Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why I Journal

Although my journaling style, the "how" of my expression, varies wildly, I am unequivocally certain why I journal.  There is an urge deep in my soul, a river of emotion pushing at its banks, seeking the slightest opening through which it can rush, expand and overflow.  My reasoning, logical, controlling self stands at the gap, finger in the hole, fearful of what might emerge if the river should break through.

In the past, I have played Shepherd to my life, vainly corralling chaos in order to bestow a sense of power and security.  Yet, the Shepherd is getting very, very tired and the river on the other side of the wall is waiting.  Little by little, I experiment with letting that emotion through, employing art journaling as the conduit.  Paper, paint, ink, stamps, collage, writing: the words and images flow, sometimes trickling and sometimes raging.  I journal in fits and starts as I’m not ready to let all my emotions wash over me.  I often start things, tasting the cleansing release as the art begins to arise from that locked away place and almost as quickly I pull back.  It is too much; I can not control it.  It will sweep me away.  I gasp, both at my temerity and the possibilities that letting go reveals.  Each time, I let the waters make more headway and I become less resistant to its advance.  In fact, I am beginning to welcome it.

Control is an illusion; pursuing an illusion can be deadly.  My emotional and mental health has stumbled under the self-imposed mandate that I must always be at the helm of my ship.  I struggle against currents and I battle the winds, hoping to create calm, however fleeting.  But I am learning that sometimes my ship must drift, gently bumping up against life’s obstacles.  The occasional floundering upon the shore is inevitable and not irreversible.  I can recover; I can set sail again.   My quest to control the universe is an ill-fated concept, one whose map leads to disappointment, fear, and a sickness of spirit.  Art is a new map to follow.

So, I journal and the stream beneath my feet gains strength, growing bolder with every entry I complete.  My resilience in the face of unexpected and ongoing challenges improves.  I learn to confidently navigate my way through the crests and troughs of life, experiencing it without uncontrollable apprehension and reflecting upon it with wonder.  My long-suppressed spirit emerges, first in the art and then, in my personality, and then in my actions.  The journey to my authentic self begins in my journal, page by page, and port by port. 

Originally written February 10, 2006 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

100 Things

Over the next month or so, I hope to enrich and deepen the content of this blog as I always envisioned it as becoming a resource for my readers.  Blogger now has a "Page" feature which allows me to add up to ten tabbed pages of stand-alone content in addition to the home page.  I have begun at the beginning: with an "About Me" page entitled "100 Things," a list of (obviously) 100 little facts about me and my life.  Click on the little tab underneath the header and If you get through all 100, have yourself a cookie and get back to your art!  Thanks for reading! 

New Year, New Challenges

As 2010 winds down, I am gearing up for the challenges I have decided to tackle for 2011.  I have always adored the concept of vowing to make something every day for a year as if such a commitment would be the only way to demonstrate that I am indeed an artist.  And I have started a couple of those "every day" projects in Januarys past and usually, by February, I fall behind and give up.  I look at that unfinished promise and mourn the lost body of work, berate myself for my woeful lack of followthrough.  Indeed, life struggles have gotten in the way of a few promises in the last few years; there are some past ventures still incomplete and they weigh on my conscience every day.

I have a feeling 2011 will be different.  2010 was the first year in perhaps a decade when I felt like I made progress in my health issues.  I still went through the usual remittance and relapse cycle but overall, I feel like I actually gained a little bit of footing.  I hope...no, believe...that the trend will continue into next year.  In celebration, I am planning on finally finishing up long-neglected projects and tackling three new, interconnected challenges.


This year, I looked for challenges that dovetailed with my current and renewed interests.  In the past six months, I have become intensely focused on reacquainting with and expanding my drawing and painting skills.  I am more focused than ever on art journaling and I am, in general, working to bring creativity into all aspects of my daily life.  So I have decided to participate in three challenges launching this Saturday, January 1st: The Sketchbook Challenge, organized by Sue Bleiweiss, the Art Journal Every Day project hosted by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and finally, the annual Creative Every Day mission guided by Leah Piken Kolidas.

Here are some important things to note:
  • These challenges overlap in goal & mission and I will not hesitate to use work for one to satisfy the monthly theme for another (or vice versa).
  • I am taking everything ONE MONTH AT A TIME!  I will not regard laspes as failures but as opportunities to begin again.  
  • I will post every Sunday my "Challenge Check-In" as a means of recording what I did that week for one or more of these projects.  I will be celebrating quality, not quantity!
  • As I participate, I want to feel happy, excited, expanded.  If I start to feel burdened or overwhelmed, I give myself permission to take a break without guilt.
That said, I can't wait for the challenges to begin!  I hope you'll join me in making 2011 a year of creative abundance! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all my my faithful and patient blog readers a wonderful Christmas, full of health, happiness, and hope!  May the coming new year bring you all that you dream!

Lost Coast Post will be picking up steam in the next few weeks as the holiday craziness slows down.  Among other things, Lost Coast Studio Saturdays begin anew on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 (how fitting!) and throughout the new year, I'll be documenting my participation in three online challenges (see top of sidebar.)  Lots to come so I hope you'll get a chance to join me as your own brand of holiday mania winds down.
               Take care always,
                          Michelle

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming Up for Air

Well, the last month of college hijacked both life and the computer as my boy had four papers and so, so many tests to complete before he was able to sign off on his first semester of school.  He still has one last final due tomorrow and then we can breathe a huge sigh of relief and relaxation for about a month.  For my part, I also had final projects and portfolios due in my watercolor class so the Lost Coast homestead has been humming with frenetic energy. 

I've been journaling in between painting assignments and have discovered that as my days become crazier, my pages get simpler.  This page from November 24 ended up with this absolutely beautiful background and though I intended to tinker with it beyond the painted tree, I fell in love with the minimalist quality and just walked away happy.  Every so often, it is nice to have a more "reserved" page to rest one's eyes upon in the middle of a highly detailed journal.

In other news, check out the new, fresh look for Lost Coast Post!  It was high time I dusted off my barely serviceable Photoshop skills and banged out a new banner and once I got going, I managed some matching buttons.  Then, I had to relinquish the computer to the scholar in the family for some more ponderings on string theory, Voyager 2, computer use among school groups and the societal commentary in George Romero movies!  I have to say...as much as I love being a student, I don't miss the term papers days one bit!
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