Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



September 2009

"Welcome to my website and to my first monthly journal entry. I will explore topics under the general heading of the creative process that are important to me, and I feel compelled to write about in a personal and informal way."



Judy's Journal, September 2004


Five Years and Counting

Dear Reader,

It is hard for me to believe: five years of Judy's Journals. Sixty entries! Sixty deadlines. Most writers will agree that five years of writing this journal every month is something to celebrate. If nothing else, it's a form of discipline and fun for me.

First, I need to thank some people: John Gaumond, first reader and editor; Patsy McCowan, web manager, who makes my artwork (7 Gallery Chapters!) and writing look so good; the late Donald M. Murray, teacher, whose writer's spirit and work ethic are ever-present; Jennie Benigas, Barbara Schifferle, family members who are regular readers; Renée Fox, Rodney Gorme-Obien, Michael Breault, Liana Kolb and Elizabeth Lane, readers who are not members of my family, but they read me anyway; and thank you, readers who visit this part of my website, but haven't written to That's not to say my "Inbox" is not bulging on most days, but it's spams and scams for the most part. Delete, delete, delete. It's great to hear from real people, and I am happy when I do.

Second, to celebrate sixty journals, I would like to offer some samplings from them. It seems like a good way to take a creative breath! And if you missed reading one, you might be enticed by one sentence to go back and read the whole thing. Or not.

October - I keep three different journals going because writing is essentially need-driven for me.
November - I went to college across the street from the Albright-Knox and felt the confidence of familiarity when I dropped in between classes [it was free back then].
December - This is my dance with the canvas: step back, move forward, go away, repeat, repeat, repeat.

January - If my [museum] shoes could talk, they would tell about places I had begun to levitate or had gasped with astonishment.
February - I began to search for other artist/writers.
March - "Rejection's a real pain."
April - If acceptance comes in the form of a telephone call…I have been known to scream, laugh, and cry-sometimes all three.
May - Art is Amsterdam and Amsterdam is art.
June - But what do rocks mean to me?
July - Be suspicious of sending out your newest work.
August - If you are responsible for hanging the exhibit, your preparation goes beyond making sure that you have artwork, proper tools, wall labels and the program/price list.
September - I am still keeping three journals: daybook, art, and museum.
October - [Stanley Kunitz] wore a long-sleeved yellow plaid shirt and slacks, white socks and black shoes.
November - Poems about "family and personal history" form a category that is widely shared by poets and writers who believe that we should "write what we know."
December - My poem, "Responsibility," describes my dilemma whenever I have an experience that seems to cry out for a place in a poem and/or a painting.

January - [Marc Chagall] was my teacher, even though I never met him.
February - We fill notebooks, store computer files, arrange manuscripts, and/or fill studios, cellars and garages with artwork, meet with gallery representatives and hope for a positive outcome.
March- Where did my love of reading and writing poetry come from?
April - "Poems are best delivered fast, sharp, smart and tellingly." Gregory Corso
May - The rock wall is gritting its teeth in anticipation.
June - Art making begins with an intellectual and psychological urge to explore what is on my mind.
July - I could change the setting of the poem.
August - Four months later, I have made eight Pulse paintings.
September - When I made the decision to leave full time teaching, I thought the door had opened to the writing life.
October - Brainstorming is a list-making device that requires the same "anything goes" mentality.
November - Music is as essential as paint.
December - I made the painting, "The Arrival" the day after my friend's death at home.

January - In July, we visited the Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg with my sister Jennie and her husband, David.
February - I was lucky. I knew Donald M. Murray.
March - I finished my conversation with the FBI duty officer by saying, "Well, I guess this ends it."
April - By using these questions, I am erecting the scaffold.
May - Except for the very few, most of us toil in obscurity.
June - If you walk by my studio, you might hear me chanting Cezanne's advice over the loud music: "Paint, don't think."
July - Who made me a wild woman with colors?
August - Having knocked myself out to the point of exhaustion or a case of hives, I sit and examine the piece.
September - I have always been a big fan of hallowed ground.
October - Prior to this exhibit, I did not feel particularly connected to [Joseph] Cornell because I had only seen small, isolated examples of his boxes.
November - Could "Reciprocity" be turned into an artist's book?
December - The phrase "nuclear winter" came into my mind.

January - I reached for grays and three rocks appeared, sailing through the air.
February - I set up an ambitious production schedule.
March - Wrapped in the folds of quantity is quality.
April - Whether it is a portrait of a homeless person or a self-portrait, the tradition of portraiture resides within the painting's shape.
May - Five hours in the Prado, with its galleries full of Goya, were not enough for me.
June - One cannot live on art alone, and we had lunch at a restaurant that combined both pleasures.
July - Tape record yourself reading the entire manuscript.
August - How long will this obsession last?
September - Yes, Lizzie [Siddal] does end up a suicide like Ophelia, but her journey is a compelling study in gender politics.
October - My original questions (September 2004) formed the guts of all future journals.
November - Making new work is the juice of an artist/writer's life.
December - My new tool for reflection arrived , and I embarked on an obsessive project that took me about three weeks.

January - When we visited the gallery the following summer, I mentioned the situation to the owner.
February - Hooray for art and beauty!
March - Bringing an art lover and artist together presents a delicious opportunity for a rich exchange: what do you see?
April - These poets are my life's blood.
May - I gladly took the risk of failing in doing this project.
June - What do two people, an ice storm, a gallon of primer, and four cans of exterior paint have in common?
July - Anyone who knows me knows that I am afraid of heights.
August - Will images of Iceland be reflected in my painting?

That's it! I hope that you enjoyed reading these samplings as much as I enjoyed writing them.