Here's a recent entry in my illustrated journal, which is more or less the end result of a string of recent related circumstances. My husband brought home an interesting book from the library, Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America, by Jonathan Gould. He was enthused over the book, claiming it was more than a biography of the Fab Four, but also an entire social history of music in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I found him listening to a CD of Revolver, and wanting me to frame up the Sgt. Pepper record cover for him. Since I'm in the middle of two other hefty books myself, but was interested, I had him mark out a couple chapters for me to sample. Looks like I'll need to put the title on my "to be read" list. Anyway, that got me listening to my old Beatles albums and copying a few more songs on my computer, which led me to an old favorite from the white album, Blackbird. Blackbird doesn't rock, but it's lyrical, lovely, Paul's voice sweet and unpretentious: "Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these broken wings and learn to fly, All your life, You were only waiting for this moment to arise."
Then last Sunday I decided to take advantage of falling gasoline prices and drive to Madison to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to see the George Segal show, and then to attend a film that was part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. The Segal plaster figures standing in bread lines, in doorways, on diner stools, were strangely wonderful. I hauled out my purse notebook and scribbled a sketch of a man seated on crates, and wished I had more time to do better. But I needed to be seated for the documentary I drove there to see, 1000 Journals, by Andrea Kreuzhage. The website for 1000 journals was one of the first I visited when I started doing my illustrated journals, and I still enjoy visiting those wildly random pages. They're inspiring, though I always feel a little boring after see them again. There's something a little too restrained about many of my experiments, and little too cautious about spoiling a page in a book that cost cash, and that may be around after I am not around any more. But back to the documentary. I loved it, was fascinated by Someguy's inspiration to see what strangers would collaboratively write or draw in journals. I was interested in the variety of people who participated in the project, and in the various ways people added to the pages. I never would consider altering anyone else's work, though some people enthusiastically did. I certainly wouldn't paste a page over anyone else's entry, though some did just that. I'd love to see one of these journals "in the flesh," though I suspect I have a better chance of winning the lottery.
Which brings me back to my stack of unfinished journals. I have a pile of about a dozen, none finished, all filled with wildly different styles and media. I admire people who work straight through their journals to their conclusion, have one for pencil, one for pen and ink, one for collage work. Mine look like five people worked in them, but the fact is they metaphorically represent me, unable to find a personal style or subject and stick to it, unable (or unwilling) to finish. I decided to copy out the lyrics to Blackbird using one of my cherished fountain pens. Then I watered down some gesso and covered up the writing. Then I watercolored over that. Then I took an old Readers Digest condensed book that I use for sketches and blind contour drawings, and scrawled out a blackbird, cut it out, and used black gesso on it. Then I glued pieces down with gel medium. Now I wish I had used more watercolor, maybe on some of the collaged bits. But I didn't. It's done. Maybe I'll try a few more with other lyrics, or old diary style pages I did other years. We'll see.