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Strategies to unleash your creativity Part 1

strategies to unleash your creativity part 1

This is one of a series of blog posts about The Creative Mystery and contains strategies and ideas to unleash the flow of creativity in your art and life. Link to the rest of the posts in the series can be found at the bottom of the page.

In the previous post in this series, I wrote about how getting out of the way of your creativity is one of the best things you can do for your creative life. In this post I give you three strategies for getting out of your own way when you are making art.  

Paint in the moment

Taking a lesson from Zen, you can practice being in the present moment when you paint.   

When you approach the canvas, do it without a preconceived idea of the outcome.  Approach the canvas in the present moment without worrying or thinking about what you are or should be doing.

Connect with your painting in real time.  Allow yourself to create in the present moment.  

Don’t confuse this with being “random”.  You are working within the framework of who you are and those are your limits.  

Be fully present with your feelings.  Notice if you feel fear or anxiety.  Allow yourself to feel them and express them onto the canvas with colour or marks.  Concentrate on how your body feels as you paint.

As you start to paint, stay with one mark at a time.  There is no need to concern yourself with the bigger picture when you are just starting to put colour onto your canvas.

Approach each moment that you are painting with the idea of having nothing to lose and nothing to gain.  A canvas can take many layers of paint.  You can paint until you have a painting that you can live with.

Let go of the outcome. Instead, make the process the outcome.

Forget about getting it right

Make each artwork a quest to learn to express yourself completely. Don’t hold back. Stop thinking about what it’s supposed to be, and do what feels appropriate in the moment.

Avoid planning.

Allow yourself to experience all of your creative expression.  Even the uncomfortable and ugly bits.

Allow creativity to happen organically and to organise itself, and the process and artwork become one thing.

Give yourself a break.  

When you hear your inner critic, recognise it for what it is and give the  judgement a day off!  Consciously release yourself from judgement when you paint.

Surrender!

Surrender to the moment, and to the painting that wants to be created!  

Give up your expectations and enjoy the process.

Give up control of the outcome and allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges from you when you surrender to your creativity. 

Become friends with not knowing how it’s going to play out.

Take creative risks.  

Actually step out into the unknown! Learn as you go.

Allow yourself to make mistakes!  Your painting is not finished until you like it, and there is no fixed time limit on how long a painting takes to make.  Take your time.  Let the story unfold on your canvas.

Learn to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

Learn to listen to your intuition

When you paint intuitively, you operate from impulse.  You translate the impulse into a mark without thinking about what you are doing.  Give yourself permission to be there in the present moment (see first strategy above) and act on your intuitive impulse with who you are and what you know.  If you think about it too much, you lose the initial impulse and switch back to thinking and judging mode and out of creativity.

Examples of following these impulses in painting or drawing is when you apply your marks roughly or gently onto your surface.   The brush or other mark making tool may skip across, attack, scratch, caress or tip-toe across your surface.  

Another impulse to act on is your choice of colour. Choose your colours in the same way as you choose what mark to put on your surface. Follow your colour cravings. Don’t think about pretty colour palettes or what goes with what.  

Listening to your intuition is listening to the voice of your own inner knowing.  You can’t begin to really know yourself until you’re willing to listen to that voice and act on it.  Just listen and act.

It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” – Donald Winnicott

If you struggle to hear your intuition and want to amplify it, try painting in silence in a quiet place.  Try leaving your eyes and brain out of it and paint with your eyes closed.

Painting intuitively is not something that can be done by learning theory or using the right techniques.  These strategies are ideas, and you can use them individually or together to unclog your creative flow.  Your soul is revealed on the canvas only when you feel, act and reveal yourself by experimenting.  In this safe container of a painting surface and permission to reveal all, nothing is taken for granted, and you can risk it all.  When you judge your work as you make it, painting is no longer a safe space.

This is one of a series of blog posts about The Creative Mystery and contains strategies and ideas to unleash the flow of creativity in your art and life.  Here are the links to the other posts in the series.

The Creative Mystery | Strategies to Unleash Your Creativity Part 1 | Strategies to Unleash Your Creativity Part 2 | Strategies to Unleash Your Creativity Part 3

 

strategies to unleash your creativity part 1

The Creative Mystery

The Creative Mystery

This is the first in a series of blog posts about The Creative Mystery. In the following posts in this series I will share strategies and ideas to unleash the flow of creativity in your art and life. Subscribe to Moon & Bird Monthly for the rest of the series in your inbox.

