In this article I’m going to do something that’s a bit different for me.  I am going to walk you through the creative process that I experienced while creating a page in my journal.  Typically this is something I keep to myself because I feel a bit venerable revealing thoughts such as these. I’m pulling away from the hesitation of opening myself up this time – in an effort to help folks see that even someone who works in journals as often as I do, have challenges.  And that is normal.  I hope this will encourage those who shy away from artful journaling to stretch beyond their comfort zone and give it a try anyhow.

Battling First Page Brain Freeze

Like many other art journal enthusiasts one of the most difficult pages to do in my journal is that first page.  The book is so crisp and clean when I open it and that first page seems intimidating to me.  For reasons I have yet to discover, I always build it up in my mind that this first page is somehow going to set the theme for the entire journal, or that it needs to represent my artistic style better than all the other pages to come.  I set my expectations high for this first page and then…. well…. I just get brain freeze, stage fright, a creative block.

Once I get over myself, things flow very nicely.  It’s just those first markings that I hesitate on.  Once I have those on the page, then I relax and let myself “get into the moment” so to speak.  Why I do this to myself, I do not know.  And I’ve tried often enough to get over these…. umm…. internal fears?  I’m not sure what to call that hesitation I feel on the first page.  But once I get over it, I enjoy the experience of just letting go and see what comes out of the drawing session(s).  Getting past that “where do I start” feeling is my challenge.

Revving up the Engine

For the first page in this new journal I was working with the prompt, “Fresh New Beginnings” from the Inspire Inspire project.  From the beginning I knew I wanted to do something that incorporated the Sunrise, because I watch the sun come up almost every morning with anticipation of the fresh new day and whatever it has to offer me.  With that on my mind I snapped a picture of the clouds in the sky with the color mix that Mother Nature was sharing on the day I started this page.  I thought this would give me some interesting patterns to work with maybe.

The sky was beautiful.  The photo was pretty too, even though the colors are never as vibrant or the same on my phone camera as in real life.  However, no new pattern jumped out at me.  So I just drew a circle and some lines to represent a sun rising from the corner of my book page.  This quick very elementary drawing was going to be just the thing to push me into creative bliss!

Um…. NOT!  Darned if I didn’t feel anything specific come to mind.  Not one thing!  Sitting there staring at this silly looking sun my left brain was thinking on plenty of new beginning type things for the new year, this month, the hours in the day that was unfolding.  That creative right-side brain was totally blank and uninspired!

So in an effort to get myself unblocked, I walked away for a few minutes (to make the morning cuppa) and ponder moving forward.  By the time I was stirring the creamer in my coffee I had decided to fill the spaces between my sun rays with patterns that would somehow represent my “new beginning” thoughts.  And since I was still not feelin’ the artful mojo, I decided to start with the pattern that (at the time) most represented being locked down, bolted in, and stuck in one place.  For me that was my metal plate pattern.

About halfway through the 3rd plate I finally started loosening up and feeling the creative side flowing more easily.  So I continued filling in these spaces with other patterns that each had meaning attached to the new beginnings floating around in my wee brain.  No patterns were over-the-top super special, and that’s pretty much how I felt as I continued to draw as well. I was just doodling for the sake of doodling.  Similar to how I would do in a boring meeting.

I wasn’t exactly stuck anymore, but not really impressed with any of the lines showing up on my page either.  At this point I was feeling ho-hum-ish about things, but I forged on anyhow.  Hoping that this would eventually be something worth looking at.


Do You Like Your Art?

Sometimes I don’t like my art.  This was one of those times. I honestly DID NOT like my page as it was shaping up.  As a matter of fact I was liking it less and less with each line I drew.  Now mind you this was not a single drawing session.  There were phone calls to answer, emails to check, work projects to do and of course that load of laundry that needed to be switched over to the dryer also.  And each time I returned to my page to make more markings – well I just thought it was a boring looking page that left me feeling quite blah.

It wasn’t until after I got some of the details and shadows added to various patterns that I *finally* started to feel better about the picture that was emerging.  The patterns and shapes started to feel like they belonged together and my comfort with the piece began to increase.

So I’m to the point where I had something in each of the sun ray areas and I’m debating on what to do with that bottom portion of the sun.  Seems I drew it a little too close to the paper edge and so I’d best do my design work on the inside of the circle.  My thoughts on new beginnings were focused on a particular goal I have for myself in the new year that has 6 components to it.  I want to loose 5 pounds a month for 6 months to be to my desired weight.  So I drew 6 scallops along the inside edge and proceeded to  play with those shapes for a while.

Now throughout this page I was stopping to click a picture of this piece periodically for a video/slide show I’m thinking I may produce later in the year.  So after I did a few of these designs inside the circle I clicked another picture.  And it was upon reviewing the picture in that tiny little screen on my phone, when it appeared.  Up until now I never saw anything on the page other than a sun looking thing with some funky rays pulling out from the center of the ball.  Now, unexpectedly, in this photo – appeared what seemed to be the profile of a woman’s face.  I could see a chin….and an outstretched neck…. and a fancy ear decoration….. mmm…. how very interesting…..


Going with the Flow

I do like it when a serendipitous moment like that happens and I will almost always go with the flow and embrace the moment, figuring it was meant to be.  I so enjoy the tickle of such surprises that I sometimes refer to as a “happy accident.”

So with the discovery of the mysterious profile revealing itself I drew in some more defining features to really bring out that face.

Now!…. Finally! I was liking what this piece was looking like.  It’s weird how sometimes if I just keep trudging along on a piece I’m not too happy with – somewhere along the line it turns into something that makes me feel good.

That was the case for this page.  Once that profile was put in place the page took on a personality of sorts and I thought of it as a “she” rather than as an “it.”  In my mind I was saying…. “she needs a little something here.  I think I’ll add a little swirly thing to her over here…”


 Morning Thoughts – Falling in Love

Just a few more strokes and my page was complete – or at least I thought so.  I was happy with the results and the experience of the feelings I had while working the piece during a few little chunks of time in my day. I was glad she became the first page in my new journal.  So I scanned the page with the intent of sharing the photo in my Flickr gallery and here on my blog too.

And then it happened again.  I’ve got this little gal up on the computer screen, shrinking her down to size and it hit me that maybe, just maybe – she needed a beauty mark on that face of hers.  Wondering what it might look like – I added one using my graphic software and Wahla!  Just like that, I fell in love with this gal! Amazing that one little mark made such a difference to the way I looked at and felt about this drawing.  😀

I have since added the beauty mark to this line-art drawing in my journal.  I think it was just the thing she needed. I guess it was *THE* thing that I needed too.  The tiny mark that represented “beauty” in this piece.

This first page in my journal now represents the beauty of my thoughts as the year moves forward and I continue to “messy up” and “beautify” more pages in the book.  And it just goes to show that if I continue to work on a piece and simply let it emerge in it’s own time, at the pace that my mind coaxes me to move at…. that eventually I may just fall in love with the those measly little lines I first put on the paper.

For it is that first step of faith in myself that will help move me forward and tease my muse into creating something (or someone) beautiful on the page.

Keep that little phrase in mind folks – I may need you to remind me of it later in the year when I’m finding myself stuck again.  If/when that time comes – I’m counting on you to make me eat my words!  LOL

May you have a healthy and happy mind today!
~ Cindy


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