Today Lauren and I are opening the curtain and giving an inside look into our favourite online art community, the Get Messy Art Journal Community. Over the last three years we have grown Get Messy into a pretty magical place. It’s a place where you can nurture your creativity, become the artist you desire to be, and find your creative community. Without Get Messy, I would not still be making art journal pages, and I would not have grown as much in my art, and I would not have had incredible, life-changing artist friendships. I’m allowed to say all this because Get Messy is not just Lauren and I. It’s evolved based on every single Messian that ever entered, created, shared, and grew. I’m amazed every single day by the art that’s created from the community. We’re over 1000 members now, and I get giddy when I think of art that has been made through the nurturing of the community.
I guess the whole thing is kind of mysterious unless you’ve been a part of it. And we just aren’t cool enough to be mysterious. We like to include everyone that has the same desire in her heart. So, if you’d like to imagine a stage curtain being opened into two before I go on… make sure it’s a really dramatic curtain, okay?
Beyond this video, I’d love to show more screenshots into the different aspects of the community. Click on the image to make it bigger.
Become the artist you want to be
This is what the Dashboard looks like once you’re in the private membership site. I’ve put it in its entirety give or take a few extra posts since I screenshot this. Lauren discusses it more in depth in the video. The Dashboard is the command center for everything. It has the announcements, the quick blog link, navigation, and then the breakdown of prompts, inspiration, and tutorials.
The blog is updated three or four times every single week. On Mondays, prompts are released if you’re looking for direction in creating, if you are feeling stuck, or if you would like to see things differently. Wednesdays are for tutorials, and Fridays for inspiration. These are posted by the most creative people I know. So it’s not just one or two styles, you have 15 regular artist styles that are so different to each others that you’ll certainly find something that speaks directly to your heart. We also have guest artists posting, as well as Messy Conversations and Member Spotlights. This is a pool of resources, not just a single opinion. There are currently 44 pages of archives.
Be encouraged with prompts
Every Monday 4-6 prompts are released to get you making. These can be simple suggestions such as a painting with a specific color or an in-depth storytelling prompt that spurs you to make an entire book. You can expect that the prompts are half journaling and half art focused. Now you might want to scroll a bit for this one cause it goes on and on and on.
Do you see all that inspiration? When I checked, we had 76 art journal spreads that had been made by Messians in the community just for this set of prompts. The prompt pages have a place to link up and to check out what others are making. This allows you to cheer on and be cheered on, and to give you ideas for your next page. I freaking love it.
Learn with tutorials
Every Wednesday there will be a tutorial shared on our private blog that will teach you a new technique. Sometimes they are simple and can be done with the tools found at hand, sometimes they are in-depth and cause you to explore and experiment with new mediums, tools and ideas. These tutorials are created by us, by community members, by experts in their fields. Wednesdays will leave you itchy to make something.
This is a cropped recent tutorial from Essie. She’s amazing. Every single tutorial on here teaches me something – whether an entirely new technique, a new product, a new way of looking at things, or just tangential inspiration.
Be inspired to create
Every Friday we present to you a photo, an idea, a challenge. Something that will spark ideas and that will help you look around your surroundings and see the potential in everything to become art.
This is a very brief, blurred out example of a recent tutorial from the crazy talented Elizabeth.
Find your creative community
The private site is not where it ends. I mean, that would be great as it is, but it gets kind of lonely when you don’t have friends who understand how strongly you feel about a certain brand of gesso. Husbands try, but they just can’t quite get it. You know? So there’s the community. As an introvert, I know it’s tough to put yourself out there. So there are a few options.
Passive community through social media
Active community through private groups
We have two private options for sharing in your creative journey – Facebook and Slack. Facebook is open to directly asking artists their opinions, and Slack is a live chat for those who like to interact in that way.
Sorry for the blurring and cropping, but I didn’t want to share anything a Messian wouldn’t be comfortable in having public.
Nurture your creativity
We’re also in your inboxes if you’d like – annual Messians get prompts delivered straight to their inbox, and we have our amazing free Introduction to Art Journaling course. This is what those look like:
I could show you this stuff every day all day, but you’re not going to get anything from it until YOU take that first action. You’re the one who needs to start creating. We’d love to do it for you, but we can’t, so we’ve just made it as easy as humanly possible for you.
