This week I observed an important milestone. I finally finished my “Inspire” journal, which has served as my daily journal–and special life companion–for the last five months.
This is a special journal for me because of the way it began. From 2012 to 2015, I was enrolled in a graphic design program at a local college, while at the same time working 40+ hours a week at my job. For most of those three years, my nights, weekends, and summers were devoted to completing my coursework, and as a result I had little time left over for my personal art pursuits. While I did work in journals from time to time, it certainly wasn’t a part of my daily life because I simply didn’t have the time or energy to invest in it.
After receiving my degree this summer and reclaiming a large amount of free time, I resolved that my number one priority was to resume my daily journaling practice. One day in July I visited the local art store and purchased an 8 1/2 by 11″ Dylusions mixed-media journal, determined to jump right back in. I purchased lots of new supplies and even took a journaling course so that I’d have inspiration to spur me on.
Unfortunately, the journal sat on a table in my studio for over three weeks. I couldn’t even bring myself to open it. I was totally intimidated and felt paralyzed. It was like all of my creativity had dried up.
I finally started working on the cover, by collaging bits of paper to it. I ended up hating how it looked, so I covered it all with white gesso. After several more attempts in which I covered it with stuff and again covered it over with gesso, I finally decided to forge ahead and apply an image transfer. I found a drawing of a barren tree without leaves (a very fitting symbol for the way I was feeling about my art at that moment!), printed it, and tried to create a gel medium transfer. Of course, it didn’t turn out the first, second, or third times (gotta love those image transfers!), and by that point, I was convinced this journal just wasn’t meant to be, and that it’d be better for me to just toss the whole book in the trash. Even so, I persevered, and the fourth transfer succeeded. After that, I added some of my new spray inks, watercolor crayons, Washi tape, and stickers to finish the cover. While I felt good about that, opening the journal revealed tons of blank pages–and I was struck with fear all over again!
It wasn’t until August 8 that I started my first page. It was, frankly, very frightening. At every moment I was tempted to tear it out and start over. But I didn’t. I forced myself to carry on until it was completed. And from that moment on, I didn’t look back. It was like the dams had been opened, and all of the creative energy that had been pent up for three years burst through and filled the pages, one by one.
This week on January 18, I completed the 27th and final page in the journal. It is finished!
Besides being a companion and confidante on my journey these past five months, this journal has opened some doors that surely would’ve remained closed had I not decided to swallow my fear and get to work. I overcame my fear of putting my work “out there” by posting my pages to Orly Avineri’s wonderfully supportive Facebook group, A Stand For Art Journaling, and also made many new friends in the mixed-media community. In addition, another mixed-media artist and author saw some of the pages from this journal on Facebook, and invited me to contribute some of my journaling work to her new book project, which was definitely one of the highlights of 2015 for me. (please see my last post from January 20 for more information). Some of the pages in this journal will also be appearing in the spring 2016 issue of Somerset Apprentice magazine.
What’s next? I recently purchased another Dylusions journal to work in, and also have some old children’s board books I’d like to alter. Whatever I decide to do, I know that I just need to keep going, and not allow silly fears and frustrations to get in the way. Art can create new possibilities in life, but you have to actually make art in order for that to happen.
Hope you are all having a great weekend, and that art is a part of it!