Art After Loss, Using Art to Journey Through Grief | Heidi Cogdill | Skillshare

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Art After Loss, Using Art to Journey Through Grief

teacher avatar Heidi Cogdill, Writer and Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Lesson 1 - Journaling


    • 3.

      Lesson 2 - Collage Journaling


    • 4.

      Lesson 3 - Acrylic Paints


    • 5.

      Lesson 4 - Chalk Pastels


    • 6.

      Lesson 5 - Field Notebooks


    • 7.

      Your Project


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About This Class

Art After Loss will take you on a journey using Art to process grief. After losing our baby boy at 25 weeks and almost dying myself, the grief was unimaginable. In this class I’ll take you on my journey through grief and how I used art as a way to express my pain and to overcome fears. I’m not a therapist, just an artist who used creative expression as a way to explore emotions, to develop self-awareness, and to cope with stress.

You don't have to be a talented artist to join Art After Loss, all you need is the willingness to experiment. I'm here to help you release your inner artist.

Creating art will give you a chance to slow down and explore all the emotions that come with grief. The focus of this class will be on the process of creating with 5 different mediums, rather than the final product itself.

Benefits of Art After Loss:

*Self Discovery

*Self Esteem

*Emotional Release

*Stress & Anxiety Relief

Studies prove that creating art releases dopamine...which basically helps you feel happier. Which will help you deal with anxiety and depression.

The lessons are structured how I implemented them  in my own journey.

**Lesson 1 will focus on journaling

**Lesson 2 we’ll explore collage journaling

**Lesson 3 brings in acrylic paints as a way of expressing your grief.

**Lesson 4 we’ll get messy with chalk pastels as we venture outside.

**Lesson 5 will create field notebooks with watercolor and ink. Here I’ll take you exploring to the Oregon Coast and then hiking in the mountains as we work through old fears.

So grab a cup of tea and your art supplies and let's get started!

Meet Your Teacher

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Heidi Cogdill

Writer and Artist


Hello! I'm Heidi Cogdill, a Writer, Artist and Teacher. 

I live on the beautiful Oregon Coast. I spend my days drinking too much tea and hiding the chocolate…from myself.

I can't wait to share all the fun projects and techniques I've created over the years. 

You can always visit me at my website, Heidi Cogdill

Also, come meet me over on Instagram, where I share all the latest updates.


