100 days of story (week 13)

The time has come for a showdown between The Silent Woman and The North Wind!

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

Without further ado, here are the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

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The Ancient Ones

There are some images that appear on the page, whether it is a page of writing or of visual art, that keep coming back in different forms over time. For me, one image that keeps returning is that of The Ancient Ones.

Years ago, when I was doing my MA in creative writing at Middlesex University, I was working on a fantasy novel that drew heavily on Russian folklore and mythology. As I was researching the figure of Koschei the Deathless, I came across his twelve sisters and immediately fell in love with them. They were keepers of wisdom, the magical aunts and grandmothers we have always longed for, overflowing with rich delicacies, long-forgotten secrets, and a hearty dose of love. (Note: As I write this post, I can’t seem to find any mention of them on the internet! Did I imagine it all?)

The twelve ladies arrived just as the last of the day’s visitors were leaving. They had palest skin with blushing red cheeks and were all rather tall. A few of them walked with sticks and they shared between them an enormous array of scarves, umbrellas, coats and jackets, handbags and women’s magazines. They wheeled along a red wooden cabinet, painted with green leaves and small yellow flowers. As they removed their coats and entered the house, the smell of pine cones and chocolate cake wafted around them.

A few years later, they reappeared during NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) in the form of the Last Storytellers of Cremone. You can read the full poem here.

… They promise to tell one story
for each round of fabric
that is unwound from their heads.
And as they talk, all that they have carried
falls onto the floor:
painted tea-pots, silver thimbles and spoons,
wedding dresses, candlesticks,
waistcoats and blankets sewn by hand.
We sit on the floor and laugh.
They strip the night from my eye.
They tell the story of the king of the wind.
They voice the jewels of my own wonder …

Then, last year, while I was taking part in Initiation: Into the sacred feminine at EarthHeart UK, I had an image of The Ancient Ones, sitting in a circle beneath a sky of stars.

Since that time, they have continued to appear in my art. I find myself doodling their faces while talking on the phone:

And since I introduced them into my art journal, they keep popping up everywhere!

After completing the Initiation training at EarthHeart, I went on to participate in the Cauldron of Pearls feminine leadership training. I knew The Ancient Ones had to take centre stage on the cover of my notebook!

Their latest appearance is as The Grandmothers in my 100 day project, in which I am telling a story in words and illustrations, one page each day for 100 days.

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

If you’d like to have a go drawing faces in the style of these women, check out my one-minute video – part of the Ask an Artist series over at the Get Messy Art Journal.

What form will they take next? I will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I can only say that my life is richer since they appeared on the scene.

A Messy Conversation

Today I had the great pleasure of being interviewed for Get Messy Art Journal by one of my favourite Messy Artists, the fabulous Misty Granade.

We talked about my creative story so far, the things that inspire me to create, how there’s no such thing as a beginner, and a whole lot more.

Here is the replay of the interview for you to enjoy!

100 days of story (week 7)

This week I find myself in the heart of the story. The Silent Woman is reunited with her mother and together they enter the Land of the Dead.

They come to a circle of ancient women — the Silent Woman’s grandmothers and great grandmothers going back for many generations.

These ancient women have kept appearing in my art over the past year. I am so happy to see them here, at the heart of the story. And I am not surprised, having just returned from a beautiful weekend with my circle of soul sisters at EarthHeart UK.

100 days of story (week 5)

For most of this past week I was away at a yoga retreat in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. We were up early in the morning for pranayama followed by a full day of yoga asana practice (plus walking, eating, chatting and napping!)

I was determined to continue my story each day but a little unsure if I could make this happen. I was also unsure I would be able to continue to post each day’s instalment on Instagram, as the internet situation was uncertain. I’m happy to say that both things were possible!

This week our heroine finds herself not only in the depths of the ocean but also in deeper and deeper trouble. If only the North Wind hadn’t taken her voice, she would be able to explain herself! But then she would never have set out on this journey at all and there would be no story to tell.

Without further ado, here is the last week’s story. Thanks so much for following along with me. Enjoy!

100 days of story (week 3)

Another week has gone by in the 100 day project and I have to say I AM LOVING IT! More often than not, I am creating the pages last thing at night and the whole atmosphere is one of a cosy bedtime story.

