I’ll Never Be A Collage Artist

I finished this up this weekend for my students in Book Of Days, which is a year long art journaling offering that I’ve been doing since 2012.

It was super fiddly to work on because all those fruits and leaves and things are collage. Cut, paste, cut paste. Not my favourite thing to do, and now that I’ve demonstrated it, I’ll probably never do it again. Hah!

I love the results, but I would have been happier working on this if I’d hand drawn all those elements. They wouldn’t have been quite as well rendered as these are (they’re from a collection of clip art from a watercolorist), but they wouldn’t have required all that blasted cutting and gluing, and I would have had the satisfaction of having done them myself.

I love *looking* at work done by collage artists, though. Like, whoa. So beautiful! Teesha Moore’s work is especially inspiring to me. I love all the little details she includes in every one of her journal pages, and how well integrated everything looks. And while I’m sure I *could* do things that way, I don’t *love* doing things that way. Thankfully her work in this world exists, and I get to gaze at it (pardon the drool pouring out of my face!) with awe and love.

Screen shot of Teesha’s gallery at teeshamoore.com

Kelly Kilmer is another collage artist I admire. Her work has this delicious hybrid feeling to it with plenty of paint being thrown in at the collage images she chooses to work with.

From Kelly’s Blogspot at http://kellykilmer.blogspot.ca/

She achieves moods in her journals that really speak to me, and she makes me want to *try* doing things this way, which is always inspiring, but ultimately, there’s that cutting and gluing thing, so I opt instead to gaze in awe and take it all in.

I think, if you’re going to be really good at something, you have to love all the steps it takes to get from blank page to finished work. I love tearing up papers and using them in my background, but cutting? Not so much. I get cramps in my hands from all that cutting, and the process feels way too tedious for me. I prefer the ease of paint + paint pens, a few stamps, and my favourite lettering pens, so that’s what I’ll stick with.

An occasional foray into the unknown is good for the soul, though. I like trying things that aren’t in my ‘list of favourite things to do’ just to see if my tastes have changed. Like, when I first started painting faces, I had to do them in pencil first, with lots of fiddling over proportions. I liked really clean looking faces – almost illustrative, but I evolved, and tried new things (Stabilo All!) and my faces got looser and more expressive, less tight and more painterly.

It’s how we grow, right? Try things. Discern what works and what doesn’t. Stick with what works.

And blessedly for all of us, there will always be artists out there who do the things we can’t or won’t do so we have a world of beauty to gaze upon.

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: Feature one or two people who do what you do but in a different way in your blog today.

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


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P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!

Duck Wrangling aka Planning Effy Style

I never used to be much of a planner. I either had a j.o.b. or I was a stay at home mom, and my brain was capable of holding whatever was required within it without needing elaborate planning systems. These days, however, I *need* to plan or my life gets away from me, and no one likes a runaway life.

I’m not into pretty planning. I get the appeal, and you won’t believe how much money I spent on planning supplies when pretty planning was trending, but it just didn’t work for me. I don’t have the time to add that to my already full roster of things to do, so I do planning in a fairly utilitarian way with *maybe* a touch of washi tape, and some color coding.

I love making lists of the things I have to do and then crossing things off as I complete them. I get an almost perverse sense of satisfaction from doing this, and nothing gives me a rush quite like a completely crossed off to do list.

Of course, I rarely have a completely crossed off to do list because I tend to pack a lot on my lists. I don’t stress about incompletes – i just move them to the next days lists, and I have a good sense of priorities, so I tend to tackle the most important things first in any given day.

I love lists so much I make multiples. Every Sunday evening, I sit down and make a ‘week list’ of everything i want to accomplish over the course of the week.  I transfer that list into my ‘weekly planner’, which is a page I glue into my Sweet Trash Journal. Then, day by day, I make the ‘day list’ from the master ‘week list’, tweaking and adjusting as the week progresses. If I get even a few things on the list done, I get a happy. It’s worth celebrating. If I run out of time to do something on the list, oh well. I just move it to the next days list.

