My youngest daughter, Hannah, recently had her 21st Birthday; so it gave me pause as to how I would celebrate with her creating a visual like I've done for the past 11 years. But I found that my circumstances had changed a bit since I did the last one (no color printer and not as much time to prepare).
Over the years as I've created these birthday collages (you can read more about The Birthday Wall here) the approach has morphed and changed to reflect their age, their interests and my approach to my presentation.
What started with a glorified birthday banner (which you can read about in my e-book, The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child), moved into a full 3 foot by 3 foot space on their bedroom wall to showcase their interests and their personality in full color; then I got a bit more creative. Last year I used a manila file folder, covered in gesso primer, and then created a layered collage that looked similar to my art journaling process for my eldest daughter, Sarah's 23rd birthday.
Then I decided to use a binder notebook for Hannah's birthday last year when she turned 20, which I share about here. Many pages with layered colored construction paper and images later, she had her Birthday Binder.
But this year, I decided I didn't want to use any past approaches, since I am also dabbling with some super FUN art forms, including doodling, which is essentially playing around with black pen, Winsor Newton Watercolor Markers and creating illustrated designs with words, phrases and objects. So after thinking on it a bit, I decided to create what I eventually called an Illustrated Birthday Doodle.
I used one sheet of acid-free card stock paper in a neutral color and a waterproof black Uniball pen and Winsor Newton Watercolor Markers. I decided on a layout that would work with her name, Hannah Joy, her new age of 21, plus various favorites from song lyrics to foods to hobbies. I also included important memberships to organizations, her college related info and her website, byhannahjoy.com, which is The Stressed Out College Student's Destination.
I must say that I had a lot of fun creating this gift for Hannah; I love drawing and creating illustrations without too much planning ahead of time; the entire process was intuitive and I just went with the flow. Hannah considers it a grown-up version of The Birthday Wall, so that's makes it the perfect gift for her right now.
And that leaves me content and satisfied as we celebrate Hannah's 21st birthday and her year ahead.
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Birthday Images by Dawn Herring
Ah, it's back to school time...whether it's next week where we live in Texas or in the days ahead (after Labor Day) in other places.
Time to shop for school supplies, clothing and shoes, and getting back to a "school schedule."
It's all about getting ready to learn and grow and discover the world around you, whether you're a young student, in college, or maybe you just want to learn something new as a Pupil of...Life!
To me, going Back to School is really about immersion in the things I want to learn about that help keep me Aligned with Who I Am.
Whether it was my avid interest in drawing as a child which eventually morphed into doing portraits for many years, or my seeking out writing-related resources, including books and magazines from the library and some purchased for my personal in-house space as I delved deep into fiction and then non-fiction/memoir.
Then I moved into learning all I could (and can) about my favorite art medium, Watercolor, as well as mixed media in the fun world of art journaling and collage. I'm always eager to discover new techniques and find inspiration from other artist's and their authentic artistic paths.
Back to school can really be about listening carefully to those intuitive nudges that can push us into uncharted territory to discover more of Who We Are...perhaps in a place we didn't know existed.
My discovery of watercolor came to me late in life...just 4+ years ago even though I've been a lifelong artist. You can never know when you're going to delve into something that brings you to life and activates your creative center like nothing else has. It's important to be open to such possibilities...it could even change your life!
What does Back to School mean to you right now? Make a list of all the possibilities of learning for further exploration that are drawing you right now and pick one to investigate with all of your delicious curiosity, as if you're a small child discovering something delightful for the first time. Revel in this new something and record all of your delight on the page.
Art Journal Prompt:
Honor the School Person in you by creating a page of all of your favorite school supplies, whether in image or doodle/illustration with your favorite pens. You may even use some crayons to color in areas on your spread, focusing on the primaries to take you back to your younger days.
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Graphic Header by Dawn Herring
I had the pure pleasure of reading Gretchen Rubin's latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I found this book to be informative, thought provoking and humorous.
I love Gretchen's voice, her style and her sharing of her thoughts and examples from her own life as well as from other family members, friends and fans of her blog and other books. Her whole process of determining to write about habits and how they are connected to happiness as well as the questions she had and the conclusions she came to are simply fascinating. It showed her brilliance as a researcher, writer, and expert in the areas of happiness and how what we do daily affects our lives for the better--or for the worse.
She gives a structured framework starting with our Tendencies, which include Upholders, Obligers, Questioners and Rebels and then proceeds to talk strategy and how each one would work for those tendencies, giving lots of informative and relevant examples, and many of them humorous, especially from her own life.
I had so much FUN reading this book; you might expect a book about habits to be a bit dry or just full of boring statistics, but I already knew how much I loved Gretchen's previous books, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project, so I wasn't disappointed with this read at all.
