One of the most challenging aspects of art-making for me is deciding what to work on and where to put my energy. Unless I have a major project I am involved in, there will be many ideas or projects pressing for my attention. I usually have 3-4 journals in the works of various sizes; each one is focused on a different type of subject matter and I move around between them according to how I feel or what's going on that week. There is my "Play" Journal; I was getting ready to write something about "staying close to the beasts." (The pastel painting is by Dawn Emerson.)
There is my "Remember Yourself" Journal where I wax philosophical and sublime:
There is my devotional journal where I write down quotes and paste in snippets of soulful writing and small mandalas I've drawn:
Finally, there is my flotsam and jetsome journal where anything goes:
See what I mean? With art journaling you can just keeping rollin' down the road forever! I find that art-journaling, which I love, can become a sort of addictive practice, a way of avoiding other areas which are more challenging and edge-y. You know, the scary stuff you want to try but.......maybe not today! Maybe I'll make another journal entry:
Or maybe I'll do a watercolor of a dream I had:
I have a tendency to stay with what is familiar and easy for me. For a long time art journaling has been a way of keeping my head glued on straight. It has helped me process and understand my dreams. It has alleviated my seasonal (winter) depressive episodes; it has been a doorway into my deeper, interior self. It has been a place to play and experiment with every sort of media I could get my hands on: watercolors, acrylics, pastels, colored pencil, rubber stamping, copic markers, inks, papers, tapes--it's a long list so I will stop here! It's also been a fun way to play with all those fun art gadgets and tools left over from my scrapbooking days: punches, stencils, collage sheets, layout guides, long-handled staplers. Well, a picture is better than a thousand words. Therefore:
Multiply this photo by three and add the shelves in the garage:
I won't show you what is in the guest room closet.
"She forgot about the stuff under the guest room bed."
"And the stuff on the other wall of the garage? Is she going to mention that?"
So much fun stuff to play with but so distracting! It's a wonder I have any idea at all of what I want to do with so many choices. Sometimes the phrase "a lot" doesn't quite capture the magnitude of the problem. Once in a while when I am away from home and have only my sketching kit to entertain myself with, I feel so happy, because all those nagging choices have been removed and I just have a small kit of supplies in front of me and lots of time. It's as though a huge burden has been removed.....because, as you might have guessed by now, I have trouble setting priorities. It all looks like fun to me and I want to learn it all and do it all, but life simply isn't long enough. The ideas and the inspirations will keep bubbling up--everyday dozens of new and entertaining possibilities. How to choose? This is the big, big problem for intuitive personality types, who are addicted to possibilities. They love starting things but as soon as they know how "it" is going to turn out, they lose interest and run after the next possibility.
So in a way, art journaling is the perfect choice for an intuitive because it embraces so many different media and inspirations, styles, ephemera, gadgets, etc. This can be a great thing in one sense, but it can also blind you to deeper prompts from the Inner Self which need attention. Although I could easily spend the rest of my life making journals and books, which has been my passion, I have had another dream simmering on my side burner for three or four years. At age 66 I am saying to myself: "Now? Shall I try to do it now? And if not now, then when?"
(Martha, Rose, and Princess Xenia think I should do it now.)
That dream is to create a doll theatre where I can stage simple stories using my Roche dolls and the little bears I have collected. I have done a bit of story-telling using a shelf space in my studio but it is quite shallow in width and does not offer any depth of field.
What is really needed is a dedicated space where the backboards and scenery can be changed, and new props can be moved in and out. Nancy Wiley did something like this in her new book, Little Red Riding Hood. Nancy, an internationally known dollmaker and sculptor, made all the dolls she used for her "stage." She painted all the backdrops and created most of her props. When I saw her book, I was enchanted and transfixed! This is exactly what I had longed to do for years!
Here are some pages from the book to give you an idea of the work involved:
Of course, it's scary. I don't know anything about this sort of thing. Cameras mystify me. Figuring out backdrops and then drawing and painting them? Duh. Sewing all the costumes and making things like little tables and trees and dishes? A heck of a lot of work! But wait--it would all be fun! The only thing is: my friends are all going to think I'm bonkers. Yes, there are a lot of little voices having a LOUD discussion inside my head. Yet something urges me on. In India they use a word for "a call from one's soul." That word is "keyala." It is thought that when one's soul calls, one must go, even if rational understanding is lacking. Something in the Mystery wants you. It's important. Lay down everything else. Do it now. Follow your keyala.