Happiness Happens {Guest Post}

I first met Kel Rohlf five years ago when we both began blogging. We are each word collectors–she wrote a little book about hers called “Defining Moments”–and she is a crazy-gifted art journaler. Her blog is called soulPantry–“a place to feed on words, ideas and prompts.”

One week after I read a prompt she posted, I made a collage with a Groucho Marx cut out in the middle of it….no kidding. After that experience, I began making art collages as a way to express myself in a more creative way with pictures, words, design and so on. When my friend Kimberlee and I led our two Writer’s Retreats, the highlight of the experience was the craft and fellowship time at the end. There is something therapeutic and joy-giving about working with your hands.

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If you are a writer but think you’re “not creative”, Kel is here to change your mind. 

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I have found that to take the risk of making something, whether planned or impromptu, takes courage and strength. Even as I am writing this guest post today for Three Way Light, for you, for Jody and even for myself, I feel a bit frightened. What if I don’t meet the expectations? What if I don’t make sense? What if people think maintaining a visual/art/creative journal practice is unnecessary?

I allow the questions to surface, and I wrestle with them. Then I think about all the times writing has helped me process such questions. And how when I don’t know what I want or even what to write, images and words from a magazine widen my perspective or reveal something I hadn’t even known I wanted to express yet.

In the collage below, I was playing with color and layers. I picked up images from a pile of leftover magazine pages from another project. Random images arranged on the page made me happy. I didn’t fret over their significance or composition, I just glued them in a pleasant array.

Often after I make a collage, I might notice a theme or an encouraging thought. But this time, I just felt happy. So I picked up a Sharpie marker and wrote: “Happiness Happens.”

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When I first started practicing this type of random art making in my journal, I didn’t always have much confidence about how it was going to work out. Almost every book I’ve bought or checked out of the library on the topic addresses the issue of the fears that keep a person from creatively expressing themselves.

In Art Journal Freedom by Dina Wakley, she cheers the timid creator to face her fears, “By facing and acknowledging your fears, you can garner the courage to press on despite them. Practice and devotion will help you conquer those fears and create with courage…” Courage and practice. Those two companions have led me into a wonderful world of creative expression.

When I think about what attracts me to this practice, I notice how choosing images and words, then arranging and gluing them on the page slows me down. It gives me a focal point, when there are so many ideas swirling around in my head. The collage work gives my mind a place to rest, not a mindless activity, but a place where my mind is at ease.

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The images and the words invite me to play and disengage the analytical part of my mind, but not really. The analysis is still happening, but it happens along an intuitive path. In my everyday living, intuition is making associations and storing them. When I engage with the seemingly random images and words that I’ve collected from a magazine, then intuition pieces the associations together granting me clarity in a moment of creative “play.”

You might read this and be thinking, “But I’m not an artist. I don’t want to go buy a bunch of supplies that will gather dust in my basement.” Take courage, if this practice interests you at all, here’s what you need to get started: a magazine, a glue stick and a blank piece of paper. If you really like doing this, then buy a composition or spiral notebook for your work. (Scissors are optional because you can use your hands to tear images and words down to size.) If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, I may have figured out why with my own experience.

I used to get stuck because I pressured myself to achieve a certain, perfected outcome. When I gave up these unrealistic expectations, I had more creative freedom.

  • Keep it simple.
  • Enjoy the process.
  • Yield to God.

Yielding to God, trusting that Creator God uses these simple exercises of cutting, arranging and pasting paper to page to open my heart and mind to His love and purposes has enhanced my devotional life.

One autumn on my blog I contemplated the writings of Brother Lawrence along with creating a daily collage, and it was one of the richest memories of my relationship with God. Just as Brother Lawrence offered his mundane tasks to God as devotion, I offered my little collages to him as a visual type of prayer.

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This practice can become devotional or it can be recreational, either way you can tap into a part of who you are and find a fun avenue to express yourself. I hope you will try collage making to see what happens.

Maybe at first, it seems too daunting to find a message through this creative practice. Instead, just have fun putting images in a notebook to look at, or possibly use as a writing prompt. Maybe a quote will catch your attention and you could make a simple collage like this one.

I dare you to try something creative in your life this week! Have fun! Kel

P.S. If you are interested in creative expression prompts, check out this series at my blog: 27 Weeks of Being YOU! To see my daily collages, find me on Instagram: kelrohlf.

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If you tried your hand at this creative process during the week, please let us know! Maybe with a photo? Thanks~Kel and Jody

4 thoughts on “Happiness Happens {Guest Post}

  1. At first I was intrigued by your creative-journaling ideas, Kel. But I became downright inspired when I read: “Yielding to God, trusting that Creator God uses these simple exercises of cutting, arranging and pasting paper to page to open my heart and mind to His love and purposes has enhanced my devotional life.” Who doesn’t want that?! Finally, you related your experience while creating the Brother Lawrence collages and I became HIGHLY inspired. I have GOT to try this. The privilege to craft something as a visual type of prayer gives me spiritual goosebumps. Thank you, Kel and Jody! P.S. I just pulled a magazine out of the recycling basket. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Natalie, even if you do this weekly it is such a window into creativity and empowerment. I started a visual journal at Kel’s prompting and thought I’d do it Monday Wednesday and Friday. Well, I’ve done one collage…….and working on another.
    The outlet would be perfect, I think for your girls. (and you!)

    Like

  3. A daily collage. Love that! Sometimes I gather these ideas of things I’d like to do someday and include them in our school day. That way, my girls get early exposure, I get to not put them off until later, and we all get to do them together…

    Like

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