Wednesday, February 26, 2014

John Mayer on Magenta

“Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8 color boxes, but what you're really looking for are the 64 color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64 color box, though I've got a few missing. It's okay though, because I've got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8 color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation. So when I meet someone who's an 8 color type...I'm like, hey girl, Magenta! and she's like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I'm like, no  

 I want Magenta!

John Mayer
I think that explains it!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Craving Magenta: A Visual Journal

Why Magenta
Not one to take things at face value, I wanted to know if my craving for magenta was deeper than just wanting to experience some warmth and cheeriness on these bleak, cold, white and brown days. So I researched the color meanings of magenta. It was an interesting read. I am using quotes from the articles I found as the basis for this journal.

Working with Magenta
Next I needed to decide on what colors I wanted this journal to contain besides magenta and its variations. I know I don't like brown with it. That reminds me of the slices of Neapolitan (strawberry/chocolate/vanilla) ice cream we would sometimes get with school lunch when I was in elementary school. Always delicious, but never visually appealing to me. I like magenta with orange, but am not feeling that combination right now. I'm never far from including green (in its many variations) in any artwork, as it is my favorite color. I love using black, white and gray with greens so decided to use these too. Finally, I chose purple and peacock/teal blue as accent colors.

The Format
If you read my blog posts you may remember that I mentioned creating my Identity Visual Journal after reading two articles in Somerset Studio's Autumn 2013 issue of Art Journaling Magazine. One of the articles was written by Kelly Kilmer. I have been reading her blog since then and looking at the online courses she offers. They all sound wonderful and they are offered at a very reasonable price. I decided to sign up for one of the classes - The Journey Within: A Guide to Unlocking Your Creativity. Her classes offer instructions on creating visual or art journals, based on her journals. She provides templates for each page along with step by step instructions on how she created her page. Kelly provides a long list of things to try and how to change it up. Wanting to stretch my boundaries and do something a little different than the way I have been working, I thought this would be a fun way to try something new. Kelly also gives instructions on how to create a book from scratch. I think each class offered provides a different type of book construction. This particular one is one that I have not seen before and I know I will use it often. Wanting to get started right away on the journal, however, I forewent this step and used a Strathmore spiral bound visual journal that I had on hand. It is small - 6" x 8".

The Journal
I've created 5 pages so far following Kelly's templates. Having these templates to work from makes it easy to work in the journal. The need to figure out how best to layout the page is eliminated as you follow the template. There are thirty pages worth of templates. I will post what I've done in groups of five pages as I complete them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Craving Magenta

"I'm so bored with white I could scream." 
- Beverly Ellsley, interior designer, as quoted in House Beautiful magazine

My sentiments exactly!! It many sound odd, but I have been craving the color magenta for the past week! I suppose it is because it is a warm, sunny, summery color that evokes feelings of joy, happiness and gaiety. Looking through my winter wardrobe, I did not find this color. 

How can I surround myself with it to satisfy the craving? I searched through my stash of art supplies and papers for some of this delicious color. Couldn't find much. Decided to search out paint, decorative papers and washi tape from the craft and art supply stores in my area. I was able to find and purchase this collection. (stores visited: JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels, Staples (they carry washi tape), Lowes and Blick Art Materials)

Magenta is one of those colors that is difficult to capture and pin down. It is close to fuchsia with less pink. It is close to mulberry with less purple.You can see that in this color chart found on Wikipedia:
The items I purchased span this color spectrum. 

Okay, so now that I have this stuff, what am I going to do with it? I'm not going to work with the paint just yet. I plan to use some of the paper to cover hand bound books. But for now, the quickest way to interact with these colors is to work in a visual journal. I'll show you that in my next post.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gifts for Contemplation

Today is my birthday. I bought myself this new coffee mug and journal to keep me company during my morning contemplation times.

I like the muted colors - they provide a peaceful, quiet atmosphere important for introspection and prayer. A compact sanctuary.

How do you create a peaceful space for your quiet time?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Winter's Day - New Identity Art Journal Entry

Taking a break from the inner heroes portion of my Identity Art Journal, I have completed this page layout today.

These pages are painted with several layers of acrylic paint. I actually did these pages before deciding to stick with collage only for this journal. I had the image of the woman from a clothing catalog already in place. I added the quotes, journaling and definitions today.

"A major obstacle to creativity is wanting to be in the peak season of growth and generation at all times... but if we see the soul's journey as cyclical, like the seasons... then we can accept the reality that periods of despair or fallowness are like winter - a resting time that offers us a period of creative hibernation, purification, and regeneration that prepares us for the births of Spring." - Linda Leonard (as quoted in The Artist's Rule by Christine Valters Paintner)

January - a new year, a time for new beginnings. Knowing it was time to move on from the experimental two months of being in a retail co-op where I always needed to be able to come up with something new, I chose to withdraw in order to narrow my focus (this has included not taking any new natural science illustration courses for a few months as well)and concentrate on what it is I most want to do.  Most of the month was a creative void and sea of indecisiveness with a touch of melancholy and doubt. Like the quote above, a time of despair and fallowness. But reading The Artist's Rule again reminded me that this is okay. It is a part of life and the creative cycles to have times of rest and of purification. January ended with the idea of creating this journal and February so far has been a time of single focus - a narrow vision - of being drawn inward and discovering the quiet beauty that winter - both outward and inward - has to offer.

Such a snowy February! Over 34 inches of snow during a two week period. Plus all the overcrowded rooms in this house as a result of renovating the kitchen has left me with very few options. It is forcing me to concentrate on what is right before me - I can't flee!

Learning to be present to every moment - even, and probably especially, the ones I wouldn't choose for myself - is a challenge that requires daily discipline and a continuous committment to it.
 I trust that deep inside, my roots are being nourished, just as the trees and plants are from all the snow, and that I will see the results of this quiet, resting, fallow hibernation before too long.

Dormant - as if asleep; quiet; still. Latent, implicit, undisclosed, potential, undeveloped, unrealized, veiled, hidden, unapparent

"Yet we are called to dwell in the dark, fertile soil of the earth, in that space where seeds incubate and begin their cycle of growth. Here we can cultivate a different way of seeing the possiblities not yet named and dreams being born. In nurturing creativity we must learn how to rest in periods of unknowing, finding peace in the knowledge that movement is happening far below the surface of what we can see." - Christine Valters Paintner in The Artist's Rule
Vigil - watching, waiting, listening

Monday, February 17, 2014

Discovering Additional Inner Heroes/Archetypes

Reading the article on the 12 Common Archetypes, I've added to my list The Lover.

Susan the Lover is wife, partner, helper, the other half.

And in reading some of Quinn McDonald's book (which arrived last Tuesday), Inner Hero Creative Art Journal, I am also adding The Alchemist.

Susan the Alchemist enjoys making something from nothing. Making paper for over a decade, she loves being able to take old cotton or linen fabric or brown leaves from plants and turn them into something beautiful.

She saves bits and scraps of this and that knowing that one day they can be incorporated into an art piece.

A literary character that comes immediately to mind is Rumpelstiltskin who turned straw into gold. Incidentally, Rumpelstiltskin was one of my favorite storybooks as a child. I loved the illustrations in it and spent much time looking at it.

I bought a book a number of years ago called Spinning Straw Into Gold : What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life by Joan Gould. (Have I mentioned how much I love books?) I read the first two chapters then put it aside for something more appropriate at the time. I think it is time to dig into this one too. As I stated in my first post about why I am creating this Identity Art Journal, I believe my life is in a state of transition. Transformation may be a better way to view it!

Oh, I love how all of this is coming together the way that it is!
(I haven't created any pages for these archetypes yet, but when I do I will post them.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Inner Heroes and Archetypes Part 2

Using the list of the 12 Common Archetypes, I've placed my inner heroes under the archetype I see them most in line with. Here is what I've come up with:

Archetype: The Innocent
Hopeless Romantic
Monk (fits two categories)

Archetype: The Caregiver
Gardener (fits two categories)

Archetype: The Creator

Archetype: The Sage

Many of the other archetypes I clearly am not. In this list of archetypes, Hero is listed as one. It is the traditional view of hero - the warrior, superhero, soldier, dragon slayer. Quinn McDonald's view shows us that these more gentle qualities are heroic too.

If you did this exercise, your heroes and archetypes would most likely be different than mine. These traits are what form our personality, what make us unique, special and needed in the world (that's where the hero part comes in.) We can't be all things to all people. We can't be made to fit into a mold/role that isn't meant for us. For too long in my Christian walk I was told/taught that I must do/act/perform/think a certain way. (did you say cult?) It has taken many, many years to heal that damaged thinking and more still to come. I believe that God, through his Holy Spirit, is directing this path of exploration right now. The feeling is so powerful it is difficult to describe. And the things that are being revealed and opportunities that are being placed in my path are awe inspiring. Too much to try to relay here, but there will be future posts explaining it in more detail.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Inner Heroes and Archetypes Part 1

In the book, The Artist's Rule, the author, Christine Valters Paintner, writes:

"The monastic way and artist's path are both ways of being in the world and journeying through life. The monk and artist each represent an archetype. Archetypes are psychological structures that are reflected in the symbols, images, and themes common across cultures and time periods. Archetypes reflect different energies working within us. We each contain a multiplicity of selves. This becomes most obvious to us when we experience an inner conflict of desires. Perhaps our desire for a more creative life feels like it is in conflict with our desire for financial security. Or our desire for a more contemplative life conflicts with the part of ourselves that loves to get everything done. One of these desires is not necessarily better than the other; at its root each desire teaches us something about ourselves and our deeper longings."

