The colours in the picture are off given the orangish tinge to my living room lighting but I had to write and post this now while it was still fresh in my mind and I knew what I wanted to say.
The second prompt this chapter in the Journal Junkies book is pivotal people (yes the full six double pages I did previously were all from the first prompt) and it led to it’s own kind of enlightenment concerning the way I view others from my past. I began by writing down what being a pivotal person in my life is, the kind of influence someone has on me for me to consider them pivotal and I realised that it’s the people that make me learn something about myself to take forward and work with that I consider pivotal and influential to me.
This was a good starting point so thinking back I began to list all the people that I considered pivotal, from the first teacher I had in primary school that saw value in my creativity and encouraged it in a way that many others later in life did not to the ex husband I am divorcing and woefully regret marrying. Looking back over my list it really hit me, when I saw how many people on it I associated with negative experiences in my life, that the most pivotal people have been the ones that I feel have wronged me and hurt me in a deep way.
All this time I have been looking at what they did, how I responded to it and never really processed it because I was unable to see the value in what they did to me beyond the negative feelings I still held for them. Sure there were good times with each of them but interestingly it wasn’t the good times that taught me anything or made me really look inside myself. No, it was the bad stuff, the crap, the negative actions that did, I just didn’t see it until now and because of that I haven’t really been able to let go of what I feel they did and my emotional reaction to it.
This page began as a lightbulb because of this sudden enlightenment on my part but it became two fold as what I wanted to say tied in with the image like it was meant to be. You can just about see all the writing underneath the yellow bulb itself and on the plain area to the right of the spread, hidden under all that black paint because I didn’t want the rawness of that moment of realisation to really be something anyone else could read. I found myself scribbling things I never thought I’d see myself write, hear myself say or recognise I’m thinking, strangely the words were not I forgive you, no matter how much I utter them they never really alleviate the emotions and the core of the issue. It was thank you, from the bottom of my heart thank you for all the hurt you sent my way. I finally accepted the feelings I had by saying thank you for the catalysts that brought them about. The writing on the page reads:
Thank you for the light you shone on my life and the lessons you taught me through your actions.
I think that sometimes that light from others can be so bright, harsh and painful that we can’t see beyond it. We cower from it because it starkly highlights things we don’t want to face about ourselves. Rather than look at those past interactions and feel like the victim (however justified we may or may not be in that role) we need to look at them with gratitude because, while the lessons were hard, they were all the more valuable because of that.
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The first page in my new journal is done, leaving a space at the bottom to fill in the end date once it is filled. I really wanted to put in the cross stitch kit I did over the last couple of evenings as it’s the first bit of cross stitching I’ve done in a fair while. I used water colours, gouache and different pens but most important is what I intuitively wrote in the border…
Time to let go and create, freely, openly, playfully, without worry or fear, it’s all beautiful, it’s all art. Every page is an expression of what is in your soul, an act of love made more powerful in giving it space to just be. Art is healing, the deepest healing there is because it heals your soul. Let your creativity heal you.
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I finally got too annoyed with my ring binder art journal to continue with it. The book had been grating on me for a while thanks to the binding separating my pages and the paper around the rings weakening to a point they were beginning to tear out thanks to the amount of stuff I tend to layer up on them. It was time, I decided, to make a replacement as I was beginning to dread opening the thing. What remains in the sketchbook itself will get recycled into another new journal in the future, it was going to go in this on until I realised I had a pack of lovely thick watercolour sheets under my desk just begging to be used for this project.
The book has five signatures of three A4 sheets (folded in half) of 300gsm watercolour paper and bound with DMC thread to match the cover.
The hard back cover is made out of recycled packaging, reinforced with papers and pva and then covered in pretty patterned paper that I had in my paper draw. some stamping and doodling later and this is what I had.
Inside the paper is yummy and thick, textured and white. I’m a very tactile person and love feeling the paper I’m working on, usually I end up stroking the pages before I actually put anything on them (yep, I’m a little weird like that!).
