Complete joy sounds unattainable in today’s world; after all, who really has it? People do. I’ve learned that joy doesn’t simply happen to us, but that we have to choose it, and keep choosing it every day. “You will show me the path of life. In your presence is the fullness of joy.” – Psalm 16:11
When it comes to art I think, joy rises to the surface in the present moment, when we let go and paint intuitively. Once we stop adding rules of composition and such, we destroy our preconceived notions and begin to create solely for self-expression.
Normally I will approach my studio with somewhat of a plan, pulling up to my table with a clean open journal, a palette choice, a few chosen supplies and somewhat of a purpose for a thought-out page.
But this time, I had no plan, not even an idea of what might transpire. Realizing this, I decided to take a fun approach to my creative session. I threw a plastic tablecloth onto my studio floor, grabbed my largest storage box of paints and inks, my envelope of stencils and a large stack of watercolor paper and went to work (play!).
My back and forth method was about the extent of my plan, since I didn’t want my beautiful colors to turn into mud. I laid down as many papers as would fit in front of me within reach and I started adding colors with my traditional and foam brushes. While yellows were drying on one page, reds would go down on the next; blues on the next and so on until the first layers were dry and I’d start over again. Stencils became a part of the next layer process and I was thrilled that I was using many of the supplies we as artists tend to stock up on but seldom use. I pulled out my mark making tools and used them all. What transpired on my pages were beautiful splats, areas of color and abstract shapes that cheered me on to make more. Layers and layers ensued and within a couple of hours I was filled with the joy such an intuitive process had claimed to bring.
The journal that’s the subject of this article is one that came about during that expressive art session; one that looked quite different than any I’d experienced in the past. By the time I’d finished with my newfound process, I’d collected a nice stack of vibrant papers. Wanting to bring all of that color together, I gathered them into a book, matching up pages that mingled well, joined them with masking tape, retaining their large, 9” x 12” size.
Keeping momentum, I took a handful of writing tools; pens and pencils that had been sitting unused in pretty coffee mugs and clay pots. Page by page, I began writing erratically, journaling to my heart’s content, not knowing or caring what might appear on my impromptu painted pages. Jet black and stark white scribbles against such lively colors made my heart sing, and I realized that joy is what happens to us when we stop looking back, but actually remain in our moments.
“In introspection we try to look “inside ourselves” and see what is going on. But nearly everything that was going on a moment before is stopped by the very act of our turning to look at it.” – C. S. Lewis
Put on your favorite music while you create and discover the difference it makes in your art experience.
Embrace layers, letting each session fully dry before going on to the next to avoid making “mud.”
Dip a large foam brush into three or more colors of paint for a fun, multicolor effect.
As a final layer, make dramatic marks using household items such as toothbrushes or hairbrushes dipped in waterproof, black India ink. Use the dropper to your ink bottle to write out words and phrases. Use different sized jar lids dipped in paint to create colorful circles across a page.
Use a water soluble, black Stabilo All pencil to scrawl out several lines of journaling and then spritz down the center of it with a spray bottle filled with water.
Use the opposite end of your paint brush, or a skewer to scrape off wet mediums you’ve already laid down.