Category Archives: Artsy Stuff

Art Journal Page: The Guardian

girl in door
The Guardian by Kartika (gouache medium)

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.
George Santayana

This is a page from one of my art journal pages, done in gauche and colored pencil. Somehow working in an art journal feels less risky than working on a canvas or a single piece of paper. I’m more able to let go of expectations – after all, it’s just a little journal – and allow myself to simply play and enjoy the process. An art journal is where I’m free to have a personal dialogue with myself – no one has to see it or read my words unless I decide to share. It allows me to experiment with ideas and different media – so what if I make bad art or no art at all, that is not my purpose. Most of all, spending time with my art journal is like being with a friend who helps me heal and work through my demons and sometimes come out the other side. It’s possible I may feel that serotonin rush when a color or a line feels right or the words make sense out of senselessness. I may even feel in synchronicity with my muse, the creative spirit that gives my life meaning.

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Art Journal Pages…

Sometimes I ask myself why I feel so enlivened and connected when I sit down with one of my my art journals – my inner critic starts to harp and nag, telling me I’m just being a bit silly, dabbling around with glue and paper, paint and scissors. Real artists are busy perfecting their craft, my critic chimes in – they are honing the skills that allow them to create real art. But, deep inside I know that is not my truth because my journals connect me to my journey, to that spark inside that can become a bit dim doing real life. “To thine own self be true,” is an adage I try to live by. And of all of the millions of other people who are telling their stories in their art journals, who sit down to enter bits and pieces of themselves in their personal diaries of images, words, and colors, not one of them will ever create a page exactly like one of my pages. So just as each snowflake is a unique expression, every art journal page is a one-of-a-kind expression, like a thumbprint or the structure of a budding flower.

Kartika

My art journal – Dream

My Art Journal – Ananda Mayi Ma
My art journal – Questions

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Archetypes: Understanding Ourselves and Our Art

Painting in gouache from my art journal – Fire

Bringing spirit into matter

“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
― Joseph Campbell

I’ve discovered I both consciously and unconsciously use archetypes in my art. And, I’ve found that increasing my awareness of symbols and archetypes makes me more conscious of the themes and ideas that spontaneously arise in my own art making and helps me appreciate the work of other artists. It helps me get in touch with the energies within my own psyche. I see us all as composites of a variety of archetypes. Archetypes are the “generic versions of a person, and they represent the types of energies and patterns of behavior the person embodies or expresses throughout life or at a given time.

One of the tools I have used to help understand mine is, “The Voyager Tarot Cards,” created by James Wanless.  Tarot card decks typically contain the Major and the Minor Arcanas that represent the range of human archetypes. These types are universal and exist in all cultures and traditions. In the Voyager deck there are 10 Major Arcanas.

What are your archetypes?

Here are the Archetypes in the Voyager Deck—I see myself as a composite.:

Fool Child – Typically called “The Fool,” the fool-child represents the intuitive inspiration of genius. It symbolizes those who puts faith in the universe. The fool is able to relax and trust, to go with the flow of life.

Magician – The Magician holds the tools of transformation and materialization in any area of life. This energy can also be use to help others in your world manifest their vision. It provides opportunities and solutions to problems.

Priestess – The Priestess symbolizes the law of inherent wisdom, and is in touch with the subtle levels of reality, such as intuition and wisdom. This is the energy of the wise elder that is revered in all traditions—represents balance and clarity.

Empress – Represents the law of preservation and is the guardian of life and of the earth. This energy is in charge of protecting the earth and honors every aspect of creation for its inherent richness and beauty.

Emperor – Symbolizes the inner fire that builds and achieves professional recognition and monetary reward.

Hierophant – Symbolizes the law of life-mastery. This is the energy of meditative awareness that views all of life as an opportunity for growth—Life is your teacher. Use the lessons of life as a stepping stone to the top of the temple.

Lovers – Represents the union of male and female energies—the union of heart and mind, inner and outer. It represents to force of attraction between others and the embrace of opposites.

Chariot – Represents changes and growth and the movement to create, achieve, and evolve. The charioteer searches for self-realization.

Balance – Represents balance amidst the dance and continuum of life, between the left and right hemispheres of the mind. Balance is moving lightly with the wind like the flute to blend in with the leaves.

Hermit – Symbolizes the sage who shuts out distractions to complete the spiritual pilgrimage. This energy is about the completion of wholeness and using our work in the material world as a spiritual path to achieve our life purpose.

Fortune – The new physics shows us that all foretelling is never certain. Future projects are only projections. This is the energy of looking at life as opportunity and understanding our consciousness creates our reality.
Artists share their personal mythology with the world.

When we make art, we draw energies from the universal field of archetypes and symbols and our creations bring them back into the material world in a personal and unique from of expression. When I look at or experience the work of other artists, when I see a film, hear music, watch a play, or when I read a piece of literature, I get a view into the artists personal storehouse of symbols and archetypal energies. This enlivens that artist’s energies within me. Sharing art is a way of sharing the depths of our personal mythology and psyche with the world.

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Saturdays At the Flying Leap Art Studio in Fairfield Iowa

My Collage

There is no must in art because art is free.
Wassily Kandinsky

A healing Saturday ritual

Every Saturday morning, I grab my caramel latte at Fairfield’s Cafe Paradiso (where Oprah had coffee during her tour of our little town), where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and the caramel flavor is organic and locally made, and I walk across the street and enter a building where I climb the stairs to a space of several rooms dedicated to art. In the studio, I meet with my group led by a wonderful  artist, Donna Colby, and  sit at one end of a large folding table – my reserved spot because art is my religion and I never miss church on Saturday. I will stay there from 10:30 to between 3 and 5.

I grab my favorite magazines, gather my paper, glue stick, scissors, and  I unpack my little bag of things I bring from home – lately it’s my art stamps and ink. I say hi to the group, to members of my tribe in my community.

I feel the coffee taking effect and my brain starts to shift – maybe it’s the alpha waves that are supposedly stimulated by the brain when we are being creative. The tension in my mind from the work week shuts up for while. The dictates of time begins to disappear. I start to feel myself again and may even turn of my cell phone.

Permission to take a flying leap

Donna is my mentor who gives me permission to express my vision. My group is most often all women, but when a guy comes, he is usually great and probably in his creative feminine, so he’s one of us. In making art together we are comrades and kindred spirits, wrestling with our blocked creative selves to become free. Some of us are painting, some drawing – we are doing our own thing. We remind ourselves we are our harshest critics, we are sometimes our worst enemies, but sometimes it just takes the gentleness of a supportive and loving group of pilgrims to ease our way toward becoming our best selves and unleashing the muse within.

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My Vision Board: Getting in Touch With My Inner Visionary

We Are All Visionaries

Our life is a manifestation, and we can very well make that manifestation beautiful and meaningful and have a good influence.

Thich Nhat Hanh

One of My Vision Boards

As a collage artist, sometimes I just start cutting out images from my stash of magazines that represent different parts of myself or the kinds of energy I want to attract into my life. Maybe after spending a day at my job on the computer, I’ve simply got to get into the right side of my brain. And, one way to get there is simple–find inspiring images, cut them out, and put them on a bulletin board. I mean you don’t have to be Picasso to cut paper. Somehow, looking at a zebra in Africa or a vase of cut flowers makes me optimistic. Or, turning a page and seeing a confident woman standing in a beautiful art studio surrounded by the tools of her craft, lifts me from the mundane into the imagination where all possibilities exist.

I’m moved by what I see. That’s why I love making art and seeing other people’s art. I like all kinds of art and think people who are creative are some of the most fascinating people in the world, even when they’re crazy. I like the way text looks on paper and the way colors pop from pages, and the way seeing a picture of sky gives me hope that life will be better.

“Imagine and Let Go” is one of the laws of manifestation

Making my vision board tells my brain there is this world of possibilities out there I can tap into. It’s like unplugging from the matrix of daily life and being five years old. I can, for a while, forget about time and that I have to get up in the morning to BE somewhere. I can stop thinking about global warming and Hurricane Sandy and worrying about the election, because I’m busy with my own business–I’m cutting out pictures and pinning them on a cork board.

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Mask-Making Made Simple

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Mask-making is an ancient art form that has been practiced world wide, and ranges from simple folk art to the level of high art. I love this very simple process of creating one-of-a-kind art pieces that can be either included into larger mixed media or collage pieces or stand alone! This is a perfect project to begin when you have that creative impulse, but are constrained by time, space, or even ideas.

Once you get started, however, if you’re like me, you’ll become so involved in the process, you may end up spending many wonderful hours on just one mask. So, don’t be deceived by its seeming simplicity—this project can take you deeply into the zone of art-making! You may find the mask itself leads you in directions you had not considered, and your inspiration starts to move full speed ahead, surprising you as you move forward.

I like to start by using a colored pencil (Prismacolor pencils are wonderful colored pencils favored by advanced and beginning artists) to draw simple designs lightly on my mask—sometimes I pick the color palette for the paint I will later use as I draw—getting a feeling for the mood and look of the mask I’m creating. In the masks above I used gold metallic and bright acrylic colors.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury

Next, I start painting in my designs—do not be afraid to improvise and move away from the designs you have penciled in! The design will evolve as you go along, so trust your self and be spontaneous and in the moment. Remember, making art is not about the complexity of the project or about playing by the rules. It’s about getting into the zone and letting go and staying focused at the same time.

If I  want to change my design, I cover up the area with Titanium White paint or gesso. So I don’t get too hung up on perfection—it’s easy to make corrections.

“It’s not about breaking the rules. It is about abandoning the concept of rules altogether” – Paul Lemberg

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The Artist’s Way is Meditation in Action

“Water” from Kartika’s Art Journal

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.”

Julia Cameron

Making art is meditation in action

It’s my experience when I’m deeply committed to a creative act, whether writing, painting, arranging and decorating, designing a bracelet, or making a meal, it is meditation in action. I find a way to temporarily unplug from the “matrix.” I escape from my linear mind into the imagination where all things are possible. When we face an empty page or a blank canvas, we’re invited into the unmanifest where all things are suddenly possible. We tap into the right side of the brain.

That’s why The Artist’s Way speaks to me so deeply. I bought this book when it was first published in 1992. I skimmed it, and put it on a shelf. Then I picked it up again, after I started doing art a number of years ago. I knew I loved making art. I just needed to discover who I AM as an artist. And, reading this book inspired me to embrace that journey.

A blocked creative makes excuses for not follow the muse:

  • I’m too busy to paint, write, or learn an instrument, etc.
  • I can’t afford to be an artist; I need to make money.
  • Maybe next year I’ll have time to start my novel.
  • I’m too old to start playing piano.
  • Being creative is a luxury and I can’t afford the time.
  • I’ll look silly if I sign up for an art class.
  • I don’t have the talent.

The excuses are endless, and the years go by as we bury our dreams of living a creative life. Our lives may feel flat and we sense something is missing. On some level, we long to express ourselves creatively, yet we don’t give ourselves permission to follow through. Often, we let fear stop us–we fear we will discover we don’t have talent, that people will make fun of our efforts, and that somehow we will fail.

Julia Cameron offers a technique in The Artist’s Way to help us remove the blocks to our creative spirit and tap into the parts of our brain where inspiration resides:

The morning pages

When you wake up in the morning, go right for your pen and notebook, and without thinking, write three pages. Don’t judge yourself or your writing, don’t think of this as “art”, don’t correct your grammar or your spelling, don’t censor yourself. Do this every morning as a tool to get in touch with that part of the brain where insight and creativity reside. This process helps us to discover what is on our minds and in our hearts, learn about our fears, and get the creative juices flowing.

 “It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power.” Julia Cameron

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