Archive for August, 2009

Family Bliss Journal 08.2009 4084x3272.2009 4084x3272

Some treasured memories from my childhood, and fodder for future art journals, since there are no pictures of most of these things, I will have to create them myself!  I was 12 years old in this pic and had just left home.  When my grandmother looked at me with the look she has in this picture, I knew that I was good enough in her eyes.  She was so peaceful!  I miss her!


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Mood Journal 08.2009#3 4981x6847 5112x4088.2009 5112x4088

Another one that I’d been working on recently.  Too easy when things are tough in a family to forget the moments that we’ve enjoyed together.  As I was working on this, my first cousin died tragically, the circumstances of which underline the importance of remembering the goodness that you’ve shared together across generations.  This journal page cheers me up & makes me smile.  the tree in the main image is the pecan tree from my grandmother’s house, which really was literally the family tree for me, as so much of the good parts of my family life as a child took place in the vicinity of this tree.  It reminds me of so many important lessons that I eventually learned as a result of what took place around that tree, though it took decades in some cases for me to get the lesson.

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This is the 4th and final stage of this mood journal series.  Here, I have reached the conclusion that, as always before, I have always found solutions to the toughest problems that I have had to confront, and solution/resolution to the current problem will be found within me, as well.  Rather than looking for answers (illumination/strength) from outside, clearly I have the ability to come up with my own solutions that work for me, and I just need to focus on figuring that out by putting my energy there.

This final installment stands as a reminder to me of my own power to move these seemingly solid hard walls.  Historically, the tougher the problem that I have to solve, the more energized and focused I get, and the more powerful and amazing are the creative solutions that I develop.  While it may appear that I have been cut off at the knees (literally in this picture), and bound to stone structures that haven’t been moved in centuries.  Pretty compelling representation of (seemingly) impossible obstacles.  Yet, it is clear that, despite the current situation, that power comes from within, and all that I need still exists in me.  So now I simply need to gather the information and develop the action plan.  Removing the emotional obstacles (negative perceptions) is key.

I have developed one image that has the 4 stages together, because it helps me to clearly see the progression and transition:

Art Journal

I really like how much more effective this was for me, and I intend to do more.

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In stage 3, I finished developing the majority of my self-portrait:

Mood Journal 08.2009#3 4981x6847 5029x6604

The detailing in the wings and choking poison ivy really builds the sense of the great potential and the severity of the perceived constraints and potential harm without solution.  Of course, it’s not the whole story, because the perception at this stage is clearly one of helplessness without a sense for a way out of the dilemma.  Seeing the image gives me a clear picture of how I am seeing myself at this stage, and enables me to sort of look at myself from the outside, and to think about whether it is realistic, and if there are other ways of seeing my situation.  It’s the most encouraging message that I could get when facing doubt, and by putting irrational fears into an image, it enables me to expel them.  At this point, there was real momentum built around completing the process in the final stage (next post).

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Mood Journal 08.2009#3 5104x6232.2009#3 4981x6847 5104x6232-1

Here’s stage 2:

Here, I decided that what I was feeling was that I had the ability to do really great things and could fly in the figurative sense, at least, and had done so many times in my career and personal life on multiple levels.   But what I was feeling was constrained by various things, and I wasn’t sure what to do about that.  The longer it took for me to get past the things that were getting in my way, the more confined I was feeling, and the more difficult I thought it would be for me to overcome this.  Here are the beginnings of wings and strangling vines (actually poison ivy, which will become more apparent in subsequent stages).  I was pleased with the concept, but these things needed more work.

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Ok, so it was recommended to me, a “word” person, to try doing art journaling instead of a traditional word journal.  Given that I have never considered myself any kind of visual artist, the very concept was intimidating to me.  Heck, I’m left-handed, and I’ve always considered my handwriting to be so bad, that the idea of using that hand (or the other one or my feet) to try to represent what’s in my head sounded like a really BAD idea.  But there were reasons why I thought it was worth trying, and now I’m really glad that I did.

