It took me a couple of afternoons to get the pieces up, but it was worth it.
The single tree drawings are from a kindergarten class (a combination of oil pastel and crayon drawing). The apple drawings are from a first grade class (oil pastel). The three tree reflection (watercolor) is from a 2nd grade class.
At first I was just going to hang the kindergarten tree drawings in one of the main halls of our school, but then I remembered that one of the first grade teachers had not yet hung up her students' work, the apple pictures. I asked her if she had sent them home. She said no, but she wasn't sure where she'd hang them. I suggested she let me hang them with the other drawings I wanted to display, and she was thrilled.
When I hang a display, I don't just tape them to the wall... I mount them on poster board first... to give them that framed effect.
Well, while I was hanging the K's and the 1st grade drawings, I thought about the 2nd grade watercolors that were finished a few days earlier. I had not sent them back to their classroom yet. So I asked their teacher would she mind if I hung them with this other display, and of course, she was more than glad to let me do it.
As I hung them, and I hung them all from all three classes... I did not leave anyone out... I heard many positive comments from the teachers and parents that walked by. Many were surprised that the drawings and paintings were from the younger students. A couple of people shared their childhood memories of when they loved to draw and paint, and how they wished they hadn't stopped.
I hear that a lot now that I'm out. I say I'm 'out' because there was a time I didn't tell people of my interests and talents. I kept it hid from most people. Only my closest friends and my family knew that I could and would draw. I didn't tell people, I think, because when some people find out about one's talent for drawing, they will either ask you to draw something for them, or they will tell you what you should be doing with your talent rather than what you already are doing with it. I learned the hard way. Just keep it to myself.
But that was me when I was younger. Younger meaning under 40 years old. I've got a better handle on it now. People know, and if they do try to tell me what I should be or could be doing other than what I already am doing, I don't hear them. I do it with a genuine smile, and nod my head, but I don't hear them.
The other people, the one's I enjoy speaking to the most about what I do, are the ones who confess that they always wanted to draw, but quit. And they don't remember why they quit.
The conversation then opens up for me and I offer my ideas about why some people let their interest in art go the way of childhood toys. Probably someone (close to them, a parent, a teacher) deflected their aspirations with well-intended criticism which did more harm than good. In high school other more demanding interests took over, like dating, sports, and hanging out with friends who didn't like being reflective. Or their parents couldn't afford to buy the materials and supplies they needed or wanted. As adults, they became overwhelmed with the process of getting degrees (serious degrees... "not many people make good money as an artist, you see"), finding jobs, earning incomes, paying bills, and raising families... too much to do, not enough time to pursue something as trivial as art. Who were they trying to kid??? They weren't good enough... they remembered when someone long ago told them they'd never be an artist because they weren't good enough.
Inevitably, somewhere in that monologue, my words strike a familiar chord, and they start sharing their experiences with art. And their desire to pursue it now that they're older, with more time, less bills, kids are grown and moved away, and they even can spare a few dollars to buy the supplies they need, maybe take an art class.
Yesterday that happened. I was speaking to a woman who stopped to express her amazement with the children's art, and a conversation soon followed, it wasn't long before I discovered that she wanted to draw and paint. I suggested she get back into it... she could join an artist group or take classes at the local community college.
I talked to her about visual journaling, how it helps an artist get in touch with her dreams and express her ideas and images... her creativity... even..., no, especially her spirituality. The inner seeking we often turn away from when facing worldly problems. I showed her one of my visual journals... not many people get to see inside them, but I do open up for those who seem (to me) to be coming awake to their own inner seeking. She said it was something she would like to do... the visual journal... and after I talked with her, I thought to myself, I would like to get back into visual journaling myself. I haven't done it in six or seven years.
There are many ways to approach visual journaling. My first experiences began w ith Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. Here's an excerpt of her book if you are not familiar with her work. I didn't have time to write all about her, or the book, but I think I provided enough links to get you started, at least to find out if you'd be interested.
You might also consider illuminating your paper journal. Often the journal entry will inspire you to create a page of art. Other times, something you paint or draw on your journal page will allow you to access deeper thoughts, and lead to a totally unexpected journal entry. Here's another link for some ideas on how to get started.
This is definitely a topic I could write about extensively, but that's enough for tonight. Have any of you taken up visual journaling? How did you use it? Are you doing it now? Let me know.