Moving Forward in a New Year

Before COVID began running unchecked in 2020 some creative friends and I had asked ourselves, “if you could go to one major class who was your dream instructor?” When you live in a sparsely populated place like Montana it almost always involves travel. Any creative class is a big dollar and time commitment. The group of had identified a couple of classes that crossed over all our varied interest that might have made a group road trip possible. The front runner was in October for four days and had two instructors, one from Arizona and one from the UK. Each of us was looking at how we might make it work in our personal circumstances. Instead in 2020 we stayed home. I had no idea what 2021 would bring, but travel did not seem like something on a plannable horizon. I knew I wanted a chance to expose myself to things that would challenge my creative bent. I choose to enroll in an online year long 28 instructor, 50 week journey with a focus on mixed media and art journaling.

I signed up in November for my 2021 online class. Immediately I got a series of bonus lessons that were there to help ramp up my creativity and tide me over until the class formally started January 1st. I did manage to complete all but three of the preview bonus lessons. I also took this time to look at my personal art supplies and tried to figure out what I had, what I did not have, and what substitutions I could make. I researched and compared finally buying a new art journal for the year.

Each month there is a topic or theme for the next four weeks. This month it was “Reflections.” The first lesson was taught by a mixed media artist from the UK. Her suggested theme was reflection on the previous year. Her techniques was a combination of things I had done before and was very comfortable with and a couple of things that I had to say hold on a minute, before I tried it. In the end I worked my way through all the techniques.

In the end I chose not not look back and reflect but capture my mantra for looking forward into 2021: “This Moment. This Life.” I wanted to focus on the moments and not allow myself to get hung up on big things such that I lost a connection to the amazing moment I was in. I wanted to focus on mu life and what I could do to make it better and let go of things that I can’t impact. This image does not show or capture all the layers that went into this journal page. Mixed media and art journaling tend to have layers of creativity that contribute the the end project, but are not obvious to the viewer. I had been exposed to this in other classes I had taken and often use some of the early layers as an opportunity to get my creative juices going and build on ideas.

One of the pre-class instructions was to find a black and white image that you felt captured how you felt about 2020. I found this in a magazine and fell in love with it. It is a man who appears to be moving very deliberately forward. He is carrying a satchel that looks heavy and for me he is carrying his history, good and bad. It spoke to me and I felt it was perfect not knowing exactly what it was going to be used for when the supply list came out the week before the class. In the end it was just what I needed on my journal page.

Another of the instructions was to add journaling to your page. Usually I write it freehand in a flowing cursive. Sometimes I use asemic writing leaving it up the the reader what they see an what it means. In this case I chose to add words that I had printed. They captured works I am hoping for as we move forward. A keyword journal if you like.

I enjoyed the first class. I learn some things and was encouraged in my art. There was focus on the process but always leaving the door open for you to find your own way. There are several places and ways for the students to share their work. I really like this because it is amazing to see how so many people see and hear the same lesson and yet their work looks nothing like another’s, but you can see things that let you know that they were in the same class as you. It will never be as good as being there in person, but it is better than doing nothing at all.

I finished this before the attack on the capitol. I worried that some folks would read things into this. I debated about going ahead and publishing this post, but decided that I would. I decided that I can not control what others think, nor can I let myself be silenced by worry about things out of my control. It is one of the many times I will chant to myself my 2021 mantra, “this moment. this life.”