Putting A Spin On Morning Pages
Create Art From Your Morning Pages To Enrich Your Journaling Session
I have been writing morning pages, per the teachings of Julia Cameron, off and on, for decades now. There were times in my life when I needed that structure to begin my day. Sometimes I used those pages as a lifeline to keep me grounded and present in my life while fighting hard to reach my future.
I have also had plenty of times in my life, years and years in fact, when I didn’t write a single word. That was due to depression, you know, when I should have been writing more to help heal myself. There were times it was due to stress and anxiety. I would have so much, too much, going on in my mind and in my body, that I would not be able to pick up a pen and write to save my life. If I tried to, nothing would come. I would blank on everything. I felt it all but could express none of it.
During one of those periods, when putting pen to paper wasn’t ideal for me because I was in a different headspace, I discovered a different way to express myself. Anyone can do this. Don’t be afraid to try it. Don’t be intimidated. Come along with me. It’s very simple. You don’t need high quality or ultra-expensive anything for that. This is play. This is relaxation. This is calm.
First of all, you will need some thicker than typical paper. Not computer or typing paper. Not notebook paper. You want something like cardstock, mixed media paper, or watercolor paper. You need a writing instrument. That can be a pen, a pencil, colored pencils, kids' markers, and even kids' crayons can work. You will also need a couple of colors of acrylic paint. For this project, I suggest getting three or four colors of craft paint from your local hobby store, plus a white and a black. You might also want a paintbrush, a key card from a hotel or an expired credit card, or maybe just a rarely used spatula from the kitchen. Your fingers are also perfect for the painting part. You might also like a cup of water to rinse your brush, plus some towels or rags to wipe off your fingers or brushes during and after the process.
Next, since we are playing with paint, you might want to cover your table or desktop with newspaper or something to protect it from splashes. I swear no matter how careful you are, the paint pixies will come and flip paint in your hair, on your clothes, on your table, you name it. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
You can of course light a candle, put on some soothing music, whatever you would normally do when you sit down to journal. If you have a drink, make sure you keep that far away from your rinse water. Use a completely different container for your drink than the container you put your rinse water in. Trust me, mixing those two things up makes for a bad day. Or at least a bad moment or two.
Now, pull out your paper and lay it on your prepared surface. How big do you need the paper to be? That is up to you. It can be small, for example, a four-inch by six-inch sheet, or it can be larger, for example, a nine-inch by twelve-inch sheet. You can also work in a journal, like an art journal or altered book, as well. Read through this entire tutorial before you start so you will have a better idea of what will suit you. And of what you will be doing. I don’t want you to have to run back and forth between your computer and your paper while you are working if we can help it.
Grab your writing utensil and write whatever is on your mind, stream of consciousness. Remember, three pages are NOT required here. Write from the top of the page to the bottom. Flip the page ninety degrees and write over the top of your previous words. If you have more to say, keep flipping the paper around another ninety degrees whenever you come to the bottom of the sheet and keep writing over everything you have already written. Scribble if you want. This is not meant to be legible by any means. Write as big as you want. Or as small. Whatever makes you feel good about what you are doing. Once you have everything out on the page that you need to get out, step back and take a few deep breaths.
Is your paper now nothing but a page of lead from your pencils, or a collection of random slashes of color from your markers or crayons or whatever? Is there not a bit of white space left on your page? Or is there tons of white space left on your page? Either way, it doesn’t matter.
Choose whether you want a base of black or of white. Grab the black paint or the white paint and dribble some over your page. Yes, you could use both. Use your brush, or key card, or spatula, or whatever, and smoosh the paint over the entire page. This is to give yourself a fresh clean, well, cleanish, surface to begin painting on. Remember, you do not have to cover up every single bit of space on the page. You can allow the writing to show through in places if that feels good to you. How thick a layer of paint you put on is up to you. The thicker the layer of paint, the longer it will take to dry.
Let the paint dry for a few minutes. This is a good time to wash your hands, check for those pixie splatters, and get a fresh drink.
How long do you let it dry? Maybe five minutes. Maybe fifteen minutes. It’s not super important. You could also not wait for the paint to dry at all if that makes you happy. Try it and see what happens. There are no rules. I know you’re thinking it because I am. There are no rules, only what makes you happy. Say it again: there are no rules, only what makes you happy.
All right. After you let it dry, or not, pick your first color. From here on out, you can randomly change colors. You can add your black or white at will. Use any tool you have on hand to spread the paint. Also, keep in mind you are not creating a piece of art that is going to hang in some museum. This is something you are doing for yourself, to make you feel good about yourself, your life, a particular situation, whatever. This is all about the process and not in any way about the end product.
Squirt out the paint and move it around. Paint on some squiggles, crosses, or random dots. It doesn’t matter. You could simply move the paintbrush back and forth, color merging into color, like making a rainbow, or creating simple waves.
As you paint, breathe slowly. Nothing drastic. Just calmly take deeper than usual breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. You could count, 1, 2, 3, as you breathe in and 1,2,3 out as you breathe out, if that helps you, or that may distract you from your painting. Do what works best for you.
How long do you paint? It doesn’t matter. Until you are satisfied with your sense of calm. Maybe you paint until you feel you have released or embraced whatever it is you needed to release or embrace.
Once you finish, leave your page to dry completely. Clean up yourself and your space. Go about your day. When your piece is completely dry, which may be in a few hours or maybe overnight, depending upon how thick your paint is, you can stick it in your journal, glue it down, stick it in the back, or paper clip it to the cover, whatever you want. You could drop it in a folder or file and keep it there. Again, it’s yours.
Sometimes when I create this sort of page, once I am done and it has dried out, I will rip it into pieces and use it for collage in other pieces. I have cut pages into tags shapes and made tags out of them. I have made bookmarks out of them. I have made ATCs* using them as the base card material or as bits of collage on the ATC itself. Do what you will, so long as you are happy. You could even just throw it in the trash. This is about the process. It isn’t about the end product in any way.
*ATC stands for Artist Trading Card
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