This past week was a bit of pain in my ass. I had TWO SD cards fail on me, which put me in a foul mood, and way behind on all the things. On the other hand, I caught myself singing along to the music I was putting into my videos, so that's a thing.
Here are the links to the things I'm teaching in next year!
I'll be back with links to register for Book Of Days 2017 very shortly. :)
I also created this slide show + sneak peek at a bonus lesson in Facing Forward II, which we finished up this past week. What was supposed to be 8 lessons ended up being twelve, because I'm rad like that.
You can still register for Facing Forward II! It comes with indefinite access and downloadable content, and we have a lovely Facebook Group to commune in. The class can be easily stretched out and enjoyed over a period of a year, if you're pressed for time, or you can complete it in approximately 10 weeks, if you're an busy bee.
Regularly priced at $79.00, this is the Beloveds Discount Link.
AND I also created this quick video for Journal52.
I was feeling super rebellious when I made this spread, and I wanted to express all the ways I am imperfect, and not sorry about it. This spread was created in my sweet trash journal, and the first layer was black gesso.
I plan to be very busy for the rest of the week, getting things prepared for 2017. I hope you have a fantastic week!
Hello, my lovelies. I have been seeking ways to be present on social media given the current emotional climate, and Kelly Rae Roberts has inspired me to jump into the #artistsforlove community project with both feet.
I love this idea so much, and so I created a spread for the project (which I am also featuring in Journal52, a year long art journaling journey hosted by myself & Sarah Trumpp).
This spread took almost four hours (not including drying time) but some things are worth taking that kind of time, and I feel very strongly that this is one of them. I hope you enjoy the accompanying time lapse video as well. <3
I have these moments of unease when I enter the fray that social media has become wherein I genuinely don't know how to 'be' in the world. I show up, because I am very convicted to show up, and I show up as authentically as I can (with the story about the thing I was looking for for sixty seconds before realizing it was in my hand, and the meme that made me laugh, and the request for hugs from my pod, and the quip about fine ground coffee being an inappropriate choice for my coffee maker no matter how 'on sale' it was, because COFFEE EXPLOSIONS every damned time). I show up with links to things people are doing that give me hope. Heartwarming stories, funny stories.
I show up with my 'good mornings' and my nectar of the gods and my sweet moments (like introducing one of my loves to Anthony Bourdain, with whom she is now smitten), or HOLLANDAISE SAUCE with pictures, because hollandaise sauce, or stories about my dog, who is my zen master, best friend, and sweet, sweet fur baby all rolled into one.). I show up.
But I want you to know that I show up a little bit wary these days. I show up wondering *how* to show up.
A part of it is wanting to protect myself. A part of it is wanting to show up in the most helpful ways. A part of it is wanting to show up without *offending* anybody. There is fear & love in equal measure in my wariness.
And if I'm being honest, I'm not always confident in my ability to meet everyone with love.
Still, I am showing up in the hopes that you will meet me where I am with grace, empathy, and understanding.
Today, it occurred to me to ask the world what it needed from me. I asked it, knowing how tired I am. I asked it, knowing that in the interests of self-care (and full disclosure), I may not be able to show up the way I'm needed in this moment. I asked it knowing I may fail to show up in needful ways despite knowing what those ways might be. I decided to be okay with that. I decided to hear the ways I can show up, weigh the need against my own limitations, do what I can, and be content with that.
Today, I'm showing up with something I filmed for Facing Forward II. I am posting it here with no need for you to opt in or sign up or do anything except enjoy it. It is not a transaction. It's a gift.
I'm sharing it because, as one of my students put it, "sometimes a pretty face just will not do." So, I offer this because I have it to offer.
I hope you find it useful.
There is something very delicious and subversive for me about creating faces that don't conform with societal expectations around beauty. I like fierce faces, sad faces, angry faces, and most especially WONKY faces. This method of creating a face allows me to do all of this with total ease.
In the original class (Facing Forward II) we worked each week with an affirmation. In this lesson, I am opting to work with a DECLARATION instead. This is my fierce answer to misogyny. I do *not* have to be good.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
If you have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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?
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.
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!
I have a few things for you this week, so let's just dive right on in.
In the "Getting Started" post, I mentioned that we can sometimes get caught up in the desire to share and compare, and encouraged you all to be selective about what & where you share. This was specifically meant to address on line stuff, since when we share on line, we open ourselves up to strangers liking or not liking our work, making critical remarks, or not 'getting us'. This can be scary, and should be considered before we start to make our work available to the public eye - especially if we are digging into our stuff in the journal.
