Tag Archives: art journal

Snow falls. Feathers drop. Birds sing.

As light as a feather, the bird’s song fell into my heart and lifted me up in joy.

It was an evening of laughter, joy and creativity.

Seven of the 9 people registered for the course weathered the snow and made it to Kensington Art Supply for my Art Your Heart Out Journalling Course.

It was inspiring. Energizing and above all, for me, it felt so right. So like… this is where I’m meant to be. This is what makes me come alive.

Left side of the 2 page spread

There is something sublimely pleasing about sharing what you love with others eager to experience the joy of creating.

One of the areas I was a little concerned about is that at the beginning of the workshop, I do a guided meditation meant to stimulate creativity and help people discover the words that will guide their creative exploration.

I’m not always sure people will ‘get into’ it. That they won’t think I’m weird, it’s weird, like seriously? What’s that all about. (Yeah, I know. That critter is an annoyance I don’t need to listen to — but man. He sure can be persistent!)

Right side of the two-page spread

Which is why it’s wonderful that my inner wisdom voice understands the value of such an exercise and overrode the critter who kept trying to insist I skip it and just ‘get on with the workshop’.

At the end of the evening, some of the women commented on that particular exercise, telling me how it helped them relax into the evening and become more open to the experience.

Music to my ears, and heart.

I am feeling tired this morning, but it pales in the presence of the gratitude, joy, calmness that fills me up.

Part of what is filling me up is how engaged everyone was. How everyone created something uniquely ‘of them’. In each creation the beauty of the individual’s heart and inner glow was evident.

One of the things I absolutely adore and find inspiring is how, when a group of women get together, even strangers, they quickly settle into ‘friendspeak’ and collaboration. It was evident at the table last night as the women chatted and shared ideas, support, and encouragement of one another.

It was beautiful.

Thank you, Jane (your help setting up and gathering up at the end of the evening was invaluable. Actually, just having you there helped calm my nerves and gave me joy!)

Thank you, Evelyn, Charlotte, Nathalie, Ghislaine, Dantry and Linda for braving the snowy roads and bringing your beautiful selves to the table and for sharing your delightful light with each of us. You made the evening very, very special. And I love how you expressed yourselves so creatively and beautifully!

Namaste.

PS. And for those of you in more ‘gentle’ climes, this is the view outside my window as I type this morning. Winterwonderland!

 

On Mornings Like These

The wind picked up the seed and said, “You don’t belong stuck in the ground. Come fly with me and I will show you the wonders of the world.”

The seed planted itself back into the ground and said, “I grow best where I am planted. This is where I belong.”

Sometimes, okay most times, when I create I don’t have a ‘destination’. I simply feel the calling of something wanting to be expressed, and I go with the flow of expression until what was yearning to be brought into the world takes form in the light of creativity unleashed.

Regardless of my beginning intention, by the time I’ve drained the story of a piece, the words to express whatever has been called into creation appear. Without thought. Without effort. Without planning.

Oh sure, sometimes, (ok most times — I am a bit of a control freak, aka perfectionist at heart…) I work them out to be more poetic, to have better ‘flow’, but the original thought that was germinated throughout the creative process is always there. Planted firmly in the fertile soils of soulful creative expression.

I am grateful for the soft moments where light filters through the cracks. The gentle breezes that lift my imagination and carry me into story-lands that can only exist when I let go of thinking I know life and all its mysteries.

I am grateful for snow-filled, wintery mornings. The soft sibilant, barely audible hiss of traffic on the bridge outside my window. The sweet early morning quiet of dawn’s slow light edging into the dark.

I am grateful for moments like these and all the mysteries and wonders that flow so freely throughout my world.

 

Let Your Dreams Run Away With Your Heart

As I continue to work on developing the materials for the art journaling course I am teaching tomorrow evening at Kensington Art Supply, I am in awe of how the muse, and life, open up full of possibility when I move out of my headspace and into being present with my whole body, mind and spirit and the world around me.

See, being present doesn’t mean we cut off the head to give our bodies control. It means being connected within our whole body and with the world around us, honouring our head brain’s ability to organize and analyze while giving the body, which includes all the senses, and organs, bones, tissues, muscles joints (and the heart) permission to feel into the ‘what is’ of the ‘right now’ and as we expand into being present where ever we’re at.