Some items get moved often. Dishes, for example, or laundry, because ain’t nobody got time for that. Self-care goes *first*. Journal. Eat. Spiritual work. I admit to occasionally skipping those in favour of diving straight into work, but when I do that, I end up feeling like crap, so I try to avoid it. Serving from an empty well is a bad idea, and my work requires a nice, juicy FULL well to serve from, so yes. Journal. Eat. Spiritual work. That soak in the tub where I do my best thinking. Those plans with friends (or lovers) that feed my soul. That gorgeous meal I plan to cook tonight. All priorities. Then, the work stuff, which feeds my face & pays my rent & gives my life a sense of meaning.

When things are really crazy, I use a weekly planner page from a Moleskine extra large planner glued into my Sweet Trash Journal to record important time-sensitive items, PLUS I use a Moleskine Large weekly planner and a Moleskine Large Daily planner as well. Yes, that’s three planners. It works, though, and it keeps me fairly well on track.

Here! I have a video for you! Here’s how Effy Plans!

View on Vimeo

Not everyone is going to need quite so extensive a planning system, but I tend to have a LOT of what I like to call ‘ducks to wrangle’ as in ‘ducks in a row’. My ducks tend to wander all over the place if I don’t wrangle them, so this is how I do it.

xo
Effy

P.S. The video above is available as a larger workshop in which I present my Sweet Trash Journal practice. That’s available for free, here.

Today’s Nudge: Share a life hack.

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


Looking for accountability partners, other blogs to read, or eyes on your work? How about all three? Join us today in the Artfully Wild Blogalong Facebook Group.

P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!

 

Sunday Swoon

Once upon a time, I tried to get a community project going called “Sunday Swoon”. It was meant to be a showcase of the things that made us super chuffed and proud. Once a week, show off your shiny.

It didn’t land. At the time, I didn’t get why, but I think I’ve figured it out.

We are not accustomed to, nor really ever encouraged to toot our own horns. If we do say “I’m proud of this”, there is probably a little voice in our heads (mine sounds like my mother) saying “You’re getting too big for your britches.”

If we do exclaim about something we did that rocks, we are prone to minimizing it. “I made this, but it sucks.” or “I did this thing, but it’s no big deal.” You know this is true. You’ve done this yourself. I know you have.

On Fridays, when I’m not hosting a blog along, I do something called “Friday Five”. It is a curated collection of things that are delighting me. Sometimes I include *my own things* in that list, because some of the things I do delight me. But. I will often find myself feeling a little touch uncomfortable about it. Like, I can brag, but only so much before my conditioning kicks in.

I am very interested in shame busting (my own, and yours) & make a practice of being as puffed up and proud as I am *entitled to be*. It’s part of my recovery from childhood abuse, and low self-esteem. It might seem like I’m arrogant or full of ego, but this is actually an antidote to the opposite issue. I, like many survivours of child abuse, have a core of self-loathing that is very difficult to identify and root out.

So, I’m going to bring back Sunday Swoon. Even if no one ever participates. Because, listen. We deserve our own props. We have earned the right to say “I’m proud of this thing. I did this thing I love. I am awesome.” I know I’ve earned that right. And doing it, out loud, in a very sort of public way is very healing & revealing. What am I tempted to brag about in a *falsely humble way*? How can I nip that in the bud. What am I disclaiming or minimizing? How can I just say “I rocked this” without being overwhelmed with the ‘who do you think you are’ voices in my head.

I did a lot of work on this in a session of Seven Sins with Renee Magnusson. I got stuck on one of the sins (wrath, that tricksy sin!), so I’ll be repeating it in the next round. The tour starts with pride, and the work I did in that one section of this seven section tour was *incredibly revealing*. I used to disclaim so much, you know? People would say I was so strong, and I’d say “well, I had no choice.” Yeah, I did. I totally did. I *am* strong, so now when someone says “You’re so strong!” I say *THANK YOU*. Period. End of.

Anyway, you might want to look at the tour if you feel called to root out some of the ways you deny yourself the right to *exist* on the planet.

In celebration of my newfound love of being prideful as fuck, I am going to dust off this pretty graphic, and I’m going to swoon *over myself*. I invite you to do the same. Every Sunday. Share something (either in your own spaces, or here in the comments, if that feels safer) that you did that you are happy about, proud of, impressed with, etc.

