My Creative Journey

It was a dark and stormy time…

Mr. Rockstar (David) was driving “over the road,” and I had to have surgery (a hysterectomy), which meant I was bed ridden for a bit. While bed ridden I really got into my “fauxbonichi.” It wasn’t just the journaling, it was creating the pages–combining art and words, documenting my life on the pages of my journal. I hadn’t created art in almost three decades, but I was having fun and being creative so I was happy. I wanted to get better. I wanted to find my groove again (I loved to draw and paint all throughout elementary, middle, and high school). So I worked on prompts, watched videos (a whole lot of journal with me videos, mostly Hobonichi and Fauxbonichi videos back then).

The more I worked on my pages, trying different things the more joy I felt. The less anxious I felt. After getting over my initial fear of “what if I don’t do it right?” or “what if it’s awful?” or “what if I suck at this?” and then there was fear of the blank page–what do I put on the page? But after more and more journaling, practicing my artistic skills and techniques I got over the bulk of those fears. I found adding art to my journal pages to be fun, relaxing, and interesting. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot.

Though it is fun, and I absolutely love documenting my life with art and words, I’m still a bit overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of different means and mediums, and the ways that people use them. There people who simply use pen and ink, some add watercolor to their pen and ink, while others use watercolor and gouache, along with colored pencils, and there are those who use acrylics. Not to mention other things you can use on your pages like ephemera, pictures, collage, colored pencils, markers, crayons, stamps, and/or stains. I’ve tried a few different mediums, but I always find myself primarily using pen, ink, watercolor, pictures, everyday ephemera, colored pencils, and/or markers.

I’ve also tried various styles, from more realistic to more illustrated, a bit of a comic or clipart style, to a combination of styles. I love to just sketch things, but I’d say my favorite is when I can capture the essence of what I’m sketching no matter which style I use. I realize that my journal pages and sketchbook pages are not masterpieces, they are not likely to ever be displayed in a gallery, but they’re mine. Not only did I put a bit of love into the pages but I also had fun and was able to capture a bit of my life onto each page.

I’ve learned so much on this journey of combining art and words to my journal pages, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. In the beginning I compared my pages to the pages of others–big mistake, but once I started looking at how far I’d come with my own technique it made me realize it’s really more about the moment. Some days my pages are so good they make me take a second look at them to make sure they’re my own. Other days I feel like I’m having a bit of a Mercury Retrograde with my art. On those days I can’t seem to draw a straight line, much less illustrate my day. So those are days I make it more fun and childlike, more whimsical. Other days I simply splash on some watercolor and add ephemera, pictures, and journaling and call it a day.

One of my favorite things about a blank page in a journal or sketchbook is that there are all these possibilities. You never know what kind of page you’ll find in my journals or sketchbooks. Some days I document the book I’m currently reading, other days a bit of a self portrait and a quote. What I create on my pages really depends on my mood, the events of the day, and what materials (like photos or ephemera) I have on hand.

Whenever I do something creative I feel like 1. I’ve accomplished something even if the outcome isn’t brilliant, 2. I’ve had fun, even if the outcome isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and 3. just doing it, just being creative brings me joy and relieves my anxiety, stress, and helps me reign in my focus (always a good thing when you have anxiety, depression, and ADHD).

I try really hard not to criticize my work, or anyone else’s. Some days our work might look like a flour sifter, other days it might look more like a cup of hot cocoa–but beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder so either way–flour sifter or cup of cocoa I’m happy. How about you?

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Getting my Groove Back

Be Authentic

Me, artwork by Brie Hatton

For the past few months, well really for a little over a year now, I’ve been finding my way through my new normal. When things change we often feel a bit out of sorts. I felt out of sorts in a variety of ways, but I tried to hold to being authentic. Being authentic isn’t always easy, especially when you’re grieving (people want to make you feel better, and you want to feel better, but grief ebbs and flows–and let’s face it,  after a while you get tired of being asked how you’re doing? and others sometimes feel awkward when your grief is brought up). To be an authentic person means honesty, openness, integrity. It’s being genuine, “authentic.” When you’re authentic, people find it refreshing to be around you, to get to know you, to interact with you. 

So why is being authentic sometimes hard? For the past few years, I’ve been honing my skills and techniques when it comes to journaling: art, handwriting, drawing, composition. And yet it often feels like the insurgence of messages from social media just keep telling me that unless my pages from social media don’t look aesthetically pleasing, which means damn near perfect, then the pages aren’t likely to be seen by many of my peers. However, the messages about being “authentic,” “progress not perfection,” “just be yourself” or “be true to yourself,” or “do it your way” are front and center. Seems like a bit of a contradiction to me. 

