Working in the studio teaches me something every day. Life does that too but the lessons from the studio are often more luminous in their quality to inform and awaken and inspire me to colour outside the lines.
I have started to create an art journal. An art journal is a tapestry of life’s happenings told through visual prompts in a journal style book. Instead of writing out what’s going on, the story is created using mixed media pages of words and drawings and collage. Art journals can be store bought books you cover and craft to your own specifications, or you can create from the ground up.
I decided to create from the ground up. Using an empty cardboard cereal box, I’ve spent the last couple of days creating my cover.
And here’s what I’ve learned.
- Be persistent. There’s no better place to start than where you’re at. There’s no better way to begin than where you find yourself in the process — and every step is the beginning right now of what can be. Don’t quit. Keep moving with it until your heart says, I am happy.
- Think outside the box. Yup, ’cause in this case there really is a box to work with and unless I see it as more than just a cereal box, it won’t find the possibility of transformation.
- Allow. — There is no right or wrong in artful creation. It is meant to feed your soul, not someone else’s. Allow what is asking to appear to appear. Allow magic. Allow possibility. Allow light to enter through every crack.
- Be fearless. — Who said you can’t put purple feathers there? You’ve never used a glue gun before? Now’s a great time to start.
- Explore. — See the possibility in everything. For hoarders this is a great one! Because seriously… there’s possibility in everything! That’s not an old Christmas card. That’s not a useless piece of ribbon to discard… What if and I wonder if… are two great questions to ask when creating a journal. I wonder if… this will stick to that?… What if… I cut out that butterfly from the box my new mascara came in and paste it here?
- Stay unattached. — Just as there is no right or wrong way, judging yourself, your work, your creation is self-defeating. And anyway, there is no end point until you say so. If you don’t like where it’s at, keep going. If you don’t like that there, move it, paint over it, cover it up.
- Breathe. No matter what, keep breathing. Deeply. Continuously. Stay conscious of your breath. Remind yourself to relax. Your shoulders. Pelvis. Stomach muscles. Neck. Face. Smile even! This is fun. Allow your inner child to come out and play and create and explore and enjoy!
- Dare Boldly. Unhook your self-critic. Unleash your inner muse. Leap and don’t go looking for a net, let your wings unfurl.
I’ve never made an art journal from a cereal box before and at first, my mind was stuck in ‘doing it right’. I wanted in fact to quite many times. Right from the beginning. I’d decided to put three words on the cover as prompts for me to remember to always DARE. INSPIRE. CREATE. I messed up. I wanted them to be raised and the paint was too runny and dripped. Ugly, my critics mind howled. I thought about ditching the whole thing but decided to keep going. I didn’t want to scrape them off — I’d let them dry too long and scraping off would rip the paper I’d used to cover the cereal box.
My daughter Alexis taught me a great lesson in painting many years ago — if you don’t like it, paint over it, she told me one day as I wailed about an unsatisfactory result. That definitely worked here. I decided to cover up the words with the photo from a Christmas card I love. Hmmm… the words made the collage bumpy. Not nice. Want to quit. I kept going. Pasted on some butterflies. Used some sheer fabric, metallic spray paint and a stencil. Border tape. More painting over. Stencil some hearts with shimmer dust. A cutout flower. Couple more. Hmmm…. not so bad. Keep working it.
Okay. We’re happy now. It’s not a masterpiece but for a first crack, it makes my heart happy.
And that’s what it’s all about. To stretch my heart muscles and stir up my creative juices to get me to that point of feeling proud, satisfied, happy, content, mystified by the process and in awe of the magic of creation.
Which is why I then collaged in the word AWE.
Because as I cleaned up my brushes and put away my supplies, I felt awe descend. I’d started with barely an idea of what I was creating, and in the process was reminded once again that it’s not the destination that matters, it’s not the end product that makes a difference. It’s the process.
Which brings me to Lesson 9 —
9. Trust in the process. Trust in the process, allow magic and Have Fun! Do what makes your heart happy!