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1. Introduction : Hello. I'm Heidi Cogdill, and I'm an artist and a writer. This class is art after loss. It's a journey through grief. Art after loss started as my way of dealing with the loss of our baby boy. He He died last September after I had had an internal hemorrhage called a few More peritoneum at 25 weeks pregnant. And I was an artist who didn't know how to do our anymore because there were so much emotional trauma to the loss of our baby that I didn't know how to to be artistic anymore. And art after loss was my way of journey through the pain of loss, the grief that we felt and our it was my way of doing. I spent the last year working through really hard stuff. So I've created a class that gives you a glimpse of how I used art to get those emotions of grief, loss and sadness out of my head and into a safe space. It's my hope that you'll learn to connect creativity to your own deeper self. I'm not an art therapist. I'm just an artist who used art as a way to journey through my grief I'm not promising. This class will make the pain all better. You won't be healed after this class is over. But you will learn some tools on how to process your grief by trying different mediums and how they can connect you to your deeper feelings. Creating art no matter your skill level, helps with grief. I know this because I don't actually used to believe it, at least not until it became my compass. As I journeyed through the grief of losing my son, I found on my journey that distracting myself from sadness by making art worked even better than venting about it. As human beings, we possess such deep and complex emotions, and sadly, no one can tell us how best to process those emotions. The way we process is individual and therefore Onley, we can truly find which avenue we need to express ourselves. For me, it's always been a combination of the written word and art, and it's my hope that in this class you will find your way as well. During this course, I hope you can learn not only how to accept the mistakes and the missteps, but to welcome them as part of the creative process in this journey through grief will be using art to help us to experiment and to take risks will overcome the fear of doing it wrong and instead toe welcome whatever comes as true expression of what's within each of us . It's my hope that you'll see that it's the process of creating that brings the joyful part forward. Art is going to be our pathway to our hearts. This class isn't about teaching specific techniques. As I worked through the lessons, I'll be explaining here and there what I'm doing and why. But overall, this isn't a how to our class. It's my hope to teach you to use art as a companion on your journey through grief. I personally don't believe grief is something that we heal from, so I don't use that word. I believe grief and loss is something that becomes a part of us like a scar. It's always there, but over time the nerves become less sensitive. I don't want you to get hung up on creating art that will be perfect or finding just the right tools or colors. This class is about using what you can get your hands on your grief. Your pain is messy, and the art that helps you express that may very well be the same way. Those class includes five lessons in less and one you'll begin with the grief journal, then will be moving into collage journaling in the third lesson, we're going to create with acrylic paints on canvas. In the fourth lesson will be playing with pastels, and then we'll finish up by exploring the beach and the mountains and will be creating a field notebook using watercolors and pen. I'm inviting you to join me for this journey through grief. So grab your journal a cup of tea and let's get started. 2. Lesson 1 - Journaling: There's a quote by Deborah King that says You can write in the sand or on the watermelon or whatever suit, too. But the key is to get it out of your head and out of your heart and down your arms and into something, a keyboard or a piece of paper. Everyone around me and all the professionals said that I was in denial, but I wasn't denying that it happened. I just couldn't believe that it had. I was known I was empty. It took only a moment to empty me out completely. I became a shell of a person, or so it felt that feeling lasted for many months. I couldn't read or draw right. I barely had enough strength to get out of bed on my own and walk up and down the stairs. Must listo have any energy or interest in doing anything? I'd lay in bed and stared absently at the TV. After a few weeks, my body slowly began to recover. I started spending time in the recliner during one of the afternoons there, I heard Anabel Evian's new song head above Water, and immediately I was sobbing big, ugly tears. My husband came into the room and was concerned to find me so upset. I told them I wished I was the songwriter because in that moment it felt like the only way to express all the feelings that I was having. Nothing I knew seemed like an appropriate outlet. And for some reason, song writing seemed like a way to verbally express my pain. So he told me to go for it. Of course, I refused because sadly, I am far from musical, so he suggests that I start journaling. I suddenly refused to do that as well because I didn't want those words to exist in the world. I lived through that hell. The last thing that I wanted to do was to relive it on the page. But the thing is, I was reliving it repeatedly in my head. Anyway. My husband bought me a red leather bound journal, and I stared at it for days. I finally decided that I was going to write down the lyrics of all the songs that I was listening to, the ones that tugged so strongly on my heart. These words were safe, and yet they expressed my feelings. It snowballed from there. Eventually the words became my own, and I was writing out the pain that I had in my heart. Journaling started as a dumping place for every crazy, emotional, irrational thought that went through my mind. It was a safe place to put my anger, my resentment and those dark thoughts. It was also a soft landing spot for the tender parts of my heart that were so bruised and battered and terrified of the light. I quite literally watched some return into fall from my bedroom. There are so many benefits to journaling writing things Alkhanov to make you more aware of what you were feeling. For some people, they don't know what they were feeling until they write it down. Putting thoughts and emotions into words forces you to slow down and gives you an opportunity to deeply reflect on and perhaps even to better understand the emotions that are within you. It's a safe place to explore your jumbled thoughts and feelings. One day you can look back and see just how far you've come to see all the progress that you've made. There are no rules. Do whatever