Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Winner of My Wild Spirit Jaguar Pendant

Fiona Wins the Wild Spirit Jaguar Pendant!

Thanks to all for participating in the Blank Canvas Blog Hop that I and thirteen other artists hosted! Did you learn some new techniques and tricks for conquering those creative roadblocks?

If by chance you missed the fun -- you can go to my Blank Canvas Blog Hop post -- and go visit the participating artists' blog pages. The giveaways are wrapping up or completed but the information is still relevant in perpetuity!

And I'd like to congratulate Fiona from Spain for her great comments and for being the participant that random selector picked as winner of my Wild Spirit Jaguar Pendant! Enjoy the beauty and passion that this Big Cat attracts into your life, Fiona!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Blank Canvas Blog Hop: How I Deal with a Blank Book Page...

Hi, It's Monday, September 15th, and it's Day 8 of the BLANK CANVAS BLOG HOP! I'm Virginia Simpson-Magruder and I am a jewelry, collage, and altered book artist and I'm here to share with you my tips for conquering the BLANK CANVAS! 

Up until a couple of seconds ago (this part was written Sunday morning) --- this post was my BLANK CANVAS. I've been sitting and staring at this screen for 15 minutes, and cleaning out my inbox for 20 minutes! All the while thinking about what I'm going to write about, letting all my thoughts mull around in the back of my mind, including my anxiety about possibly failing. 

So spelled out, this is usually how it goes before I get enough "juice", "umpfff", "spark", "mojo" to start a creative project: 
  1. I think about the general subject matter or get an inkling of desire (to paint, to draw, to start and altered book, to write)....
  2. I do something else (clean dishes, do laundry, call my mother, lay on a blanket under the tree, make some coffee)...
  3. I berate myself and think I'm going to fail...
  4. I pray for the divine energy to intervene...
  5. I finally sit down (or stand up) in front of the "intended" project or art piece and...JUMP IN!
Can you relate???I bet some of you can!

Here are a few things I try to remember:
  1. Don't punish or berate myself, or be critical of my procrastination: It's part of the creative process!
  2. Give myself permission to wander around, go for a walk, put things away in my studio: It's part of the creative process!
  3. Don't be afraid of making "bad" art, "ugly" art, "not good enough" art: It's part of the creative process!
  4. Keep my intention to create in the back of my mind as I participate in my "non-making art" activities: It's part of the creative process!
The most important thing in approaching your BLANK CANVAS is to get into your right brain mode of thinking. The right brain is where creativity lives (versus the left brain which is where our analytical thought processes live) -- and one of the ways to get into that mode is to play with color, images, textures, words.  


I do one of two things to get warmed up and get the juices flowing. I start working in a SMALL or TINY book or journal. In the flip through below I show one of my altered journals, "Tiny Green Book". It is filled to the brim with images, color, and ephemera. I didn't think hard about what this book would contain except to select images, paper, ribbons, and text that have to do with the color green. Working in a small book or journal gives you the opportunity to complete a page easily without much thought. Focusing on a color and all its different shades and tones also stimulates the right brain. And as i am working in my studio -- if I come across an image or papers that i think will fit in it -- I'll stuff them in between the pages to glue in later. After working in a journal like this for 10 for 15 minutes I'm often ready to jump into a BLANK CANVAS.

To see my Tiny Green Journal Flip through Video go here.

Another technique I use and suggest to my altered book students is to have one altered book that is devoted solely to Playing or Experimenting with color, media, and techniques. Play with color, play with magazine images, play with art media, play with ribbons, play with glitter. Again, try not to think about what the end product is going to be. These play books often end up being my favorite altered books and journals. The more you fall into the color, shapes, textures -- the more you'll be accessing your right brain and you can follow that flow right into your BLANK CANVAS.

GIVEAWAY: Before you go -- be sure to participate in my Blank Canvas Blog Hop giveaway. If you go to my Wild Spirit Pendants' Facebook Fan Page and "Like Us", and then join my Kentucky Girl Designs e-newsletter list (click on the blue button in column to the right), you will have a chance to win my Wild Spirit Jaguar Pendant:

This hand-soldered collage pendant celebrates the Wild Spirit of Jaguar. Wear this pendant to reinforce the creative passion within you!

