This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to “add receipts, labels, business cards – smash book style!” Since taking up art journaling as a creative hobby and especially since joining the DLP, the term “smash book” is something I had read in passing but I had not discerned the definition. So the first step of the challenge was to figure out what the challenge actually required. It turned out to be a pretty simple concept: recording events by adding scraps from your life to a page.
Having just returned from our five day vacation in Massachusetts and Long Island, there were pockets in my backpack stuffed with leaflets, cards and even napkins. I, therefore, had my materials and it also felt like it would make sense to document with found scraps from a week when I had actually done some interesting things and for my journal to contain a page that documented our trip and experiences.
I already had a page in my journal that I had smeared with squelches of blue and red paint. It was going to be the basis of a different page but then I changed my mind and that page was abandoned. Now I could finally use it as the base for all my sticking. The next stage in my planless-plan was to cut out little bits and pieces from the things I had collected over the course of the vacation: a photo of Montauk lighthouse and of a humpback whale breaching, a ticket from the New London to Long Island ferry, a scrap of a napkin from the hot dog stand on Coney Island and a business card from Friendly’s, and various logos and titles from leaflets of places we had visited. I glued those down haphazardly, trying to “go with the flow” but actually making quite a mess in the process. I rather think I should have put more thought and planning into the placement and composition. That done the page was looking decidedly blah. I decided that the fragmented elements needed to be unified and tied together somehow. I tried adding some decorative tape to fill blank spaces. That filled the gaps but did nothing to unify the page. Think again. So I got out my cheap tempera paints, which I actually rather like because they are globby and translucent, and stamped on some red, blue and white using the end of a cork, a milk bottle lid and the end of a wooden pencil. Then – since one of the key things we had done was whale watching – I used a little whale stamp to shove a pod of inky blank whales across the page. The whale stamp is actually one I have owned since I was at school (I used to use it to indicate which books belonged to me) so I was quite glad of the opportunity to use it once more.
I am not sure “smash style” is really very me and certainly I don’t think I am very good at it. I have seen lots of wonderfully creative responses to this week’s prompt but I personally felt my creativity was curbed by using found scraps. I just couldn’t envisage the end point of my page, what it might look for, and without having something to aim for I was lost in how to approach the page. The end result was, therefore, not very successful but nevertheless it is always good to try something new and at least now I have a page in my art journal that contains a visual record of our vacation.