The Creative Mystery

Creativity is a mystery, and a paradox.  

I used to think for many years that creativity was something that some people had in bucket-loads, and that others didn’t have that much of.  I didn’t understand how creativity worked and I considered any creative success that I had to be just dumb luck.  It perplexed me for the longest time.

Then one day, some years ago, I picked up a book called Women Who Run with the Wolves (by Clarissa Pinkola Estes) and I read these words:

“To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”
Women Who Run With The Wolves
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This gave me pause for thought.  My creative pursuits in my adult life had been like stabs in the dark, rather than any kind of flow.  They were one-offs.  I’d try something creative, and expect perfection.  Sometimes it worked out.  Beginner’s luck, I said, and never tried it again, just incase it didn’t work out well next time.  I didn’t really want to prove to myself that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body by trying to repeat one success and failing.  

Stone stupid, huh?  I’m cleverer than that, I thought.  Surely there’s some secret to this.  I can learn it and then be creative.  I’m quick at picking up skills.  I’ll take a drawing class / a watercolour class / an illustration class, learn the skills I need and then I’ll be creative.  

But no matter how hard I tried to be creative in the classes that I took, this creativity thing still eluded me.  

I spent more time looking at what other people were doing, copying their techniques and thinking, this is it, once I’ve learned to do this the way they do it, I’ll be creative, and then I can be an artist.  

But that wasn’t it!  

Girl & Bird ©2017 Tracy Algar
Girl & Bird ©2017 Tracy Algar Acrylic paint, oil pastel, oil based pencil and gel pen on watercolour paper. 58 x 38,5 cms

What is creativity?

It’s one thing to be skilled at an art, to practice the techniques that you are taught and learn to execute them perfectly.  But it’s another thing entirely to step out of the way of your own need for perfection, need for approval and fear of failure, and allow your creativity to take the lead.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t help to have a foundation to build on (so go ahead and practice your drawing skills, and painting techniques), but know that these are not the be-all and end-all of your art or of creativity.  Technique and skills can enhance your creative experience, but they aren’t the creative experience itself.  

Children innately know how to be creative.  Give them a few empty boxes and some sticky tape or glue and they will surprise us with a rocket or pirate ship, or a castle.  Their ingenuity seems to have no bounds.  But put too many limits on them (not saying limits are bad here, by the way, and I’ll go into that a bit more in a future post in this series), tell them how to do what they are doing, and they become stifled and begin to judge themselves and their creative play.

As adults, many of us have forget how to get into this stream of creativity that we used to experience as children.  We try too hard and judge ourselves more harshly than necessary.  We may think (or I did anyway) that having the right tools and the right techniques and skills are more important for making art than just releasing ourselves into the flow of creative expression.

Just think about this for a moment.  You may not have an arsenal of painting techniques or drawing skills, but even a beginner artist has a few.  If you can write, you can wield a pencil.  If you can paint a wall or a piece of furniture, you can wield a paintbrush.  That’s good enough to start.  You can learn as you go.

To start with, you can use the adult skills that you already have, along with a childlike willingness to explore and impulse to play, and you can create.  But, if you put too much emphasis on techniques and hold yourself up to other artist’s skills, techniques and creativity, and compare your efforts mercilessly to other works of art you admire, you will lose that pure joy of creating something simple, yet meaningful.  

Even with a large assortment of skills and techniques at your disposal, you can still feel creatively blocked.  Our artwork (and our lives) can become set and predictable, and lose its magic, when we put too much value and dependence on those techniques, and don’t pay attention to nurturing our creativity.

Four States of Being by Tracy Algar
Four States of Being ©2017 Tracy Algar Scrylic paint, oil pastel, oil based pencil and gel pen on watercolour paper. 58 x 38,5 cms

I think that creativity that is the single most important raw material needed to make art, and to create art and a life that is meaningful.  

In a series of blog posts about the creative mystery, starting here today and for the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the strategies that I’ve learned to allow my creativity (and my art, and life) to blossom and thrive.

The Creative Mystery

Altered Book Journal Challenge – Tell Your Story

Tell your story - altered book journal challenge

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

It's month 10 of the challenge, Tell Your Story!