If you feel like you’d benefit from the community, you already know how strongly I recommend it. I’ve also saved a few messages from other people. Here’s my promise: if you allow it, and if you make an active effort, art journaling will change your life. The Get Messy community will completely elevate the change.
You can join for one year ($8 per month, paid as $96 once off), or have a monthly commitment ($10 per month). You can cancel at any time, it’s totally chilled. And if you join between right now and 9 September, you’ll also get a little present. I’m excited about it.
It’s 8 backgrounds, 10 prompts, 8 lettered quotes, 4 typewritten poems, and a zine template.
Here’s to creating. And to Get Messy. Obvs.
Hi there I’m Emily and I’m so excited to be here on Caylee’s gorgeous blog to share a little of my story, the part where I fell in love with art journaling and where that has lead me.
It’s kind of a funny thing to find yourself quite passionate about something that you didn’t even know existed a couple of years ago, but then again that’s how love and life goes isn’t it?
About a year and half ago on my quest to live a more creative and fulfilling life, I stumbled upon art journaling and thought, well that’s something that looks like a lot of fun to do. Starting was really not easy for me. I did a little course over on CreativeBug, I bought some supplies and started playing but it really wasn’t flowing for me. I certainly wasn’t pleased with what I created, but I was still drawn to it. By good fortune (an online creative buddy) I came across Get Messy art journaling and I was intrigued and inspired to join.
With trepidation and the fear of being way out of my league I jumped right in from the very first week. I seriously had no clue what to do or what I was doing but I just knew I wanted to be able to do this thing called art journaling so I kept showing up, reading the prompts and somehow turning them into pages. That wasn’t all I did, I watched what other artists did with the prompts, I learned a whole new set of “skills” and I started to get glimpses of a different way of expressing myself. Somewhere along the way I started being pleased with some of my pages, or pleased with my ideas and happy to have created something at all!
I’m not an artist, but in the last couple of years I’ve come to realize that I am a creative person. Creativity is part of me, a part that didn’t always get much of a say in things but is more than making up for that these days! I think the main reason I adore art journaling is that it is so creative and I can feel myself developing by doing it. It challenges me and through that process of challenge and feeling uncertain but pushing through, I get a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
WHY ART JOURNALING
With art journaling, anything goes. There are no rules and there are limitless possibilities. This in itself can be overwhelming. Sometimes the overwhelm is too great, I might have an inkling of what I want to express but get frozen in indecision as to where to even begin. I end up cutting out lots of things from magazines or painting backgrounds but not expressing much at all. And you know what, that’s totally ok too!
I love that for me art journaling is my own little space to play and explore, it isn’t about memory keeping for my family or improving my drawing ability, it doesn’t keep the house clean or pay the bills. It’s just time spent being playful and exploratory, time spent discovering what happens if I make this mark or add this colour and this image.
I actually think that art journaling has improved my confidence in my own creative abilities. It has helped me to connect with other people all over the world and increased my courage to tell my own story. That courage helps me to share my pages on Instagram or my blog,helped me apply for a position on the Get Messy creative team ( Yay – I am on the team), to say yes to the opportunity to write a guest post here and to keep facing the blank pages in my art journal.
SO ( THE END )
So I guess the reason I really wanted to share my story here is for all the people who feel that art journaling might be for them, but don’t call themselves artists. If it’s calling to you to give it a try all I can say is … do. You may become more comfortable with facing the blank page, make friends with your art journal or you might even fall a little in love with art journaling.
Emily is relatively new to the land of being creative, but spending as much time there as possible. She loves learning, playing, chatting, walking on the beach ( corny but true) spending time with her family and friends oh and spending time by herself.
Style is subjective, in the eye of the beholder, and best of all, if you are truly comfortable in your personal style, it permeates into all aspects of your own creative expression. Hey there, I’m M.E. Ster-Molnar. Say it like “Emmy” and yes, I’ve got style.
Your style shows, whether you like it not. From how you dress, decorate your home, cook, see the world, and especially as an artist. Once you nail it down and run with it, it’s your individual brand that people instantly recognize when they see what you have created. Think of Renoir and his ballet dancers, Lichtenstein’s cartoon-like pixelated pop art, and Matisse’s cutout paper images. Definitely copied, but nobody can replicate them like the originals.
So how do YOU determine your own style?
Here’s how I found mine.
My style goes way back to a series of paintings I did when I was 6 years old. This painting says it best, “I LOVE FLOWERS.”
As a young girl, I would see commercial 7-Up signs inspired by the pop artist, Peter Max. These signs were my version of street art at the time. It was the era of sunshine, flowers and lollipops – the early 70’s. Flower power was still in full swing. Because I loved flowers so much, I would repeat them… painting them over and over again, like the flower prints on the dresses that I was wearing.
Funny thing is that this painting STILL speaks to me, many years later and hangs in my young daughter’s bedroom. It was part of the décor at my clothing boutique and I got many compliments and inquiries about it when I would check people out as they paid. Little did I know that as this image was looking over my shoulder for years, it was lingering, tapping at my conscience to return back to my artistic roots. My style had been there, in that painting, all along.
Sure thing, style is developed by lots of practice, trial and error. It can be affected by current trends, and is ever evolving. But what REALLY makes something your own unique, personal style? It’s when it simply feels good. It feels right. It’s not forced, and it’s not attempting to be put into a specific genre or type. It’s like my flower painting. I still love oversized flowers. My color palette often consists of jewel tones and my art is often filled with positive street art influenced imagery and colorful patterns.
So how do you know when your art is your own, that it’s your unique style?
I love to think it in terms of how I dress… You know when you put something on and you feel like the outfit is wearing you? You’re uncomfortable, tugging at the skirt, adjusting the hemline, and feeling out of your own skin all day? Yuck. What about when you take that off, put on something that makes you feel instantly like yourself? Much, much better.
Now apply that to your art.
What feels forced when you do it? Makes your heart hurt? For me, it’s trying to draw exact lines and messing them up. It’s simply not me. In college, I was awful at my graphic design classes. We weren’t using computers to create our projects, but ink pens, rulers, and other precision tools. Ink would splatter, lines were crooked, and I was lucky to pass the class. It wasn’t my style. I was uncomfortable with the tightness and the boundaries given to me.
What are the things that you stop and take photos of that catch your eye? For me, it’s street art, flowers, and textiles… always. I have images from my travels and times spent close to home that always seem to have these themes of color, imperfection, and layers of pattern. I’m happiest when my art incorporates elements of these things.
Street art from Paris, France:
Go back in time.
What did your little kid self create? Most likely, you had few inhibitions. What did you love to draw and paint back then?
A few minutes are all you need. I dedicated this year to doing my art journal practice daily and am always surprised by how my style has evolved and become more and more authentic as the year has progressed.
Use materials that you LOVE.
I’m a sucker for gesso, neon colored paint, magazine pages, and giant paint markers. I feel more comfortable using hardware store brushes to slop it all together than expensive brushes that I’m worried that I will “mess up”.
Experiment with different art materials.
The beauty of art journaling is the freedom in materials you can use. It can be anything…including ephemera you find in your daily life. For me it’s gel pens, watercolor, new paint brushes, and new stencils. It’s a new journal or a vintage book that you alter into your new journal… and so much more.
Experiment with different subject matters.
I have found the easiest way to do this is to come up with a theme… a subject, a feeling, a series of questions, a color, a favorite material. Try it out for a week and see what happens. Your own way of interpreting the subject on hand will evolve and you will hit the “sweet spot” of feeling good in that genre.
Here’s an example: I’ve been doing a series of “Celestial Symbols” for the month of May for my daily art journal habit. I know a little bit about astrology, but not a lot. As I started to work, I felt confined by the rigidity of the symbols and even questioned why I had chosen that subject as my theme for 31 days. But as I did the art journal practice daily, my tight lines used to draw the symbols didn’t feel good, and I reverted back to what I am most comfortable with – a looser style.
Embrace your imperfections.
I’m a messy gal. I’m running with it.
Allow yourself to be a little vulnerable.
In this digital age, it can be with an accountability partner, a fellow artist, a friend, or in my case, sharing daily on Instagram and Snapchat. I have found by posting my images and process daily that I can get a read from my followers on what resonates with them. Ironically, the pieces that I have done that are looser, less forced, and take less time are the most popular. They have color, texture, a sense of movement and whimsy to them. I felt like myself when I was creating the pages, and they have my own signature style. The upside to a daily habit is not getting “stuck” in the art
and moving through it quickly.
Be kind to yourself on your journey.
Beware of self-judgment, your style is uniquely your own. Show it off with pride.
And most important…
Your evolution of style will constantly be evolving as you grow as an artist, in your own confidence, and in your daily life. Be willing to try new subject matter and new materials, even after you find your unique creative voice.
M.E. Ster-Molnar is a fashion designer and artist who has been on a personal year- long art journey. Her daily habit art journal habit has been essential in this year of transition from living in California and being a full time fashion designer and boutique owner, to artist. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, Dave; little girl, Bonnie-Blue; rescue boxer Layla-Rose; and Summer, the sweetest cat ever. #artjournaldujour is the hashtag on Instagram for M.E. Ster-Molnar’s yearlong project.
THE START OF THE SEASON OF LISTS
When the season of lists started in the Get Messy group, you could say I was really underwhelmed. I am not a lister, except maybe todo lists, which I have a hard time following, to be honest. First I totally wanted to skip the season, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of taking this challenge, totally out of my comfort zone. While thinking about the best journal for lists, I decided to stretch my comfort zone even more and go a bit crazy with my “journal”: I would use a whole roll of wrapping paper, just the one you can wrap parcels in.
HOW IT STARTED
At first I was really intimidated and decided to go list by list and just put them down on this big sheet of paper. With every list I started new, I ignored the lists I already put down, and pretended every new list was on a new side in a journal, that way I worked the two first weeks of the Season of Lists. And the process was okay, but I didn’t like the outcome.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE FIRST TWO WEEKS
Then something clicked in my mind and I noticed, that this season and this project was totally for myself. I need to discover who I am and what I want and I shouldn’t care how those lists look and if I really put all of them of paper.
That thought freed me and I started to add randoms quotes and thoughts and tried to write every list about me and about the things that keep me thinking and which I really love. And I decided to use white gesso on the wrapping paper for the next two weeks, because I really like white backgrounds to work on.
For the last two weeks of the Season of Lists, I decided to use the rest of the paper and look at it as a big art journaling page and don’t work on it list by list. I had a ton of fun with acrylic paints, crayons, different layers, lists, that really spoke to me, magazine clippings and to my surprise even with myself and my thoughts.
WHAT I LEARNED
This big “art journal” is now folded up and lying in the back of my wardrobe (because storage is a big problem around here), but I don’t care where it is stored and hack, I don’t even know if I am going to keep it. It was all about the process, all about getting out of my comfort zone, all about who I am and getting to know myself more. And I kind of discovered my art journal style more and know how I will tackle the next season of Get Messy more, but I know that my style will evolve with every page I create.
Not every art journal page I will create will change my life or my mindset, not every art journal page I will create will help me get to know myself more, but I am okay with that. This one did, I learned that I can create who I want to be and that I can dare things in real life. I’m applying for University for autumn again which makes me so excited and which is one of the outcomes of the Season of Lists for me.
The last sentences I wrote on my big art journal are: I still don’t really know who I am or what I want, but that’s okay, I will be a new Sarah tomorrow. I have plenty of time to discover who I am and if I don’t, that’s okay too. That’s life and let’s face it- LIFE IS PRETTY AMAZING!
IT’S UP TO YOU NOW
If you are an art journaler and are staying within your comfort zone with all the pages you create, I totally challenge you to try to go outside your comfort zone. Try a bigger journal, a smaller, no journal, do you journaling on something totally uncommon. Try to not worry about the outcome of your art, but about the outcome in your mind. Try something new!
If you never art journaled in any way, I totally challenge you to give it a try and not worry about the outcome at all. Do what you want, just write, just paint, just glue down some magazine clippings, don’t look what others do and don’t worry how the things you do will look, because the only one who cares is you.
Sarah is a 27 year old SAHM living in Germany, far away from all the cool cities, but in a lovely, peaceful little city in the South, with her husband. Coffee, creativity, dancing through the whole apartment and reading keeps her going, even when it’s raining. She has a thing for words, languages, Astrid Lindgren and for pink and glitter, which she tries to hide sometimes, because when being a mum you sometimes have to pretend you are mature, even if you know, that deep down in your heart, you never will be.
Hello all, Vanessa here with you today. If you follow my work – you may know me as @dansmoncrane on Instagram- you know that I love to art journal. It is a daily practice for me and an important way of finding and maintaining balance. I have an art journal that holds my daily spreads and another for the work I do through Get Messy. But I also love to do mini, themed art journals and this is what I will share with you.