Have fun with these BLANK CANVAS tips and come visit me at Kentucky Girl Designs for more and a list of my workshops and upcoming e-courses.

Earlier Participants!
1. Sept 8   Karen Friedland 
2. Tuesday Sept 9   Lezette Markham
3. Wednesday Sept 10 Cynthia Patton
4. Thursday Sept 11 Jennyann Carthern
5. Friday "Frenzy" Sept 12  Kiala Givehand
6. Saturday Sept 13 Jan Blount
7. Sunday Sept 14 Effy Wild
8. Monday Sept 15 Virginia Simpson-Magruder
9. Tuesday Sept 16 Dariana Cruz
10. Wednesday Sept 17 Susan Miller
11. Thursday Sept 18 Grace Howes go here
12. Friday Sept 19 Tori Deaux
13. Saturday Sept 20 Kiala Givehand go here
14. Sunday Sept 21 Martin Arkenstone go here!
15. Monday Sept 22 Nicole Piar

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Blank Canvas Blog Hop!

Are you familiar with that feeling one gets as you're facing a task and you just don't know where to begin? Well artists aren't any different from any other person who hasn't a clue of where start a new project!

It's often a scary place -- especially when that blank canvas, book, piece of paper, quilt, chunk of marble is just sitting there! For an artist this can be a terrifying place to be. Doubts loom and often a litany of self-criticism rises to the forefront. The Muses have left the house. What if they don't come back? 

Luckily after many years of dealing with the Blank Canvas -- or in my case the "Blank Book Page Spread" (since I primarily alter books) -- I've learned a few tricks on how to get the creative juices flowing. And so have 16 artists in the Blank Canvas Blog Hop. Each of these artists share experiences on how they jump start their creativity PLUS each is having a drawing for a giveaway. So hop on over to the first artist, Karen Friedland on Monday, September 8th. 

And return to my blog on September 15th to see what I do to get myself moving in the flow -- and to enter for a chance to win one of my Wild Spirit Animal pendant necklaces!

BLOG HOP ROSTER for ARTISTS -- Follow the links to each day's artist to get tips on addressing the Blank Canvas and how to participate in their drawing for a free gift! And if you come in late to this Blog Hop you can go to any of the earlier artists' pages to see their tips and enter their giveaway contest (Sept 8-22).

Earlier Participants!
1. Sept 8   Karen Friedland 
2. Tuesday Sept 9   Lezette Markham
3. Wednesday Sept 10 Cynthia Patton
4. Thursday Sept 11 Jennyann Carthern
5. Friday "Frenzy" Sept 12  Kiala Givehand
6. Saturday Sept 13 Jan Blount
7. Sunday Sept 14 Effy Wild
8. Monday Sept 15 Virginia Simpson-Magruder
9. Tuesday Sept 16 Dariana Cruz

10. Wednesday Sept 17 Susan Miller go here

Next in Line!
11. Thursday Sept 18 Grace howes 
12. Friday Sept 19 Tori Deaux 
13. Saturday Sept 20 Kiala Givehand
14. Sunday Sept 21 Martin Arkenstone 
15. Monday Sept 22 Nicole Piar

When you return on Sept 15 to here my tips on dealing with Blank Canvas Paralysis, you'll also have the opportunity to participate in my Wild Spirit Pendant Giveaway. First Like my Wild Spirit Animals Facebook Fan Page, and then Sign up for my monthly newsletter by clicking on the blue button in the column to the right of this post.

Wild Spirit Animal Pendant

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How I Started Art Journaling (And Making Altered Books)

Imagine yourself at eleven or twelve. Gawky, dreaming of boys, giggling at school with a group of girls and practicing your first kiss on the back of your hand. Well, that's when I got my "First Diary" and started to record those secrets and early infatuations. A few years ago I saw this journal at a Starbucks and snatched it up. What a score! It reminded me so much of my "First Diary" (plus it had ponies on it and a real lock!). Now -- I don't have that first diary anymore -- somewhere along the line I lost it and its handwritten prepubescent dreams and desires. Most likely it landed in the trash can a short while after I grabbed  hunky John Hummel's shirt loop in the cafeteria line. We must of been around 11 or 12. The entire back of his shirt ripped right down to his pants. Talk about a one-of-a-kind humiliating, don't ever look at me again experience! No way was I going write about it in my diary! What is it about boys(men), first love, second love, third love....and writing about it PROFUSELY and TERRIBLY in a journal? Maybe it's because I'm a Libra? Sad to say, but this was a habit I didn't entirely get rid of until my thirties...or later....

