It is easy and fun and insightful to seek and see meaning in our art. It’s one of my favorite parts of the creative process.
The art journal is such a powerful tool for reflection and identifying patterns and that which is important to our heart and psyche. The pages whisper of things we don’t always know how to say, and it is in this way that is pivotal for personal growth and healing work – and can be almost an oracle of our life.
Most often, I begin my paintings and art journal pages with an intention (in my heart or on the page), and then let my intuition and curiosity lead the way from there. Where they take me, via the pathway of creative play, is often to an association or expression of something that my inner world is processing. Sometimes this shows up literally or symbolically, but most often it is implied and deep within what happens inside of me while I create.
Sometimes I receive a strong message… a word, a phrase, a reminder of the wisdom from someone else that has touched my life.
The night I made the pages above, I had no intention. Honestly, I was just pooped. I was also on the edge of irritation. When I am getting cranky, it’s a major red-flag that it’s time to make a smoothie or move some color around… that something is out of harmony in how I am distributing my energy throughout the day.
So, I just picked up a pencil and began to write out what was on my mind naturally. Nothing fancy, just thoughts from the day. Then I painted over top.
I got frustrated because the pages weren’t revealing themselves so obviously to me like they sometimes do. There was no meaning coming into my weary mind… and I didn’t know where it was going. My imagination seemed to have nothing to say on the matter and that felt a bit uncomfortable.
When this happens – this unfamiliarity and discomfort in the process – I like to slow my movements down even more, and really hone in on the way the bristles of the brush spread the color, how a little more water might blend this area into that area.
The discomfort of not knowing what the page is all about seems to mirror my movements. If they are calm movements, there is a sensation of softening inside myself. If there is blending that I zone out on for a bit, it’s as if my mind releases its hold on the reigns of finding meaning.
It still sneaks in sometimes, though… that seeking. It is perfectly natural, too – a response to be observed and played with.
Finally, in a moment of surrender, I put the journal out in front of my feet (I was sitting on our couch) – where I could look at it from a distance. As I looked at it and sat with my breath and how my body was responding, what I felt was pure spaciousness and a sort of organic wisdom.
I felt relief from the irritation and weariness that I had began with, and that had visited throughout the process.
I still don’t know what the page ‘means’ per se – or how it relates specifically to the details of my life and inner world right now.
But I know that the pages, or maybe the process, knew exactly what I needed that night…
The space to just BE in the pages.
To that, I say, YES…
(and YES to the irony that even in meaning-free pages, there was insight to be found)
* This post is part of a daily celebration of Arts & Health month right here at Hali Karla Arts. Be sure to stop back for inspiration, giveaways, guest posts, more fun info about art & healing, and special announcements and offers. Or you can sign up for my mailing list, for occasional updates and exclusive offers.