As I posted my last two "Book of Dreams" images (journal pages, illustrations, drawing, painting... what ever the 'correct' title is I don't know.... I lovingly call it my art) I thought about you. How are you going to react to my latest posts. Are you going to wonder, 'who's work is this? Is it Lisa’s work? It doesn’t appear to be Lisa's style, at least it isn’t the style I am used to seeing." As those questions went through my head I wondered how to answer them for myself.
To answer the question of "whose work/style is this?" Simply put, it is mine. Always has been, always will be. I have added some techniques to my arsenal, but the grittiness and expressiveness is mine. I have suppressed, hid, and protected my 'darker' side from the world, for those thoughts and images hiding in my shadowy corners have always been for me, only me.
Over the past few months an internal pressure has been building. The pressure to create, the pressure to draw in my visual journal, pressure to make things for family and friends, pressure to complete all those unfinished projects (they weren't termed "projects" when I embarked on them months and years ago, but they are now so titled... "projects") my life has been consumed by pressures, projects, and clutter. A friend described it perfectly for me one night. "The pressures that everyone puts on us... It seems at times that our lives are not our own." So much more has happened since that short discussion a month ago, the unyielding need to examine what has been consuming me internally overshadowed the need to see what was surrounding me externally.
The “style” you are used to seeing, the style I save for my visual journals, is my external view of the world and how I fit into it. I journal about my daily experiences, those things that bring me joy and sometimes sadness, this “style” makes me feel centered and in-touch with the world. It slows me down and makes me appreciate the present moment. This “style” is very much a part of who I am now.
Given all of this, I have struggled with finding my voice for everything else that lurks in my mind. I have suppressed and at times turned my back on were my art was headed 14 years ago when I graduated from college with my BFA. At that time my art was very expressive and my voice was just beginning to call to me….but I failed to listen. I focused instead on other priorities (mind you they were and still are my main priorities), I didn’t have time to listen. Now, I can’t ignore the pounding in my head.
My recent trip to Seattle unknowingly unleashed this voice. It was quiet and patient while I was there. Soaking everything up. It had me all to itself… no distractions, no pressures, no commitments, no responsibilities. It started the first evening while I sat alone in the restaurant drinking a glass of wine and eating a simple bowl of soup. At first I was uncomfortable sitting there alone, nobody to talk to… but I quickly reminded myself that this trip was for me… only me.
The next morning I awoke early with a full day planned! I grabbed my visual journal and walked through the rain to the space needle. I’m quite sure I was a sight to behold, balancing the book on my knees, sketching the landmark with one hand, while attempting to hold an umbrella over myself and my sketchbook as the rain poured down. From there I did a little shopping and then headed downtown to Pikes Market. I wandered for quite some time before inspiration struck and I found something I wanted to draw. Just in time too, as I had a reservation to see the Picasso Exhibit!
I have to admit. I didn’t know that this exhibit was at the museum when I arrived in town. The gal at the hotel’s front desk that told me about it and that I needed to reserve tickets. She quickly got on line and reserved the tickets for me! I was excited to see a master’s work in person, though I had never been much of a Picasso fan. Regardless, I went in with an open mind. Something unexpected happened as I moved through the rooms, looking at and absorbing the breathtaking art, the styles changed and overlapped and morphed. It all depended on his mood, what was going on in his life, who was in his life…he never gave up a “style” completely, instead he gave himself permission to push beyond what was expected. I could have stayed in those rooms much longer than the 3 hours I was allotted, for this idea of changing “styles” and “voices” swirled in my head and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I loved it.
That night I ate alone again, I wasn’t lonely…just alone. My “voice” was still patiently finding it’s way through the dark hallways in my head. It was stirring, but I wasn’t necessarily listening.
The next few days I spent with some amazing artists while attending and teaching at Journalfest. Many of whom I instantly connected with. My students were amazing and I left each day on an emotional high and a comforting satisfaction that I was able to share and touch like-minded souls. My heart was full and singing when I went to bed each night.
I previously posted that I took a class on the one day I wasn’t teaching, it was an expressive drawing class with Juliana Coles. I recall thinking months prior that, “it would be fun to take an expressive drawing class again, I haven’t explored that way of drawing in years.” During the class I was relaxed and open to what ever was thrown at me, it felt comfortable. Just as comfortable as the way I draw in my visual journal. Kind of like putting on your favorite pair of fluffy, thick, soft socks. One for each foot. While at the after hours events, I could have gone back and finished the multiple pages in my visual journal that still required color and my thoughts, however all I could think about were those pages I started in class.
I left Journalfest feeling refreshed and renewed. However, when I look back at what I wrote the days and weeks following I recognize the internal struggle I was having. The creative juices were flowing, but I was struggling internally with how to express what was going on inside. I shut down. No art was being created. I refused to listen. For almost 2 ½ months. During those months, pressures from others started building…. Pressures that only reinforced the doubts I already had… sometimes those around us can’t begin to understand that what they are doing and saying cause more harm than good… and that damn pounding in my head wouldn’t go away.
During these past months I begun to take a hard look at myself, it hasn’t been easy. I believe I had a break through the other night when I finally allowed myself to put pen/brush to paper. Hours later, the pounding in my head and the pressure under my skin seemed to have quieted down. What stared back at me was an image that I have held in my heart for a long time but didn’t have a voice for it. The voice was loud and clear now.
Obviously, I am just beginning to accept that my voice will determine the “style” I choose. I am not sure how my style(s) will evolve, but for now I am enjoying having an outlet to express both my external view of the world as well as my internal view.