My next, and perhaps most profoundly illuminating experience that sent me on my creative journey happened in my high school journalism class. I did well in English, grammar, literature etc. I wanted to know more about writing and if a career in journalism was in my future, so I took a journalism class my junior year. God Bless Mrs. Julia Cameron and her life changing first assignment and instructions: "Write about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that grabs your interest. Tell me what you like about something, tell me what your feelings are, and don't try to censor your words. And while you're at it glue or paste ANYTHING you want into your book. This is your inspiration book -- just write!!!!" This I loved -- although in those early years I was a bit timid -- I was drawn to the physicality  of gluing stuff into my journal: cartoons, magazine images, TV guide articles, string, flowers, gum wrappers, etc. I even managed to scribble a few terrible drawings on the pages. Altering a hardbound journal or book was born into my life. Boys (men) still graced the pages through the years, but thankfully weren't the main focus anymore -- Life was!

So,  Reader, those were the beginning seeds of my passion for altered books and journals -- if you want my advice on art journaling follow Ms. Julia Cameron's: "Write about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that grabs your interest. Tell me what you like about something, tell me what your feelings are, and don't try to censor your words. And while you're at it glue or paste ANYTHING you want into your book. This is your inspiration book -- just write!!!!" 

Various Volumes from my Daily Journal Page Challenges (40+Journals)
This article was originally published as a blog post, "From Diary to Art Journaling", for the blog How2ArtJournal. I will be contributing a monthly post on journaling to this blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hello, My Mane in the Wind!

Dear Mane in the Wind,
It's so GREAT! hearing from you. You've been on my mind...always...but somehow I just couldn't sit down at the computer to write you a love letter. I knew somehow that you'd understand, because your blood runs through my veins. I've guess I've been traveling the road of independence, maybe? Kind of like a teenager or college grad? Well,  I've been testing my wings; experimenting with different life situations; trying out all sorts of, hmmmn, illicit substances; giving up old habits and acquiring some new ones! Sometimes I feel very alone in this world. Sometimes I just want to be alone (except for my two kitties). But I really want to tell you and The World what I've been doing creatively for the past two years; what I'm doing now; what's been working and what doesn't seem to fit; what things I planning to do, what things I'm just dreaming about. I think there might be some kindred souls out there who are also traveling this road and I'd love to hear from them!

Was it only 5 years ago I started sharing this creative journey with you? I was so unsure of myself then, as you well know...And now, well, something is stronger! I now know and without hesitancy can claim that I am a gifted, creative soul!

And my mane definitely blows in the wind! It's great to be back!

Love, Love, Love,
Photos of Some of the Things I've Been Doing in 2013-2014 (Teaching Artist for ATA; Get to draw Rodin's "The Kiss" at the National Gallery of Scotland; Studiy painting and drawing with Sabrina TerHeune; Hold "Express Yourself! Intro to Altered Books and Collage" and "Altered Book Portals as a Way of Seeing" workshops; Learn intuitive painting from Flora Bowley and Tracy Verdugo workshops; Teach altered books at The Gap, Inc.; "Hold Art Journal Your Travels" workshop at Book Passage; Expand my Wild Spirit Animals line of jewelry...) Visit Kentucky Girl Designs website for more info...

Love Letter

"My Wild Spirit: Rima the Bird Girl Becomes a Leopard", acrylic 2012
Dear Virginia,
It's been several years now since I've seen here what you've been up to with your beautiful, creative self. I've missed hearing about your various activities, your accomplishments, your disappointments (only avenues for growth my dear), your meanderings. And although it's been important for you to travel down the road of life to explore and see and hear and taste -- I do miss your presence. But know that I do not feel separate -- I only need to close my eyes, hush my mind, and listen -- and you and your life come to me in a kaleidoscope of colors. Nevertheless I do hope that one day soon you will return to share your adventures with me...and the World.

