Monday, May 20, 2019

Dogs & Poetry: an Ambitious Weekend Project

Earlier this year I spent an absolutely lovely weekend Art Journaling with a group of fellow Art Journalers. It was inspiring and freeing to know that there was nothing I *had* to do for a couple of days other than experiment with paper, ephemera, and my imagination. What a treat!

Maybe that’s why I took on such an <<ahem>> ambitious project. Which I’ll get to in a moment.

Sidebar: I am an ephemera hoarder. I come by it quite naturally and without apology. I love to go junking and whenever I see a stack of old photos, I am drawn to them. As soon as I start leafing through the stack, I begin crafting stories behind the images. I find it sad and fascinating that family histories end up in shoe boxes at flea markets, antique malls and on eBay. It's my duty to save them for a higher purpose: Art. 

One of my all-time best finds is a stack of over 100 headshots from a carnival photo booth. Based on the clothing, I’d guess they were taken sometime in the 1940s. I haven’t been able to bear to use an original one, but have scanned them for reuse as copies. Aren't the faces amazing???

I also love dogs. All dogs. Any dogs. If I see a dog in person, I am going to pet it. When I find the stacks of photos, I cull out the dogs and keep them in a special place. You might begin to see where this is going. And, a few cats may have slipped in, as well.

Dog pictures culled from years of "junking" as well as ordering off of eBay. I love dogs. 

Totally inspired at this point, I decided that during our Art Journaling Weekend I was going to use copies of Carnival photo booth photos, pictures of the dogs, and create stories or vignettes for the images in a small journal.

I've got an Epson inkjet printer that I used with regular old copy paper. I used Matte Medium as my adhesive and there was no problem with ink running. I also set the copier to print everything in black & white. Even the modern-day photos I used.

And then, we added in prompts…

While we were Art Journaling, we thought it would be fun to throw prompts into a bowl for when we were stuck or wanted a challenge. I had to pick:

“write a haiku for your page.” 
You remember Haikus from 7th Grade English — 3 lines, 
5 syllables
7 syllables 
5 syllables

Undaunted (and naive), I dove into my project. Determined.

Since I had sooo much going on — dogs, random people, haiku — I thought it best to pick a limited color palette and stick with it. To give it some ooomph, I laid down Gold Gesso on each page. After that I used Paper Artsy paints and my favorite painting tool, the yellow scraper, to quickly spread color and texture on each page.

So hard for me but I stuck to the same colors throughout.
The journal is wired bound and 6" square

Since that time, I’ve been filling in the pages. I choose a spread and add some interest with stencils. I scribble with a grey Dina Wakley Scribble Stick, Signo Uniball white pen, and a use fineline black pen for the poetry. (The best part is giving the dogs and people names.)

Bobby loved time travel,
but it wore him out!
Mr. Barton loved Jane.
He called her the Cat's Meow.
Jane's love was elsewhere. 
Tim was a cat guy.
Decidedly, Pat loved dogs.
Could this ever work?
While minding his shop
Stan dreamt of bucolic days
romping with his pup, Max.

When Fran was naughty
her kitten was taken away
Fran never held her. 

See what I mean? Kind of additive, right? Some of the texture you're seeing is stamps on tissue paper then embossed. For a simple effect, it's pretty much a "kitchen sink" kind of project.

Here are some without the Haikus. Feel free to help out in the Comments section!

I think she's comforted by her fluffy pup while her sailor is out at sea. 

I really want to name this dog Mr. Pickles. The bride & groom are Tim Holtz cutouts. 

These sleeping beauties are all mine. Granddaughter and grand-dog on left and husband and prized hound, TeeJay on right. 

My Uncle Billy is in the photograph.

I love their outfits - all three!

This stencil added so much drama! Stern parents sending the twins to the basement???

On the right is my dearly departed old beagle, Daisy.

From the Photo Booth stash. 
When all the pages are done, I am going to use this magnificent tintype to adorn the front cover.

I hope you are inspired to dig out your stash and commemorate your favorite images. There's something about seeing a collection, isn't there?

Now, onto those Haikus....

Stencils used in this project:
ATC Mixups 1, 2, Apter, Borloz & Dube
Shaw-Apter StencilClub-01-2019
Wieber Caves & Ladders StencilClub 09-2018
Rosie O StenciClub 06-2018
Dube Circles Layer Me
Stegmiller Inky Hearts
Wolf Brick Factory
Mary Beth's Private Collection StencilClub 01-2017
Mary Beth's Private Collection StencilClub 04-2016


  1. i love this--"Undaunted (and naive), I dove into my project. Determined.--"' It's almost a haiku in itself. And I love your original take on the art of haiku.

  2. Reading your take on the fate of old photos was like reading my own thoughts. I too find it sad that they have been discarded. But seeing them leads me to wonder what lives they had. I really enjoyed seeing your project. And coincidentally, I'm in the prep stages for a similar project using Victorian cabinet cards.

  3. This is so inspired! Just so fun and beautifully done!

  4. Very inspiring! And what a find those photos were!

  5. This gives me a new appreciation for all those discarded photos which I've never know what to do there's a glimmer of interest and a new way to play with them. Appreciate that limited palette, its stunning.


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