This Sunday’s Shiny

I made this. Isn’t it gorgeous?

See? It’s that easy.

Your turn.

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: Show off without apologizing.
Optional nudge: Start a blog series that you can commit to updating regularly that will help you build your community.

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


Looking for accountability partners, other blogs to read, or eyes on your work? How about all three? Join us today in the Artfully Wild Blogalong Facebook Group.

P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!

 

Learning To Trust

Originally posted in April 2015

An early journal spread, circa 2010.

An early journal spread, circa 2009.

Trust is a huge topic of conversation between myself and my Self. It tends to go something like this:

“But I’m shit scared!”

“Trust that whatever happens, you can handle it.”

“But things could go wrong!”

“And things have gone wrong before, and yet, here you are. Alive and well.”

“But he might/she could/they are…”

“Who’s the boss of you? You’re the boss of you. Trust you. You’ve got this.”

Maybe this sounds familiar. Maybe as soon as that voice pipes up with “But I’m shit scared!”, that’s it. You freeze, or veer right or left, and go under. I get it. That was me for a long time. But freezing, or veering, or going under never got me any closer to where I wanted to be, to what I wanted to feel.

I am nothing if not brave because lately, when confronted with terror, I rush in headlong – within reason, of course. I mean, if I’m terrified to walk down a dark alley at night when I’m alone, I will probably heed that terror and seek the light. That’s just common sense. But if I’m afraid to try something because I might fail, well, that fear gets put in its place and I pull up my boot straps and gird my loins and strap on the helmet of REASON and I go in like a badass.

Most of the time. But usually not until I’ve grappled for a good long time. Because UNCERTAINTY.

*Laughs*

Trust, for me, is very much related to uncertainty. I crave certainty like a seed craves good soil, clean rain, and sunshine. I crave it obsessively. I crave it because I lack *trust* in myself and in life itself, and I have been given plenty of reason to lack said trust. There was a very long time there where I didn’t trust my own instincts. I would often move in the very opposite direction of where my instincts were telling me to go. Usually, my instincts told me to stick with the devil I knew. Stay in the abusive relationship. Keep the shitty job. Live in the house that did not feel like home. Keep falling into the same known pitfalls rather than take a different route.

But I grew up some, and while I haven’t entirely mastered the whole ‘trusting my own instincts’ thing, I am working on it.

Working on it is a little like flooding myself with experiences in which there is ABSOLUTELY NO CERTAINTY just so I can exercise my trust muscles. This started with my writing practice many years ago. It started with Anne Lamott’s permission to write a ‘shitty first draft’. She taught me that I could always edit *after*. It segued into art journaling, into letting go of the desire for perfection, pre-selected palettes, composed spreads with rules and rhyme and reason, and trusting that I could just fling paint, and keep flinging until I was happy – that it wasn’t finished until I said it was.

earlyjournal1

Not bad. :) Closing the gap a bit.

Trust came into play with learning new skills, too. I had to trust that my crappy first attempts would not kill me, and that the more crap I created, the LESS crap I’d create. I had to stare down that weird face I drew – the one with the wonky eyes and misshapen lips before moving on to create ANOTHER weird face with a too long neck or too flat a head before finally creating a face that *pleased me*. I had to fill a few art journals with bad colour choices and zero understanding of composition and too much glitter (there is such a thing as too much!) and text that took up too much room or not enough before I started to fill my journals with spreads that made me really happy.

11173392_836754579707154_2226176023598208783_n

Closing that gap.

If, as a beginner, I’d needed to be absolutely certain that I’d create a perfect face every time I drew one, I’d have taken up cooking instead of art journaling, because it took a long time before I developed that kind of certainty. Many, many weird and ugly faces led to my first really pleasing one.

The gap between my excellent taste and my skills had to be closed with trust and practice and time. (Ira Glass, thank you, man!)

When we start something new, whether it’s taking up a hobby or learning a language or embarking on a new adventure, we must *trust* ourselves. We must trust that we *can* learn that skill, that practice WILL make progress, that trying is WINNING and not trying is BORING.