One of the things I’m loving most is the return to working with black markers and drawing pens, something I haven’t done so exclusively since before I discovered art journaling, when I was predominantly making comics and cartoons. I feel like this project is bringing together so many of the things I love: writing, making art, and telling a story.

It’s especially fun posting the latest page each day on Instagram and receiving live comments and feedback from friends who are following along with the story as it unfolds. “Don’t trust the fish!” “Watch out, there will be a catch!” This interactive element feels very much like telling a story to a live audience. You can catch up on the story so far here and here and you can follow #divyams100daysofstory over on Instagram if you would like to read a little bedtime story each night.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the last 7 days of the story. Enjoy!

100 days of story (week 2)

Although 100 days might seem like a long time, in the life of a story 100 lines is not that long at all. 14 days in, I find myself already deep into the heart of things. And even though I don’t know what will happen one day to the next, I can feel that the story has its own life. I just need to turn up each day and the next small piece appears on the page.

You can read the first week of the story here.

This week, our heroine finds herself becoming The Silent Woman in the eyes of the village. But help and guidance is at hand…

Enjoy!

Rituals class – March

The theme for March in the Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd was balance. This included the areas of balance in our lives and also the places where we are out of balance. To support our exploration, we used the technique of intuitive painting.

The lunar spread was all about where we are out of balance. The page above is called ‘Reaching for the impossible flower I am split from myself’. I have been really aware lately of how this striving to be more or do more than I am totally throws me off balance. I become split into parts: the one who exists in some impossible future being super productive and involved and amazing and the one here and now who somehow falls short and can never quite catch up.

I have been both completely enthralled by this whole intuitive painting approach and at the same time it’s been quite a rollercoaster! I went through moments of loving it and then hating it. We worked in layers without any preconceived idea of where we were headed. Here is a short slide show which shows the progression of the layers.

 

The solar spread is about where we are in balance in our lives. It is called “In the arms of something bigger, I am in balance.” Below are some pictures I took as the page progressed. As I worked through the layers, I saw this strong bird woman emerging. I continued to add different elements but felt unsure about it all. Had I added too much?

I liked the page the best when there was just the bird woman on it. Once I had added more elements and figures to the page it began to feel chaotic and out of balance. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go back! At one point I was ready to paint over everything except the bird woman.

Fortunately I had the good sense to take a break and step back from the page for a while. I showed it to the rest of the Rituals group and they all said, “It’s perfect as it is!” This helped me to settle with it and realise that I liked it just as it was. Sometimes we need to borrow the eyes of our friends when it’s hard to get enough distance from something we’ve been working with.

The woman on the left is reaching for something, perhaps the whole world. I can now see how this reaching is an important element to this theme of balance.

I loved this intuitive painting process so much. I have been reading Flora Bowley’s book Brave Intuitive Painting (recommended by Vanessa). I also bought a large canvas and have been experimenting further with the whole intuitive painting approach. More to come on that!

My word for this month is renewal. Perfect for recovering from the winter bug and stepping into Spring!

Wishing you all a good April. I hope the flowers are beginning to blossom wherever you may be in the world.

Divyam xxx

Season of Kindness (part 2)

Of all the seasons I have experienced so far at Get Messy, the Season of Kindness seems to be having the biggest impact on the state of my heart. So many of the prompts and tutorials have had a healing or meditative focus. As a result, the time spent in my art journal has felt even more nourishing than usual.

The page above was created in response to a prompt on the subject of forgiving ourselves as an act of kindness. There’s something so powerful about making art as a vehicle that can move you from one way of feeling about a situation to another. I had intended the two faces to be me looking at the people I feel I have wronged in the past and who I now wish well. By the time I finished the page, I also felt I was looking at myself, wishing myself well too.

I was inspired by fellow Mess Maker Clare Davis Etherdige to play around with sumi ink. This in turn reminded me of my favourite quote from the Tao te Ching:

The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people
the way back to their own true nature.

Simplicity and ordinariness seem to me to be qualities related to kindness. I set out intending this page to be very simple but simple isn’t my strong suit! Plus, I’m sort of obsessed by all these marks I learned in the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble.