There are ways to journal vulnerably without necessarily exposing all of our deepest darkest secrets, or tender, baby dreams, and I address that in most of my classes. There are ways to add meaning so that what we are grappling with isn't immediately apparent or legible to the casual onlooker (run all the words together, journal in code using Theban, and Elder Futhark, or some other obscure magical alphabet, hide journaling under layers, use symbols to represent strong emotions). These methods create deeply meaningful spreads that are also relatively safe to share.
But what if you're not safe *at home*? What if you can't get space at home to get into your groove, meet yourself on the page, and journal from an honest place without someone barging in, or demanding to see what you're doing? What if you truly have no sense of safety in your own home?
This is a tough one. I remember living with someone who read my journals, and after that experience, for many years, I journaled in the *tub* with the bathroom door locked. I used the Elder Futhark alphabet and wrote everything in code.
Art Journaling in the tub, however, is just not going to work.
In speaking with a friend about this, I realized I have no real, satisfying answers. I can't imagine a life in which I can't close a door and ask for respect for my privacy. Granted, I live alone at the moment, but even when I lived in a house full of people, I could always say "I'm working. Please don't come in." and that would be respected. If I found myself in a situation where people were always barging in, or where I couldn't be sure that people weren't snooping in my journals, there would be hell to pay. I would sit everyone down for a family meeting, and ensure that my need for privacy was heard, understood, and respected.
I understand that this is not possible for everyone. There are circumstances where putting your foot down can be the very opposite of safe, and I get & honour that.
The only thing I can think of is this: create a travel journal kit, and go out. Journal in cafes. Find a friend who also journals and have art journal play dates. Find a local meet up.
You may find that you are safer in the company of relative strangers or friends than you are in your own home.
I will be doing an entire post on setting up a travel journal kit shortly, so stay tuned.
Not very helpful, I know, but it's the best I can do.
The Trap That Is All The Things
Another letter I got asked for some help with the overwhelm that can come from having SO MUCH STUFF.
I'm not a product driven journaler. I have a pretty set list of supplies that I love and use over and over again, and I try to use my stuff in a multitude of ways so that they never get 'old'. This is a matter of experimenting with the things you have in ways you might never have used them before, like trying modeling paste with your stencils, or stamping on scrapbook paper, cutting the stamped images out, and gluing them onto your spreads.
The thing with "Stuff" is that we have to be mindful that we are being marketed to CONTINUOUSLY to try new, shiny things, but in my experience, those shiny things are easily substituted. You don't need eleventy billion kinds of acrylic paint. Golden Fluids do everything I want them to. I have a few other kinds, but I do not *need them*, and in fact, having too much to choose from can really block my flow. I have Copics and I have Tombows because there are things I can do with Copics that I can't do with Tombows, but I only discovered this by using them both, and finding out what their limitations and applications are.
Stuff is tempting. Stuff can also raise up the comparey monsters. If we see a spread that looks absolutely gorgeous, and the creator lists 100 products they used in the making of said spread, we can feel like maybe we don't have enough stuff. That is a trap. While it might be fun to throw a bunch of product at a spread, it is, in my experience, more satisfying to do more with less. How many ways can I use paint? How many applications can I find for a Stabilo All pencil? How can I make water-reactive stuff waterproof? How can I combine things to create a desired look and feel?
Whenever I teach a class, I provide suggestions for substitutions, because I really don't want my folks getting all caught up in collecting stuff. A great art supply stash IS integral to our practice, but at the end of the day, its the practice that matters. Discovering what you most love to work with, and sticking with those supplies is a great way to *master* them, since if you're constantly falling prey to the temptation to buy more stuff, you won't have time to really settle into the best uses of the stuff you already have.
Try asking yourself what you absolutely can't live without, and then see if you can up with multiple ways to use that thing. Try to extend the usefulness of your products by using them in as many different ways as possible.
I love TomBow markers. I use them in at least a half dozen different ways. I use them 'as is' for colouring in. I lay down a layer of marker and then spray it with water to get a delicious, drippy, bleedy gorgeousness. I lay down a layer of marker, and then blend it out with gesso (on a paint brush, with my fingers, with a baby wipe) to soften the colour and reduce it's reactivity to water. I lay down marker, and then activate it with water on a brush to create a soft, watercolour effect. I lay down marker, and then blend it out with iridescent medium to create a subtle shimmer (this totally replaces Twinkling H2Os for me AND the addition of the iridescent medium makes the Tombows resist water once dry!). I also blend out Tombow with white paint to create tints.
One product, multiple uses.
The only way I figured out all the ways I could use Tombows, though, was to play with them. There is a great question to ask yourself when you're in play mode. "What if I....?"
