Book Recommendation: Day Three

Many, many years ago, on New’s Years Eve, I had written down all the things I had wanted to accomplish in the next year. I wrote the list on one of the pages in the front of my Day-Timer, and promptly forgot all about it. A year later, when I went to put the next year’s calendar refill into my Day-Timer, I found it again. When I read it, I was floored because I had accomplished every single thing on the list, and these weren’t small things, these were really big dreams that I had, dreams I had no idea how to “make” happen, things like “become a firefighter.”

downloadAfter that experience, I wanted to know more about why that had worked so well. That is when I came across my next book recommendation: Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. This is another of my permanent collection books. It is a book I turn to when I need a sense of hope. Klauser discusses her own experiences with writing things down and how miraculous the practice was at created what she wanted in her life. I am always looking for ways to believe in some kind of magic while still having a sense of control about it. This practice of writing things down is something that has worked well for me since.

In my experience, it seems the act of writing things down, and then letting them go (out of my mind), works best. I have a very large glass jar that it’s very difficult to get things out of and is dark blue so I can’t see into it. I write things I am most anxious about, things I wish I could have, and big dreams I hope to accomplish onto little strips of paper and then drop them into the jar. Every new year, I shake out the papers from the jar, and I am astounded by how many things 1) I forgot I had written down and 2) were miraculously taken care of. So many of them were HUGE worries that I was incredibly anxious about, and I was amazed at how they seemed so small in hindsight (once they were magically resolved of course). However, if there are things that I pull out of the jar that have not been resolved or achieved, then I re-evaluate whether they are sill important to me, and if they are, I drop them back into the jar for the next year. It is a practice that is very similar to that first New Year’s resolution list I wrote in my Day-Timer and then forgot about, and it is, to date, the most successful practice I’ve had that has allowed me to be able to look back on the things that I’ve wanted, written down, and dare I say, made happen.

Daily Art Devotions: Day 40

I did it! I completed the 40-day #DailyArtDevotions Art Journal Journey with Elizabeth Foley. I have enjoyed expanding my creativity with the daily prompts. I really enjoy flipping through the journal and looking at everything I’ve created. I do still have to paste into the journal some of the entries that I created on separate paper. Along with those I’m going to add some other pieces I’ve created these last forty days, and I believe those together will fill up the entire book. Yay!

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve made a commitment to once again return to finishing my novel. I’ve joined a six-week writing program that offers support, structure, accountability, and fear busting so that I can fulfill my one main goal this year: having a polished first draft of my novel completed by 12/31/18. This novel continues to call to me no matter what I’ve done over the last seven years to avoid writing it. It’s clearly a story that must be told.

I don’t know how much art I will be doing over the next six weeks, but I am considering doing a short blog post each day to share my favorite line from that days writing. I realized today, as I was speaking with Elizabeth Foley, that I love art so much because of the connections I’ve made. Writing is a lonely process and there isn’t a beautiful piece of art to share at the end of each day. Connections get lost, and since I’m already fairly isolated, losing those connections is difficult for me. So, I will have to come up with a creative way to connect even while dedicating myself to completing my novel.

For the final day of this art journal journey, my page represents the gift of gratitude. I put gesso on the page first. Then I filled the entire page with what I’m grateful for in turquoise ink. I then added more gesso and some gold acrylic paint and used a brayer to spread them both across the page. I then added some Brusho Crystals in red and violet and sprayed them with water. Once the background was complete, I added my present made with cardstock with an embossed mandala (which is the first time I’ve embossed anything! Woohoo!). I then added a bow on the top with gold ribbon. And my gift of gratitude is complete as is this special journey ❤️

Planting A New Story

Today, I stepped into a creative flow that I haven’t experienced very often, but hope to experience much more often in the future. In my writing practice, I have been doing something different. I have been coming to the blank page and writing what comes to me, and it is working! I wrote 2000 words today, and a part of the puzzle was put into place.

I normally write in a chronological way, and I get stuck wondering…what happens next??? and my creative flow just stops. But when I come to the blank page, and just write a description of whatever image I see or words I hear in my head, scenes just start to branch out from there, and I spent most of the time trying to get it all down in a frenzied state. Another approach that has been working for me is starting out asking the question “What if…” at the top of the blank page and then creating a scene with whatever comes to my mind first.

Today, an image and words showed up. My protagonist emerged as an 8 year old in an orphanage and said to me, “I was angry all the time, even at a very young age. I could never figure out where the anger came from.” And the story just took off from there.

Stepping into the creative writing flow might have something to do with taking the weekend off from writing. I decided on a creative practice routine which includes writing Monday through Friday and then making art on Saturday and Sunday. My grandmother passed away on Saturday, August 25th, and that brought me into the space of grieving. Maybe moving into a different space, created space for my creative mind to slow down and breathe. As I sat on the couch last night, binge watching television, an idea I had had before for an art journal project I’m working on came back to me in a sudden flash. I have been creating an art journal using pages from Meera Lee Patel’s Start Where You Are and an art journal I made by hand. I ripped out the next page in the book which had to do with leaving behind old stories that no longer work for you. You can see the page from the book on the left side of the spread below with my flower embellishments. On the right, is the layered garden I created with my old stories/beliefs, black gesso, textured paintbrush ends, gel pens, my new stories/beliefs, watercolor paints, and Gelatos. Along with the pictures below, I discuss the process I used to create the garden.

The prompt from the book was “What do you wish you could leave behind?” So, I wrote my answers out all over the page as you can see below. They included old stories I have been living through the lens of and old, worn out beliefs that I have been living by.

Then I covered them all up with a homemade black gesso (I mixed black acrylic paint with white gesso) as a way to erase them, but also to create the soil to sow the seeds of new stories and new beliefs. Then I ran a textured paintbrush end all along the page to till the soil.

