Thursday, 9 June 2011

Blue Bird of Happiness ATCs and another journal entry

I have finished the ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) for Mary's "Blue Bird of Happiness" swap. Those that wish can make an extra card and Mary will make a display for the hospice her dad attends.
I based my cards on the Australian version of the blue bird: The Blue Wren or  Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens). The movable wing hides the Chinese character for happiness.


Another project I finished was working in Lynda's art journal. Lynda chose the theme "Languages" for her journal. Being the 8th person to make an entry in Lynda's journal there are lots of good interpretations already in the journal.

“Language shapes the way we think, 
and determines what we can think about.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf

I started out by collaging little bits of old atlas pages to a sheet of water colour paper the same size as the journal. I then used a light coat of gesso over that and experimented with my latest Golden paint acquisition: Indian Yellow Hue (I love that colour, reminiscent of the saffron coloured robes of Buddhist monks), Terre Verte Hue, Ultramarine Blue and Primary Cyan. A rough background slowly emerged, with little flecks of place names from the atlas collage still showing through.

I painted a version of a tower of Babylon to allude to when the whole world spoke one language. I found the leather offcuts from my owl ATCs lying around and decided to use them on the tower to give it a fragmented, ruinous look. On the right side I did a gel transfer of a phrenology head. It is my first successful gel transfer, as I find they can be quite tricky. I have no idea what possessed me to try one in someone else's journal but luckily it came out well, although the writing is in reverse (I can't get everything right at once it seems... ). I then cut 6 doors into the left page which open to reveal an old planet earth illustration from an atlas. Around the earth is this quote: 

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world"
Ludwig Wittgenstein

This quote is very true for me. I love learning languages and trying to communicate with different cultures in their own language. I had the pleasure of knowing a Portuguese friend of my aunts before I spoke a word of Portuguese and my impression of him then was that of a loud, boisterous and slightly scary man. Imagine my surprise to meet the same man again years later but being able to speak with him in his language and finding out he is the exact opposite: a gentle, caring and funny man. 

While learning a foreign language is not easy and filled with misunderstandings, jokes lost in translation and countless opportunities for people to have a laugh at your expense, languages do give us an opportunity to get a feel for a foreign culture, a glimpse into the soul of another people and to broaden our mind.

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages 
know nothing of their own.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One of the best way to keep your brain young is learning a new language.

Until next time...



  1. Beautiful Mon, Your blue birds of happiness are so lovely, I love their little wings, and your journal entry is sensational. I wish I got to see some of your journals in the flesh.

  2. I always want to shout out WOW when I see your work .Your attention to detail and idea's are superb,I love the bluebirds and that page is something else.

  3. What a wonderful journal page, so pleased I'll get to see it in the flesh. Your bluebirds are so sweet and inventive, delightful :)

  4. Love your bluebirds, Monika. The little movable wings are really special and creative.

  5. This post is very relevant for me. I've always thought that you are as many times a person as the amount of languages you know. The art is very beautiful. I really love your colour combinations.

  6. Monika, I so enjoyed both your page and your post. I wish that I had taken opportunities in the past to learn a new language. One gains a greater appreciation of others when language barriers come down. Your page is amazing, so much thought and technique went into it, both intellectually and artistically stimulating!

  7. Monika you left me speechless! Your birds, your journal page, everything is amazing! I wish I had your talent!