I read right through this part two years ago when I first read the book. It did not stand out as it did during this second reading. I do have those exact internal conflicts. And more. Sometimes I struggle with them so much I can't decide what is most important to accomplish and become paralyzed, doing nothing at all.

My inner naturalist wants me to dedicate my time to drawing botanically correct floral specimens and scientifically correct insects, twigs, and pine cones. The inner child doesn't have patience for this and wants to work with messy paints and color with markers. The inner historian wants me to get all my family photos, letters and heirlooms organized. The inner hopeless romantic says there are too many things to experience today that I would miss if I spent too much time focusing on the past. The inner artist is torn, not knowing what to do, but longing for some sort of creativity, spends her time looking at other people's art rather than making her own.

Wanting more information on archetypes, I searched a bit online and found this wonderful, easy to understand guide here.

In an attempt to get to know myself better by learning more about my inner heroes or archetypes, the next step in this Identity Art Journal is to list the strengths and weaknesses of each. I will also add words, symbols (if I have any) and possible colors that I connect to them as well as any literary characters I am aware of who share these characteristics. (Archetypes are discussed at length in regards to literary works from what I've seen online.)

It will take some time to complete this, but I do plan to continue posting what I am doing and discovering daily here. This exploration will undoubtedly come to an end once spring arrives and it is warm enough to be outside again. Then my inner gardener, who has been patiently waiting, will take over!

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Historian

My inner historian loves learning about the past. She enjoyed listening to her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles tell the stories of their childhoods, homes, neighborhoods, friends, pastimes, teen years, crushes, cars, how they met their spouses, etc. All good family stuff. Many aspects of her family members' lives remain a mystery since they passed away before the questions could be asked and the stories told.

Studying the History of Western Civilization, American Literature and Art History in college was fascinating. So much of who we are today can be traced to all the events that occurred before. My inner historian loves knowing the details. What time of day was it? What expression did he have on his face? Where did that person live and what was life like when they wrote that hymn? A stickler for accuracy, it is important to the inner historian that everything is organized and put in chronological order.

Susan the Historian appreciates articles of the past. She has rescued many family heirlooms and ephemera that others viewed as trash. She enjoys estate sales, thrift shops and American Pickers on the History channel.

Also known as The Scholar, this inner hero treasures books and libraries. Conducting research on many topics is important to her. Much forethought, information gathering and planning goes into decisions that are made.

A valuable lesson she learned from her History of Western Civilization professor is not to read history through our modern lens. In order to understand why events took place, we need to understand the people of that time period. What did they value? What were their belief systems? What was the prevailing culture like at that time?
All very interesting food for thought for this inner hero!

Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Gardener

The gardener has been the main character/persona/role that I have played in my life. Longer than the roles of mother and wife. I have never regarded gardening as heroic, but in retrospect, I see that it is. Firstly you need strength and stamina to create and tend a garden. I developed upper body muscles from all the digging and cultivating I've done in the past twenty years on this property.  It takes imagination, creativity and faith. And perseverance. Gardening has taught me so many life lessons. There are so many parallels between spirituality and gardening. There as so many references, parables and metaphors in the Bible related to gardens. So much to write on this topic. Glad I have that full blank page! It will be completely filled in before too long.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 1Cor 3:6

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Naturalist

This is my favorite page spread in the journal so far.

The Naturalist is one of my dominant heroes. She loves the outdoors - walking, feeling the warmth of the sun, inhaling the fragrances of earth, woods, sea and meadow. Listening to the sounds of birds, bees, cicadas. Naming the birds, identifying the butterflies and their caterpillars. Providing shelter, water and food for all of these creatures.

Consider the lilies of the field - how they grow... Matthew 6:28

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Monk

My inner monk enjoys quiet and solitude. She enjoys deep spiritual contemplation. Long, early morning quiet time for study. Praying continually throughout the day. Seeing the divine in the every day. My inner monk values hard, physical labor and sees it as a spiritual discipline.

"Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands..." 1 Thes 4:11

"When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you and pray to your Father in private." Matt 6:6

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Hopeless Romantic

Susan the Hopeless Romantic loves fairy tales and happy endings. She trusts people and believes they have pure motives for the things they do.

