healthy habits

After boldly declaring I was done with health issues, I began to sketch out a journal spread which included a washing line and blackbird, to match how I was feeling at the beginning of last week.

The spread stayed in its rough, pencil sketch form for a week. And yesterday I rubbed it out. To be replaced by this Healthy Habits spread. Because you know what? I am certainly not done with health issues.

And since I’ve begun to work on my healthy habits, I have restarted my morning yoga and running practice – and also my morning pages. There are quite a few more habits on my list and I know that to encourage them back to me as an automatic part of things, I need to work on it. Art journaling is the most gentle way I know how.

I took a couple of photos along the way, to let you see my easy peasy process. It took a couple of hours – I was lost in it and all the while thinking of how lucky I am to have the tools I need to turn my desire for health into actuality.

Layers 1 and 2

I journaled directly onto the page with a Sakura Glaze pen. You can’t see what you’re writing as you do it as it goes on invisibly – this is a great way not to edit your thoughts!

Then I mixed up a colourwash with watercolours and applied it over the page, and the writing appears, as it forms a resist to the paint.

glaze and colourwash

Layers 3 and 4

Then I used an acrylic wash to spray over a stencil to create some added interest. Over the top of that a weak mix of metallic acrylic ink sprayed all over the pages, followed by stamping over the spread with an elephant – to symbolise strength.

stamp and stencil

Layer 5

I took a couple of copies of vision boards I had recently created around the subject of health and ripped them up, to add to the page using gel medium. I also added in an inspirational card from Heather, to reinforce the messages. The collage pieces were laid down randomly.

I could have left the page alone at this stage. It looked really good. But you see, that really isn’t how I work (most of the time). Art journaling is a healing process for me, and I just wasn’t finished working through it yet, so I continued with more layers.

collage + happy mail

Layer 6

I was moved to include a couple of quotes in ink at this stage, then to bring turn the elements into a cohesive spread, I brayered on some white acrylic paint – all over both pages. This was one of the most fun parts of the process – there’s something about brayering over your carefully crafted piece which brings release, feels playful and also just a wee bit subversive.

brayering with acrylic

Layer 7

I wanted to get back some of the colour that was lost with the brayering, so I used the leftover watercolour paint from earlier, and dripped it from the top of the page. This part is really messy, but a huge amount of fun. The results mean the page loses any semblance of appearing ‘pretty’. It isn’t for everyone, but I was still playing and this satisfied me absolutely!

Finishing Touches

You can see in the photo at the top of this post, that I added in a postcard as the final layer. I jotted down all of the healthy habits that are important to me on the back of the card, then taped it on to the page, so I can flip it up any time I need a reminder! The postcard is of a piece by George Bain and includes the Gaelic script and its accompanying translation ” May your cup overflow with health and happiness”.

(After I had taken the final photo I did go back in and add some distressed ink to the edges of the pages, as I felt they needed a little extra.)

Let me leave you with one of the quotes I used on the page – I hope it can inspire you as much as it did me.

Embracing life is a choice.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.