How My Past Has Shaped Me

It’s week three in my art journal workshops and I’m already behind! It’s not bothering me much though. These workshops are free, I’m not being graded and no one minds if you post late. I think my favourite one so far is the 2015 Art Project. The theme of this workshop is stress management and positive change. It’s the smallest of the three workshops, so everyone was able to introduce themselves. It seems like they all have their own set of struggles, myself included. For some reason this makes me feel at home and unafraid to share my work. I feel like they’ll be kind and give me constructive criticism without being mean about it. I’m a little nervous about posting my pages to the other groups.

Week one was all about how your past has shaped you as a person. We were to think of some of the main experiences in our lives (good and bad) and come up with positive qualities we gained from those experiences. It was pretty easy for the good experiences, but it was hard to focus on the good that came out of a bad situation. I think this is a really good exercise. My bad experiences weren’t as traumatic as some, but it still gave me perspective. It made me feel like there was a reason I went through the bad stuff rather than just needlessly suffering. Anyway, back to what I was saying, the positive qualities were then used to cover your body in a self-portrait journal page. I did a two page spread because I wanted to include the initial exercise in the journal.

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On the right side I scrawled my life experiences and the left is my “self-portrait”. It really looks nothing like me, lol. Well, maybe the hair is pretty close. Here is a close up of the left side.

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The experiences I chose were

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes) – If you want to know about that experience, read this post. The positives I pulled out of this one were self-aware, unique and more confident.
  • Living with depression – This one was hard to work with, but I came up with modest, empathetic and grateful.
  • Meeting Hubby – We had a rocky beginning which made me more honest (blunt, haha) and communicative. Once I figured out how to just talk to him, we were great! His influence has also made me more adventurous.
  • Adrian – He is a former boss who was interesting to work with. I think emotionally and verbally abusive about sums it up. I haven’t written much about him on the blog. Maybe I will some day. I hear that he is mellowing out in his old age. Anyway, from working with him, I got self-sufficient, placid and determined. He used to feed off of your reaction. If your voice cracked while he way yelling at you or you turned red when he singled you out, it just made thing worse. I learned to speak to him with confidence, a blank face and no reaction despite what he was throwing at me. Eventually he got bored with me and saved his drama for the people who reacted to him.
  • University degrees – I think this one is obvious. Disciplined, hard-working and determined.
  • Bullying – It was hard to put a positive spin on this one too. I came up with self-aware, kind and sociable. Sociable sounds odd right? The person doing the bullying was actually a friend, or I thought she was at least. This forced me to find a new circle of friends, so I was being more sociable and I met some great people.
  • Moving to Montreal – I came up with adaptable, versatile and loyal. I really learned who my friends were when I moved.

And here is a close up of the right side.

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I started with a layer of white gesso. I should have done two coats because I definitely missed spots with just one. Watercolour pencil crayons were used for the background and the figure. The figure is also outlined with gel pens to cover up the pencil lines. The clocks are from a stamp I found at Walmart. The letters and swirls are stencils, also from Walmart. I’m not very good with stencils. They tend to come out kind of mucky. I think my paint brush is too wet? The writing is in Sharpie paint pen, the water-based kind and Uni-Ball Signo pens. I like the Uni-Ball Signo pens because they write well on top of paint without getting destroyed. My Sharpies tend to stop working if I use them on paint. What I don’t like is that the Uni-Ball pens bleed when anything wet gets near them. Does anyone know of a pen that writes on paint, but doesn’t bleed if you want to go over it? I tried the Uni-Ball jet stream pens, but they don’t write on paint very well.

If you think you want to give it a try, you can find instructions on the 2015 Art Project Blog. So far I’ve found the exercises and interpreting them into art very therapeutic. I’m learning more about myself. Also, don’t worry about skills and supplies, you work with what you have!

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