Sunday, 1 June 2014

Creating Your Personal Mythology

This is the inside view of the art journal that I created as a participant of the workshop.  Blood, violence and happy endings…does that make me a conflicted character?

Each week I try and do something I have never done before.  You could say it is my version of a bucket list but it is more than that too.  I like to leave myself open to opportunity and see where I end up.  Besides, most of the time it is fun and fun is my middle name.  (My second husband actually used to call me "the funster".)

This week that unexpected opportunity was a workshop called "Art Journalling, Creating Your Personal Mythology".  It is a workshop offered by Coastline Consultants, whose mandate is personal wellness, you can reach them at  I had never heard of the workshop or Coastline but I did recognize the name of the facilitator, who was, and still is, Janet Peter.  I am a big Janet Peter fan.
This mermaid lamp base is made by Janet Peter.  Her ladies are so full of character.

Janet works in many media but my favourite is papier maché.  To me there is nothing humbler than papier maché– it is the stuff of childhood projects– but in the right hands it is pure magic.  I particularly like Janet's work with the human body and her messages surrounding positive self image.  I also think she has shown particular flare with narrative.  I look at her sassy women and audacious angels and they start talking to me right away.  I am certain that even her angels wear far too much makeup and stay up late dancing on table tops.  But being angels they never have hangovers.

So, what about the workshop?  The evening I participated there were seven of us from all walks of life; I spoke with a kindergarten school teacher, nurse, tarot card reader, face painter, and homemaker.  Janet showed us her accordion fold book that illustrated her journey with food and friends.  Next she gave us a little tour of the materials on hand: glue, scissors, markets, crayons, fast drying paint, papers of different kinds, etc.  What impressed me is that we were basically set free. 

My life-saving aliens.  Who says all heroes have to be tall dark and handsome?
We were all given our blank accordion books and told to get to work.  There were no real rules about content or how we should do anything.  I am used to working with constraints: what an audience wants to read, word limits, deadlines and editor's mandate just to name a few.  All of a sudden, I did not have any of these things.  And it was liberating!

I took the title of the workshop and combined it with a few other catch phrases like "once upon a time" for my word based content.  "Create your own" went on my cover, inside I wrote "personal mythology" and paired it up with a teary-eyed red head that I snipped from a comic book page from the paper tables.   Yes, I painted the cover and inside cover and I used a stencil.  Inside the book I represented myself with a selection of cut out moths.  (I have been known to say that I would wear leaves for clothing and insects for jewellery given half a chance.) 

Story spoiler: the moths get squashed–but then they get rescued by aliens.  This riveting action is followed by a lyrical interlude represented by sheet music and fish, which I am sure has something to do with my musician son.  My conclusion: Happily ever after (of course).  But instead of "the end"  I put in the word "Now".  When you fold my book and turn it over in your hands it says "Create your own"…"Happily ever after".  And it is tied together with a suede thong for a hint of bondage or durability depending on your interpretation.  (Yes, I am joking.)

 Here's the real message:  Gentle readers, find your opportunity to play today.  Your soul with thank you.

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