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!

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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!

Lying on the earth

This spring, I began Initiation – Into the Sacred Feminine, a year long women’s training at The EarthHeart Centre in The Forest of Dean. I have just returned from the second workshop of the year and already feel that this is one of the most beautiful and powerful journeys I have taken in my life so far.

I first visited EarthHeart for a women’s workshop last Spring and immediately felt that this work of reconnecting to the feminine is perhaps the most important thing I have to do in my life right now. I wrote this poem just before I set off for the forest:

Though the Borough of Camden has no forest,
when the moon goes dark I hear the call
and my heart feels sad for lack of women.

I unwind myself towards the women.
Like a thread, they pull me to the heart of the forest.
From the elder and hawthorn and birch trees they call.

I shake off the world as they send out their call
and clothe myself in the fire of the women.
Together we dance in the deep of the forest.

From the forest they call, the women, the women.

Among the many wonderful things I have experienced on this journey so far, simply lying on the earth in the forest has felt incredibly powerful. For a city dweller such as myself, something so simple feels unusual and rare, as if entering into nature is like stepping foot on another planet. And yet isn’t this the place I played in as a child? Hours spent with my fingers in the earth, making friends with the snails and the frogs, sitting up in my favourite tree, gazing out at the sky.

Each time I go back to EarthHeart, I feel this connection deepening. To nature, to the feminine, and to myself.

Lying on the earth,
I am longing for you.

I am longing for you too…