Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Longing to Belong

"Maturity calls us to risk ourselves as much as immaturity, but for a bigger picture, a larger horizon; for a powerfully generous outward incarnation of our inward qualities and not for gains that make us smaller, even in winning."
                                                                              ~ David Whyte, Consolations 

There is an interesting trend going on amongst many of my on-line friends that I first met through photography classes and blogging, they are all turning to art. By art, I mean hand-created art: painting, drawing, fiber, collage. I have always wanted to belong in that world. I grew up doing rug-hooking and counted cross-stitch, but the only really good drawing I did was when I was ten. A pencil and crayon drawing of a Basenji dog. I wish I still had that drawing, or maybe it is better that it only lives in my memory.

Every summer, I have this itch to create with my hands, but this year the itch has turned into a longing. Mid-September, I began the practice of art journaling. I have (sort of) tried this before with minimal results. But here it is the end of October and I am still doing it. What I am finding most enjoyable is the playing, the trying, the failing and trying again. There is no rush, no pressure to get it right the first time.

Each spread pushes me a little further. To learn to embrace color, new techniques, and new materials. To learn to trust my intuition and not over-think.

This is the latest one I am working on. The first pages I did reawakened the longing to belong, it grew a little more with the second, and in this third one it came to fruition: the house/shed in the bottom left corner I drew myself.

I started a sketch book while we were on vacation. It was easy to pack and minimal supplies were needed. I didn't start out good, but I couldn't give up after only one attempt. I drew this from a photograph I took with my phone.

By the fifth day of practice, I was getting better. This was drawn from a photograph of a garden shed on Pinterest.

"If you don't love photography for the sheer act of trying to express yourself, and will only find joy in it when you finally get there, yours will be a disappointing journey. Not only will you likely never "get there" but you'll have missed how beautiful and exhilarating the journey itself is."
                                                                                  ~David duChemin, Within the Frame 

When I started to be serious about photography in 2012, I thought I had found my "art" camp. I wasn't good, but like the Ira Glass video on creativity, I knew what was good, and I knew with practice I could be good.  And I did get good, but what I soon discovered in some parts of the fine art photography camp is that they are only interested in the end result. What I loved was the journey. I needed photography to find my voice and tell my story.

The hand-created art camp feels different. They encourage your journey. They love watching you learn, grow and get better. They are just as excited about a finished piece as they are about the first pencil strokes you put on paper. They all know how hard it is to put yourself and your work out there. This is the camp where I have always longed to be, but I don't think I ever would have had the courage to be here, if I hadn't set up my tent in the photography camp first.


Here are some of the inspiring sites and classes I have found this year:

Jeanne Oliver - Great selection of courses

Laly Mille - Excellent teacher. This where my art journaling inspiration came from.

Toni Burt - Down to earth teacher

Ivy Newport 

Life Book 2019 - There was a free two week Summit for Life Book 2019 in October. While not all the teachers are my style, there were many who were.

Wanderlust 2019 - Looking forward to this.

If you have any art classes you have enjoyed, I would love to hear.


  1. Dappling In Inspiration is mighty fine . . .
    Wonderful Sarah . . .

    Have you visited, do you follow
    Sketchbook Wandering . . .

  2. I love art journaling. I don't do it, but I love to see what artists are creating. Art journaling will be another way to "express yourself." Lovely pages!

  3. Yessss! I love seeing your creations- the texture, the movement, the little houses and churches. I have had this longing to craft things too. It's like I'm making up for lost time with art. I never took an art class in school and it's like I woke up when I turned 40 a couple years ago and said, "Hey! I missed out." :) My favorite line: "They are just as excited about a finished piece as they are about the first pencil strokes you put on paper." Thanks for sharing this part of yourself!

  4. Hey Sarah, once again we are on the same track! I too always wanted to be In the art world, and I have expanded my photography to include other arts. I am in a bunch of classes, but I can tell you that the most helpful thing to me has been Sketchbook Skool. Each course offers 6 different art teachers who present their sketchbook work and then teach. Each one is different, trying everything is so much fun, and then you end up looking further into the teachers’ websites and courses. That is how I found the wonderful Liz Steel, and many others. Try it - you will love it!

  5. keep at it Sarah - the process is just as enjoyable as the end result! Though they are going out of publication at the end of the year, I've always enjoyed the magazine Cloth,Paper,Scissors -our library here carries it in the periodical section. Have you thought about starting with one of your photos and then turning it into an art piece with additional images - either digital or paper, or even paint/ink/texture on top, layering as you go. Just play and have fun - there are no rules!

  6. It's always been about the journey for me. The potential is exciting, the learning is even more exciting! Now you just put that photography and hand drawn elements together too! I haven't yet, but hope to. I think Stephanie Lee Lynn (her own site and on Jeanne Oliver's site) offers something like that. I haven't take in, but I remember thinking I wanted to. I did take her metal working class and thought she was a great teacher.

  7. Also, I'd love to hear about this last photo. It's you with your phone, but where is the barn image coming from and how did you edit it? I love it.

  8. One more comment, ha! Jennifer Edwards. Check out her drawing videos. She does lots of fiber work, but I watched one of her free drawing videos and I remember it really opening up some light for me. I think she offers classes for drawing too. Her style may be more whimsical than yours (it is more than mine for sure) but she's such a delightful and authentic soul.

  9. I have been on the watercolor journey for about 6 months, it is so easy to get upset with myself and think not good enough. I then remember my journey with photography and Photoshop; smile pick up my watercolor brush one more time and try again. Living and learning as I go through the journey of life. Love your journal pages and the photo is absolutely stunning. Learning will keep us young and humble.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. I have noticed all the artists out there too. Your journaling pages are beautiful.

  11. Your art journal pages are beautiful, and you are perfectly right in saying not to overthink it. Being creative with your hands is so fulfilling and satisfying and it really is not about the end result but the journey. I have been painting and doing mixed media for several years on and off - it depends how much time I have and at the moment it's just not much - and I feel how something is missing when I can't get my fingers on some paint.

    I did Life Book twice, never finished it because of time, but loved it nevertheless. I find Tam's approach very liberating. I also did a few classes with Jeanne Oliver and learned some great technique. I recently found Paint Your Heart And Soul and am thinking whether I should do this as a year long course in 2019. I will check out the Wanderlust you mentioned.

  12. Oooooooo! I love your art journal! I would not even know where to begin with a project like that. The quote by David duChemin is perfect. I don't really ever expect to get "good", so it's all about the journey for me. I'm better than I was, I understand more than I did, and I look at things differently - appreciating all that surrounds me so much more. And still - there is something so calming about creating with your hands. You have a lot of creativity in you - I'm not at all surprised that you're feeling a need to branch out. I'm going to take a look at the classes you've found. I love that you post such interesting resources.

  13. These are beautiful pages, Sarah. I love reading about people's life journeys, how the road is always moving out in front of us, and we never know where it will take us. I always look forward to seeing your journey; thank you for the links you share with us.

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)