"I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is good for you
and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
Yet, even now, be free from your captivity! Leave..."  Isaiah 17-18, 20

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Mother

Not my mother, but the mother that I am, who I've learned and grown to be. Susan the Mother isn't called upon much anymore because her children are grown.  I know they will always need and appreciate my love and encouragement, but the relationships are different now, as they should be. I know this is something I've mourned the loss of this past year. In the midst of being overjoyed that my son was marrying someone so perfect for him and my daughter getting an apartment and once again living on her own, which I rejoiced in as well, I understood that this was indeed the end of that part of my life. The mother in me still has strong yearnings to nurture and comfort.  Maybe it is time to nurture the child in me with the mother love I needed and mostly didn't get.

How often I've ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, ... Matthew 23:37

I will comfort a mother comforts her child. Isaiah 66:13

I really love this magazine image and the one from yesterday. I had already created these journal pages. They were waiting for the words that would come. It really is amazing to me how beautifully the layouts I had already created are perfect to describe my inner heroes. Julia Cameron refers to this as synchronicity. I believe it is the Holy Spirit at work. I am finding it encouraging, uplifting, insightful and just the beginning of new lessons to learn and new paths to discover. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Inner Hero: The Child

We all have an inner child we are told. I'm not in contact much with mine. She is quite often neglected. She grew up too soon. Her dad died when she was eight years old. She was often told that she was "too serious." She is/was insecure, afraid of being rejected.

I see a lot of myself in the young Sally Draper character (Mad Men Seasons 1-3, especially).

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me - God who sent me." (Mark 9:37, The Message)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Identity - Discovering My Inner Heroes

In the previous post I wrote about how God has revealed something new and exciting to me. Here is what it is:

I already can't remember how, but earlier this week I learned about the book Inner Hero Creative Art Journal by Quinn McDonald. The book description explains that in this book you will meet your inner heroes (ones which she has named) who will help you combat the voice of the inner critic. I am familiar with the "inner critic" as it is much discussed in many art journal techniques book. I believe it was Julia Cameron who first wrote about the inner critic in her book, The Artist's Way, originally published in 1992. Though the concept wasn't new at that time either. Anyway, I have not read about our "inner hero or heroes" before this. (I'm guessing it isn't a new concept either, but it is new to me.) I have ordered the book, but have not yet received it. I did search online for more information on inner heroes. I found another book called, No Cape Required: A Devotional: 52 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Hero by Kristen Parrish. I have ordered this book as well. In addition, I discovered the website of Ben Fanning. He discusses inner heroes as they are found in the corporate world. His description of their characteristics is right on in regard to my own inner hero. 

Loving this idea of having inner heroes, I set about discovering mine. Using a page from Quinn McDonald's book, which is available as a free download, I came up with a list of my inner heroes.

I am also re-reading The Artist's Rule by Christine Valters Paintner. I read this for the first time in the Spring of 2012. This book uses Benedictine Rules for Living and applies them to being an artist. In the first chapter she discusses the "inner monk" and "inner artist". Psychologists often refer to our "inner child". I am naming these three as inner heroes as well as five more.

My Inner Heroes

The Monk
The Artist
The Child
The Mother
The Hopeless Romantic
The Gardener
The Naturalist
The Historian

I will introduce you to them in upcoming posts and show you how I am incorporating them into my Identity Art Journal.

New Things

Now I am revealing new things to you
Things hidden and unknown to you
Created just now, this very moment.
Of these things you have heard nothing until now.
So that you cannot say, Oh yes, I knew this.

Isaiah 48:6-7

God is revealing new thoughts, new ideas, new inspiration to me. It is exciting! my Identity Art Journal is coming together far better than I thought it would. I started it with some concepts and it really is amazing how God is crafting it.

"When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God..." - Julia Cameron

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Books That Have Greatly Influenced Me

My husband and I have read and continue to read books about what it means to live as a Christian in the 21st century. We find it very helpful to learn from others how they view and live out this way of life. It is good to have a broad perspective and not be stuck in any one way. The books that have had the greatest impact on me personally are these. If you are looking for a fresh perspective on what it means to be a Christian, living life to the full, discovering and using your God given talents, feeling at peace and not being satisfied with the "status-quo", then give these books a read.

Rob Bell
Velvet Elvis
Sex God
Love Wins

John Eldredge
Journey to Desire
Waking the Dead

Barbara Brown Taylor
An Altar in the World

Randy Harris
God Talk
Soul Talk

Shane Claiborne
Irresistible Revolution

Gary Thomas
Sacred Pathways

Mark Scandrette
Soul Graffiti

Books on Art and Faith:

The Artist's Rule - Christine Valters Paintner
The Creative Call - Janice Elsheimer

Julia Cameron
The Artist's Way
Walking in This World
Finding Water

If you have read any of these books, I'd love to hear what you thought of them.
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