You have come so far in this challenge.  After ten months of exploring yourself through intuitive art journalling you have been on quite a journey and there are many tales to tell.  

There was a time that I didn’t believe that my story was worth telling, either in words or in images.  I saw myself as ordinary, or even boring.  Then one day I shared a little story and an image on my blog, and received a response from someone who had been telling stories for a long time.  He congratulated me on telling my story and explained to me that others who were in the same place that I was would read my story and feel empowered by it.  It gave me the confidence I needed to share more stories.

Today I want to pass this message on to you. 

Your story is important.  It’s important to the world and it’s important to those who find themselves in places where you have been before.  Your stories can inspire others to find their way through difficult times, to know that it’s possible to come out on the other side and show their beautiful selves to the world.  Your stories are valid.  Your stories need to be told.

Telling your story is a very special exercise.  It heals you, because it allows expression of who you are.  It can help to heal others who identify with your story, and it makes them feel less alone.

Are you ready to tell your story?

Prompt 1: Your story in three parts

To start, express your past. Fill your page with colour/s that represents your past.  The joys, the pain, the pleasures and the difficulties.  Make marks and add words if you want to.

The next layer represents the present.  Add more colour to represent how you feel now.  Add words to tell your story.  Add pattern and symbol to link the past to the present.

Lastly, add your intentions for the future.  What will there be more of?  And less of?  These can be qualities, things you want to do, or anything else that you can imagine and that you desire for the future.

Prompt 2: Let the secrets out

Secrets are heavy.  If you want to feel lighter, don’t keep secrets.  I’m not talking about keeping a secret for a friend, or not telling about the surprise party coming up.  I’m talking about the kind of secrets that weigh you down.  The things you don’t want others to know about you because you think it will make you unacceptable to them.  Let these secrets out.  You are acceptable, just the way you are.

Cover your page in colour to represent the secrets that you have kept and still are keeping.  Allow yourself to feel the weight of the secrets.  When you have a secret, you’re always afraid that someone might find out.  Draw a shape on the page to represent the journey to self-realisation.  I have chosen a circle to represent wholeness.  Choose any symbol or symbols that feel right for you.

Block out all around your symbol/s to represent the secrets hiding away in the dark.

Now draw a symbol of light that appeals to you and draw or paint it onto the page.  Draw the rays from the symbol shining light into the dark place where the secrets are hiding and shine it in through the hole, exposing them.

Add symbols, words and doodles to your page to represent letting go and feeling lighter.

Prompt 3: Put yourself out there!

This is not a journal prompt.

With this prompt, I would like to encourage you to show yourself bravely to the world through your art.  Do any or all of the three prompts below.

  1. Create a blog to show off your art journal pages and/or the other art you have made.
  2. Create a pinterest board to show off your art journal pages and/or other art you have made.
  3. Share your art journal pages and/or other art and/or your blog in the Moon & Bird FB group

Want some more journal prompts?

This month I am the guest artist at Maria Greene’s 2017 Art Journaling Journey.  The focus of the prompts is change.  You can find all four prompts in Maria’s Facebook group – Art exploration with Maria Greene.  Join the group to access the prompts.

For previous month’s altered book art journal challenge prompts or to join the challenge, CLICK HERE.

Tell your story - altered book journal challenge

Altered Book Journal Challenge – Anger & Forgiveness

Altered book journal challenge month 9

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

The theme for the ninth month is Anger & Forgiveness!

Unexpressed anger is a destructive force within us! When you bottle things up or push away the emotions that you are feeling, they tend to come back to bite you down the line.  There is either an explosion (once the bottle is full and there’s no more space to add to it) or sadness/depression (when you push away your anger it keeps following you around until you acknowledge and express it).

“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.”
Cheryl Richardson

Intuitive painting is a safe container to pour difficult emotions into to allow you to release them.  While it may at first amplify those feelings, once they have been expressed there is a calming effect, similar to sitting with an emotion in meditation until it dissolves.

Prompt 1: What are you angry about?

What are you angry about?  Look at it more carefully.  Are you seeing this situation for what it really is?  Are you repeating an old and outdated thought process even though it no longer really even applies?

Make art with the intention of resolving your anger and letting go of old thought patterns that don’t serve you any more.  Follow your intuition.

