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Souful Art Cards

We long to be free.

We long to be free.

We long to be free. This Soulful Art Card represents that whether we are incarcerated in a prison or simply struggling to find personal freedom in a world of boundaries, we are guided, blessed, and never abandoned.

A Poem by Gilbert Vasquez, inmate and pen-pal

The Man in Front of Me

I stare at the man in front of me.

He parts his lips and asks, Why have you become my enemy?

That was never my intention, I respond.

But you’ve hurt me, your daughter, your brothers, sisters, and your mom.

I stare at the man in front of me with nothing to say.

He parts his lips again, Do you expect it to all just go away?

I cast my eyes away from the man, wanting to hide.

Look me in the eyes, or are you that full of pride?

I finally turn and begin to walk away.

I love you, I hear him say.

I slowly turn to find tears rolling down the man’s face.

I love you, but you can’t seem to find your place.

I look at he man in the mirror and say,

I’m lost but will find my place one day.

Card by KartiArt

Inspired by Circle of Love Inside


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Art Journal from Your Places of Resistance

Art Journals and Self-discovery

I love many of the creative ideas that artists share on YouTube and elsewhere, and they can be great for exploring techniques. And, I have volumes of inspiring art books that offer inspiration and help on “how to.” But when I teach classes or work in my own journals, what is most important to me are acts of self-discovery. That means, letting the simple materials at hand, along with my inner guidance, direct the flow of the creative process.

Bottle Woman 2 art journal

Every artist, and that means YOU, who is willing to open a journal to an empty page, enters the abyss. If we are willing to put marks on paper, we are courageous, curious, and equipped to tap into the inexhaustible well of creative intelligence. So, while the prompts of videos and kits may be a great jump start, beware of becoming too reliant on them. Instead, drag out your collection of ephemera, humble paints, and papers, and draw from that well. Let your materials inspire you to experiment.

Yesterday, one my students came up with an awesome inner prompt for her journal:

Start Journaling from Your Places of Resistance

A women in my class decided to choose materials she found kitsch and judged as gaudy. She grabbed some shiny red paper backed with silver, red netting, and flowered tissue paper. For various reasons she considered these elements “lesser than” other materials, such as handmade papers and expensive looking ephemera. She considers herself an elegant woman and prefers more subdued colors and materials, so she actually chose to select materials that she found unappealing in order to confront her resistance. She then found some magazine elements for collage. So, she was surprised to discover that her finished pages emerged as both beautifully designed and elegant. She had managed to create simple and lovely images out of the materials she initially found garish.

She inspired us all to reflect on the importance of being able to go to our places of resistance and work from those places as well as our comfort zones. Instead of accepting that our thoughts about what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly are accurate, we can question them and move forward and through the resistance. Sometimes we may love the results and other times be displeased. There are no guarantees, but the journey is both interesting and surprising.

Alchemy often occurs as we surrender our judgements and simply face the unknown, working with resistance instead of fighting it. Often the result becomes a thing of beauty.


Filed under Art Journal Workshops, Mixed media art, Mixed Media Art Journaling, Uncategorized

Art As Escape from the Matrix

Play in Your Art Journal and be Free From the Matrix

Why make art? Why spend hours working and playing in our art journals? For me, it’s a way to temporarily escape the Matrix. Remember the movie, “The Matrix?” Remember when Morpheus tells Neo the Matrix is like a “splinter in your mind?” We feel the itch, the pain, the pointlessness of this dualistic reality – we get tired of being batted about by the play of opposites, the never ending wars of good versus evil. We know all too well we are tethered here, we are tethered by time, by our temporary forms, by the attachments, and the demands. Along with the joys and freedoms we experience, along with the glitz and premisses, we know we are plugged into a system that somehow runs us, that dictates the course of our lives, that calls the shots.

Art Journal Page

Art Journal Page

The creative process, however seemingly humble and insignificant we may sometimes think it is, offers reprieve from these demands. We can find ourselves in the flow, outside of time, and hopefully free from the internal editor or the voices of parents and figures of authority. This is why artists have been willing to sacrifice everything to devote themselves to the call of the muse. This is why we make time to sit and write our blogs or novels, our prose or poetry. We continue to pick up our crayons, put ink to paper, brush color onto the blank white canvas. And, humans will continue to express themselves creatively – to  sing, dance, draw, scribble, doodle, garden, write music, and explore the unknown until the end of creation. It is one of the ways we escape from the Matrix and tap into our unbounded source.

Start an Altered Book

Altered book Madona

Go to a used book store, or simply select a book from your library and begin the process of alteration. I’ll post more on getting started soon!

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein


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Art Journal Pages: Collage, Fabric, Gesso

I’m exploring fabric. I was delighted to find over a dozen free sample books of beautiful fabrics from an interior design store. This can be a great way to find fabric for art projects. Using fabric opens up new possibilities, and I’m considering buying a simple sewing machine to play with. The idea of sewing in my art journal pages interests me, and many people do this with beautiful results.

Flower Bird in a Chair, journal page using fabric, collage and gesso

Flower Bird in a Chair, journal page using fabric, collage and gesso

I’m still such a beginner working with textiles and I know there are hundreds of ways to use this media to enhance my journal as well as other mixed media pieces. There are great books out there on mixing collage with fabric, fabric art, as well as wonderful images on Google.

Woman with a Paint Brush, art journal page, fabric, collage, and gesso

Woman with a Paint Brush, art journal page, fabric, collage, and gesso

So, experimentation continues and any new ideas are welcome!



