AND THE WINNER IS!!!!
Congratulations, Ursula! I have sent your details to Kara! xo
I am so excited to announce that I am going to be a guest teacher in LET’S FACE IT 2017! In case you are unfamiliar with this course, it is a year-long, online, art class created and hosted by Kara Bullock, devoted to creating portraits! It is for any level: beginning, intermediate, and advanced.
The 2017 Let’s Face It class has a BRAND NEW line up of amazing teachers, and FIVE new areas of focus, with some other exciting EXTRAS, too! This year, Kara is joined by 19, AMAZING, guest teachers! You will not believe this line up! Together, we will be giving you 50 weeks of lessons that will continue to encourage and support you along your creative journey that you are
on! Come and join us! Together we will connect, collaborate and create!
To find out more about LET’S FACE IT click on this link! Registration opens on October 10th, and If you register by December 1st, you will get an "EARLY BIRD" discount!
AND GUESS WHAT! I'm giving away a free spot!
To enter this give-away:
I will announce the winner TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2016.
If you are wondering who won the Life Book 2017 GIVEAWAY, I've announced that over here.
Hello, Sweet Artsy Tribe!
I have a couple of great questions to cover in today's dispatch, so let's dig in!
First, a stencil care question!
I'm watching the opening ceremonies decorating FFII journal & have a question about scrubbing the gesso off through a stencil. My gesso always dries too fast, tries to permanently adhere the stencil. How can I keep it workable for longer?
Thanks and <3
I'm going to confess. I don't worry about stuff adhering to my stencils because I have a secret weapon that I discovered in my Facebook feed a bazillion years ago: Murphy's Oil Soap.
I let my stencils get pretty manky, because LAZY and also BUSY, so once in a while, when I'm doing a deep clean in my studio, I'll grab my stencils, stick them in a butcher's try (or dish pan), cover them in hot water and add a cap full of Murphy's Oil Soap. I will also toss my brushes in there, too.
About an hour later (or however long it takes me to finish my deep clean), I'll dump the whole thing in the bathtub, and rinse every off. All the paint, and other mediums, just slides right off the stencils, leaving them pretty much like new.
If you really want to keep your gesso workable for longer, however, you could mix it with a little bit of acrylic glazing liquid (Golden). This will retard the drying time BUT for me, it defeats the purpose of using thin layers of gesso in this manner. What I want is for that layer to dry as quickly as possible so I can get on with the business of glazing over the stenciled design, and then make doodles out of it. I have little patience for letting things dry, so retarding drying time would cause me some annoyance. I'd honestly rather clean my stencils once in a while rather than worry about cleaning as I go.
I hope this helps!
On Imposter Syndrome
I know you've spoken a couple of times about Imposter syndrome - and I love those posts! I have them bookmarked and read them quite often.
I'm wondering if you can talk a bit about when you started teaching - since you came to art with no background in it. How did it feel, at that point, to teach? How did you move past the fear (of being "found out", of being unsure if what you were teaching was "original" - or am I being presumptuous here? These are some things I'm grappling with...I was wondering if you ever felt the same way and maybe have some thoughts on it?) and do it anyway?
"How did it feel at that point, to teach?"
Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
I had a background, however, in sharing my enthusiasm for things that mattered to me, and that enthusiasm was my portal into teaching. The best teachers are not necessarily experts. They are necessarily *excited*. I had that in spades.I also had ways of meeting myself on the page that had come out of a 20 plus year creative writing habit. That wasn't anything anyone else bestowed upon me. I built that myself, and I translated that into an art journaling practice, and *that* is what I taught.
None of my classes have been technique based, or even skills based. I focus on what I know, and what I know best is how to help people meet themselves on the page. THAT is my jam. That is my niche. That is my best thing, so that's what I offer.
I'm always careful to credit whomever I learned a thing from when it comes to the art stuff, because I am now, and will always be a student of this creative modality. The 'meeting ourselves on the page' stuff, though? I developed that myself, so I feel absolutely qualified to share that without apology or fear of being an imposter.
You don't have to be an expert to begin.
My very first 'permission slip' came in the form of something Jen Lemen said in an e-course I was taking about dreaming big (no longer being offered, alas). She said the words "You don't have to be an expert to begin" and boom. Permission granted!
That doesn't mean that the imposter syndrome went away. I am still grappling with it in a big way, especially in the areas of 'running a business' (who the fuck do I think I am?), and being a teacher (what?). Yowza. What a struggle.
