I thought I would show the first part of the art journaling pages I made while on my incredible stay in San Miguel de Allende. I won’t tell you all the steps and all the instructions or techniques we followed because that would be subversive to the teachers who spent so much time and energy creating this workshop. In this case, the workshop was called Gateways to Art Journaling and was hosted by kind-hearted Rebecca Brooks with the incomparable Orly Avineri as guest instructor. 
I can tell you that the gateways were opened completely for me. I learned so much. About art journaling, about myself, about possibilities for growth, for digging deeper. About what it means to be an artist and how art journaling is so much more that just a trend (which I firmly believed already).
Here is the first spread:
As you can see, there are about 15 000 more layers than my previous spreads! This was a stretch for me, I had never deliberately covered up my pretty collage papers before.

We then painted these faces on our pages. My Mystic Jackalope came by. This technique was inspired by Marlene Dumas. What I learned from this spread : don’t get too attached to that first layer, it’s one of many!

My second spread:

We first drew a face, then painted it. When it was dry, we had to “break the face”. Oh that was hard! I just couldn’t do it completely! We then created a personal altar on the person’s head using found material and personal ephemera.

This page went through many changes in just one day. There was a lot of color on the right side, including stamps of my hand which I had dipped in red paint. The words are from a poem we were given.

What I learned from this spread: it’s easier for me to detach myself from what I’ve created a couple of days later. I put the layer of white gesso on 2 days after I worked on this spread. To me, this spread is still ongoing. That is very new for me since I usually complete my journal pages in one go.

Third spread:

I do love the vignette style of this spread. In San Miguel, there are tiny nichos everywhere you look. Small windows that show little scenes from daily life. The little details from these pages remind me of that.

All the little sketches of the faces are blind contour drawings. What I learned from this spread : it is easy to look at a person but hard to really see them. This exercise of observing and then drawing with your eyes closed was fascinating to me. Also, I like working in tiny spaces on a page.

Fourth spread and my favorite visually:

This was done after a visit to the Mask Museum and the local cemetery. Both had an abundance of barely contained colors, smells and visual stimuli. Hearts, animals, dots, stripes, religious icons, laughing skeletons, flowers; it was all a feast for the eyes.

We used carbon paper to sketch the masks we saw in the museum and then had fun embellishing each segment of our spread.

I placed some petals from the flowers that were discarded in the cemetery under pieces of packing tape.

I love all the different forms of skeletons and of the religious icons.

So many emotions and lots of humour could be seen in the masks too.

Lots of details to look at in this spread.

What I learned from this spread: the absence of temporality. The Dead walk around with the living, they are happy Dead. A journal page has many layers and can be forever ongoing. The things we want to express through our art need not be contained in a rigid timeframe but can be much larger. The petals I added in headresses will lose their color and change and transform the page while doing so.

Also, my love for black gesso. So good.

Thanks for taking a look. I will be sharing the second half of my pages later this week.