Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Art Journaling: Hey even Jane Austen needed to Perform!

If Jane Austen, were alive and kicking today, she’d be keeping a journal like this online, with light pieces of her own writing, snippets of parlor music, and illustrations created by herself and her family. She’d be reading excerpts of her stories out loud to Cassandra and Fanny in the evening, listening to her nieces play and sing at the pianoforte, and turning it all into a podcast. She’d take regular rambling walks and create illustrations in Photoshop. She’d be developing apps.

Daily life still has it’s own Romantic flavor.

from the iTunes Store podcast, "Unpolished Performances
The Simple Romantic’s podcasts are now on iTunes!
 (yes, of course they are free)
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Art Journaling 
Hey even Jane Austen needed to Perform!

I know people who can keep a private journal. 

I’m not one of them. 

Privacy is fine for times when I’m looking seedy, taking a nap or snuggling a dog. It’s not that all appealing when I’m creating a legacy. Art journaling, my little performance on the pianoforte of life, shows how I’m making sense of that life. I need to know that someone is looking at my pictures, reading my romantic notions and listening to my tunes. I need my journal to be public.

Who has not been inspired to keep a journal of some kind, and how many have I started since childhood? Eventually I ditched the decorative little volumes, begun with such determination, when the sight of the remaining intimidating white pages was just too much for me. I never quite knew who I was writing or illustrating for. But I always wanted to create a journal. I was inspired by the English novelist D.E. Stevenson (a niece of Robert Louis Stevenson) who turned her own journals into some of her early novels. I’ve been repeatedly checking Stevenson’s works out of the library since the 1980’s. They’re particularly good to re-read if I’m stuck in bed with a cold or getting over a root canal.

Her “Mrs. Time Christie” books are written in a journal style, which I would imagine follow the lines of her own memoirs. They tell the story of a regular woman’s life: including humorous anecdotes about her husband and children, hardships – many are set in wartime Britain, and her prejudices. The entries display her sense of humor and show how she enjoyed herself. They make the every-day life of a woman in 1930’s and 1940’s British Isles look romantic.

When I call Stevenson’s books, ‘romantic’, I’m not talking about an “I wuv you THIS much!” greeting card. I mean romantic in the sense of Jane Austen, the definitive Romantic era character. The definition of the character traits required for a good Romantic, are personified in the heroines of each of Jane’s novels, and in her letters to her sister, Cassandra. Early nineteenth century Romantics, like Jane, gloried in the beauty of the natural world, admired a simple close-knit family life style, and persued education for it’s own sake.  They read and wrote voluminously, developing their writing style in letters, journals and stories. They sketched and painted. They entertained themselves, their families and friends with musical performances, at whatever skill level the household inhabitants had achieved, using their own voices and whatever instruments the household possessed.

Evenings in the home, with no house-wide lighting system, television, radio, mp3 players, or dvd’s had an entirely different character in the Romantic era, than it has today. In typical middle class style, Jane’s family, focused their energy on lighting and heating one room, where they gathered together or, sometimes, entertained small gatherings of friends. Today we’d probably call it “green entertaining”, if we overlooked the carcinogenic, overabundant particulate matter spewing forth from those aromatic massive hydrocarbon emitting logs smoldering in the fireplace.

It was there, in the parlor, that Jane, her siblings, nieces, nephews, and parents, read aloud: family letters, journal entries (the idea that a journal is totally private is, of course, more modern), poetry, novels, and their own writing. It was, in the parlor, that the family played the pianoforte and sang. Romantics like Jane were motivated to create because they had a place to share their work.

My childhood journals had no purpose because they were private. I began keeping my online art-journal as an extension of conversations and illustrations I was posting on facebook. Social networking and blogging, gave me an audience, someone who’d stop by my digital parlor to read my thoughts on hiking or walking downtown, listen to my piano and voice pieces or look at my latest illustrations. 

The pages in my art-journal are filling up now, because I have a place to perform.

. . .
Please stop by the iTunes store and listen to Unpolished Performances, an extension of this art journal

1 comment:

  1. This was such a wonderful entry. After reading your definition of a "ROMANTIC" a la Jane, I can say that I must be one, and that is such a relief as I have been really distancing myself from the word "romantic" you saved me from dumping something I should surely keep. Xorosho, i spasibo.


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