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Mixed Media Art Journal Page: Fabric on Gesso

Phoebe's Garden - art journal page, fabric on gesso

Phoebe’s Garden – art journal page, fabric on gesso

This is why I love teaching  the Soulful Art Journal classes! When a 16 yr. old girl I’ve just introduced to the mixed-media art journal, produced this wonderful piece, I have to admit, I kind of wished I’d done it myself. There is so much for the imagination to play with when we allow ourselves the freedom to explore different media and approach the process with an open and curious mind, when we allow ourselves to follow our hearts. Following our impulses let’s us discover what works and what we like. It gives us a push into the unknown. We discover that we do not need a map. We do not need to know what the end result will be. In fact, one of my teachers said to me, “What would be the fun in that?” The media has a way of telling us what to do.

Kids have an amazing reservoir of creative energy. They want to express themselves authentically and be free to experiment in a safe environment. There is something safe about working in a journal. It can be an intimate dialogue between you and the muse. You never have to show it to anyone, but you can and probably will. You don’t have to be intimidated by expectations that you should produce perfection, but your pages will be perfect because they are yours. This is why so many of us are hooked and have become best friends with our journals.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

– Pablo  Picasso




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New Journal Pages

Kartika's art journal page

Kartika’s art journal page

I’m loving these pages! They make me happy. And, I’m so lucky to be able to create and to work in my own journal while having classes in my home. I get to work with wonderful women who are kindred spirits in my “Soulful Art Journal Workshop.”

This week, I’ve been having some personal sessions with a friend’s 16 year old daughter. There are those people who take to the creative process like the proverbial ducks to water. They sink like stones into the zone of timelessness. They begin to journal and experience the joy of self-reliance. Self-reliance comes with this territory as we learn to trust ourselves and our perceptions of what works and what doesn’t for us. We learn to let go of the fear of what others will think of our creations. We take the flying leap that is required to dare to make art, to accept that we can and are creative beings who can start whereever we are on this path to self-discovery.

Kartika's art journal page

Kartika’s art journal page

Having the time and the resources to play with art, to be creative, is truly a blessing. But even if we’re extremely busy, it’s important to carve out some space for some kind of creative expression, especially for those of us who say things like, “Someday when I have time, I will write a book,” or when I retire, “I will learn to paint.” Tomorrow may never come.

“If you have never kept an art journal, the prospect of doing so many seem intimidating, but the beauty of keeping a journal is that you don’t ever have to share it. It can be a unique and private place in your life for personal exploration. Journaling may allow you to express yourself in a way you never thought possible and can help expand your artistic skills and confidence. – Dawn DeVries Sokol


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Guan Yin: The Beauty of the Divine Feminine

Quan Yin collage by Kartika

Guan Yin collage by Kartika

This is a mixed media collage using paint, tissue, ink and fine art images. As part of my Buddha collage series, of course I wanted to include Guan Yin who,  as the Buddhist Goddess of compassion, reminds us that the feminine part of our psyche  must be enlivened and given its proper place in the world and within our consciousness.

Since the 1st century AD, Guan Yin has been venerated throughout Asia. Her image has been a source of healing and comfort for millions throughout the ages. This is because she offers unconditional love. Like Mother Mary of the Christian tradition, or Mother Divine of the Hindu tradition, Guan Yin represents the qualities of love, forgiveness, compassion, and motherhood. She offers compassion to all living creatures, to all sentient beings, as well as to all of nature. I see her as one with Mother Earth and as a protectress of creation.

I’m now reading Son of Man, The Mystical Path to Christ by Andrew Harvey. What a find, what a treasure. To read something brilliant, enlightening, and well-researched, by a teacher who is keenly aware of the need for humanity to move from the outmoded institutions founded on all things patriarchal.  Harvey believes that our very survival depends upon our ability to awaken to the fusion of the Father-Mother within the psyche and in the living practice of every human.”

The divine heart is really the Divine Mother’s heart feeling the suffering created by our ignorance. So, as the divine draws you nearer, it draws you through these rounds of beauty and bliss until you are ready to experience the agony of the Mother’s heart, which nearly kills you. – Andrew Harvey

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Art Journal Pages: Taking Flying Leaps

Flying Leap

The signature  of artists is not in what they do but in how intense their motivation is to manifest the extraordinary. – Caroline Myss

This art journal page is about taking flying leaps, leaps of faith. I’ve come to see that life requires us to continue taking both large and a small leaps into the abyss. We are constantly asked to feel the fear and do it anyway. In fact, just the act of being born or giving birth is taking a flying leap. We enter the world as newborns embarking on a journey of self-discovery facing challenges every day and never certain of the outcomes. We give birth in the same way, full of faith that we will be able to go the distance and to love and nurture our creations.  From somewhere inside, we get the strength to keep open while life happens. We  continue trying to  love, to continue learning, to keep forgiving, and getting up after falling down. We continue navigating through the dark, trying to make meaning of this mystery.

I added this quote by Terry Tempest Williams from her lovely memoir, When Women Were Birds. This book is now on my list of must reads for women. Her words ring clear and true,

When women were birds, we knew otherwise. We knew our greatest freedom was in taking flight at night, when we could steal heavenly darkness for ourselves, navigating through the intelligence of stars and the constellations  of our own making in the delight and terror or our uncertainty – Terry Tempest Williams.

Bird song

I need to find my voice when I feel I’m getting stuck in a dark place, so I wrote on this page: “Lately I’ve been sad and a bit discouraged, but now I’m in my art journal where I can be free.”

This piece started in that place and led me to a space of joy. I love the apples and the green paint. The wolf stamped onto the green paper reminds me to follow my instincts and the birds with their open beaks ask me to continue to express myself creatively and to tell my truth.

Making art and telling our stories are ways to discover what we think, how we feel, and enhance our intuition.

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