In thinking about this post, I kept coming back to floral elements. These are things that I associate with Caylee along with soft colours and to the point journaling. I’ve been very influenced by Beyoncé’s Lemonade and the poetry/spoken word that she shares in the video-documentary she did. It got me thinking of being a woman and how I react differently in different periods of my life.
So I decided to explore these themes: femininity, the body, flowers as metaphors for youth and women and secret gardens.
1 Constructing your journal
The first thing I did was gather the papers I wanted to use for my mini journal. As you can see from the cover photo, I selected papers with floral elements or images of women. I used some old calendar pages; they usually are made from thick cardstock and I love to reuse them in journals. Once I had all my papers, I cut them down to the size I wanted to work in, put them in the order I wanted and folded them.
There are a few options for binding these papers: you can follow Caylee’s mini book workshop tutorial from her class at Studio Calico, you can try a pamphlet stitch or you can do as I did and run everything through your sewing machine. If you choose this third option it’s very important that you don’t sew together more than 8 pages, especially if the paper is thick.
Some of the paper I had chosen were quite busy or with strong colours. In general this doesn’t bother me as I like working with a colourful base. Nevertheless, I sometimes added paper ephemera to tone down the colours and patterns. Using wallpaper or book pages is an easy way to do this.
Speaking of ephemera, this was my next step. I gathered images that appealed and fit in to my themes. These range from magazine photos, vintage photos, scrapbook embellishments, printed text and actual pressed flowers (not shown below).
2 Filling in the journal
Now the fun part, filling in the journal and exploring your theme. I always start with the cover because this sets the tone for the rest of the journal in my view. As you can see on the cover – and this is a recurring technique in this mini journal – I love to add pressed flowers to my spreads. I almost always use packing tape to glue them down. I love doing this because it seals the flowers and it reminds me of making microscope slides. I feel like i am a botanist preserving these beauties!
I arranged my ephemera and explored the themes in a vaguely chronological order. Hence I am starting with flower girls. This pages speaks of youth and its fleeting nature, just like the lifespan of most flowers.
When we think of life and growing up, the expression ‘bloom where you are planted’ comes to mind. I wanted to address this idea by using the word ‘flourish’. I love the notion of abundance in the image of a woman wearing flowers on her head.
The next spread showcases one of the busier patterned paper that I used. To help tone it down, I glued in a big image from a magazine. Also, the page on the left is a floral vellum paper which mutes the colours when it is laid on top of the right side. An excerpt of a poem by E.E. Cummings completes the page.
3 Engaging with your theme
Making a themed art journal like this helps you to really engage in your subject matter. I work with human remains and so I love to add various anatomical drawings to my work. Bones are strong, they hold us up. In this page, I wanted to explore the stronger side of being a woman/flower. Your rib cage, like your thorns, can become your armour. It is a good idea to try a fresh take on the theme you are exploring, to distort the initial meaning of the theme.
As I progressed in the book, I explore themes of growing older, becoming a woman, motherhood. This spread is my very favourite and came to me as I was thinking about my daughter. She is almost a teenager and curious about the changes in her body. ‘Deflowering’ isn’t an expression used in French. I find that very interesting. The right page is a playful poke at how we teach children about reproduction using the ‘planted seed’ metaphor.
Not all my pages are so elaborate or contain my own journaling. I cut out phrases from books and use that on pages too. Sometimes having just a visual spread can say so much with little or no words. I did try to add my own drawings to these pages, I feel it makes the journal more personal.
The next part of the mini explores the idea of letting go of certain aspects of the past. Just like flowers need pruning, so we need to cut out excess or hurtful baggage. The rib cage becomes a cage if you don’t allow it to open sometimes.
As I get older, I am less inclined to care about what people think of me. I wear my flowers proudly! This is an affirmation.
But if you cut a flower you sentence it to die…unless you press it and seal it with packing tape, which is what I did here.
The concluding spread addresses the three ages of women that is common in literature: the maiden, the mother, the crone. these stages are, in my view, completely integrated to one’s life experience. I am the same woman, myself carries on in these different moments of my life. ‘Individual blooms are fleeting’, but the roots remains and they flower each summer.
I absolutely love this mini art journal because it truly expressed what I wanted to. There is immense satisfaction in filling in one journal and truly giving yourself over to a theme. I hope I have inspired you to try this!