feels right. Turn your situation into a story, right list or questions or write a poem or even song lyrics like I Did we journal to record what we may forget to get our thoughts and our feelings out of our heads and onto the page . Way journal to be heard to be witnessed to make sense of ourselves generally can improve your physical and emotional health. I put in your thoughts and feelings into words. They come into sharper focus writing hopes, because grief is an emotion that needs to be witnessed in order to journey through it. So those are the benefits of journaling. But where do you start and how do you make it a regular habit? For me, the pressure of writing every day is too overwhelming. I have periods of time where I write every day and sometimes multiple times a day. But there are other times where I can go days or even weeks without writing. This used to make me feel so guilty, like somehow I was failing at this journaling thing, but I found that this is how we work and how I process things. So I've given myself permission toe let my journal rest until I need it. again. It sits patiently and without expectation. Next to my bed, I know it's there, and when I need it, I know where to go. Some are. So my first piece of advice for you is to find what works for you to remember that there are no rules. Now for those first lesson, you're going to need a few things. Obviously, the first thing you're gonna need is a journal. You could pick any journal that you want. I've used the mall lined online, spiral bound notebooks cheap, no books from the dollar's door and super expensive leather bound journals with handmade paper. You might be a nope, 1/4 like me and have a slew of journals to choose from more writing your house. If not, I want you to go out and get one if you are able. But if you're not, send someone for you or order one. Online journals are a very personal thing, so find the one that works best for you. Look for a journal that appeals to you. Find the size that fits Does. Do you want it to fit in your backpack or purse, or you have in your pocket? Do you want it to be large and luscious. Whatever works, that's what I want you to get. Then you're going to find your favorite pen. Each pen writes differently on different types of paper, so I like do a pen test on the last page of each new journal that help you decide which pen I want to use. Where do you write? Well, that's the easy part you can write anywhere. Journal can be done first thing in the morning, in bed or before you go to sleep at night. If you need some privacy, take it to the bathroom, lock the door and sit in your bathtub with the candle lit. Go outside or sit in the sunshine where you can hear the birds singing and the wind rustling in the leaves overhead. Maybe you need a designated spot, a place where your brain knows it's time to write. When you sit there, maybe that's at the dining table or curled up on the couch with a fireplace or a cup of tea beside you. Maybe that's at a cafe or coffee shop with the white noise all around you. Here's a list of all the possible places that you can write and there's so many more. Just a note about privacy. If you are afraid that someone will read the words that you are writing without your consent, you may censor what you put on the page. The's journals air for you, and they're meant to be a safe place, so that may require a sense of privacy and security in knowing that no one will be snooping into your private space. If that's the case that I want you to keep it private, that might mean that you keep it locked away where no one can see it, or talk to your loved ones and tell them how important it is for them to respect your privacy. You must do what works for you. Maybe you're totally open and would love to share your words with your people. But decide where you want to keep your journal when you're not writing in it, so that others will not be tempted to read it without your permission. Just take a moment to decide how you feel about privacy and then move to set up those boundaries. Now what do you want to write about? There is really no right way or wrong way to journal, and your entries need not be long or involved. They may not even fill up a page. Writing out her feelings and pain may at times be poetic, and other times it will be a giant garbled mess. Maybe your words will be littered with swear words and pages full of angry, mean things that you probably don't really mean. But it really felt good to say it. The point is, you have permission to write whatever you're feeling. This is a safe place. Remember, it doesn't matter if your words are whiny or angry or sad or depressing. You may never even read those words ever again, but you got them out of your head, and that's all that mattered because it lessens the intensity of them. So what should you write about? The easy answer is anything, and the heart answer is anything. There's so many things that you can write about, so I'm gonna give you a list of prompts and ideas that can get you started. You'll be able to download these on the my project section. So before you move into the next lesson on collage, journaling I want you to do some journaling in your grief journal, spent some time there and see how it feels to explore the feelings that you're going through in the emotions that air weighing heavy on your heart. That way, when we move into claws journaling, you have had the experience of just letting that grief go. I'll see in the next class. 3. Lesson 2 - Collage Journaling : as we talked for a few moments, I am going to share with you a couple of my collage journals. I'll do a fit through as we talk a little bit. So at this point in my, um, grief journey, I was dealing with a lot of anger, and for me, anger was a very safe emotion. It's active and alive, and it makes me feel that way. It could propel me forward, even disguise itself as a productive partner because the opposite of that is a soul crushing sadness. And that is not an emotion that gets me out of bed and through my day. So at that point in this journey, for me, ah, anger was safe. I'd rather stay with anger because it was a place of action. Burn a. Brown says that we as people are scared when we see vulnerability and others because we're uncomfortable with others pain. I would take that a step further and say that we are more afraid of the vulnerability in ourselves. Other people's vulnerability is like a contagious flu that no one wants to catch. We don't know how to help them and we fear getting too close for fear that we might catch that disease, But really, we're terrified that the vulnerability that we see in others will be like a mirror and reflect our own. After we lost our baby and I endured such trauma at the hands of medical personnel, they were there to help me through a very life threatening situation, and they didn't. So I was angry