As yourself this question as many times with as many different combinations of mediums as possible, and you will find all sorts of new ways to use your products. "What if I put down a layer of paint and then wiped it up THROUGH a stencil? What if I stenciled with gesso and then added spray inks? What if I used modeling paste with my stencils? What if I stenciled only a little bit here and there instead of stenciling on the whole spread? What if I stenciled on the whole spread, but with different colours? What if I stacked two stencils, one on top of the other, and sprayed through them both? What if?"
"What if" is a very creative question. The next step is to be willing for it to be a failed experiment. Have cheap paper around, and play mad scientist. This kind of fun is the best way to extend the usefulness of what you have, but it also creates looks that are uniquely your own.
Effy’s Fave Supplies
Golden Fluid Acrylics
Permapaque Marker (Black)
Sakura Glaze Pen (Black)
Prismacolor Pencils (Black Raspberry, Tuscan Red, White, Cream)
Copic Markers (Mostly in ‘flesh’ tones)
Tissue tape + assorted washi
Assorted patterned tissue paper
Printed photographs (printed on plain office paper or cardstock is best)
Gel medium (Matte or Gloss, depending on the project)
Workable fixative (I like Krylon)
Dylusions spray inks & DecoArt Media Misters
Paint markers (mostly White and Black. I like Molotow and Uni Posca)
Stabilo All Pencil (Black)
Caran D’Ache Neocolor II Crayons (or any water soluble crayon. The Crayola Portfolios are good, too!)
Alphabet Stamps/Texture stamps
Archival Ink pad by Ranger
Tiny Attacher or stapler
I hope that helps!
Ask Effy Anything!
If you have questions for me (or you just want to get in on the discounts I provide for my beloved newsletter subscribers) please sign up for my elist here! You will hear from me once a week on Tuesday with a link to one of these "Ask Effy Anything" posts, along with other musings, discounts, and news about where and when I'm teaching.
In Other News
Facing Forward II begins on September 14th! Registration is open now!
In this class, we will spend eight weeks + together, exploring faces in the art journal. My intention throughout this class is to work with the negative self talk we all experience, and transform those messages into affirmations – the things we need to hear. These explorations will inform the creation of each face.
Each week, we will focus on a different way to create faces in the journal using a diverse range of mediums and techniques ranging from paint over collage to doodling.
There is an extensive “INTRODUCTION” and “BOOT CAMP”, both of which are jam packed with enough content to keep you busy for *weeks*, and this content will be accessible to you immediately upon completing registration.
Class officially begins with our first face lesson on Wednesday, September 14, and we will continue weekly through until November 2. The class will remain available to you indefinitely, however, so you can take it at your own pace, or take it over and over again as you need or want inspiration.
In my newsletter last week, I invited you to hit reply and ask me anything you wanted to ask me with a promise that if I could answer, I would.
There was a lot of overlap in this first flurry of questions that you all sent me, and a few questions that I've tucked away for future answering, but there was one question that was a pretty common refrain:
"How do you start a journal spread?"
There were several variations of this question, too, ranging from "I don't know how to get started! Any suggestions?" to "I never know where to begin".
This question made me wonder if those of you who are asking are process driven or final product driven in your journals, because that matters. Are you using art journaling as a way to dump your insides out so you can examine them? Are you using your art journaling to *make* something you like? Are you using your art journal to relieve some internal pressure? Are you using it to take a break from adulting, to escape into the delicious world of play?
I think that my answer would be different depending on my desired outcome.
My first inquiry is always "What am I doing here, in front of the page, at the painty table, ready to create?"
This will generally lead the way, because if the answer is "I need to spill my guts", there are several ways I have of doing that, ranging from writing in a scribbly way with a watercolor crayon or Tombow marker, to picking papers that 'feel' to me like whatever it is I'm spilling. If the answer is "I need to play", then I'll just pick the first colour that draws my eye, and begin mark making. If the answer is "I want to practice <insert skill here>", I might begin with a bit of research, Googling and watching videos, or sketching a symbol or image I want to begin incorporating into my journals.
The way to begin, for me, is entirely dependent on the desired outcome.
Usually, in my own personal journal practice, I'm dealing with something. It's almost always about spilling my guts so that I can get some distance from whatever is going on, maybe so I can understand it better, maybe so I can reframe it, or begin to transform it through the power of art journaling. Often, there is a sense of pressure - a real need to engage my journal, a need to meet myself on the page. These spreads are the easiest spreads to start, because a bit of scribbling about the issue at hand, plus some colours or papers chosen based on how they 'feel' to me as I'm working are enough to get me going. I usually work towards some sense of resolution by continuing to add layers until something suggests itself as a solution or a piece of wisdom that I can apply to the situation. If, for example, I begin with a great deal of emotional charge around feeling an emotion I'd rather not feel, I begin by feeling that emotion & expressing it through scribbles, colours, and papers. Then, I build up the spread by applying whatever balm I'm needing.
