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This article is written by Laura Shelton Thykeson
Anyone who knows me hardly at all knows that I have spent a LOT of time in the hospital, having heart attacks, surgeries, tests, observations, etc…now, make no mistake – I am so definitely not here to whine. I am here to encourage others, faced with similar and worse circumstances, learn to channel that pain, frustration, and sometimes even depression into something clean and pure and healing-Art! It is such a simple concept, yet so many shy away from it because they “don’t have the supplies”, “have no talent” (that’s the one that drives me crazy, lol!), “don’t feel like it” and any other excuse the human brain can conjure up to stop us from having fun. Just because we are ill doesn’t mean we stop being human. This is actually the time of your life when you are the MOST human! All of those emotions, right there on the surface, just screaming to be expressed and gotten out in some constructive, healthy way. Well, here is my best suggestion, and I only push this because it has gotten me through so much and made everything so much easier in the process. I honestly feel this process has helped to save my life and helped keep me alive so far
What I am suggesting is SIMPLE, Expressive Art Journaling. Not in a fancy expensive journal, or with expensive, professional art supplies, and it doesn’t matter if you have “talent” or not, because this type of art journal is not for “show and tell” unless you want it to be…this is a place for you to escape to when the going gets tough, the pain won’t stop, and you are so tired and exhausted and weak that you can barely hold a marker, but still can’t sleep and can‘t lay there another minute.
Picture this scenario: You are laying in your hospital bed, or at home. You have some sort of medical procedure scheduled for tomorrow. Do YOU think you are going to be able to sleep? Then why not take that time you would have spent worrying, and spend it playing with vibrant colors, various shapes, blobs and drips and splatters of paints or inks, scribbling with pens and markers, and whatever else you decide to use.
Don’t worry, you will soon find your own way, your own path through the pain and insanity that has seemingly taken over everything in your life, and suddenly-YOU are back in control of your life again! You will lose track of time, maybe just a few moments, any is a relief, and that means you aren’t experiencing the pains of being ill during that time! Worth a shot, now isn’t it?
Maybe you just scribble with a set of colored felt tip markers…maybe splash around some children’s watercolors. What you use and how “artistically” that you do it DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is you got through it again, and now, each time it happens, you have a refuge to go to, always waiting for you to begin. And while some of my pages look more complicated, that is just because it is my style…I haI would sit in my hospital bed for hours, just swishing paint, sometimes making designs, sometimes just watching the color spill across the pages, and rarely did I ever actually “journal” on these pages. No words could explain, so I let the colors and the shapes do the talking for me. Plus I had some pre-printed Scripture cards that I added to most of the pages and they worked perfectly for what I wanted.. Some of the pages are just paint, or just napkins decopauged on, or collage from magazines or colored Sharpies
Now, here is the easy part…here is a suggested list of basic supplies to get you started, and you can get them all at the Dollar Store!
Some type of tote bag to hold everything and tote back and forth to hospital and doctors appointments.
Sewn Spine Composition Notebook to use as journal – (stock up during back to school sales!)
Set of children’s pan watercolors
Set of colored felt tip markers (optional)
Small set scissors
Pencil and eraser
Black marker and black ink pen
Couple old magazines for collage (optional)
Maybe some cheap craft paint (optional)
Couple of decent paintbrushes
This is more than enough to get you started, and believe me, as you go, you are going to start accumulating more and more supplies and odds and ends for your journal pages…glue in snips of papers, hospital bracelets, discharge papers, anything that was a part of your day. It all matters…I can’t really explain why, but somehow it validates that you were there, you struggled through it, and you survived it all! When looking back months or years later, these things will touch you deeply in ways only you can understand. We enter those surgical rooms and go through those tests ALONE, and ALONE we find the courage to come back out, face the future and begin the sometimes long and painful journey toward being as healthy as we can be again. Oh yes…those little snippets you stuck in that journal that day are gonna mean more and more to you as time passes
One last note I would like to add:
Take the time to decorate, paint, collage or otherwise embellish your composition notebook/art journal and give it a name. Something that means something to you personally. It makes that book really “belong” to you, and it becomes a part of you in the process. Whether fancy or plain, it is no longer “just” a notebook. It is your story, and it is just waiting to be told by the only one who truly can – YOU!
Laura Thykeson has been totally immersed in mixed media art for many years. She discovered altered books and art journals about a year ago and have been hooked ever since! She has always loved mixed media art because of the variety and the “no rules” aspect! Laura lives in Granbury, Texas USA.
You can see more of Laura’s work at Taz’s Corner