I’m not saying it’s easy, though. It isn’t easy. If you’re human, and you’ve had some life experience, you’re probably shit scared most of the time where uncertainty is present. But it is possible to overcome that fear, to employ trust, to be brave. I’m living proof of that, and every time I exercise my trust by taking on uncertainty in the journal, on canvas, in my life, I grow that trust little by little.

My life (and maybe yours) resembles the creative process like crazy. Try a thing. Grapple with terror. Let things be uncertain. Rest in not knowing. See what happens. Wonder and then move in the direction of wondering with NO IDEA where it will lead. Bicker with Self, who keeps insisting that trust is key. Resist. And then when resisting is untenable and you feel like you might bust a nut if you resist any longer, surrender. Go for it. Make mistakes. Fix them. Throw out a first draft or two. Pour the gesso liberally. Erase. Let those first attempts be ‘texture’ and ‘practice runs’. Keep going…

I’m learning to trust that I’ll get where I’m supposed to be as long as I keep moving forward with my own best interests at heart.

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: Dig something really good out of your archived writings, or write about trust.

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


Looking for accountability partners, other blogs to read, or eyes on your work? How about all three? Join us today in the Artfully Wild Blogalong Facebook Group.

P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!

 

 

 

 

Wallowing

A few posts ago, I wrote about how I’m mostly ‘in the trenches’, in the muck & mire of real life, and how I believe we’re all made of mud. Lotuses, rooted in the deep dark mud of our every day lives.

Mud reminds me of wallowing. Elephants do it. Rhinos do it. They wallow, get their hides covered in thick cakes of mud to protect themselves from the elements – the burning sun, the stinging insect. For them, wallowing is self-care, but if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing when I’m watching them, for these creatures, its also fun.

I believe in wallowing in the very human sense of the word. I believe in getting right down into the dirt of all that is, squishing it in my hands, peering into it, identifying its components. I believe in being with what is with as much awareness and presence as possible. I believe in knowing what I’m up against, knowing where I come from, knowing what is *really going on*. I believe in giving myself plenty of time and space to really feel what I feel before I dive into a crystal stream of spiritual or emotional cleansing.

But then, when I’ve gotten what I can get out of the mud, I believe in diving into a crystal stream of spiritual or emotional cleansing (my preferred method is a good journal purge + white sage. Lots of white sage.) I also believe in watching singing goat videos for a while (because nothing is as cleansing as laughter). I believe in asking my people what delights them so I can roll around in their joy until I find my own (because joy is the cure for every damned thing). I believe in singing that song I love at the top of my lungs, making lists of wishes, seeking ordinary beauty against the constant sight of the kind of ugliness we all encounter on the regular.

Wallowing, for me, is effective, and even necessary, but it is never, ever fun. It’s interesting sometimes, when I can detach enough from my own trigger responses to observe it with subjectivity. It’s educational, always. It’s how I learn from my mistakes. It’s what my boundaries are made of, what my protective armour is forged from. It’s how I allow myself to feel what I feel so I can heal it. But it ain’t fun. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

For me, finding the balance between the productive kind of wallowing and the non-productive kind is key. If I wallow past the point where I’ve gleaned what I can from examining things with fearlessness, from taking inventory of what the muck is made of, I can find myself spiraling under, stuck in the quick sand. Sometimes, wallowing gets a bit too comfortable. There’s nothing safer than a pity party, nothing as comforting and *easy* as fully donning my victim costume and staying stuck in woe, woe is me and all that goes with it – the paralysis that prevents me from finding a solution, the wicked vows I make in that state, like ‘never again’.

As soon as I find myself there, I know I’ve gone to far, and it’s time to suck it up, buttercup. Pull myself out of it by whatever means necessary, take all the necessary medicine – singing goats, white sage, a determined turning away from picking at the wound in favour of seeking out some kind of salve. That’s why, for me, becoming a master at wallowing has been important. Learning how to use it effectively rather than surrendering to it for all time. learning how to give myself ample time in the muck and also the means to get myself out of it again has been the journey of a lifetime.

You might be thinking “Well, why not avoid it altogether? Why not just refuse to wallow?”