and rightfully so. It made me brave and courageous, and I felt powerful in my anger. I was ready to take on the world of anyone who stood in my way. The problem is, I was angry at everyone, including God and even myself. The thing I learned about anger was how self destructive it could be. It actually isolated me from my faith, the faith that I needed for my friends and my family, who I needed to love me and support me. And it limited me how much help that I was willing to accept from doctors and therapists. So all of a sudden I was an artist who didn't do art. I was terrified of my art studio. My main focus before losing our baby was Children's illustrations and because of our situation, has been such an emergency. My studio was like a shrine to this hopeful future that I had a head with projects in the works. I could not go in there. I couldn't face all of that. So I stayed away. I would use my iPad to watch movies, but I avoided the artwork that was on there, and I avoided anything to do with it. I have been working to my grief journal for a while before I started to Miss Art. I didn't want to miss it. I refuse to face it, but I needed something more to occupy my time. So I decided that I take a class on journaling by Susanna Conway. It was during that class is his. Anna shared all different types of journaling, and one of them was a clause journal. After the class was complete, I kept the idea of clause journaling in mind and decided that I would use one or that idea in in my own journals. I purchased a unlined notebook called a sequence from Amazon, and asked my husband to bring me a box of ephemera that I had in my studio. I love the time spent cutting paper and assembling collage pieces onto the page. I could use words cut out from magazines to create poems. Plus, it gave me something to do with all of the magazines that people were bringing me. I could create visual representations of my feelings with pictures, paper stickers and words. Slowly, pages were being filled and I was making art again. The process of collecting ephemera even became somewhat cathartic. So for this lesson, we're going to work on a collage journal. I want you to continue writing in your grief journal when it feels right, but we're going to start a new journal. One separate from this grief journal is going to be a collage journal. They're different. So what, exactly is ephemeral is defined as things that are used or enjoyed for only a short time. So for this lesson, you're going to need a few different supplies. You're going to need a journal ephemera, glue and scissors. You can also add stickers, tape runners, washi tape, scrap of paper, pretty paper, all kinds of fun stuff. Now you might already have a box of ephemera. If not, you can begin by going through old magazines looking for pictures words, etcetera that really speak to you. Collect old letters, ledgers, books, pretty scraps of paper and stickers. Get lost on Etsy looking for fun stuff to include. Pretty soon, you'll have a box bursting with stuff. One of my favorite things to do for my collage journals is to rifle through all of my older magazines and look for pictures and words, things that inspire, and just anything that I think that looks pretty. Sometimes I'll save an entire page. Other times I'll cut something out or even rip it out. And then I just save it in my box. And when I'm going through later on and looking at the different pieces that I have stored in my ephemera box, I might find something that speaks to me and works together. I don't always know why. Um, I'm saving something. It just when I look at the pictures. When I looked through the magazines, they just jump out at me. So here I am, Um, sometimes I'll cut them. Sometimes I'll tear them as you see here, and I always try to save lots of pretty pictures of flowers, cause for me, flowers are a big part of my art and my collage journals, so I'm always saving those things. So well, let's go through a few magazines if you want. You could go ahead and bring a stack of your own and start ripping out as I do here, or you can kind of just watches. I do it. I'm just going to kind of show you how I gather different, um, things from magazines and what speaks to me. There I pulled out the word editor's note. I don't know that I'll use the entire thing, but I liked the script of it, so I might use parts of it on here. I'm saving script as well. The word energy might come into place at some point in a collage page. This is obviously a magazine on flea markets, fines and how to decorate. So it's gonna have a lot of, um, household pictures. Not a lot of that is used in my Klaus journals, but it's It always provides a lot of background things. A lot of script, E things, text, that sort of thing. So I'm just going to kind of pull through and find pictures that speak to me and that remind me of things that I want to maybe use one day. Now I'm looking through, um, more of an art magazine by Somerset called Digital Studio. And, um, I like to use a lot of the artwork that comes out of this magazine as backgrounds. And, um because a lot of it has already kind of collaged together because of the actual style of the magazine. But, um, I like to use edges and pieces to kind of create some sort of background in my collage journals. So here I've opened up my FMR box and started to pull out all of these really fun pieces of paper that I've collected. Um, Old's damps, old postcards, pretty paper, text cut out of magazines, stickers, all kinds of things that I've collected over years and years and continued to add to the box even today. So I am. I'm going through everything here. And so what I like to do is I Actually, as I go through my box, I like to kind of separated into piles, different ideas of things, different themes, um, feelings. And I just had to kind of gather kind of ideas that I think are gonna work together. All include different things, words and pictures and text and backgrounds and papers. Anything that I think that might work together. Sometimes it's a color. Sometimes it's a quote that speaks to me, and I'm gonna build all of the things around that quote or that picture. And sometimes it's going to be a color theme. As I start to kind of go through my FMR box, I might find a handful of things that just have a very similar color theme, and that's going to kind of get put into a pile. So here I'm kind of creating piles, and I'm just separating things as I go kind of finding, um, little nuggets here and there, things that I don't always know we're gonna work together, you know? Previously, when I'm going through the box at a different day, I might find this connection between two things that I never saw before. There's gonna be things in that box that I know that I put in there, but I have no idea how it got there or if they can't remember, you know how long it's been there. I mean, it's