I am excited to be offering this class, on April 18 – 19, 2020 at Mendocino Art Center with Marilyn. Hope you can come!
I have been absent from posting and have decided on a new tactic to keep in touch. I will share my collage journal here. As mentioned before I use 6×6 spiral bound journals. I do some simple collage on the page on the right, intuitively choosing images. On the facing page on the left, I reflect with writing. Sometimes I do this after completing the collage but often it is sometime later as the collage may not speak to me immediately. My intention is to do one collage each day but when I miss I no longer beat myself up. Some days I create more that one. This practice allows me to check in with my “inner contents.” I collaged the above image on the back cover the new book I just started while on vacation at the lake. (I wrote about what I experience on my annual visits to the family cottage in another post, Down Time.)
I think the reason I stalled on blogging is because I wanted something really “meaningful” to share. I wrote several pieces but never posted them. When I began posting I ended each entry with suggestions for you to play and framed each post to mirror my book. What I am encouraging you to do, and need to remember for myself, is “Just do something!” Forget the end product and play with the process of creating. So in sharing my journal process I hope to model that “letting go” aspect. Let go of expectations; let the process lead you. I am letting go of the format I started out with. I had set up a rule of “be consistent” which restricts spontaneity.
With these journal postings you will see that each page is very different (consistency thrown away) but each provides a focus for a conversation with my inner contents. I actually began doing these small journals to be sure that I just “did something.” I never seemed to have enough time but these are very doable and satisfying to complete in a short amount of time. Also I gave myself permission to use any materials at hand removing the excuse that my “good” art supplies were elsewhere. I can do these in a motel room using the insides of envelopes and tourist magazines. I travel with a glue stick and scissors!
Hope you find this useful.
Losing our beloved, old dog Murphy several months ago was hard. We all grieved daily including her pal, Ellie, our Welch Terrier. Our pets are such a part of our daily routines: every time I went to the fridge, refilled a water bowl, took a walk, memories of Murphy flooded in. I had made a memorial for her: a candle on a saucer by a photo with her collar with her name on it circling the saucer. This sat on a table in out hallway. Ellie hadn’t noticed it at first but one day she jumped on a chair she had never been on to be near the collar. She repeated this for days as if paying respects at a funeral viewing. Years ago one of our cats rolled on the mound in the garden beneath which we had buried her buddy and howled for hours. Our pets become attached to one another and grieve just as we do. Ellie has never been a single child. When she first came to us there were two older dogs to win over. Now it is her turn to be the welcomer: we just brought home a rescue puppy! She is not too sure; it will take time.
The reason I am writing about this is because I often suggest playing with young children as a way to reconnect to the power and fun of play since I believe play opens the door to our creativity. Well, now I want to add, ” find a puppy!” This one, as yet unnamed but I refer to her as Muppett, is always playing. She climbs into the toy basket and throws everything out. Our floor is littered with things tossed, tugged, chewed and abandoned. Of course she is teething and needs to chew but she makes a game of the task. She is pure energy not yet able to be contained in her small frame. And such joy!
She hops on the grass, is startled and fascinated by the sound of a Raven’s wings overhead. She finds a stick, too big to carry and drags it along. She licks the dew on grass blades. She tilts her head and cocks her ears to listen to new sounds or a singing voice. All her senses are acutely active. The world is seducing her.
I am exhausted. Aware my step has lost its bounce; aware I awake with less enthusiasm to greet a new day; aware I need to lighten up. So chores are not getting done. I am on the floor squeezing odd sounds out of stuffing-less, stuffed toys. I am singing songs as she drifts to sleep in my lap, her eyes resisting closing. Or I watch her in her crate for a time out, her eyelids coming down, her willing them up until at last, worn out, she allows the final shutting down.
And while I sit here playing I receive a phone call that a dear friend has died. His eyes now shut forever. The final shutting down. More and more these two edges meet in my consciousness: beginnings and endings, openings and closings, joy and sorrow.
