Art Journals

Recently, I've been making art journals. Making these little creations refreshes my soul. Wow, that sounds extraordinary, but really, that is the way it is. The freedom of making these - the process itself - is loads of fun and sets my mind in a place of timeless enjoyment. It has the feeling of when I was a little girl and I would play for hours with dolls - paper dolls, barbie dolls, baby dolls - yep, that's it - it's clearly like "playing." There are not many things we do as adults that give us that carefree sense of playing, but when we find it again - it is a gem. 

I begin by pulling out all kinds of papers - whatever colors and patterns strike my fancy. Then I go to my antique books and sheet music, letters, and vintage advertisements. Usually, a story starts to build when I'm looking through these things - maybe it's a lyric like, "sweetly, you sing to me" or "the sparrow found a home" that causes me to get a spark of inspiration. After this, and usually with the "rush" of the idea - I will pull out lots of fibers, buttons, vintage jewelry and found objects from my piles of collected stuff. 
It's beautiful how just holding these things in my hands causes the story to progress. Maybe with "the sparrow found a home" I will pick up a little antique key or a little vintage sparrow broach and those elements add to the story. I may come across small branches that remind me of a bird's nest, so I add those in somewhere. I begin to think of the scripture that says, "even the sparrow has found a home" and so then I begin to build the story around the idea of "home" and what that means to someone.

So then, I will sketch a little character that is pondering about "home" and the story builds. As I pick up the papers, the colors sing the right melody and I'm inspired to add the sheet music with the lyrics "sweetly, you sing to me." The fibers - the rich beautiful fibers (one of my most favorite things in the world) are then selected. The colors and even the very textures of the fibers seem to finish up the story - I may weave them or braid them as the threads of the story unify; I may leave them softly dangling in a whimsical way; I may even wrap them around the journal - something tangible that must be held in the hand to unlock the beauty of the journal's contents. Adding the fibers always feels to me like "icing on the cake" or the "last stroke of a composer's baton" or the "dancer's curtsy when the roses are thrown to her."

I'm sure this sounds fanciful - and is. This is the pure whimsy I find in making these journals. Furthermore, the experience is evermore beautiful - it is actually transforming.  For me, the process of making art journals is like when you are a child playing and the story is no longer being constructed, but you actually become a part of the story. So in essence, I am the one who is like the sparrow who is promised a home; I am the one who has been given the key; I hear the sweet music; I begin to sing; I feel completion of this transformation in my mind, soul, and spirit as I tie on the last bits of fiber. My father, Papa God, is teaching me through play - the best way for a child to learn.

Isn't He wonderful?

And then, after all this fun and heart-warming joy -  I'm ready to share the story with someone else. Though it is an intangible experience - it is a spiritual reality. Someone is waiting who is also needing that kind of transformation.  Though it is simple - it is deep and profound.
It reminds me of life. We often have pieces of collected stuff - memories, words spoken and given, hopes, dreams, fears, relationships, etc. that are our collection of "stuff".  The messiness of all that comes together into purpose at the right times in our lives. If we take the time to listen and follow our heartful whims, something beautiful is created.

The idea that these journals become a part of someone's life as a piece of functional art is rewarding to me. They are not something to hang on a wall - they are to be touched, held and used. Perhaps they will hold someone's treasures of the heart, or family recipes, or notes about someone's music, or art, or relationships. Maybe a photo or two will get tucked in; maybe a flower given by a child, or a note from a friend; maybe a card from a lover; or a funeral paper from a loved one's passing.  These journals are destined to become a sort of  treasure-box of life. Though they are simple, they are also profoundly personal and deeply complex - isn't that the way of life?