Season of Story (part 3)

I recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours making art at the British Library with the lovely Tammy Hanna. Our table was looking clearer and calmer than usual. Maybe a response to the summer heatwave we’ve been having in the UK recently?

‘Places’ – these are some of the significant places from my childhood. I was already a teen when I went to Paris but I couldn’t resist throwing in the Eiffel Tower!

‘The outcome is unknown’ — decisions are an important part of the story. The choices we make send us down one road rather than another. We cannot know where it will all lead, which road is the right one, and yet still there are times when we must decide.

This page was made using some wonderful handmade watercolours sent to me by the lovely Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. The red and the blues were made by Vanessa. I added some yellow to this from my Winsor and Newton sketch box. These beautiful paints were such a joy to use. It’s so inspiring to know that it’s possible to make your own watercolour paints! The blue of the door has a beautiful metallic sheen to it, perfect for a magical portal into the unknown future.

Celebration – This page was created at the Sunday morning at the doodle cafe. When I started the page I wasn’t in the best of moods and had no idea what I wanted to do. Writing out my thoughts in watercolour helped me arrive. Next, the overlapping circles of colour lifted my mood. By the time the dancing ladies arrived I was in quite a different space to when I had started. The transformational power of art journaling!

Looking back over the last couple of weeks, I can see a definite watercolour theme! There is something very refreshing about using watery washes of paint when it’s so hot outside.

Thanks so much for joining me for this look at the latest from my Season of Story journal!

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Rituals class – June

The theme for June in the Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd was ‘Nourish’. It felt so good to focus on the elements that are nourishing us, especially at a time when everything can feel very expansive and outward going. We were focusing on water-soluble media which also felt perfect for summer. Using watercolours and inks felt very light and cooling, like taking a dip in a cool swimming pool!

I am nourished by the earth – My solar spread for this month’s Rituals class. I don’t have much earth myself. There’s almost none in my astrology chart. I’m mostly all water and fire. But earth is the thing I need to nourish me. Over the last couple of years I have spent more time in nature and it feels so life-giving and calming to my whole system. I need to connect with the earth in order to expand and grow.

From the technical side: this is probably the most fiddly bit of collage I’ve ever cut out! But it was very calming and meditative slowly cutting round all the branches and leaves.

My lunar spread is to do with the element of air but I think it also borders on the fifth element, which is space or spirit or the universe:

I am nourished by the stars and the sense of being part of the universe. While the earth in my solar spread is energising, the universe nourishes me more on the inside and takes me into a quiet space.

The quote in the background is from the writer, Ben Okri:

In every moment, we are part of the infinite stories that the universe is telling us and that we are telling the universe.

(The Mystery Feast, 2015)

I found these blues to be really calming and cooling… We’re having a bit of a heatwave in England at the moment so I’m a little bit obsessed with anything that can cool me down!

It felt really nourishing making these pages for the Rituals class this month. I wish you all a beautiful July!

Season of Story (part 2)

It has been a wonderful couple of weeks of The Season of Story at Get Messy. It’s been a while since I was able to spend so much time making art in my art journal. I’m taking the theme quite loosely, allowing my pages to take me where they will.

Then and now – I created this page because it can be easy sometimes to look back at younger versions of myself with a certain amount of nostalgia and longing. And yet, I have a sense that if my younger self could look into the future, she would be so proud of the journey I have been on and the woman I have become. It feels important to remember this! I painted two self-portraits, each facing the other, looking both backwards and forwards in time.

I created this page while I was on a Get Messy hangout one Saturday afternoon. While I was busy chatting away with my wonderful Messy Artist friends, I found myself making a series of shapes without thinking too much about what I was doing. Later on, I filled in the shapes with the story of my day. I was inspired by Suzanne Earley’s ‘fragments of a good day’ page with all its small lovely moments.

Watching @sasha_zeen showing us how to paint loose watercolour flowers was balm for my soul. You can watch her wonderful tutorial on the Get Messy open blog, even if you aren’t a member. Perfect for these long summer days we’ve been having (in the northern hemisphere at least!)

Another page made from Sasha’s wonderful tutorial. My left foot was feeling sore so I wanted to give both my feet a carpet of soft leaves and flowers. Ah…. much better!

There was an incredible 24 hour Get Messy hangout this weekend. It was so much fun, with different artists hosting every couple of hours, offering new prompts, techniques and inspiration. While I was hosting, I gave a tutorial on creating pages that tell the story of a particular colour.

