Original Altered Book Art Journaling Page
Natasha Reilly ©2014
Recently, I sat down to create alongside my kids and started to create. My intention was to play and experiment and that led me to so many incredible observations.
My son is three and good at it. His normal focus is on everything at once; he hungers to learn all he can about the world. He devours everything in large gulps and often exclaims his excitement, joy or love for things out loud. But when he paints his attention is centered, grounded, there is nothing in the world that can shake him. He explodes with a sense of wonder. “Mom, look at that color! I LOVE this, it’s a turtle can you see the turtle?” His sister encourages him in a million ways, most recently to use his fingers instead of his brush to paint. Though initially unsure, he put down his brush and tired. Wonder grabbed hold and he erupted like a volcano of wonder. His sister was delighted.
My daughter has loved to paint for as long as I can remember; art is her world. When she paints she always finds a new focus and yesterday she discovered “original” color. “Look what I created Mom! Look at that color. You can’t find that paint anywhere because I created it.” She’s right. The blending she found in that moment could not be repeated because it was born from her sense of play and discovery. I loved that sense of creation and magic. I love what we are all capable of.
Much like a child, I found myself in a state of wonder as well. Altered books are my thing – specifically art journaling and playing in an altered children’s board book. I love the feel of the pages and the possibilities. I began by testing some new inks. I let them run along the pages marveling at colors and trying to understand how they would move along this surface. In the end the page looked like a marching band had come through and left a trail of streamers and confetti behind. I sat with that awhile as stories about that marching band moved through my brain. I looked up to see my daughter using one of my all time favorite colors and I had to play with it. It moved over the inks and an underwater world was born. Another story began to take shape in my brain about scuba diving in the ocean, mermaids and coral. Isn’t it amazing what creating inspires in us?
All of this caused me to think about the things we have hidden within. Yes there are times we hide parts of who we are, parts of our stories but what about the gifts we have that we haven’t discovered yet? If you think about it, we are like those dolls that open up and there’s another one inside and another and another till we find that adorable little one that is adorned with gorgeous color and design at the heart of it all.
What is it that causes use to access those new gifts and explore what is within? Often Our lives so often become filled with routines – work, getting the kids ready for school, even the ways to and from home become programmed. Unless we make a conscious decision to change things up we may use the same things within us over and over and forget to explore. That’s when we become as stale as old bread.
Questions. Children are always asking why. They are always pushing the envelope to see what something will become. They ask with their words and their hands and their eyes and their beings. So why do we stop as though we’ve learned everything there is to learn? Why do we dismiss “play” as something meant for kids? We live on a planet that is constantly evolving and we are still discovering sea life we’ve never seen, animals we’ve never seen. So why do we get some comfortable and forget to make playful discoveries?
When we use a new art supply or take something in our home and use it in a new way we feel that spark. If only for an instant, it’s there. A reminder, a call to your soul. There is this feeling of excitement because you are seeing something in a new light and if you were to hold onto that thread of “new” perfpective you would see that it carries through your entire day. That one, small spark inspires might inspire you to say hello to someone you do not normal interact with or deviate from your normal path home. You are more apt to try something new when you have allowed yourself to feel that little spark of excitement in shifting perspective. It’s a gift you can give to yourself each and every day if you want. I try to remember that because doing that makes me feel like I am living life and experiencing it firsthand. I am the person who is in living the story, I’m not simply being told about it.
As I finished this painting, I found noticed something extraordinary. The lines began to make me think of a forest and I had this feeling that there was something emerging from that forest. As I played with the inks on the bottom I started to see forms in the dark forest. Are they moving out into the light? Have I stumbled upon a secret world? Are they friends or foes?
What I do know is that a door opened to something deeper and I felt a spark. All I needed to unlock it was some art, an intention to play and an openness to explore without fear. I entered with a sense of childlike wonder and now that I’m here I’m eager to see what more I find on my altered art book art journaling adventure.
When is the last time you allowed yourself to play for no other reason then to see what would happen?