art journals.

tried my hand at some abstract journaling.

tried my hand at some abstract journaling.

Ever since I had the ability to write (non-sensical scribbles of a four year old count) I have kept a “diary.” I don’t know where the compulsion to keep a list of the daily mundane activities as a child: “Today I had rice crispies for breakfast…” The older i got, the more they developed into a living memory box of my life at that moment in time; and perhaps it started as my first paltry attempt at creating a sense of order from my distracted thoughts and messy brain. I have over 30 completed journals, which is roughly one per year.  The style and format of my journals adapts to the seasons of my life. During college and Graduate school, my journal functioned as my day planner and the keeper of my sanity. During periods in my life where I have been happy, I notice that I do more art and very little journaling. During tough times however, my journals are filled with sad song lyrics, to-do lists and life questions.

Do you like to look back at your journals? If so, do you do it often? Is creating a written record of your life to reflect back on a reason for your journaling? I am very interested to know. I can honestly say that, that is not the case with me, as writing for reflection at a later period of time would require to much forethought and planning for me. My journal has become one of my few necessities which I carry with me at all times in my bag. It is given the impossible responsibility of keeping me sane (emotionally balanced and organized enough to survive) ..so when I complete one journal, I see it as a memento of the craziness which is my life- maybe one day, when I am normal, I will want to look back at my journals to feel sorry for my crazy self.

Here are a few of my own art journal pages:

my art journal page

my art journal page

my colorful cacti

my colorful cacti

one of my favorite quotes

one of my favorite quotes

Frida and Virginia from my journal.

Frida and Virginia from my journal.

Anyways, I love nothing more than seeing pages from other peoples’ journals. I feel like I am getting a naked glimpse at their soul. I am always so amazed and inspired by the creative, beautiful things that people put down onto pages. One of my favorite artists,  Geninne Zlatkis, has the most beautiful and awe inspiring journal pages. I love all of her work and I also LOVE how she adapts her art journal entries into a day planner. Genius!!

Geninne’s Journal Page

from her flickr account

from her flickr account (October Days) 

more of Geninne's beauty

more of Geninne’s beauty

Here is the link to her flickr account for you to check her out more!: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geninne/sets/72157594514015991/

Another one of my favorites is Guilherme Dietrich. I fell in love with the bright, bold colors and vivid pieces. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after I saw these. Unfortunately, his flickr account is no longer active and the website I found him on, isn’t either. But here are some of his beautiful pages to feast your eyes at (pangs me to know I will never create something this beautiful)

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What inspires you? Why do you journal? I would love to see!

Artist Spotlight: Natalie Jean Bauer

by Natalie Jean Bauer 
This “Artist Spotlight” post idea came to me one night when I was thinking of how so many of my friends are talented artists and besides that, they are all also pretty hilarious. This is my little way of exposing the world (or a few hundred people a month) to the amazing-ness that they bring to my world and how happy they make me. And hopefully share that with someone else! So, I came up with some questions (some I borrowed from other art blogs) and asked my friend Natalie if she would let me interview her and post some of her artwork on my blog. Natalie is one of the most humble artists (and also one of the funniest) that I know. I have (selfishly) asked her when she is planning on making prints of her artwork and selling them, so I can buy one…but not yet. I’m wearing you down Natalie! So, hopefully you get some enjoyment out of this post AND…
if YOU or anyone you know wants to be featured in an “Artist Spotlight” post, then email me at forourcity@gmail.com. Send me a couple pieces of your artwork (whether its music, paintings, photography, dancing, stand up comedy..it all works for me!) and answer the questions. I will feature you in the next post! 

 Who are you and what do you do?

I am Natalie Jean Bauer.  I try to paint, draw, and write as often as my big dumb brain will allow.
Describe yourself in five words:
Usually really terrible at this.
Do you have a favorite piece of yours?  If so, why is it your favorite?

No favorites, really.  They are all a labor of love and yet I am my own worst critic.  The entire process of creating anything has always been essential for me, but the second I finish a piece (be it a painting, story, comic, whatever) I still notice every rough edge, every single area that shows room for improvement.  This is good in that it always drives me to further develop whatever skills I may possess, but awful when it comes to confidence in my own abilities.  I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to shut this off.  I am ruthless and insatiable.
Any tips or inspiring words for other artists?

Find it in yourself.  Keep fumbling and learning and don’t lose heart.  Surround yourself with books and songs that make you want to scream and explode into a million stupid pieces because of how good they are.  Pile more love and effort on literally everything you’re doing.

 Can we find you anywhere on the world wide web?


