One of the first “Art Journaling” books I purchased was Diana Trout’s “Journal Spilling”. I love and treasure this book for it’s encouragement to make a MESS and thrill in it. To make art only for yourself and give yourself permission to have it be a blurred, smeared, dripped and glopped riot on a page, with words invoking meaning. Or having no meaning at all. She has a whole section on quieting the inner critic by allowing him a space to speak his/her mind before shutting him up. She talks of Gesso as a metaphor for forgiveness….
Ah, there’s an idea to latch onto.. Using art to spread over all the pain and anxiety that festers and brews within each one of us is not a new concept. We send folks to school to become art therapists and we write books upon books on the subject. But using it to forgive? Well, I think this is the key, isn’t it? It’s not about forgiving the world, it’s about FORGIVING ourselves for the time needed to endeavor on this healing journey. Forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made, bad parenting choices, toxic relationships we let fester and spread, poor work or life ethics, bad philosophical practices…what if we could just spread on a layer thick white Gesso and start fresh, letting the bottom layers peak through to give our lives depth and purpose. Meaning and variety. We can…can’t we? That’s a very Christian notion. I’m not Christian, no, but I believe the idea of forgiveness is powerful. If we believe God has forgiven us, isn’t it then easier to forgive ourselves? Who are we compared to God after all?
We have to be able to make mistakes or how else are we to grow into deeper beings? Regardless of the spiritual path you walk, or don’t walk if you’re an atheist, self forgiveness lends it’s way to finding those depths within ourselves, the power to heal and grow, to regenerate our wounds and come back stronger. It’s an amazing ability and profoundly human. I’m glad for the metaphor, to give me something tangible to grasp in my mind as I struggle with my own inner “demons” along my life’s walk. I can forgive myself, I have the tools. Simply paint over it, and start again. The layers make everything more beautiful.