Monsoon Papers

The monsoons hit Phoenix this week. Monsoons are Arizona’s dirty little weather secret. The rest of the country thinks “dry heat” and we’re swimming through dew points in the 80s. The air is sticky, sweat doesn’t evaporate and sudden, violent rains rip through normally-dry riverbeds. Accompanying microbursts shred palo verdes and tip over palms. No one outside Arizona hears about it.

Monsoon watercolor papers

We escape the heat with Art Unraveled. The art retreat is held each year in early August, lasts a week, and is stuffed with a huge variety of workshops–from making a ribbon bracelet to, well, Raw Art Journaling.

My two classes (One Sentence Journaling and Journaling for Perfectionists) were originally technique classes–a chance to learn and practice something, but without the pressure of completing a project.  But no matter how deep a class is, participants like to have show and tell. Instead of having participants write in their own journals, we’d make a simple pamphlet journal in class and fill it.  I decided this would be a gift to students–I’d give them the materials for free. Raw art journaling is about working with what’s at hand, and while the norm is to charge a kit fee, I wanted to model the generosity of creative sharing.

I also wanted to give each participant (many travel across the country)  a chance to experience the monsoon without having to stand in the rain. As the monsoon approached, I watched for the incredible colors that develop–pesto greens and berry purples, butterscotch yellows and scuffed denim blues. Using inks that matched the colors,  I  spattered watercolor papers and then placed them in different positions–in the grapefruit tree, in the aloe vera hedge, flat on the ground and let the rain pelt them, spreading the color. After one storm moved over, I’d reapply the ink and let another cloudburst finish the job.

The results were amazing. The papers that had been through the most violent rain had the best blending of colors. Papers hung from trees whipped back and forth splattering nearby papers with color. Those on the ground had small branches and leaves stick to them, creating a subtle batik effect. Papers put out at the end of a storm had rivulets of ink around the edges, where the ink pooled, but was not washed off.

I ironed the pages to get them back into shape, and the color is not quite as vibrant as in the photo, but they are patterns and blends that nature provided. Now each student can take a bit of the monsoon home without getting drenched.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist, writing and raw-art journaler who teaches workshops across the country. Her book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art will be published in June, 2011 by North Light Books.


See You at Art Unraveled 2010

Art Unraveled is an art retreat held every August in Phoenix.
In 2010, it’s going to be August 3 to 10, and I’m teaching two classes! (See the whole Art Unraveled schedule)

Phoenix Sunrise

Coming to AU is exciting! I’d like to make it easier for you if you are taking my class. I’ll provide most of the supplies. All you need is what you are already bringing for other classes–a variety of pens or pencils, your journal, a pair of scissors or X-acto knife. Aren’t bringing any of that? Then show up with a big heart, a sense of adventure, and your imagination.

I’m a creativity coach, so there is a lot of that going on in class. It’s deep, meaning-making work with fun and sharing.

Raw-Art Journaling For Perfectionists
August 4, 6:30 – 9:30
Started 50 journals and never filled a single one? This is the class for you.

If you are a perfectionist, you know how hard it is to work deeply and playfully. Perfectionists start with high hopes, and then get discouraged because their work is not exactly what they had imagined.

Notorious procrastinators, perfectionists start 50 journals and finish none of them. You will make many journal pages, and keep the ones you like. No one will know about the rest.

You will learn how to choose a journal that suits your needs, how to use your own ideas to write in and create abstract designs of your own invention in your journal. You’ll feel better about yourself and your prefectionism, while laughing and working.

No previous art experience needed.

Raw-Art One-Sentence Journaling
Monday, August 9, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be a time drain. Learn to keep a journal with just one sentence a day, two if you are ambitious. In this technique class, you will learn how to keep an interesting journal that you look forward to working in.

We’ll play word games, make magic word tickets, invent new names for our many different selves. You’ll learn Haiku writing and how to fight negative self-talk. You’ll also learn how to use words and abstract designs of your own invention to turn a regular journal into a raw-art-journal. This is a technique class, so you will experiment on different size sheets of paper.

No experience needed.

See more information on my website, Raw-Art-Journals.