In 2014, I shelled out thousands to learn how to run the business *I was already running* because I felt like an imposter as an entrepreneur. Needless to say, I picked up a few things, but I kept on doing things the way I'd' always done them. Last year, I shelled out thousands of dollars for a program that promised to teach me how to be *what I already am* - a teacher - and for about nine months, I struggled with extreme doubt that swung wildly from "I'm not good enough, and I need this" to "I am good enough, and I don't need this."
I don't need it. I can already do the thing I was trying to learn to do, only I do it *my way*, and my way *is good enough*. It's a new discovery, and I'm sure I'll waffle, but I'm getting there.
I have finally accepted, though, that I *am* an artist.
I need struggle no more with accepting that. I do art. Daily. That makes me an artist. I take care of quantity by showing up and working as prolifically as I can, and I let time & practice take care of quality, because I trust that the more I work, the better I'll get. I *am* an artist. Whether I'm a 'good' artist or not is none of my business.
I think imposter syndrome and good-enoughness is a constant struggle, though, because here's I thing I know for sure: I will always be right here, with my current set of skills, and there will always be a 'there' to strive toward. We are never complete. Our skills can always improve. We can always become better at the thing we are presently doing, so there is always that shiny THERE out there, and we will always have this gap between here and there.
The trick, I think, is to recognize that our 'here' was once that shiny someday when. We have arrived. Every moment. We are arriving. We are the thing we are trying to become *already*.
You are your own authority.
If I were you, I'd keep reminding yourself that you are already the thing you are trying to become, and simply *do the work*. Sketch the things. Paint the paintings. Make the art. Write the content. Send the newsletter. You don't have to be 'over there, where you have mastered everything' to do that. You are already here, now, where you have something to share, and excitement about sharing it.
I hope that helped!
See you next Tuesday.
I hope you had a chance to enter my giveaway draw for a seat in Life Book 2017 this week, but in case you hadn't, the post is here! You can circle back to this post for your Q&A this week, so go enter, and I'll meet you back here in a second!
Back? Awesome! I have a question about style development in the queue this week, so let's dive in.
My question is this... At what point or when does one develop your own style?
I love YouTube and Pinterest but I find I do more watching than 'doing' sometimes.
I never seen to be able to make my art my own.
This is something I'm still working on, since I wasn't born with a paintbrush in my hand, so I don't know very much about the subject of how other people develop their styles. What I *can* tell you is that, for me, personal style begins to emerge when I start to forego the step-by-step stuff and start branching out on my own.
My number one tool in this endeavour is my notebook, which I take with me to every tutorial I watch. As I watch, I take notes about what excites me, new techniques, what I might want to try, colour palettes, and then, when I sit down to do the art part, I turn off the video. I go it alone.
Here's a sampling of my notebook for Radiant: Faces
This only works for me because I did a lot of copying in my early years. I did the step-by-step stuff. I 'arted along', and that was so valuable for me when I needed to learn skills like 'how to layer' and 'how to draw a face', but once I had those skills down, it was important that I stop leaning quite so heavily on instruction and go off in my own direction.
Getting to know my own preferences has also been a huge part of this. I will switch out the palette, use different shapes/symbols, draw the face 'my way' - which I developed over years of drawing faces rather than drawing them my instructors way. I have preferred lip shapes, preferred ways of shading, preferred ways of adding text. All of these preferences were developed over time and experimentation. The result of this is that, even when I'm under the wing of a teacher, my style - or something approaching 'my style' comes through.
If style development is something you are wanting to work on right now, I recommend taking a peek at Ever After - Module 2. Designed by Tamara LaPorte, this class is specifically geared towards developing your own style. There will be a 70 minute interview with me in the area of style development in October, and I touch upon the things I mentioned here, and much more. I also have an Ultimate Notebook supplement in my Book Of Days program that walks a student through how *I* take classes so that they can begin to allow classes to help them build their skills while leaving space for their own style to emerge.
The primary way I've worked towards developing my own style, though, is *practice*. I take classes. I take notes. I do the work, and I keep doing it. Any kind of development has its roots in the *doing* of a thing. Watching can be super informative, and you can learn a lot, but unless you turn that 'input' into 'output', you will not see very much change in your skills or abilities.
I posted this in the group for Facing Forward II last week because I felt it was important for people to see what a difference practice makes.
That's it for me this week, loves!
