As part of a new series of posts entitled Just Imagine, I want to cover storytelling techniques alongside the art of visual expression. For this month’s post, I would like to share with you some of the techniques that I have discovered over the years that have been very helpful as well as insightful.

I’ve always been a big fan of CS Lewis. One of the things that I have always absolutely loved about his work is the depth and layers of meaning behind the stories he writes. One of the most interesting things that I have discovered about the work of CS Lewis is that in his series called the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis incorporated an element into the series that was completely hidden from the content of the series, at least on the outside looking in.

After the author’s death, it was determined that Lewis created each one of his stories in the Narnia series to be expressive of a different planet in our solar system. The words were taken direct from a poetic work written by Lewis himself. As an author, Lewis had always loved astrology and planetary research, believing it to be related to a higher power. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis by Michael Ward is a wonderful book that discusses the discovery of the secret layers in the series. The revelatory book will give you lots of details into the research behind this theory.

I’ve always loved the thought of writers getting together and collaborating on works in progress. CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and other authors used to meet as a group in a local pub The Eagle and Child when they were at Oxford. The group was called the Inklings. The influence they had on each other and their work was profound. You can check out more insights about the inklings in this video:

Challenging ourselves as visual storytellers to find a connection between our conscious reality and unconscious imaginative life has always been exciting to me. I love how the use of layers of meaning and symbolism in both art and writing can have a profound impact on storytelling. The mystery behind what is revealed and what is hidden in the underlying layers of meaning become provocative and engaging for the reader and viewer.

One of the rituals that I have incorporated into my creative process is that I write and sketch for at least one hour first thing in the morning, with my hazelnut coffee by my side of course! I also do the same thing one hour before I go to bed (sans coffee). I have no intent, no plan and no desire for a certain outcome. I pick up my book and pen, allowing whatever comes to mind for about one hour. Sometimes, I get lost in the process and go for longer. But, when I’m in the process, there is no hesitation and no erasing (hence the pen and not a pencil).

What I have found is that my mind dump starts very utilitarian in direction and then somewhere along the line, it changes. Because I’m not limiting my mind with a specific intent or directive, it starts to move into places that I would not have imagined. It’s almost like this amazing insight jumps out when I’m completely shut off the desire to control things. It may not happen right away, so be patient with your process. I you let go and let things flow and have no expectations, you completely block your inner critic, allowing your creative side to come out and play.

For example, I may start revealing insights about something that happened during my day and the things that really were quite inspiring and perhaps even a little unsettling. It is almost like you have to get that stuff out first to clean the slate. Some days and even weeks can be all about cleaning out the mental dust, debris and dirt. But eventually the inner space of the mind does get cleared out and there is room for some pretty amazing stuff to enter!

If you are up for the challenge, I will give you a mission or quest to take on. For the next month, give Inner Ramblings a try. Don’t analyze, proofread, redraw or make neat these inner insights. Mine go all over the place. Also, do them alone without any distractions. This will help channel your unconscious mind.

Albert Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Artistic and creative endeavors are the gateways to imagination. When my students are challenged by outside forces beyond their control, I tell them to use their superpower: their creative spirit within. It is a way to cope with the stresses of the world that seem to do everything it can to diminish us. Art and creativity, I believe, expands us as human beings. Sometimes, I think that our creativity is the only thing that is genuine, real and authentic to who we really are and all the rest is just a mirage.

To make things interesting, I suggest you create a personal book that has some kind of pre-existing, abstract environment to the inside pages. Using collage, painting or any technique, creating a stimulating and provocative environment from which to ramble. This will engage the senses and allow you to have an interesting point of departure.

Collage and paint are in the process of being added onto the pages of a blank book. Plastic sheets are used to protect the backsides of the pages. The tape and sheets are removed once the process of building an imaginative environment is completed. When everything is dry, the pages will lay back flat.

The pages above are texturized with heavy gesso using a palette knife and then painted in washes of color.

The above spread shows gesso texturing to create a dynamic environment.

In the above picture, I am using a roller to apply gesso. I use the same technique to colorize my spreads.

Above is a work-in-progress page that has been painted and textured using left over paint from my palette. A die-cut on the page creates an interesting element to the design. Later, text and sketching will be added using acrylic pens.

The creative exercise that I am sharing is all about painting intuitively, collaging from things that inspire and gathering insights to what is going on between the conscious and unconscious mind. Don’t even try or attempt to make a picture or even tell a story but instead focus on what comes out. Follow your inner muse. Your story and vision through your art will reveal itself to you over time. Give it a try!

In addition to my handmade and hand-altered books, I also have a series of creative journals called PAINT PICTURES WITH WORDS for purchase on my boutique.

The Paint Pictures with Words Journals are 6″ x 9″ hard cover journals with wraparound fantasy-inspired imagery. Painted textures throughout the journals serve as inspirational background from which to write on the lined interior pages. Let the journals inspire you to “Paint Pictures with Words!”

For more mixed-media explorations check these new projects out:

NEW VIDEO from Muddy Colors: IGNITING THE CREATIVE PROCESS: Backgrounds, Borders & Beyond!


NAVIGATING THE LABYRINTH OF THE CREATIVE MIND is my new patreon endeavor where I take you behind-the-scenes to witness projects I am working on. From the preliminary concepts, sketches and the production of unique costuming, masks, headdresses and embellishments through to the final execution of my mixed-media paintings, you will witness my journey through live monthly access on Zoom, weekly process posts and weekly inspirational and motivational audio insights.

We explore not only mixed-media painting techniques and conceptual approaches but also the practice of daily rituals that are conducive for artistic exploration and development, confronting the inner critic, handling creative blocks, working through anxiety and self-doubt and seeing mistakes as rites of passage. Every week, you will have access to audio insights that will help uplift, inspire and motivate you in your creative practice. As a patron, you will discover a multitude of ways to ignite your creativity, opening the door for the creative spirit to shine!

FREE TRIAL: Get a weekly dose of inspiration and motivation for your creative practice through my Rediscovering Your Creative Self audio program online which focuses on developing a relationship with the creative spirit that resides within and making daily lifestyle changes that enhance creativity, building a more creative and playful mindset.

Throughout the audio program, I explore topics such as battling the inner critic, handling creative block, working through anxiety and self-doubt and interrupting the patterns that bind. I also cover managing fears, seeing mistakes as rites of passage, knowing when to open and close doors, riding the wave of triumphs and tribulations, avoiding distractions and coping with naysayers that keep one from seeing the light that resides within.



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