It's the craziest thing when you are able to go through and look at all of these things in and find little nuggets. So here I finally cleaned up my mess, put away all the things that didn't really connect, and I'm separating, um, into, you know, here of picked a pile of of things that I think are gonna work, and I'm laying them out in looking at what I think is gonna work together and how the layout in the spacing and kind of how that always going to collage together. So I'm just going to kind of lay it out and start kind of assembling before I actually put it on the page. Now, I've got my journal out here. Now that I've got these separate piles going, I'm gonna start assembling some of what I've found that works together onto the page and start positioning things until it works for me. And it's hard to tell you exactly how this is gonna work for you. Everybody has their own way of doing it. I want you to find your playful side. Remember when you were a child and at school and we had to create those collage you know, assignments with magazines and words and also for maybe you create mood boards for yourself Where you you know, what kind of collect different things that that speak to you and remind you in this is what you're doing? What, you're doing it inside of a journal. And so I don't always know how the position is gonna work. This isn't a very large journal with scrapbooking and and collage. Typically, you can work on a larger scale. This is a smaller book. This is only a five by seven. So I do have to work fairly small, which is someone new for me and how I work. So I like to just move the piece of paper around. I'm very careful not to glue things down or add anything sticky. Yet I like to get kind of the very basic idea down and kind of have the positioning figured out before I start adding any sort of of tape or glue or anything. So I'm just continuously trying different pieces that I've pulled out of my ephemera box, and I think that might work together. Um, I'm creating kind of ah, vintage, you know, fashion sort of page here. I love old vintage fashion and the old kind of vintage paper look. And that's kind of one of the pages that I'm creating here. You know the page before on the page after, give you, you know, bright and modern and you know drastically different. But that's the beauty of collage journaling. There's such a free nous in it and there is no pressure. There is no right way. And, you know, if you pull out a bunch of stuff and you create these collage pages and you don't like it, it's OK. Turn the page and create a new one there. There's nothing about this that has to be, you know, perfect. And, um, you know, if you don't like it, move on. You might come back days later, weeks later, months later and see it and go. You know that's not so bad. But if you don't like it, move on. So every page is going to be different, and and every mood that I might have when I'm sitting down toe work for that day might be different. And today I, for whatever reason, I found that these very vintage e postcards and you know these pictures of this older vintage fashion really was speaking to me. And I love old script in handwriting, Which is that postcard you see to the right of my journal. They're these very, very old, um, and they're actually French, so the I'm handwriting is I can't read it. And it's very script Ian, very old and just so beautiful. So for whatever reason, when I'm going through my November box, you know, when those things really connect and speak to me, that's what I'm gonna pull out. And that's what I'm gonna use to work with that day. And when I started collage journaling there waas um, you know, I was angry, like I had said earlier in this lesson, and that anger is a productive thing for me. It propels me forward. But in order to truly process all of the grief that I was going through and to move beyond the intense anger, that raw anger that I had, I had to find an outlet. And for me personally, it needed to be something that waas soothing something that took my mind off of it. Something that changed perspective to some degree. Um, but I found that I couldn't focus on all of the feelings that I was having and in journaling, sometimes could really do that for me really draws me into the emotion and makes me analyze all that I'm feeling. And when I was feeling angry was just angry. I was angry words that I was. Excuse me. I was angry with the thing that happened. I was angry with the people that were involved, and always writing about it or talking about it to some degree kept me in that place. So I was going to need some other outlet. And when Klaus Journey journaling came in, it was a time for me to separate from it all, to disconnect long enough to play and a touch and to cut in the glue and a ripped paper. There's something extremely cathartic about that. Just collecting the pieces that I was going to use that was cathartic. I was looking and and ripping out papers, and all of that just played into me, taking a step back from all of the intense anger that I was feeling. And then once I was sitting down in front of my desk with all of the pieces of paper that I have collected and gluing and putting those together. It really separated, um, me long enough from the intense anger that I could take a breath and move beyond those moments of such intense feeling. So if you are at that anger place, if you're processing your grieve and anger is playing a dominant role in how you feel of love for you to try collage ing Klaus drilling can give you the needed break that you need from those emotions. It doesn't mean that when you're done that they are still going to be there. They will be. You're going to have your anger days. You're going to feel that emotion, and there is nothing wrong with that and anger can be. For me, Wasit was an active thing, so it's hard to sometimes view that as such a negative thing. But I also didn't want to stay in an angry place because I hade Children and a husband and I needed to be engaged and productive without having to be angry all the time. So I would love for you to be able to find that relief when you need it and collage. Journaling can truly be that so I'm gonna create, um, a few collage journaling pages. I'll turn on some music and speed up the sound or the video a little bit, so we'll move quicker. And if you'd love Teoh, bring out your own collage ephemera and build some pages with me. Or just sit back in and watch the video and enjoy the process. - I hope you really enjoyed your time working on the collage journal and doing that with me. And the next lesson will be focusing on acrylic paints, so I hope to see you in the next lesson. 