Introduction to Art Journal Selections

B. John Ortbals design class and the projects Mark and I both did

Mark and I attended art classes at St. Louis Community Collge at Florissant Valley at different times, and took several continuing ed ceramics classes together in the late 2000s. I don't think I would have had the courage to go back there again for ceramics classes if he had not been there - it was so emotionally loaded!

The Design II class taught by John Ortbals was very fruitful for both of us. It makes me so happy to look at these old projects because I had so much fun doing them and they were a huge influence turning me toward loving abstract art.

Design II, Project I
Project I was a color wheel. We were graded on craftmanship, putting our own artistic flair on it, and getting the gradations between the colors even.

Design II, Project II
Assignment II was to make an abstract composition, then cut it up to make a second one.

Design II, Project III
In Project II we cut out a bunch of interesting squares from magazines and selected one to paint enlarged in its original paint scheme, then three other paint schemes.

One of the most memorable projects was the exercise where we made squares depicting Spring, Fall, Summer and Winter in paint squares and in paper collages. I was so stimulated by the collage portion of the project that over Christmas break in 1988 I spent a week making more collages. I wrote about that week later while making a series of Spring, Fall, Summer and Winter greeting cards. Read more: Why I Send New Year Cards Instead of Christmas Cards. While making the Design II project, I made a bunch of extra paint pieces that didn't get used, and I saved them in my collage paper stash. I've been maintaining a collage paper stash since 1985! Mark saved his extra paint pieces too, I found out later when Mark's family gave me his old sketchbooks, unfinished artwork and art supplies after his passing. I recognized what project his paint pieces would have come from and incorporated a lot of them into the two square art journals you see here.

The Four Seasons project
Project IV was the Four Seasons project.

Another project from the John Ortbals Design II class that continues to be influential to me was the book project in which we made different color book pages with cutouts. We were meant to design the book so that the pages could be rearranged in different order and still work as designs. I was really pleased with what I made and over the years whenever I think about it I get excited and inspired when I remember the fun and thrill of discovery of playing with pure design. In 2015 I made stencils from some of my book pages in the old design project because they were harmonious with some recent stencils I made that were inspired by a mid-century modern building I saw on a road trip with my Dad. I have used these stencils together in many projects since I made them and they are used extensively in these art journals you see here.

Apparently Mark was very inspired by that same book project and continued to use the ideas from it as I had done. Around 2010 I asked him if he wanted to design some rubber stamps for my small one-person rubber stamp company, Carolyn's Stamp Store (also known as Carolyn Hasenfratz Design or Carolyn H Design). He obliged, and I had his designs made into stamps. Since our non-figurative work was pretty harmonious together, I thought some of his designs would appeal to customers of my stamps. After going through Mark's art stuff after his passing, I could see that his stamp designs were related to what he did in his book project which was in his art stash. Apparently he continued to be inspired by that fun project for some time as I had. I used some of Mark's book pages as stencils in these art journals to mix with my own shapes and bring our designs together in a new way as a form of therapy and art experimentation.

Things to be grateful for: