It hasn’t been that long that I have been teaching art journaling workshops but in a short amount of time, I have been blown away by their powers of creative and healing energy.
My main objective when leading these workshops is to keep my students in the moment. I want them to embrace the process of creation and take the focus off the end product. I give them very specific techniques and then I throw in a few surprises to keep them on their toes. I find that keeping things spontaneous helps them to stay engaged in the beauty of creating.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “I’m just not the creative type”, “I am so nervous to make art”, or “I am hopeless when it comes to creativity”. I love seeing those same naysayers have an awakening to the power of their inner voice. It’s the PROCESS of creating that has the most impact and meaning when it comes to expressing one’s self.
All that being said, never before have I witnessed a more compelling transformation than when one of my best friends, Carolina, decided to join my workshop this past Saturday. She has always been an adamantly self-professed non-creative-type (even though I would argue that).
As the workshop was happening, I could literally see her creative doubt turn into a creative breakthrough. She was virtually beaming by the end of the day which then lead to being a bit choked up as she said goodbye to me. It wasn’t until I received this note from her that I understood what she had experienced:
As you know, while I have a definite aesthetic and have a good grasp on what appeals to me, being creative has always stifled and terrified me. And so with great trepidation I took your art journaling class as a show of support to your passion, but knowing that it would be fully outside my comfort zone.
It is not an understatement to say that I was astonished at my response and reaction to the process. I was terrified of being given a blank canvas, given a theme and have to go at it. But, from your first directive, I was immediately intrigued. The process of your workshop worked very well with my structure-oriented mind. I loved that each step was a building block to the next phase. It was exciting to wait to see what your next instruction would be.
Surprisingly, I found myself less concerned with the end product than with the process of getting there — which is completely opposite of how I function in day to day life. I wasn’t so much forced to be in the moment, as I was choosing, willing and happy to be in it. Perhaps my favorite part was figuring out how to incorporate my own style and aesthetic with the instructions being given. It gave me a chance to flex a muscle that I can honestly say I had never ever flexed before.
And of course, having those six hours truly to myself was such a gift. Though I’ve taken time off from family for myself here and there, without fail, my mind always returns to kids, husband, work, deadlines, schedules, issues, etc. The workshop gave me a much needed breather from those responsibilities by giving me something concrete, interesting, exciting and fun to focus on.
The last part of the workshop was also revelatory for me. I would have assumed that having my project looked at and analyzed by everyone would be deeply uncomfortable at best. But it was so interesting to hear people’s feedback and find out the things they saw that I didn’t. Hearing everyone’s interpretations and reactions to both my own work and others’ was so insightful.
I’m thrilled to have finally begun the process of tapping into a part of my being that I always believed didn’t even exist. And I fully believe that I couldn’t have started this without the nurturing environment that your workshop created.*
Needless to say, Carolina’s reaction to art journaling thrills me. It only confirms what I already know to be true: ANY KIND OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM LIVES.
*Carolina’s note is shared with her permission.