I wanted to share my grief journal with you. Since my Dad died in September I have had trouble focusing on my art and using an art journal to process my feelings has been very helpful. Grief is not something that I fear or try to thwart, but I have realized that finding the right space to allow emotions to bubble up does not come naturally to me. Making art without any plan, or reference, or goal, or worry about how it appears to the viewer…letting color, shape, imagery and marks lead the way has been therapeutic. The pages mean something to me and reflect my faith, memories, tributes to Dad and experiences during the last months of his life. The color palette was much darker than what I normally use. More moody colors with patches of brightness which reflects the feelings in my heart during this time of grieving.
These close-up photographs show the texture, drips, and mark making details of my first two pages. I called them Grief No 1, thinking that this would be a methodical process. Each page would be sequential, orderly and titled in such a manner. WRONG! It did not come out that way. Each page was an expression of its very own, not at all methodical, or linear, very much the opposite…somewhat abstract, purely expressive, and always from a place deep inside my spirit.
Mixed media acrylic painting with Posca white pen for lettering.
A photograph from our trip to Israel. We are standing in Jerusalem, Dad, Louie and I. I used a photo image transfer technique and also chose a photograph of pillars from Capernaum. A photo transparency on the opposite page, over acrylic painting. Handwriting is everywhere in this journal, sometimes a prayer, an observation, a memory, a thought about Dad’s quirky sayings, or just raw emotion scribbled somewhere.
The black and white photograph was taken years ago. The bronze angel sat in front of a little shop on Colorado Avenue here in the Springs. She no longer is there, at least I do not recall seeing her lately, but she lives on… on this page… heralding welcoming arms to the heavens.
“When you are green…you’re growing!” A favorite saying by my father. It’s so true, isn’t it? A simple thought which conveys the attributes of being a lifelong learner. Trying new things such as taking an art class, picking up the cello, writing your memoirs, learning a foreign language, traveling to a different continent, learning to fly fish, changing careers, reading non-fiction, walking up the Manitou incline, or taking a class online…all might require us to be a novice in something we know little about. This process of being brave and taking up something new, well it is just plain magical if we let the process lead the way and allow ourselves to be green. Moving out of our comfort zone can move us into growing as a person in new and vibrant ways.
Thanks, Dad, for these affirming words. This is how you lived your life. I remember when my son started playing lacrosse, Dad said, “I know nothing about lacrosse, I have heard of it but that’s about it. I better check out a book from the library and see how this game works.” And he did just that.
It’s not often that I share something as tender as grief here on my blog. My hope is that you will be inspired to use art journaling for expressing emotions. Actually, all the art we create is rooted in something emotional. Sometimes it is conscious other times it is a sub-conscious expression. Color has meaning, the images we are drawn to reflect our preferences and the unique way we are wired creatively. A preference for abstract or representational types of art are quite personal. Sometimes it changes, sometimes an abstract piece will capture our attention, other times a representational painting like those created by the Dutch masters speaks to us. Making art, and viewing art is a fluid process. The more we engage, the more we begin to understand who we are as makers, creators, and lifelong learners.
My grief journal is complete…for now. It’s not unusual for me to pick up a journal and add something long after it felt finished. More paint, another layer, an item of collage, or scribbled words, depending on my mood, or depending on if the page needed something else. One day I might add to this journal but for now it seems good. Though I will walk with grief for many years, it will become more and more bearable. Allowing my grief to flow through this process of making art has been a fulfilling journey. I have many take aways and a discovery…grief is abstract which makes art journaling the perfect companion for me right now.
Thanks for allowing me to share and be vulnerable. It is well out of my comfort zone. But as Dad used to say, “when you’re green you’re growing.” This all feels right, to share, be open, and reveal my heart… for such a time as this.
I appreciate you stopping by and welcome your comments.