Overnight, despite flattening the cover papers out and them being fine for hours, they bobbled a bit so I added a few embellishments to the worst areas and it really helped me to feel that the book was finished and ready. I had tried not to go ‘pretty’ with it’s look but apparently, pretty is what I need right now and just what happened to it. It closes with a button and thread closure and I daresay soon I’ll find a bead or two to add to the closure thread.
I’m very happy with it even though it is nothing like I intended it to be when I set out making it a few days ago and I know that the pages are sturdy in there and will not irritate me. Lesson learned, ring binder sketchbooks are not for me!
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Sometimes connecting happens without intention. A long while ago I made a pastel sketch in black and white down by the sea when I was feeling foggy and overwhelmed. I needed help, guidance, something and the sea called to me. It was freezing down there and very windy, I took a small sketchbook and pastels with me, hunkered down on a big flat rock in the middle of the beach with wrapped up in all my warmest things, a hat and my hood over my head and drew. Once I had finished I had the image of a woman rising out of the waves. The sketch came home with me and that afternoon I played around with inks in my ring binder sketchbook and created a watery looking background, there it sat until a couple of days ago.
For some reason I reconnected that day with the water spirit I met on the beach. I was flicking through my sketchbook looking at the pages, wanting to do something but not really knowing where to begin when I came across that watery, inky page and in the swirls and swishes I saw the shape of her head. Ten minutes later, fingers covered in chalky pastels and she had materialised on the page. Nothing fancy, she was quick and just suddenly there and that, to me, is the essence of connecting. It’s fast, free of fear, guided, it just happens with no thought to it just a sense of rightness much like when I heal.
I don’t know her name, I think she is really more of an essence than a specific being but the point is she wanted me to connect and do it quickly, without thought, no labouring over her image, no paint, no judging with a critical eye just doing, accepting and allowing her to be on my page.
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In the end, as you can see, I decided to post a picture of my finished blessings board. In this photo it’s sat on my easel in the front room before I relocated it to my bedroom. It has a whole mix of images to represent the different things I’m grateful for in my life as well as single words and I’m really happy with how it has turned out. I was balking for quite a while at finishing this, I found it immensely hard to count my blessings when I wanted to wallow in self pity and just be down, but finishing it and hanging it has helped. The board is not just a reminder, it’s a dedication to my blessings, a visual affirmation of what I have in my life so that I can’t deny what I have when I’m on a downer.
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‘Connecting’ this month has really meant reconnecting with myself more and more, not just what makes me tick but my past, the people who have had big effects on my life and where I am up to this point in my life. Just rediscovering who I am has given me a huge amount of insight into my character and how I think and react to the things that happen to me and have happened to me.
Some of it has made me smile, some of it has made me face pain that I’ve been trying to avoid and not revisit, but all of it has been valuable. It has helped to make it visual, even those bad memories that have haunted me on and off almost become more appealing when made into something visual, maybe it’s just my feelings towards them have changed by letting myself explore them more openly through my Moleskine and the Journal Fodder prompts or maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve recognised them and given them their own visual expression.
I could probably easily write an essay on this so I’ll leave it there and end with pictures of the pages I’ve done so far. There’s still much to work through but I’m definitely finding that pacing myself is critical, especially given the rawness of some of the emotions I have been working through.
This page is really still about me but more through the ages as I had a lot of pictures that I wanted to include somewhere.
My parents, basically they are the building blocks of my body, they made me who I am and brought me up in a way that has influenced how I deal with things and what I look for in life.
This one is looking at me and my brother, polar opposites and yet at times very similar. I realised I see a lot of our differences in my children.
Spirituality, one of the biggest things in my life and something that has always been there in a very natural way.
I hadn’t intended to do a page on school, my memories are quite negative in many ways of this time and yet I did really need to look at why that is and explore it. I find it amusing how the page has stayed quite bland and, at least to me, has that ‘school’ feel to it. It wasn’t something intentional but I really like it now despite the subject matter.
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The various stages of my I AM page, part of my Journal Fodder 365 exploration trying out the Moleskine brand journal.
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