Well, life is hard, and a lot of shit has happened, is happening, and will happen. There’s this incredibly hot sun out there, and it burns. The insects are bitey, and the mud is cooling. And if I don’t let myself wallow, I *soldier on*, and trust me on this: I’m no good to anyone if I just *soldier on*.

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: What’s something you know for sure?

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


Looking for accountability partners, other blogs to read, or eyes on your work? How about all three? Join us today in the Artfully Wild Blogalong Facebook Group.

P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!

 

My Own Personal Yellow Brick Road

Tarot was my own personal yellow brick road. Let me explain!

“The Star” From The Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini

I started using tarot back in the late 1980’s not long after my first child was born. I was living in a basement suite, and my upstairs neighbor, a wonderful woman who was just old enough to be my mom, took me under her wing a little bit (much needed). She was very kind to me, offering cups of tea and sympathy whenever i seemed frazzled (often – I was a very young new mom of 19), and generally keeping an eye on me.

One afternoon I was there for a cup of something deliciously herbal, and her cards were on the table.

“What are those?” I asked.

“My tarot cards. Here, let me show you.”

By the time I left that afternoon, I was *hooked*. Absolutely hooked. Tarot was my portal into a whole world of self-inquiry and goddess spirituality. I bought my first deck (The Aquarian Tarot), and my first guide (Tarot For Yourself by Mary K. Greer), and I worked with them religiously (please pardon the pun!). I also followed all the delicious bread crumbs throughout the book that led to other books like The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, books about goddess spirituality, books about Jungian archetypes. My true education had begun.

If not for Tarot, I would not teach what I teach today. I would not know what I know today. I would not be who I am today.

***

“Queen Of Earth” Art Inspired by Tarot.

There was a time, after working with the cards as a tool for personal development for about a decade, that I wanted very badly to be a professional reader. I knew I could be good at it, knew I had developed the kind of insight that would make me a good reader, and in 1997, I saw an ad in the paper for readers to work from home. It was a great set up – they installed a dedicated phone line, and you worked your assigned shifts. I did my interview, and got the job.

At the time I got this job, I was financially dependent on my husband, who was not a great provider. He lost more jobs in the time we knew one another than I’d held in my *whole life up till now*. There were months when if I hadn’t won the local karaoke contest (yup, I was a karaoke queen), we would not have made rent. This job took care of me, & my kids, but more than that, it created a sense of possibility in me that I *could* take care of me & my kids, and helped enormously to remove any sense that I *needed* anyone else. It was a portal into self-reliance.

It took awhile for my newfound sense of independence to really take hold, but one of the fundamental steps in that direction was the purchase (on a payment plan) of a computer with internet capability (dial-up, of course. Remember, this was 1997!) so I could start investigating other avenues of giving readings, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I gave up reading professionally in 2001. The company I was working for at the time was falling apart, and I just didn’t have the heart to go into looking for something else. I worked as a telemarketing agent for a charity for a while, and then a marketing assistant for a sports equipment company, and then a customer service agent for a major telecom, and then, in 2009, I quit working for a while to deal with my kids who were completely out of control. And in 2010, I began doing what I do now.

Ace of Wands Art inspired by Tarot.

Tarot is a vein of gold through it all, though. Despite not working with it professionally, it is still my constant companion. I turn to it for clarity, for inspiration, for a nudge in the right direction. It’s my touchstone, my little bit of the mystery in cardstock form, forever in my purse, on my coffee table, in my studio.

I miss giving readings, but not enough to go seeking it out as a profession. I’m content with doing the little bits and bobs of it that I do in the context of my classes. Maybe someday I’ll offer tarot readings as spiritual counseling (because, really, that’s what its for), but for now, I’ll just do my daily draws, gaze into the images as though they are mirrors, and continue discovering what there is to know about the universe known in these parts as “Effy”.

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: Share something that isn’t widely known about you.

There’s a bunch of us blogging along in September. Find out more here, or pop your email address in the box below, and I’ll send you a nudge to blog every day along with a link to my daily writings.


Looking for accountability partners, other blogs to read, or eyes on your work? How about all three? Join us today in the Artfully Wild Blogalong Facebook Group.

P.S. LIFE BOOK 2018 is open for registration, y’all! Early Bird ends December 31st, so get it while you can!