"Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas." ~Amy Carmichael

" Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas.”

~ Amy Carmichael

Monday, July 21, 2014

Praying in Mystery and Search for Meaning

Sometimes I just don't know. That can apply to just about any area of life. I feel the uncertainty. I feel small, inadequate. I seek, but clear answers seem illusive. The more I know, the less I know. Paradox. Mystery. Search for meaning. 

The Circle Prayer is written in a spiral form here on the left page. 
At times like that I often turn to what Celtic Christianity calls Caim praying, a kind of prayer to pray when it's hard to focus  and praying is hard, when life, or death overwhelm. I usually start by envisioning God encircling me with His love and protection. 

"Circle (name), Lord.
Keep (comfort) near
and (discouragement) afar.
Keep (peace) within
and (turmoil) out. Amen."

- from Celtic Daily Prayer

I was introduced to this kind of prayer in the book, Celtic Daily Prayer. It is a collection of Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community, and has been an encouraging reference for me.  It has such a simple format and is adaptable to anyone and any need, by filling in the parenthesis with appropriate words and names.

As I meditated and prayed, feeling more peaceful, I doodled a mandala beginning with tracing around the center circle of a CD. I used a CD for a pattern for the inside pages of this journal.

"The compassing of God be upon you,
the compassing of God, of the God of life.

The compassing of Christ be upon you,
the compassing of the Christ of love.

The compassing of the Spirit be upon you,
the compassing of the Spirit of grace.

The compassing of the Sacred Three be upon you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three protect you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three preserve you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Journaling on Fire - The Rest of the Journal

Here's the rest of the Fire Journal:

"Fiery Spirit, source of all creative power,
kindle your Holy Spark within me,
Breathe into me your Sacred Passion,
Fill me with your Flame until I have become fire,
Offering warmth and light to the world."
- Christine Valters Paintner

"The whole world is charged with the glory of God,
and I fee fire and music under my feet."
- Thomas Merton

"Life is not the wick or the candle -
it is the burning."

"Holy Spirit,
Living Flame,
ignite my heart with Your passion -
burning brightly-
flowing freely -
in and through my spirit,
out into the world - 
ablaze with the 
fire of Your Love."
-Valerie Sjodin

Recommended reading for this type of journaling:
 Water, Wind, Earth & Fire, The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements 
by Christine Valters Paintner
You can check out Christine's website and books at: http://abbeyofthearts.com/

The Holy Bible
"It is You who light my lamp, the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness."
- Psalm 18:28

Friday, July 11, 2014

More Art Journaling on Fire

Here's a closer peek inside my fire journal. 

"Spirit of Refining Fire,
Help me to release what no longer serves me 
To make room for your light to fill me."
- Christine Valters Paintner

"Illumine my eyes with Your Light, O God"
- Zechariah 2:10

"Purify my heart with the fire of Your love O God."
- Valerie Sjodin

"Spirit of Fire,
You revealed yourself through the burning bush
And the fiery courage of Pentecost."
Christine Valters Paintner

Note: the quotes by Christine Valters Paintner
and the quote by Mechtild of Magdeburgare from her book, 
 Water, Wind, Earth & Fire, The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements 
You can check out Christine's website and books at: http://abbeyofthearts.com/

"See and taste the Flowing
Godhead through your being;
Feel the Holy Spirit
Moving and compelling
You within the Flowing
Fire and Light of God."
- Mechtild of Magdeburg

"For I declares the LORD, will be a wall of fire around her,
and I will be the glory in her midst."
- Zechariah 2:5 NASB

Recommended reading for this type of journaling:
 Water, Wind, Earth & Fire, The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements 
by Christine Valters Paintner
You can check out Christine's website and books at: http://abbeyofthearts.com/

The Holy Bible
"It is You who light my lamp, the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness."
- Psalm 18:28

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Art Journaling on Fire!

Fire, flame, Light, Spirit, illumination, passion... are words that are highlighted for me this season. So my usual response is to ask God about it, research, read, write, and make a journal...

close-up detail of the cover
The qualities of light and fire have repeatedly come to me through other people, things I've read etc. I revisited a book I read last year Water, Wind, Earth & Fire, The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements by Christine Valters Paintner. It is one of those books I keep close at hand to refer to. You can check out Christine's website and books at: http://abbeyofthearts.com/

Companion journals: Wind/Flow & Fire/Illumine
Many of the quotes used in these two journals are from her book, along with some from the Bible, one from Oswald Chambers (In the Flow/Wind journal), and then some I wrote reflecting my own spiritual journey. About a year ago I had made a little art journal as I studied about wind and the metaphor of the Holy Spirit with a prayer/art group.

