Painting Meditation Journal

One day I found myself a little bored of painting meditations so I decided to treat them like an actual meditation practice. A person doesn’t find much peace just meditating when they feel like it.

This inspired me to make a meditation journal out of Arches 90 lb and an old hard bound book from the thrift store. I am enjoying creating in this!

When I fist started making painting meditations I would start out very pure—painting just to paint with no expectations. When the pieces started turning out good, however, I started wanting them to turn out good! This wasn’t a problem, I would just reset my intentions when I noticed myself slipping. Creating lovely abstract paintings was a welcome side-effect to the endeavor.

But painting in a journal has allowed me to become very good at painting in the moment without trying to be good. I came to miss making good paintings. I decided to separate the endeavors so that I have an actual meditation practice painting in my journal and I also make abstract art works while trying to be very present with that process as its own thing.

I seem to be in an awkward growth phase since deciding this. It’s like I am trying to copy my own art. I trust I will get though it. I have been through a lot of change lately, mostly good things but some challenging things. I am ok overworking a bunch of paintings while I settle into a new life and a new painting practice.

Week Night Studio

This has been my studio during my day job work nights lately💜 I am enamored with simplicity so even though my closet is still crammed full of paintings and my project table is slightly organized chaos I love spending the evening on the couch with just colored pencils, a pen and a journal.

I don’t get to share everything from my workbooks because I journal in them a lot and that’s too personal to post but when I can share pages I will because I love seeing other people’s visual journals, workbooks and sketchbooks.

New Paintings

Here are my latest painting meditations. I am reviewing my art career approach and have decided to put more effort into showing my work in public instead of having an internet shop or posting pieces on social media. This blog will be the best place to see my latest pieces.

I probably won’t be able to show much until society begins to reopen but I have plenty to do in the meantime! I am still revising my Landscape Diaries essays into a book. I’m also spontaneously illustrating books so my heart can develop its own style instead of my ego trying to make “good” work.

I am also really into drawing and lettering in my workbooks and all my art journals and sketchbooks are now converted to workbooks. I like the term workbook because sketchbook puts me in an academic mindset and I associate art journal with art scrap-booking which puts too much pressure on making things precious or appealing. Workbook feels like a thing of the soul, of wayward contemplatives, obscure poets and woods wanderers so it fits who I am in that these things are my work even if it seems a little dramatic to say so.

Forest Paintings

While I was painting my 100 treescapes it made me happy to have my studio and art practice full of forest imagery. It made so much sense that I, an artist who loves to spend as much time as possible out in the woods, would be a forest landscape painter.

Now my heart is calling me to focus on the abstract meditations I paint to express my experience of being an element of nature myself.

I feel a little grief in this. Anyone who has put effort into making a home for themselves will relate to the grief that comes when it’s time to move even when they are moving into a better place.

These are the last tree paintings I made. I wanted to post them together so they could be included in my on-line body of work before I rearrange my shop and portfolio to reflect my current focus. I know I will still paint forests. I might paint them for fun occasionally or they might become a new body of work after I’ve said all I need to with my abstracts.

Summer 2020

Today is the last day of summer. I recently started documenting my life and work with photos again. I stopped taking pictures regularly after I started using Instagram and became overwhelmed with the sheer volume of images, not to mention a little disturbed at the effort some people appeared to be exerting in order to make their life look good on social media. I didn’t stop taking pictures altogether but my goal became only to share what I thought my tiny social media audience would find meaningful about the week’s art making.

Now I’m taking them for myself again and collecting them by season on my web-site as part of my on-line sketchbook.

Studio Update

I had a great time at the Belmont Street Fair last month. Since then I’ve started a new book which will be my first attempt to channel my illustrations and writing into a children’s book format. So far I have the pages all sketched out and have been doing some studies to develop my style more intentionally before I start in. I also bought some new boards for stretching paper as I will have a lot more pages going at once than normal!

You can always catch the latest on my Instagram @alexandra.schaefers

I am taking a break from Landscape Diaries, because I feel like doing some experimental writing and not being on (or wishing I was sticking to) a posting schedule.

I just rearranged my web-site a bit. If you have opinions about that sort of thing, let me know what you think!

Book Making!

Here’s a video of me illustrating a book 5 years ago. I use the same illustration technique I’m going to teach in my upcoming artist book class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Illustrating a book is surprisingly easy if you start all the pages at once on a large sheet of paper.

When I make books for print I illustrate the pages individually but I love this technique because it teaches one how to make creative compositions, have a consistent aesthetic throughout the pages and quickly cuts through the intimidation factor.

My illustration style has developed tremendously since I started making books and I believe that this technique was critical in my development. Also, it’s really fun! I love art techniques that have an unpredictable element in them!

My next greeting card book is actually going to be a revised edition of The Gift of Birds, you’ll get to see that soon.

There’s still some spots in Artist’s Book Illuminated. Hope to see you there!

Innocence and Intimacy

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I’ve been researching the phenomena of Instagram influencers lately after developing a fascination with the reality that women can make a lot of money just posting photos of themselves online. I’m sort of a curmudgeon when it comes to fashion and beauty. I love clothes and a little make-up but I feel like it’s supposed to be a fun, light-hearted thing, not something that takes over one’s life unless it is one’s livelihood, financial or otherwise. What I found in my research is that women are in fact, making a livelihood of it.

I felt judgemental of people going to locations just to take photos of themselves without actually enjoying the place. Now I realize they are modeling. They aren’t going there to pretend it’s part of their life, they are going there because it’s a good place to take a photo shoot and they are, or want to be, fashion models. This may be obvious to all of you. To me it was a revelation. I could not figure out why anyone would follow an account of photos of one person in different outfits. It turns to be the latest version of looking through the Sears and Robuck catalog which I loved to do when I was a kid.

I feel it’s neat that women have greater access to make a living being stylists, art-directors and photographers. I do wish our culture could move to deeper places of creativity where it’s not about creating the appearance of a perfectly styled, trendy life but about living a deeply passionate, interior-guided life, but this is an antique problem.

My hope on Instagram is to connect with anyone who might enjoy my art, I don’t really need to do fashion shoots for that. I do get wound up more than I’d like to admit about how to best use my account. Sometimes I want to post only finished work. Sometimes I want to post photos of the adventures I have going about my life as an artist. Sometimes I want to post everything I make even if it sucks and has nothing to do with my current body of work.

The photo album I posted above are photos I took when I lived and worked in a tiny studio apartment on NW 20th in Portland when I was in my mid 30’s. This was before Instagram. I in no way considered myself a photographer. I was just enamored with having a little camera on my Nokia blackberry and I was enamored with the vintage charm of my apartment. Being a painter, it was fun to make compositions with the phone screen and no resources were wasted as they were when we used film.

When I look at them now I am struck with the inadvertent intimacy they create as a body of work. I feel nostalgic for the innocence of taking pictures solely for my own pleasure. I never arranged things for the pictures, I just recorded what was already there if it struck my fancy. It never occurred to me to change the decor of my home to improve my photos. I never even edited the photos. I don’t know if I will ever experience that again. It is challenging in the age of social media to celebrate the beauty of our lives without wanting to improve them, without seeing them through the eyes of a judging audience.

I want to do more research on how advertising usurps art and our experience of beauty. I would love to hear of any articles or resources you know of on the subject.