The first page – The story of blue – employs a “throw everything you’ve got at the page” approach! Here are the steps we followed:

• Choose a colour
• Gather all the materials you have in that colour
• Paint a shape or blob on the page
• Write some associations you have with that colour using watercolour (or pen/pencil) starting at the shape you just made and moving in whatever direction you want.
• Stick a piece of collage somewhere else on the page.
• Make marks moving outward from the collage. Don’t be afraid to overlap with what you have already done.
• Add some scribbles across the page
• Write the name of your colour in big bold letters
• Add washi tape
• Add more small shapes and marks.
• Cut words from magazines that feel like they belong to your colour and stick them on the page.

I made the blue page during the hangout. The red page, following the same approach, was made in preparation for the hangout.

The second part of the tutorial took more orderly and minimal approach, giving us a chance to calm down after the chaos of the first one we did! As you can see, it looks completely different!

• Choose a colour and gather your materials as before.
• Give each material its own space on the page. Make small patches of colour and leave space around each one.
• Write a word near or on some of the shapes that belong to that colour (or cut words out of magazines as before)
I haven’t yet got round to adding the words to my yellow page. I’m enjoying hoe cool and clear it all looks – quite an unusual style for me!

The page below was made using the wonderful monoprint technoque Debbie Bamberger taught us during the hangout. This is a fabulous technique and one which I will keep practicing until I get the hang of it!

Thanks for joining me on this journey through my Season of Story journal from the last couple of weeks. Wishing all of you in the Northern Hemisphere a lovely summer. I hope you’re keeping cool in the hot weather! (And lots of love to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere too!)

Divyam xxx

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!

Season of Play (part 2)

It has been a wild ride through a universe of colour and imagination this season in my “guide to the universe” altered book. The pages I have made over the last few weeks have all been so much fun to make:

The Paintbrush of Power – this page was created for the tutorial I gave on the Get Messy member’s site. It’s all about turning yourself into a superhero using techniques from comics and cartoons. I love how the space background was the perfect scene for Art Woman to find herself!

Note to self: Take a moment to play! – It was a month of unpacking from one trip and then packing for the next with just about enough time to do some laundry in between. It was starting to feel like forever since I had played in my art journal. And then I thought: why not do a super fast collage? I spent five minutes ripping papers from my stash and sticking them down with a pritt stick and I have to tell you: IT FELT SO GOOD! This was a great reminder that you don’t need loads of time to make art.

Come rain or shine,
mysterious trails of light
connect my heart to joy.

I really enjoyed making this piece. I thought it was going to be another 5 minute collage but once I got going I took my time with it. I noticed that I’m feeling more adventurous in the realm of collage since last month’s Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd.

The Monstr of the Melting World!! – It’s not a typo. I just ran out of room to fit in all the letters. This happens to me all the time, but I have to say I quite like the word “monstr“!
This page was inspired by my monster prompt on the Get Messy member’s site. The backgrounds in my universe altered book are the perfect settings for creatures such as these.

There are text boxes dotted throughout the book. I have been covering most of them up but it felt perfect to leave this one visible because it is describing my monstr’s melting world. I didn’t realise this guy was going to turn out looking so friendly. But don’t be fooled. This is not a good monster to cuddle. He’s VERY hot!!!!

It has been pretty busy in my life these past weeks and I did not get as much time to play in my journal as I would have liked. But the time I did spend in there was truly wonderful. And the upside of not having yet finished my journal is that there are still plenty of pages left in there, ready for me to dive in whenever I want to play!

Rituals class – April

April in the Rituals Class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd at Get Messy was all about fertility, using the metaphor of seeds, plants and flowers. We explored the medium of collage to express these themes. Vanessa is a magician of collage and it was such a wonderful experience to learn from her on this subject. I often shy away from collage because I don’t really understand how to use it to express what I want to say. So this was an incredible opportunity to learn more about it.

The solar spread (above) was all about the theme of fertility and creativity in our lives. I found myself thinking of the mysterious way things grow. So much of that process is invisible to start with. It can seem like nothing is happening. Or that it’s not happening fast enough. In those moments I often dismiss the whole notion that something good is growing. This spread is a reminder to myself that a lot is going on even when it doesn’t feel like it!