It's so great to have friends that are kindred spirits. The kind that don't think you are totally off base by asking questions like: If you were an element, what would you be? or What color do you feel like today? That's one real benefit to having relationships with like minded creatives. Life's never dull, but full of possibilities with a new view. 

Wind & Fire Journals standing side by side
Here are the backs of the journals standing together
For the swirls, I used a large swirl stencil by craftersworkshop.com sprayed with acrylic paint spray. Then as you can see above I left a small portion with the white background showing and doodled with pen and acrylic paint in the rest of the swirls.

Detail of doodled swirls of Fire Journal cover
Here are the links to the Flow/Wind/Spirit Journal in chronological order in case you'd like to check it out.
1. http://visualblessings.blogspot.com/2013/07/flowing-with-spirit-weekend-journal.html
2. http://visualblessings.blogspot.com/2013/07/flowing-with-spirit-part-2.html
3. http://visualblessings.blogspot.com/2013/07/flowing-with-spirit-part-3.html

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Peek Inside Summer Studio Workshops

2-day Art Journaling Workshop in my studio  - photograph by Kim Baschak - 
May and June each brought a workshop a workshop in my studio: Lettering & Layout 1-day workshop in May and 2-day Art Journaling class in June. They were full of great fun and learning. There is nothing like the inspiration of being in-person, making art and sharing with other creative kindred spirits. For the 2-day workshop we were fortunate to have my friend and photographer Kim Baschak come by for a few hours to photograph.

Demonstrating Doodling  in the Journal - 2-Day Art Journaling - photograph by Kim Baschak
Gail in thoughtful consideration
photo - Kim Baschak
Like every person, each class has its dynamic or personality.
It's an odd thing, but I've found it to be pretty consistent.
Our 2-day Art Journaling group was VERY enthusiastic
about making the journals.

The unity, encouragement flowed freely and people hardly wanted to leave the work table to eat. It certainly had a retreat kind of atmosphere. After the first day, which is quite full of messy, painty play, each one took their journal home and worked on it. The next morning the buzz of excitement was palpable.
We all jumped in.

I felt so blessed by these amazing and creative women!

A particular highlight for me was having people come who I have only met online and have taken some of my online classes. One person came from Florida, and met her friend from California here. A new friend I had met at a The Creative Church Conference came with her friend from Idaho.

Women who live closer, but whom I've only met online or briefly also came. Blessing on blessing. Kindred Spirits.

Betsy and Sanny - our farthest travelers, full of great show-n-tell ideas. They send journals back and forth to each other
photograph by Kim Baschak
Idaho Art Friends Monica and Melisa
photograph by Kim Baschak
Annie & Michelle - new Art Friends and neighbors. You'll see them in both workshops :)
photograph by Kim Baschak
Beautiful Courageous Women: Kerry, Gail, Melisa, Mary, Sarah Annie, Sanny, Betsy, Michelle, Monica
photograph by Kim Baschak

The last day of May was the Lettering & Layout Workshop. It was a lovely day meeting connecting with my peeps and meeting new friends in the Lettering & Layout class in my studio! There was an instant bond with one another and I smiled as everyone gathered around the fire pit for lunch before heading back into the studio for more creativity! Cheers to you Beautiful Ladies! 

Lettering & Layout 1-Day Workshop -
 front row: Gwen, Elizabeth, Michelle,  Monica, Kalika, Kim, Kimberly, Meeta
Back Row: Annie, Suzanne, Barb, Sandy, Jennifer
(I'm taking the photograph here)
For workshop information and to see artwork visit website: www.valeriesjodin.com

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Creative Church Conference - July 25-27, 2014!!!

This conference, last offered in 2012, was one of the most meaningful and practical Art and Faith conference I've ever attended. I'm really excited to go again this year!  One of my favorite parts from last time was connecting with other artists, discovering common ground, sharing inspiration, and building friendships. The speakers were excellent, relevant, and approachable!

This year, I get to teach a workshop on Hearing God through Visual Journaling. In it I will share a bit about my journey and facilitate a visual prayer process. 

Check it out:

    Creative Church Conference ~ Boise, Idaho USA

    A historic movement is underway.
    A movement that will connect artists with the ultimate Creator,
    Awaken creativity in the average person,
    Invigorate the local church,
    And convey God's love to the world in authentic and creative ways.
    It’s a New Renaissance, and you have a part in it.
    Join us for the Creative Church Conference 2014!