As I finished working on the piece I created yesterday for the workshop — it is the essence of what we will be working on in the workshop, with participants being guided and encouraged to create their own imagery and words — I didn’t quite know what the quote that underpinned the essence of the painting.

I started to write and thought the quote was, “Let your dreams run away with your heart”.

Nice, my little ole’ head brain thought. Short. Simple. To the point.

And then, I began to write it out. Oh. Oh. The ‘your’ was right under the bottom tip of the painted heart, and the word ‘heart’ had to move up along its right edge.

Oh dear, my facile mind thought. You messed up.

My body expanded into presence. It felt the truth and kept on writing because it knew, the quote wasn’t quite finished writing itself out.

Released from thinking I would have to figure out how to erase/cover up my mistake, suddenly, all the words flowed how they wanted to flow. In this case, up the righthand side of the heart and then back down to the bottom of the page with words that resonated throughout my being.

I didn’t ‘think’ the words into being present. They brought themselves into the moment.

When I looked at the words I was enchanted by the way they flowed up and around and down. Up and around and down again. (In spite of my head brain’s chatter that the words should be facing into the heart, yada yada yada, the symmetry made ‘sense’. The heart is simply the metaphor for being in the flow of creativity, passion, dreaming, living, being. The words are the gateway into possibility – they are not concrete. They are an invitation to let go so that I don’t stay trapped within the head space of thinking my way through living my dreams.)

The flow of the words is also a metaphor. Life is constantly expanding and contracting, in every direction.

Up and down. In and out. Out and In.

Like breath. Like the tides. Like curtains flowing in and out with the breeze blowing in through an open window. Like life.

Ebbing and flowing. Always in motion. Never contracted into this moment right now. Always releasing into the breath carrying us into the next.

Like endings and beginnings. Each ending opening up to the next moment where the beginning meets the ending in a continuous flow of life.

We all have dreams. Ideas. Visions of what we want to create in our world.

To set them free, to release them into action we must let go of thinking we can make it all happen if we just do A. B. C. We must get out of the way of our thinking and release our entire being into the flow of life. In its flow, all things are possible in ways we cannot imagine when we stay trapped in our thinking.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Love Is There, where ever you are.

My “Inspiration Deck”
Hand-painted cards with words to prompt creative expression.

Sometimes, to ‘loosen the ligaments’ of my creativity, as Virginia Woolf once wrote about keeping a written diary, I pull a card from a creativity deck such as Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way art cards. Or, as I did yesterday, I pull one from the cards I recently created for the art journaling classes I am offering both here in my Wild at Heart Studio and Kensington Art Supply.

The cards I created are mostly single words meant to spark creativity through association and stimulus of non-linear thinking.

The first word I pulled yesterday was ‘Earth’. When I let myself become present in the word, I saw (in my mind’s eye) the big ball of the earth spinning through space. I also saw the sky, greenery, water.

Wanting to deepen my journal process, I pulled two additional cards: Explore. Heart.

And then… the fun began.

No matter where you go in the world, Love is there, where ever you are.

As this art journal is an example of ‘the possibilities’ for my art journaling course on Nov 19, and each two-page spread uses a different medium(s), this page was to demonstrate the possibilities of using only one medium – ink.

I dropped some yellow and blue inks on the page, squirted some water at the inks, brought the two sides of the book together and squished the pages against one another, á la Rorschach. Next, I took a damp paper towel and moved the ink out towards the edges of the pages, as well as pulled off some of the ink onto secondary sheets of paper I always keep on hand, just in case. In this case, because I had too much ink on the pages, I needed to remove some of it. (The extra sheets will become part of some other art expression.)

Left page spread

All of that was done intuitively. I had no ‘plan’ when I began. I didn’t even know the colours I’d be using, just the medium.

And that’s the point of art journaling. It’s not about ‘making art’. It’s about expression.

In this case, two things happened as I kept creating. 1. I collaged in some papers I liked.

Right page spread

2. I used a stencil of the world to connect to ‘earth’ I wanted to use orange ink but didn’t have any spray orange ink so, I sprayed it with purple ink instead.

Using a black pencil, I wrote along the outside of the map and highlighted the countries and grid with white ink.

And voilá!

My journal page is completed in under an hour.

And here’s the thing. In creating it, I didn’t ‘know’ the theme, nor what the quote would be before I began working. I let the process guide me as opposed to me directing the process.

And yes, there’s a country or two missing from my globe because the purple bled into their space when I sprayed.

It’s okay. It’s not about ‘perfection’. It’s all about expression.

