Creative Life During a Pandemic

From the middle of March until about two weeks ago my anxiety and stress levels were crazy high thanks to COVID-19…the Pandemic—there’s nothing like a Pandemic to really make you question your life, your life goals, your creativity and your creative life, as well as your purpose. Not that I need a Pandemic to make me questions things, but when all of your squirrels are screaming “Pandemic” it’s hard to think much less focus on your creativity. SO while many of the people who were forced to stay at home were feeling immense creative urges, I wasn’t feeling off kilter—I work from home so it felt like it should have been no big deal.

Oh, but it was a BIG deal. There’s a difference between wanting to be home and being forced to be at home. Not to mention the fact that so many people were on the Web that it made uploading my videos take longer. It also overwhelmed YouTube, which was having issues—going Live on YT became problematic the end of March and the beginning of April. It’s not an issue anymore, but for a few weeks it was a major issue. I create videos for Patreon, but I’ve found that I really enjoy going Live on YouTube.

A few weeks ago, I finally got my shit together enough to get back on YouTube on a (mostly) consistent basis. Whew! It felt good to be back. I’d felt my creativity coming back slowly but surely thanks to being on Patreon and my Patrons, who are so supportive that they make me feel like I have something important to offer others—inspiration and motivation. There are a lot of great artist’s and writer’s out there. Numerous people who create videos about journaling and planning. Many of whom create absolutely wonderful videos about those topics. But the one thing you don’t see a whole lot of are pictures that aren’t curated, videos that aren’t majorly curated. I am not a “curated” kind of person.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an aesthetically pleasing video and/or picture. I watch a lot of people who curate their videos on YouTube. I also follow a lot of people on Instagram who curate their images. I’m not saying that I don’t clean off part of my desk or craft table so that my videos look decent. Or that I don’t try to take a halfway decent photo when I do post to IG. But I prefer to capture the creative chaos that often ensues when I am creative, or to capture the outright mess on my desk, or the process—which is often times messy. Do I get watercolor all over me sometimes? I sure do. Do I sometimes get paint on my pretty white desk? Yes, and there have been times when I’ve had to get up from my desk and go to the kitchen to get the cleaner so I can clean my desk in the middle of a creative session. Gotta love when that happens.

Earlier today I went live on YouTube to show how to add “art” to your journal pages if you’re not someone who feels comfortable drawing, or you’re a beginner when it comes to drawing or doodling. I also tried out a new art supply—M. Graham Gouache, which is fantastic by the way. I love watercolor, but gouache is fun to experiment with (for now), and I’m hoping that the more I play with gouache the better I’ll get at it. It’s similar to watercolor but different.

Here is the link to my video: Journal Doodles with Me

Despite how much I’ve wanted to get back to blogging, I’ve been remiss. No, that’s the wrong word… I love blogging, but I guess I felt blocked, or maybe I’d been away from it for such a long while that it was easier to procrastinate than it was to just sit down and write a damn blog post. So I finally said “just do it.” So here I am, just doing it! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thank you, especially if you’ve made it this far.

Art is for Anyone | Art is for All

In Thomas Merton’s book “No Man is an Island,” he said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” That quote is one that really resonates with me–art is a form of mediation, therapy, creativity, and fun for me. It’s a time to relax. To let go. To create. To play. And I do often find myself in the “zone.” That zone where you’re present in the moment and you are so focused on the “creating” or the “doing,” that you pay little attention, if any at all, to anything else. 


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

Not the noise that was in your head before you started… that voice of “I can’t draw…paint…I’m not any good at this…” or the noise of cars passing by outside or the children next door in their yard yelling at each other (mostly it’s the oldest boy yelling at his younger siblings, mostly his younger sister–par for the course with siblings sometimes). Or the people across the street revving the engine on the vehicle they’re fixing or the planes from the Air Force Base.  Sometimes I listen to a podcast, a book on Audible, or a YT video while I create, other times I just listen to instrumental music and/or RainyMoods, though lately I haven’t needed to listen to RainyMood because it’s been raining here on and off for weeks. 

Yet there have been times when I have not been successful at shutting out that naysayer voice. The voice that wants to whisper in my ear that I have no idea of what I’m doing, that I am not any good, that I’m not an ARTIST and I shouldn’t be doing any of this–I’m a fake, a lousy piece of shit fake and I need to just stop and get real with myself. It hasn’t happened in a long while but it used to happen a lot. Especially in the beginning. 

 

Back in November or December of 2014 I fell down the rabbit hole of what some call Hobonichi or Fauxbonichi style journaling, or what others just call documenting your life in a journal. I fell in love with it. I was hooked. But I didn’t have much in the way of supplies. My wonderful daughter, who is an artist, gave me some supplies, like Prismacolor pencils and Prismacolor watercolor pencils and it wasn’t long before I was adding little drawings that I’d color in or watercolor (learning how to use the watercolor pencils was trial and error) on my journal pages. In February of 2015, I had surgery (a hysterectomy) and was bed/couch bound at first, which meant cradling the laptop in my lap to write was uncomfortable, but putting the journal on a pillow in my lap was not–and I delved into journal and art prompts, along with documenting my day in my journal. 