Clare’s mandala tutorial was balm for my soul. I combined this mandala with a prompt about receiving kind words. Sometimes it’s hard to really receive kind words and take them to heart. The meditative process of making the mandala gave me the space to let the words sink in.

I painted a background as part of Clare’s instagram challenge, where we were taking one step each day towards creating a page. The trouble was, I liked this background so much, I didn’t want to cover it with anything. So I’ve left it as it is (for now!)

The page below is the one I ended up with at the end of the challenge. It’s called “Life’s adventure”. It was so much fun diving into each day’s task without knowing where it was all going.

A message from The Grandmothers:

This past week, it was my turn to take over the Get Messy Instagram account. I posted some quick and easy tutorials such as the kindness equation page below. Remember math equations on the blackboard at school? A + B = C ? I was wondering: what if we could write our own kindness equations? For example, I know that when I add some yummy cake and some warm tea and share it amongst friends, the result is love and kindness.

I also googled for inspiration around the theme of kindness. You know how when you start to type a phrase or question into Google and it completes it with a variety of suggested endings? I googled Kindness is like and Kindness is the new and some wonderful suggestions emerged. Each one was a great starting point for a page. The phrase “kindness is the best medicine” became the perfect prompt for this page in my daily art project:

I also made a kindness poem from newspapers and magazines.

Out of the blue
Your kindness feels
Like the worlds most sweet aromatic magic.
It is rock and roll
For my soul.

If you head over to the Get Messy Instagram account, you can still find these quick and easy tutorials in the story highlights at the top of the page. Check them out for some kindness inspiration!

“Is it time to let go?” — It felt very healing, making this spread from Tiffany Julia’s ‘s beautiful tutorial. I realised there are things I am ready to let go of and there are some things I am not yet ready to forgive and accept. Thank you, Tiffany, for leading us through such a wonderful process!

I mentioned in my first post on the Season of Kindness that this is the first time I have ever created a journal especially for a particular season. I am loving the way this little book is turning into a beautiful meditation on the theme of kindness with its own gentle and heartful energy. I’m not sure this would happen in the same way if I was including all sorts of other themes within the same book.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. To borrow the words of The Grandmothers: Be kind to yourself!

Until next time,

Divyam xxx

consulting the oracle… again!

I so loved my recent experience of making my own oracle cards, I had to do it again! So when I met with the lovely Tammy Hanna for an afternoon of art making at The British Library, we decided to create our own oracle cards together.

We each brought 32 small cards and laid them all out on the table. Then we made marks with watercolour, working on all our cards at once, bypassing the urge to over-focus on any one card and designate meaning. I didn’t feel complete until I had added some splatters (trying not to splatter Tammy’s cards at the same time!) My cards are on the left and Tammy’s beautiful cards are on the right.

We chatted while we waited for them to dry. Then we spent some time looking at our cards seeing what we could decipher. Creatures and scenes began to appear. I was going to trace the outlines of the shapes I was seeing in black like I did with my earlier deck, but as these were a gift for a friend, I felt I wanted to leave the meanings even more open.

I wrote a single word on each card. Then, back at home, I painted the backs of the cards. I used four different colour schemes although this was random, just for fun, not because I was categorising the cards in any conscious way.

I had great fun trying to figure out how to make a box for the cards. I placed the deck on some thick card and then traced a pencil outline round the deck, including its length, width, and height. I then folded the card along the pencil lines. In the end, it was much simpler than I had imagined it would be. This is what the card looked like before I stuck it together:

Once I had glued the box together and painted it, the set was complete!

All that remained was to wrap the cards in some handmade wrapping paper:

I thoroughly enjoyed this whole process from start to finish. And it felt so satisfying to give a gift to a friend that came from both my heart and my imagination. Below are a few of my favourite cards from the deck:

Thank you for reading! You can see all 32 cards in the oracle deck here.

Consulting the oracle

I think I may have discovered my most favourite thing ever: making my own oracle cards!

The inspiration for this project came from the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen. I loved her approach of not having any fixed ideas before or even during the process. Instead we went abstract, splattering paint and making marks, working on many cards simultaneously. Only once the image-making was complete did we explore what the cards might mean.

