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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When a photo DOESN'T paint a thousand words

Have you ever wanted to capture ‘something’ on a layout but just not had the photographs to support what you want to capture? Perhaps a distant memory or a funny story for which there are no photographs? Maybe you just have ‘something to say’ and no supporting material. Whatever the case, why not try creating a layout without photographs? If you find journaling a breeze, then you’ll love this idea. If journaling just isn’t your thing or its something you struggle with, then perhaps having a go at this type of layout will be what you need to get your pen going.

A little while ago I was approached by a friend (heh Jen!) to do a layout for an article she was writing for Scrapbook Creations. Jen wanted to know if I would do a layout for her about what it was like living with MS. Those who know me know I have no difficulty scrapping about myself and, in fact, find it to be quite therapeutic; and that I am never lost for a word and so find journaling to generally be a large part of my scrapping projects. As I have always been very open about having MS I didn’t have any concerns about ‘sharing’ my story with others. Who knows, maybe it might help someone else living with MS? So I didn’t hesitate to say yes. This ‘challenge’ was so my thing that I figured I’d have it in the bag. That wasn’t to be the case. The problem? My photos.

Quite some time ago when I received a new camera for my birthday, one of the ‘subjects’ I played around with photographing were my daily syringes with the bright yellow, bio-hazard sharps container in the background. (They happened to still be on the kitchen table when I opened my presents!) I’m delighted to say I got some great pics and some fabulous ‘depth of field type’ shots (my camera/photo lingo is not up to speed) but that trying to scrap them for this article was proving to be a nightmare. What I wanted to ‘say’ had nothing to do with these syringes really. I mean the daily injections were part of it, but they weren’t the whole story. So I figured I’d ditch the photographs and actually figure out what the ‘story’ was. I thought if I could concisely figure out what I wanted to ‘say’ that I could then take photographs to support my journaling. I mean scrapping is about the photos right? Wrong. Well at least not necessarily so. Once I figured out the message I wanted to convey, I realised that for me, scrapping was about more than the photos. It was about the memories, the feelings, the emotions, the journaling. It was a creative way for me to express things I would ordinarily be unable to verbalise. I needed to go down the path of scrapping where there are no photos. I was somewhat terrified one might say.

After a couple of weeks of (hopelessly) trying to ignore my terror (and the looming deadline), an image started to form in my head of how I could best express what I wanted to say. I had tried the story telling style of journaling and it felt to me like I was giving a lecture. I tried to soften it only to find it read like a ‘pity poor me’ diatribe. I didn’t want to invoke pity. I didn’t want to educate anyone. I didn’t want to be clinical. I didn’t want to be emotional. I didn’t want the MS to define me. That’s when it hit me. Photos don’t need to define my scrapping. Journaling doesn’t need to define my scrapping. A certain style doesn’t define my scrapping. I define my scrapping. So with that thought in mind, I started to ‘pull’ words out of my previously scrunched up and thrown out journaling. I started to play with imagery and symbolism. I would go red ... it is the international colour for MS. I pictured my life as a tree ... old leaves falling to the ground to be replaced by new ones. Rolling hills representing (for me) peace and harmony in nature. A cottage representing home, a place where love grows. A bird to symbolise peace and freedom, and the grim possibility of being trapped and caged. I had not done collage style work before. This was so far out of my comfort zone it really wasn’t funny. But when I stopped and thought about it, so was standing up in front of all of Australia’s scrapping community (well at least those who read Scrapbook Creations!) and saying ‘heh, this is what life is like for me living with MS’. From that point on a clear picture formed in my head of how I could best (in my eyes anyways) express what I wanted to say. I sketched my ideas, surprisingly found just the products I needed in my stash and I started creating.

Sadly, my husband doesn’t ‘get’ the resulting layout (well not without a long, drawn out explanation of it LOL). I don’t really know at all if anyone else ‘gets’ it. But I got it. It was clearer than any photo could ever be. It was more powerful than any speech could ever be. It was raw and it was pure. It was honest and it was from the heart. Isn’t that what scrapping is meant to be? Perhaps not for everyone, but definitely for me. My layout “MS & me” was eventually published in Scrapbook Creations No. 76. I am very proud of this LO and the journey it represents in its creation. I am inspired to continuing scrapping without photos (although not all the time) and am relieved that in a life full to overflowing with memories but devoid of photos, that I can still scrap my story. I hope that in some small way my story, helps you to truly express yours. Alz :)

Materials List:

Prismatics cardstock

Scenic Route Paper Co patterned paper:
Cape Town Oswald Road Red
Sumner Cherry Avenue
Sumner Ryan Avenue

ScrapFX embellishments – Tree large
Scrapware chipboard house
Maya Road fresh chipboard – Birds of a Feather
Collections chipboard hearts
Buzz ‘n Bloom chipboard
Scenic Route chipboard – Everyday Moments chipboard circles

Font – Century Gothic
Carolee’s Creations Adornit Sleek Red Alphas

Li’l Davis Designs Vintage Wood Shapes - Butter
Green buttons
Cuttlebug alpha dies – You’re Not The Boss Of Me
Sizzix die – Cloud #2
Embroidery and machine cotton


TeenaBugg38 said...

Im gonna ahve to ahve a go at this one I think.....your hubby is a "man" and they don't get a lot of things......just sayin :) LOL I love your result!! And I never really tire of hearing people explain thier LOs to me either...thats another way we are different from men I guess....LOL

Lisa K said...

I think its fabulous and you are right - it doesnt need a photo at all - love it!!

Anonymous said...

Alz I loved this LO when I first saw it in SC it's great though reading about how you decided to scrap the LO

Hugs Lizzy xxx

Susan said...

Wonderful description and walk through the process of creating, Alz. I love your page too. It is so evocative....

Frank Zweegers said...

Nice card. I always wanted to get it from someone, but I guess my friends are way too lazy to make me one ;-)

Harry Hilders said...

Good blogpost! And a very nice designed website :)

Urban Interest said...

Wow, your website has a great layout! But you have to as a scrapper ;)

Nice article as well! Thanks for sharing.