  The Conference offers inspiration and ideas for churches and artists at all levels;

  whether you have a flourishing arts ministry, or are an individual artist looking to spark the arts in your church.

  This year’s theme is “The Artist in Community”
  Artists and creative teams will discover inspiration for projects, community-building, character and creative development, and more. You’ll find your creative “tribe.” Pastors and leaders will discover how to release the godly creativity inherent in everyone in your congregation, how to start and maintain arts ministry, how to disciple and lead artists,  and how to transform your church into a place that shares God’s love in uniquely creative  ways.

  Speakers include:

Dr. Colin Harbinson (Stoneworks Global Art Initiative)
J. Scott McElroy (Finding Divine Inspiration, New Renaissance Arts Movement)
Jessie Nilo (VineArts Boise)
Jason Leith (Artist, Director of Arts, Saddleback Church ), 
Manuel Luz  (Imagine That, Worship Director at Oak Hills Church)
Dave Blakeslee (Potter and Pastor)
Bryn Gillette (Artist)
Andrew Nemr (Dance Artist)
Cecilia Brie Tschoepe (Actor, Writer, Director)
and many more. 

   The three day conference is $75.

  Go to http://thenewr.com/  for morinformation.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Doodle-Photo-Painted Papers Travel Journal

I've come home from Spain with a bunch of photos and an art journal I started in Granada, but didn't get very far on. The journal base, which I made before the trip is a modified accordion book style.

Thinking it through, I decided to combine a photo book and art journal of the adventure.  Here is the cover, standing, with some of the pages and the back cover showing:

The cut shapes on the top of the journal were inspired by the layers of civilization and buildings of Granada.  I cut and strips of painted tissue paper to put on the top building shape portion of the pages. Then I glued the strips on using a brush with matte medium. When dry, I cut around the tissue paper to fit the edges of the shapes. I like how it abstractly shows the layers of buildings in a similar way that I experienced them while in Granada.

My challenge was to mix photos from my trip, doodling, journaling text, cut edges and painted papers in a cohesive way. I also wanted the book to flow like my journey, up and down little alley ways and hills. I took many pictures of doorways and passages as well as patterns that inspired the arches and doodles.

The Arches and Patterns of the Alhambra are incredible! So here I went all out and echoed their shapes, cutting photos to fit, and even a window...

When I got home, I sized my photos in Photoshop and printed them with a laser printer (Epson) on matte paper. I then cut the photos into shapes and glued them on with "Yes" paste using an old plastic membership card. I like "Yes" glue better for photos than matte medium because it really sticks. The trick is getting it so there is not any glue left on the front surface because it is really sticky, even when dry.

The center, shown here was problematic for me because I first glued down the green tissue paper and then regretted it. It was a challenge to connect that part with the rest of the journal. I decided to  have those pages focus on the garden and journaling which I did a lot of in the garden, plus whimsical arches and ribbons. 

Choosing the photos and deciding what to include in the journal is sometimes overwhelming. What I asked myself was, "What are the highlights I want to remember or tell someone else about? Does this image or text represent that well?  That is how I decided what to include. 

The Alhambra pattern and architecture of the Nasrid Palaces is quite amazing! During my stay in Granada and on the plane I read Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. Here is a line from his book - a fitting description of the Nasrid Palace:

"Everything here appears calculated to inspire kind and happy feelings,
for everything is delicate and beautiful."

This is a photo of the back cover of the journal, opened to show some of the other layers.
 A happy recording of the memorable experience...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Art and Friendship in the Granada Garden

Life's important moments is still all about relationships. My fondest memories of my time in Granada are the interaction with people, especially in the garden of the place we stayed. Isabela and Don live in the big house and we rented the little casita. The garden was a place to relax, eat, read, pray, and meet, talking about the stuff of life.

What an amazing thing it is to meet a kindred spirit across the world. It didn't take long to find out that Isabela and I had much in common - our art and cosmic themes, personalities, interests, even our shoulder injuries. There was an atmosphere of inspiration growing. I got to make her a visual blessing and she made me a lovely altered art piece and a painted paper. The triangle above is part of that. Ellen is a gatherer and she worked her magic getting us all together. We found ourselves laughing, sharing, praying one morning in our pajamas. Isabela shared that she is happily painting again in her studio, after a time of not creating. A highlight for sure! Woohoo! For me, this is what really matters!!! 
Isabela & I with at garden table

Ellen & Emma enjoying the garden
Garden bird bath
If you would like to check out Isabela and Don's rental here is the link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/154921. Isabela also has a website: http://faso.com/artists/isabelasuarez.html