Example pages:

Prompt 2: Forgive yourself

Find something that you need to forgive yourself for.  Make a page about it.  Forgive yourself.

I used the Hawaiian  practice of reconciliation and forgiveness called Ho’oponopono in my pages shown below. If you’d like to know more about practicing Ho’oponopono, you can find out more here.

Example pages:

Prompt 3: Express your anger

Think about something that makes you really angry.  An anger that you don’t want to let go of because it’s righteous anger.  Now express that anger by channeling it into your art.

Using the subject/s of your anger as the topic, fill a page with your feelings.  Go totally abstract or be as specific as you like.

Example pages:

Find more information about how to join the Altered Book Intuitive Art Journal Challenge and previous months’ prompts here.

Altered Book Journal Challenge Month 9 prompts
Free intuitive mixed media art ebook

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Altered Book Journal Challenge – In The Flow

Altered Book Art Journal Challenge: In The Flow

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

The theme for this month's prompts is: In The Flow

It’s ironic that as I prepare these prompts for you, I am absolutely not feeling in the flow at all.  I usually love doing this, and this time it’s a struggle.

For the past couple of weeks I have had to deal with some unpleasant personal business whether I like it or not, and I feel scattered and exhausted.  I need these prompts more than ever then, in the present circumstances, to come back to my creative flow.  As soon as I have published this, and tied up a couple of other loose ends, I will be taking a couple of days off to relax, walk, eat good food and doodle in my art journal.  I expect it will be just the medicine I need to feel more like myself and get back into the flow.

There are no journal page examples this month, because I haven’t made them yet.  I will share my journal pages over the little while in the Moon & Bird FB group.

The prompts this month are about keeping creativity flowing.  Each task covers one aspect of nurturing the creative flow, and there are some extra action steps to take too if you are up for it.

“Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing.  It seems in most instances to be in a simple being.  It is not virtuousity, although that is very fine in itself.  It is the love of something, having so much love for something – whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity – that all that can be done with the overflow is to create.  It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.”  – Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves

M8 Q1: Just create.

Respond to your intuition and allow all thoughts and ideas to flow.

Prompts:

They are your pages, ask yourself what you want to put on them.  Look for treasure in what you find.

M8 Q2: Create good boundaries.

Protect your creative time.

Prompts:

Fill your pages with colour as you think about what creativity and creative expression adds to your life.

Draw a shape or a figure on one of the pages to represent you.  Make it quite central to the double page spread.

Around the figure, draw a circle or other shape to represent the time and space that you give yourself to practice your creative expression.

 Think about what stops you from being creative.  Lack of time?  Why? Discouragement? Who? Fear? What?

Make a mark or symbol outside your time and space bubble to represent each situation or person where you feel you need to strengthen your boundaries. 

Strengthen the boundary lines between you and any situation or person who you need better boundaries with.

Set an intention to create good boundaries around your creative time.

M8 Q3: Create a handmade life.

Craft yourself a handmade life!  Make a map to depict your dream life.  Think of it as an art journal vision board.

Prompts:

Following your intuitive prompts and using information that you have learned about yourself through your art journal pages, create a double page spread that depicts a map or overview plan of your life, restructured, to allow more passion and creativity into it.

Some creativity boosting action steps for this month:

  1. Learn how to take a compliment.  I mean, really take it and enjoy it.
  2. Do something creative every day.  It doesn’t have to be painting, it can be gardening, dancing, taking photographs, cooking dinner.  Put intention into it.
Altered Book Intuitive Art Journal Challenge 2017
Free intuitive mixed media art ebook

Sign up for full access to free downloadable prints and artist resources, including this ebook.

Online workshop launch and giveaway

Intuitive art online workshop giveaway

I'm giving away three places in my NEW
Creative Self-Expression online workshop

Perfect for beginners & those who dream of being artists

Have you always wanted to make art but something stops you before you start?

Do you compare yourself mercilessly to others and have little faith in your creativity or “talent”?

Do you aim for perfection and come up short every time?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re a lot like me before I started painting this way.  But this process has helped me turn that around.  I’m so much more creative, I creative art regularly and I don’t get my knickers in a twist constantly comparing myself to everyone else and their art.

I have created an online workshop to guide you through a non-judgemental, intuitive mixed media art process, help you to find your own creative self-expression and boost your creative self-confidence.  

