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.
Tag Archives: making art
There is no must in art because art is free.
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.
Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite – getting something down.
Let go of linear time.
We tend to live our lives in such structured and disciplined ways, where the clock rules our every moment, we lose touch with the freedom of being in the moment. Art journals and art making in general enlivens the part of our brains where we let go of time and experience the innately creative selves that we are.
Many of us find our daily activities a grind without as much time to focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.
The time we spend making art journals is our time and our opportunity to be free from the constraint of our obligations to perform, be perfect, and to please others.
Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.
Keep a journal in your purse or on your person.
One of my favorite places to work on my art journal is a local cafe. Over a latte, I simply allow myself to get in touch with what is on my mind and start writing, drawing, or doodling. I begin to get clear on how I feel and what my place is in the world. Sometimes I save spaces to later add in collage, paint or photos. Often, I have a glue stick and some scissors in my bag along with a magazine and actually add collage elements then and there. Sometimes, people will become intrigued and ask me what I’m up to. When they take a look at my art journal process, they often go out and by a journal of their own.
Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.
Surprising ourselves is part of the fun of making art. We don’t need to know the outcome, we just need to start and the outcome will take care of itself.
If you need some inspiration to get unblocked, I recommend, Julia Cameron’s, “The Artists Way.”
She offers tips on getting in touch with our creative energy, moving beyond our creative blocks, and living an authentic and creative life.
“The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of ‘Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it’s myself.’”
What draws us to the images we choose for our art work?
Symbols help us to interpret our personal reality, explain the mystery of the cosmos, and help us gain insight into ourselves. All religions and cultures abound with symbols that speak to our beliefs and cosmology.
When making a collage, I notice I keep finding and choosing to use certain symbols over and over again. Even though I’m not always conscious of why I choose these images, I trust they are meaningful on a deeper level. For example, I frequently draw or use circles, spirals, birds, hands, feet, angels, portals, archetypal wise women, vessels, and a variety of animals. And, I’ve come to see how they relate to my personal mythology. They have become part of my artistic vocabulary. Then I start to investigate what these symbols mean universally as well as how they relate to me personally.
Symbols allow the soul to speak to us directly.
The creation of an art collage from the soul is an inner journey that allows your soul to speak to you. Your soul’s voice can be heard through the images, feelings and insights that surface… (Kathleen Carrillo)
The more aware I become of the symbols I find myself consistently drawn to, and the more I incorporate these images into my art journals and other art works, the more I discover interesting things about my psyche, and the more interesting my art becomes. And, that is what I’m going for.
I am a fraud in a field where absolute truth and honesty are required for any modicum of success. And so, I often stay up past ten or eleven and sitting on a chair in front of the easel purchased on e-bay even before my decision to embark on formal but actually informal training, I stare at my board, gesso-ed and painted, with scraps of cut paper, faces of skulls, photos of tubes of lipstick, words, lightly glued (still in process). I stare, worrying that I suck and that I am a wanna-be, and fuck the “process only” preachers who are adamant that product is not where it’s at, while they stick cool looking product on the pages of their books that claim process is the only thing that matters. And sometimes when in process, I feel that flow, that sugary rush of time suspended, and that light headed no-fly zone when I know that picture of the Goth girl is perfect for that spot directly underneath the orange torn paper in the right corner. I just know it and all is well.
It started out simply, when two years ago while waling past a local art gallery, a friend pulled me in to the art studio and asked me to sit down and start decorating paper mask molds to be auctioned as an art gallery fund-raiser. I had not glued much since kindergarten, when I typically threw my own attempts at making flowers look like flowers across rooms. Yet while mask-making, it seemed the gluing and painting process became instantly addictive, and the right brainwave activity leading to suspension of time and space, had the profound effect of creating a yearning for a repeat experience of the out-of-the-box mode of operating, leading to a discussion with the fully-credentialed- art-gallery-owner-and-art-instructor-par-excellence, who recommended continuing art education at his gallery/studio on a regular basis to enliven that field where the creative so easily go and, in some cases, never return. And now, just a few weeks into the exploration of this new terrain, with a few collages under my belt, and lots of time spent with Dick Blick and a designated art studio on my premises, I am exhausted by the demands of the creative life and the expectations I have put upon myself to be “an artist.” There – I have finally uttered the A-word and now must suffer under the mantle of expectation, realization that I know nothing about art, and do not know anything about making it other than cutting out magazine pictures and pasting them on Masonite.
I’m exhausted from trying to be artistic – in my art studio past the comfort zone of bedtime – an already challenged time when reading or television always compete to keep me from much needed rest, but my art teacher, guru of sorts – a creative director and wizard of artistic transcendence – directed me to set up a designated space in my house allocated to art only, where paints, paper, brushes, glitter, glue, markers, magazines, gesso, and all manner of artsy material are arranged in baskets on the table, strewn across the guest bed, poke from under the guest bed in plastic containers. I am now officially obligated to create that illusive product – art. Art – that category of mystic and mythic proportions that cannot be defined, and continues to be the subject of argument, awe, fear, and reverence. I am now on permanent assignment to be creative, in tune with the right hemisphere of my brain, and on alert to notice all opportunities to move spirit into matter. I, who cannot draw a straight line or anything that remotely resembles subject matter, am suddenly required to produce the true and the beautiful. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this spiritual assignment springing from the depths of my being and progressing under the guidance of my mentor.
More in the next blog…