Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Art of Joy

"It is essential to our well-being, and to our lives, that we play and enjoy life." - Marcia Wieder

"Finding Angela Shelton" - Day Fourteen...

TWO WEEKS! Technically, it's taken me more like three weeks to get here, but HOORAY for me! I've made it two weeks. Today's task is to simply feel joy.

There are a million ways to express joy, a million things to do to help you along when you need to create joy. For example, I love pretending to be an artist. I don't really know why I enjoy it so much. I don't really have any particular skill. I just enjoy making art. I'm sure the critics would be repulsed by my creations... but here's the thing... I don't make my art for others. I make it for myself because it makes me feel good. So when I read that today's task was to feel joy, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to be creative!

After I put my boys on the bus this morning, I knew I had at least four hours to do whatever I wanted to do before my preschooler would be returning home, so I grabbed an old sheet, my paints, brushes, glue, some fabric scraps, and a piece of cardboard I had been saving for my kids (no worries, they'll understand - haha)... I purposefully searched my music cabinet for something I hadn't listened to in ages. I found a really relaxing CD of storm sounds and classical music and popped it into the CD player. I was ready to create!

This might get really boring, but I want you to get inside my head so that you can really understand how I felt joy during the process:

I had no plan, nothing particular in mind. I just picked up a brush and grabbed a color I liked and started painting the cardboard. It was a nice blue color that makes me think of the beach, which is one of my favorite places on earth to be. Thinking of my favorite places to be lead me into memories of being at my grandmother's house when I was a child. I felt safe there, and my grandmother always had things for me to do while I was there. She kept a button box and always had spools of thread on hand, and I don't remember many times when I left that house without some amazingly gaudy button jewelry creation. I keep my own button box now, so I dug into it and glued buttons on the cardboard. As I was rooting through my button box, I remembered that I had a little baggy of stick-on letters in my sewing box. I stuck the word "JOY" on the bottom of the bright, buttony cardboard mess. I noticed that there was a sort of wavy pattern to the buttons I had glued on, which brought my thoughts back to the beach. I mixed about six different kinds of paint together to create something with a muddy color and a sand-ish feel (yay glitter!), and painted over everything. The texture and the color of the paint reminded me of the mud pies I used to make when I was a kid. Making mud pies reminded me of digging in the yard with my mom's old spoons, so I grabbed one of the paintbrushes and started randomly raking it (digging) through the paint, making swirls that revealed that beautiful blue color I had started with... When I sat back to admire my work, I noticed that there was this sort of empty space at the bottom. I couldn't decide what to do to fill it, so I just sat back and thought about the joy journey. One of my favorite things about the journey is the list of affirmations I wrote on day three. I realized that if I stuck a couple of clothespins in the empty space, I could write those affirmations on index cards and attach them to the artwork. Clothespins have a special place in my heart too because I used to love helping my mom hang the laundry out on the line in the summertime. I left the clothespins alone, simply because I like them just they way they are. As my creation dried, I wrote my affirmations on blue index cards. Then I cleaned up my mess (with a smile on my face).

You see, I am one of those people you hear about who has repressed memories. Sometimes, I mourn the loss of the childhood I don't remember. But today, while allowing myself to just flow through the creative process and allowing myself to feel joy, I recovered some great memories. That's a major breakthrough for me. I reminisced the entire time I was making my artsy mess, and it was wonderful! Now it's hanging in my bathroom, right next to the mirror. My "art" may look like trash to someone else, but when I see it I will think of hanging clothes in the warm summer sunshine with my mother, making button necklaces at the dining room table with my grandmother, and walking on the sandy beach with my beautiful big sister. When I see it I will be reminded that I have lived through good times as well as bad. I will be reminded that there is beauty in my life, and that it's always been there. I just might have to dig a little deeper than some people do in order to find it.

Joy... it's a beautiful thing! I hope you feel it today.


Lori said...

This is one of my favorites! I love painting and being creative too. I also love things that remind me of the good memories. Your painting IS a work of art, Megan. You were not pretending. That's what art is, evoking connections and emotions, expressing ideas. And the whole way you put it together is so fun and creative in itself. Then there's the final product, really really beautiful. I can see the beach and the clothesline and the button jewelry of which you speak. I can feel the joy. Thanks for bringing me along on your childhood romp! :)

Meggs said...

Thanks, Lori! I'm glad you liked it. My husband LOVES the piece. I was actually really surprised by that (I can read him like a book and it was genuine! Ha!) Today was a fun day. I need to do this kinda stuff more often! =)

Living la Vida Fearless said...

Megg, I am so happy to have read this. I too suggest to clients that they do just this very thing. So often they get attached to their work being "beautiful" and that misses the point. It's about the flow, the joy, the creative juices flowing. You've said it perfectly and, fyi, I LOVE the collage. Made me smile. Living la vida fearless, Jan

Meggs said...

Feel free to point them to my blog, Jan. Thanks so much for your feedback. You are awesome! =)

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