Art is Life is Art: On secrets and journal victories

One of my biggest “wrestles” in art journaling has been What To Write. I have spent a lot of time sorting and classifying my thoughts before ever making the first handwriting stroke.  I spent years collecting quotes and taking notes from other people’s writing and talks, all the time busily making beautiful pages that were void of my own true thoughts and feelings.

Decorating pages was the first phase of my art journaling, but the next {and to me more powerful} stage was getting authentic with my content.  To do this, I had to deal with some old messages and judgments – the deeply embedded belief systems that controlled my story for years.  It was second nature to filter and modify my emotions BEFORE approaching the pages.  {especially if the pages were beautiful and the content not so much…}

There are many reasons that we keep secrets.  A friend of mine is fond of saying:  “We’re only as sick as the secrets that we keep.”  It is easy to believe that our secrets will betray us, expose us and ultimately consume us.  My art journal has shown me that I have options.

page detail:  be careful with my secrets

These days, I’m much more candid in my pages than in my early years of heavy editing and my later years of avoidance.  These days, I just write what I think and feel.  Where I am.  What I’m doing. What I’m thinking.  UNFILTERED. These days, I know the power in a folded page; I know that I can glue in an envelope and collect uncomfortable things for later.  Being honest in my pages, keeps me here, in my life.  My energy goes to art instead of dancing the Containing-Pain-and-Fear Dance.  The surprise for me has been in the demystification.  It’s amazing how writing something down causes movement.  I can:

*  capture.

*  release.

*  paint over.

*  pursue further.

* write clearly

* write messily {or in disappearing ink}

*  tuck away.

Writing it down doesn’t mean I’m sharing.  Writing it down means I’m facing the secret; looking it square in the eye.  It means that I am in charge.  I have choices.  The secrets don’t have to win

Feel the victory.  Write a secret in your journal. Fold the page and let it go.

A nest of private thoughts

By | 2016-10-19T14:20:39+00:00 August 25th, 2010|Art is Life is Art, Journals|10 Comments

About the Author:

I create containers for words and paint and I fill them. I craft safe, sacred spaces for people to wrestle, create, heal and shout from the mountain tops.   And I teach people to do all of these things for themselves.
  • leslie lewin

    Betsy, i am in the middle of reading, “Eat, Pray, Love” and I came across a quote that reminded me of you.

    “In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business- not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away…..”

    I admire how seriously you take the beauty of your art.

    • Leslie – what a fabulous quote! I’m putting it in my journal now… {p.s. I admire how seriously you take the artistic life and journey.}

  • You go, Girl. Well done!

    {Maybe I should buy an art journal. . .}

    • Candi-friend,

      You said, “Maybe I should buy an art journal.”
      I say, “Uh…yeah.”

  • Liz

    You did what I couldn’t… thank you.

    • LIz – thanks for the great conversation this past week. It helped me create my page. {and don’t worry, you’ll get to the pages when you’re supposed to get to the pages…} ~b

  • Incredible. Like I said before…I just can’t get enough. One question I have about all of your wonderful lettering styles: Did you learn this or do you come by beautiful handwriting naturally? I want to learn new styles and techniques….

    • Shay – When I was in jr. high, I walked into a card shop, chose a card with the handwriting that I wanted and practice until I could do it. Then at some point in my art training I took several calligraphy classes. Really, I think that it comes down to practicing letter forms – a lot. That being said, I teach a few tricks in my workshops, because I think it’s important to like your writing and give yourself creative options – so that ultimately you can get down on paper what you want to capture.

  • Zom

    This is a great post. Really important stuff.

    I too write whatever in my art journal. If it is really heavy I do the fold up or envelope thing – very occasionally I gesso over the top. Mostly I let it all be there, upfront and often read – by my students. I warn them ” it’s my art journal, you may read stuff you don’t like.”
    It is such a relief not to hide.

  • Zom ~

    You said: “It’s such a relief not to hide.”
    That’s it! The hiding takes away from the creating. And it’s the honesty that gives all of it magic. Thank you for your encouragement and your writings on “ugly pages” – You’re an inspiration!

    ~betsy