Artist Spotlight

Jaimee Ulmer uses art journaling to release the pressure

WHY DO YOU LOVE ART JOURNALING?

I love art journaling for the opportunity of processing, working through, and celebrating my life journey in a tangible, creative way.  “Art it Out” definitely works for me!  I also appreciate the flexibility and freedom it offers – it seems to have less pressure than stand-alone works of art, and yet the pages could be just that.  Art journaling combines my adoration of words and emotion, color, texture, and images.  I have found this method of creating to be my perfect blank canvas, and a creative extension of my very being.

DESCRIBE YOUR ART JOURNALING PROCESS.

My creative process involves a lot of thinking – before I even get to the studio table.  I will often first explore the deeper meaning behind symbols and words that I associate with a prompt, and if my creative page includes image transfers, I spend time looking through photos on tumblr and Pinterest until a few things jump out at me.  I let it all simmer, and then once I do begin, it’s rare for me to finish art journal pages in one sitting!  I typically put the process on pause for hours, or even days, while I continue to work out what I want to express inside, and while I juggle the business of being a mom of three.  I reclaimed my studio space this year, after a creative hiatus during a homeschool adventure, and an extended special needs crisis that our family went through.  It is an absolute luxury to have separate, personal space to spread out in creatively again.  Because of this, I have the option of leaving in-process pages out as-is while I step away for a day or two.  One of my creative goals this coming year is to maintain a better pace!

WHAT ARE YOUR MUST HAVE SUPPLIES? WHAT IS YOUR JOURNAL OF CHOICE?

My must-have supplies for art journaling are:  watercolor paints – especially neon, acrylic paints, gesso, white and metallic gel pens, black markers in a variety of widths, old book pages, and a steady supply of images printed off the computer.  I also enjoy using supplies from my creative planner days:  patterned papers for collage, alphabet ink stamps, and washi tapes.  I’m excited to start using magazine pages more, now that I bought a used lot of fashion+art mags on eBay.

As for journal of choice, I am still figuring that one out!  I had been using Canson spiral-bound mixed media journals and loved the weight of the paper, but when I started doing two-page journal spreads, the spiral-bound wasn’t working as well for me anymore.  I also tried some upcycled book journals from etsy for a few past seasons, and enjoyed the variety of papers and smaller size.  I’m now trying a Strathmore softcover watercolor journal and some GlobalArts Travelogue watercolor books – which I think will be my favorite.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNIQUE TO USE AND HOW DO YOU USE IT? ANY TIPS?

My favorite technique is to collage with image transfers.  In particular, I love putting a white gesso image transfer on my page, and layering a clear packing tape image transfer on top.  It’s fun to play with the contrast of opaque and glossy images, as well as layering them off-center.  A tip I would give is to be generous in your area of gesso on the page when doing image transfers.  In the beginning of my adventure into image transfers, I would end up rubbing right through the journal page when I got to the second part of the process.  If your area of gesso has a nice margin beyond the space of the actual image, it protects the journal page underneath when you start rubbing off the wet paper of the image piece.

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In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Fellow Get Messians inspire me!  I swoon over Jennifer’s (@stitchandletter) lettering and Cait’s (@cait_sherwood) color and texture.  I love what @nullsie does with magazine pages and flowers, and I love how Lauren (@laurencaterson) uses ripped paper. I’m in awe of Vanessa’s (@dansmoncrane) artistic expression of the mystical, and feel the messages Sarah (@sjrondon) puts in her pages.  I could go on and on raving about Get Messians, and am constantly finding new members to ooh and ahh over – it’s an endless supply of inspiration!

Besides the art journal community, I’m inspired by several artists that I follow on instagram, including:

illustrators @aimeesicuro and @abigailhalpin, collage artist @eugenia_loli, and abstract artist @dmocba.  I’m also a big fan of Mandy Steward and Sabrina Ward Harrison (@sabrinawardharrison), and artists Alisa Burke (@alisakburke) and Kal Barteski (@kalbarteski).

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE STORY?

My creative story goes all the way back to childhood, with a vivid fairy imagination and writing stories since early elementary school.  Writing and creativity have followed me in an ebb and flow, always.  I took extra curricular creative writing workshops and participated in creative thinking competitions.  My college years were spent mostly in the art building or library, with humanities and honors courses heavy in literature, poetry and writing.  I worked in the Art Department, interned at two museums, and graduated with a degree in Art History.

Post-college, my time was focused on family.  Creative expression was dormant for several years, while I navigated the trenches of raising three babies.  When my oldest was five, we were thrown into the world of special needs.  I began writing again, as a way to process our experience.  I then stumbled on a creative reawakening, through projects while helping with a holiday festival.  In the overwhelming dark of adjusting our parenting to special needs, the resurfacing of creativity was just the positive refresh button I needed.  I started a blog for projects, and later also opened an etsy business for handmade children’s toys.

A few years down the line, I was on the threshold of stepping into big blog business.  I had rebuilt my blog to accommodate major growth, partnership and sponsorship, and totally rebranded and relaunched my etsy business.  However, special needs then demanded more time.  I made the difficult decision of closing my creative ventures down, in order to homeschool my boys.

Our homeschool years were where I discovered art journaling, which I did with my boys.  Unfortunately, our life entered an extended crisis phase where everything turned inside out.  Homeschool fell to pieces as we succumbed to a Survival Mode that stretched through a year+ of intensive therapy efforts, testing, hospitalization, insurance nightmares, and residential treatment for our son.  The recovery process was brutal for the entire family, during which another experience totally slammed me into the blackest darkness yet.  This is where my true artist self stepped in, to lead me by the hand through my healing process.  It’s also when I found Get Messy.

In the past year, I have stretched into my artist soul.  I have art journaled for Get Messy and art journaled for myself.  I have experimented and opened up a deep chasm of creativity.  I have written hundreds of poems, been published, been interviewed, completed challenges and won contests.  I started a novel.  I built an altar and welcomed the universe into my studio.  I found my Self, through stepping back to my creative roots and blowing them wide open.  I go slowly when I create, because it’s all pressurized in there, waiting for release.  It’s terrifying and exhilarating.  It’s precious, it’s powerful, and I’m only getting started.

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