“Imagination knows no bounds.” I like writing those words. I like thinking about them because I know how powerful imagination is. At the beginning of this year, I chose IMAGINATION as my word for 2020, and it has served me well. That’s what words should do, you know. They should serve us, work for us, help us achieve our desires.
IMAGINATION has taken me far over the last few months, especially since we moved to our new home and I was finally able to set up an art studio to call my own. I went through an awkward adjustment time, but once I became accustomed to working in my art studio, my creative energies soared.
I explored new colors in my palette, played with watercolor, loosened up with my drawing and painting, even did acrylic pouring! My art shelves were soon filling up with paintings of skies and clouds, lakes and trees, flowers — even an ugly cow! I was loving every minute in my studio; I was having fun.
Then, suddenly, it all came to a screeching halt. You’ve probably noticed that other than the “Turkish tram” I posted recently, I haven’t been showing any new art work lately. That’s because there hasn’t been any.
Why not? What happened?
A lot of things happened, none of which really kept me from painting, but all of which make good excuses for not painting. I blame my current art funk on the fact that my husband and a grandson have been working to convert the downstairs bath into a gorgeous spa complete with whirlpool tub. Now, not only is my studio a mess, but the entire downstairs is a construction area — or so it seems. When they’re working in the afternoons, it’s loud, it’s dusty, it’s distracting.
And in the mornings, even though they’re not working, I still feel unsettled by it all. I can’t focus. I can’t concentrate. It’s not really their fault, though. It’s mine.
I learned long ago that my creative spirit needs both freedom and restraint. Imagination truly has no bounds, but when I let it go too far for too long, it becomes unwieldly, out of control. Now, you may say “Imagination isn’t meant to be controlled”, and maybe you have a point. For me, though, imagination must be controlled or my brain simply shuts down from overload. That’s what’s been happening in recent weeks. The spa-project only exacerbated it.
Now, I want to get back to my studio, back to drawing and painting, back to creating. But how? That’s the question I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time.
Fortunately a fellow blogger — Sarah, from Crafty Rat — shared a few thoughts with me about art journaling, something I’ve toyed with in the past but have never gotten too far with. I love the idea, but I’ve never been able to handle the execution. Sarah mentioned an art journaling course at Artful Academy, and I decided to give it a try.
Maybe that sounds odd. Since I was already feeling overwhelmed, wouldn’t adding something new be a huge mistake? Nope. Having a new project — something very much out of the ordinary for me — gives me something to focus on, something to have fun with, something to soothe that creative part of my soul while my brain rests and recuperates from this recent round of “poofing” — as our grandson Madox often describes the feeling.
The art journaling course — it’s free — began at the start of the year. No problem. I’ve started with the introductory lesson and will then move on to the prompts for August. That first lesson involves creating a “cover page” for the journal, and the suggestion is to choose a word for the year and use that as a starting point.
IMAGINATION was right there, ready and waiting. I didn’t have to come up with a new word. I’ve been working and playing with IMAGINATION for months now.
What I soon learned as I explored the idea of art journaling is that the stumbling block for me is the idea of expressing myself in pictures or images. I’m more a writer than an artist. I can easily sit down and fill page after page with thoughts, feelings, questions, answers, anecdotes, and stories. But how to do that without words?
I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I played a little game with IMAGINATION, asking questions, putting ideas together, and coming up with possible images. It’s a bit like the process I mentioned recently about turning abstractions into concrete words. Only the end result here was images, not words.
I began by associating different things with IMAGINATION. For me, this was actually very challenging, but here’s a list of things I thought of:
From there, I moved on to ideas. What ideas did these things suggest to me?
Imagination takes you places…imagination is beautiful…imagination is only a starting point. I considered each of those ideas, but ultimately chose this one:
Imagination knows no bounds.
I continued playing. What does IMAGINATION feel like? To me, it feels like joy, happiness, and excitement. What shape does IMAGINATION take? Definitely a spiral moving upward and outward. What color is IMAGINATION? I answered that as red, yellow, and blue. What single image best represents IMAGINATION? Maybe… the sky? And what other words come to mind? Thoughts, dreams, creativity, inventiveness…and there are others, too, of course.
Here I began to realize that IMAGINATION could be visually represented in many different ways. But I also came to the realization that even if IMAGINATION knows no bounds, my artistic abilities do. I have limits. I can imagine many ways to show IMAGINATION, but I can’t bring those visions to life.
What I could do — what I did do — was to splash colors on a cardstock cover sheet. I’ll be making a loose-leaf art journal, you see. My plan was to use those primary colors I’d named during the exercise, but once I started playing, I changed my mind. I can do that, you know. I’m the artist here. This is my IMAGINATION.
So I splashed on all the colors of the rainbow. And I didn’t like what I saw. So, I splashed the colors on again. I still didn’t like what I saw. I sprayed water on the sheet, then tilted it and turned it until finally, I liked it.
You probably can’t read the words. I scanned the image into the computer and then used my “Paint” program to add the title “Imagination Knows No Bounds 2020”. I think I’ll print it out, affix it to a piece of cardboard, punch holes in it, and when it’s complete, tie in all up with a pretty ribbon.
Now, here’s the interesting thing. This image has little if anything to do with any of the words, ideas, colors, and shapes I thought about as representing IMAGINATION. Still, I couldn’t have put this together without having first done that exercise. That’s how it is with IMAGINATION. It takes us to places we didn’t expect to go. It shows us new ways, encourages us to play.
I’m happy. I had a good morning in my art studio, and I created something that’s lovely to look at, something that inspires me, something that makes me feel good. Will this alone be enough to pull me out of my art funk? Probably not, but it’s enough to have me reaching upward, ready to climb out of my little hole. It’s enough to make me excited about cleaning up my studio and getting ready for lots of play-time.