If you want to work on developing a creative practice, and you're especially interested in faces, I'm running Facing Forward II right now, and it is geared towards a written + art journaling practice that will get you creating on the regular!
The first lesson in Facing Forward II went live today, and I got out my handy calculator to add up the total viewing time. 4.8 hours. Dudes. Crazy. In our first lesson together, there is a tutorial on journaling your way from blurts (negative self-talk) to bouquets (affirmations that you can use as sentiments in your art journal). We also create two different kinds of spreads - one really complex & deeply shaded, and the other, created with a template that I've provided, that is much less work intensive, but no less meaningful. I round out the lesson with the creation of a wee affirmation card, made with an artist tile.
Jam. Packed. I'm really proud of it.
Working with affirmations is tricksy, because we can get caught up in feeling like big fat liars when you use them. I help you with that in the introductory video as well, because I struggle with this myself.
ANYWAY! I'd love to see you in there, if you're so inclined.
On to today's ASK EFFY ANYTHING.
Enjoy reading your blog and one of your sentences lead me to my question. You wrote " I *do* have confidence in, however, is my ability to spill,"
I've been journaling for 50+ yrs and I've explored many methods and journeys on the page. But lately I feel like I can't dig deep enough, I know there's more to find deep down, but just can't reach there. When I journal, it feels like a regurgitation! 'Been there, done that.... ' What suggestions would you have for diving really really deeply into the layers of my soul?
As I read your letter, two books came to mind, since they are my 'go-to' resources for any kind of creative block. The first is "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron which advocates three longhand pages of journaling a day, much of which will absolutely be 'regurgitation', and the second is "Life's Companion: Journal Writing As A Spiritual Practice" by Christina Baldwin.
I know that your question is about art journaling, but here's the thing. Written journaling can lead beautifully into art journaling. In fact, there are very few spreads in my art journal that didn't first begin as some kind of written exploration.
I'm also wondering if you may be a little bit wrapped up in creating beautiful things vs. addressing your internal processes. I know that when I get caught up in the making part of art journaling versus the digging around in my own stuff part, the spreads I create tend to fall flat for me. They don't feel deep enough. They don't feel like they say anything much about what's going on with me.
If you want to deepen your journaling, one of the best ways is to trust the regurgitation part of things. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but I really believe that doing a daily regurgitation of what's going on can lead us the deeper material *if we let it*. The way to let it is to let the mind do the regurgitation thing for as long as it needs to. When you feel like you've cleared your mental decks of all of the 'this happened and that happened' and you don't think you have anything left to say, I find it really helpful to ask myself "What am I sitting with?" I'm usually looking for something that isn't settled in me - a memory, or a feeling I'm not quite sure I understand. Getting to this deeper stuff can take patience. You may have a journaling practice for quite some time before it starts to happen, but if you commit to at least three pages of long hand a day, eventually, your regurgitation will get shorter, and you will go for the deep dive much more quickly.
Sometimes, I start my journaling session by asking myself "What's up, buttercup?"
This gives me permission to speak to myself on the page as though I am a beloved, trusted friend. I find this most helpful if I'm feeling a confusion of things, or if I can't quite get my thoughts straight.
Here are two videos from Facing Forward II that go into more detail on the easy journaling practice I use to get to what's going on in my innards. I also take it to the next level in search of the reframe or affirmation that I might take into the art journal as a way to begin to heal the harder stuff I might be feeling.
Journaling for access to your inner voices.
Originally filmed for Facing Forward II.
Working with affirmations to design art journal spreads.
Originally filmed for Facing Forward II.
Here's a spread I created after working with this journaling process.
Sometimes, though, there is nothing 'deeper' to access.
We do get to have these lovely periods in our lives when a calm surface does not veil choppy waters. Sometimes, the calm is real. We are in a good place. We need not dig, because whatever is there either hasn't finished bubbling up to the surface yet, or there is nothing there to bubble up. We should all be so lucky. :) I especially enjoy these phases of my life as short lived as they might be!
There's also a misunderstanding that deep stuff must be heavy or painful.
This is so not true. Sometimes the deepest stuff is about how much beauty there is in our lives. Sometimes it's about our profound gratitude for our lives. Sometimes there is just so much peace at hand, that things can feel 'too simple', but this peace deep, wide, and very full. These topics can be difficult to journal about because we can feel trite, too flowery, 'purple'. It's okay to extol the wonderfulness in your life, though, and spreads created from that vantage point can be as equally deep and meaningful as the ones that come out of our more difficult feelings & experiences.
