A week ago today I started an online art journaling class; four weeks learning to do something that seems to me should be so intuitive that it can’t be taught or learned… but I’ve always felt so overwhelmed and so underprepared for it that I’ve never attempted it before! I am so, so glad I signed up; turns out although it IS very intuitive, it CAN be taught, and the teacher is fabulous! She has somehow taken this highly creative thing and made it accessible and learnable. It’s such a departure from scrapbooking for me; I enjoy scrapping (and especially enjoy the finished products of it) but I’ve never taken scrapping in a very free-form, artsy direction. In my 12 years of scrapping, it has never become a truly expressive practice for me.
Art journaling, I hope, will allow me to feel the freedom to play… to be in the process of creating without feeling such responsibility to end up with an “acceptable” finished product. (I’m also hoping to combine some visual work with my creative writing to express more personal thoughts than I do in my pretty traditional scrapping.)
We are learning art journaling in layers—week one was about creating backgrounds with gesso and paint and water and textures. No worries about what each page will grow up to be. No worries about messing up (water and more paint fix just about anything!). Just glob on gesso, make texture in it, and brush on colors that appeal. Smudge it around with paper towels… and call it good.
Naturally I was pondering this first step in making an art journal page, and it occurred to me that maybe there’s something of life in this. Or something of MY life, anyway. I’ve been trying to get motivated to do the many things I know I need to do to be healthy and whole; wondering where to start, feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for all the “inner work” I feel I should be doing. Texturing and painting these backgrounds has made me think: what if I started thinking about living in layers? What if, instead of trying to think ahead about next steps, I simply choose what is calling me now, and let the future follow when the time is right? What if I narrow down all the needs and the shoulds to a single starting point, a first layer of being well?
It sounds really obvious when I say it that way!
So here’s my first layer, after one week of art journaling and well-being: a foundation of color… and choosing health for myself by beginning good food practices. (I’m also choosing to set aside the Mommy Guilt I feel for not making my children my first layer; thinking of that airplane rule about putting the mask on yourself first!) I know there’s a lot to add to both of these in the coming weeks and months, but for today I’m glad to have these new backgrounds to build on. Life Layer One.