I wanted to make my journals more than just personal reflections of my thoughts and feelings, vent sessions, or bit of notes, ideas… I wanted some of my journals to be keepsakes.  I kept at it. With help from fellow #fauxbonichi journalers I learned how to incorporate art, pictures, words, quotes, prompts…onto my journal pages. I didn’t want to stop there though so I started looking around social media for other ways to document your life in your journals. I learned about an Omni Journal from Rhomany of Rhomany’s Realm, and MissVickyB. I learned about world of Hobonichi’s, as well as Sketch Journals or Artist’s Journals or “Real Life Journals” from artists like
Gwen Diehn, Cathy Johnson, Danny Gregory , Liz Steele, and Gina Rossi Armfield. But it didn’t stop with books or sketchbooks. I found my way down the rabbit hole of paper…

Paper like Tomoe River paper, Mixed Media paper, watercolor paper… I fell in love with the Standard and then the Crossfield by Nanami Paper (it was part of their SevenSeas line), and then I found Taroko Design Shop on Etsy and fell in LOVE with the Enigma, which has notebooks with 68gsm artist Tomoe River paper. Then I found Brie from Documented Journey and she started creating B6 sized notebooks for sale in her Etsy shop with either mixed media paper, Tomoe River paper, or a mixture of the two. And I fell in love. 

But up until this past year, what never really fell in love with was my own art. Sure there were times when I thought I’d done well. When I actually liked something I’d done. When I felt like I deserved a pat on the back. But I wasn’t consistently producing work that I felt that way about. When things really started to change for me was when I finally finished a journal from start to finish (it had been after a bit of rut because my dad had been diagnosed with cancer (stage 4) and my husband was diagnosed with Crohns Disease (July 2017). My dad died on the fifth of October 2017, just a few months after the final diagnosis, my mom was admitted to ICU the very same day… needless to say I was all over the place (between healing and grieving my dad’s death, trying to make sure my mom didn’t also die from Sepsis (she’s better now), and taking care of things, trying to be a rock and a shoulder…well, let’s just say that after all of that I did not remotely feel creative). 

But when you’re a content creator you have to create. And the thing is– I love creating. I love Art. Words. Journaling. I love being creative–but I did not feel remotely like creating. I knew I had to do something, so I reached out to Brie and asked her to make me a customized notebook. That notebook and one she sent me as a prototype with Tomoe River paper in it saved my creativity–saved me in a way. Creativity is how I release stress, it’s how I reduce my anxiety, how I help keep depression at bay (in a way… there is not cure for it, but it does help me tremendously). I needed to be creative for myself, not just because I was a content creator. I still need to be creative for myself, not just for content. 

The thing about being creative is that whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at it, there are going to be times when you get in a rut. If you can get back to what people often call the beginner mindset, the “let’s have fun and play” attitude the blank page doesn’t look so daunting. What you’re creating isn’t about what anyone else thinks, it’s about how you felt when you were creating. It’s about the process not the result. When I stopped thinking about the result and started concentrating on the process. When I started enjoying the journey I was on creatively and stopped thinking about my ultimate destination… I unlocked something inside of myself and I started seeing not only my journals differently, art differently, but the world differently. 

Now, I’m not a professional. Nor do I consider myself to be an Artist, but I am an artist. I am a creative person. I Create, therefore I AM…In a way that’s very true, except I’d have to say it’s more the other way around… I AM, therefore I CREATE.  

Art is for anyone… it might not be for everyone, just as music or crocheting or writing or any other creative pursuit isn’t for everyone, but anyone can create art. It doesn’t matter whether you haven’t drawn anything but a few squiggles since elementary school, you can draw if you want to… the only way to get better at something is to practice. Below is the video that actually accompanies this long post… In the video I talk more about how Art is for Anyone or #artisforall. I think I’m going to start a new series on YT and call it Art if for All #artisforall. I’ve been thinking about posting those videos on Friday, which is supposed to be my Fun Day, or FRIYAY videos. 😀 The videos will be somehow related to how art is for anyone… from beginner art supplies, to my favorite art supplies, to how to stay creative, to how I create pages, sketches, what I am learning, have learned or want to learn… my goals in regard to my art, journals… 

Accompanying Video about Art is for All

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so very much. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about #artisforall.

A Heartfelt Thank you to my Patrons on Patreon, as well as Kateri Ewing for her “Art is for Everyone” series on YT, and for all who have inspired me, helped keep me sane when my creativity was waxing and waning this past year, and for you… all of you!