In this 50 page catalog, we see twenty-nine years of visual journaling, with entries from 1 May 1986, to 1 May 2015; published in conjunction with the showing of recent mixed media work at Inspire Life Studio in Denver, Colorado, opening May One for May First Friday in the Sante Fe Arts District.
Twenty-five recent works will be on display in Inspire Life Studio Gallery for the month of May. Works include Cosmic Pears, Abstract Landscape Series One and Two, Chaos and Order, Buddha, and Fabulous Fungi.
Maybe one of the most important achievements of my life is a shelf full of journals.
In 1986 I was a graduate student in architecture, struggling with an infant, a part time job, and a new marriage. So overloaded was my brain with so many disparate directions, that I returned to the idea of sorting my thoughts by spilling ideas and feelings into a personal journal. (I had kept diaries all through junior high and high school, then burned them when I went away to college.) Journaling helped me, so I kept at it for 30 years, and it is still an important part of my artistic practice.
The following pages show how my journaling morphed from simple inked words and architectural doodles on lined paper, into illustrated entries, then into visual collage, then into an explosion of collage and mixed media and finally, into my illustration style. Sitting on the floor paging through piles of these books, jumping from one May 1 to the next, I was stunned. I hope that this collection not only shows the growth from exhausted architecture grad student/mother to functioning artist, but also illustrates the incalculable effect the exposure to the whole world of personal blogging and journaling had with the new creation called the internet. These entries document the impact the World Wide Web had on art and sharing art and talking about art. You can see the beginnings in my entry from May 2001, when I started to share my ideas on a new personal diary site called Live Journal. I continue to this day to blog about visual journaling at www.creativeartjournal.blogspot.com.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, in his remarkable novel/memoir My Struggle, talks about the passage of time being like a boat in a lock on a canal. Each day, month, year, the boat rises and lowers as needed, but we only see the boat in the eternal now. Time slips by without our recognizing the profound changes. Looking at each journal entry jump from year to year reminded me of this. Suddenly, we live in another state, or a job is gained or lost, a baby is off to school, a teenager is an adult. The jolt in time by skipping to one day per year forced me to understand how much has happened in the last thirty years. As my boat in the canal went from role to role, we moved from state to state, my journaling voice became more and more my own, and I had hardly noticed the rising waters.
Diarists work in words. As an art major, I thought artists sketch in sketchbooks and kept separate diaries in words. It took a decade for me to incorporate visual imagery into my journaling practice. If you flip the pages like a flip book, you’ll see words change into words with pictures, change into pictures with words, and finally, the pages are comfortable with just images. In 2014, the whales from a children’s book I was working on show up in my journal, and they are happy being on the page without any verbage.
In hanging my mixed media work on the walls of Inspire Life Studio, a snapshot of my artistic mind is on display. On the following pages, 29 years of my art journaling work is distilled, which I hope is an interesting companion to this show.
When I began adult life, a published book or gallery show were the only way I could have shared expression with the world. Twenty-nine years later, in 2015, my work can be not only shared in a print publication and on the Inspire Life walls, but also on my blog, in Facebook, in twitter, in e-mails, in mail art, and even left on the street for strangers to find for “Free Art Friday.” On-line friends from India, France, the UK, Japan, and many other places will see my pages simultaneously on-line, while friends and strangers here in Denver can be reading these words in print.
Bless this amazing connected world we live in.
and bless every struggling artist who starts a blog, or sends a postcard, or just opens a blank book and starts to create.
We all benefit.
--Emily Townsend April 15, 2015