And for me, the reminder that no matter where I am in the world, Love is there too, inspires me to stay with the flow of life. In that space I do not have to consciously trust that Love is underpinning everything. It is a felt relationship I experience as true.

This means, sitting at my desk, I am in relationship with the two squirrels who are making me smile as I watch them chase one another up a tree trunk outside my window while I type. They are also part of Love’s everywhere present, as is the river flowing past and the traffic driving across the bridge and the trees standing tall along the river bank and that person walking across the pedestrian bridge towards Bowness and… you get the picture.

And… I need to say “Thank you Grade 10 typing class”. Because of that experience many years ago, I can touch type today, which frees me to lift my head from my computer screen to watch the river flow past and the squirrels play without having to watch my fingers on the keyboard!)

You know. It’s kind of a magnificent day to be alive today! I’m so grateful.

Namaste.

 

Why I didn’t quit.

Open Windows. Limitless Possibilities.
Art Journal Pages. Nov 7

I almost did. Quit.

At the midway point of creating yesterday’s spread in the art journal I’m creating for the course I’m leading at Kensington Art on November 19, I got stuck in the “Yuck. What a mess.” and wanted to give up.

I had a vision in mind when I began. A series of window panes that represent the theme of the page — Perspective.

Yuck. I Can’t Feel You.
The point of wanting to quit.

I’d carefully cut out papers I’d mono-printed designs on and then, realizing the perspective was too ‘colour same’ I’d cut out a few squares from a book.

Yes!  That works.

But, once I’d glued down the squares, it didn’t. Work. In fact, it looked discordant. Messy. It wasn’t calling to me. There was no harmony within me or on the page.

I was too close to ‘my idea’ and unable to see beyond what I’d wanted to achieve in my mind, versus what the muse was calling for me to release from deep within me.

I took Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for a walk and as I stood in the woods, listening to the sounds, feeling the warm(ish) November air against my face and watching Beaumont race through the snow, I felt better. Less agitated. More centered.

Left page spread

As we walked the trails along the river, I practiced a process I’d learned at the week-long The Embodied Present Process workshop I attended in Ontario two weeks ago. To release the breath within my pelvic bowl, to bring my awareness out of my ‘head brain’ down into my belly and then, to walk, stop and where ever I stood, look around me and say, “I am here.”

Occasionally I incorporated another process and said to Beaumont, the trees, the grasses, “I am another you.”

It was magical and mystical.

I was present to and within what Philip Shepherd, the facilitator and author of Radical Wholeness calls, ‘felt relationship’ with the world around me.

Right Page Spread

Regenerated, I came back to my studio not so much knowing what to do to fix my messy page spread, but feeling at one with its chaos and willing to move through continued creation to resolution.

I’m grateful I persisted. I’m grateful I remembered to bring my awareness back to my pelvic bowl so that I could feel, rather than think my way into being present. Fact is, thinking my way into anything has never worked that well for me anyway so why keep doing it? 🙂

Feeling my way, being present to the moment, creates space for me to experience being with the world and the world flowing through me in new and life-giving ways.

In the end, a bird flew in through one of the windows on my page and landed on a branch of a tree bringing me back to the present moment of creation.

What in my head had appeared as a chaotic and frustrating experience transformed itself into a totally delightful and divine afternoon in my studio.

From ‘I’m quitting’ to ‘I am here’ opened up all the windows of my page, creating possibilities I couldn’t imagine until I let go of my thinking and dropped down into the font of my creativity deep within my belly. In that space, all my senses opened up to the beauty and wonder of the moment, and everything shifted.

Magical and mystical indeed!

.

 

Thank You Bob Dylan

Sometimes, when I dance with the muse my moves are very focused.

Sometimes, they’re a sea of motion, visuals, words, ideas streaming together to create a dance of all the elements crashing into one another, like the waves crashing into the shore.

It was those words that I wrote in my journal yesterday that inspired my studio time later in the day. That and a monoprinted sheet I’d created a few weeks ago with images of clocks and birds that I’d turned into a mini-art journal. At the time, I remember thinking of my dad who’s favourite quote from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was always,

The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly --- and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

That quote, and my own musings of time passing and life moving ever onward as well as one of my favourite folk/protest songs from ‘way back when’  inspired the story below. (Thank you Bob Dylan)

I am grateful for the muse and her ever-constant presence connecting me to my creative essence inviting me to soar with the wind and dance with abandon on the sands of time.