Art-wise?  Besides Facebook, not really.  I don’t have a personal website, at least not yet.  I’ve always been intensely private and enjoyed my anonymity.  A bit selfish, probably, but so often I anticipate being critiqued in a way I won’t recover from.  I don’t handle rejection well despite all the practice I’ve had.
What is your favorite:
Color?  The particular shade of green usually limited to chalkboards; grey in the beard of a young man.
Animal?  My dog, Roxy Carmichael, is the obvious answer here.  She has the personality of Gilda Radner, the heart of Gandhi, and the eyes of everyone you’ve ever loved.
Movie?  “Santa Sangre” has been in heavy rotation for me lately.  Otherwise, Martin Short’s “Clifford” never fails to improve my mood.
Book?  I just re-read Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” for maybe the fifth time and it is always such a task but so beautiful and worthwhile.
What work do you most enjoy doing?

Honestly, it depends on my mood and focus.  It all comes in waves; I’ll sometimes go weeks where I mainly focus on writing and finishing a story and not pick up a brush or pencil at all.  But then before I even know it, the opposite becomes true:  I’ll slave over new paintings or comics before I become conscious of the fact that I haven’t written anything in months.  It’s bizarre.  My Moleskines are erratic at best.

Name something you love, and why?


I love The Voyager Golden Record.  It’s this gold-plated record that was sent into space on The Voyager so that if any aliens ever found it, they could listen to this record and know what Earth was like.  The record had an introduction, greetings in fifty-five languages, and the sounds of our planet — a whale song, crickets, the sound of an earthquake, a volcano, thunder, laughter, footsteps, wind, water, a kiss, a wild dog, heartbeats I think.  It had twenty-seven songs on it from all over the world, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chuck Berry, and Louis Armstrong.  At the end of the record there were brainwaves.  The wife of one of the men in charge of the record got hooked up to a machine and her brainwaves were turned into sound.  She thought all about the earth and the life on it, poverty, suffering, and some history she could remember.  At the end, she decided to make a personal statement.  The very last thing she wanted her brainwaves to send out there, the very last thing on this golden record that we sent into space for aliens to find and learn and judge about us, was what it felt like to fall in love.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

More often than not, I feel I have no truly creative ideas.  And everything I write, think, paint, or say has already been written, thought, painted, or said by many others.  And though I value the wonderful varied perspectives of people everywhere, it makes me feel like poo.  During a public internet meltdown of sorts, I had two people whose brains and artistic endeavors I admire impart two pieces of wisdom to me in such a way that it helped to hear at that precise moment.  The first was:  the truth is that all creativity amounts to in the first place is putting the basic stuff of existence into different patterns.  These patterns have personal meaning to us.  We ourselves constitute a changing pattern in relation to the rest of the universe.  Creativity is either infinite or ‘virtually infinite.’

The second was:  you just worry about making art because you’ll die if you don’t.

I try to remember both of these things in my worst moments of self-sabotage and doubt.


Name something you don’t love, and why?

I hate labels so much.  Here I am not referring to ethnic, racial, or other discriminatory and/or offensive tags (although OF COURSE I hate those, too).  Specifically I mean things such as price tags and the stickers on plastic bins that helpfully note “Sterilite Storage Bin.  For storage.  Store your shit up in this piece, mofo!”  I compulsively pick labels off of everything that is around for even a short time in my life.  This urge is slightly in opposition to my love of text — I like monograms, painting words on walls, having lots of chalkboards and papers and quotes and journals sitting around, just to put thoughts down on.  I guess it’s just that I want to control how many and what kinds of words and text are thrown at me in my home.  Everything outside is so coated in manipulative slogans and advertising (I mean seriously, you can’t even pee at a bar without forty flyers adding to the visual chaos) that I need to be able to look around my apartment without It’sallinside-Nobodydoesn’tlove-Refrescante-Eatfresh-Ownstheroad-Stayclosealittlelonger-Doubleyourpleasure-Choiceofthenew-Camitasmejors-Gentleman’sclub-Whatissexy-It’syourlife-Thenewalbum-Unböring-Unbroken-Undecided-Uncoordinated-Unlisted-Underground-Unrefined blazing across my retinas like Satan’s own stock ticker.

What couldn’t you do without?

It’s so clichéd of an answer, but there’s no way in hell I would have lasted this long without the people I am so blessed enough to call my friends.  I couldn’t have asked-begged-prayed-starved for better people to keep.

.

 You’ve been selected to go on an all-expenses paid drinking binge with one famous artist, one famous writer, and one free choice.  Who would you choose?