When I started playing around with the images for this spread, I thought the woman was going to be central to the whole thing. Instead, the huge avocado seed took centre stage. This ended up being perfect for the theme of trusting the process, trusting that the seed contains everything it needs with which to grow and it will do so in its own time.

The lunar spread (below) was all about the weeds that get in the way of our creativity flourishing and growing. My page was inspired by the most pernicious weeds of all: destructive thought patterns and negativity. During the month of April, I was very much aware how negative thoughts can sour a potentially beautiful day. There have been many wonderful new things happening and yet it’s so easy for stress and overwhelm to stop me enjoying what’s happening.

In the background are images of rotting flowers and trash. The doors represent all the different sidetracks the mind can take you down where it’s easy to get lost and forget what’s important!

When I made my original wheel for the year, my word for April was adventure. April certainly was quite an adventurous month with travels, gatherings and new experiences. Reflecting back on the month, I also feel there has been a strong element of re-evaluating my day-to-day life and the choices that do and don’t work for me, particularly in the area of nutrition and self-care. The image of tending a garden and helping the seeds to grow into flowers has been a very powerful one.

I’m so grateful to be able to move through this year as part of the Rituals class. I feel like the link is strengthened between my art and my life in all its seasons. Thank you Vanessa, for creating such a beautiful journey for us!

Wishing you all a lovely May,

Divyam xxx

Season of Play (part 1)

We’re already halfway through the Season of Play at Get Messy and, while I haven’t spent quite as much time in my art journal as I would have liked, the time I have spent making art in there really has felt like play.

This season we’re working in altered books and I’ve chosen to work in a wonderful full-colour book about the universe. The pages are already filled with incredible images of planets, galaxies and solar systems. This is my first experience of working in an altered book and it’s been great fun to incorporate the pre-existing images into my pages and to let them inspire me too. It’s no surprise then that most of my pages so far have had a cosmic feel!

Yellow Beast — I was talking with Misty Granade about our love for cave paintings and this brought them back into my mind. Then my bestie, Clare, and I drew our own cave paintings when she came to stay. The initial drawing was made with eyes closed. The colouring in was done with eyes open. It was fun using regular wax crayons together with water soluble ones.

Welcome to the universe! — This was the first page in my altered book. I had soooooo much fun with Alicia Schultz’s ‘Roll the dice’ tutorial over on the Get Messy member’s site. It was such a wonderful way to let go and enter the spirit of play and having fun. I was also inspired by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd to get out my stickers and add them to the page too!

I was going to fill this lady’s hair in with all sorts of scribbles and doodles, but once I’d painted the white background I discovered I liked the big white cosmic cloud just the way it was! This page was inspired by an awesome prompt from Clare Davis Etherdige.

Come to the party! — this page was inspired by a prompt on the theme of “collage weird” and came together during a wonderful art date with the lovely Tammy Hanna at The British Library. My favourite part was creating the incredible eyelashes!

I made this spread quite quickly one afternoon when it felt like I didn’t have much time but absolutely HAD to make some art. It was so wonderful to let the galaxy at the centre of the page inspire all the colour and activity around it.

Thanks for joining me for this look back at the past few weeks. I can’t wait to see what cosmic play might happen in my universe journal during the second half of this season!

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!

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

March daily art project

It has been another wonderful month in my daily art project: a place to record how I’m feeling and what is going on in my life; a place to practice using different mediums and techniques; and a wonderful way to keep up a regular art practice even if I don’t seem to have much time.

This month, the influence of the Season of Kindness is very much present. There are a few faces appearing from the new Sketching Faces class with Katie Smith. And winter is slowly (and a bit reluctantly) giving way to spring!

This last page is warming up for my 100 day project — to tell a story one line a day accompanied with black ink drawings. I’ve never taken part in the 100 day project before. The basic idea is that you create something every day for 100 days. You can find out more about it here.

I’ll be posting about my 100 day story here on the blog. You can also get daily updates by following the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory over on instagram.

Thanks for joining me for another month of daily art pages. Wishing you all a lovely April!

Divyam’s art journal flip-thru March 2018

I have just completed an art journal that I began over a year ago and I have to say: it’s a great feeling! Here is a video flip-thru for you to enjoy.

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

February daily art project

February can often be a gloomy month. It’s been winter for so long and then suddenly it gets even colder! This didn’t get me down in quite the same way as it often does, even with a 3 week winter cold! I think the fact that I made art every day really made a difference to bring warmth and colour into the wintry days. Art is the new Vitamin C!

