It's been a couple of busy weeks with the NAEA Convention last week and teaching an all-day professional development workshop this week, and when things get busy, it's always good to spend a little time reflecting about things in the journal in an attempt to sort it all out.
I spent time today in the studio gluing things into the journal and adding color, shapes, and words with water-soluble pencil. I tend to collect a lot of fodder when I travel, especially at a conference or convention, and Seattle was no exception. As I glued bits and pieces in today from my trip, I began reflecting on the whole experience. Reflection doesn't have to be deep and personal writing, and it doesn't have to include many words at all. It's easy enough to get into a reflective mindset as you handle, cut, and glue the physical material and ephemera of an experience. It's a physical as well as mental kind of reflection, and as I glued in business cards, photos, tickets, and such from my trip I thought about the people that I met and interacted with, the sessions that I attended, and the places that I went.
I didn't limit myself to just collage today, and I broke out the Derwent Inktense pencils and added some color, lines, shapes, and words to many pages. These water-soluble pencils are great for building layers of bright colors, and work well to tie many of the collage pieces to the pages and surrounding elements. Like cutting and gluing, the repetitive movement of the pencil helps create a state of reflection since I was able to allow the experiences of the past week to just mix and mingle in the back of my mind as I worked. As I explored these pencils, I simple rolled things over in my mind and pondered the experiences.
A few words and ideas did keep popping up as I worked, and I kept coming back to the idea of connection. This year's convention was probably one of the best, and not because I presented a bunch of things or I went to a bunch of mind blowing sessions, but because of the people - the connections. I got to see and hang out with good friends, and I got to know some acquaintances better than I had in the past. I got to talk to so many people and share stories and ideas, and I got to meet quite a few people who I have been able to inspire. I am always amazed and humbled when someone comes up and thanks me for inspiring them or shares a story about how I un some small way have been a help. For me, that's what it is all about. Art and education are all about the connections, and I am grateful for the opportunity to connect.
Something else has been going through my mind as well over the past few weeks, and my recent experiences have just reaffirmed the notion. Everyday, I want to know how I have uplifted people - how have I helped and inspired - how have I aided and motivated others. If I am not lifting others up, then I'm probably tearing them down, and I don't want to be that way.
I choose connection and inspiration. I choose to help and to uplift.