Art Journal Vol. 02 Layout 04 On Being Brave | A Study in Contrast

Hi guys, so today's art journaling layout is going to be a bit serious. This post may contain mention of sexual and intimate partner violence, although from the perspective of using art journaling to heal. Typically when I create my art journaling layouts, I try to come from a place of positivity and I try to use these layouts and the process to build myself up. Today's is a bit different because I started with a black canvas and am studying some contrasts here. Take a look at my process video, and then I will chat more:

I have mentioned in the past that I am a survivor of intimate partner violence (domestic violence) in my previous marriage. Trauma is a very real part of my past and for several years I have been working through some of my pain related to that. I am a true believer that art has a tremendous ability to help us express some of the very complicated emotions that come with being a survivor.

Art Journal On Being Brave

Part of my urge to create art journals is to be able to tap into some of the art of color and texture and expression. Today's layout, I will pre-qualify, is not meant to be pretty. I purposely began with a black canvas and then worked layers on top of that.

Art Journal On Being Brave

Sometimes, although not always, survivors find that their abuse they survived within their marriage is not the only abuse they have survived. Many women go on to learn about hidden abuse that lay dormant, hidden, in their past. When trauma occurs in childhood, frequently it becomes normalized, and unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior develop around them. Sometimes those unhealthy, but sub-conscious ways of seeing the world, set us up to be victims later on. 

Art Journal On Being Brave

This past week and month I have had to face the reality that indeed, my abuse was not only in my marriage but also in my childhood. That is all I am able to speak for now, but this art journal layout is an expression of the world around me. It is cloudy: some of it black and dark, some of it colorful and bright.

Art Journal On Being Brave

I used the tear drop stencil (from Faber Castell) to represent the tears that have been part of my whole life. Years ago a psychiatrist, based on the information I was able to give him at the time, diagnosed me with dysthymia, which is chronic depression. He asked me if I could remember a time in my life when I was ever happy, and truth is I couldn't. Ever. Sure, there were many happy moments, and I had great parents who loved me very much, but I had always struggled with a feeling of something being wrong.

Art Journal On Being Brave

There were always people who convinced me to see the positive in life, although they now would never imagine what was happening to me in the dark. And I was able to make a good life, have beautiful children, and now have a stable marriage with a good environment.

Art Journal On Being Brave

When I look back over this layout, I find some very interesting things that happened on this page. First, notice how the girl is sparkly with her beautiful wings and her sparkly top, pretty flowered skirt, and happy brown boots. She is untouched by the darkness around her.

Art Journal On Being Brave

I added some more black as I was finishing the layout, particularly around her. She is elevated off the page, as if the darkness could not touch her. I stamped the word Brave around the page because it represents all the people who told me to be brave in my sadness, even though they had no idea what they were telling me to be brave about.

Art Journal On Being Brave

To me, as I look back over this layout, it seems as if this girl is trying to rise out of these ashes, working towards moving forward with her wings and her boots. People told me to be brave, but they never realized I already was. I already sparkled and shone, even though my wings were invisible. In this layout, they are most definitely visible. They are the brightest element on the page, and rightly so. 

Art Journal On Being Brave

I know this is not the prettiest art journal layout in the world; it is not intended to be. Sometimes what we are processing is dark and difficult, and there are no pretty colors for those times. I hope you will try something like this for yourself and see where the medium takes you. Thank you for being here today, and for watching and reading. See you tomorrow.

~Theresa