With All Fondness -- and My Deepest Love

My Mane in the Wind

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Je Dessine: Letting Go of Perceptions

"Merman" acrylic
Over the Christmas holidays, while my husband was recovering from his hip replacement surgery, I had the thought to try to paint a picture of him at the beach. He is a religious body boarder and you'll see him in his wetsuit in the Northern California waves throughout the year no matter the weather or temperature. The prospect of him going without this ritual for over three months was depressing for him and I understood this need and his deep desire for that source of exercise, meditation, and natural immersion. So in late January, working from a photograph, I started a painting of him standing on the beach with the waves behind him. But I felt stuck trying to duplicate what I saw in front of my eyes. What I perceived in the photograph and translated to the canvas just didn't look or feel right. I mulled over it with with my teacher Sabrina then left. When I came back the next week I started on it again, but still not happy about what I saw. Sabrina then suggested that I start another canvas and try not to think about what I doing as I painted. We put on my favorite composer Eric Satie's music, and I talked to her non-stop about the time I had spent in New Orleans while I chose colors, outlined a shape, laid down paint. This painting is what I did in that two hour session. Although not consciously intentional -- for me it perfectly represents the essence of the man I am married to -- rising up out of the water with seaweed falling off of him and surrounded by the colors that he so loves. I did add the gills though:) I gave it to him on Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

All Her Pretty Horses (Altered Book): "You Have to Open the Door to Let the Horse Out of the Barn"

It's been a long time since I felt the desire to write in this blog. Looking at my last post I see my last entry was dated October 26th, 2012. My personal, creative, and business side has been busy and full so I've been utilizing my Facebook Fan Page -- Kentucky Girl Designs  -- just to keep interested friends updated with my creative output. But for longer posts? I just haven't had the energy. 

I started this blog four years ago to see if I could determine whether or not I really was an artist -- or at the very least a creative person. I had an agonizing need to claim this for myself, but the fears, self-judgement, and self-criticism was so great that I couldn't find my way down the path. I couldn't get out of the barn. I would start something then drop it. I would look externally for validation and if I didn't get it I'd quit. Heck, I would quit anyway. I really didn't need a reason. But somehow I got the gumption to do something about this split. I saw all over the internet art challenges. And I got to thinking, why don't I challenge myself? Let's see if I have what it takes to create something -- anything on a consistent basis. Let's see if I can keep myself pinned down when I get bored, anxious, nauseated, distracted. Let's see if I can create ugly and beautiful. Let's see.

So I started my blog in Jan 25, 2009 to record the exploration of my creative process. And to throw the gauntlet down for myself, I started a personal art challenge of creating one journal page a day. Collage would be my medium. Then I'd scan my pages and post them here. And my goal was to stick with it for one whole year, 365 days. I figured at the end of it I'd know whether I had what it takes to be an artist, a crafts person, a creative.

The good news is that four years later I can say "Yes!" to all of the above. And even though I've stopped doing my everyday pages (I stopped at page 1061) -- or haven't come here to talk about my creative process or struggles -- I am now creating every single day. Yes, my mane still blows in the wind, and I'm loving the freedom I found to express this essential part of myself.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Je Dessine: Goodbye to Russel Means

Goodbye to Russel Means
I started up my drawing/painting lessons again with Sabrina two weeks ago. It was wonderful to just play around with paint and shapes. My challenge is always to get out of my head, my analytical mind and just make marks. Fine tuning can come later -- if I want it to. I drew from Sabrina's photo of a Native American dancer in Santa Fe. Little did I know that the following week the Oglala/Lakota Sioux Russel Means would die. Much to my shame, I never knew about this great American Indian activist until I watched The Last of the Mohicans in 1992. His portrayal of Chingachgook was compelling and riveting.

I wanted to know more about this actor so I purchased his in-your-face autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread. This is one of those books that opens your eyes. Russel Means was a controversial activist during the 70's. He led the American Indian Movement, was thrown into jail numerous of times and was an all around pain in the ass to officials. He also admits that he made a lot of mistakes in his life. But his heart was in the right place and he brought the plight of modern day American Indians to the public eye in a way that few people have. Hi blatant honesty and his over-the-top actions and good works left a mark on my consciousness. I guess this painting was my prescient goodbye to Indian Activist/Actor Russel Means departure. You can read Huffington Post's obit here . Another one by the San Diego Free Press (along with fellow South Dakotan George McGovern's) here. Be sure to watch the video interview of Means.