Here it is! The how to video everyone’s been asking for! I hope to film every weekend now that I have a dedicated space. Let me know what you think!
A few weeks ago, as I was ruminating on all things art, I had an inspired idea:
What if I got one of those Happy Planner punches and made my own little books?
You see, I have a friend who is obsessed with those books. Rather, she’s a planner addict, and I’ve sat many a day doing art while she’s worked on layouts and such. I don’t get it myself, and yes, I’ve tried a few times to get into the planner spirit, but 1. I don’t have that much going on past work, physical therapy, and a few social engagements, and 2. I don’t want to spend time making my layouts look pretty if I’m just scribbling things down so I can look back later. Even when I was in school, I only used the monthly layouts, if anything (just ask my friends from back then; I usually asked them when stuff was due since I had no idea myself).
I did have a Happy Planner notebook that I tried using with the budgeting expansion, but I didn’t pull it out all that often, and it sat ununsed on my sketchbook/journal shelf with all the used-a-few-times-and-then-abanded books.
You see, I LOVE the new Strathmore mixed media toned tan paper. Adore it. It’s the best. I don’t have to work on grocery bags from Trader Joe’s anymore! The paper is thick, takes all kinds of media super well, and the bright colors I use just POP like WOW on it. But! It only comes in pads. Not really conducive to journaling or keeping an art journal. So! Get the punch, cut down the toned tan paper, and BAM! Now I have an art journal of my favorite paper. The Happy Planner pages are close enough to be like spreads, and if I’m working on more than one page, I can take them out to dry and keep working!
But then I thought, why just do ONE kind of paper? Why not add more? How about the toned grey? Or some watercolor paper?
Then, as I was cutting down the paper, there were scraps left over. Why not put them in, too? And then I thought, why not put all the pages down and add random swishes of paint, eliminate the blank page?
I swear, I feel like a mad scientist. I cackle with glee. I snort from laughing too much. I have so many ideas to try. I sit and play almost every night. I take this thing with me out to make art. And I love that I have the carrying case for the Happy Planner so I can put all my supplies in it, AND THE JOURNAL, and just get up and go - everything is self-contained and sooooo conducive to making art anywhere!
And! It has lined paper in it for journaling. For getting ideas out. Because lately, I’ve been keeping a written journal and found that those words are fueling what I draw and paint! And then I write more and paint more and the cycle just feeds itself over and over again!
But I didn’t stop there. Oh, no. Because I needed more room.
So I made a BIG ONE.
Now I have a classic size and a BIG one and I am loving every second and even making some more for friends or just because. I love holding it and playing in mine and thinking up new things and moving pages around and ahhhhhh I am just excited to be art journaling again and inventing again.
So say hi to my Happy Happy Planner! You can keep up with our adventures over on Instagram or subscribe to the blog to read more little stories like this!
A lot of my work lately is about two things:
1. the tactile nature of creating with my hands rather than a brush.
(Ok, I do use a brush once and awhile, but not for spreading paint!)
2. the self-reflection and pep-talks needed to get through the Tough Shit.
Sitting on the floor is not the most comfortable position, but I now have a better understanding on how Frida was able to paint while in bed, or a wheelchair. I always wondered how she mustered up the energy and passion needed to create despite terrible pain. She's been an idol of mine for years, and helped with creating my couch box for art while in bed/on the couch. Still, I'd be tired, and in pain, so I would just look at my phone or watch TV.
When you have a real passion for what you're doing, when you *must* express your inner self, pain becomes fuel, not the blanket that smuthers it out.
Somehow, once I get into the flow of things, I forget myself past my thoughts and hands. I allow myself to stay in the moment by focusing on the feel of paint between my fingers, the way chalk sticks, the little bits of glue I habitually peel off (getting glue off my fingers is one of my favorite quirks). When I need a moment, I wash my hands in my water jar. Leaning over, leg going numb - none of it matters when I'm playing on the page or surface.
Honestly, I've been painting on the box an Amazon order came in a few weeks ago. It's just cardboard, so there's no pressure to make anything nice or perfect. I can work without thought, letting the colors I've spread inspire me for the next step. Little bits, big swaths of color, details, paper. One leads to the next. Over and over.
And there comes a moment when I stop. The colors aren't inspiring any more. The space is filled. Call it magic, call it the unconcious, but I get to a moment when I *know* what I need to write. What I need to get out to help clear my mind of distractions. Most of my pieces are pep talks or kind suggestions to myself.
You see, I've yelled at and hated parts of myself for years and nothing ever got better. So I decided, why not treat myself with love instead? Just try it out for a week, see if it helps. And it does! Yes, I still struggle, but I'm so much more gentle with myself.
