27 September 2007

Afraid of Art

Rather than start from scratch, I'll just post part of an email I just sent to a friend:

I'm not sure what is going on with me. This unsettled feeling started yesterday when I was at Barnes & Noble. John was looking at gaming books, and so I went to the craft section. I found a book on Art Journaling, a topic I've long been interested in, but have never pursued. I started reading through it while John was doing his thing and I started crying. Just a few tears, but crying nonetheless. I'm glad I wasn't sobbing (although I was on the inside; it was a very emotional moment for me.). I chalked it up to being emotionally exhausted and having had therapy a little before. Why else would a book on art make me cry?

In the middle of the night, when I was NOT SLEEPING, I was blog hoping, and I found a post about a video on YouTube about art journaling. I clicked over to it, and started crying again. What the ... ? So, there's a second video, with a challenge that starts "Get a photo of yourself when you were five years old..." More tears, as I doubt there are any photos of me at five years old still around. There are probably slides, and there are definitely home movies, but my mom and dad had three kids before me. Snapshots of the baby wasn't a novelty anymore. Somewhere around my house is my second grade school picture, but I have no idea where it is. My rigid perfectionism told me that without the appropriate photo, I couldn't play along. Maybe I'm just still in the very tearful mood that yesterday's email found me in.

I think it's pretty obvious that I ought to be art journaling, huh? Something about the concept has really touched me today. So, I journaled about it, the old-fashioned way, and came up with some startling insights. Well, startling to me, but probably either obvious or boring to you. I'm emotionally exhausted because I tend to keep my emotions in tidy little boxes. I need to have, and have joked about this in the past, a breakdown where everything just comes tumbling out, tidy little boxes be damned! I tend to look at these boxes and I've labeled them appropriately, but I don't ever really muck around in the boxes. I spend more time feeling *about* my emotions than I do feeling the emotions themselves. Even with the emotional pain and discomfort I've felt lately -- over the past couple of years, even -- I've not really FELT what was going on with me. Thus, the exhaustion. I'm tired of holding it in. I'm tired of restraining myself.

So, what does all of this have to do with art journaling? Art journaling is MESSY. It's RAW. It's FREE. Definitely unrestrained! It's some of the "ugliest" art that a person can make. But it's expressive and emotional. It's journaling with art techniques, so it's all about getting it out there, putting yourself out there. To me, it's the real art, because it is about expression. What I do may be pretty enough (and lots of days I feel like even that is debatable), but it doesn't express anything about what I'm feeling or what I'm going through at the time. It's just the accepted use of line and color, arranged in a pleasing fashion. I think I need to be expressing myself visually instead of ... what's the word for "through words"? See, there's no such thing as parallel construction in a visual journal! There are no damn grammar rules! In fact, there aren't really any rules at all! I need to be doing this, and yet, I'm intensely frightened by the idea. Yep, scared of art. I'm frightened of what may happened, both emotionally and artistically, if I were to start purposefully poking holes in the damn I've built. That may sound a bit melodramatic, but that's what I'm feeling right now. Fear. Intense fear.

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think of what I just said? Is there any form of expression that you're scared of? Am I just being neurotic?


Studio 13 by Carrie said...

Hi Cindy,
Thanks for checking out my Zentangles,and posting a comment, it was fun.I was up waaaay past my bed time to do "just one more"
I really related toyour blog post. I understand alot of what you wrote. I think the fear needs to be faced, and a journal is perfect for it. I use mine for funky art to be visual, but for the most part, it is the journaling. I journal most when listening to music. very freeing somehow. Sometimes I just copy words of a song that I really relate to. Just my two cents. Also, I have particiapted in swaps at stamp your heart out as well. It has been awhile since the last, July I think, but always enjoy it. Now I am involved in so many other projects, I never have time to make 20 ATC's for trade. Oh well, maybe next time!!!

Jillian said...

Hey Cindy. The cool thing about art journals is that we don't have to share them with anyone. I totally related to "emotions in tidy little boxes". I hate therapy because it makes me think. Art makes me think but in a different way (the kind that doesn't hurt as much). Love that YouTube clip too!! I spent 13 yrs in North Jersey and I tend to yell like that too. :)

suzi blu said...

It is the real art, isn't it? No pretension. I think your tears are due to the fact that you are finally giving a voice to the side of you that needs this. and that side is very, very grateful.
I hope you journal "the old way" in the art journal too, and seperate your life into segmants. One big life book of words and images and teardrops and love.

Anonymous said...

This Suzie Bluetube made me smile, and I really mean this you put a huge SMILE on my face tonight.
I'm not sure why your sad, or what is making you cry, we all go thur sadness in our lives. It really makes us grow I think. I have been thinking of journaling lately and purchased 2 drawing books from Dick Blick's web site and they arrived only a couple of days ago. I think Suzie is right and excuse me for not quoting her exact words, but it's my own space that no one can take from me. I think it will help me with my crying that I feel inside, that no one can understand but me. Thanks for sharing this wonderful find.