The workshop is going live on Monday, 7th August 2017 at 8am and to celebrate my BIG  milestone I am giving away three places on the workshop.

For a place in the draw, please leave a comment on this blog post, telling me about your creative dreams.  

There are five other ways to earn optional extra entries.  Take a look.

Giveaway rules: Entries are accepted from anywhere in the world.  The competition ends at 8am (South African Standard Time) on Monday 7th August 2017.  The winners will be picked at random and sent an email to confirm their win by 8pm on the same day.

Good luck!

Now, head below to comment and secure your first entry.  I want to hear all about your creative dreams.

Win one of three places in this online intuitive art workshop. Giveaway ends 7th August 2017

Altered Book Journal Challenge – Following The Call

Altered Book Journal Challenge - Following the Call

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

It's month 7 of the challenge, Following The Call!

Do you feel like you are living on autopilot and you make choices by choosing the easiest and most convenient thing?  Or perhaps the opposite is true, and you agonize over every decision and can’t make up your mind?  Maybe, you always do what is expected of you, even if it’s not what you want?

If any of those is you, consider this other scenario:

You make conscious choices and  a concerted effort in the direction of your soul’s longing.  You actively work to know what it is you truly want from you life, that which gives your life purpose and meaning.    Then you spend  your energy and time in the pursuit of these activities, people and environments.  You filter all decisions through this information to know whether you are making the right choices for yourself.

I much prefer the second scenario, and endeavour to live this way.   In the quotes below, from the book Women Who Run With The Wolves, storyteller and Jungian analyst, Clarissa Pinkola Estés explains how we can maintain our connection to our soul and hear it’s messages.  I think that this explains it beautifully.

“The way to maintain one’s connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is that you want. This is the sorting of the seed from the dirt. One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls….   To choose just because something mouthwatering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estés

And how do you tell the difference between what’s beckoning and what’s calling from your soul?  

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation- in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

We must ask ourselves questions, and listen for the answers.  

M7 Q1: What does "following the call" mean to you?

Choose two or three colours that you feel attracted to today.  Add them to the page as you consider your soul calling.  If you already know what it is, test it against these questions.  If you have no idea, then ask yourself these questions and see what comes up.

Suggested questions to ask yourself as you apply colour to the page:

  • What would I do if the impossible was possible?
  • What would I do if money was no object?
  • What do I do well and enjoy without very much effort?
  • What is my message to the world?
  • What did I want to be as a child that I still (perhaps secretly) wish I’d become?
  • What’s the thing that I never get tired of doing?

Put words onto one side of the page with ideas about what your calling is.  Add a symbol to represent you receiving direction from your intuition.

On the other side of the page, add some symbols to represent seeing, knowing and understanding.

Write down the questions that you have about your soul calling.

Draw a figure or face to represent you understanding and following the call of your soul.    Allow it to take up all of the page and incorporate your symbols and questions.

Write down any words that appear in your head like a message.

Spend some time drawing the image of yourself.  Add little details, shading or more symbols of growth and wisdom and dreams come true.

If you have any insights during the process, write them down on the page where you have written about your calling.  Use words or symbols.

M7 Q2: What's preventing you from following the call?

Start with a marker or something that will show up well over the print on your page.  Do some stream of consciousness writing over the pages after asking yourself the question: what fear is stopping me from following the call?

Draw two or more outlines of figures over the page to represent the fears that are holding you back from following the call.

Depict light shining into the dark recesses and onto the figures.

Identify the fear that is holding you back and add it to your page in words or symbol.

Blur the lines between the light and the dark, and between your fear and the light.

Add a figure to the page to represent you embracing your fear and giving it reassurances.  Make yourself bigger than the fears, and give yourself the most prominent position on your pages

Add detail to the figure.

Add patterns and symbols to represent flow, strength and renewal.

 

Altered Book Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7

M7 Q3: How will you overcome the obstacles to follow the call?

These journal pages will be a map of the steps needed for you to live a meaningful life doing what you most love.  It is an intention setting exercise. 

Follow your intuition to create a map of intentions to follow your soul’s calling.

Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7
Altered Book Art Journal Challenge Month 7

I’d love to see the pages you make.  Join us at the Moon & Bird intuitive art community FB group to share your pages with the others who are taking the challenge.

