Creative Play

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.—Joan Didion

Playing with magazine images, old postcards, washi tape, stamps, and paint may sound silly when there’s laundry to be done and bills to pay. I get it, it’s hard to set aside time to create.

And yet there is something deeply cathartic and surprisingly productive about doing so.

When leading retreats I’ll often find a few women hesitant about this process and, by the end, they’re often the biggest fans of playing in their art journals and quite proud of what they’ve created.

When was the last time you let yourself play with glue, images, and markers? For many women, it’s been decades, so letting loose can feel intimidating.

An art journal is a place to save ideas and give physical form to thoughts, feelings, and dreams by combining words and images. Here’s a video peek into one of mine many years ago.

I’ve used my art journals to dream up book ideas, process tough emotions, set goals, and simply muse. While I’ve bee an avid journaler since I was a little girl, there’s something powerful about adding images to the words.

Sometimes I’ll glue a few inspiring full-page magazine images into my art journal and write over them with a Sharpie. Other times I’ll pull out multiple smaller images and an assortment of words to create a collage, and then write over it with a gel pen or Sharpie.

The above quote by Joan Didion sheds insight into the power of writing—whether through creative writing, journaling, or art journaling. This process can help us make sense of things going on in our lives and around the world. It serves as an outlet for creative expression and therapeutic processing.

For some, it’s akin to self-care. Author Jennifer Eagan writes: “When I’m not writing I feel an awareness that something’s missing. If I go a long time, it becomes worse. I become depressed. There’s something vital that’s not happening. A certain slow damage starts to occur.”

Staring at a blank page can be the most intimating part, so I like to get it covered with paint, images, or other bits of ephemera such as vintage graph paper, reused tissue paper, or printed paper. Then I write.

At times I pen what I’m feeling in the moment and since our emotions are like weather patterns—constantly in flux—there’s bound to be something new. I also like making lists such as takeaways from a book, conference, retreat, or day.

On Saturday I’m hosting the only Virtual Retreat of this year and we have over an hour dedicated to the art journaling process. If you’re new to the process, I’ll walk you through it. If you’ve been at this for years, I’ll introduce new prompts and ideas. If you’re unable to join, check out the many resources on the Tranquility du Jour blogand podcast.

Wishing you space to play, creative, and breathe deeply. Bisous. x

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