There's another thought coming up for me around trust.
Can you be trusted to really hear what it is that your soul is wanting? Do you work to change the things that come up over and over again? Do you trust yourself to act upon the deeper truths? Or have you broken contracts with yourself so that your inner voices no longer trust you to do anything about what *does* come up. This is not uncommon, and it's something I struggle with myself. When I regurgitate over the same issues over and over again for years, but refuse to/or can't do the deeper work of *changing it*, I can lose faith with myself. I stop trusting myself. Journaling can feel like a slog instead of a practice that nourishes me. The trick there, I think, is to acknowledge it, forgive myself, and begin to ask myself 'What should I be doing about this?' Break it down, and do the simplest, easiest step.
I hope this gives you some stuff to think about! <3
Thank you all for the questions you sent this week! I have a juicy bundle of them to draw from now, and I am very grateful for your participation in this series!
Don't forget to check out Life Book 2017, and Let's Face It 2017. I will be in both classes next year, and I would absolutely love to see you there! I’d love it if you’d join me for Facing Forward II which started TODAY! You can also join me in Book Of Days Semi-Annual, which is ongoing through till the end of December, or any other of the classes I’ll be appearing in next year, or teaching in my own platform. If you’re looking for a FREE fun challenge, try Journal52!
To join the conversation, sign up for my newsletter, and send in your questions for Ask Effy Anything!
There is this absolutely amazing series on the History channel (also available through iTunes) that has completely shattered any shame I might have had about my feelings about human connection. I no longer feel any shame - like zero - about loving, wanting, desiring, or longing for human connection. I feel no shame for missing the people that matter to me, despite decades long conditioning to believe that doing so was somehow unhealthy or overdramatic.
Loving people is the common thread that unites MOST of us, and this show proved that to me.
Let me explain.
Some of the people that I've come into contact with (read: love) seem to have very poor esteem/lack of understanding for those of us who need other people. They appear to view this need as pitiful, laughable, or as a weakness. And I have had first hand experience with certain people who I've witnessed responding to other people's dependency on others with something that looked to my admittedly biased, untrained eye like derision. There appeared to be some pity, some disbelief, and some shaking of the head, bafflement & even confusion. If I'm being honest, there appeared to be a bit of a sneer for the pathetic human who was crying from feeling the ache of loneliness we all feel when we've been alone for a time.
I'm not naming any names, but this is a true story.
I was sitting on the couch in my apartment with someone I love very, very deeply, who has professed to love me deeply, but who doesn't desire my lifestyle of connectedness, relationship, and commitment. Don't ask me why I was hanging out with him. I just was, because stupid, and also hopelessly in love, and also competely oblivious to our irreconcilable differences *up until that point*.
We were hanging out, as humans do, watching the show. I'd suggested it as something said person would really love, and of course, I was right, but there was this thing - this earthshatteringly horrible thing, to which I'd been previously oblivious - that became evident over our shared enjoyment of the show.
During Season One, Episode Nine, a cast member expressed deep longing for his person.
My person-who-is-not-willing-to-be-my-person turned to me with a look of such disbelief on his face that I felt it as though I'd been slapped in the face.
This person, this beloved of mine, seemed to be unable to relate to the cast member's longing for their person *at all*. They wore a look that bordered on scorn on their face as the cast member spoke openly, beautifully, vulnerably about the way he had to *force himself* not to think about his love because doing so was too painful for him to bear.
Being who I am, and feeling the tension rise between us, I turned to my beloved and said "Look, you attach differently from other people. I get it, but this is how the rest of us attach. We miss each other. We long for each other. When we love someone, we ache to be with them."
He nodded, thoughtfully, and then said:
"It would be different if I knew for certain that I would never see that person again, but otherwise..." and he kind of shook his head and trailed off.
Meanwhile, I kind of scuttled off into the corner of the other end of the couch because I felt a little bit like I was in the presence of another species - one that could not possibly begin to understand the depth of my feelings about loss, love, longing, desire, and attachment.
I didn't want this moment of clarity. It was completely unwelcome. But it came on, and it came on like most true things do. Like a sledge hammer. Without mercy. And with no way back from knowing.
Here's the thing.
I don't get people that don't miss people. I don't. I don't get people that could go off into the wilderness for more than a few days without starting to feel longing like a motherfucking razor blade in the guts. Some of my children live in other cities from me, and some live in other provinces. Some live right here in the city I occupy. I miss them. I feel it daily. I cope with it, because one must cope if one is to live with the reality that one's loved ones can't always be present, but I *feel* it all the same.
