Image of abstract painting on my art journal page. Sun-warm colors over the dark.
52-Week Art Journal

Week 14: It’s Up to You

Okay, Friends, let’s do something a little different this week…

If you’re new here, check out the Week 1 prompt to make your journal. Week 1: Make this Journal… and Journey Your Own.

If you’d like to watch the video before reading, just scroll on d0wn.

This Week’s Small Art

This week’s small art prompt is different. Because, well, there isn’t one. At least not for a specific piece, or even type, of art.

What do YOU want to make in your art journal this week?

Me, I’d like to finish a page I taped up and never got around to abstract-painting. I’m sharing that process in this week’s video.

I also want to experiment with my bleeding tissue paper in ways I’ve seen used in therapeutic art but haven’t yet tried… Future arting, for which I’m also working on alternatives, for those without bleeding tissue paper. That did not make the video. Because I haven’t yet had time… and that’s okay…

Why I make art

I’m guessing that since you’re here, art is important to your identity, as it is to mine. If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d still be making art every day, I would have been glad, and grateful, and maybe at least a little bit proud of myself, but not shocked. A year ago I was shoring up my reclamation of my creativity, in the process of creating my first art journal (My100DayArtJournal), as part of the 100 Day Project.

I would not, however, have expected to be doing this, this 52-Week Art Journal Journey, with you.

But I have to share it with those of us who need it. Those of us who need to be reminded that taking time to make art is not a waste of time. That we’re wired to create, and when we’re not exercising our creativity in a way that’s meaningful to us, we can’t be as healthy as we could be.

For me, part of that is art journaling. Making physical art is balancing for me. Sketching. Painting. But for years I, for the most part, cut myself off from that. Years.

There was always something more important. Making art felt like a waste of time when I needed to be more productive. To take time I felt I didn’t have enough of to make art seemed pointless, particularly when I was struggling with severe depression, with suicidal depression.

I know actively making art wouldn’t have “cured” me. But would it have helped? Absolutely. I know this because it actually did. Those rare times when I would get myself and my kids out the door to drawing class… I could so clearly feel the balancing effect of picking up a pencil, and just drawing.

Of course the improved feelings, the increased clarity of thinking, faded.

I needed a steady diet of making. Not just an occasional meal… snack.

Recovery, the treatment of mental illness and maintenance of mental health, requires treating all aspects of our selves. We’re not one-dimensional. Giving our minds their best chance to more accurately assess the reality of our current situations—beyond the hopelessness and despair of depression, the tension of anxiety, the distorted lens of past trauma, the pressure of external expectations—requires us to make healthy choices, to pursue health, in all areas: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and creative.

We’re wired to create. Made in the image of the Creator. A Creator who gave us a world full of materials to work with, and intellect and ingenuity to put them together in different ways to make more materials, more useful things, more beauty.

In the first chapter of her book Let There Be Art, Rachel Marie Kang asserts that in exercising our creativity—through all forms of art and making—we are joining God in pushing back the dark, pushing back the chaos, in the world and in our own souls. The Biblical story of humankind does not begin with the fall; it begins with light.

Light is a prerequisite for life.

Without the light of the sun, there can be no physical life on earth.

Without light, we cannot see.

For me, taking the time to make art, as taking the time to write, helps me to see myself and my circumstances more clearly. It restores life in parts of me that feel dead, or dying, or damaged beyond repair.

Keeping myself from art denied, blinded, and starved an integral part of my identity.

There’s nothing healthy about that. No matter how many other things need to be accomplished.

Why you make art

This week is an invitation to explore what art-making means to you. Write about how taking the time to make art makes you feel. Write about what it’s helping you learn about yourself. Write about other types of creativity, other creative activities, that feed your soul.

And make some art. Make this week’s art out of your writing’s understanding of the necessity of art to your health, or use your small-art-making time to bring yourself to a place to articulate it in words.

I’m glad you’re here

Again I say I’m grateful to have you here, to have the opportunity to encourage you to take the time to make art, and establish a healthy habit of creative self-care.

I almost died, due, in part, to a lack of art.

There are as many ways to express creativity as there are individuals.

Don’t give up taking time to create and to express your self in a way that is meaningful to you, that feeds your soul, and brings order to your mind.

It’s likely you will find that you are more than you think you are.

Let the chaff to be burned away, the silver refined.


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