Travel Notes From a Creative Journey

2019 Week 9

Upcycled paintings — artwork turned into hoots

I have a day job as a teacher’s aide, which I’m convinced helps to keep me young and entertained. But, when I’m working hard, my thoughts often stage an elaborate jail break featuring a trained pigeon, a spoon, and rugged determination to catch my attention. This was one of those weeks where my own internal bugaboos just kept on popping up.

What I’m Excited About

So, of course, I forgot about it.

This week I had an “oh, duh” moment, and went back to it. I love it, because I can work on it even with joint pain. I don’t need to stress about making something new, I’m sifting through the old to find glimpses of beauty.

I am starting to see that 2019 is the year of focusing on routines that work.

It’s such a small thing, but as I find more routines that work with my health as it is, I think I will be able to build my creative practice back up.

What I’ve Learned

I don’t know if this is an INFP thing, but I tend to get insights, and then I get symbols and images that help me to process through. The symbolism often finds it’s way into my paintings. Sometimes, I look for a symbol to represent what I’m feeling — but often the image just shows up on it’s own.

I’ve learned that I have been avoiding excitement. I have panic attack disorder. And guess what? Excitement and panic attacks feel very similar. (And yes, I am in therapy, and yes, I have come a long way. Being affected by illness is not the same thing as ignoring it.)

There are a lot of positive things that are exciting. My new ideas for projects, adding my favorite paintings to my website, checking out new venues, talking to new people. And I avoid them. But now that I’ve spotted the bugbear, I can have a conversation with it.

I think mindfulness might be able to help with this. I picture mindfulness as being a little like the Kool-Aid guy, smashing through walls and shouting OM YEAH.

I’ve also spotted imposter syndrome rearing it’s head — again.

In a lot of ways, my career path is similar to someone throwing themselves into art after retirement. Except I’m not retired; I’m going through a divorce. My call to adventure is at what often feels like an odd age, not retired and not recently graduated. And so, I doubt my ability to have anything worthwhile to say about the journey. Because I’m hurting and floundering, and I feel awkward and out of step.

But, I can’t be the only awkward weirdo out there. So I guess I’ll just keep trying to find some vulnerability, and if it can take some of the fear out of someone else’s life — then that’s gosh darn exciting.

What I’m Working On

Also, I’ve started cutting out pictures from junk mail so I can make collages. It’s like assembling a puzzle of meaning out of the debris of modern living.

I’m learning to love the way my brain works, panic attacks and fanciful images and all. That’s going to take longer than a week, and it’s a good project.

What About You

Are you also experiencing a Mod Podge romance?

Do you get whole symbols, characters, and magical scenes that just show up in your head? I’m reading a book that says that might be an INFP/INFJ thing. What do you think?

I’m Abigail and I’m an early career visual artist in New York state with a full time job and a love of writing. I explore personal growth and nostalgia in my work using magical and natural imagery. My goal is to make life look less spooky. You can find my gallery here.

Visual artist, mental health advocate, silly soul. Join the mailing list for e-zines, coupons, and early access to available work: