Tag Archives: art-journaling

Painting Through The Shudders

There is a world of curious ‘mishaps’ beneath this painting. A world of giving into the questions. Like, “Hmmmm…. if I do [this], I wonder what will happen?” Or, “I really like the way it looks now. I wonder what would happen if I let go of the need to ‘like it’?”

Letting go of the need to ‘like it’ is hard for me. I want my art to be pretty. To be pleasing to the eye. To not disturb.

And that’s why I art journal. To strengthen my ‘letting go’ muscles.

I like to create ‘pretty’.

This is the first monoprint – I really, really liked it.

Pretty doesn’t always serve me well. Pretty can mean I’m playing it safe. Playing it for affirmation. Playing it for the outcome – which will hopefully become something I can sell.

Art Journalling isn’t about creating work to sell. It’s about selling yourself on the idea that creating for the pure joy of creating is a form of meditation, revelation and restoration.

This page had a couple of iterations. The first one above, which I really, really liked. The one on the right, which I hesitated to share because it makes my creative nerves shudder. And then the final one which makes me smile.

The Shudders

The really, really liked one got buried beneath the shudders one because I was curious about what would happen if I painted botanicals on top.

The final piece, which is all about experimentation – and a lesson in letting go – is because I felt compelled to cover up the ‘shudders’.

The blue petals are created from the masking tape I used to block off the edges of the page in my art journal. Its patterns were made as I monoprinted on the paper.

When I pulled them off the page after the paint had dried, I didn’t immediately crumble them up and throw them into the wastebasket. The patterns that had developed as I monoprinted fascinated me so I carefully hung them from the edge of my worktable. I didn’t have any idea what I would use them for, or if I would use them for anything. They simply intrigued me so I decided to save them.

It wasn’t until I ended up with ‘the shudders’ on top of the original monoprinted background and thought, ‘Oh my. Now that’s not particularly pleasing,’ that I thought about using the saved blue masking tape.

Which meant, I had to dive in and pull another monoprint of the page and start reworking it. (The white striated background)

And here’s the thing.

How we do one thing is how we do all things.

I was afraid of ruining the monoprint I really liked and hesitated to do anything else to it. But, I also knew my hesitation was fear-based and wanted to confront my fear – which I am very familiar with.

It’s all about that ‘precious thing’ syndrome. Holding onto things because I deem them precious, or because I don’t know what I might do with them and don’t want to let them go because I fear I’ll be limiting my options later.

Like the blue masking tape. I didn’t have a really good reason to hold onto it other than that it intrigued me. Sure, finding a use for it was a bonus but if I step back and reflect on things I’ve held onto because of the fear of letting go was high, I’d find a wealth of material for personal exploration of my ‘fear of letting go’ syndrome.

Like right now. I fear letting this blog post go because I’m not sure I’ve really explored it adequately.

But, I also know this is a lifelong exploration for me. This post doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful, or even witty.

In fact, it doesn’t need to be anything other than a reflection of where I’m at right now and how I’m navigating these spaces.

The biggest ‘fear’ to overcome right now, is my fear of showing ‘my ugly’.

And the ‘shudder painting’ is all about ‘my ugly’.

I don’t like it. I want to ignore it. I want to pretend it didn’t happen.

Life, like art, doesn’t work that way. ‘The ugly’ is as vital to a rich and beautiful life as the pretty.

Finding value in ‘the ugly’ enriches my life. It creats vibrant, unexpected gifts that keep expanding possibility into sacred knowing of the essence of who I am when I let go of being anything and anyone other than who and how I am in this moment right now.

Real. Vulnerable. Embodied in the present moment. Breathing into the joy held within the darkness and the light. The joy and the sorrow. The beauty and the ugly. The known and the unknown.

Namaste

Calming Whispers

I have been working on this two-page spread in the altered book art journal I am creating with my mother’s prayer cards for a couple of days. I’m filming as I go and the added pressure is daunting.

I get to a point where I’m relatively happy with the background, but have no idea where the page is going next. My head is calling me to ‘do this’ or ‘that’ to make it go a certain way. My heart knows I need to get out of my head so that I can intuit the creative urges calling me to let go and let be.

I do what I love to do when I feel stuck in my head. I wake up Beaumont the Sheepadoodle who is sleeping on the floor by my feet and go for a walk through the forest and grasses that line the riverbank near our home.

