Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pandora's closet

The 17th GPP Street Team Crusade is here. Michelle Ward in her wisdom suggested a challenge that goes right to the heart of why I started the Commuter's Journal. She asked her Street Team to share the kits they carry to make their journals. After all, art is as much about craft and process as it is about inspiration.

The Ur Kit: My constant companion

In my case, inspiration came afterward. This blog began because I had a kit and a journal by my side at all times. Seven years ago I began commuting on Metro North from my lovely home in Connecticut to New York City. It's a long trip -- 1.5 hours on the train and another 30 minutes to get to and from stations. I'd often read (uninterrupted reading time is a luxury as any mom can appreciate), work, play Scrabble or Solitaire on my Palm Pilot or snooze. But I needed more. I needed to capture the adventures I was having, the experiences I encountered on my way. So I began keeping a journal in composition notebooks. I remembered how onerous keeping a daily journal became in my younger years and decided to give myself permission to put in anything that inspired, outraged, tickled or otherwise moved me. Little did I know that I was joining a growing movement!

So I packed into the shoulder bag I carried in lieu of a brief case the supplies you see above. These were just the basics -- pens, markers, glue stick (I must have gone through dozens of these). I often decorated the cover of the journals at home, which sometimes brought raised eyebrows on the train. Inside, I put drawings, poems, daily highlights and lowlights, heartfelt outpourings, recipes and tons of newspaper articles, illustrations and photos.
Once that began, my sister and niece gifted me with a book that was meant to be a travel journal. It became my vacation journal. This journal inspired this kit. Still simple, but expanded just a wee bit. This kit got to travel far and wide with me on ferries, planes and Amtrak.

The Travel Kit: Minus brush
markers and water-soluble pastels (travel journal at right)

It was on a trip to Puerto Rico to visit my parents in 2006 that I got the idea of bringing all of this to the Web. I had been getting a lot of requests from out-of-towners for directions and places to visit in Manhattan, and I wanted to share some of what I was writing in my journals. 

As the old saying goes, life happens while you are making other plans. There started to be hints that I might be laid off of my job by fall. At the same time, a medical condition I thought I had overcome returned. Soon my commuting days were just a memory.

But all was not lost. A thoughtful friend had sent me a small journal as a gift last summer. After drooling over the journal art I was seeing online, in the pages of Somerset Studio and in books, I leapt into the art collage world. The kit for creating journals expanded to include my old craft supplies, now resurrected for a happy, new life.

Then I found Michelle's Crusade 16, booked a trip on the Moebius Loop, and here I am. I'm thrilled to have found a way to combine my writing and art in a way that allows me to join a vibrant community of artists. And to think, it all started with a small art kit. Amazing!


michelle ward said...

Jeri Ann - first I have to compliment you for being a problem solver. As you mentioned on the team blog, you had no camera and could only share your kit with us via scanner. That works! It was fun to read your tale about being a commuter, and using that time to work in your journal. You were way ahead of the rest of us with your kit in tow. Love seeing your composition book covers and journal page. Thanks for joining in and sharing with the other crusaders.

Stephanie said...

Jeri Ann,
Wonderful story of you start to journaling, of course your banner is a hint isn't it....fabulous image there.

thanks for the inspiration!

Julie said...

Hi Jeri Ann,

This is a fabulous story and to think you were art journalling without even realising it! Amazing. Love your kit and the pages you have put up...very inspirational...thank-you!

Maj said...

It was fun to read about how you adapt your journal kit to your need. And really, how much does one need in the end?

tina's space said...

Jeri Ann,
I am completely fascinated about the story about how your blog came to be. Fascinating. I actually spent a lot of time traveling to and from work when I was in London, but never thought to keep a journal on my travels because a lot of the time it was so crowded, there was no where to sit if you were going with rush hour traffic. But time on the train was always a great time to listen to music or just spend time contemplating issues. I do miss that aspect of being in London; having to rely on the care for the slightest thing. Next time I go, I will be sure to relish that time spent on public transport.

Robin said...

I love your story, and that you have been able to find the creative gifts in the everyday twists of life. I'll be checking back in on your Commute!

Becci said...

Hey Jeri Ann,
I absolutly love your banner! I've had many adventures on the train so it touches a soft spot in my heart!
I rally enjoyed reading about the birth of your journaling kit...

Have a great hair day! Becci

Ursula Clamer said...

What a great story, and a great evolution. Ux

magicalmuse said...

Your story is amazing! I bet you could get so much done on that train too. I relish 30 minutes alone! I will bookmark your site and come back to look around. I love your Asian inspired art below too!


Anonymous said...

Jeri Ann,
I loved reading the story of how you came to journalling, amazing how these things just grow and develop a life of their own. The page and covers you put up are great!

carlene federer said...

love your story & to what great use you put commute time...fab looking journals!