Wednesday, November 29, 2017

December Newsletter: Just Journaling

Soon we will be facing a new year. For a lot of us this may be a new chance on life, an opportunity to do something different. May I suggest the art journal or what's also called the visual journal? Unlike scrap-booking, this journal goes into your inner person for expression through art and the written word.

I started journaling when I got breast cancer. I was seeing a therapist (and I still do) who specialized in treating cancer patients. One bit of advice she gave me was to start a  journal. "It will be good for you to get all your thoughts on paper," she said. 

Well, being an artist, I took the process one step-further. I added art, my own and collage, along with my written thoughts. The experience kick-started my way back to health.

As most of you know, I had a 50/50 chance of surviving (I'm now out 12 years). I followed all the protocols, the diets, the therapy--both mind and physical. With all that, I still consider myself lucky. Some folks aren't as blessed as I.

What helped immensely through this journey was my journal. It was a place I could cry out my fears, my worries, my discomforts. It was also a place for me to pray, to learn more about me, to celebrate the life I had/have, no matter how long or short it will be.

Let me begin by telling you that getting cancer can be one of the loneliest events of your life. Some people literally drop out of your life. I don't know if they are scared to get the disease or just don't know what to say (how 'bout, "Tell me about your day, was it harder or easier than what you expected?" There's always something neutral you can discuss). Then there are others who are gracious and wonderful who visit you. I was blessed, I had lots of visits. Another idea is sending cards. I received a card from someone everyday--really-- everyday. Am I lucky or what! All of these kindnesses were so welcomed, lifting my day and hopes.

Despite all these blessings, every night in the darkness of my bedroom, the creepy monsters of fear and despair would inch their way into my thoughts, leaving me totally alone with unreasonable horror. As crazy as this may sound, my journaling helped because my scared inner self was able to express all the crud. 

Slowly, the loneliness got better--I was able to kick those buggers out of my nightly thoughts--and most of all, I began to get stronger. My writing, art and collaging took off. I found myself working on my journal most days and it was wonderful. Journaling also gave me the freedom to be creative about my own life and was the early genius of a whole new career. into art and teaching.

There is something calming about journaling. For one, it's private. Today I share my journals but in the past they were vaulted in my closet, not to be touched or looked upon by anyone, even my closest friend, my husband. It was my space and only mine. 

This process was working for me so well, I asked my therapist if we could form a journaling group with fellow cancer patients. So for a couple of years, I held a monthly class at St. Vincent's Hospital where students came in with a sketchbook.  I would supply the rest--from pens/pencils, inks, watercolor, brushes, collage materials to create their own journal.  And WOW what a new experience.

Not only was I reinforcing my own process, I was seeing lots of different developments right before my eyes. Yes, some of the students passed away. Some cancers are incurable and even when you have a fairly good chance, stuff happens. But at least, these gals had a great time journaling along the way. 

One student in particular, who is still alive and kicking, was very angry she had come down with cancer. Her journal was filled with blacks and reds and dark words. Additionally, she was reckoning with more than just cancer, but a lifetime of hurt. As time went on, her journal illuminated with great art, collage and a momentous collection of poetry and prose. It was a miracle. 

Obviously, you don't have to get sick to appreciate the world of journaling. And you can do it anywhere: at home, on the road, with friends or simply where your heart decides.

As most of you know, I take students on annual travel sketching trips and we all thoroughly enjoy capturing the moment outside, even in the rain!  There's something to be said about drawing a scene that a camera can't pick up: the wind, the sound of children playing, cars passing by, birds chirping and even a cow mooing if she's your subject.There's also something going on. And with sketches and words, we celebrate our travels.

To this day, I still pick up my visual journal and draw, write and cut found items. It brings me a lot of joy. So I'd like to mention that this coming year in 2018, I will holding a Visual Journaling workshop in my studio on February 17th. The new catalog has just be published and you can see lots of other workshops offered.

I am wishing you all a wonderful year in 2018. 

May the road rise to meet you, 
may the wind be ever at your back. 
May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
and the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Old Irish Blessing

Thank you for being my student!

So What's Coming Up!

Workshop: Last of the year this Saturday

Realistic Drawing with Pencil
Learn how create incredibly realistic drawings using the common pencil. We’ll
explore methods to increase your accuracy using photos and still life. Bring a
a sketchbook with you to class and I’ll supply the rest, including lunch. Some drawing experience helpful, but certainly not necessary. Please note: this is not a photo-realism workshopTo register, email me at

Workshop: Boston to Quebec September 14-21
Come join us in September on a watercolor sketching cruise of New England and Canada. We will explore the sights and sounds of the big city of Boston, the quaintness of Portland, Maine, our city's namesake, as well as enjoy a fabulous journey through several Canadian towns and villages along the St. Lawrence, ending in historic Quebec City. For more information go to this link. Please note, this cruise ship fills up fast and prices keep going up. So I'd suggest making deposits as soon as you can (but no pressure!)

Classes begin the first week of January

Pencil to Brush
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks 
(pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project.
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Prerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*

The Morning Draw
Wild Animals II
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

New! Watercolor Sketching
How to keep a journal using words and 
watercolor sketching.
Every Wednesday afternoon
1 pm to 3 pm
$75 per-week term

The Drawing Studio
Multimedia, variety of subjects
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

Go to website for descriptive listing of classes.
To register email:

*Acrylics workshop conducted by JJ Goodell either at PCC or Glastonbury Studios

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