I am immersed in nature.

It is there I find myself letting go of thinking about the page and simply allowing what is whispering to be released to come alive.

Creating this altered book journal, My Mother’s Prayers, has been an amazing journey. It has connected me through time and space within the sacred field of grieving and remembering and honouring and healing..

There are so many moments in my relationship with my mother where pain and regret and despair rippled in angry waves creating crenellated, hardened folds in my memory banks. Over time, the folds solidified and I became stuck in believing only distance would keep me safe.

Creating in this journal has felt like standing in a gentle spring rainshower with my head tilted up to the skies. My arms are spread wide. The rain caresses my face and the breeze flows gracefully throughout my being. I am present to and within it all. I am refreshed. Envigorated. Enriched.

In the present, the hardened folds soften, the crenellations become smooth and the edges drift away. The past quietly floats out of view like a boat on the river rounding a distant curve leaving me embraced in the present moment.

And I smile.

My mother no longer visits me while in the bath. She no longer insists I ‘listen up’.

I like to think she’s having the time of her afterlife, living it up for all she’s worth in the heavenly realms of her prayers. Dancing with her brothers. Laughing at my father’s sweet nothings whispered in her ear as he nuzzles her neck. Sharing a meal at God’s table with her parents and brother’s and sisters and Aunties and Uncles and cousins who got there before her. “It took me awhile to get here”, she laughingly tells them all. “I had to clean up some business I’d left undone.”

I like to think she’s happy with how that ‘business with me’ is cleaning itself up. I like to think she too has found peace.

As I finished the final touches on this page, the quote came to me. “Her prayers were the whispers that calmed angry skies and turbulent seas.”

My mother’s prayers are like that boat. They are the sacred container carrying us all to safe harbour, in good times and in bad today. Whether she’s with us in body or in spirit.

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The following is the video I created of making this spread.

I am constantly amazed by how challenging a science video-editing is, and how creative.

I’m also sometimes quite frustrated with the technology and my lack of experience. Like syncing of the sound to video. I worked and worked to make it happen and finally had to accept, it’s not about perfection.

I also had to trust that in time, I will become more adept!

I hope you enjoy the video — sneak-a-peak — there’s even footage of Beaumont in the trees!

Thank you again Laura Hickli for sharing your amazing talent and voice. Mr. Butterfly is so perfect for this piece.

A Prayer for Present Me

Watercolour and acrylic inks on watercolour paper – 9 x 12″

I didn’t know I was still carrying energy around a long-ago event until my daughter told me about my grandson waking up inconsolable with a fever.

Ah yes. I remember those feelings. That sense of helplessness. Of worry and fear grappling for dominance in my mind.

She was three months old. Thanksgiving. She’d been fussy for a couple of days. I asked Wanda, our next door neighbour who was a pediatric nurse, for help. What do you think? Should I take her to a doctor?

She’s just teething, Wanda asserted.

I wanted to believe her but the next day when she would not stop crying, (Alexis never cried as an infant) I insisted we take her into the Children’s hospital emergency room. We were on our way to my then in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner can wait, I told my then husband. This is more important.

I remember when they took her from my arms and placed her on a cold steel examining table.

I remember when they put a tiny IV needle into her scalp.

I remember holding her and trying to soothe her and all the while she is mewling and I am forcing myself not to cry because I need to be calm for her.

She was admitted to hospital that day. An infection. A spiking temperature.

She was there a week.

I only went home to shower and change my clothes.

I could not leave her alone no matter how kind and caring the nurses and doctors.

I could not leave her alone.

I had forgotten about those moments and days 34 years ago until I heard about my grandson. He is okay. Whatever was ailing him passed through and he is once again his sunny self.

I am grateful.

That he has weathered this storm, whatever its source and that I can breathe again through memory, letting time wash away the traces of those moments and days long ago when I felt so helpless, so incompetent and like such a failure as a mother.

How could I not have known when first she started to cry that it was something serious?

How could I not have immediately whisked her off to the doctor?

And I smile.

I remember.

I never wanted to be ‘one of those mothers’ who was constantly dragging their child to a doctor imagining the worst.

I wanted to assume the best. To be calm, collected, thoughtful in everything I did.

Years later, when Alexis was about 12, she’d break her foot climbing the doorframe to the kitchen (I know. It was a thing to do.) Not wanting to foster her assertions that something was seriously wrong after having listened so many times to her cries that a fall had resulted in a break which ended up with unnecessary x-rays, I put ice on her foot and told her if it was still hurting in the morning, we’d get it checked out.