Add creativity & meaning to life with intuitive art

You don't need
previous experience
to start

It's a non-judgemental process
that will help you
gain confidence

There are no
special skills
required to do this!

WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK FROM MAKING ART?

START HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MY INTUITIVE ART PROCESS FOR FREE.

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12 months of self-discovery | Intuitive art journal | Altered book
12 months of self-discovery | Intuitive art journal | Altered book

Altered Book Journal Challenge – Body Love

Altered Book Journal Challenge - Body Love

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

Month 6 of the challenge is all about Body Love!

This is a really big topic. How many of us can really see our own beauty?  Can you appreciate your body for its strength, sensitivity and imperfections?  Can you see the magnificence of it?  Sometimes.  On good days.

Many of us feel judged for our bodies as the eyes of others fall on us.  Society has filled us with dread for what we are (there are plenty of advertisements for products that will make us more “acceptable”).  We feel forced to change our bodies to feel accepted, just as has happened with our souls (remember what we dealt with back in the first month of the challenge?).  We are pronounced good or bad depending on how big or small we are, how heavy, how shapely or how we behave.  But that is not the truth!  Our bodies are the vessels that contain our souls.  Each and every one is beautiful.  From inside our bodies we experience everything, the physical, the intellectual and the ethereal too.  Each body contains the life force of nature, our primal instincts and the connection to soul.

Prompt 1: Feeling Yourself

For the first journal spread this month, map out your body and how it feels, physically.  Take your time concentrating on each part of your body as you draw it onto the page.  Use colour in and around your body to express your experience of the parts of your body.

Bring a colour to represent healing into your page, and ask your intuition to guide you to how you can bring healing to the parts of your body that need it.  Look for flashes of symbolism in your mind and in your pages.  Go where your intuition leads you.

Set an intention with your pages to honour your body with the care it deserves.

Example pages for Prompt 1.

Prompt 2: Allowing your body to shine the light of your soul into the world

Think about your greatest passion while you fill your pages with colour.

Add pattern and symbol to the pages to represent your passion.

Draw a figure to represent yourself on one of the pages. 

Block out the area around the figure with a contrasting colour.

Add symbols to the page to represent the value of your gifts to the world.  Consider the important job your body needs to do to bring your soul work into the world and what actions it needs to take to get you there.

Add words to the page to encourage action that will bring your passion to the world.  Think big.

Finish your painting with detail and pattern to support your big dream.

Give yourself permission to take the physical actions needed to reach that dream. 

Altered Book Journal Challenge Month 6 Body Love
Example pages for prompt 2.

Prompt 3: Daily Challenge for Month 6

This prompt is a little bit different from what we have been doing up until now, and is intended to encourage you to take a moment daily to check in with your body, experience how it feels and record it in your journal, along with what you’ve done for your body on that day.

Prepare your journal pages in advance to make it easy to record your daily log.

Cover the pages of your spread in pale colours if you are going to write in a dark coloured pen, or in darker colours if you are going to use a white gel pen.  As you cover the pages in colour, set an intention to use this record to improve your relationship with your body.

Divide the page into 30 sections, leaving a little bit of space on top and to one side for titling the page and adding a key.  You can create a grid, or draw 30 circles or triangles on the page, or any other way you can think of of organising 30 little spaces on the page to fill in over the coming month.

Make a title for your page.  Let the title reflect your intention of better knowing and caring for your body.

Create a key.  Think of five ways that you can improve your physical wellbeing and choose a symbol for each.  In the example below, you will see that I chose a symbol of each of the elements to represent something that I can do for my body every day.

Create a key of how your body feels using colour to indicate: feeling strong & healthy, feeling weak & tired, feeling sick & in pain.

Keep a daily record of what you have done to better care for your body and how your body feels on each day.  

Altered Book Journal Challenge Month 6 Body Love
Example pages for prompt 3. Here they are set up and ready to fill in for the month. I'll post a progress update here and in the Facebook group to show you what it looks like once it has some entries.
Altered Book Journal Challenge Month 6 Body Love
Free intuitive mixed media art ebook

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Free ebook: A Simple Guide to making Intuitive Mixed Media Art

A Simple Guide to Making Intuitive Mixed Media Art - Free Ebook

Get the fundamentals of my intuitive art process for free!