Blowin’ In The Wind

Time called out to the wind as it blew past,
“Take me away with you to far off places where I can forget who I am as I while away my days watching waves crash against the shore where seagulls dive from the sky and lovers dance oblivious to the sands of time passing by.”

 

Capricious and free, the wind swept up time and kept blowing, faster and faster as the hands of time kept spinning in delight of the wind’s breath fresh against its face.

Caught up in the wind,
Time kept passing
And as it passed it gathered stories
of far off places and tucked them deep into memory’s pockets
sewn into the great divide that stretched across the horizon
in every direction at the edge of day turning into night.

With its memories safely tucked away for a rainy day in the deep pockets of the horizon filled with time blowin’ in the wind, the world kept spinning as the hands of time kept turning.

In time, it came to pass that the wind grew weary and stopped to catch its breath on the shores where waves crashed and seagulls dived and lovers danced oblivious to the sands of time passing by.

Caught up in the joy of blowin’ in the wind and the who it was it could not forget, time could not stop. Without missing a beat time kept on passing by as the world kept spinning around the sun and the moon kept rising to greet the dark and the waves kept crashing as time passed by.

Colour Me Excited

Last Saturday I christened my “Wild at Heart Studio” with six lovely women who came to explore, create, play and shine.

It was wonderful!

On November 19th, I am leading my first workshop @KensingtonArtSupply – a huge step for me – to offer an art workshop outside my own safe space! In this case, it is an art journalling workshop — Art Your Heart Out!  Colour me excited!

There was a time when I said I couldn’t paint. I had no artistic ability.

And then, I discovered how wrong I’d been about something I’d told myself all my life. (I was in my mid-forties when this revelation came to me!)

Hmmm…. I wondered. If I’m wrong about that, what other limiting beliefs am I holding that might be keeping me in place, stopping me from doing things outside my comfort zone?

Delving into artistic expression has been a life-giver. It has created space for me to explore my world in all its many colours, textures, shades and shadows. And, it’s enriched my life by giving me the inspiration to create opportunities for others to find their own creative expressions.

Years ago, when I first started working in the homeless-serving sector at a large adult homeless shelter, I started an art program. A church had donated funds for art-making that had sat unused for two years. I went out, bought some supplies and then invited clients of the shelter to join me on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons for creative play.

That program connected us in ways we could not imagine. It shone a spotlight on our humanity, our shared human condition and our capacity to create even in the face of abject poverty, sadness, loss. Providing space for others to delve into their creative core in the otherwise stark and soul-crushing world of homelessness was healing, affirming, possibility-filled.

That space was an opportunity for everyone to reconnect to that which homelessness crushes down — our humanity. Rather than being identified as the label “homeless”, both participants and those who volunteered in the studio, who came to our art shows and other productions were connected through the creative process to that which makes our world more caring, kind and beautiful — the creative expression of our human condition.

That program gave me a creative outlet and an opportunity to invite people to engage with individuals experiencing homelessness in more positive and supportive ways. It also taught me about my own human condition; its frailties, blind-spots, glory.

Just as back then when I started that art program I did not know where it would lead, (it resulted in some amazing other projects and creative expressions I could not have imagined if I hadn’t simply stayed present to the possibilities), I do not know where my creativity workshops will lead me. I do know, I’ll go nowhere different if I do nothing.

Yesterday, as I reorganized my studio and then spent time playing, I felt myself coming home to myself with all my being present to the beauty and wonder of the moment.

This morning, as I sit at my desk in my studio, looking out at the snow-covered grass, the bare branches of the trees lining the river, the sun shining on the waters flowing past, I feel myself connected to the amazing ordinary grace of this moment.

I breathe deeply into the wonder and awe, revel in the ordinary and extraordinary life that flows through me and say a prayer of gratitude.

Ah yes. This is life.

Beautiful. Joyful. Filled with awe and wonder, inexplicable moments of sadness and sorrow, breath-taking moments of radiance and light.

This is life.

How blessed I am to feel it flowing through me, connecting me to this world of limitless possibility.

Namaste

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Thank you JT, JD, JR, SC, WC and BB for creating such glorious magic in this space.

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As part of the workshop I created mini art journals for each participant and then demonstrated how they could create their own. As well, eveyone painted salt dough hearts I’d prepared and spent time just playing with ink, paint, water, paper and medium. What fun!