I had originally thought my daily art would be a sideline to my main art journaling projects, something that would take no more than a few minutes a day. Instead, I have found it to be the backbone of my recent art practice, a place to touch base with myself each day. It has also taken on a wonderful diaristic feel, recording how I’m feeling and the things that are going on in my life.

The start of the month was also the start of the Season of Kindness at Get Messy Art Journal. I found myself on the receiving end of some lovely acts of kindness when my dear friend and fellow Messian, Rosie, sent me some beautiful flowers to wish me better. On the same day, artist and soul sister, Henrietta, sent me some luscious healing aromatherapy oils with incredible names like Breathe and Immune Bomb. I felt grateful to my dear friends for their love and care. There is no greater magic.

Is it possible to have too much chicken soup? (Answer: No)

I recently completed the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble and loved the way she draws faces. So I continued playing around with this style of drawing portraits:

I started playing with patterns in my daily art journal, inspired by the wonderful patterns Jessica McMillan has been making in her daily art. Go check them out!

“Hey big heart, I know you’re in there!” I have found that the Season of Kindness has been having an effect on my heart. I feel like old dusty corners are getting their first rays of light and breaths of fresh air in a long while.

I have also found that keeping a daily journal has helped me notice small moments during the day, such as this moment when a friend and I reached across the table and created a spontaneous colour palette with our sleeves and a smoothie!

Art is an interesting sort of mirror. It often shows me things about myself that I haven’t yet noticed. I didn’t realise I was in a good mood until I saw these pages I had made!

During these last few days of February, I have been taking over the Get Messy Instagram as a member of the Creative Team for 2018. (Yes, I thought I’d just casually slip that in there. A post on this very subject is coming soon!) It has been great fun hanging out with the community and creating some fun prompts and tutorials for Instagram stories. Today, the last day of February, we have been googling for kindness inspiration. I chose the phrase: “Kindness is the best medicine”. Some brightly coloured gouache and a white gel pen later, this is the page that resulted:

It would seem that I have come full circle this month. Kindness really is the best medicine!

The daily art project is such a wonderful way to move through the year. Many of my fellow artists at Get Messy are taking part in this movement, too. Check out all the awesome art they are making each and every day on the #mydayarted hashtag.

Wishing you all a wonderful March!

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…?

Art and colour open up my world

One of the things I love so much about being part of the Get Messy art community is the feeling of connection with artists all around the world. The forums are alive with conversation – about art tools and resources, what we’re working on, and what we’ve got planned in our creative lives. There is a lovely atmosphere of camaraderie and support – so important when much of the creative work goes on in our own company.

Recently, the feeling of connection has moved to a whole new level. We’ve been meeting up on Google Hangouts for a session of real time art making, otherwise known as the ‘Digi Make-a-thon’. All around the world, we are sitting at our desks and kitchen tables, playing with pens, paint and collage, whilst hanging out with friends we seem to have known forever, even though we’ve never met in “real life”.

This is one of the wonderful things about technology. The sense of being in the same room together was so strong that at one point, when someone couldn’t find their scissors, I nearly passed them my own!

I also really enjoyed not being able to think too much about what I was doing because I was busy talking and interacting. I painted some bright colours on the page, and then started sticking down some toadstools I had drawn a few days earlier. Before I knew it, things got pretty psychedelic which, it turns out, sums up how I feel about the explosion of art and colour that has happened in my life recently!

This was the second Digi Make-a-thon. The spread I made during the first meet-up emerged from the same atmosphere of not thinking too much, all the while talking and enjoying the company of some new and lovely friends.

Working with friends I’ve just met
talking
listening

not really thinking…

I’m so very glad to have stumbled across the Get Messy art journaling community! And I can’t wait for the next time we meet up together!

Take me with you

It’s one of those moments: I’m really enjoying the Totems class over at Get Messy and I’m loving this taste of the wild and wonderful world of art journaling. 

Yet whenever I start exploring something new, I can end up feeling like a creative harlot. I get anxious that I’m abandoning the things I’ve been caring about and working on — in this case, comics! 

What better way to explore this than in an art journal spread that is also a comic!

