My main project for 2018 is recycling painful past journal entries to create new art and make peace with the past.
I wasn’t kidding about taking my time with this project, huh? I started this second spread in January and I finished it this morning, but I think during that time I finally figured out the right balance of old versus new that I was trying to achieve. Even though it’s probably going to be my most light-hearted page, I’m glad I took the time to process it and build on it.
The meaning behind this page isn’t very deep. Dexter Holland (The Offspring) was my first teenage crush and 2000 was the peak of my obsession – I don’t think there was a journal entry from this time that didn’t mention him. It was such a pure over-the-top teenage girl crush that I thought it was only right to preserve it and dedicate a spread to him!
As usual with this project, I tore up pages from an old journal (summer of 2000) and painted over them. I left some writing and clipart about Dexter peeking through and added pictures of him and Noodles that I drew in 2000. I added in the drawing/painting of the Smash album art, some doodles based on other Offspring album art, and lyrics. I think I made a page that 13 year old me would be proud of!
Who was your first teenage crush? Do you still like them or do you look back on it with a “what was I thinking?!”? I would love to hear about it!
Last month I traveled back to Wales and was reunited with my old written journals from my teenage years. All I had to do was pack them into my suitcase and I’d be ready to start my main 2018 project: destroying the journals and making new art from them in an attempt to make peace with the past.
However, I received some unsolicited opinions on one of my Instagram posts about the project and, being the indecisive person I am, was thrown back into doubt. Am I going to regret this in the future? Will this turn out to be a huge mistake? I was plagued with the same old questions, but I packed the journals in my suitcase nevertheless.
I tried to remind myself of the last time I was sure I wanted to start this project. Just before I moved cities in October, I saw that my favorite band from my teens (The Offspring) were playing shows near my new place. Not only that, but they were playing an album that had been really important to me and got me through some tough times – I had to see them! I was a little apprehensive that they would be washed up and nowhere near as good as I hoped, but any worries about that disappeared as soon as they hit the stage. They were phenomenal and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to.
Just before the band played a special stripped down version of one of my favorite songs (Gone Away), Dexter Holland talked briefly about how the song had changed for him over the years and how it means something different to him now. The version they played was beautiful and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried my eyes out. I was crying because of how amazing it sounded, but I was also crying because I knew exactly what he meant. During their set, I could feel the songs take on a whole new meaning to me. I will always remember the pure joy of that night whenever I listen to their songs now, and not the sadness that I used to feel. I felt like I was making peace with part of my past and I wanted to continue.
Even though I reminded myself of this, almost a week after New Year, I still hadn’t touched the journals. I almost put them in the closet to forget about, until a couple of days ago when I was pulling tarot cards for the year ahead. When I revealed the card for the overall “theme” of the year, I couldn’t help but smile. I pulled the Six of Chalices (Cups). I’m still in the process of re-learning the meanings of tarot cards, so I consulted the little book included with my deck to confirm what I thought it meant. I liked this extract:
The world can be harsh and unforgiving, and it’s easy to let the sorrow and grime of daily living dull the vibrant shine of your existence. But the river that flows through the Six of Chalices offers a chance to buff it clean. Renew yourself. Break the cycles of suffering… ~ James R. Eads
I’m sure the card will mean even more to me as the year goes on, but I took it as a sign that now is the time to start this project. I don’t want to erase memories (trust me, as long as I am capable, I will always remember my past) but I want to extract the positive, break cycles, and make peace. It also wouldn’t hurt to make my embarrassing angst a little more cryptic in case the journals fall into the wrong hands!
I just need to make one last decision… which journal do I use?!
In January I published a blog post called Pushing Through the Fear, which was all about how in 2016 I would be pushing myself out of my comfort zone and start believing in myself and what I create:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with “putting myself out there”. Not only am I an introvert, I am a fairly shy introvert. I’m nowhere near as shy as I used to be, but still; I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, I don’t know how to take a compliment, and I often worry that, when I do try to put myself out there, I’m coming across as pushy or thinking too much of myself. This isn’t exactly helpful when you want to share creative projects and get involved in a community.
I have many conversations with my husband about what makes someone an artist, since he calls me one and I completely avoid using that word to describe myself. He thinks that you don’t need formal training or an exhibit at a prestigious gallery; anyone who creates things is an artist. I obviously have a different opinion, although only when it comes to myself it seems.
Recently I’ve been thinking more about this avoidance and how rationalizing “not being an artist” holds me back. I use it to talk myself out of sharing or submitting work, making things for people, or getting involved with other artists. I fear putting myself out there and that my work isn’t good enough, so it’s easier to tell myself that I’m not a “real artist” rather than risk whatever it is I think is going to happen if I try.
I’ve never been very good at sticking with websites. I like to delete them and start over, thinking that next time I will be happy with how it all turns out. I tend to give myself far too much to do to make the website “perfect” and end up abandoning it after a few months because I feel overwhelmed (which is what happened to etherealsolitude.net, and countless other domains I’ve had over the years).
I could go on and on about how this time will be different and I’ll be posting x amount of times a week… but I’m just going to see how it goes with this. I’ve simplified everything so that I don’t need to work on pages or add tons of content – I can just take it one blog post at a time.
If you’re still following me from when I posted as etherealsolitude a couple of years ago – hi, how have you been?! If this is your first time here: My name is Sarah, I’m British (Welsh) but living in Los Angeles, and I’m an archivist and art journaler. This blog (as the name suggests) will be about my life through journals and my other creative endeavours. Please feel free to say hello and tell me a bit about yourselves, I would love to connect with more like-minded people!