What I Discovered ‘Playing’ with Art

A very artistic writing friend of mine does a lot of “art journaling”—collage interpretations that flesh out visually what’s on her heart or in her head.  I’ve always been a little cautious about trying my hand at this endeavor, as I consider myself ‘not artistic.’
Well, fiddlesticks to that, I say.  I discovered when you sit yourself down with colored scraps of paper, old magazines and torn out poems or lines from your favorite discarded books that all sorts of ‘artistic’ things will materialize.
The recent challenge she posted echoed her series of the five ‘W’ questions of journalism. Part of the ‘what’ was to make a ‘tree of life’ collage.  I was intrigued, as I was unsure of what exactly my ‘tree of life’ would look like—just what did I consider to be life-giving to me? What particular pieces of the world and its wonders would I consider in my tree?
It’s funny how, when you sit with the flotsam and jetsam of cast-off materials, what amazing thing happen—you find words and pictures that speak to you in a way that nothing else can.
Not only speak, but call to you.
I have no idea why the Groucho Marx glasses figure so prominently in my finished piece—I hesitated to put them front and center—“what would people think?” They hardly represent the ‘spiritual’ side of me….

Other details sum up the ‘me’ of who I am much better: 
  • California oranges-I’m a Southern California girl from Orange County—you can take the girl out of Orange County but…well, you know
  • The Italian coffeemaker—top right corner—and cup of coffee-just below Groucho’s mustache—are the fuel of my days. Can’t live in Seattle without it. Can’t start the day without it.
  • Then there’s the obvious:
  • “A Good Book”—can never have too many
  • “Sowing Faith”—always, prayerfully
  • A bird singing—(in Groucho’s invisible ear)—the birds in my world bring me great joy.
  • “POETRY”–a whisper of a word (hard to see in the photo–just near the bird). Poems send their soft sounds into my world whenever I can stop and savor them.
  • “Journal”—yes, please. Every day. For over 20 years. Journal.
The Groucho drawing kept calling me and I finally gave in. “Life is just way too serious. The heart of me wants to be joyful and playful.” So bushy eyebrows and funny round glasses–smack dab in the middle.
But the phrase I was drawn to which surprised me the most was, “It might be…life.”
This season I’m in has been proving a challenge in other ways, art notwithstanding.
I’ve been dealing with back issues which have led to muscle weakness and tightness in my legs for over 2 months. The condition has colored my days, no doubt about it. 
I’ve spent some time talking to Jesus about it. Actually, no. I’ve spent a lot of time WORRYING about it—how long will it last?  I wish I could sleep without this pain. What will the doctors do?  I won’t be able to work in the garden and pull weeds (absolute death knell, I tell you—see “home and garden” above).
And on it goes—I truly have been worrying my prayers, beseeching God for a resolution. However, there’s nothing forthcoming as of yet, until I make another visit for an MRI then back to the doctor for A Plan. Which all takes time, meaning I have to wait and try not to conjure up the future.
So– I take one day at a time—trite but oh-so-true advice—and live in the moments.
The ones where I can have a cup of coffee outside on my deck and hear the birds.
Or water my garden or read a book or sit and journal.
Where I can sit and listen to my Jesus while He sows faith in ME.

The moments which, when put all together, will more than likely reflect the found words right above Groucho’s crazy eyebrows, “It might be life.”
For now it is…
What’s in YOUR tree of life?

Linking with Kelly for the #Small Wonder Linkup 

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21 thoughts on “What I Discovered ‘Playing’ with Art

  1. This is Kel's Ws, right Jody? I saw her comment, but I thought of her immediately when I read your excellent piece. I was really new to collage until my dad died in 2007. I went to one of Kay Adams's Journal retreats w/ the Center for Journal Therapy, and really resisted collage, especially with daddy's recent loss. But God used it in an amazingly healng way. Now I love it for the release and metaphoric lessons I learn. Kel and I are collaborating on a playshop next month called A Time to Play. May we use your piece as a handout?

