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I’m reposting this from my other blog, The Sprightly Writer. It was first published on October 12, 2011
I get moody from time to time. Sometimes very moody. Just ask my husband.
I wish it were easy to blame my gender for the anger and rage I express sometimes. You know, hormones and everything.
I know it’s more than that.
I’m trying to integrate some experiences that still haunt me sometimes. Some from a long time ago, some from recent years. I thought maybe I was unable to. I am beginning to realize it’s more that I won’t let myself integrate these experiences.
What’s more, the wounds keep getting re-opened.
The other day, my therapist (a lovely former opera singer I might add) asked me if I feel I deserve punishment. At the time, I said I wasn’t sure. It took me a while to realize that even if I didn’t acknowledge it, I was behaving in just that way.
I’ve tried to analyze a certain circumstance from all angles and tried to make some sense of something I can’t. It’s left me hurt and angry and confused. I’m confused mostly about the compulsion to figure this out rather than let it rest (for good). I know it’s been detrimental in more ways than one, and to more than just me, but I hadn’t been able to stop.
A little OCD?
This has left me exhausted, depressed and angry that I couldn’t stop the obsessive hyperanalysis.
So I’ve been art journaling. For me, art journaling helps to quiet the internal chatter while I focus on experimentation with color, medium, technique and just let whatever words (if any) come out rise out of the murky depths of my mind.
Sometimes I hear positive words come up. The inner child tells the adult me it’s okay to be comforted.
Sometimes negative feelings bubble up. The inner child wants to throw a tantrum. Most people would be surprised to know I throw tantrums sometimes. But it’s true. I used break things, because it helped a little. An awful habit.
I used to have a hand-written journal and attempted put ‘my rage on the page’ by writing out my negative thoughts, but I found that writing about what makes me upset only keeps me upset. Especially if I re-read what I wrote. Obsessive type that I am, I’ll re-read things a few times more than really advisable.
Needless to say, staying in the cesspool of upset only makes me angry. Sometimes I’ll turn it outward, sometimes I’ll turn it inward. Either way, it gets me into trouble.
But the art journaling helps. It helps for two reasons: one) I’m not fixating on a specific upset, but expressing a feeling and two) it’s fun to see what spills out.
Not too long ago, it was this:
Pretty ugly, ain’t it?
When I first made the background, I was just experimenting with colors. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. At first, it looked just awful and I didn’t think I was going to do anything but throw it out. But I added some gesso to mute parts of it.
And then I realized, it still looked quite chaotic. And still ugly, but not quite so awful. I left the background alone for a few weeks…still pretty uncertain what purpose it was good for. I mean, it’s pretty garish, you know?
Some time passed, and then I realized, during a particularly negative mood I was in, that this page reminded me of how chaotic and upset I felt. So I used the pages to house every negative word that popped up into my awareness.
And I wrote some of them in black, some in copper, and some in gold.
Then I found this great quote from Hermann Hesse that fits just so.
I hesitated posting this picture on the blog, because I thought it would make me look a little…well…crazy.
But then I read this article by Douglas Eby at Talent Development Resources:
Eby interviews clinical and forensic psychologist Stephen A. Diamond about his book, “Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity”
In his brief foreword to Diamond’s book, psychologist Rollo May introduces and defines the classic Greek conception of the “daimonic” or darker side of our being, noting that “the daimonic (unlike the demonic, which is merely destructive) is as much concerned with creativity as with negative reactions.
A special characteristic of the daimonic model is that it considers both creativity on one side, and anger and rage on the other side, as coming from the same source. That is, constructiveness and destructiveness have the same source in human personality. The source is simply human potential.”
As he explains in his book, “Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity,” our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict. “It can also be one of the most dynamic methods of meeting and redeeming one’s devils and demons.
He goes on to say,
Diamond holds that creativity may be a powerful and often dark endeavor: “The more conflict, the more rage, the more anxiety there is, the more the inner necessity to create. We must also bear in mind that gifted individuals, those with a genius (incidentally, genius was the Latin word for daimon, the basis of the daimonic concept) for certain things, feel this inner necessity even more intensely, and in some respects experience and give voice not only to their own demons but the collective daimonic as well.
I felt much relieved when I read this tonight. I do struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos, ESPECIALLY since I’m not a real artist. But we might actually be doing ourselves a favor by letting some of our negative feelings out in ways that are constructive, in whatever way we can find an outlet.
To me, this seems kind of like a slow, controlled burn instead of a raging wildfire.
Which I think would make my husband very happy.
A reprint from November 25, 2011
Mr. RSG and I had a relaxing holiday at my sister in law’s yesterday. Grandma took the girls to spend a few nights, which was just in time, because he and I have been in need of some bonding.
As we decided what we’d do with our free time, I invited him to join me in one of my favorite new hobbies – art journaling. We sat and watched a few tutorials on Youtube to give him the basics. Then I turned him lose with a brand new art journal and my tools.
With watercolor paints, acrylic paints, markers, coffee and a little creativity, husband came up with an engineering themed layout. Mr. RSG seemed to be having fun using found objects like legos, re-purposed items like plastic embroidery canvas and handmade cardboard templates to make geometric designs.
He also used old Dilbert comic strips from an old calendar and engineering formulas from an old textbook to add interest. I really, really like his color choices too. I admit, when I first saw him mixing the orange, blue, red, lime green and fuschia, I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but I like it. I really do.
And I think the Dilbert strip is really funny too! The sad part is that it’s JUST like his old boss at his old engineering job.
I had enjoyed the time with him while working on art together. I liked the fact I didn’t feel guilty for working on my art journal while he did his art beside me. I also like the fact that he gave me some ideas for use in future pages too.
The spread below was from my journal. I think it turned out pretty nice. Later, I’ll add some journaling to the right page, but I just thought I’d show it for now.
Me: “So, would you do art again with me sometime”
Mr. RSG: “Sure, it wasn’t all that painful.”
What a fun-e guy.
My camera batteries dead and I can’t find the charger, so I’m having to repost some older blog posts from one of my other blog posts. This one was from April of 2012.
I have to laugh about my happy art journal layouts. Bright colors, pretty girly layouts.
I really started out art journaling with the intention of self-discovery and managing turbulent moods. I actually was more depressed when I started about six months ago.
My very first art journal layout was inspired by Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf.
But, I can’t believe how much happier I feel these days. I worry about the depression I’ve had returning (especially since husband and I are both unemployed and going to lose our family health insurance at the end of the month), but I also have a bit more hope that I can handle it a little better too.
I think art truly can be transformative and healing.
Check out the Healing Through the Arts website for some hope and great inspiration.
I made this art journal page last October. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I liked the message.
“I May Be Fractured, But My Parts Are All Beautiful”
And it hung around my art dungeon (a.k.a. the cold basement) for a long time. I finally found a new home for it:
I used Washi type paper tape to frame the page. On the left side, I wrote some random things that came out of my mind when I was really feeling upset and out of sorts. This time last year, a traumatic incident happened and I was really messed up by it. I’m feeling better, but I was haunted by the memories of what happened last year, so I wrote a tiny bit about how I was feeling.
I really think it works well with the art journal page I made before.