AJJ: Sweet "Moon Language"

AJJ It's been a long time since I last did an Art Journal Jam, although I've been working away in my art journal all this time. But the idea behind this series is to share the arting. Share pages I've been working on, and more importantly share the making—really talk about what happens at the gut level, the heart and soul level, when we let ourselves be creative. Because pretty (and not so pretty) pages are always fun to look at, but for me the real value in art journaling is the experience of the making. So anyway, I'm back to the AJJ and I plan to be doing it a lot more often—like every week. I hope you follow along and I hope you find it useful to your own practice. And please feel free to jam with me in the comments section below!

Today I'd like to share one of the final pages I completed in my latest art journal.*  It started with a few throwaway stamped patterns.  I'd used the pages at some point to clean my stamps. If you look closely you can see them in the background of what I painted on top:

moonlanguagestart

The reason I want to share the finished page below is to talk about the wonderful serendipity that seems to happen more often lately in my art journals.

I didn't know what I was going to make when I started. I just picked up several different shades of a color that spoke to me on the shelf and painted what first seemed right. An orange tonal background and then three dark orange-red circles. Adding lime green around the edges of the circles felt right. it was satisfying to blend the color outward and around.

green edge close

But then, as so often happens, the question of 'what next' stumped me for a moment. So I started looking through my scraps of previously painted papers and I found this butterfly and cut it out...

butterfly close

and these little circles and I pasted them down...

splotches close

And then I remembered a poem (on Alison'sblog). And look at that? A perfect place for it. Honestly, it all just came together itself—without me!

moon language

The poem reads:

With that Moon Language

--Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Admit Something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become someone who lives with a full moon

in each eye that is always saying

with that sweet moon language,

what every other eye in this world

is dying to hear?

It's not that I wasn't the one who was intuitively drawn to both the visual elements and the poem. But how I happened to put each piece together was completely serendipitous. In each step, I just followed my gut and one piece fell into place after another. From circles to the streak of the butterfly across a page that compositionally needed just that sized poem in that place...a poem that turned the page into a story, one to remember (and now I have not just the poem but the page to jog my memory.)

When I first started arting, I was filled with fear that nothing would come to me. Not even that "nothing good" would come to me--but that nothing at all would come forth. That maybe I was blank? (Or the universe was?) I don't know. Anyway, the more I let go and trust that something will come, the more just the right elements collide right into place...

Not always, but sometimes. And the more I art journal the more I'm learning to bet on the something.

AJJ: What do you think? Do you experience moments of serendipity when you art journal—or make anything? Are you willing to be bet on the something?

*****

*On another note, about this art journal...

I'm super excited to say that I am almost, for the first time, finished with an art journal! I have one. more. page.

I have three other designated art journals that are in various stages of completion.There's the first one I ever did that, despite the blank pages left in the back, I am done with (unfinished being apropos to the whole experience). It is a great record of my first attempts (ugh), but I moved on. Then I have my Messages journal and my L journal, and I still work in those from time to time as needed. I think I will finish both of them after a while.

But this art journal (which I have not named) will be my first, finished book. It's been my main arting companion for about a year—a bit longer. I don't work in it every day. Daily art journaling is a great concept in theory, but I have found that just isn't how I work. I need more flexibility and instead try to make sure I get to it every week. I grab a few minutes or a few hours as I can, and slowly the book has progressed.

And so have I. I've learned so much. I've expanded my repertoire of techniques, for sure, and also...well, I really need to think about all that I've learned, particularly about myself, through this first journaling journey. I know I've come a long way from just a little over two years ago when I finally screwed up my courage to open a blank journal and fill it with color and image (It took me like six months before that to even open a paint cap!)

What I plan next is to finish this last page, and then I will do a complete jam. And what I'd really like to do is a video "flip" of it! Wouldn't that be fun? I see lots of other people make flip videos so I'm sure I can learn (or more likely ask my daughter for help).  Hmmm...stay tuned on that one.