The Soulful Art Journal Workshop: Working with Mistakes

Sunday was an interesting and fun Soulful Art Journal Workshop. This was the second session in a series of 4.  The workshop is working in the mixed media art journal, so on Sunday I introduced ink. I love seeing what the women come create. I worked on my own mixed media piece along with the other women, and some of us were struggling with the inner critic.

Altered book pages done in collage and mixed media

Altered book pages done in collage and mixed media

Why I love Titan Buff paint color 

Making art requires us to be flexible and learn ways to deal with so-call “mistakes.” In reality there are no mistakes because art is just a process of trying things and learning what we like and how to make what we like happen more and more.

What do we do when we don’t like what we are producing? Do we have to rip out the journal page and start a-new? This week while teaching my workshop, I used myself as an example. I admitted that I hated what I’d done so far, but I kept changing the paint color. Finally after trail and error and going over the color with diffferent colors a few times, I pulled out my tube of acrylic Titan Buff. It is a staple in my paint stash. I always have a Titan Buff on hand – all artists have their equivalent of Titan Buff (often it is Gesso, another favorite of mine). Titan Buff is a lovely, creamy off-white color. It is a paint color I love and it works well with all of my earthy tones. And, it covers beautifully.  It accepts layers well, so you can paint over it or stamp on it with great effects.

So that’s my little story for Sunday’s The Soulful Art Journal Workshop.

Happy art journaling and happy art making….there are no mistakes, just opportunities.

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Wonderful Soulful Art Journal Workshop

Altered book pages using lace, dictionary pages, collage, paint and handmade paper

Women Inspiring Women

I’m so happy about the wonderful group of women who participated in the Soulful Art Journal Workshop this Sunday. I was so inspired by watching them in the midst of making art, connecting with themselves through exploring and playing with mixed media. One of the most exciting things for me is when women share their stories and ideas about life and art. Everyone has unique ways of working with media and being creative, and the more we open to OUR way the fuller the well of creativity becomes. The well never runs dry if we continue to dig deeply and don’t allow fear to obstruct the natural flow.  I feel so blessed that so many women both inspire and encourage me on the journey of living the artist’s way. We can become each others teachers and muses.

I’m in love with Altered Books.

One on my current passions is creating altered books. I’m having so much fun with this process that I’m already imagining what my future altered books will look like. Both of these pages reflect my current love affair with vintage lace. I cannot get enough of it.

Altered book page using collage, paint, lace, handmade paper, and tape

Altered book page using collage, paint, lace, handmade paper, and tape

The wise Picasso understood that life is gritty and covers us with worries. For me making art is a life-saver, a place of refreshment.

We all need a good dusting on a regular basis!

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Pablo Picasso

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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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Buddha Collage Series

Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint, and paper

Buddha in the City – Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint, and paper

Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint, and paper

Buddha in the Garden – Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint, and paper

Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint and paper

Buddha with Devotees – Collage by Kartika using fine art books, paint and paper

The Buddhist Way

I have loved working on this collage series because the symbols and the images of Buddha move me so deeply. Although I’m not a Buddhist, I love reading bits and pieces of the Buddhist teaching. The Buddhist practice of “mindfulness” is one we can all benefit from. Paying attention to our breathing, our bodies, the present moment is powerful. I’ve read books by Thich Nhat Hanh whose teachings help us be better Christians, Buddhists, and people in general. I believe love is the only religion we need.  And, who better to remind us to forgive and to love our enemies than Thich Nhat Hanh, a survivor of so many social injustices. Yet, his life is dedicated to love and to kinship with all sentient beings.

There are so many wonderful Buddhist teachers both known and unknown to the world. I love this quote by the Dalai Lama, one of the world’s greatest teachers , who in spite of all of the suffering he and his people have experienced, he teaches only love and forgiveness.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple, the philosophy is kindness. – The Dalai Lama

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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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Today’s Art Journal Post: The Gatekeeper and Bird on a Teapot

Gatekeeper

I call this art journal page “The Gatekeeper.” Over the years I’ve become fascinated with the idea of the stages of the hero’s journey as described in the numerous works of Joseph Campbell and other teachers such as, Caroline Myss, Clarrisa Pinkola Estes, and many others who draw insight and inspiration from the wisdom of mythology.

I’ve come to believe that Campbell’s description of the hero’s journey is applicable to  both women and men and offers insight into the passages we move through toward self-realization or discovering our life’s purpose.  In the Hero with a Thousand Faces, these phases are separation, initiation, and return.

Once we accept the call to fulfill our highest potential, we enter a world of danger as well as the promise of initiation into higher knowledge.  But there is always a Gatekeeper, often a terrifying demon or shape shifter who tests the mettle of the candidate, who must pass tests before being allowed to proceed to the next level of the hero’s journey. In this collage, I chose a feminine figure to represent the Gatekeeper.

Art journal page - mixed media

Art journal page – mixed media

“Bird on a Teapot” represents the power of voice and speaking our truth. I imagine this bird as the part of me that needs to speak freely before being able to take flight. It represents the fifth chakra of the physical body’s subtle energy system. 

In this collage, the bird signifies the willingness to speak the truth in spite of consequences, to use speech as a vehicle to uplift, inspire, educate, sing, and bring beauty into the world. 

