For the past few weeks, a fellow artist and I have been engaged in a collaborative project. It’s undefined, in so far as there’s no overarching ‘piece’ we are creating that we can show as a ‘finished project’.
It’s more in keeping with who we are as artists. Curious. Intuitive. Flowing. Impulsive. Courageous.
We connected through an online art journalling community, Get Messy Art, created by Messian Fairy Artmother, Caylee, whose energy and sparkle permeate every page and activity on the site. My collaborator friend suggested I check it out. I’ve known this friend for awhile through another course we’ve both shared in, but I’ve never spent a lot of time with her one-on-one, but I love her art and energy and gave it a go. I’m loving it.
GetMessyArt, as described on the website is…
an online art journaling school that teaches you to cultivate your creativity. Without perfection. You’ll always be welcome in – messy mind, paint plops, charcoal smudges, ink-stained fingertips and all. Zero expectations. Zero pressure. All the fun.
Every month, Get Messy holds a “Season”. A one month exploration of a specific topic through art journaling prompts, video lessons and conversation.
January’s prompt was collaboration. When my artist friend contacted me to ask if I wanted to join forces, I knew I was ‘all in’. Creating with her was bound to be fun, fascinating and fabulous!
Our collaboration has not disappointed.
Part of the collaborative process is to determine your own project.
For my partner and I, we decided to pose a weekly question. We would each either write to the question or create a journal page to express it. We’d then send the other person whatever we’d created and they would then do the other half of the response using our contribution as the inspiration. For example, this week the writing comes first, art journal page second. Yesterday, we both shared what we’d written in response to the question, “What do I fear letting go of?” During the week, I will create an art journal page in response to what she wrote, and she to what I wrote.
It has been a fascinating journey. (I’m sharing the process as we both love how the guidelines we set up are both expanding our thinking/feeling – generating some wonderful conversations on our weekly zoom call – and our creative expressions. – And who knows! It might inspire you to try it with someone too!)
Last week’s question from my partner in this project (we take turns posing them) seemed relatively simple – “What do you do with the unfinished business.” The unfinished business being those projects you start and never finish. For this one, we painted first. Wrote second.
As I began creating my journal page in response to the question, I was surprised by what came up.
Originally, I was on the negative side of ‘unfinished business’. That place where I bemoan all the projects lying around not yet completed – read… probably never will be….
Yeah. You know. Those projects.
But here’s the thing. While creating my journal spread in response to the question, I discovered the things in my life I do not want to finish. The things I hope I always carry as ‘unfinished business’.
Like Trust. I hope I always grow deeper in trusting my heart. In following its beat. In expressing its rhythms in all the colours of the rainbow.
And Dreams. May I never finish dreaming. May I always have a new dream percolating as I create substance in another. May I always keep embracing the power of dreams to awaken my heart.
And Hope. I hope I never give up on hope. For a cure for cancer. For creating better ways of living our human condition, together. For peace. For justice for all. For unburdening of hearts everywhere. For this Covid world of virtual connection to shift away from isolation into connection in the real world.
And Prayers. May I always keep pushing into my unfinished business around prayers so that I can fall deeper into the power of prayer to connect me to the divine essence of life and its spiritual nature to guide me and others in our darkest moments.
And Love. May I never be finished with exploring what it means to Love fiercely, completely, courageously — all of me and all of you.
Sure, there are projects and ideas that lay around unfinished. My laptop has a score of stories I’ve started only to be left to cool their words in a dusty file somewhere in that mystical land called the C drive.
But beating myself up for those things is where I want to finish… beating myself up.
Loving myself, trusting my heart, never giving up on hope for a better tomorrow. Those things I hope I never, ever finish learning, doing, becoming, being.
About the artwork: Originally, this piece was a bunch of arrows pointing in every direction and a few words. I thought it was about challenging myself to leave it looking so unfinished… But, as I sank into the creative process, I allowed myself to simply ‘be present’. To let my intuition/inner knowing/curiosity guide me – and that’s where I started to divine the essence of the power of unfinished business in my life.
And that’s another thing I never want to be finished with — learning how to let go and allow whatever is appearing to appear so that I can be finished with the need for perfection.
See! That’s the magic of the creative process — as I wrote that last line, I thought of another thing I would like to be finished with — doubting myself… so that I’m never finished with deepening believing in myself!