Detail Skull and Cacti

Pep Talk Art Journaling

After the iNSD sales

Every time Scrapbooking Day sales roll around, I fix a budget and look for designers I haven’t yet collected to add to the list of my current favorites. I’m way past the time where I could justify my purchases because I didn’t have much of anything to work with. Now it’s simply “I don’t have (enough of) this designer,” or more often, I want the new “look.” And hard as I try to stick to the amount I’m going to spend, like any gambler I don’t keep my promise not to go over budget. I say like any gambler because at this point, I have enough to cover today’s and all future needs, if I’m creative in how I reuse what I do have. I’m gambling that I’ll somehow manage to use a bit of everything I buy.

Then, feeling guilty, I renew my vows to use the assets I have— however long I’ve had them—and to make sure I’m having a good time. I don’t want my pages to become a chore to avoid. I have enough of those around the house as it is. However, with plenty of family photos making me feel I should be productive and get more of those scrapped—work before play, right?—I can use a little extra shove to create pages for my own well-being. I keep my computer filled with quotes and ideas to help me face a blank screen, but recently Tangie & Co (Rebecca McMeen is the Co, I believe) have begun including an “itinerary”  for newsletter subscribers. If you want to get involved with any aspect of art journaling, both digital and mixed media, their site is worth a look.

Subscribers get a link every odd-numbered newsletter to download the itinerary—a PDF that includes a challenge, a quote, ideas to spark a journal page, etc. If you are a paid Art Journal Caravan member, you get this plus other goodies on a regular basis. This past week’s challenge was to create a page with a skull, 3 cacti, and 6 flowers. The quote: “It is possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems.” There was no requirement to use the quote with the skull and cacti, but I thought I’d try to figure out what the pep talk was in the quote and illustrate it.Pep talk example 1Pep talk example 2I often look for quotes that inspire a positive attitude towards life. And I certainly give myself little pep talks from time to time. Just getting out of bed is an affirmation that life can hold some good, even today. But no matter how uplifting the statement, not all are capable of getting me to feel the pep. In my own journaling, I want to acknowledge my feelings and, hopefully, develop a truthful awareness of myself and my world. When I come across a quotation like this one, I try to figure out if it resonates with me in any way. In Kenya, 350,000 Somalis live in a “temporary” refugee camp. As refugees, they enjoy none of the privileges of residents to find work and make homes outside the camp. Some have been there for 25 years. Some were born there and have had their own children there. Does telling them that it’s possible to go on add anything to their lives? They live that truism every day. Practically all they have is hope and, if lucky, love within their family.

Art Journaling a positive message
The Quote: Maybe it’s not about having a beautiful day, but about finding beautiful moments. Maybe a whole day is just too much to ask. I could choose to believe that in every day, in all things, no matter how dark, there are shards of beauty if I look for them.—Anna White
Created using Jen Maddox’ Preamble art journal kit

Or what about us who are much, much more fortunate? If we’re on the brink of giving up, will this statement pull us back, affirm our feelings, but also buoy us as we attempt to manage the challenges we face? Or does it hold us responsible for outcomes, by implying that we can achieve anything merely by refusing to give up; our fault if we don’t?Pep talk example 3Pep talk example 4I’m at a loss for just what I should take away from this quotation, and juxtaposed with a skull, I decided to illustrate a slightly less positive response to it. Perhaps context would have told me more. Some affirmative statements help us gird our loins, go out there, and win one for the Gipper. Others, like the one above, feel more like part of the often relentless pressure from my society to always have an uplifting message for everyone.

Journaling truth about women's lives
The Quote: The only way for a woman to provide for herself decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her.—G B Shaw, 1898. Credits: Mischief Circus and others.

I don’t mean that I think my art journaling should be a lengthy and hopeless diatribe against the world. That would be pretty shallow. The pain in life gives shape to our joy, but even small pleasures are equally real, and joy and laughter happens among us all. My art journal is where I want to express the complex emotions and nuances in my life, with or without words, and feel no pressure to follow the social edict that if you haven’t anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. So I came up with nothing good to say, and I had a lot of fun doing it.Pep talk example 5As Granny said of the unicorn in Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies“See clear! Don’t let the glamour get you!  See what’s in front of your eyes! It’s a damn great horse with a horn on the end!” Even fantasy must reflect real life to resonate with us. No unicorn is entirely beneficent. There’s that horn. . . Art journaling has the potential to be a powerful influence on our lives. If we treat it with respect, it can express our humor, our reverence, our joy, and our pain. It can be our political, sociological, and philosophical statement, our diary, our way of keeping awake to our lives. It can be therapy. If you find a quote that expresses what you believe, use it. If you find one that fires up your opposition to it, use that, too. At the end, an art journal page is about you and for you, and has nothing to do either with what “art” should be, or what you should feel about anything in your life. It’s a space to record what you do feel.

Skull and Cacti with flowers
The Quote: It is possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems—Nicholas Sparks. The Response: (Except for this poor guy. . . there’s always this poor guy. It wasn’t terribly possible for him. . . Became utterly impossible, if you ask me. . .) Credits: Mischief Circus, G&T Designs, Raspberry Road, and others.
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