If you’ve felt the urge to make some art, but lack confidence in your abilities, why not give this a try?  I didn’t feel that I had the talent or skills required to make art until I hit on this formula that works for me.  

I no longer sit staring at a blank surface wondering what I should paint or draw, because this process allows the painting to develop as I go along.

I no longer feel the need to compare myself to everyone else because my work is unique to me, it’s my own creative self-expression

What’s in A Simple Guide to Making Intuitive Mixed Media Art?

  • A list of the supplies you’ll need
  • How to approach the process
  • Simple colour theory
  • Prompts to start painting
  • Prompts to continue and finish you painting

It’s a really simple, bare-bones, guide to getting creative with intuitive mixed media painting.

If you’d like to download a copy, head over here.

Simple guide to making intuitive mixed media art

Altered Book Journal Challenge – Belonging

Altered Book Journal Challenge - Belonging

The Altered Book Art Journal Challenge is a free twelve month challenge to discover more about yourself through intuitive art journaling.  You can find everything you need to know about the challenge, as well as previous month’s prompts HERE.

It's month 5 of the challenge, and we're looking at Belonging!

We all experience feeling separate sometimes.  Misunderstood, or different from our families, friends and neighbours, or society at large.   Everyone craves connection to those who understand and appreciate us for who we are, they are our tribe or community. 

“Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

There were two words that struck real fear into me as a child.  My teachers, my parents and other well-meaning adults used them frequently when I felt nervous, to encourage me.  Those words were “be yourself”.  I found those words far more confusing than any other instructions I was given.  I asked how, but no one could explain.  The only answer forthcoming was “just be yourself”.

When we’re also taught to please people to get along in the world, “be yourself” is in contradiction to that rule.  No wonder I found it so confusing.  I think that people really meant “be the you you’ve been taught to be”.   But that doesn’t usually work out so well in the end.

So what stops you from being yourself?  

Prompt 1: Be yourself!

Ask yourself one or all of the questions below and start filling your pages with colour.

If other questions come up, explore those too.

Write them down, write down the answers, give them symbols, draw images to represent who you are.  Make it a self-portrait if you like.

What lights you up and makes you feel special?

How would you like others to perceive you?  Why?

What big failure has been your biggest lesson?

Do you have a sense of purpose?

Do the beliefs that you hold about yourself keep you separate from others?

Explore the questions in colour, mark, symbol and words.

“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of “Me too!” be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe.” 
― A. J. Downey

The fairy tale of The Ugly Duckling (as told and then explained by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her wonderful book Women Who Run With The Wolves) is about belonging.  In the story the outcast is misunderstood because he isn’t seen for what he is.  He’s considered ugly, awkward and not as good as the rest.  No one had any idea that he was a swan, so they expected him to behave and look like a duck.   It all turns out alright in the end because the swans find him and take him away as one of them.  He didn’t even know he was a swan until the swans recognised him.

How many of us don’t know who we really are?  We try really hard to fit in and adapt, but if you’re a swan, you’re not a duck, no matter how hard you try.  Isn’t it better to be a great swan, than a duck that doesn’t feel like a duck but tries to be one anyway?

The Ugly Duckling found his tribe because they recognised him.  How can your tribe find you if you don’t show them who you are?

Prompt 2:  Show yourself!

 Cover the pages in your book with colour that you identify with.  It could be the colour that you paint with  most, or dress in most.  Or even the colour you wish you dressed in more.  The colour that always gets you compliments.   Something that’s YOU!

With a pen, pencil, or in collage, add an image to the page that represents who you are at your best.  Go with the first symbol that comes to mind.

Add words to the pages, describe yourself and what you offer the world.

Add symbols to represent the gifts that you offer the world, and symbols to represent your gifts moving into the world.

Add some colour to the page, in pattern or shading.

Set an intention with these pages to show the real you to the world.  Stop worrying about being too little or too much.  Shine your light, fly your freak flag!   That’s how your tribe will recognise you.

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.

Rumi

Prompt 3: Share yourself!

This isn’t a journal prompt, rather it’s a prompt to share your Show Yourself! pages somewhere where it can be seen by others.

You can share it safely in our Moon & Bird FB group or boldly on your social media timeline, just share it!  

I’ve shared my process and final “Show Yourself” pages below.

Month 5 Altered book intuitive art journal challenge
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