I Miss Journaling Circles!

I think many of us can agree that moving to a new place is scary. It’s not just adjusting to a new place and learning where all of the essentials (i.e. – grocery store, police department, post office, best pizza place…) are. It’s also about meeting new people and keeping in touch with those you left behind. Even though I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for almost 4 years now, certain aspects of my current lifestyle and the natural drifting apart make it hard to have the social life I wish I had.

It was this feeling that necessitated a change that drove me to join meetup.com, a site where people with similar interests can coordinate gatherings with one another. I tried a few here and there and since I knew I was into the arts (though not actively practicing at that time), I went to my first Journaling Circles meetup in 2012.

Art Journal Page - Garden of Secrets

Art Journal Page from Journaling Circles – “Garden of Secrets”
Supplies: marker, gel pen, chip from old artwork

 

I can’t begin to express the impact it’s made on my life. The first way it’s changed me is that it’s helped me to release some of my inhibitions. Something I know I need to let go of is the need to always please others and be “perfect.” There’s a certain freedom that comes with going into a restaurant, pulling out your art supplies, and just going to town. It’s helped me understand the importance of “play” and experimentation in making art. It’s something purely for me and my own happiness and growth.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet other artists, which really helped to fulfill a social need–even if we met just once a month. There’s something special about meeting up with those that share your passion. I was exposed to different ideas, techniques, art supplies, and ways of seeing the world.

Sharing our journaling pages like we do at the end of every session was a tremendous help to me, too. I’m typically one to keep things bottled, mostly because I think no one’s interested and I find other people much more fascinating. But the more I came to Journaling Circles, the more I learned that everyone has a story to tell and knows things worth sharing–including me. It’s something that I still remind myself regularly, but opening up a little bit more about my own life and experiences has become a lot easier compared to when I first started attending.

Lastly (and potentially the most important), through Journaling Circles I learned to let my passion guide me. When art is such a deep part of you, you cannot and should not deny it. Being in a positive, encouraging, and creative environment has really helped me to focus on nurturing my inner artist and letting it be as big a part of my life as possible. I’m creating more artwork than I ever have before and rather than hiding the majority of it, I’ve shared many pieces on social media and with friends and family. It drove me to start this blog, which I hope to grow into something wonderful someday.

This is the first Monday of the month I won’t be attending Journaling Circles. The facilitator, Rosemary Augustine, will be moving out of state and embarking upon a grant new adventure. I wish her all the best and wanted to let her know how much I’ve enjoyed being part of the group. I know it’s not good-bye for any of us, but I’m forever thankful to everyone I’ve met through Journaling Circles for the inspiration and support!

Artfully Megan Signature

Art Journal Page – Seasons of Life

While snowed in last week, I watched Frida, a biographical movie about Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. I’m not thoroughly familiar with her work, but I’ve liked everything I’ve seen and I enjoyed learning about her life. I really like her style and the personal nature of her work. She’s been quoted as saying: “I am my own muse; I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.” Her words struck me because it’s a lot like what I try to achieve each time I sit down with my art journal. This art journal page is a result of some of that self-examination.

Art Journal Page - Seasons of Life

Art Journal Page – Seasons of Life
Supplies: watercolors, markers, pens, gel pens, colored pencil

A few years ago, I started listening to motivational podcasts. Many of the podcasts focused on the idea of asking for what you want—a concept so obvious, but so foreign. I wanted to give it a try so I asked. And I asked. And I asked! Doors closed and doors opened, but things were still changing very slowly or not at all. This year I suddenly find myself receiving many of the things I had been asking for all of these years. Am I ready for it? Do I even want it anymore? Maybe I’m just surprised that it’s actually happening… I certainly have a lot to journal about these days!

I started this page with an ink and colored pencil drawing. Then I laid down a background of watercolor and markers. I spruced up both backgrounds with patterns done in gel pen (check out my review on Gelly Roll Souffle gel pens—they work great on dark colors!) and fine point colored pen. The text I chose is from “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, a song I’ve always liked and continually feel is appropriate. I’m not yet comfortable with decorative writing, so I based the way I wrote it on a computer font. I added a drop shadow with grey pen to help it stand out a bit more.

Artfully Megan Signature

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by getting something you really wanted? How has art helped you to cope with changes?

Farewell to a Journal

Well, it’s finally happened: I’ve used up another journal!

Writing Journal September 2014 - February 2015

When I first got this journal in September 2014, it had a plain brown recycled-paper cover. The blank cover screamed that it needed decorating and, as a creative, I absolutely had to oblige! I personalized the book by collaging magazine images and adding some designs using Sharpie and gel pen. Since much of the cover is collaged, I wanted to protect the front (and keep all the little collage bits in) so I used contact paper to seal it in, give it a smoother look, and make it more durable. Surprisingly, this was the first time I decorated my writing journal.

I usually do my writing on lined paper, but I tried something different this time and chose to go with a graph paper book. Having a graph paper journal was actually really useful during the time I was using it. Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time making graphs and charts as I planned for the future and organized my thoughts.

