The Wanderlust 2023 teaching line up is something to be excited about (if we do say so ourselves!) Here's a little more about one of our inspiring teachers, Lauren Bell. Read on to discover her journey to finding joy (and herself) in her art journaling practice...
Hey there! My name is Lauren Bell and I’m a mixed media artist living near Cape Cod in the United States. I have drawn and painted since I was a child but I only really came back to art 7 years ago when my third child was born. I was taking time off from my career as an attorney and wanted to have something for myself again. Endless feedings and diapers will do that to a gal. During those sleepless nights in bed with a baby, I started to look for artists. For inspiration and a place to begin. And I found heaps of it when I found mixed media. I knew nothing about it before this moment but I was immediately, and delightfully, hooked!
The process of learning art is interesting in and of itself. I want to tell you how I learned that to love the process is the most important part (and how art journaling got me there) but I have to start a few years back. Sometimes all the “wrong” ways lead to the right ones. I think in the beginning almost all artists are just trying to figure it out. They want to make things that are pleasing to their eye but it takes time and patience. Artists that are further along are always telling us this aren’t they? I’m not sure any of us listen. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.
True to my “hard way” personality, I went into over-achiever mode. I started exploring mixed media and like all beginners, it wasn’t good. It just isn’t in the beginning. So I took this to mean I needed to sign up for this year long program that was essentially a bootcamp for the fundamentals of art. My drawing improved. My color improved. I learned to use oil and acrylic paints and a ton of mediums. I want to say that this left me ready to burst into the art world with amazing work, but alas no. It did not. I left there more skilled but also more blocked than ever. I know now why that was - but we’ll get to that later. I spent the following year trying to paint but the resistance was too high. No matter how much I tried to start a routine, it never stuck for more than a couple of days.
Then came 2020 and along with it a pandemic. The world stopped, which means work stopped, kids activities stopped, appointments stopped, errands stopped. The silence was overwhelming. With so much time at home, I started to poke around for mixed media artists on Instagram and almost immediately found Everything Art! Even better, Wanderlust 2020 was being opened again for a short time and of course I joined. I was immediately hooked. I am in no way exaggerating when I say it was what was missing from my art practice. I could just play and express myself and explore my supplies. In other words, it led me back to joy!
What happened from there was momentum. Resistance went down, I created more often, and I enjoyed actually creating. Art journaling created a world where I loved making art again. Remember when I said I was blocked after that big art program? It was because I didn’t enjoy my process for creating. I firmly believe most resistance comes back to this one thing. During Wanderlust, there was so much wonderful emphasis on enjoying the sensory experience of the supplies - mushing paint, getting hands dirty, pencils drawn through wet paint! The artists actually talked about what they loved doing. I had never heard anyone do this and it inspired me to do the same. To play and explore in my art journal and to notice and take note of what really got me excited.
"And when I started to enjoy myself? I saw myself on my pages. My art, good or bad, was authentically me."
Before art journaling, I was planning paintings and creating representationally. It was so clearly all wrong for me but I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know how to follow my intuition. Wanderlust encouraged me to just play and explore supplies, and that made me remember why I got into all of this art stuff in the first place - to enjoy myself. And when I started to enjoy myself? I saw myself on my pages. My art, good or bad, was authentically me. Now I have books and books that remind me who I am, or maybe the person I was years past. A record of my moments, my life, my memories.
Here’s the thing - when I made more art and did more of what I loved, it was easier to love the process and find joy in just the making. Sitting down with a coffee, choosing colors I love in the moment, gathering supplies that inspire me, gluing all of the things. It is a ritual that makes me a better person - one that is connected with myself and to the life that I am living. It is my life’s poetry in visual form. Not everything turns out the way I hope, but that’s ok. If I pay attention to my intuition and enjoy the process of creating, then art journaling will always be magic!
Join Wanderlust 2023 here with Lauren's link!
p.s. if you enjoyed this post, you'll also love Lauren's brilliant Wanderlust 2023 bonus video (already available in the classroom) where she shares an in-depth talk through of her transformation through art. It's super relatable, beautiful, & not one to be missed!