So I add these words. They just...come to me. Like they're coming from an unknown source that knows *exactly* what I need to hear/read to help calm whatever's rubbing me the wrong way. And no, I don't just create when sad or depressed. Sometimes, I create to help someone else' pain. Or something I feel people need to hear. I don't really question it, I just *do it.*
(And yes, when I got up last night to put my sheets in the dryer since Edie threw up on them...ugh...I had to walk hunched over because my back had frozen and straighten was not something I wanted to do. I shuffled to the dryer. It isn't far. And I was able to tolerate that because I'd just created art I liked, art I've always wanted to make, so...so what if I can't stand up? Or that my leg goes numb, my knee flares up. The reward of art created, of feelings processed, that makes it worth it. I also relax and watch tv or read to loosen up before bed.)
There is so much more I could write about, or share. For now, I'll just show you the art and the details I love.
I've found that these days, the backing paper, spread out to protect a rug quickly bought at IKEA, is where most of the magic is happening. There's something about not being restricted to the side of a journal page or spread, yet the art, the process, and eventual journaling are all an echo of the work I've done inside books for over a decade. When you can spread out, you have more room to move - get the paint on your hands and get your body involved in the motions of spreading paint or ink. The layers on my hands resemble the layers of Fordite, the "stones" created from years of paint being spread on the floor of an automobile assembly plant, and I wear them with pride for about half of my work day.
Despite the physical issues I've been having with my spine, I now paint kneeling or sitting cross-legged on the floor, my palms spreading paint. There's no pressure - this isn't an art journal page to post, or expensive paper. It doesn't react the same way as mixed-media or watercolor paper would, but that's ok. It's just an inexpensive roll of drawing paper. Make a mess and move on. Experiment. Let every little "what if...?" in your head come to life: what if I spread glue over chalk pastels? What if I draw simple faces? What if I layer this paper or that piece of trim? All of these thoughts get expressed on the floor in front of me, and as of now, I am making the kind of art I've always wanted to create.
Just took a decade to get here.
And that's what I want you to remember: art is just like anything else; the more you practice, the more you improve.
I mean, look at me. I've taken one art class in my life, a drawing course at the community college years ago. Everything else I've learned by observing others or experimenting myself. And I keep at it, even if I feel like what I'm making is terrible. You have to battle through the years of not measuring up to your own taste (watch this short video of Ira Glass explaining the gap - it will change how you look at what you're creating). Do I see the way things aren't quite right due to perspective? Sure I do! But do I care? No! Because this is MY art - my shaking hands, my overactive nerves, my colors and faces and process. I love getting stuck in the flow of creating because the pain goes away. The grief flutters above me like a beautiful butterfly. The Divine is able to help me express my heart - the same Divine that crafted stars and nebula and you and me. Whenever I feel the muse has left me, I allow the Divine to use my hands - if they can create the beauty of the stars and the moon and the sea, it can definitely help me paint.
Most of the time, the words just come to me. I can't explain where they come from. I just feel them in my heart and write them down. And that's when the breakthrough happens - the emotions spill over and are given voice. I am often surprised by the words that are written, and feel, sometimes, that the unconscious mind is giving me a glimpse of what's under the surface.
It's a release, to be sure. Of movement, of existing in my body, of being mindful in the present moment. I'm sure I sound like a madwoman, cackling and laughing as I play, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
How do you get through a creative block? How does art allow you to be present in the NOW? How can working big or on "cheaper" paper change your creative process?
Please forgive the less than polished nature of the video!
Keeping a Couch Box, for me, is important. My heart yearns to make art, thinks of all the wonderful fun to be had with supplies, and knows it finds happiness when I can look at something I made and smile. But the reality of daily life - a busy day job and uncertainty with health issues - keeps me from making all the art I’d like to. Being able to easily grab some supplies while in my recliner or bed helps so, so much!
I also use these supplies when I have the energy to sit on the floor, with the addition of some basic acrylic paints and gesso. I can put them away in the bin and keep things organized - being able to clean up easily is key when you don’t have much energy. Always remember to budget that in when you set out to have some fun!
Here are the supplies that I use the most. I’ve linked to products on Amazon so you have an idea of what each thing is and costs, but you should explore as well and supply as you can budget. I luckily have a day job and no children, so I can afford a little more. Use what you have and challenge yourself to trying new things with what you have on hand.
I’ll be posting twice weekly for the next month or two so keep your eyes out for more art and videos, as well as live broadcasts on Instagram.
Supplies in the video: