Monday, January 1, 2018

Courage to Flourish

In late December 2016, I chose the word "courage" for my 2017 word of the year. My beloved pet, Coco, had just died and we were devastated. (Here's the link to my "courage" blogpost.) There were also some serious health issues among family members, and I knew courage would be required. Little did I know that six months later I would need even more courage to face sudden unemployment when the corporation I work for reorganized and decided that they didn't need someone to write, edit, do graphic design, gather news and perform public affairs duties. I was devastated. (Here's my link to my post about the corporate downsizing axe.) But, when one door closes another opens and I found a new job. A very, very different job, but a decent job with healthcare and a pension and a degree of security, so I counted my blessings, put one foot in front of the other, and forged ahead.

For 2018, I want to do more than survive. More than endure. More than count the days until I can retire--which is quite far away. I feel like a delicate plant that was accidentally ripped out of a garden and tossed to the side like a weed. I decided to be the weed, to let myself take root where I have landed, and bloom. So, my word of the year is "flourish."

To celebrate my word of the year, I wanted to use it on the cover of the blank handmade journal that Gwen Lafleur gifted me with for Christmas. Being part of Gwen's Artist Tribe creative design team helped me get through the rough patches of 2017, so the new journal seemed an appropriate place for my new word of the year.

I decided to use some of my favorite stencils from artists Jessica Sporn, Tim Holtz and of course, Gwen. I pulled out my favorite colors of paint, some molding paste for texture, and got to work. It started off okay--a little messy, but okay. Then the colors got ugly and muddy and I was discouraged. I painted over it. And painted over it all again. And yet again until I had just a textured black page.

Here's the process I went through:

A wash of yellow ochre muddied up the design

I tried wiping off the yellow ochre with a baby wipe

I tried adding a mask/stencil combination to fix the design

Even with the addition of the mask/stencil, I wasn't happy with the design
I refit the first stencils, and tried adding a darker blue accent
Still messy, and not at all what I envisioned, and the black word is too harsh.
White gesso fixes everything, right?
Or does lime green fix everything?
I gave up and decided to paint over it with lime green. It was hideous. So, as a last resort, I covered it all with black paint. Once dry, I added a few stencils with white acrylic. When the white was dry, I covered any smears and smudges with a black textile marker.

Instead of using the handwritten word "flourish" that I had intended, I used circular mini alphabet stamps for the word, which I applied carefully to a piece of cardstock, then attached with metal brads. I liked the contrast between the feminine stencil shapes, the geometric lettering, and the metal brads. I also embraced the imperfection of both my stenciling and stamping techniques. The flip side of having a "loose hand" is that it is really hard for me to be neat and tidy.

While the black was drying, I had smeared the leftover aqua texture paste on a piece of deli paper. Once it dried, I used the leftover white paint to randomly stencil designs onto it. I liked the result. It also reinforced that I am, at my roots, a textile designer. Can't you just see this on fabric or wallpaper or as gift wrap? I used the same Gwen Lafluer, Jessica Sporn and Tim Holtz stencils I had been working with all afternoon.

With the tiny bit of blue textured paste that remained, I stenciled one of Gwen's Art Deco designs onto my new bullet journal. It fit perfectly!

  I covered the imperfections (because I am not a perfect stenciler!) with a black textile marker, then with a fine tip sharpie, added 2018 into the center circle.


Lynda Shoup said...

Linda, this project is stunning. I loved so many stages of it and the end project is gorgeous. Somehow it seems like your process with this project reflects the year you had and your ability to persevere and make beauty. Flourish will be a great word for 2018. I'm sure you will do it with a Lefleurish touch!

So glad that I had a chance to get to know you in 2017 and look forward to seeing what you do in 2018.

Gwen Lafleur said...

Thanks so much for sharing the beginnings of your journals... I think flourish is a fabulous word, and I hope that you really get to do that this year! Thanks so much for being part of the Tribe - I've been so lucky to have you on the team and to get to know you! Looking forward to seeing what the new year brings :)

Sandee Setliff said...

Courage to flourish speaks volumes on so many levels! I love the word flourish, that's a great word to choose!

Kate said...

So many beautiful patterns on your journal!

Jill McDowell said...

Linda, I loved seeing how you persevered through to the end and then your journal cover flourished just like you will during the year. My Mom always to,d me that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and you have proven to be resilient! If 2016 was courage and 2018 is flourish, I’m thinking that 2017 was your metamorphosis. I’m so glad to have had found a friend in you and looking forward to more adventures together. Happy New Year. Now go and Flourish!

Jackie P Neal said...

Linda,my friend,you are brave and courageous and I know you will continue to flourish- no matter what comes your way! You are a sweet soul sister whom I admire,not only your art,but for your heart.
Beautiful pieces and so glad you trudged ahead!
many blessing to you my friend,Jackie xx