Can you approach a daily chore more playfully? And music to tidying, dance with the vacuum?
Try to bring fresh eyes to a morning walk. See, hear, smell as much as possible. Notice textures. Allow the world to awaken you.
Muse on the cycles of life, the changing pace, the changing tasks, the deepening awareness.
Do some reflective creative process, writing or art making on these ideas.
I have been absent from these posts and my inner critic has been merciless-pouring on the guilt, making me feel inadequate. Here I am in defiance, a stance I perfected over the course of writing my book. I could list ALL I have been doing over the past few months, defend my absence to you all but I would rather talk about empowerment since that allows facing our inner critic.
Power is on my mind. We have just experienced our first walloping winter storm in years: roads flooded, schools closed, trees down, power outages. We flick switches habitually even when we have no electricity. This gesture made me consider all we take for granted and how important change is to awaken awareness. So often we neglect to be grateful for the gift even an unwelcome change or alteration brings.
What do I take for granted?
Each morning I wake up, turn on a tap that brings me water with no effort. I realize I have the power to walk, to wash, to dress, to eat-all in a comfortable, warm space. I can make choices as to what to wear, what to eat and on some days, what to do. I have the power to boil water, cook, wash clothes, run a vacuum-all tasks more laborious without electricity. I turn on music, my computer without thinking. So I am very grateful for all that P G and E enables (or, during this storm, a generator.)
But what about personal power? How do I generate that; keep that juice flowing?
I realize I have to connect to something bigger than myself. A walk by the ocean or into the forest takes me out of my small world and allows expansion. I have to be still, slow down, quiet my restless mind. I have to sit at my art table or desk and begin. I have to trust that I can reconnect to the grid-the creative grid that powers us all. Just as a blackout contracts our world, taking away the light needed to see further than our flashlight beam, so too, a shut down of our creative spirit limits our perspective. We feel stuck, immobile, tentative, trapped, a prisoner of our own “can’ts.” We have yielded power to the inner critic. When we stand up to that voice we are turning on our power, enabling ourselves to act, make choices. We reconnect to the world of possibilities, to the world of “can.” We will be flooded with ideas, inspired, enlivened, enLIGHTed.
Wishing you a year of can-do power.
Think of what you take for granted and then do a gratitude exercise, eg: Thank you for these legs that take me where I need to go; Thank you for these eyes that allow me to see; etc.
Consider the on/off switch for your creativity. Write or make art about what turns it on and what shuts it down.
Picture a generator that you can access when your main power source fails. What fuels it? How do you activate it? Represent this with art.
Consider terms associated with winter weather: storms, blackouts, floods, closures, live wires, downed trees, huge ocean waves, hail, gale force winds. Or blizzards, whiteouts, treacherous roads. Think of metaphors suggested. Do some word association poems or collages or other art.
Imagine a safe, comfortable place that can provide shelter in a storm. Create a representation with assemblage, collage or other art project.
Any folks in the Corte Madera area? Come say hi! I’ll be doing a reading at Book Passages. Details below.
My cousin has a plaque in the veranda of his cottage at the lake:
And I have the words from some ad on my fridge in my cottage:
I am in my happy place-my family’s summer spot on Lake Winnipeg. I am in the sun filled veranda watching the sunlight twinkling on this inland sea. The wind rustles the leaves, birds chatter and I am still. I am a receiver, open to what comes to me without any effort on my part.
Joan’s article “5 Annoying Things Kids Do That Adults Could Adopt To Enrich Their Lives” is up on The Daily Mind. Click Here to read the article.
Joan Stanford is interviewed on the Winnipeg Weekend Morning Show by Terry MacLeod …
Wanted to include some words about my “no” voice since I have been waxing on about saying “yes!” as though it is easy. I, like I am sure many of you, hear from this voice a lot. I have a section in my book about this “naysayer,” my inner saboteur. I share a dialogue where I confront the voice and try to get him to shut up.
Joan Stanford’s “The Art of Play” book signing and release at McNally Robinson Books in Winnipeg!!!