The heroine must become a spiritual warrior. … She must not discard nor give up what she has learned throughout her heroic quest, but learn to view her hard-earned skills and success not so much as a goal but as one part of the entire journey. She will begin to use these skills to work toward the larger quest of bringing people together, rather than her own individual gain. This is the sacred marriage of the feminine and masculine–when a woman can truly serve not only the needs of others but can value and be responsive to her own needs as well.

Maureen Murdock

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New Art Journal Page

New art journal page - mixed media collage and paint

New art journal page – mixed media collage and paint

This is a productive time for me. After leaving my job of six years, it is time to go even more deeply into my journey of self-discovery. Working and playing in my art journals is helping me to stay connected with “my bliss.” When I feel afraid of life’s challenges, art helps me to reconnect with  what truly matters. I’ve been reading Women Who Run With Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her stories of women inspire me to stay on my path of self-discovery through art. She says,

“A woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves. One will arrange that one’s creative life has consistent fire under it.”

I also love this quote from Joseph Campbell who is one of the greatest world teachers. These words never fails to inspire me,

“The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.”

Peace and inspiration everyone!

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My Mixed Media Art Journal Workshop Is in Process

Woamn with a Jar

     

LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE

A Self Discovery Workshop for Women through the Mixed-Media Art Journal

What is your story?

Women among women:  Telling our stories to ourselves and others. As creatives and creators, we as women give birth to form, function, and beauty. Living a soulful life involves accessing and expressing our deepest selves and sharing our wisdom with others.

Art journaling is a meditative process that goes much deeper than simply producing a piece of art. It is a step into the mystery that is ourselves. It is indeed a process that allows us access to our authentic selves. The beauty of the process (and the result) is that everyone is able to partake and everyone is able to create a beautiful journal.

All aspects of our unique self-expression are welcome in a safe and nurturing space, in which we come together to simply be ourselves. As women among women, we support and inspire one another on our paths toward healing and wholeness through inner self-discovery.

Thus we join together to:

  • Understand our personal narratives

  • Create unique mixed-media journals through which to tell our stories

  • Explore and identify our personal archetypes

  • Support and inspire one another on a path toward healing and wholeness

  • Have fun learning to use writing, paint, ink, fabric, stamps, ephemera, and all manner of stuff to make art

  • Share who we are in a sacred circle

“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”― Clarissa Pinkola EstésWomen Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman

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My Muse Blue

My Muse Blue

My Muse Blue

Women, poets, and especially artists, like cats: delicate natures only can realize their sensitive nervous systems.
Helen M. Winslow

This is Blue. He loves art and cannot help himself from wanting to get into the mix of things when I’m involved at my art table. He loves sitting on easels and standing on stacks of collage magazines, or pushing pencils and erasures onto the floor. This can drive me nuts, but he has so many good points. I think artists in general like cats and find them soothing, entertaining, and mysterious companions.

I think Blue would love to be a cat who paints, but I haven’t given him the chance. He is a big and patient boy. He is mellow and undemanding. He is very cuddly and good in bed. He likes to spoon. He doesn’t judge me for loving sleep and wanting to sleep in the afternoon – for being a night owl.

Blue

I’m certain Blue admires my creative endeavors. He isn’t the least bit critical of my art. In fact he considers me fascinating and never tires of the scraps of paper, the pencils, the markers, and especially the water in jars that I bring to the table. As far as he is concerned I’m Frida Kahlo or Georgia O’Keeffe. I adore him for that.

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The Art Journal Is a Personal Diary

The Soulful Art Journal

For me, the art journal is a sacred space. It is full with emptiness asking us to make it whole. It beckons us like the blank canvas of the painter. In spite of our excitement to begin a journal or journal page, we often feel somewhat intimidated.  The proverbial inner critic begins to rant that we have nothing to say so why bother picking up a pen, that we have no artistic ability, so why bother with the paint, and on and on. This can stop us dead in our tracks. Or, we can simply start something, anything. We can make a mark, write a word, and see where it takes us. We can surrender to the moment and tell the critic, “Okay, I recognize you. You’re the one who stops me from being who I really am. You’re like my Aunt Sally who told me I would never be able to drive a school bus because I’m a girl and I never should have listened to her. And, I simply don’t have time for your nonsense, It’s time for me to get on with MY life, my art, my journey where ever it takes me.”

Mixed media art journal page

Mixed media art journal page

And, if we allow ourselves to open to the unknown forms, ideas, and insights that reside within us, to trust that our creativity springs forth from an eternal source, we enter into a dialogue with our ourselves. That dialogue takes us to our sacred space, to our deepest parts. For me, There is nothing more satisfying then this soulful journey of self-discovery.

The Mixed Media Art Journal 

My journals are usually of the mixed media kind. They are made with sturdy quality water color paper and accept paint and ink, fabric, and ephemera. This kind of journal makes it easy to experiment and play with many materials and media.  Somehow working in an art journal feels less risky than working on a canvas or a single piece of paper. I’m more able to let go of expectations – after all, it’s just a little journal – and allow myself to simply play and enjoy the process. An art journal is where I’m free to have a personal dialogue with myself – no one has to see it or read my words unless I decide to share. It allows me to experiment with ideas and different media – so what if I make bad art or no art at all, that is not my purpose. Most of all, spending time with my art journal is like being with a friend who helps me heal and work through my demons and sometimes come out the other side.

Mixed media art journal page

Mixed media art journal page

It’s possible I may feel that serotonin rush when a color or a line feels right or the words make sense out of senselessness. I may even feel in synchronicity with my muse, the creative spirit that gives my life meaning.

 

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