Then I added some embellishments with watercolors and with a gold gel pen wrote out my new stories and my new beliefs that I want to embody to serve as a kind of fertilizer for the garden, and then added golden dots throughout to serve as seeds.

Then on top of that layer, I added the blooms using watercolors and Gelatos to signify the blooming of these new stories and new beliefs in my life.

Day Seventy-Five

Today is my 75th day of daily creative practice. I’m still dealing with a migraine, though it’s milder today, so I’m not feeling quite as celebratory as I might be otherwise.

I am proud of my accomplishment, but it is now time for me to take a break and start working on my novel again. My intention is to have a polished draft completed by December 31st. I’m not sure how an art practice will fit into my writing practice. I am hoping I have time for both, but writing will take precedence.

For my creative practice today, I wanted to represent the red thread that connects everything in my life. Though my life seems fractured and disconnected right now, I have faith one day it will all come together and make sense.

Fantastic Beasts: Day One and a Little Magic

Today has been a magical day!

Of course, it started out like any other ordinary day, as most magical days do. I finished editing a chapter of a friend’s novel, and then I began Marielle Stolp’s Fantastic Beasts Ever After 2018 lesson. I decided to do the painting on 11 x 15 watercolor paper, which is the largest paper I’ve completed a piece of art on in my life! The sketch for the painting took me six hours to complete, and I absolutely love it! I’m excited to ink and paint it, but I’m exhausted, so that will have to wait for another day. Though completing such a large sketch is quite magical for a beginning artist like me, that is not what made today so special.

As many of you may know, I am a writer. Writing is something I’ve been doing since I was a child. Many of you may also know that I’ve been working on a novel for seven years, but have been stuck for many of those years. I know this novel needs to be written. I know it is something that will bring hope and peace to many once it’s done. But…it’s the getting done that’s the issue.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on Facebook and came across a post about a scholarship to a writing conference and fiction workshop. After a long hiatus, I decided to return to my beloved novel and polish up the first scene of the first chapter and submit it for the scholarship. The decision of who won was supposed to be made last Friday, so I assumed, since I hadn’t heard anything, that I had not won. I felt disappointed, and started down that “my writing isn’t good enough” road. Over the last ten years, I have applied for a scholarship to this conference two other times and did not win, so the disappointment ran deep. I allowed myself some time to feel the disappointment, and then I returned to a focus on my art.

While sketching today, I stopped to take a break and checked my e-mail. As I was scrolling through I saw “Congratulations, Scholarship Winner.” I opened the e-mail, and there it was: “You’ve been selected to receive a scholarship…” So many emotions flooded through me, but what really mattered most was that someone, other than me, believed in my writing enough to grant me a scholarship to attend a conference and workshop that will help me gain the tools I need to bring this novel to completion.

There is this energy I’ve been feeling lately both with my writing and my art. I can feel it building as I sit down to complete my daily practice. I don’t know where all this is going, but I’m showing up every day so I can find out! I can feel that shift everyone talks about happening to me, and I can’t wait to see where it all leads.

Woman Unleashed: Writing Spirit

Yesterday I listened to Lynn Andrew’s free #WomanUnleashed session, Writing Spirit. In the session she discussed the Writer’s Wheel which could also be called a life wheel or solve a problem wheel. I loved Lynn Andrews’ explanation on how we can use the wheel to stand in the center and identify where we are at (south), where we want to be & what practices we can implement to get there (west), look to spirit for inspiration and direction (north), and then evaluate what is and isn’t possible/feasible for us (east). I loved how she talked about starting in the south and then gathering information, practices, inspiration from the west and the north before encountering the critic in the east. Many of us start in the east with the inner critic and never make it any further around the wheel. I think it might be a useful trick to appease the inner critic by letting it know its concerns will only be addressed when its time comes and not before – that time being after all other directions – south, west, and north have been fully addressed. One step I took towards the west was applying for a scholarship to attend a workshop that I believe will help with getting me unstuck in my novel writing.For my sketchbook entry today, I drew an elaborate wheel in pencil and included important notes from the session. I had intended to then copy it all over in ink, but after adding watercolor to the page, I liked the pencil in the background. So, I decided to ink just a few things and then leave the rest in pencil.

In the Beginning

I recently signed up for a thirty-day “Find Your Flow” program with Karen Abend that begins on June 1st after taking part in her incredible Sketchbook Revival. My hope is that my participation in this program will help me to develop a daily practice of creating art. I have been a writer for as long a I can remember, but my struggle with persistent writer’s block, and despite it, an unquenchable desire to create, led me to art. I’m just a beginner, and don’t know much about anything, but I’m willing to give it a try anyway.

Something I’ve learned through my many starts and stops in my “creating art” journey is that it takes practice to develop skills and that learning is an on-going, life-long process – there is always something new to learn. I have come to realize that I allow myself  a freedom in art creation that I have not allowed in my writing practice. I can see now how I have blocked my own writing process because of the need to always be perfect the first time around – that somehow, because I earned an MFA in creative writing, I should know everything there is about writing and what the hell I am doing. I definitely do not. I’m okay with accepting that when it comes to art, but not my writing. Why? I don’t know. I am hoping that through my exploration of art creation, I can wind myself back around to a writing practice that actually works, and along the way develop some much-desired artistic skills. I have always been frustrated with the inadequacy of words to fully encompass what I see in my mind. I am hoping that developing artistic skills will help me to fuse the two together in a way that is self-satisfying. If you are called to do so, please follow along on my thirty-day journey…and then beyond.

*The above photo is a watercolor that I created in a handmade sketchbook I learned to create in Kiala Givehand’s Sketchbook Revival session.