You can check out some of the things I’ve been getting up to in the Totems class here and here

The self-portraits of ‘Igor Stravinsky’

Self portrait July 25Self portrait July 26

It’s been two weeks since ‘Writing the Unthinkable’ with Lynda Barry. And what an incredible experience it was: 5 days in a room with the rockstar hero of my creative world! Writing, drawing, looking, listening, laughing, crying, and doing it all over again.

Self portrait July 27On the train ride back down the Hudson the day the workshop ended, I felt I was returning home with a sack full of treasure I would be enjoying for a long time to come. Since then, I’ve been wondering how to begin unpacking this treasure.

Like all good stories, why not start at the beginning…

One of the first things we did each day was to ‘take attendance’. We took a blank index card and drew a frame. At the top of the card we wrote our camp name (more on this in a moment!) and the date. We then had 2 minutes to draw a self-portrait, making sure to include the whole body.

Self portrait July 28This was a wonderful start to the day. Before we knew it, our hands were in motion and we were already making contact with ‘the back of the mind’ where all the good stuff is!

The first morning, Lynda invited us to choose a camp name for the duration of the workshop. During lunch I considered all sorts of names, but none of them seemed to fit.

Then I remembered a movie I had seen the week before about Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky and I started to laugh out loud in the dining hall. Yes! Igor Stravinsky! That was it! The name was alive. And I felt alive just thinking about it.

At the center of everything we call ‘the arts,’ and children call ‘play,’ is something which seems somehow alive.
― Lynda Barry, What It Is

Self portrait July 29This was one of many such moments during the week when a drawing or a story or a character made me want to laugh or dance or cry with recognition.

Having a camp name was very freeing. It gave me the feeling I could step outside what I normally think I can and can’t do, can and can’t be.

To add to this sense of expanding possibilities, we drew ourselves as fruits and vegetables, royalty, and monsters. We drew ourselves deep beneath the sea, up in outer space, and dancing our asses off at a disco.

We hung our attendance cards on the walls of the workshop room. Pretty soon, the wall was covered with hundreds and hundreds of drawings. The space felt rich and alive and full of energy. Did we really produce all this work? Walking around the space, looking at our gallery of self-portraits, it was incredible to see how the drawings grew even more alive as the week progressed.

IMG_7092IMG_7093

Lynda dared us to find a ‘bad drawing’ among the lot. It wasn’t possible! And during the week we got to see that there’s no such thing as a bad drawing. Here’s a page from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus that asks, ‘What is a bad drawing?’:

what is a bad drawing?

Syllabus is an incredible resource, filled with course notes from years of Lynda Barry’s classes and workshops. Many of the exercises we did during ‘Writing the Unthinkable’ are in there!

Drawing a self-portrait on an index card is a great thing to do before starting any creative work. In fact, its probably a great thing to do before starting anything at all. Why not give it a go?

A little goes a long way

4 daily diary pics

The day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined…

With a house move and renovation on the go, it has seemed lately like there is little time for creativity. Then I remembered the magic that is Lynda Barry’s 4-minute diary. I spent some time over the winter practicing this every day and it has felt so good to return to it.

Tea with an old friend

There’s nothing like sharing a cup of tea with an old friend.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you did during the day.
  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you saw during the day.
  • Write down something you overheard. 
  • Do a quick drawing. (The 4-minute version includes a 30 second drawing. This time around, I took a little longer for this part.)

These few minutes have the effect of turning the whole day into a space of creative possibility.

Often, when I sit down to write about the day, it seems as though nothing “special” has happened. By the time I have made my two lists of the things I did and saw, there is always something I feel excited to draw. Making pictures of these moments, I am able to enjoy them in a new way. And I realise that the day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined.

Here’s a video of Lynda Barry talking through a timed version of the 4-minute diary. Why not give it a go?

Sometimes a little bit of creativity goes a long way!

 

Targets and teamwork: how to complete a daily writing challenge

NaPoWriMo 2

I am THRILLED to be featured on the Write-Track blog, together with my writing buddy, the fabulous Christine Cochrane! Join us for a conversation about taking part in this year’s NaPoWriMo, including the challenges we faced and how we supported each other along the way. Plus: CARTOONS!

What keeps us going as writers? Staring alone at the blank page doesn’t always work; sometimes it’s about targets and teamwork. Christine Cochrane and Divyam Chaya Bernstein are two writers who recently completed the daily writing challenge NaPoWriMo. They tell us how they supported each other along the way.

Read the full article here: Targets and teamwork: how to complete a daily writing challenge