Spell to Undo: Janas (Fake) Journal

Undo Spell, Fake Journal; ink, colored pencil

Undo Spell, Fake Journal; ink, colored pencil

For those embarrassing moments: an UNDO spell that’s just as easy as clicking the back ← button. This spell is similar to the “Rewind” spell, only quicker.

Next time you need a “Do over” or an “Undo” just cast this handy spell. The directions are written in gold ink at the bottom of the Journal of Spells & Unspells right-hand page. I discovered this written language after meeting an amazing, eccentric, local artist named Bebe who traveled the world making life masks of people she met and whose home and car are covered in her imagined blue writing, pictured below (click images to enlarge).

Bebe's House

Bebe's House

Bebe and her car in front of her house

Bebe waving good-bye

Car front

Car front (Good thing she walks instead of driving!)

Car side

Car side

I first met Bebe when I was about to walk past her but instead stopped to tell her how beautiful I thought she was, struck by her white braids, colorful clothes and Cleopatra eyes. Months later Barbara and I were walking in Kensington and we  stumbled upon her house. She saw us looking, came out to say hello and invited us in, regaling with us with stories of her travels and fascinating life. Nearing 90 she said she walks three hours every day, does her art and meditates daily.

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Cat Translation Spell (Never Mind!)

Cat Translation Spell, ink and colored pencil

Cat Translation Spell, ink and colored pencil

I’ve often wished I could understand what my cats were saying but I should have known! Fortunately the Cat Translation Spell has an Unspell to reverse the effects.

This is another page in my Fake Journal for International Fake Journal Month. I was excited to get to this page where the black paper transitions to the brown pages. It’s so much fun drawing with white and gold gel pen on the black and colored pencil works beautifully on both of these papers.

Janas (Fake) Journal: A Spell to Get Lean

Spell to Get Lean, gel pens & colored pencils

Spell to Get Lean, gel pens & colored pencils

Yes, sometimes it does seem like magic spells and the ability to decode hieroglyphics are required when trying to calculate how to lose weight and get lean. This spell worked: it caused a definite lean but not the right kind.  That’s why it’s important to be specific when designing spells, intentions or wishes.

Be Careful What You Wish For (funny but true!)

Years ago a friend told me that she’d found her husband by writing a detailed description of the right man and the universe brought her exactly what she asked for. She encouraged me to give it a try. I played along, half-jokingly jotting down what I was looking for in a guy: tall, dark and handsome; interested in art; works  in the mental health field (as I did then); physically fit, and likes kids (I was a recently divorced single mom).

The next day my sister called me (with no knowledge of my list) and said she had a friend from her gym she thought I should meet. He was a single dad who worked at a mental hospital; a tall, handsome, African-American guy. (By tall, dark and handsome I’d been picturing George Clooney, but this was OK too).

The three of us met at a pub. Art was basketball-player tall and fit though too ostentatiously dressed for my taste (my sister had only seen him in sweats) but that wasn’t the deal-breaker. The deal breaker was that he endlessly talked about himself, on and on and on all evening. Art seemed to have no interest in anything or anyone but himself.

Afterward, I marveled to my sister how he had all the qualities on that list I’d made except being interested in art. Then we looked at each other and cracked up! His name was Art and was he ever interested in Art!

Janas (Fake) Journal: Spell for Art Making

Play Your Art Instrument, gel pen and colored pencil

Play Your Art Instrument, gel pens and colored pencil

I heard an interview with musician Bobby McFerrin on NPR yesterday and he said something about work, play and creativity that really struck me. He was talking about having always just wanted to be a working musician (rather than a famous celebrity). Then he stopped to correct himself about the word “work” vs. the importance of “play”:

“When we’re doing our lessons, the teacher doesn’t say, ‘Ready, set, work.’ They say, ‘Ready, set, play,’ and I always took that word seriously.”

When I heard his spontaneous and inspired music, I understood exactly. Without the spirit of play, art becomes work, serious work. And serious isn’t fun. You rarely see the adjective serious describing something you want. It usually appears before words like illness, accident,  mistake, and problem.

Of course there are serious artists who make serious work. I watched a series about artists on PBS called “Art:21.” The producers must have told all the artists to refer to their paintings, sculptures, prints as “work”  (e.g. “I made this work last year…” or “This work is about…” or “When I am making work…”). It just sounded so pretentious, self-important and overly serious.

So now, when I find myself working hard (and enjoying it less) whether in the studio, the sketchbook or life in general, I will remember the spell for joyful art making and apply it once again.

If you want to try the spell too, all you have to do is open your mind, heart, spirit, eyes, arms and PLAY!

(For more information about International Fake Journal Month click here).

Janas (fake) Journal: How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell

How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell, Gel pen & colored pencil on black Canson drawing paper

How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell, gel pens & colored pencils

For International Fake Journal Month 2010 I bound a journal with dark papers which, as you can see by the title below, is being filled with useful spells and unspells. I say that in passive voice because it is an alternate Jana who is filling it, one with great wisdom and special skills.

Janas (FAKE) Journal 2010, Book of Spells & Unspells

Janas(Fake)Journal, Book of Spells & Unspells

The papers I used to cover the book board is made of some kind of bark I think. It was in the special paper drawer at Dick Blick. Here is the full spread of the Elephant Hat spell page:

Elephant Hat Spell, full spread

Elephant Hat Spell, full spread

In case you’re wondering when one might need such a spell, it recently came in handy for me. At my day job I was used to changing hats constantly, putting on the desktop publishing hat, then the  finance hat, swapping that with the web-work hat, then the customer relations hat, database, marketing, etc.  Such is life in a small non-profit during difficult financial times.

But then the hats got sticky and I couldn’t get them off; I was wearing all the hats all the time. And one morning I noticed that one of the hats had a huge, heavy elephant on it. I was sinking fast. I needed help. I tried the Elephant Hat Removal Spell. Then I asked nicely.

I got the help I needed:  Half of those hats have been handed off and my schedule has been reduced to half time. The elephant disappeared and the hats are now a comfortable fit—when worn one at a time.

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