Saturday, June 11, 2016

LB2016 : Reframing your story

Another lesson from Life Book 2016. This time from Effy - a photo of her original piece appears in this blog post. The lesson was 2 pages - the first included the bones of a story that feels formative to us (for imagery she used a skull and skeletal rib cage), overwritten with our learning and the second an expressive portrait representing the wisdom we bring from that - combined into one piece to show that our current reality includes all the difficult bits of our past. I love art that honours your story and celebrates who you've become.
I feel so blessed that I have always felt loved and supported in my life. Of course life is not always pure bliss, and everyone has experiences that make you grow and learn, but you don't need to have suffered traumatic experiences to create meaningful art. One of my recurring symbols is a butterfly, and I decided I would use that for my imagery. 
First page - I believe that what you need is inside, you just need to find and embrace it. I used 2 layers of gel pens to write stream-of-conscious thoughts about my past and my present - the lessons I've learned and what I have come to believe. I loved how the gold and silver writing overlapped and how they complemented the colours of the caterpillar I chose to collage. And then I decided that what I really wanted was more green, so I added another layer with a green metallic pen with affirmations such as "you are worthy" "you can do what you believe" "you are creative" "you can inspire others" you get the idea ;-) and now I love that page even more!
I'm continuing to work directly in my journal, so I was able to turn the page rather than work on a separate piece for my expressive portrait. Here's my first sketch of her with the page cut away.
I knew she would have butterfly wings and I chose some to collage for this and made small cuts on her shoulders for later application. I found this wonderful book about butterflies in a book sale once. I use it so often 
I cut the butterflies directly out of it. It has matte paper and so many coloured illustrations in varying sizes of so many species I don't think I'll run out of butterflies in my lifetime :-)
I always love using found words, so decided that my heart would be from a dictionary page - I added some extra heart words over the less relevant bits, edged it with staz-on ink, and when I went to glue it down, the words "the entrance" on the page were too perfect to obscure 
Effy often adds gel pen details to her work, and I really enjoy that too, so I went a bit crazy on my background swirls and love them all the more for it. I used my sakura gelly roll metallics - just need to make sure there is contrast with the background for this effect, so used the pink on the purple background.
The girl is supposed to be a reflection of ourselves, so I started her hair with a "brown" layer of burnt sienna which I always forget is quite bronzey - loved that though and went with it adding strands with other paints and metallic pens. My girl's eyes are shut because I think it makes her look completely happy with where she is - thinking of her core and her heart and loving what is at her centre.
When I finished my lovely butterfly girl, I went back to consider what to do on the back of the page. I thought just putting paper on the back was a missed opportunity and after a bit of thought I painted it black like the background of the caterpillar, and then used the same green metallic paint I'd used for the girl's dress to stamp butterflies with a stamp I'd carved myself. I really love the effect, especially when looked at as an open spread
I am very happy with this piece, and am glad my art continues to manifest my word for 2016 : Transform. I wish you could see it in real life - the metallic gel pens make it glow. 
Click on the photo to see it larger, or go HERE to see my Flickr album of all my Life Book 2016 projects. You can see all my posts about Life Book this year HERE.


  1. This is so lovely! I adore what you did with the butterflies! It's true, we don't need to suffer serious traumas to make meaningful art. Life is full of ups and downs and we're lucky to have this form of expression to deal with some of the downs and celebrate the ups!

  2. Amazing and meaningful!! Love it!


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