Dead or alive?  I think this answer changes daily for me.  So today I would probably go with Odilon Redon because stylistically I have never wanted to emulate someone SO MUCH.  His paintings are pure magic.  Oscar Wilde, because deep-down I identify with the burned-out view and the scathing insight.  And the free choice…  I guess it’d be that neighbor dog with short legs who runs the way shrimp swim. I like when there’s a dog at a party so my social anxiety doesn’t run down my phone’s battery
Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?

Whose hair?  My own hair?  I think I’d sooner set myself on fire than lick a public ANYTHING, to be honest.  I probably ingest more than a handful of dog hair on a daily basis anyway, thanks to Roxy Carmichael’s proclivity for shedding.  I’m going with the hair.  I think I could better survive that from an emotional standpoint.


Art lately.

 I saw something very similar to this on etsy and it inspired me. A friend has “commissioned” me to paint a large canvas for his new apartment and this was one of the sketches I was considering doing..later I added some sharp black lines. I really love making art with gemoetrical shapes.

 I found this in one of my old journals when I was looking for a password or something. I thought it would be a cool idea to do a gallery showing of artists’ journal pages. I would love to see something like that!

 This is my new chalkboard wall in my apartment (I hope my landlord hasn’t seen this!!) I had a quote by Emily Dickinson on the wall with some really bright framing shapes and colors and it was too much. Plus, I change my mind so often that this works perfectly for me! I can change it whenever I want. I try not to think of the hassle it will cause me when it’s time to move out! 

 glug glug.

 Okay, *le sigh* This is my latest project and has taken a considerable amount of time! A few weekends ago, my husband and I went to the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair, and I was feeling very inspired. One artist I particularly liked was Dolan Geiman. He did some beautiful and intricate artworks using magazine pages. I like the different textures and colors and a project like this is perfect for my OCD tendencies. I get to collect little scraps of paper and sort through old magazines cutting and gluing things for hours!

Okay, so..hahaha…As someone kindly pointed out to me: “isn’t it ‘Not all who WANDER are lost”? yup! It is! ah, well. I took things to a whole other level without even realizing it. Maybe my true calling is philosophy? No? okay…

my art lately.

I have been struggling with an inner conflict in the past several months that has zapped me of any creative energy. I am easily inspired by so many artists and their styles but I always feel like I am copying or stealing from others when I make anything. I always feel that everything has already been done before and nothing I do will be original or thought provoking. I hesitate even labeling myself an “Artist” because most of what I create originates from an idea or a piece of work that I have been inspired by. Lately though, I have decided to just create whatever makes me happy because that is the reason why I love art.

 Nothing calms my soul and brings me a feeling of contentedness than when I am creating something. Often though, my OCD tendencies take over and I am usually unhappy with the end result..I find it too busy or scattered. I have begun to accept that while I may not love everything I make, it is a reflection of who I am and what I am feeling, and that is all the encouragement I need to get on with it.

The Happiness Project.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Lately, I have been reading the Happiness Project, a memoir by Gretchen Rubin. I picked it up, after much hesitation since I had been seeing it everywhere and was a little weary of it, for a couple of reasons. My personal life took a drastic and unexpected turn about a month ago and I was forced to reevaluate my life. I realized that I had not been happy and was not living my “best” life. Every day life had gotten ahold of me and I had stopped enjoying the little things like spending time with my loved ones, taking time to reflect and relax, and doing new and exciting things. This sparked an idea I had to come up with my own bucket list. Well, not a bucket list, but a “life list.” I started compiling a list of things that I wanted to do (not necessarily before I died) that I had been missing out on. My list included simple things like: “cooking dinner more,” “buying a bike”, “spend more time outdoors.” Things that I have always wanted to do and always told myself I would do, but never got around too. I started compiling them in a journal and it kind of took on a life of it’s own. 

So far, my list is 72 items and counting.

The first thing I did on my list, was the most physically noticeable and required the least amount of effort on my part: #18: cut all my hair off! Now, let me explain why this is a big deal. The last time I cut my hair more than an inch every two months or so, was when I was in the 3rd grade (over 20 years ago!) Of course, this was pre-puberty and my peers were merciless. Even adults made comments on it. My brother told me years later that his teacher asked him that first day I came to school after my hair cut, “who is the new boy at school?” 
I tried finding my year book photo but this is the closest pic I could find…another bad hair cut idea of mine (the perm)
Needless to say, I was scarred and scared to cut my hair after that so I let it go and it got looooooong. 

So one Sunday morning a couple weeks ago, I was having breakfast with an old friend and told her I wanted to cut my hair. She got excited and we called around to different salons and took the first open appointment. By lunch time 21 inches of my hair was in a baggy and most of my hair was gone! 

It really is amazing how doing something as simple as cutting your hair can make you feel like a new person and spark you to make changes. 
Has anyone else read the Happiness Project and/or made a life/bucket list?