Oracle cards are meant to connect you with the richness of your subconscious and super-conscious. This is so much more powerful when the images have actually come from deep within you, bypassing your conscious mind.

The one thing I did decide, which came to me once I started playing with paint on the cards, is that I wanted there to be four sections, designated by colour: yellow for creativity and joy, green for nature and the body, blues for spirit and wisdom, and red for love and friendship.

First I splattered some ink on the cards, covered it with gesso, then smushed some acrylic paint around in the four colour categories. The resulting colours were too bright, so I covered the cards with white gesso once again which made it easier to see the shapes that were emerging.

I then traced the shapes that I saw with a black drawing pen. The images that came were surreal, dreamlike, and really felt like they came from the deeper reaches of my imagination.

I loved how many creatures and strange beings appeared!

Each one has its own atmosphere but, even now that the cards are finished, I don’t want to attribute any one specific meaning to them. They could mean all sorts of things depending on the context and situation. I haven’t yet decided, but I might give each one a cryptic title that points in a certain direction yet is still open.

I loved this process. It felt strengthening to connect to my own inner wisdom in this way. Now that I’m finished, I want to do it all over again! (Spoiler: I already have! This could become a habit!)

It felt so perfect to be connecting with my inner wisdom through this project during the Season of Connections at Get Messy. You can see more of my art from the season here.

You can see all 24 of the oracle cards here. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

What are you dreaming about? (part 1)

The Season of Connections has just started this week over at Get Messy! This set of pages is about the connection to my inner world. It is also the last page in my first ever art journal. I thought it would take no time at all to complete just one more page but I should have known the last one would be the most involved!

Here is a short video, showing how the two sides of this spread open out to reveal four female figures on the page beneath:

When I saw the folder at the back of the Moleskine journal, I thought it was the perfect chance to create a flap, inspired by a wonderful tutorial from @diekleineriet . I’m also at the point in the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen where we are looking at ‘The Holy Within’. I immediately thought of medieval triptych art (which sent me off into a frenzy of gold ink!) Add to the mix the ‘Initiation into the sacred feminine’ year-long training I have been so enjoying at EarthHeart in The Forest of Dean, and I had a pretty powerful mix of influences going into the creation of this page. You can see a wonderful diagram of the cycles of the Wombdala on EarthHeart UK’s instagram page.

During the Initiation training, we have been looking at the cycle of the seasons, phases of the moon, and the phases of a woman’s life cycle. I had always heard of the three stages of a woman’s life – maiden, mother, crone. In this map, however, along with the four seasons, there are four stages of a woman’s life: maiden, creatress, high-priestess, and crone. I love it that the later phases of a woman’s life are given more space here. I wanted to reflect these stages of life in my triptych. I added an extra flap so that the traditional three panels could become four.

As I was working on these four female figures, I chose colours that reflected the mood and energy of each phase of life. I thought about what has been important to me along my journey through life so far, and imagined what might be important to me as I move forwards on my journey. I included a symbol at the centre of each figure to represent the dreams and longings of each chapter of life.

It was only afterwards that I realised I hadn’t written the word love anywhere. Surely this is something important! And then I realised that perhaps each of these qualities is a facet or expression of love.

I have loved working in this art journal. We have been on quite a journey together, I am sad to reach the end! A big thank you to my friends at Get Messy for being the most incredible bunch of artists I could ever hope to meet. Onwards to the next journal!

But before I move on, I’d love to show you the pages of my completed art journal. I hope you’ll join me for part 2 of this post where I will include a video flip-through of the whole thing!

The Wheel of Time

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ – my first page for The Season of Fairy Tales, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

I was so excited when I heard about this particular season at Get Messy Art Journal. I have always loved fairy tales and imagined I could easily spend a year diving into the treasure chest of these beloved stories. But when the day came, I found I didn’t know where to start. There is so much I want to explore and this made it even more challenging to begin.

Inspiration came to me while I was enjoying a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ with some friends. The messages attached to each tea bag reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening:

In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

Magazine images are not usually my first point of call when I’m working on an art journal page. With a subject such as fairy tales, however, I suddenly realised how almost every magazine image draws upon our associations with these magical stories. The opulent gowns and jewels are straight out of Cinderella’s ball. The women are often portrayed archetypally as innocent maidens or sultry seductresses with magical powers.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, time works as a kind of antagonist. It cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time.

It occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time. So many of our struggles are ‘against the clock’, rushing to squeeze more hours into the day, or even more impossibly, trying to prevent our own aging processes (back to many of the adverts in magazines – “try this new product! It will work like magic and prevent you from getting old!”)

I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page:

I love how these little messages point to an inner experience and enjoyment of life – a realm in which the spinning wheel of time has no dominion. I might just go and brew a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ right now. I wonder what message is waiting for me today?

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

The Season of Colour

Last week saw the end of the amazing Season of Colour over at Get Messy Art Journal. Each week, there were wonderful prompts and tutorials exploring colour from all sorts of different angles. Here is my collection of colourful pages from the last six weeks.

I love working with colour, especially bright colour. So I was curious to see what a whole season devoted to this subject would unleash! I found myself going even further, giving myself permission to saturate the page.

After a short while, I felt I was floating in a universe of colour, much like the faces and figures in these pages:

It’s interesting how the figures in the last two pages are in exactly the same position. I had no idea of this until some time after the pages were complete.

After totally going for it with bright colour, I found I wanted to hang out in the cool and calm of a more muted spectrum.

This last page was especially cooling to make during the hot spell we were having!

I spent another few days at EarthHeart in the Forest of Dean, where I am participating in Initiation: Into the Sacred Feminine. The pieces I created when I returned from my time in the forest were filled with goddesses with amazing hair and women sprouting out of the ground like magical flowers.

Collage has always seemed a bit of a mysterious medium to me. This season I found I could get into it a little more, helped also by the Metamorph online art school classes I have been taking with Erin Faith Allen. Going over the top with colour somehow helped me to go over the top with collage, layering many pieces on top of each other, sanding then down, painting and scribbling over them.

This has been a season of many influences, and one of my favourite sources of inspiration has been the We Are All Artists – Creative Mindfulness Cards by Eleanor McComb. This is a wonderful deck of cards, each with a prompt for writing and art in the realms of mindfulness and creativity. The following pages were inspired by Card #6: Touch.

I have enjoyed this season tremendously and feel so lucky to have stumbled across the Get Messy art journaling community. It is truly wonderful to be a part of such a warm and welcoming community of fellow artists. The only consolation for the ending of this season is that there will be another one starting again next week! I wonder what it will be…?

A flip-thru of my art journal so far

So far, the pages of my art journal have appeared in this blog and elsewhere on the internet as single images. They look like standalone pieces when, in fact, they are all pages of a book. Each one follows on from the one before, forming a relationship, part of the same journey.

This is my first ever art journal and I’m excited to show it to you, even though it is not yet finished. I hope you will get a sense of the book-ness of it, how the art journal is simultaneously a question being asked, an answer being given, a journey, and a destination.

Books, historically, have been sacred. So it is by working in an intimate manner with a book that we develop a preciousness of self. There is a ritualistic aspect to opening  and closing a book: opening a book says I am here, I am ready to receive, and takes us into the world of unknowns where all sense of time disappears. Closing the book says I am ready to return to the known world.

Juliana Coles, Institute for Extreme Journalism

If you would like to have a longer look at any of the pages, feel free to pause the video or to browse through the images in a more leisurely fashion in the art journal section of the blog. Enjoy!

* * *

Music credits:
Deliberate Thought by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/?keywords=deliberate+thought
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Anatomy of an art journaling page

Many of the art journaling spreads I have done so far have been inspired by prompts and tutorials from the various classes I have taken and from the wonderful creative team over at Get Messy. One of the suggestions in the Initiation art journaling class I am taking with Juliana Coles is to choose a piece by another artist and use it as inspiration to springboard into your own work.

I chose a wonderful piece by Ines Seidel which I found in A World of Artist Journal Pages by Dawn Devries Sokol. I am including a glimpse of it below to show some of the things that inspired me but also to show just how far my piece had travelled by the time it reached the end of the process.

