Momentum starts with Small Actions

The first lesson of Life Book 2016 was a warm up exercise taken by Tamara Laporte.  It involved lots of layering with different techniques and media and also involved using our word of the year and a symbol that resonated with that word.

Until last year’s Life Book, I had never set a word of the year but it was a concept that intrigued me.  Last year I chose Balance as my word and it was interesting how much it helped me to have that as a focus.  Every time I, for instance, felt assuaged my guilt over sitting and doing some art rather than dusting I could remind myself that I was striving to build some balance back into my life and that involved making time for myself and investing in myself.  I was not striving for anything as ridiculously impossible as a 50/50 balance, was not looking to have more than a reasonable amount of “me time”, nor did I want my investment in myself to impinge on family life, somehow interfere with my role as a wife and mother.  However, my life was way out of kilter to a degree that I was discombobulated.  Having the word “balance” in mind and setting that as my goal for 2015 really did help me strive to achieve that and ultimately I did attain much better balance in my life.  I also realised through that process that even though I am constantly juggling a whole lot of balls and have a whole lot of different things that I am trying to keep in balance, it is absolutely OK for me to drop some of those balls.  There are glass balls that are precious and vulnerable and too special to drop so those are the ones to focus on but if a few of those rubber balls fall – if the dusting doesn’t get done, if I make quick and easy pasta for dinner instead of the meal I had intended – that is OK.

This year, therefore, I thought long and hard about the word I wanted to set myself for the year.  I thought long and hard and came up with nothing.  I knew all of the things I wanted to achieve this year, the things I needed to tackle, overcome, things I needed to develop, but I could not distill that down into one word or even a pithy phrase.  Finally, a friend suggested a word for me that encapsulated all of the things I was trying to concentrate into my focal point for the year: Momentum.  My focus for this year is about taking the things I started last year, things in several areas of my life, and driving them forwards.  There are things I really need to dig deep and fight to achieve, things I need to advocate strongly for, and there are things I want to gradually develop and refine and hone.  Momentum works for both those drives and I like that it is a positive word that still chimes with some of the negative stuff I need to battle through.  So Momentum it is.

Week 1 - Warm Up - Word - Momentum

It is interesting for me to compare the warm up piece I did for this year’s Life Book with the piece I did for Life Book last year – my first ever online art lesson indeed.  Evidently, layering is something I still struggle with.  Stencilling definitely continues to be my nemesis.  However, I managed to build up the colours to be much bolder and I have also learned to have a much stronger focal point in much more abstract pieces – even though my arrow symbol went badly wrong because of the spray inks getting under my masked shape and reactivating all over the place.  Baby steps is still progress though.

Goals for 2016

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to use hidden journaling, that is to write or otherwise record something that would then be concealed in some way on the page.  As I have explained before, I don’t tend to use my art journal as a means of processing my thoughts and feelings.  I have other ways of doing that, including writing this blog, plus I prefer for my art time to be about escapism and decompressing from my everyday life rather than being a record of my life.  The phrase prompt, however, was “The greatest gift I can give myself” and I thought that was something I could use.  This is the time of year when thoughts turn to what has been accomplished and experienced in the year about to end and what might be achieved in the year to come.  The phrase prompt made me think about the ways I have invested in myself this year and the ways in which I might invest in myself next year.  I, therefore, decided that my journal page would be about setting my goals for 2016.  I chose not to hide them but kept them to a very brief statement.  Strangely enough, this week is incredibly busy so I kept my page simple: watercolour shapes that I encouraged to bleed into one another, a bit of spatter, and text written with ink pen.

So what are my goals for 2016?  Well I have the usual goal of getting healthier – exercise, sleep, diet, self-care – and added to that I built in a goal to simply relax more.  I am one of those people who likes to be doing something but I end the day exhausted so I need to find time to just chill out a bit, maybe by doing just one thing at a time ever so often.  I want to travel in the coming year, whether that is exploring more of the local area, travelling to another state (I have been stuck on 25 US states visited since 2002!) or further afield.  I have fallen into a bit of a rut of cooking food that will not lead to an uprising from all of my kids.  It is unrealistic to think I can appease all four of them at every meal time but the moaning gets a bit much some days and I seem to have capitulated lately and end up cooking the same things over and over.  I, therefore, want to challenge myself to cook one new recipe each week in order to expand my collection of foods the boys will enjoy eating.  I am lucky in that they have pretty sophisticated and mature palates for kids so I am never stuck just cooking kid fare but building my repertoire of meals they at least tolerate and which I enjoy would be a boon.  I want to decorate more rooms in our house, drag a few more of them out of 1970.  I want to come up with another project to do with the kids this summer, following this year’s History of Art course, and also some smaller projects too.  I have two family history projects that I had actually set as goals for this year and never got around to so hopefully I will get them done this year: writing up my research on at least one more of my families into narrative form and reorganising the family history photographs into a larger album.  Then I have lots of creative challenges: I want to create every day – or at least try to; I want to complete all of the art courses I have signed up for; I want to explore the possibility of selling my art online.  The “keep fighting” goal refers to an issue I am in the midst of tackling.  That is my nod to hidden journaling.