For example, if I come to the page with a great deal of sadness, I will begin with that sadness. I will lay a foundation of sad writing, sad papers, sad colours, and as I'm allowing myself to 'be with' the sadness, I will keep my inner ear open to what the sadness needs. Does it need a bit of self-love? I'll grab some pink and work with love hearts or other symbols that represent self-love. Does it need an affirmative shot in the arm? I might add words that counter the sadness - not to order it away, necessarily, but to remind myself of what there is to turn my focus to instead. Sometimes, though, the sadness needs me to simply be with it without changing it or reframing it. It just needs to be acknowledged, so I will find ways to express it.
Prompts Are Helpful, But Not Always
Sometimes, we want to create, but we don't know what about, so we'll reach for a prompt or a theme provided by someone else. In BOD, I provide oodles of prompts - one a day PLUS a monthly theme PLUS weekly art cards that can spur us on to journal. We also use Tarot as an inkblot, so we are never lacking 'ways in' to the journal.
However, sometimes prompts allow us to bypass what's really going on, and this can create a sense of frustration in us. The part of us that has stuff going on that wants to be coaxed out can feel ignored as we skip it, and go for the easy prompt or theme.
One of my students expressed in class this week that she is having trouble getting going, and I suggested silence as a remedy. What would happen if she sat at her painty table, full of the desire to create, in absolute silence for a little while? Something would come up. She might need to give it some time, but if she practiced inner listening without jumping immediately into the prompts or other offerings, she might hear a whisper that might lead the way.
Usually, these whispers come to me as emotions, and sometimes, they're confounding.
I may not have any idea why this or that emotion is tugging at my sleeve, asking to be invited out onto the page, but usually, by the time I'm done working in my journal, I either know what it was about, because I listened to it, OR, I feel a sense of relief, or of being unburdened. Either way, I'm a happy camper.
Be willing to feel your feels on the page.
One of the side effects of being 'in community' with something as personal as art journaling is that we may bypass what we're really feeling so that we produce work that we can share without feeling vulnerable or exposed. It can be very difficult to be 'in community' - especially if you're not very confident in your skills - AND share the deeper stuff that might be going on with you.
If you're unwilling or afraid to encounter your feelings on the page because of the risk of feeling vulnerable, unsafe, or exposed, keep a private journal JUST for you that you never share with anyone. Don't feel like you have to share every spread you create. You can share selectively. I find it helpful to share, even when I do feel vulnerable and exposed, but that takes time, trust, and courage that you may not have right now. Be okay with that. Give yourself space to feel all your feels in safety.
"Just Do It" is not necessarily a helpful piece of advice.
If I could 'just do it', I would. Right? You, too. If it were truly as simple as just beginning, we would never have to wonder how to begin. We'd just begin. Instead of whipping yourself with the words "Just Do It", try the following instead:
Set the stage.
Light a candle. Burn some incense. Do this every time you sit down to the page. Touch your journal with love, and extend an invitation to your inner selves to come out and play/express themselves. Set an intention to be with yourself for a while. Pick up the first colour that calls to you, and begin.
Sit with your journal and your supplies at hand, and be still for a little while. See if something begins to bubble up that wants to be expressed. Ask yourself how you might represent that in your journal. Doodle it. Let that be your jumping off point.
Try writing first.
This won't work for everyone, but it works for me. If I sit with paper and pen and muse on the page for a while, I will often get a zing of inspiration as a result. Sometimes I will write directly IN my journal as a first layer.
Look through your stash of ephemera.
Trust that whatever bits and pieces are calling to you *mean* something. You don't necessarily have to understand what, either. They just *do* and that's enough. Pull out some papers, and begin a layer of collage.
Begin with the simplest shape you can think of.
Sometimes, I will have a jumble of stuff going on that defies understanding. In this case, I will start with circles. Simple, scribbly, childlike circles. As I work with the circles, another shape might suggest itself. I'll go on to playing with that shape. If I trust this way of beginning, I will usually end up with something that reflects what needed to be expressed. This video is a perfect example of that.
Trust your own ebb and flow.
If you're not in a position where you *have* to create art, you have the freedom to take a break. Sometimes, our creativity ebbs, and sometimes it flows. Sometimes, when it feels like we are blocked or having a case of the 'i don't wannas', we are percolating, and if we give ourselves some space to wander off and do something else for a while, we will find ourselves exploding with inspiration in no time. Yes, I believe in art journaling as a creative and spiritual practice, but even I take breaks from my practice. So can you.
I hope you found this helpful, and I look forward to your questions next week. Sign up for my newsletter in order to join in the conversation!