An art journaling piece by Ines Seidel from A World of Art Journaling Pages by Dawn Devries Sokol.

I loved so many things about this page: the simplicity of the colour scheme, the white empty spaces, the way ordinary objects – such as the houses in the landscape – became surreal when placed on top of the woman’s head. I loved the way the scribbled writing was used as part of the landscape and also surrounding the woman, perhaps like a cloud of thoughts. And I loved the way the text was included sideways, like smoke coming out of the chimneys of the houses.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to change the process to create my own page. I decided to choose one of the elements to start with and let that lead me onwards with my own sense of what should come next. I set about finding some phrases from Particles, Jottings, Sparks, my book of Rabindranath Tagore poetry, which I bought specially for use in this course. Once I had a bunch of phrases I liked, I rearranged a few of them to create a new poem:

This was the key that gave me a feel for creating my own spread. I decided I would echo Seidel’s use of the landscape but make the sky part much more prominent. It had to be BLUE! I made a simple pencil sketch of a figure walking (the unknown friend) over some rolling hills. Before I painted it blue, I felt drawn to add strips of all the blue washi tape that I have:

I painted the sky, blending together a few different shades of blue, and went over my pencil lines with a black Uniball pen:

I loved Seidel’s use of the scribbled writing and thought this would be the perfect cloud of “dust”, preventing the figure from seeing the blueness of the sky:

Even though I was drawn to Seidel’s use of white empty space, I found myself unable to leave all that white space in my own piece. The landscape felt too bare for me. So I stuck down bits of masking tape to create some texture and painted the area white. But it was STILL too bare for me. So I smudged in some grey paint as well. That felt much better!

Then the white bit in the middle (the rolling hills) started bugging me. So I wrote in pencil some of the words from the poem, adjusting the letters to fill each of the spaces. I smudged the pencil with my finger:

I had had the text ready and waiting to insert into the piece, but each time I wanted to put it in there, it seemed there was something else I needed to do first! (all the steps I just described). At last it was time to put the text into the piece. I placed some in the sky and some on the land. Ah… the piece felt complete!

This was SUCH a wonderful exercise. It showed me how each piece of art that I see can become a source of inspiration, something I can learn from. It also showed me that even if you include all sorts of things from another person’s page (and I included several!), if you follow your own impulses and sense of what you want to create in your own page, you aren’t going to end up with a copy of someone else’s work.

I’ve often looked through all sorts of amazing art in books and online and thought “Darn: how do they do that?” I feel excited that there is a way to be inspired, to try out different things, and to keep learning from all the wonderful artists there are in the world. Thank you for inspiring me, Ines Seidel! And thank you for your beautiful words, Rabindranath Tagore!

Taking in its hands
The flute of the Known,
The Unknown plays
Its manifold sounds.

– Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Sparks’

 

The ancient ones

I’ve never been into browns, either in my wardrobe or in my art. But having recently returned from a wonderful few days at The EarthHeart Centre in The Forest of Dean, I became curious about all the earthy tones at the bottom of my paint box.

I decided to make a palette and discover what these colours actually look like. Having always lumped them together under the heading brown, I was amazed to find these shades so much more beautiful, rich, and varied than I had imagined.

A palette of earthy tones

I started to get inspired, imagining ancient artworks and prehistoric cave paintings, and decided to start as I often do: simply laying some paint down on the page. Where I would normally find myself moving in some sort of narrative direction, this time I felt inclined to play with textures, scraping one layer away to reveal another beneath the surface. The piece below reminds me of a cave wall, rich in mineral deposits, layer upon layer built up over millennia.

When I posted something of my new fascination on Instagram, I discovered yet another wonderful aspect of being part of the Get Messy art journaling community: my fellow artist – the talented and inspiring Misty Granade – also became intrigued by these earthy tones. She had the wonderful idea to turn this exploration into a theme. Pretty soon, we were enjoying a week of adventuring in prehistoric territory together. Check out the hashtags #neutralsweek and #homemadecavepainting to see what we got up to! 