  2. Michele, sounds like you have great hand/eye coordination! Thanks for reading and stopping by. Bless you.

  3. What fun! I enjoy cutting paper into shapes, and actually find that it's easier for me to reproduce a shape with scissors than with a pencil. Great post!

  4. Nancy, coming from an artist, that means a lot to me. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement.

  5. first off, i must tell you what the definition of art is to me. it is what a person does. it is them. it is their art, their self, being. sharing. creating. life.

    everyone does art.

    and i like how you spoke about your collage.

  6. Oh, it would be fun to some 'found art' projects together some day….eh? Yes, answers are forthcoming, now it's just patience and grace one day at a time. Thanks for you kind words, Kelly.

  7. I recently cut some photos for a collage too, it's such good play, even looking for things to cut out and seeing what you're drawn to. I'm sorry your pain continues – I hope you're able to follow through with the Drs and find answers AND relief.

  8. Delighted to know that the promise of Isaiah 40:11 is part of your experience right now. Oh how I hope you get an answer and RELIEF soon!

  9. Nancy, I had completely forgotten about that video–funny. Maybe that's why I subconsciously chose that Groucho photo–it represents a light-hearted, pain-free frame of mind.
    God is carrying me and I praise Him for that. Thanks for your prayers.

  10. Lisa, thank you for the compliment on the collage–it was tres fun to do and very therapeutic.
    I appreciate your comments re: my current body betrayal issues–getting older isn't for sissies 🙂 Thanks for your prayers.

  11. Weeks of pain, uncertainty, waiting, and missed sleep are enough to tarnish anyone's joy! I am SO sorry, Jody. With Carol Wilson above I am praying for a miracle (!) and God's peace to carry you through. I had to smile at the Groucho glasses and mustache in the middle of your collage. It reminded me of a video you made (a couple of years ago?), reading a children's story while wearing a plastic version of Groucho's famous face-appendages. Maybe that's why you put that pic front and center: a celebration of the Jody that can be carefree, light-hearted, and funny, a Jody you'll know again, once your back-issue is solved!

  12. I love your art, Jody. 🙂 You are definitely creative. I'm so sorry for your pain. I can relate to this very much: “I’ve spent a lot of time WORRYING about it—how long will it last? I wish I could sleep without this pain. What will the doctors do?” Praying that you will find answers that will lead to RELIEF. I have to ask myself this: If my pain stayed exactly as it is now, could I take for one second? All I ever have to live through is one second.

  13. Carol, the found art process is indeed therapeutic, amen. I appreciate your prayers very much…this is all new to me and I don't like being disabled. God's grace is carrying me but I do so covet your prayers. Thank you.

  14. What a delight to read how this experience spoke to you. Thank you for giving us a glimpse. In the post-abortion groups and other healing groups that I have facilitated we have participants create collages at the beginning to portray how their experience has affected them. Many grumble about doing it, but like you were surprised at how words & photos begin to jump out. Then they create another one at end end (several weeks later). The differences between the first & second are striking. The first is usually dark & depressing(colors, words). The second is light & hopeful. It's so awesome to see how God has worked via the collages.

    Jodi, I will keep praying for you. I hate that you are suffering and that the cause has yet to be revealed. I am going to pray for miracles and for abundant peace.

  15. Yes, I know you can relate–on more than one level. I can see in YOUR beautiful artistic expressions your work gives voice to layers in our lives we didn't know were there….

  16. Kelly, thank you for reading. You are correct–art journaling is a way of discovery, for sure. Thanks for your prayers and for reading.

  17. Jody- So love how this journey into collage spoke on so many levels about and onto your life! I love how humor took front and center …it's funny how the Creatorvuses all things created to “speak” and “call” to us! Thanks for responding to the challenge!

  18. Bravo! I love Groucho right dab in the middle! How fun! It might be life…love art journaling. Kel shares a wealth of prompts and ideas that Co tinually inspire me. I am praying for you to find so e relief from the pain. Keep enjoying that life in the meantime!

  19. It might be… life.
    Ahhhh so simple and so… well… there. I can relate.
    I've only recently ventured into art journaling and I love it, too. 🙂 It helps give voice to different layers.

    Great post!

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