Sure enough, this time, the break was real.

And again, I wondered, how could I not have known? How could I be such an incompetent mother?

I’m smiling as I write that. I think being a mother has taught me more about acceptance of my limitations and fears as well as made me aware of my blind-spots and ego’s need for reassurance than anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

Being a mother humbled me. It still does.

And being a YiaYa has given me the gift of remembering those places where old fears still linger, where charred spots in my psyche can still burn.

And I say a prayer of gratitude. And I say a prayer of hope. And I say a prayer of remembering what it means to be human.

We do our best and our best is all we can do.

Namaste.

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As part of the course I’m taking online with Orly Avineri, the invitation was to take one image and repeat it 3 times in a journal page.

This page in my altered book journal, My Mother’s Prayers, is called, A Prayer for My Inner Child — it became 3 prayers, one for my inner child, my present me and my future me. My mother always lit candles for her children, particularly when something was going on in our lives. I’m pretty sure, 34 years ago she burnt a candle and prayed for Alexis every day.

A Prayer for My Inner Child
May you always feel safe in my arms of Love, free to run with abandon in the garden of dreams blossoming in my heart. May you never fear that I will desert you or put you at risk. May you know peace within me.
A Prayer for My Present Self
May courage be my constant companion, drawing me deeper and deeper into the great mystery of life where I am bound in sacred partnership within the luminous present opening my heart to Love always.
A Prayer for My Future Self
May you feel deeply and passionately connected to the exquisite nature and intimacy of the whole dancing fearlessly in the ephemeral nature of the embodied present. May you dance with life, falling forever into Love.
And so it was.
And so it is.
And so it will be.
Forever and Always.

Looking Forward…

Looking forward, there is only love – inside back page of Sheltered Wonder Art Journal

I completed the back inside page of my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal yesterday.

I played and experimented and let it be what it is without fussing over my thoughts of – “Oh no, I could have…”. “I wished I’d…”. “Why didn’t I…”

Like the river, I flow forward. There is no going back to the moment that just passed.

Looking forward, there is only Love.

One discovery I carry with me out of the journey of creating this page, and ultimately the journal, is the one where I choose to recognize my power to choose. Love. Always.

When I see this moment as a portal into the next, Love invites me to cross-over, leaving all my fears, worries, insecurities, doubts, behind. Being human, I struggle to let them go and so, they cloud the present moment leading to the next. They obscure the Love that is the wholeness of everything.

“What if…,” the wise woman within asks me, “what if you choose to trust?”

Seriously? Trust that I’ll be okay without my fears, worries, insecurities, doubts… Trust that Love is enough? That I am enough?

Is Love enough to embody all my human stuff?

And I smile.

And breathe.

Creating this journal has been a labour of Love. It has held me under its thrall for the past month, inviting me to let go of my self-criticisms and worries and doubts to fall, effortlessly and with grace, into the wonder and magic of the creative process (which is Life).

It has taught me to trust in the process. To trust in Life.

If life is the process of moving from one moment to the next, when I choose to see it is Love that invites me to let go of this moment to step into the next, then I must trust that is enough. That I am enough. Or, as in this case, this page is enough.

In an ideal world we would all choose to cross from one love-imbued moment into the next, leaving our fears, our worries, our insecurities, our doubts that cloud the present moment and all the Love it contains, behind.

What if… we chose to do just that? Every moment of every day? To carry only Love? And trust, Love is Enough.

Namaste

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About the Page:

I intentionally printed the profile facing outward from the page (my first attempt she was facing inward. I thought, “That works.” The muse had a stronger vision. I reprinted her so that when she was affixed to the page, she was facing outwards) — She is (I am) looking forward, directly at Love.

As I wanted to play with some sewing and ribbon in the journal, (to symbolize ‘threading it all together’) I drew and cut out the profile and then monoprinted it onto cloth that I affixed with ribbon and glued it at the top, onto the page.

Under the fabric, within the whiteness of the profile, a page with the title of all the blog posts I’ve written about each page is affixed, just visible through the profile.

As I only affixed the cloth at the top, it can be lifted to reveal the page.