Visit to my Mom’s

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Don’t get me wrong,  phrases like “be authentic” or “progress not perfection” are positive and encouraging statements, even if they can seem a bit cliche,  are usually well-intended, but it’s not always easy to just be yourself, which is being authentic; or to let go of the anxiety you feel over your less than perfect but authentic watercolor of Thanksgiving when you’re constantly being bombarded by pictures, posts, videos, etc. that are damn near perfect. So you think to yourself… Hmm, maybe they photoshopped theirs–I sure wish I knew how to use Photoshop. Or maybe they took a class–maybe I should take a class. Or maybe they’ve been practicing for years–maybe I need to practice more. All three of those might be true, or just one of them might be true, yet it doesn’t matter, what matters is how you feel when you’re looking at those pictures–if you’re comparing yourself to others then you’re doing yourself an injustice.

Thanksgiving 2018

Creativity

Creativity is such a personal thing, from what and/or how we choose to be creative, to the mediums we use, to the execution, and the process. And yet, for those of us who are creative, especially those of us who are content creators, it is difficult to not feel at least a bit of anxiety, stress over uploading our images, posts, and/or videos on social media when every time you turn around someone is telling you that in order for you to succeed, to grow, to be well liked, and/or to be well received you need to curate your pictures, posts, videos. Or you need this background, or these supplies, or this camera, this type of cover photos, or this kind of thumbnail, or this kind of title or tags… the list is endless. 

New FitBit Blaze

All of those “things” that we supposedly need to be creative, to keep a journal or a sketchbook or planner, to make a video, to have a Youtube channel or a website/blog or an Instagram account… they are just that–things. Things that may or may not work really well for some. Things that some like and others don’t. In an age where there are more and more people choosing to live a more minimalist life, or who are striving to go deeper instead of wider (check “Depth Year’), I don’t get it. Well, maybe I don’t get why it took me so long to get that “less is sometimes more.” 

Flow

My Dad used to tell us that “there’s no such thing as can’t,” and for the longest time I reminded myself of that whenever I felt stuck, when I couldn’t figure out how to do something, or when I felt scared that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough or enough in general. But when my Dad died of cancer last year (October 2017) and my Mom was put into ICU and I was fighting to save her, fighting to keep her fighting, I learned what real strength is. What courage really means. My mom was in the hospital for 10 days and 9 nights. Her organs were shutting down when I signed her into the ER, and when they wheeled her into the ICU my Dad was still in one of the rooms because I had to leave my (grown) children with their grandfather so he wouldn’t be alone when he drew his last breath (after the respirator was pulled) so I could admit my mom into the hospital. It’s a year later and I’m finally starting to get my groove back. 

Homemade Banana Nut Bread

I’m finally starting to get back into the flow. My New Normal, as I like to call it. But it wasn’t until the past few months that I finally started to feel remotely normal. That I felt the kind of depth of creativity that I felt before going through such a traumatic experience–my creative well is a bit different now.  Now that I finally feel like my “authentic” self, there are a few things that I’ve noticed –even though I knew these things were out there, that I knew were an issue, I hadn’t let myself dwell on any of it too much–I had other things on my mind that were far more important; things like getting my creative groove back, like finding my way through grief and healing, like figuring out what my new normal was/is. 

I’m not a Pro at content creation, especially on Youtube, but I do know what I like when watching Youtube videos. I’m definitely not an Instagram guru–hell, some months I’m doing good if I post a few pictures, let alone one a day or even one a week. Nor am a I much of a Twitterer, or very good about Pinterest, but I’m starting to get a wee bit better at some things. However, the thing that has often held me back is that I rarely curate my photos, or my videos for that matter. The real question is why I haven’t gone the route of curating my photos, or making my videos, my YT channel, more curated. 

One of my curated efforts…

Progress not Perfection

Do I have to curate? No. My desk is often messy when I’m in the middle of creating. And as much as I wish I kept things really clean and clutter free, often my supplies are scattered all over my craft table and desk. Even when I’ve taken a bit of time to curate a photo there is still usually at least a wee bit of mess. Instead of a jar of fresh, clean water, or a clutter free area, I’ve simply moved a few things around so that you can clearly see what I want seen, and the rest is… well it’s how I roll. I love what I do. 

I love being creative. I love art, writing, journals, pens, watercolor, tomoe river paper, traveler’s notebooks, leather, markers, fountain pens, color… the list could go on, but the thing I love the most is any chance I have to be creative. I would love to be able to be creative with photos, to learn how to use Photoshop, to be able to create my own logo, to use said logo on my videos, my cover photo for YT, FB, etc… but the one thing I’m not real sure about, even when I do endeavor to learn how to use Photoshop, is to completely curate my photos. I want others out there, like me, to know that’s it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to be messy when you create. It’s okay for your art not to be perfect. We’re human beings not robots, our creativity is priceless, perfect or not. The more we practice the better we get, but it’s the process of being creative that is important. It’s the journey not the destination (another cliche, I know). 

So I’ll continue to post pictures that aren’t perfect. Videos that aren’t perfect. I’ll continue to create art that isn’t perfect. I’ll continue to be myself and to be true to myself. And hopefully, that will help someone else who has struggled to be creative. I’ll continue to share some of what I  create even when many of my creations are no where near perfection. It’s truly not about perfection, it’s about the process, the progress–that’s what creativity and authenticity are to me.