She takes the understanding of habits and how they are formed and how we can take better control of making or breaking habits based on our Tendencies and following the strategies that really work with our temperaments and preferences. This approach makes the whole process easier and even fun, which you wouldn't think possible, especially when it comes to those tougher habits we find hard to break or those Life Practices we really want to Instill but don't know how to.
One of the many benefits of reading Better Than Before was not only for my own habit formations and recognizing the strategies I've used that she offers, but it also helped me recognize the habits and tendencies of others, especially in my own family, which actually helped me appreciate them more for Who They Are and understand what works and doesn't work for them. This prompted me to make some changes in my interactions with them, which promoted positive change on my end!
I'm always looking for great reads that enhance my well being, that are meaningful to me on many levels, and that help me stay Aligned with Who I Am, and Gretchen's book, Better Than Before, does this in such a way that I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some fresh strategies to get those bad habits undone and instill some new, enhancing life practices that can actually change your life for the better.
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Header by Dawn Herring
I find art journaling to be a process..a good process, of course! I'm always interested in what I learn as I create and listen. This particular spread was one of those where I had something in mind; and you know what's funny? Every time I approach my art journal with something in mind, I often find that I struggle with it. I mean, art journals are a GREAT place to Experiment and I love experimenting! But experimenting always comes with challenges, since experiments often mean, you've never done this before, right?
So for this experiment, I had Boxes in mind. Over the 4 1/2 years that I've kept an art journal, I have run across many examples of boxes in an art journal spread. Some of them have featured boxes across the entire page, each with something original to fill it. And this is sort of what I had in mind. But what came out is not quite what I envisioned, but isn't that typical, right? What we see in our mind's eye is not often what we actually get. And That's OKAY.
But one thing I learned through this box making business is..you can work with what you've got. So I started out with 4 boxes on the left side of the spread and the other side I considered one big box with borders on the time and bottom. I used stencils to create the borders, in blue, green, orange and red. As soon as I put down the stencils and had the borders, I didn't like it. Oh, it's colorful, but it simply felt TOO Boxy for me, like I should've made the boxes around whatever I put on the page instead of creating boxes first. I think that's what threw me. I knew right away I'd have to go "outside the box" for me to feel satisfied with this spread, and that's exactly what I did!
I decided to cut out circles of all kinds (using some magazine collage pieces) and added some textured circles made from home-made Modeling paste (baking soda mixed with gesso) which represented Moments of Time for me. What was really fun for me what cutting out Tall long letters from colored construction paper for spell out the words The, Time and Truth. I didn't use a stencil for these letters. I just cut them free hand from scraps I had stored. I also enjoyed embellishing the letters with white Uniball gel pen. I used alpha stamps for the other words using watercolor paint.
I used a watch stamp several times and a eye exam letter stamp for visual interest, and I added a dotted line between all the circles to tie them together as one big time connection. I realized that as time passes, we often discover what the truth is about our life experience. Illusions fall away when you really look at what IS rather than what might have been or what we thought we would have. So the message for me with this was that the passage of time reveals truth, and what we DO with that truth can make all the difference in creating the most authentic path possible to Honor Who We Are and Our Purpose.
When you look back in time, even if it's just a few months back, what truth comes to your understanding? Do you recognize any illusions that you realize are not true about what you have experienced? See this as a positive a-ha moment and determine any positive change that might result from this realization. *Remember to be gentle with yourself when dealing with truth vs. illusion. It does take courage to create positive change.*
Art Journal Prompt:
Whatever Moment of Truth you've experienced, use that truth to create the most honoring art journal post you can. Your process should include at least one of your favorite art journal techniques, if not more. Sometimes when we do what we love, it makes recognizing that truth a bit easier. And Empowering!
Copyright 2015 By Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Art Journal Images by Dawn Herring
Dawn engages in many roles: As Writer/Blogger and Artist/Creative and Founder of Refresh with Dawn Herring: Where Art and JOY Align, She enjoys sharing from her vast experience as award-winning, life-long artist and leader in the field of written journaling, offering encouragement and proven tips to other journal keepers. Dawn's focus is on written journal keeping, artistic expression and finding your Creative Voice, and positive change that leads personal empowerment, encouraging you to leave your authentic and positive mark in the world. Dawn is a Commercial artist, hand letterer/illustrator and writer/blogger and enjoys sharing insights, humor, and encouragement as she shares from her life experiences as a woman, wife, mother of two grown daughters and as a Grandparent to a special needs grandson. She enjoys keeping a journal and reading spiritual texts to help keep the light on. May JOY Align with Your Creative Heart.
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