Tag Archives: art-journaling

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.

The creative impulse is not a mystery when I take time to express it.

Mystery banner copy

“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”  Frank Herbert, Dune

Where do ideas, vision, openings to creativity begin? Is there an end? Where does the creative impulse come from?

Not really a mystery but definitely a source of wonder and awe, the impulse to create drives me every day to write here, to journal, to draw and paint. It calls me to express myself in artful ways that often surprise me with their capacity to reflect the mystery of my dreams, the yearnings of my heart, the wonderings of my thoughts.

And then, there are those periods of time when I stop. Stop painting. Stop art journalling. Stop going down into my studio in the evening to give expression to my creative urges.

I have been in such a space since May. At first, I thought it was just that I was tired out from all the wedding prep and the hours upon hours I spent creating for it. I’d enter the studio in the evening or on weekends only to return upstairs to do some meaningless thing like watch a show on Netflix or the TV.

The avoidance of creating created the habit of not spending time in my studio and while it’s not particularly fear based, I know, avoidance strengthens fear.

My avoidance created a fear of creating. Of seeing the possibility in a blank canvas and letting the muse guide me in expressing my dreams upon its surface.

Yesterday, my team at work and I entered into what we have agreed will be a bi-weekly session on goal setting and visioning. Guided by a team member who worked for several years for a company that made regular conversations about goal-setting and vision a part of their culture, we started with a guided visioning session of what our work day will look like and how we will feel when we enter the workspace in six months, a year.

We shared what brings joy to our day. What creates satisfaction. We explored what we want more of in our work-life balance. What we need less of.

We talked about the things we’re doing we want to keep doing, the things we want to start doing to create greater value in our lives and the things we need to stop doing that undermine our sense of joy and satisfaction.

What things do you do every day that bring you joy?

For me, art-making every day creates joy in my life. It lifts me up. It fills me with a sense of peace, wonder and awe.

And I have been avoiding it.

Getting lost in the why of my avoidance will only keep me stuck in questioning the why of why I’m not doing it.

Not creating is not a mystery that needs to be solved.

 

The answer is simple.

I must make a decision to do it, to engage in it, to create the more in my every day that brings me more joy. I know creating in my studio lifts me up. I must decide to take action and then, make a commitment to do it and follow through on my commitment.

I commit to spending an hour in the studio every night. I don’t need to know the ‘why’ of my not creating. I need to take action now that I’ve identified the impact of my avoidance. It’s a pretty simple equation:

No studio time every day = an absence of joy every day.

Just as habits can be broken, habits can be built. Habits can be kept.

Up until our wedding in April, I had a daily habit of spending time in the studio every day.

It was good for my soul. Good for my being present in my life.

I’ve broken the habit. I can fix it. I have that power. I choose to step into my power and create the more of what I want in my life every day.

Joy. Harmony. Love. Peace and the mystery of creativity expressing itself in every way I am in the world.

 

 

It’s not about finding perfection.

Exploring 1 Art Journal page August 12, 2014
Exploring 1
Art Journal page
August 12, 2014

Like writing, art-making takes a willingness to move through ‘the bad’ to allow the good to appear.

It is not about finding perfection. It’s about finding the perfect moment to breathe into what appears, exactly the way it is and delight in its presence.

I have been exploring art journalling.

Ah, you may ask, what is an art journal?

Like a diary, it incorporates words and enhances/intensifies them with images to tell your story. An art journal can be used to capture creative ideas, document your thoughts, feelings and happenings along life’s journey, experiment with new ideas and techniques (one of my favourites), and/or to be present in the act of creating for the sake of creating.

I have always been hesitant to call myself an ‘artist’. The label triggers long buried memories of being a teen-ager and wanting to paint and draw but feeling inadequate in the presence of schoolmates who were amazingly talented. My desire to ‘look perfect’ right from the get-go stymied my willingness to risk sharing my creations. I judged myself ‘not as good as’ and let my desire to express myself through visual media go.

In my twenties, I dated a man who was a hobby artist. He gave me some oil paints and encouraged me to ‘have fun’. Being seriously confined by my desire to ‘look perfect’, my attempts at painting were far from fun, they were painful.

I gave up that idea along with the boyfriend and focused on my writing.

My discourse on ‘who am I’ became restricted to ‘a writer’. An artist I was not.

And then, my eldest daughter was born and from a very early age she displayed an incredible artistic ability. Her stickmen were not just lines and wobbly circles. They were identifiable human and animal creations in lifelike relief.

One of her favourite summer activities involved my lining the deck railings with drawing paper, filling pots with tempera and setting her free to paint the world in all its colours — She was Frida Kahlo in diapers!

And still, I did not pick up a brush until one day, when she was around 15, she asked if we could go to the art store. She wanted to paint and needed supplies. On a whim, I said, “I think I’ll paint with you,” and my love affair began.

There I was, mid-forties discovering a lie I’d told myself as truth wasn’t true. I was an artist.

And the question became, what other things do I tell myself about myself that limit my experiences simply because I tell myself they’re true? What truths do I not challenge in my quest to stay safe in my limiting beliefs?

After over 7 years of continuous blogging (I started my original blog, Recover Your Joy, on March 10, 2007)  with a post called, Scooping Up The Shadows), I have learned a great deal, met some amazing people and… allowed myself to write bad again and again and again.

Along the way, I’ve created a body of work that is a reflection of who I am, how I am and where I am in the world.

I am not perfect. I am me.

I learnt that from blogging everyday about what it is that makes my world shiny and bright, even when clouds are blocking the sun, even when I’m feeling fuzzy and blue or sunny and free.

It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, my commitment is to turn up on the page and find the gift in everything. To write through the bad to find the truth and beauty in every aspect of my life.

It is not about finding the perfection. It’s about experiencing creation. All of it. And the act of creation is not a defined art. It is limitless.

I have been exploring art journalling. Some of my pages please me. Some of them give me pause to ponder the gifts of creation. They give me space to ask myself, how willing am I to let go of my need to ‘look perfect’ to simply be present to the perfection of this moment, right now.

I am learning and I am grateful for the gifts I find in every moment.

I am a writer, an artist, a creative spirit finding her expression through shadow and light.

Namaste.

To see my latest journal page and read the poem (created with it, In The Quiet Hours) click HERE.