Advent begins a week from today and it is one of my favorite liturgical seasons in the Christian tradition. Advent begins the new church year and is a season about waiting, preparing, and birthing. It also occurs at one of my favorite times of year, this slow descent toward winter and the solstice. This autumn was beautiful in the Northwest, and I kept thinking maybe it was my favorite season, but these last couple of weeks the trees are revealing in their essence again and those bare branches and the sun low in the sky make my heart dance (and I realize some of you think I am crazy!).
I've already received a few email requests for books I recommend for Advent. My absolute favorite is Night Visions by Jan Richardson. I have long loved Jan's work and her combination of art and text and in her book about Advent she really helps to celebrate the darkness. You have to order it directly from her website though, as it is only available as very expensive used copies through Amazon. The other book I like is The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ's Coming by Wendy Wright.
After finishing my week of teaching I ordered two books that arrived yesterday in the mail. I have fallen in love with Mixed Emulsions: Altered Art Techniques for Photographic Imagery by Angela Cartwright. I came home yesterday evening and was going to do some work, but started flipping through the pages. This book is filled with all kinds of wonderful ideas for ways to use tools like hand coloring photos and altering them with gesso and molding paste to include them in a mixed media artwork. It inspired me to spend the rest of the evening sifting through some old photos. For the last few weeks I have been sorting through three large plastic bins I have of photos from my mother's and father's sides of the family. This is part of some work I am doing about my ancestry and in Bowen Theory (family systems theory). I have some marvelous vintage photos of relatives I am going to scan and make art with.
The other book which I haven't looked through as closely, but also looks great and filled with creative ideas is Journal Revolution: Rise Up and Create! Art Journals, Personal Manifestos and Other Artistic Insurrections by the same women who also wrote the marvelous Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books. Wonderful inspiration for those of you who want to try some visual journaling or infuse your practice with some new inspiration.
I have decided that for Advent I am going to commit to a practice of trying to do some kind of new art each day. I have been so busy this last month preparing to teach others to use the arts, that now it is time to dive more deeply again into my own creative process, and use Advent as a container to bring new things to birth. I have so many craft books, my commitment is to try new processes as well, to see what else I can do with my photos. Anyone want to join me?
Remember to come back tomorrow for our next Poetry Party!
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts