Years ago, likely in my first and last college drawing class, I decided I couldn't draw or paint people. That was over fifteen years ago and I haven't tried since. Today I stared at several background and felt stuck. On a whim, I decided to try creating faces again, but this time using a different and less realistic style. I incorporated a mixed media background, stayed loose, imperfect, and messy with my lines, and didn't have any expectations about the results.
Except that I loved everything about the process, my mind was racing with different ideas, and I couldn't wait to paint more. I felt inspired, to say the least. So I kept painting.
This time I added more techniques from Kelly Rae Robert's Mixed Media Mantras e-course. I added medium through a stencil to create a resist, layers of acrylic paint, stamping, and collage.
First, I want to share my big announcement - I'm on the Creative Scrapper's Design Team! It's my first time on a team and pretty fantastic to be designing alongside so many talents scrappers that I respect. I'm already hard at work designing layouts for the upcoming sketch challenges, which I'm excited to reveal in the coming months. I love how I manifested this goal just a few short months ago and it's come to fruition. It all began with a Brene Brown art journaling class that renewed my excitement for paper crafting, helped me find mixed media, and inspired me to create this blog. I can't wait to see what's next on this creative journey.
Here's my next layout, Unicorns, which I've created as a guest designer for Paper Secrets. This photo was taken during this year's pride on the Big Gay Boat Ride where we went to watch drag queen Bianca Del Rio perform. We also threw a rainbows and unicorn party, which was pretty much my childhood dream come true. I had so much fun party prepping for weeks in advance. It was a great excuse to dress up, complete with a homemade rainbow tutu for me and unicorn horn headbands for everyone.
I started this rainbow background by adding clear gesso to white paper. After it dried, I added drops from a big array of spray inks (mostly Dylusions and Color Shine), mixed the colors with watercolor pen, and dabbed some away with a paper towel.
Next I dug out all my paper scraps and started rolling them, and rolling, and rolling some more. This is the longest it's ever taken me to complete a page and I'm a pretty slow scrapper to start with. Excuse the poor lighting on these background photos. I snapped these shots quickly in my craft room, which has poor lighting. Also, I'm taking a photography class in a couple weeks and I'm looking forward to learning more to improve my scrapbook photography skills. I need the help, especially with the rainy sunless days quickly approaching.
Here's some closeups of the finished page with journaling, thickers, some buttons from my crafting stash, stitching on the top and bottom, a few BasicGrey chipboard pieces, and some Heidi Swapp embellishments.
Here's the sketch from Paper Secrets, which inspired my layout. Play along to win a $20 coupon off your next purchase of $20 or more in their store.
I spent my Labor Day weekend at the Gorge in Washington watching the Dave Matthews band. The opener was one of my all-time favorites, Brandi Carilile, and there was also a host of other bands at an afternoon music caravan, with my favorite being Blind Pilot. Three nights and four days of camping with great friends and fantastic live music at the most gorgeous music venue. What's not to love? The folks I went with have been upwards of sixteen times. This was my second and I'm already looking forward to the next one.
With this layout I left less white space than normal. I challenged myself to be less retrained, get extra messy, and add even more layers. I like adding items from the photo's experience like the campground bracelet and the ticket stub.
Closeups. Look at that dimension and shadows. I added lots of little details - washi tape, a doily, modeling paste dried and outlined in black pen, a couple Tim Holtz rub ons, stitching, a Heidi Swapp arrow sticker and some color magic ephemera, and border/heart/arrow stamping.
I've travelled a lot this summer and kept wishing I'd packed scrap or art journal materials. This was the first time I actually did it and I found time to get creative two days during camp. Of course, I over packed, but now I have a better idea of what's most useful to bring next time. I started two backgrounds with spray ink/stamps/stencils (including this one!) and art journaled the DMB experience.
This layout was inspired by two challenges. The first being Scrap It Girl's September challenge to use stencils or masks. I used three stencils in this layout, two were used with inking for the background, and the other for the modeling paste dots.
The second is Scrap & Play's school supplies challenge. I cut a lined journal card, added three different washi tapes, and wrote in the righthand corner. There's blue in the photo, the misting and watercolor background, and one of the paper layers. I'd actually originally planned to use more blue, but the green got the best of me.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what brought me to this place of creativity, quilting, embroidery, starting an art journal, discovering mixed media, the creation of this blog, and my renewed appreciation of papercrafting. In light of the sad death of Robin Williams, I've been thinking about mental illness, inner struggles, social media and scrapbooking, and what I choose to share with the world. I realize my scrap pages and my online life often look all sunshine and roses. Many times, this is true and there's much joy to document. I value instagram/facebook/scrapbooking, because in looking at photos I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to live this life. I can archive and remember the beautiful moments, the people I adore, and the places I've been.
However, truth be told, there have been some tough spots, but those ones are rarely shared. The last few years have been filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I'm always debating on how much of the rough stuff to share, especially on the interwebs. I've had times of incredible disappointment, anger, stress, sadness, and anxiety. There have been dark places where it was hard to see a way through the pain. It's brought me to my knees. I've pushed people away and contemplated running away from this life. It's in those moments where I've learned the most about myself, my resiliency, my ability to heal, and my community of support. I think creativity has become a healing practice, a form of meditation, and a gift to myself. The creativity has allowed me to focus on my gratitude, to feel more confident in sharing my expression of self, to be messy and make mistakes, to feel the good stuff and the painful emotions, and try to have a more optimistic outlook. With an intention to live a more wholehearted life and to be brave, my perspective has changed greatly. I'm trying to unlearn years of socialization, with a leaning towards criticism, rigidity, and doubt. It's a big shift and I'm a work in progress. I'll add that going to therapy has been one of the best decisions I've made in recently years. Seriously, it's saved me again and again. I was once embarrassed to admit that I was talking to someone, but now I share it openly and find myself continually encouraging others to do the same. As a friend said recently, self care is sexy.
With that said, there's some hard shit right now. I feel myself slipping into grief and old coping habits and I need a reminder. I'm recalling the last intention from the Brene Brown e-course: My story matters because I matter. I'm looking back at old art journal entries and I'm reminding myself to continue the heart work. That it's important to live an authentic life. To give myself permission. To be brave. To create clearing and remember my calm map. To set intentions. To forgive, namely myself. To stop letting fear and shame hold me back.
I have an insatiable need for creativity right now and I'm thoroughly enjoying all forms of paper crafting once again. I've been so focused on other forms of creativity (mostly quilting and embroidery) the last few years that it's been a long time since I've busted out my stamps and dug through my stacks of paper that have been collecting dust. Art journaling helped me rediscover my interest in scrapbooking, only this time I'm integrating mixed media techniques. This is a messier, less refined, and free-form type of scrapping and I adore it. Namely, it lets me use my scrapbooking tools in new ways.
Here's a recent page I made for my friend Katy's birthday in tribute to her two adorable dogs.
Week five of Brene Brown's e-course highlights the importance of music, song and dance in living a wholehearted life. Don't I know it. While my favorites have changed throughout the years, music has always been vitally important to me. I've often dreamt of being a singer, playing an instrument, joining a band, and going on tour. My first career aspirations were to be a singer, namely Madonna. Much to my family's disdain, I loved to sing, loudly, and with lots of emotion. Unfortunately, I wasn't gifted with any musical talent whatsoever. For real. While my voice leaves much to be desired, my enthusiasm for music continues.
Now one of my favorite activities is attending the concerts of the musicians I adore. With summer quickly approaching, I'm particularly thrilled about the onset of outdoor concerts. Portland has some fantastic venues and I have a slew of amazing concerts lined up in the next few months. My wallet cries, but my heart is happiest watching live music, singing along with friends, and dancing as the sun fades.
This week's art journal prompt was to create an authenticity playlist with a song that lifts you up, a song that you love to dance to, a song you want to sing along to, a song to get you through tough times, and a feisty song. Creatively, I believe this is my favorite art journal spread to date and the process came easily. The hardest part of this journal was determining my favorite song for each category. I quickly decided not to limit myself to just one and picked three songs for each. As I was creating the page, I had an actual playlist of these songs on in the background. Our house is typically filled with music, but it was little louder and there was even more dancing this week.
Here's some closeups of the pages and my favorites for each category.
What is my superpower or that thing I'm area I excel? What's the kryptonite or the aspects of my superpower that aren't serving me well? These are questions I continued to explore in week 4 of Brene Brown's art journaling e-course. This is also the week that prompted me to finally share my blog with others. I'd been blogging for weeks, but had only shared it with a couple folks. In declaring that I will own my superpower, I decided I will own my creative expression and share it publicly via facebook, instagram, and pinterest. Here I go being vulnerable and letting my protective walls down. I kept asking myself, what am I so afraid of? Why am I hiding my passion from others? I am an imperfect artist or writer and why does that matter to me so much? What am I losing out on for fear of vulnerability?
I also kept ruminating on this quote from Teddy Roosevelt that Brene shared in Daring Greatly: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I stewed on several ideas (and had a productive therapy session where I explored this further) before deciding upon "leader" as my superpower. I've spent the last few years trying to shy away from being a leader, both socially and professionally, but it's who I am and I'm working to own it. Of course the kryptonite came to me easily.
Week four of Brene Brown's Oprah e-course exploring the second half of her book, The Gifts of Imperfection was challenging. The intention and the art journaling were hard. That said, both the wholehearted work and the creative exploration have really stuck with me. This week's intention was cultivating meaningful work - letting go of self doubt and supposed to. I asked myself a lot of questions this week. What brings meaning and purpose in my life? How do I define meaningful work? Am I already doing my life's work? If not, could I make a living doing this work? Is there other work I need to ensure I integrate outside of my day job? So many questions.
Inspired by Flora Bowley's book, I decided to try some brave intuitive painting of my own. My goal is to take one of Flora's local painting retreats or better yet one of her retreats in Bali. I dream of painting and doing yoga on the beach. One day. Excuse the darkness of the first photo, but this was where I started. Without any clear idea, I began adding acrylic paint to paper with my hands, a credit card, palet knife, spray bottle, etc. She encourages layers up layers of paint, allowing your gut to determine what happens next.
I'm a slow, methodological, over-thinking, planner when it comes to most things in my life, including making art. While I'm trying to let go and be more intuitive, I'm a work in progress. This art journal entry especially stumped me, because I wasn't sure where to go with each step. I was frustrated with my color choices and doubting the process so I covered it all up with with a light coating of gesso. And then I regretted covering it up. And then I had no idea what I was going to do next so I walked away. I had a friend in town visiting, which gave me a welcome reprieve.
Coming back a couple days later, I was able to see some direction and had an idea of where I was headed. The clouds, rain, and the firefly began to emerge. Next, I added more layers of acrylic paint, spray ink, stencils, and stamps.
Lastly, I added the three words that help me to define meaningful work, along with the intention of owning my superpower. I stamped the words on a vintage map, used soft gel medium to adhere it, a light layer of gesso, and a sharpie paint pen to outline the words. Finito.
Continuing with week 3 of Brene Brown's e-course and the intention of cultivating a practice of calm and stillness, I completed the following art journal spread. For the first page we were prompted to share a photo of the place that represents calm for us. That was easy. I could have chosen any beach photo, but I knew it had to be a photo of the ocean. Whether its the Oregon coast or my favorite beaches in Kaua'i, the ocean is my favorite place to find calm. Next, I mapped out my calm practice with core strategies that help me keep my cool. I also included my legend with the guidelines that help me when things get stressful. Truth be told, I can be a spitfire, easily riled and reactionary, and it's hard to change years of learned behavior. The legend represents the essentials that help me stay calm and centered, while acknowledging that there will be times I screw up and have to start all over.
Moving into week 3 of Brene Brown's e-course, the next guidepost and intention focused on calm and stillness. Play (week 2) is a large part of my life already, but I really struggle with slowing down and finding stillness. I am constantly go go go. I make to-do lists in my sleep. My brain has a hard time shutting off and sleep has become problematic in the last few years. I started taking a yoga class in January (Fat Yoga and it's awesome!) and that has helped. However, the last five minutes of yoga, during shavasna, are always the hardest. The goal is to create more clearing in my life and to integrate more moments of stillness.
With this art journal spread I wanted to integrate collage again, but I wanted the paper piecing to be more visible. I painted a bird onto the collaged paper and then added background paint and stencils. Following Portlandia's Put a Bird on It skit, I've heard many a joke about the bird mania in this town. It's true, I love birds. I am that person. I've been making bird and owl crafts (pillows and broaches mainly) for years. I have no shame for my bird love!
During this course we're encouraged to be brave and share our journals with the e-course community via the Courage Board. While I still have self doubt every time I post, it's been really encouraging to see the posts made by others and it makes it easier to share mine. I don't think I would have started this blog if I hadn't started sharing there first. I was happily shocked (seriously, heart racing and HOLY SHIT!) when I went to the website one day to see my journal page above featured on the front page of the courage board! The photo was also included in emails that went out that week regarding the course. Truthfully, I was also a little horrified. I don't even know what I was so afraid of or (the exposure? critiques?), but I talked to my friend Vanessa (who is the greatest of encouragers) and reminded myself that those were shame gremlins and "brave" is my word for this year.