For me, this symbolizes how we can intellectually understand that Love is the Answer, but until we lift the veil of our human condition to face and honour our doubts and worries and concerns, as well as our lack of trust, we cannot ‘see’ how we have the choice to simply choose Love, again and again and again.

Until we are lovingly willing to peer into the mysteries of life and embrace our own mystery and wonder, and trust that we are enough, we will carry our doubts and worries through time.

Letting go is essential.

And letting go only happens when we trust Love will greet us at the doorway and welcome us in, again and always. In Love, we will be enough.

And yeah. That’s easier said than done!

Plant Only Love

Two page spread for Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. Mixed media on watercolour paper.

If your life is like a garden – to cultivate, to tend, to nurture — what seeds have you planted?

How have you tended it well? What have you nurtured in its fertile soils? What have you weeded out? What new plants have you introduced? Which ones have you transplanted? Where is it overgrown? Where is it barren and dry?

What is your garden asking of you today?

I had fun playing with creativity in my garden yesterday. Experimenting. Wondering, what if I… And then, letting the ‘what if’ guide me. Under its spell, I painted without knowing where I was going, trusting always that whatever was appearing was opening the portal to the next, and then the next, and then the next discovery.

In the art of creativity, I found myself immersed in wonder and awe, free-flowing through time, surfing on a jet stream of creativity that held me captive high above the earth, paying no heed to gravity’s pull calling me to come back to earth.

Eventually I did. Come back to earth. But not before something I hadn’t imagined would appear, appeared on the canvas – in this case an 11 1/5″ x 7″ piece of 140lb watercolour paper – filled with watercolour and inks, a bird on a branch, bright, joyful pops of colourful flowers popping up out of the ground.

The use of complementary and analogous colours was unintentional (that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘colours from the opposite sides of the colour wheel’). I had sat down at my studio work table with an idea in my mind of what I was looking to express.

It wasn’t what appeared.

And that is the beauty of the creative process. When I get out of my head brain and become present with my entire body attuned to the moment, magic happens.

For me, there is something chaotically joyful and abandoned about this painting. It stirs both my heart and my curiosity. It makes me wonder, ‘is the bird just alighting?’ or, is it just taking flight? What are the stories the wind is whispering to the leaves of its travels around the globe?

And then, the art-related questions of, ‘What would happen if I painted the bird white? Gave her a red belly? Or yellow one? What if…

And the circle continues. Widens. Broadens out to encompass more and more possibilities.

I’m not sure this painting is finished with me yet. I’m still wondering ‘what if’s’ and that is always a sign.

The choice to heed their intriguing possibilities is mine.

Hmmmm…. Will she or won’t she?

Ahhh. Life is such a beautiful, joyful dance of mystery, mysticism and magic. It is a garden full of all the seeds I’ve planted growing into my life today. No matter what seeds I plant, or what seeds are pollinated by the winds of time, it is my destiny to tend it so that all that grows, all that flourishes, all that becomes known and witnessed and experienced is, Love in all its rainbow colours.

Namaste.

Sheltered wonder

Art Journal Cover created from a Wheat Thins box

As children, I remember my sister and I spending hours playing “Make Believe”. We reenacted our favourite movie, The Parent Trap, again and again. We made up stories which we then acted out, complete with costumes and props.

What we created felt so real to us.

And then, somewhere on that journey from childhood to adulthood, make believe was no longer appropriate. We were told to grow up.

I used to wonder why does ‘growing up’ have to include letting go of our capacity to play and create and imagine a world of magic and wonder?

It’s one of the things I loved about having children and now a grandson. I can play make-believe and no one tells me I need to grow up. When my grandson and I visit on FaceTime, he inevitably will ask me to show him the glittery butterfly I didn’t put away with the Christmas decorations. I fly the butterfly around the room and sing made-up songs as he watches, eyes wide.

In those moments, my heart knows complete, absolute, precious joy.

Yesterday, I began working on an art project I’ve been ‘creating in my mind’ for the past several days. The mind part isn’t so much about what it will look like, but rather, the meaning/purpose of the project.

The cover, pictured above’ is made from an empty Wheat Thins box just like the one pictured. Who knew that an empty cardboard box could be transformed into an art journal cover? My child’s mind did. My creative core did. As did my heart.

All it took was paint, time and a willingness to let go of my need to make something ‘perfect’. To choose instead to delve into the mystical nature of the creative process, allowing its urges to guide me.