I miss the people I love. I miss *my* people.
I *hope* I'll see them again (if the fates are kind), but that isn't promised, and I know that. Having lost people I loved (my sister, my first husband, my father, friends I loved, friends I didn't know well at all, but grew to love from a distance) to suicide, illness, and the mysterious randomness of the universe, I have learned not take their presence in my life for granted.
I may never see you again. The last words I utter in your general direction may very well be the very last words you ever hear me utter. I may die with everything unspoken. You may die before I have my chance to speak what needs to be spoken.
I live with this every day of my life.
You know? If you've lost someone, you know.
This is the unbearable lightness of our being. It is brief. It is not guaranteed. It comes with no promises or contracts, and while I am taking a two hour bath with my phone off, something catastrophic could *absolutely* happen that would mean that I will spend the rest of my life missing someone who had *no idea* I would miss them except that I did my very level best to ensure that they knew that I would completely fucking miss them.
If you know who I'm talking about, you'll know the absolute stunning, awful swiftness of that dear love's departure from our lives. One day, she was administrating my groups beautifully, and the next, she was dead. Gone forever.
It is a teensy, tiny consolation to me that the last thing I ever said to her was "You matter to me."
Because she did.
And I wanted her to know.
That kind of consciousness - the fully, deeply experienced awareness that we are here and then erased as though we never existed - has the power to make you really fucking crazy, or really fucking awake, and in my case, I think it's made me awake. It's made me awake, and it's made me very particular about how I treat the people I love.
I want them to know they matter. I want to be certain of that. I want them to never question for a second that I thought about them all the time, that when they weren't around, I missed them, and that they were wanted, loved, valued...
That guy on Alone, Day 9, missing his wife with an unbearable visceral longing that was only eased by the thought of bringing home a lifetime's worth of abundance *to her*, *for her* is my fucking hero. I get him.
The guy that wanted his dad to be proud of him, who took the adventure on with a full-throated, unabashed devotion to making his dad proud; he's my hero, too.
The guy that said, with tears in his eyes, "It makes you wonder if the people that you love really know how much you love them..." before he shut his camera off because the moment had become too big for him, too vulnerable to share - he's my hero.
The woman in season 2 who went home because she felt her children tugging at her sleeve from across a continent. The man who asked "What good is all of this if there is no one to share it with?". The one who said out loud that he had everything except his wife...and then went home because fuck it. He wanted, loved, missed HIS WIFE.
And the guy who quit second to last because he realized that nothing meant anything without his partner, and the one who hung in there long after his body screamed for relief because he wanted to become the YES MAN to his beloved children at whom he'd always had to chant the words "Sorry" and "NO".
Purveyors of hope.
Shining beacons of light in my dark, dark night of the soul.
There is a lot of social shaming around needing and/or wanting to be coupled up/connected, but I think that's fear talking. You hear me? I think the way we talk about being too awesome to be bothered about whether we are loved or not, accepted or not, alone or not, is unadulterated bullshit the majority of the time.
This show really proved that to me.
We are nothing without the ones we love. Nothing. Without our attachment to those we love, our lives go un-witnessed. There is no meaning in them. We exist merely to eat, sleep, shit, and die. We give nothing. We receive nothing. Maybe we do good work that pays our bills (if we're lucky) but unless we're curing cancer or discovering something completely, stratospherically, mindblowingly brand new, our names will be forgotten within months, if not days, of our inevitable death. The name on the product is completely, utterly forgettable. There is a huge difference between the time and energy you invested in accomplishing accolades for shit that will never really matter to anyone but you and maybe someone else's bottom line vs. the gentle, soft gratitude of a loved one who saw what you did there, and loved you for it. Huge.
And that is my bottom line.
Love the ones you love in the verb sense of the word. Do it. Make sure they know, and if they aren't certain, figure out how to make them certain.
Because there will be nothing you will regret more than their dying without knowing how much you loved them. There will be nothing that weighs as heavily on them as your lightweight, half-assed, lick and a promise. There will be nothing you will wish to take back as much as your unresponsiveness to those who loved you best.
But then, I guess you'd have to really care for any of that to matter.
Anyway, Alone. Seasons 1 & 2. Listen to what these people are really saying about what matters, and you might find yourself broken wide open.