I get overwhelmed and art is the pool noodle that keeps me afloat
I struggle with emotions overwhelming me. They’re like waves, and I’m not a very good swimmer.
Sometimes the ocean (emocean?) sways gently and I can keep my equilibrium. But then something will happen — something good: I find my favorite tea at the grocery store after it being gone for six months; or something bad: I am trapped in a space with too many energetic emotions — and the **kerplunk** of the event swamps my senses. It plays on an endless loop in my head, and I feel the emotion of the moment over and over and over until I can get to a quiet space and download all those feelings. Usually onto paper, usually with color and shape and texture and pattern, but also with words.
Words are a part of my process…the original part. I’ve been writing in a journal since grade school (thanks Grandma Betty!) and supplementing with stickers and stamps and margin doodles and taped-in leaves and stuff. But the art that expresses the emotion that the words sometimes can’t quite convey…that part is new. I’ve collected sketchbooks where I tried to “do art” but I couldn’t develop any momentum or style of my own, my drawings were not very good, and they felt emotionally flat. I didn’t understand what I was doing and why it wasn’t working (not quite wrong, but certainly not right). I thought words were the only medium I had any skill with, and then only so far as it enabled a career as a technical writer. I had no soul in my writing…little better than a robot.
In 2017 I started an art journal. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had vague ideas about washi tape and bullet journals, but pretty quickly I just cut loose and let what I was feeling guide what took shape on the page. Emotions and colors and shapes got all tangled up, and I wasn’t really even aware of the connections between them until probably 20 entries into the journal. I was just downloading it all, not thinking too much about what was happening, and noticing that as I kept working on the entries, it got easier to breathe. And somewhere along the way, I found a style.
I can’t provide any labels. I have little artistic education, and mostly I do things because my philosophies are “what’s the worst that could happen?” and “do what feels right.” Those words sound totally trite, but (mentally shrugging here) whatever. My art is for me, and not really for anyone else. I hope I’m not the only one that will appreciate it, though if I am, that’s okay, too. But if you do like or appreciate it, I’d welcome a nice comment. 🙂
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