  1. I felt a need to journal, and to find a way to focus on what I’m thinking and feeling, really separate things and get, keep and/or restore perspective.  When I feel challenged, I needed a way to sort that out on my own, and not simply ruminate. 
  2. I had considered word journaling, but that really has never worked for me.  I have ADHD, and though I am really strong in the word department, I have difficulty really benefiting from journaling and sticking with it, and even after I’ve written a journal entry or 10, I lose them, don’t really look at them again, and the stuff that I’ve written kind of feels like it’s just disappeared somewhere and I forget about it, and I haven’t managed to keep a sense of benefit from the process aside from the mental dump at the time.  I kept losing the journals, and when I would later find them, very often my eyes would glaze over and I wouldn’t really connect unless there was something else motivating me to read a particular thing.  When I tried to write by hand, I couldn’t read my own writing.  When I do it on computer, it got filed and disappeared into the ethers.  If I printed it, I couldn’t remember where I stuck it. 
  3. But this art journaling thing has proven to be just the thing for me, and no one has been more surprised than me to discover how valuable a tool it has become for me.   The saying that a picture is worth 1000 words is even more true in art journaling, because I can look at ONE thing and get all that information and feeling that I put into it very quickly.  I can connect with a HUGE amount of information that I’ve shared with myself in a single image page, and I don’t have to wade through tons and tons of words that may be more difficult to hold my focus.  With the images, one sweep of my eyes catches my attention and what is represented in the pictures, and stimulates my memory and sometimes helps to remind me of solutions that are available to me in future situations, without taking a lot of time or energy to access that information again.  It’s like the image acts like a GPS for my brain!  Who knew?
  4. Because I do mixed media, combining various materials, methods, techniques, I can integrate anything I want into my journal–photographic images, images that I create myself, or use someone else’s images (with permission of course) into a page that conveys how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking about, or things that I want to remind myself about when I need those kinds of reminders. 
  5. Holding onto the journal entries isn’t a problem either, because they are visually appealing, and I can throw them right up on my walls!
  6. There’s something about the tactile aspect of the process of physically creating a representation of my thoughts/feelings in an art journal that really helps me to see myself from another perspective, and when I look at it, I know what the person who did that page was feeling, and I can examine it and decide what it means.  And the discoveries are not limited to just that moment, because looking back at earlier pages often makes me notice things that I hadn’t noticed before, such as progressions & transitions in how I think about something, or shifts in my moods, or little details that got poured into the art journal itself from my subconscious, but that I didn’t notice on a conscious level until later.  It would take me a long time to discover something similar if I was doing only word journals.
  7. It helps my husband to know and understand me better, as well.  He looks at my journal pages sometimes and better understands how I was feeling about something or that something was weighing on my mind differently than he had assumed.  Of course, I also write songs, and he being a musician himself, has observed things about some songs that I have written, that motivated him to ask me questions about what I meant.  Very cool to be able to give him ways to open dialogues with me and enrich our bond.
  8. The first journals that I’ve done now have within them ideas for future journals that I’d like to do!

I still don’t consider myself “an artist,” though I am pleased with my efforts.  My daughter and my mother are both artists, and I think they each have excellent talent, though they are very different as artists.  I accomplished what I was striving for—and more—so that makes it successful for me, to capture what I was feeling, chart the progression of my own thoughts and feelings, and through basically 4 stages, arrived somewhere that I was able to get through the journaling process.  It was actually quite a surprise how effective this was for me!  I am also pleased from an aesthetic standpoint with the outcome, as I find all of the stages pleasing to look at, as well.

Here’s Stage 1:

Here, this is a self-portrait, and at the time, I was feeling a bit disconnected, and unclear about how I was feeling about something pretty important.  What was bothering me Mood Journal 08.2009#1 4981x6847.2009#1 4981x6847was feeling “yucky” but not having clarity around what was going on with me, and that bothered me.  I began this series to sort out my own mind, and this is where I started.  It’s a curious process, having a pen or paintbrush in hand, with me being so unfamiliar with doing these kinds of manipulations, to be forced to develop skills to accomplish the task, using my hands.  Yet, I think that this was a key element to why it worked well.  I was forced to try to represent things that already felt unclear to me, in a form that was unfamiliar to me, using parts of my body (eyes & hands) in ways that I’ve never done before, and I didn’t have a clue how to start.  This kind of scenario would have been a classic dilemma for me in the past, yet in this instance, I somehow knew intuitively that I needed to do exactly this, and there was an unexpected sense of urgency about it for me.

Staring a a big white piece of paper without a plan for what I was going to do or how I would do it was daunting, to say the least.  I felt extremely reluctant to start to put anything on that paper.  What should my feelings look like?  What should I look like sitting with them?  What should the context look like?  Once I stopped worrying about deciding everything in advance, and just to go with my gut, I accepted that there was no right or wrong to this process.  What was important was DOING it.  It didn’t matter how it looked or how the materials worked, so long as I represented as accurately as I could, what/how I was feeling and/or what my thoughts were.  I feel that I accomplished this, and more effectively than I ever have with any form of journaling or lettering before.

More to follow…

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Tasha Miller Griffith

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