Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.
I think life is a long learning opportunity, if we allow it to. To learn new things is super fun too. That’s why I love reading books, trying out new things and experiment with my art. To learn new things though we’ve got to keep an open mind. In Buddhism there is an expression that is called a beginners mind (shoshin). It does not mean that we should stay ignorant, but instead cultivate a mind of curiosity! And when we do know something, to be humble about it so that we can learn even more.
For example, I think I know lots about art journaling, at least art journaling “my style” and what I like to do in both mixed media art and inside my books…
Then when I came upon the Art Journal page above, one I did back in 2005, I noticed the title: Celebrating Lifelong Learning. I guess lifelong learning has been on my mind for many years. And it got me thinking about how I could take this page further. Maybe remake it into something better to my liking?
Because I still remember the feeling of being disappointed with this page and how it looked when I was finished. I imagined it would come out a cool mixed media like bird, but instead it looks like kindergarten art. So when I came upon the blog post about it, now many years later, I got the idea that I should re-do this bird. As an exercise, and to see if I could make something that I felt more at ease with. Had I learned anything new in all these years? So I set out to replicate it but with freedom…
This is the page that I created, and actually I don’t like it at all:
I tried to hard. I didn’t really feel happy when I made it. I was looking more on Bird 1 than on the bird at hand…
So the second attempt is even less me. I do not like it because it is so forced and un-free. It’s like a followed a step-by-step tutorial by someone else. Like I wish to be cool and free, and that wish totally took out the joy of creating for me. The page next to it is much more free and iHanna like:
I even had this blog post planned out in my head when I did the second bird, with a life lesson about re-making your Art Journal pages and taking them further… It has been sitting in my drafts folder since last year, because how could I post two ugly birds and let that be a lesson in giving up? Thinking that the second bird would be something fun to blog about might even have been the reason it turned out to be such a bad experience for me… I was thinking more about what you guys would think than what I would like. That’s not a good way to do art!
Then the more I look at Bird number 1 the more I actually like it’s wonky look. It’s kind of cute, actually. And maybe I will love Bird number 2 in 10 years, but in lieu of the time passing I decided to give it another go this week. Third time’s the charm, right?
Late at night, I just did it, without much thinking. I didn’t add in the title or all the details this time. I just went for a painted page, cut to look like a bird on a yellow page – with a collaged human eye (again). And finally I feel content about my bird.
I do not think it is much “cooler” or “more artsy” than the first try, but I know it is the iHanna Style of right now (just like the first bird was my art journaling style in 2005!). Instead of showing of my learning since then, I got to show myself that good art never is made to show off!
I feel my mission is over. Now it’s your turn – your prompt served up. Let me know how it goes.
I love how we can look back on our work and see the progression. We can see how much we have grown as an artist (and in my case, as a writer as well) and how our style has evolved. I do like your birds, and I love how they have evolved.
Oh, WHAT a wonderful blogpost. I love hearing your perspective over the years – and how funny that you ended up loving the original. I find them all adorable – and I love how they look together. A fab trilogy ;) xo
I love this blog post! I need to consider my art as life long learning, instead of freezing up because something might not be right or perfect. Thank you.
An interesting experiment. I love bird #2. But still your thoughts on the subject kind of prove to me why I never go back. I mean, I look at my older stuff and I like to see what I made back then and what I like or don’t like about it. But I don’t go back to old stuff to try and redo it, edit it or pimp it up. That’s done with and I’ve moved on. It’s not who I am anymore. I also never tear out stuff I don’t like or cover it up. It’s all part of the process. I still make stuff I love and I still make stuff that turns out….um…subpar? ;-)
For me art is a practice. It’s simply what I do because I love it, because I want to handle the materials and because I like making stuff. It keeps me sane and occupied too. I like to get better at my craft and practice is the way to do it. That being said…my first ever art journal (made in 2003) is still my favorite ever. What a discovery it was to work in a book and just do whatever I liked with it. That freedom was so new to me then that I can still sometimes long for that first time. ;-)
I think you do a great job of holding onto “Beginner’s mind” while writing about your work on this blog. And it’s a hard balance. I know what you mean about how thinking about how others will see your work can compromise it – that happens to me, too.
I think it’s interesting that your 2005 bird had a magazine cutout eye, just like your recent work.
Thank you, dear Hanna, you are so astoningly frank. Your thoughts about your work are exactly the same as I am turning around in my head about my person and my life. t
Does this mean art is life and we as persons are art? May be…
I love reading your blog posts….
It reminds me that its all about making the art and letting go of the end result -something I struggle with – but I’m working on!
Your posts always make me think :)
The first bird reminds me of the collage art Henri Matisse made in the later years of his life, do you know that? It’s free and fun but most people find is ‘childish’… I, however, like it very much, same as I like your bird! Yes, we keep on learning and sometimes we think we (try to) learn one thing when in fact we learn another (unexpected) thing… sounds cryptical but you know what I mean. Anyway, learning or not, enjoy your weekend!!
I’ve considered going back and trying to utilize one of my older ideas again, but have not tried to recreate a certain older page. I like the fact that you tried, that it didn’t turn out as you had expected, and you shared it anyhow.
Fantastic! But I do love your purple bird. “I got to show myself that good art never is made to show off!” That’s something to chew on.
I love all your pages, but most of all I love reading your posts! It’s hard for me to focus and READ blog posts, but with yours, I never have that problem. Thank you, and here’s to learning new things every day! 🐦