Another thing I liked about this journal was the size of it. When I wasn’t traveling, I had bigger and thicker journals. Once I started traveling more frequently for work, it was important to me that my journal was both smaller and thinner. This 104-page book allowed me to journal daily while on the road.

This book has seen a lot of ranting, frustration, whining, and hurting. But in spite of all that, it’s also seen twice as many dreams and aspirations. It’s where I decided that I needed to steer my life towards the things I am passionate about. It’s where I vowed to stop putting myself down all the time and start building myself up. It’s where I started my addiction to washi tape!

I’m definitely going to miss writing in this journal every day, but I’ve already got another one ready for the next few months of adventures!

Artfully Megan Signature

What are your thoughts when finishing a journal?

Art Journaling Magic – Recap!

I’ve picked up a lot of tricks from my high school art classes and the sculpture class I took in college, but until recently mixed media had been largely unexplored. Mixed media increasingly appeals to me as I grow in my art journaling practice. There’s something both beautiful and magical about the way the layers and textures come together into one cohesive piece. So it seemed like destiny when Art Journaling Magic, taught by Rosemary Augustine, was offered on a day that I was available.

Art Journaling Magic Page

This piece was created by layering gesso over mixed media paper and creating an initial background of acrylic paint. I then used matte medium to collage magazine images and stamped tissue paper in layers. Texture and depth elements were added in the form of stencils and punchinella. I finished it off with some pen embellishments and 3D stickers.

Around the time of the class, I watched an episode of American Experience highlighting the life and career of Dorothea Lange. One of the things she was quoted as saying resounded in my mind as I worked through the process:

“Beauty appears when one feels deeply. Art is an act of total attention.”

– Dorothea Lange

I think it’s so true and that’s one of the things I like the best about mixed media. There are so many individual elements, each added for a special reason or for no reason at all, all coming together to create a whole. I think it’s remarkable whenever I see mixed media pieces in person. It’s easy to get lost in every daub of paint and every altered image. It’s also easy to lose yourself making your own pieces.

Since I’ve taken the class, I’ve used the techniques I learned to create front and back covers for my next daily journal and a birthday card.

I do plan on continuing to use these techniques and build upon them on my future projects. And remember that blank canvas? I’ve already started drafting studies to get it filled!

Artfully Megan Signature

Are you a mixed media artist? What aspects of it do you enjoy the most?

Nala’s Adoption Story

I believe reflection through journaling helps you become more attuned to the things that change your life. Everything, no matter how big or small, has an impact. One thing that has definitely influenced my life is when I adopted my cat, Nala, three years ago this week.

Cat Journal Page

Art Journal Page – “Crazy Cat Lady”
Supplies: watercolor, crayon, collage, gel pen, marker

 

I became a full-fledged transplant in the summer of 2011, leaving my hometown in South Jersey to live the dream in corporate America. There was a lot of excitement around this new life, but it was (and continues to be, in some ways) very lonely. A few of my co-workers and long distance friends recommended getting a cat. As someone who’s only raised goldfish, this was completely foreign territory!

I eased into it slowly and soon the extensive research progressed into compulsively visiting the animal shelter website. Every day I would check to see what new friends they had and one day I found myself inside the shelter. It was supposed to be an exploratory visit—a “look, but don’t take home” kind of visit until…

“Can I help you?” asked a shelter employee.

“No, just looking,” I replied. “I’ve been thinking about getting a cat.”

“Oh, well we have plenty! Just look around and if you have any questions, let me know. If you find one you like, we can help you meet with them.”

“Thank you! I haven’t had a pet before, so this is all new,” I admitted as I began to browse the cattery. I cheerfully peered into each cubby, every step pushing me closer to pet ownership.

Nala the Cat

I selected three cats to meet with separately. The first was a (very) large, playful white cat named Snowball and the second was a serene, blue-eyed tuxedo named Mr. Teddy. Adorable as they were, I wasn’t convinced the fit was right. And then there was Nala, a 1-2 year-old brown tabby recently surrendered to the shelter.

She caught my attention when I approached her cubby. She meowed, reached out her paw, and purred. She was friendly and affectionate as I cradled her in my arms. When I set her down, she poked around the room, stopping to warmly rub her head against my hand. I hadn’t planned on taking a cat home that day, but I’d fallen in love and it was far too late.

The next few months were definitely an adjustment for both of us. I became familiar with feeding, hairballs, and other fine aspects of cat ownership. She adapted to my constant cuddles and attention. The decision I was extremely nervous about became the decision that couldn’t have been more right.

Nala the Cat

Suddenly my days became less lonely and I felt a little more grounded. We had our home together and we were friends. Our relationship has been the subject of many art journal pages and my daily journal is filled with the crazy cat stuff she’s done. I can’t imagine my life without her and I truly consider it changed for the better.

Artfully Megan Signature

Have you adopted a pet? What was your story and how has it changed you?