminder that I didn’t need while I’m watching the brains of everyone I know seep away. But a necessary one. We have to learn to sit with the message even if we don’t like it. And then make something positive out of it. “Details Matter, AGAIN,” I told the participants, and let them all sort it out. That’s what IFJM is good for, learning to deal with creative curve balls.
What was I focusing on this year? Most of the folks who’ve seen the full set of images aren’t sure. I won’t even hint. I’ll just tell you. My character was focusing on what was the least bit of stuff she could include, while still getting a recognizable image and meeting the Sktchy prompt. Sometimes these things were mutually exclusive. On Day One I managed to limit my palette to a brown, black and white as originally intended, but I loved the face so much I let my character keep going, or she insisted, I don’t recall. Day Two was more successful, everything fades away from the dog’s eyes and nose. The arrival in email of Day Three’s prompt of color, when my character was particularly focused on a limited palette, resulted in a long hunt for an image that my character could bend to her will. I was happy with it, but the search for an image and the mental gymnastics needed to arrive at a solution had me scrambling.
And so it went, throughout the month. Sometimes the stance was “it’s about the face,” other times it was, “what can you do in only the few minutes you have because of schedule?” Day 17 is a great example of the latter. The snow on this young man’s beard was what interested my character. How do she capture that in paint. Nothing, well almost nothing else (the blue yes I think help sell it), was important.
On some days I used my painting session as a “break” from answering student questions in my Textures class (running simultaneously as a fully interactive class with me present to help them; yes, when I scheduled it I thought it would be a piece of cake to teach and do images for IFJM at the same time—I had not counted on prompts.) I had to remember to brush off my grumpy character before I went back into the online classroom for my evening session of answering questions!
And let’s not kid ourselves. Somedays the daily entry was about emotion (Day 27) and some days it was simply, as usual, about birds (for example Day 28, though one could argue [and my character and I did argue about this], that Day 28 was also about cool color on a warm background).
Day 29 was about facing my fears. Day 26 was about light and gesture. You get the idea. It’s always some “detail,” and nothing else mattered. That’s why there are so many unfinished paintings. My character set the goal, and then worked until it was met to her understanding.
Of course then I had to post and interpret it as myself to the Sktchy project which took a lot of time and some carefully parsed wording. I laughed a lot in frustration as you can imagine!
But I loved every minute of it. I got back to using pencil (color pencil) and watercolor, with a little bit of white gouache. Something I haven’t done for this extended a time period since the 1990s!
I got to use toned paper (always a delight in my mind), and I got to spend a month staring at faces. (Including bird and dog faces!)
But if my character ever decides to do something with prompts again will a group of you please come over and do an intervention?
All I have left to do is make a small case for the sheets and put it on the bookshelf! It’s waiting for me on the work table.
As You Move Through The Gallery Please Note The Following
1. Some images didn’t scan well. Day Six looks like it was drawn on a different paper. Despite my best efforts all the white in the image foiled my attempts to get an accurate scan. (I have an appointment with someone to recalibrate my system!)
2. The Sktchy folks really bent over backwards to make the project interesting for the participants by providing an email each morning with images that might suit the subject (I didn’t use any of those) as well as links to topic related TED Talks and such. (I didn’t have time to watch or read any of that.) They often asked for some sort of topic related statement. If you’re interested in any of MY responses to my character”s work you can go and check out my posts on Sktchy for April. To give you a sense of what the prompt was I’ve included the prompt word or subject line, beneath each of my gallery images.
3. My character wrote a couple points on the back of some of the images. Often just the name of the person whose photo was the Muse for that sketch. Sometimes her focus. Sometimes a bit of spluttering about using prompts. But I didn’t scan any of the backs of the pieces. She is not a communicative sort. She was only interested in her narrow focus. I could write about that, but let’s just let the focus be on the pieces.
4. On Day 12 I allowed my character to fall back on my default for self portraits—birds. Let’s face it, if she drew me, that wouldn’t be a self-portrait would it? And I had never given thought to what my character looked like I’d been so pressured to get things done. I dismissed a back of the head self-portrait as I’ve done so many of those. Maybe next year I’ll give thought to what my character looks like?
5. On Day 22 I allowed myself to go against topic because I prefer the asymmetrical in the world.
6. On Day 25 I posted two images on Sktchy and both are here as well. The prompt was about technology with suggestions of how we use it. While lots of Sktchy artists use digital tablets I prefer to work with analog media. I use technology to scan my work (which I referenced in another similar topic in the series) and so digitally present my art. But I also use technology to scan versions of my work, so for Day 25 I posted both a composite of three points of development and the final piece.
Was It Successful?
During the days, or in the evenings when it was time for bed (and I had many late nights juggling too many projects) I felt that I had accomplished that day what I had hoped.
And I find, as usual, that at the end of the project that stack of loose pages (or in some years a book) filled with the daily efforts makes me sigh with a sense of contentedness that comes not from creating perfect images, but from sticking to the task and producing, working the problem, seeing what can be seen.
All that said, mark your calendars, we do the whole thing—International Fake Journal Month—all over again in April 2018. You should think about joining in!
Roz’s 2017 International Fake Journal Month Journal Gallery
I’m sorry. I’ve just spent a couple hours writing and posting this post and the gallery doesn’t work. I’ve double checked and revised. I will have to come back once I can talk to the designer who set up the site. It worked fine in our meeting last week!
Please check back. I’ll post about it when I get it fixed.