I didn’t quite fulfill all of last year’s goals but that is OK.  Life gets in the way of plans some times.  I wonder how many of these goals I will complete in 2016.

Week 51 - Hidden Writing - Goals

Goals for 2015

This year, as well as continuing with the Documented Life Project (DLP) in its new format, I am embarking on Life Book 2015.  That will be my first ever online art course and actually only my second ever online course – the first being about writing my family history – and it is quite a commitment since it runs all year.  I am looking forward to honing my skills with mixed media techniques, learning new approaches, trying new materials and media and just trying new creative things.

For both the DLP and LB, the initial pieces for the year focused on goals, ambitions and intentions for 2015.  I have never been one to set New Year resolutions but I do set myself goals, things to strive for in the year ahead.  I set myself 9 goals last year and actually managed to achieve most of them.  Writing up my family history was, with hindsight, far too ambitious.  I did, however, write up the history of one of my genealogical lines.  My other family history goal – to reorganise my family history photos into a bigger album – was also ridiculous given that my photo albums were in storage boxes until a couple of months ago.  However, all things considered, I did pretty well with my goals for 2014.  Hopefully I will achieve similar success with my 2015 goals.

There were two DLP prompts for the first week.  The prompt was to “be your own goal keeper” and the challenge was “book paper”.  I considered combining the two but I had actually created a background a few weeks ago when I was at my Art Journal MeetUp group and I thought it would work well for recording my goals for 2015.  I wrote the individual goals inside the geometric shapes but I also decided to set myself a word for the year and incorporated that in the central circle.  My word for the year is “balance”.  After two years of relocation, change, transition and adaptation, I am ready to try and reestablish some balance back into my life and in every area of my life.  Hopefully the goals I have set will help me achieve and restore that balance.

Week 1 - Goals

Despite my best intentions and my anal retentiveness regarding punctuality, despite my decision to strive for balance this year, I have started the year already trying to play catch up with my creative commitments, including DLP and Life Book (LB).  I decided, therefore, to do a very quick page with the book paper prompt.  Someone happened to inform me that 2015 is the year of the sheep.  That was all the inspiration I needed.  I cut a fat, puffy, cloud shape from a dictionary page – choosing the page that had the word “sheep” on it which I then cut out and added to the page.  A quick scribble with black and white gel pens later and that shape had become a silly sheep.  I used stamps to write the word “balance”, which was an ironic reminder of my key word given I was hastily putting together my page while simultaneously making dinner and doing laundry.

Week 1 - Book Paper

The warm-up exercise for my first ever LB lesson was – by coincidence – also about setting a key word for the year.  The lesson was about teaching a layering technique in mixed media.  I chose to work in purples, blues and magenta which in retrospect might have been a mistake because, once I had applied the gesso layer which knocked back the colours, I didn’t particularly like the pastel shades that emerged.  They reminded me of hydrangeas which I have never been a fan of because I associate them with decay for some reason.  I enjoyed the layering technique, however, and can see it is an approach I will take again but this time using bolder colours for the first pass and then bringing them back stronger in the layer on top of the gesso.  See!  I learned something already.  The envelope on the front contains my goals for the year, closed up with washi tape, and I stamped on some butterflies for visual interest.  I then used stamps and sharpie to write the key phrase: find balance.

Week 1 - Warm Up - Word for Year

Now I don’t even know if I will recognise balance if I find it.  I don’t actually know if I can thrive and flourish in a balanced state.  My husband thinks I function best when I have a bit of a palaver going on.  I think he is probably right.  Still worth striving for though and certainly I could benefit from being more balanced, calm and settled than I have been these past two years.  Let’s see if it comes to pass.

Finding Focus and Direction in Goals

I have been a bit rudderless since I relocated to America.  So much of 2013 was driven by the whole immigration process that all of my other hobbies, interests and bits and pieces that contribute towards that messy thing that is my identity had to be pushed to the peripheries and have consequently fallen by the wayside.  I need to get my bit of my life back on track and, as such, decided to set myself some achievable goals for 2014.  I don’t do Resolutions so these goals are not about change but are about things to aim for in order to give me a bit of focus and as a means to ensuring that I do actually devote a bit more time to myself this year.  Since I am also trying to learn a new skill in my new environment, I thought I might as well have a bash at setting my goals out in my art journal.