I’m doing an art journal exchange with a friend from out of town. Each of us completes a piece of art and then we mail it to the other person so she can see it. The theme for our work is self care/soul care.
For my first project, I created an illustrated version of an essay I wrote in the spring called Goose Soul Cry.* The photograph beside this post shows the bottom corner of the second page of the essay. The beginning of the essay is on the other side of the page and I accompanied it with two of my photographs and more vine drawings.
A few things happened as I worked on this piece. Initially, I was filled with self-criticism and negativity: I couldn’t get my photographs to print in colour and it was really tricky to arrange my essay to fit around my photographs. Most of all, I just felt like what I was doing wasn’t “good enough”– I chastised myself for sending my friend an essay rather than a piece of visual art and there were “mistakes” in the art I did manage to include in the piece.
But something interesting happened along the way. The moment I started adding colour to my vines, which I’d drawn originally with black pen, my work came alive for me and my perspective altered. I took a step back from what I was doing and looked at it with new eyes. I had different thoughts; thoughts like “Oh… this is a little piece of me, this is unique, this is worth sharing…” And then, “Wow.”
It seems that presenting my work in this way for someone else to see and to hold made me look at it differently. I saw it as more valid, more real and more special, somehow. And that felt good.
Something else I noticed as I re-read my essay was that the “goose soul cry” was really my own soul cry. The goose’s soul (or my perspective on it) was my own soul calling out: I am experiencing a lot of isolation and loneliness at this time in my life.
But isolation and loneliness are not mine alone to bear; they are a part of the human condition — and maybe a part of the condition of other living creatures as well. In that way, we are never really alone in our experiences.
I love the way our soul speaks to us through our art.
I’m far more comfortable and familiar expressing myself using words than I am doing visual art. My first art journal project is in fact more words than visual art. And that’s all right; it’s within the parameters my friend and I agreed on for our project. But I think my art journal projects might get less wordy and more visual as I go along.
It might sound funny but one of my greatest joys in doing this project was drawing the feather at the bottom of the page. I’ve never tried to draw a feather before. I didn’t practice before I tried it on my project page (I used a step-by-step guide from the internet to do it), so it was doubly risky. But I liked drawing it and I liked the way it turned out.
That small thing, drawing that little feather, felt liberating for me.
I think these small examples of right brain creative risk taking can translate into confidence in taking creative risks in other areas of life. This is one of the reasons I plan to keep practicing drawing.
Thank you for reading.
*Goose Soul Cry was posted on another blog of mine, Beyond Bankruptcy: Care for the Soul, which is focused on bankruptcy, money and the soul.