While I am still trying to digest the many things I am learning from Mary Beth’s week in the Mixed Media Journaling course, we just wrapped up Seth’s week.

Seth’s approach is so great: just start without much of an idea where it’ll go and let it happen. It’s kind of my approach to drawing too: I feel the urge to draw, open my sketchbook, look around, and something will strike me as interesting. That makes me choose which pen I’ll use, and from there on, I’ll make the first mark and will see where the drawing leads me. The element of surprise when making (any kind of) art is what makes it so exciting.

I waited to do my homework until yesterday. With good reason: I invited my mother-in-law Esther to take the Mixed Media Journaling course, because I was sure she would absolutely love it.

Esther is LOVING the course, as I expected, and is challenging herself to work more abstract and without too much planning ahead. She does a lot of collage and painting, her art is full of texture and color (here on the right you can see what she did last week for the homework). When she talks about her art, she waves away the word “art,” and will say: “I just enjoy doing it so much.”

And that’s exactly what it’s all about. So inspiring. While she doesn’t consider her pieces as “art,” she does hang some of her paintings on the wall in the living room. Then after a few weeks or months sometimes she will take a painting off the wall and work on it some more, because that bit of yellow bothered her, or she wants to add an extra shape or element, or cover up a bit that made it feel out of balance. You’re never done, really.

Because we are both enjoying the class so much, I invited myself over for a homework date this week. Even though I held off doing my homework, I’ve been thinking about it all week. I learned quite a bit from last week’s homework session: I had no idea what I was doing and then tried to include too many things on the page I filled. I do think that for mixed media journaling, I need to let go of my “Less is more” mindset, but I am not convinced that ‘More is More’ is the right direction either. Well, it’s not black or white, there’s a whole grey area - which actually isn’t grey but very colorful indeed, in this case!

Before heading out to visit Esther, I collected some art materials, some of the elements I had been making in Mary Beth’s week, a handful of brushes, some acrylic ink, letter templates and alphabet stamps, assuming that Esther would have the essentials like paint and glue. Of course, I didn’t even use half of it! Esther had so much good stuff I could use.

When I came in, I felt like a kid entering a candy store. She had prepared the dining room table for our play date, and neatly organized stamps, textured paper, crayons, brushes, paint sponges and more. All her life, Esther has been an artist, she used to be a creative therapist in a hospital for many years, so she has been making stamps, carving blocks, collecting textured paper and other materials for all those years.

Having such a huge archive of things to use, feels very rich and gives so many ideas! But especially working side by side with Esther was very inspiring. I felt like her artistic vibe rubbed off on me a bit, and I got ideas that I would not have gotten when I would have been working on my own. She also helped me decide during the process: especially when to stop. I worked quite fast and felt like I wasn’t done making just yet, even though my page felt done. So I stopped and then just started another page.

We chatted during the process, but there were also long stretches of focused silence, which was so lovely. We forgot about the time and we were each in our own process, but sharing the bubble we were in.

Part of the process with Mixed media journaling is being in your own bubble - and it’s a lovely colorful, creative bubble. And then to see everyone sharing their art made in their own bubble in the SkoolYard is very inspiring. We’re doing this together, everyone in their own way, and Sketchbook Skool is the big bubble with many bubbles inside, that melt together in the online community.

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