4. Lesson 3 - Acrylic Paints: we're going to explore acrylic paints unless and three. It wasn't something that I was comfortable using before my loss, so it was odd that it became the spark that got me painting again. For this lesson, you're going to need a few supplies. First, you'll need acrylic paints. This doesn't have to be anything expensive. You can find something that your local craft store or even a target you'll need. Brushes, a canvas, a water jar and some paper towels. I was about three months into my recovery when I hit a point where I couldn't rationalize all that had happened. I had worked out much of my dark and angry feelings, but just beneath the surface was this fragile little thing that looked in every direction for help. I became terrified of dying so much so that I was convinced that I need to organize and declutter everything that I owned. It needed to be in order so that when I dyed, my husband and Children wouldn't have to go through all of my stuff. I wanted to tie this pretty little bow around my life so that when I was gone, it would be easier for my loved ones. At the time, I thought all of these things were rational and even helpful. I felt if I was handling everything or staying alert, that nothing bad could happen. Unfortunately, bad things did happen, and things didn't always go as I had planned, which would only set me off more. I frantically wanted to control everything in everyone. My nerves were fried, and I was exhausted after the trauma that my body had endured in the grief my heart was weighed down with. My body wasn't able to handle this level of stress. So once again I needed to find a way to manage all these overwhelming emotions. I was journaling and collage in, but I was antsy and I needed an outlet that I couldn't explain. My husband suggests that I picked up drawing or painting again, but I was holding firm. It would all held too much pain, so he suggested I try an art medium that I didn't usually practice something new. My daughter had a stack of canvases and some old acrylic panes, but I was still reluctant. I wasn't an acrylic painter, and I was a little intimidated by it all. Maybe even a little afraid. One day I made my way down to my studio. I was nervous, as it had been months since I was in there, and I was a little afraid of the emotions that were going to come up. So I kept my back to most of it and I set up an easel and I picked up the smallest canvas that I could find. I created a palette of colors that felt right, and then I sat staring at the campus. Had no idea where to start. I decided that I was going to start by writing out our baby's name. Noah Grayson. Reason Kado. Then I rotated it and I continued, We love you. We miss you. Tears were streaming down my face. I could barely see the canvas, but once the words were dry, I started to add color over top. And once I was finished, This is what I ended up with. Let's get started with this lessons project. We're going to be painting on canvas with our acrylic panes. First, I'm going to write a message, and I decided that I'm going to write a message to our baby. So for you I'd like you to come up with some sort of message, some sort of poem or quote that means a lot to you and just write that and paint on your canvas. It can be very cathartic to be able to write out your emotions or to send a message out into the world. And and once you've done that, kind of unleashed those emotions and that feeling and that grieve, put it out on your canvas and then cover it up, it doesn't mean that is gone. It just means that you've had a chance to express it, to put it out there and then to hide it with something beautiful to cover it up. But you know that it's there, you know those words air there, and that's all that matters. The color palette I've chosen for this painting are three different colors. I've picked a deep sea, an eggplant and a sky color, and what I do with these paintings is I like to take my brush, and I like a kind of a fat square brush. You can use any brush that you like, but I'm going to use this fat square brush, and I start with the color, and I just swipe it from side to side, adding the color, letting the brushstrokes kind of just do as they will. I want areas that are going to be a little bit darker on a little bit lighter, and I just start very gently swiping my brush from side to side. This is a very side to side motion sort of painting, and you'll do this for all three of the colors and just back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes I add fresh paint so that there's a little bit darker, and other times I'm just really brushing that paint into the canvas from side to side, adding the eggplant purple. Now I'm doing the exact same thing. I'm just brushing back and forth side to side, adding in the color, letting there be dark and light areas and blending slightly into the green but not overpowering the green and kind of just filling in the gaps, but not completely because I saw one more color. I'm gonna Adam and add the sky color in so just back and forth keep adding those those brush strokes now, adding my light sky blue color, I am going to do the same thing just back and forth, adding, in blending in where the paint meets the the green and the purple. But to continue, just add the stroke side to side, dark and light in areas, which is I'm just adding the pressure and blending. This is only layer one. I'll go back in and start defining further areas and colors later on. Now I'm going back in and I'm adding color as they go. But I am going to be blending this more and more. I'm pushing a little bit harder birth my brush and going back and forth. And I'm just blending the edges so that the backgrounds gonna look much more blended because the next layer I'm gonna really be defining those lines a little bit more. So this is just back and forth, adding in more color where we need it, whether it's the purple or the blue and just swiping my brush aside, decide and really blending those edges together. - So I've given this layer a chance to dry, and the nice thing with acrylics is at the paint, really just dry quickly. So now that this layer is dry, I'm gonna come in and I'm going to add in my purples and greens in my sky blue. But I'm going to be defining the areas now that I have this background where things were blended. But I can see where there's greens and there's the purples and sky blue, and it's allowing me to come back in and define those lines. At this point in my journey, I was really starting to see the importance of using art as a therapeutic, a way of expressing myself. The process of creating are allowed me to be a Duer. I'm not someone who just wants to sit around and think and talk and vent out my feelings. But it was it was something that I needed to do and making art was a process, and it was a way of expressing myself and my pain and my peelings and and it was also a way of releasing those feelings and putting them in a safe place. It was not only while I was creating the art, but afterwards that I really started to