In “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl’s brilliant opus on what he learned from his time in a concentration camp he writes:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

This experience of sheltering in place, of watching death counts mount, of fearing for my beloved’s well-being, of limiting our social interactions is my stimulus. What I write here, how I choose to fill my time, how I choose to feed my mind and imagination, are my responses.

Sheltered Wonders, as I’m calling this art journal, is how I am choosing to capture my reflections of these days and weeks of self-isolation.

I could choose to call it, The Covid Disaster, or something like that, but that would mean the journal would be about the virus. It’s not. It’s about the amazing gifts I’ve found during this time of sheltering in place. As my beloved and I have narrowed our world to quiet times at home, walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and time spent together, our pace has slowed and our relationship deepened. Sure, my waist may be a little thicker and my hair somewhat scraggly but the gifts of time to breathe easily, to wonder and create in the kitchen, the studio and on the page have been immensely rewarding.

Covid is a global stimulus none of us can escape.

How we respond now and in the days to come, as stay-at-home edicts are relaxed and the world begins to ‘awaken’, will determine our growth and our freedoms.

We can choose to keep the gifts of family connection, of time to slow down and find a healthier more liveable pace, of time spent baking, creating, sharing with those we love, the gifts that we’ve remembered, like childhood playtime, in this time sheltering in space.

Or we can choose to scramble back onto the hardtack reality of filling our time with the busyness of the past – a busyness that for many felt constricting and overwhelming.

How will you respond?

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A note about Sheltered Wonder – It is based on themes for each page — things I feel are germane to my experiences during this time of self-isolation. Belonging. Companionship. Community. Peace. Pace. Purpose. Creativity.

I’d love to hear what you think are important themes. Please do share – like Nance whose comment on my blog yesterday inspired this post today, you may inspire a page or two in my Sheltered Wonder journal!

Much gratitude.

#CreateBoldly – An invitation

 

In The Memory of a Tree
11 x 14″ on acrylic paper
Mixed Media

I know. I know.  Two posts in one morning!

This one is actually from my SM feeds yesterday. I wanted to post it here as an invitation to you to join in too!

Create Boldly. 
#
CreateBoldly

Create Boldly is a creativity challenge I’m leading to keep myself, and anyone who cares to join me, grounded in gratitude, generosity and grace as we move through these unprecedented times. If life comes without a script, living through a coronavirus pandemic comes without a guidebook.
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Create Boldly is an invitation to stretch yourself and your creative muscles and write your own guidebook on what it means to be alive at this time, right now.

If you don’t have a creative practice, it’s an opportunity to stretch completely outside your comfort zone, or, if you already do have one, to stretch your practice in unexpected ways.

How It Works

Every 2 or 3 days (I’m going with unscripted here), I’ll offer up a prompt via a theme — and you get to do the rest.

Today’s theme is: The Memory of Trees.

 

The Invitation:

Create your own poem, prose, haiku, story (as long/as short as you wish) based on the prompt, and paint, draw, use your computer or use paints, pencils, crayons…, and create a visual reflection on your poem/prose/story. Or you can just write something or paint/draw/sew/embroider/quilt something — remember, it’s unscripted.

There’s no right nor wrong way to participate. There is only the invitation to step into this space with me and explore what can happen when you let yourself Create Boldly.

All you need to do to participate is decide to do it and share your offerings here, on your FB or Instagram page and tag me (mlouiseg88) and use the hashtag — #CreateBoldly

That’s it.

An invitation.
An empty space.
An opportunity.

I hope to see you here in days yet to pass.

My interpretation of the prompt is a poem and a painting. I’m not sure which inspired which or which came first, the prompt, the poem or the painting…

In The Memory of a Tree
©2020 Louise Gallagher

In the memory of a tree
its roots are deeply planted
in the soil, grounded
in earth’s eternal journey
spinning around the sun.

In the memory of a tree
the seasons change,
time passes
like a river.
Nothing stays the same.

In the memory of a tree
spring bids farewell
to winter
and summer turns
to fall.
Everything changes.

A Flower is a Poem without Words

A Flower Is A Poem Without Words – Art Journal Black-Out Page – November 6, 2019

As I drifted off to sleep last night, the title for yesterday’s art journal spread drifted into my thoughts. Not wanting to wake myself up, I told myself I’d remember it this morning.

And I did! (Whew! ‘Cause I remember really connecting with the title as I fell asleep!)