Dancing to the moon

I continued with layered backgrounds, now adding pictures and making marks in the spirit of prehistoric cave paintings. I drew on an ancient treasure trove of images to express something both archetypal and deeply personal, something from aeons ago that is also part of my recent 21st century experience. Dancing to the moon shows a group of women dancing together – a scene that took place, both thousands of years ago and also a week ago when I was at the second workshop of the year-long training, Initiation – Into the sacred feminine.

Grandmother touches the stars

It felt right not to include words in these pieces. The visual images remain free to shift from ancient times to the present and back again. This was also a relaxing change after the recent poetry-writing challenge of NaPoWriMo.

I’m so thankful to Misty for taking a moment of adventure into new territory and turning it into a themed exploration. It encouraged me to delve a little deeper than I might have done if I was just playing around with ideas on my own. And I loved all our exchanges about what we were discovering as the week progressed.

I’m now venturing back into the full range of colours. But I’m bringing a few things with me from my sojourn in prehistoric art: a new appreciation for earthy tones, a sense of the timeless quality of visual language, and an awareness that my own experience can connect me to a collective experience, thousands of years old. I look forward to seeing how all this translates into the forthcoming pages of my art journal!

Birth Story

It’s turning out to be an interesting season at Get Messy this time round! During the last season – The Season of Art 101 – I followed many of the prompts and tutorials, and the pages I created were very clearly influenced by these choices. During this season – The Season of Contrast – I have been primarily involved with the NaPoWriMo poetry-writing challenge. So, while I have enjoyed reading the prompts and watching many of the amazing tutorials that are on offer at Get Messy, I haven’t set out to work from many of them directly.

And yet, when I look at the pieces I have created, I can see that they are very much influenced by all I have been absorbing along the way. It’s as if the theme of contrast is working away in my subconscious: here and there, black and white, big and small. It occurs to me that my indirect and oblique way of working this time round is in contrast to my very intentional and directed way of working last season. It would seem that contrasts are everywhere!

This piece came out of an assignment for the Initiation art journaling course with Juliana Coles at The Institute For Extreme Journalism. After yesterday’s piece, Make the sounds, I felt like revisiting the stark black and white together with a limited colour palette.

Friday night in my little boat,
arriving on the shores of this world.

Unless I happen upon a window of opportunity tomorrow, this will probably be my last poem for April. I am heading off on a workshop out of town that will take me through to the start of the merry month of May. What better way to end my NaPoWriMo experience than with a piece about beginnings!

Thank you so much for all the encouragement, enthusiasm and support you have given me over these last few weeks. This has been a new venture – exploring the meeting and merging of poetry and art journaling – and all your likes, comments, and visits to ‘Follow The Brush’ have meant a great deal to me!

Folding the twilight

Hands circling,
gathering the ancient air,
my mother folds the twilight
into night.

* * *

I created the background for this piece during a wonderful online art session this afternoon with some of my friends from Get Messy. Both the colours and the use of Jewish imagery were very much influenced by the paintings of Marc Chagall, whose work I have been reading about in a wonderful little book, Chagall: The Art of Dreams.

When it was time to write the words, I realised that the perfect poem for the piece was, in fact, one I wrote shortly after NaPoWriMo 3 years ago. Despite the fact that the words were not newly composed today, I feel that the combination of text and image has created something completely new!

Travel News

This is the story
of a different kind of cave
hidden in the foothills
of the moon.

* * *

During the course of this NaPoWriMo, without intending to, I’ve developed a method of sorts for creating art journaling poems out of words from the newspaper. It goes something like this:

  1. I create a background or choose one I already have in my journal that I’m drawn to. Usually these backgrounds are inspired by the wealth of tutorials available at the Get Messy community or by the Messy Pages class that I’m currently taking with Tanyalee Kahler (also via Get Messy).
  2. I then reach for a newspaper and cut out any words that catch my attention. This sounds random, but I’m choosing words based on the associations I have already made with the background in question. It may not be a conscious association, but something is working away in my subconscious.
  3. I lay all the words out on the table and start to move them around like jigsaw pieces, making groupings and phrases. I continue to do this until a poem starts to form.

The artwork for this poem emerged from a wonderful acrylic blending tutorial with Tanyalee. It had the feel of outer space or a lunar landscape. I reached for the travel section of the paper and found so many wonderful words, more than I could use today. There may be more travel news in the days to come!