see the benefits because it was giving me a way of expressing myself. But, um, it was a way for me to focus and to identify emotional feelings and to be able to have more of a rational understanding of of some of what I was feeling and why I was feeling it. So I'm hoping for you is that during this process of creating thes acrylic paintings that you're going to be able to better understand your emotions and how you can express them when you're feeling overwhelmed and emotional, I would like you to come to your paints and to use them to work out some of what you're feeling. Creating artist Velshi with acrylic paints and gives you a way of expressing but also of making choices. Acrylic paint goes where you want it to go, and it's unlike other mediums, like watercolor that is fluid and kind of has a mind of his own. Whereas acrylic paints, there's some control there, and that allows you as someone who's practicing art as a way of grieving and working through the emotions. It gives you a power of making choices itself directed, and that can be a really cathartic thing. When I started creating paintings like this, there was something so freeing about the fact that it was allowing the brush strokes to really create the dimensions and the feel of the painting. At times I'll use thicker, wider strokes on and other times will be thinner, like the painting that I'm working on here. The line strokes are a little bit thinner, and they blend a little bit more into each other. Other times when they're thicker, you know, it creates a different feel. I've really found that working with acrylic paints allowed me to express my emotions in a nonverbal way. It was a way for me to give my feelings and my grief a voice, even though there were no words being shared, I noticed that after I had created that first acrylic painting that I was excited to get out of bed and return to my studio because I wanted to paint again. I wanted that feeling that release even just for a few moments. And so the process of creating are in making that are really did improve and enhance not just my emotional well being, but my physical as well. Using art as a way of expressing yourself really does allow you to confront and work through your emotional and physical pain. It helps you to increase your awareness and your sense of self, and it really allows you to get in touch with emotions that air feeling very out of control and sometimes on a unidentifiable. With this technique, you are finished whenever you feel like you've had enough put down onto the canvas. Sometimes it might be layer after layer after layer as you work these colors into each other where they blend and they connect. Other times it might just be one or two layers, and you're able to express the feeling that you have, Um, but just keep working and keep adding your layers. Keep adding your brush strokes until you feel that the painting is where you want it to be . The sensation of those brush bristles scratching across the texture of the canvas. When I first started using acrylic paints during my journey, it was a sensation of those broads specials against that campus that really crawled up into my arm and into my body. It was a sensation that I will never forget because it's somehow mimicked the feelings that were like coursing through me and that sensation as it crawled of my arm. The feelings that I was having intern traveled back down my arm and out that paintbrush. I learned that day that the canvas can handle the power of grieve. It took all that I put out in each time I returned to my studio and worked away on another painting. The more those feelings came out and the pressure that had built up started to lessen and I began to feel lighter. The last part of this project will be adding a word to your painting. It can be a word that means something to you. It could be a word that you've chosen for the year that you're focusing on. It could be a word that you need to remember. Whatever speaks to you for this project, I'm using the word hope, and I'm going to be writing out in script on pencil. My word. Um, I like to just kind of cursive handwriting doubt and I find the positioning. And if I don't like something, I can rework it and just use a kneaded eraser to kind of correct my my lines here. I usually use a very light pencil, but for this video, I'm showing you with a little bit darker charcoal pencil just so that you can see the lines a little bit clearer. If you're not comfortable writing and script or getting your word to look the way that you want, you can always go onto your computer or your tablet and type out in the font that you like the word and then use that to transfer onto your canvas is the word that you want to use. We're going to be using white paint for my word, and I do. It's similar to how he did it with the pencil. I'm just covering the pencil lines with my white paint and then I'm gonna go back in and add multiple layers. But in the beginning, what I'm doing is I'm just tracing over that first thin line, and I'm gonna be thinking up areas that I want to make the script thicker and allowing the lines to stay thin in other areas. This way, I can go back through and kind of just make sure that the font looks the way that I want. You can do this with your pencil and at very defined lines and then paint those lines in, or you can do like I am where you just have the basic lines and you kind of thicken up as you go around each of the letters here. - After that first layer is dry, I'm gonna go back over and add another layer of white paint just to make sure that my word is nice and bold. For if you're interested in protecting your painting with a varnish, this is the varnish that I like to use. The liquid Tex is a great varnish. You can get it in multiple types. You can get it in the Matt or gloss. I have two different ones here and there in a gloss varnish. The one on the left is a bottle, and it's a brush you brush it on, and then the one of the writers actually a spray varnish so that you can actually spray it like a spray paint. I hope that you've enjoyed working with acrylic panes, and I hope to see you in the next lesson on truck. Estos 5. Lesson 4 - Chalk Pastels: in this lesson, we're going to be focusing on pastels. Um, by the time that winter was over and I was coming out of this place of loss and grief and anger. And, you know, the winter had been long and dreary here on the Oregon coast. And as spring came and the flowers started to bloom, uh, I was starting to get really inspired by all of the colors that were around me and all of the bright blooms that were just outside my my back door on my deck. We live in a beautiful spot, words surrounded around trees and foliage that really feels in come spring time and through the summer. So in this lesson, you know, I'll be using the inspiration from my backyard and all the flowers that