Creating Art that is Encouraging to Myself and Others

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth 😉 I know it’s a long time between my posts, but that’s just how it goes with me. I have a goal to post more often, but I obviously still have a lot of work to achieve it!

That said, I want to share a bit today about using art to encourage. My last post focused on expressing depression through art and how it can help others to understand themselves and/or others better. It’s good for me to get out difficult emotions and challenging times through art. On the other hand, it’s important to me to also be encouraging to myself and others during difficult times. I didn’t necessarily start out these journal pages to be encouraging….I actually started out with an art challenge for myself (more in a minute). But, about halfway through I made the decision that that is what I wanted it to be.

About the art challenge: I save many of the paper towels that sit under my water jar and get all paint-filled and inky by wiping my brush on them. Some of them are just so cool and colorful that I couldn’t throw them away. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but later I was very glad I had saved them because I learned about incorporating “under papers” (the papers we use under what we are creating to save things from the overflow of paint and to practice on before adding to the pages) into mixed media art. I learned this through my participating in the Documented Life Project from Art to the 5th Academy. It’s a combination planner/art journal/journal with monthly themes, weekly art challenges and journal prompts….in case I haven’t shared about it before. Moving on, I had some paper towels that I had cleaned my liquid watercolor paint filled brush on. I unfurled the wadded up paper towels and right away I thought part of it looked like flowers (or almost flowers).

The paint filled paper towels torn to size and attached to journal pages with gel medium.

The paint filled paper towels torn to size and attached to journal pages with gel medium.

I also added a few strips of paper towel to the bottom of the adjoining page so that both sides would have some texture.

BloomAtNight4Backing up a bit, for you artsy people and those who might be interested, I started the pages by writing sloppily in art pencil all over the pages at a diagonal, covered the pages unevenly with gesso, then added watered down purple acrylic paint. Using the gesso unevenly means that the page will absorb the paint differently depending on whether it’s on the page (deeper color) or the gesso (lighter color with brushstrokes)…this is a look I really love and stumbled upon by accident. The final page preparation was to use a script stamp with deep purple ink in several places. I love this layered look for my background. After all, we humans are full of layers.

Next step was to enhance the paper towel flowers to bring out the “flower-ness” in them. I used a bit more paint for the purple ones, black charcoal pencil, black very fine point marker, white gelli roller pen, and painted and outlined the stems and leaves.


Pages with handwriting, gesso, acrylic paint and ink stamping

Pages with handwriting, gesso, acrylic paint and ink stamping


Beginning the bloom

Beginning the bloom

The paint-y paper towels have blossomed into flowers

The paint-y paper towels have blossomed into flowers


The next thing I thought about was what to do with the rest of the left page. Since my background was dark purple I decided that it would be night time or dark so I decided to show this with a moon and stars. The moon was cut from some of my personal under papers that I had embellished with white charcoal pencil and I outlined it in black charcoal pencil. I painted the stars with a light yellow acrylic paint, outlined in charcoal pencil. At this point I’m getting an inkling of the meaning of the pages having something to do with darkness…the darkness we feel inside us, whether from depression, other mental health issues or from very difficult things life throws at us.

The moon and outline yet

The moon and stars…no outline yet

On to the right page….I knew I wanted to include a “girl” since I’m working on bettering myself at drawing and painting faces. Somehow using a face or person in my art gives it a more personal feel, or at least more relatable. I had my mixed media under paper out and the partial flower doodle I had done in the white charcoal spoke to me as a perfect addition to the pages/theme. This is where I made the decision to make this all about encouragement. The flower doodle would be her hat…she would be blooming just like the flowers, in spite of the fact that it was dark. I drew her face on practice paper and was very happy with it so I drew it on the journal page. Time to paint with acrylics. This is where it went a bit awry. I am still learning, after all. Her eyebrows ended up way too thick, one eye larger than the other (which seems  to be a repeated issue for me?) and the shading a bit questionable. But you know what? I decided it was okay…we are all a work in progress. I added some strips of the under paper for visual interest, did my outlining and called her good.


Just to show the difference between the original drawing and the finished product…..


I love the way she started out!

I love the way she started out!

Final touches were to complete my outlining and add my quote “She knew she could bloom even in the darkness” done in white gelli roller pen. It’s not easy to bloom in the darkness, and we aren’t always able to do this. But this does encourage us to try, to find growth in our difficult times. It also speaks the strength we have to make it through the darkness…for many of us, repeatedly. And tying into all of this is the paper towel flowers, that took some work and some time but they blossomed as well. While not perfect, they are beautiful…like me, like you, like all of us.

Peace to your heart, Sara











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This entry was posted in Art, Art Journals, Depression, Inspiration & Quotes, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mixed Media Art, Therapeutic Art and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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