One of the challenges of a 3-hour art journalling course is creating the space for both writing and ‘arting’ to happen in a short time-frame.

As the course I’m leading at Kensington Art Supply is an introductory course, it’s important to provide lots of inspiration, fun and experience without overwhelming people with all the possibilities!

Left side of spread

This is why the ‘black-out’ method (pictured above) is a great one to work with. It’s relatively fast, easy to do and fun! And along with all of those attributes, it’s inspirational too!

See, in art journalling, there is room for insight to be gleaned from everything. Take for example the book from which I tore the two pages of poetry that I pasted onto my journal spread before drawing the images and blacking out text. Tearing pages out of a book is a great opportunity to grow. I mean really? Tear pages out of a book? How could I! Dare I?  Yes I dare.

The book in question is  “The High School Reader” which, according to the fly-leaf, belonged to Aggie Mather in 1896. Aggie lived in Thurlow, Ontario which has a certain poignancy for me as Thurlow is my grandson’s name — my daughter and son-in-love did not know I had this book when they named him almost 2 years ago and I hadn’t realized the connection until a week ago when I pulled the book out to use a page from it at my HeartSong Workshop!

Right side of spread

When I originally bought the book in 2011 at a used bookstore (I think I paid about $2), I was creating a journal within the book itself. Somewhere along the road, I stopped using it and put it on a shelf.

Now, realizing this book originated with a schoolgirl in Thurlow, Ontario, incorporating its pages into my art has even more potency. Not only am I preserving the past while creating something ‘new’ from it, I am inspired by the story of my grandson every time I use it.

Inspiration comes from everywhere and everything in art journalling. For me, the title that rose up within me to reveal itself is telling.

I believe there is poetry in everything. In the trees standing sentinel along the river’s edge outside my window, their bare branches forming a delicate filigree web against the lightening sky. They move with the grace of harp strings plucking the chords of my heart in the gentle morning breeze flowing through their branches.

The music playing softly in the background as I type. Piano. Cello. Evocative. Stirring. Mellow.

The steel grey waters of the river moving ever more slowly as the temperature drops with the shortening days of winter’s approach.

The intermittent hum of the furnace. The glow cast by the candle where it sits beside me on my desk. The dance of its flame in the growing dawn.

The dawn’s light casting golden hues on the tops of the trees across the river. And then, as quickly as a breath, the light is gone as a cloud covers the sun.

The flame of the candle dancing from where it sits on my desk beside me.

The lights of cars following each other across the bridge as unseen drivers wend their way towards downtown.

There is poetry in everything.

All the poetry of life asks is that we listen for it. Witness it. Celebrate it. We think of it as being created by words. It is so much more. It is sights and sounds. Smells and sensory notes inviting us to drop our thinking and dive deep into our being present, in this moment, right now.

Are you willing to dive into the poetry wafting through your life today like the notes of a song you can’t forget?

Are you willing to drift down out of your thinking mind to connect with your soulful presence deep within your belly?

I dare you!

I See You. I Hear You. I Am Not Afraid.

The story of life is a never-ending river flowing toward a distant sea. Every moment filled with endless Love flowing free.

When I sank into meditation yesterday, I gave myself the opportunity for my inner knowing deep within my belly to rise up in response to the question, “What are you afraid of?”

The answer surprised me.

It wasn’t death. Success. Failure. Speaking in public. Or even growing old and losing all my faculties, or not. Sometimes it feels like growing old is scary with all my faculties!

No. The answer that rose up was one near and dear and very familiar to me. You fear Letting Go and Being Present. Flow with it. Be the flow.

Playing in my studio yesterday afternoon, I breathed into my fear and painted the wind with all the colours of the rainbow.

I let go and let whatever was calling out to appear to become what was being created.

In the letting go, I discovered what the question was calling out to me to acknowledge: Writing a novel is a scary undertaking. I have written two in the past and done nothing with them even though their birthing was a painful process and advance readers really liked them.

‘Doing the work’ is not what I fear. It’s the ‘owning the work’, being responsible for its path after birthing that absolutely terrifies me. (More on this at a later date.)

For now, I need to get honest about the little bitty issue of how I become in the process that concerns me and gives me pause to procrastinate, dawdle and avoid.

See, I know what happens when I become immersed in ‘the story’. Time. Space. The world around me falls away and I turn into a ‘storyzilla!’  You know, an out of control bridezilla without the veil and white dress and all the wedding stuff going on, just the blank white page staring at me every morning.

In its presence, I swing between the polar opposites of every interruption becoming an imposition warranting sharp and nasty ‘get out of my space’ comments from me. Or, every interruption appearing like an invitation to step away from my laptop and have a coffee. Go for a walk or even, clean the toilet. Yup. When I’m writing (or more specifically, not writing) I have the cleanest toilets in town!

This is why the art journal spread that appeared is so fascinating and revealing to me.

A young girl is walking into a monstrous wind. Unafraid, undaunted she stands her ground and keeps staring the storm down. Of course, she’s got her best friend in tow to keep her company but he is walking behind her, using her as his shield. She is the warrior. The priestess. The one who will not be silenced.

Which, based on the storyline of my novel, is incredibly prescient.

But wait! There’s more.

Here’s how the subconscious really kicks in. In one scene in my story, a young five-year-old girl is playing in the woods with her mother. Her boots and winter coat are loden green, the colour her mother dyed the wool. The little girl really wanted her mother to dye the wool red.

Without consciously connecting working on my art journal page to the story I’m writing (or avoiding writing – you pick), I painted the little girl in the painting’s coat and boots red. Hmmm…. colour me blown away.

And….. the little girl also likes to pick yellow flowers and give them to her mother.

WHAT??? I painted yellow flowers and yes, their pop of colour is an important design element, but I hadn’t connected them to the story I’m writing until I awoke this morning and the answer awoke with me.

Being responsible for the birthing and caring of a story is scary. Fear is not a reason to not do it.

So, slowly, quickly, whatever speed I go, this is me facing my fears, letting go and getting busy writing it out (while being present to however I appear in the world around me with love (and a whole lot of compassion) because believe me, I ain’t funny when I’m focused.

Perhaps it’s best I do an advance apology session with my beloved so he is not surprised when storyzilla roars!

However it goes, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Namaste

Dancing with the muse

The finished front cover – “Grow only love in the garden of your heart.”

You know when you do something and think, “Well that turned out better than I expected!”?

That was my day yesterday.

The original notebook.

In preparation for the workshop I’m leading on Art Journalling at  Kensington Art Supply, November 19th, I am testing different ways of creating an art journal. Yesterday, I took an inexpensive scribbler and transformed it into the beginnings of an art journal.

The process includes gluing and taping together with masking tape every 3 pages so that they are stronger, masking taping the spines and creating a more sturdy cover. I’ll also gesso (a medium designed to strengthen the page’s ability to accept paint without soaking it up) all the 3-page layouts I’ve taped together as well as the cover so that we can begin to create and journal without spending time waiting for the paint to dry!

My process yesterday was all about painting the cover as I’d spent the evening before taping the pages together and affixing the heavier paper to make the cover.

Let’s just say, I’m pleased with the outcome – which is quite different than what my original ‘vision’ for the cover had been – and that’s the joy of art journaling. There’s really no destination other than where the muse, and your willingness to be open and present to the process, takes you.

Now my goal is to have several pages of the journal completed by the workshop so that I can use them as examples, and to have journals ready for the participants to begin painting. Each participant will be provided with a journal that is ready to paint — that means the cover and the first 3 page layouts.

For the workshop I will also have a journal example where rather than painting the cover, I’ll have glued paper to create the design. I’ll use papers I’ve already printed/painted and affix them to the cover – at least that’s my ‘vision’. We’ll see what happens when the muse and the creative process meet up on the cover page!

Art journalling is about the freedom to flow and be present to the moment. It’s about living the questions, not the answers or things you tell yourself you know.

Questions like, ‘I wonder what is calling within me to be expressed?’

What is the most brave thing I can do right now?

What am I not saying?

What if I give up thinking I know and allow myself the freedom to be present? 

Or, ‘I wonder what will happen if…?’

If I spread some teal over this pink paint and then use a stencil and babywipes to rub out some of the paint?

If I cover this area in gesso and let the images beneath peek out?

If I stop trying to make the page ‘look like something’ and just let it become what it is yearning to express?

Art journaling is all about expression, not perfection.

It’s about experience the freedom to create all over the page, not creating in a box.

And it’s about being present in the moment, letting what is appear without fearing what will happen if you just let go.

The muse and I danced together yesterday. I am grateful for every step of the dance we created together.

Namaste.