A Sneak Peak at My Travel Journal

I posted another sneak peak image from my pilgrimage here, for my Patreon supporters. I’m going to start recounting the Krakow portion of my trip later today. In the meantime, one of the things I want to share is the travel journal i kept from the moment I left Beacon.

I got this idea from a fellow artist, Rosemary Busnell, who attended the Taos Residency that I was also at in May. I’ve kept journals when I traveled before, but just quick recap of whatever I did during the day. This was more elaborate and much more FUN. It’s also given me an absolutely treasure. It’s the one thing from my trip that I all but hand carried back.

Instead of just writing about my experiences, or rather in addition to writing about them, I painted, collaged, pasted and had a damned good time. The day I arrived at each  new place, I’d paint little color smudges, just smudges of all the dominant colors in the city. It’s simple, but gave me an immediate visual overview of the color palette of a particular place. This is also where I first got the idea to do collaged icons like this:

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This is my interpretation of the icon at St. Thomas church in Krakow. I liked the icon but didn’t want to take a photo — the church was full and people were praying and photography seemed disrespectful in the moment. Still, the icon affected me so deeply that I was moved to tears. (the original icon has Mary holding the baby Jesus, but that wasn’t working for me in the collage so I gave Her flowers instead).  I’ve since expanded these little collages for images of our Gods too and it’s something I intend to keep doing. For instance, inspired by a woodcut by artist Pete White (wonderful and gracious artist), I did this image of Odin on the Tree:

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Mr. White’s original woodcut (which he gave me permission to use here) is this (stunning work. unfortunately by the time i found it, he was sold out. Woodcuts always have limited runs because of the process itself):

odinjpg

Here are two of the other Madonnas I did (all gifts):

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I suspect I’ll be making these to sell in the future, as well as incorporating this style of art into my mail art. (I’ve had requests for them already and one of the partners at the gallery i co-own asked me to make some to sell).  They’re a lot of fun and while they can be rather complicated, they seem to work a different part of my brain from actually painting. I’m no good at all at abstract collage (I’ve seen masterful work and know that I’m not even in the ballpark!) but this sort of collage i can do: reproducing a specific image. The only problem I had was that by the time we hit Cologne, I’d run out of the nice paper I brought with me!  I had to improvise (candy wrappers, if they are gold or silver paper, are godsends lol)

It’s completely changed the way I look at keeping a journal now. I took post cards and cut them up and collaged them (or when really lazy, just pasted them in and decorated around them — sometimes i wanted to keep the image as is). I painted in the book, I kept a nice written narrative as well. It seemed to make the experience more *mine* in a way. I figure the same thing can be applied to a regular journal.

Here are a couple of pages to give you an idea of how and what I did:

prague page from book

Coming over one of the bridges into Prague, I kept seeing this pink building with the black cupola (i’m fascinated by those onion domes–brilliant idea, a real pain in the butt to draw). I love the play of colors so i painted it quickly. The page on the right here was originally a watercolor. I was pretty sure it sucked though so i just collaged over it. LOL.

That was the thing that really struck me about Prague, btw: the colors. In Krakow, the dominant colors were a rust red, black, and ochre. Coming into Prague, there was this glorious riot of aqua and pink and yellow and ochre, and light green, and oranges and it was beautiful. Krakow was beautiful too but in a different way, a quieter way.

sedlec page from book

Then there was the ossuary in Sedlec, in Kutna Hora. I let the cards stand (better than any of my photos) and did this as a memorial piece. I’m going to be writing quite a bit about my visit here — it was one of the most singularly powerful places I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.

Ellegua page from book

Finally in Prague we visited the Church of Our Lady Victorious where there is both a Black Madonna and also (the reason for my visit), the famous statue of the Infant of Prague. This particular image is often syncretized with Ellegua. 🙂 When I said all the many circles of my religious life came full circle on this trip, I meant it! Maferefun, Ellegua!

This particular statue, by the way, has over 180 dresses. *G*. There’s even one that was made and donated by a local girl scout troop and I think that’s marvelous. St. Nicholas Church, mentioned in this page is located right across from the music conservatory. We went to a concert there, with an organist and a soprano and OMG the acoustics were amazing. I wanted nothing more than to lay down on the parquet floor and let the sounds and vibrations wash over me (but I didn’t–figured i’d get thrown out!).

Anyway, I have been tremendously resistant over the last couple of years to keeping any kind of journal. I used to do it religiously but somehow fell out of the practice, perhaps because so much of my work involves writing. This has renewed my interest in journaling again and given me new and different outlets for my art other than simply painting. Best of all, there’s no pressure. I work with what i have and don’t expect every page to be a masterpiece. It’s something for myself and it’s immensely enjoyable and sometimes I do, as with the pages I shared above, come out with something that inspires all the rest of my artistic work.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be posting more later but for now i need to get offline and deal with a plumber.

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Posted on July 31, 2015, in Art, pilgrimages and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Your Madonna collages are beautiful…I know I’d be interested in buying one! BTW, did you visit Czestochowa at all? This is making me want to return to Poland…it’s been 30 years since I visited as a child, and now that I’ve discovered spirituality and the Ancestors, I really want to go back…

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    • ganglerisgrove

      if you contact me at krasskova at gmail.com, we can talk about my doing one for you.

      NO!! i want to go back and go to Czestochowa. I specifically plotted an ancestor pilgrimage and didn’t expect to be so moved by the Madonnas. I actually DID do (accidentally) a Marian pilgrimage — seven sites sacred to Her–and it was very important to me, healing on many spiritual levels. I didn’t start out having planned that Marian journey though. I thought about trying to squeeze Czestochowa in at the last minute, but there was just no time. I intend to go back in 2018 to Europe, and I want to visit the Lady of the Eastern Gates in Vilnius when I do, so I might try to get to Czestochowa then. It is my firm belief that many indigenous Goddesses hid behind the image of Mary and still receive veneration. it’s one of three reasons I honor Mary (my ancestors told me to, and I consider Her a good patron for godatheow being the other two).

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      • Hmm, I wonder if that’s why I’ve become very interested in Madonnas the past decade…because of my ancestors…my Grammy was very devoted to Mary, and I have several Mary statues on my altar.

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  2. I love your art! It’s given me some ideas for a ‘book of hours’ I’m making for my Dad, so thank you for sharing 😊

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  3. Really love these collages. Funny, I’ve been doing something a bit similar myself – something I used to do long ago but had dropped, a book of collages and quotes. I find it to be a great artistic outlet when I’m not in a position to do something more complex and lengthy – I can dash off a page or two in an hour when I have something I want to express, with the materials at hand, and I don’t get so angsty about it as I do with “bigger” art because it’s meant to be more rough. Never thought of doing it as a travel journal, though, that’s fantastic!

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  4. Ago Mojubara, Elegua! 😀

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  5. ganglerisgrove

    andrea, quite possibly. I know I began honoring Her because several of my direct ancestors asked that Her statue be placed on my ancestor shrine….give me a little bit and I’ll share a photo of it. I figure She helped preserve some of our ways, gave sanctuary to some of our Goddesses, gave compassion and sustenance to many of our dead. Those are all very good things.

    Also, if you’re of Polish extraction, I’m not surprised that your ancestors would want you to keep some vestiges of Catholic practice. as MAG pointed out to me on my pilgrimage, in Poland, the church was the good guy. It was what helped preserve language and the fight for freedom.

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  6. Your Madonna images make me think of Rumer Godden’s lovely book, The Kitchen Madonna.

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  7. Your Madonnas are wonderful (they remind me so much of Isis) and I love the travel journaling idea. I do journal when traveling but never in this manner.

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