were blooming there . Pastels are such a vibrant medium. They allow this free spirited side to come out. I found that plane with pastels helped with what I felt at that time was the depression that I was going through. Like I said, the winter had been long and cold, and, you know, it had been many months since we lost our baby and I was starting to physically recover, and I was getting stronger and starting toe leave my bedroom and to venture out, and I wasn't really sure where I was going to be doing, um, all that And so I needed a place to be, and pastels kind of appeared. They allowed me to turn off my brain, especially on those really dark, depressing days. There's a free nous in blending those pure colors together. Um, I enter a creative flow that is so loose and so unhurried that it just it allowed me, Teoh um, kind of process all that I was dealing with as this transition was happening. With any form of grief comes a level of depression. It's inevitable it will come. It just a matter of time. For me, Depression immediately follows moments where I must face my life without my baby and those days where my physical ailments remind me of how broken I waas. I'm not a fan of journaling during these moments of depression because the words that would come out would be darker versions of much of the same things that I've already written about since I do a lot of journal and I find that when I'm in thes dark moments, journaling only perpetuates the cycle. So for me, I need to create art, even though getting myself to do so in the moment isn't always easy. I feel sad alone, lost, apathetic. And yet those are the moments that I need the art released the most. When I'm in that place, I am very critical of my art, and that can feel really icky. On a particularly difficult day, I had decided that I would clean out my art supplies. I was getting more comfortable being in my art studio again, but I still was feeling the need to clean out. I wasn't able to create any art that day. Even acrylic painting wasn't helping, so I thought I would use this as a way to keep busy a mundane task that didn't require much mentally. But while I was cleaning out my, uh, supplying drawers, I came across some old chalk pastel paints, and I remembered how, a couple of years ago I really enjoyed working with pastels. It was something that I just played with. It was never anything I did for my professional art, but it it always was fun to play with, and I remember how much I loved being able to push the pigment pigments around on the page to feel that smooth, chalky nous beneath my fingers. So I pulled out some old pastel pads and I sat on the floor in my studio, and I began to play with these large pastel sticks. And for this lesson, I want you to do the same thing. So for this lesson, you're going to need some chalk, pastels, pastel paper, a pencil and hairspray or fixative. I like to use hair spray, and I'll explain more why. Later, I've moved into my studio, so the camera and the lighting offer a clearer picture of what I'm doing. If you've never worked with pastels before, they might be intimidating. But I don't want you to be afraid of them. I'm not an expert in pastels by any means, and this lesson isn't meant to encourage or teach that. But as part of a grief journey, Pastels offers a free nous to be messy. There is a physical connection between your hand and the chalk as it blends together in a way that no other medium is. I guess you could finger pain, and that might give you a similar connection. But for me, past cells were grounding effect at a time in my journey when I needed that, I've decided to recreate the flower that I did on the porch and in the earlier video, with purple and blue, I created the center of the flower. I'm not going for photo. Realistic but rather cheerful interpretation. Bright color palettes work for me most of the time. They're using my go to when creating our that works for me. But I want you to select whichever color pilot works for you and whichever subject matter you don't have to create a flower like I am. You can create abstract designs or patterns, or maybe you want to draw portrait. It's so give that a try with pastels. But whichever subject you choose to draw, please keep in mind that it's the act of blending the colors and the sensations that it gives you that I'm hoping you gain from this lesson. Grief is messy. It doesn't go in a linear way. We all handle grief differently, so there is no right way and my journey pastels came into the picture when I was dealing with depression, so that's why I've attached this medium to that emotion. But it may connect to something different for you. My hope with this class is to offer you ways to express yourself. You may connect more toe one medium than another, and that's awesome. I want this to be permission to create what feels right in a way that feels the most authentic. Now I'm using some soft pinks and whites to add the definition to the flower. The whites are gonna be my highlights and the darker pinks we're gonna create where my shadows we're gonna be. I like to lay down all of my first layer of pastels before we start blending everything in . So I moved around the flower, adding different shades of whites and pinks in order to kind of create the dimension. And now here I'm finally starting to blend. I pushed the pigment around on the paper and blending the edges together. It's not so much muddying them all together as much as just blending the edges so that they merge gently into each other. So I'll continue Teoh blend as they move around the flower petals here and I'm adding whites and darker pinks as I go wherever I feel that I need to soften up the color or dark in the color so you'll see me blending and adding and blending and adding as I go now that I've got all of my first layer down and blended together, I'm adding color here and there. I'm going back over with this darker purple because that's gonna deep in my shadows. As I add the color, I'm gently rubbing and blending with my fingers. It's very light pressure that I'm pushing down with. I just want to smooth out the lines, not rub them in. I just It's just a gentle swiping of my finger to kind of blend that chalk into that area. Once your dryness complete, you'll need to add a fixative over the past cells to keep them from shedding or rubbing off . I like to use hair spray. It's quick. It's easy in a dry, super fast plus, you can always add more pastels over top of the hairspray. If you want to add more layers, the fixative Z will actually dark in any color that you have on your paper, so watches they spray my paper here. You're gonna see that those pastels get really, really vibrant once that fixative is added. If you have a regular fixative, go ahead and use that. Otherwise you can use the Hairspray like I did. I hope you enjoyed the pastels class and I'll see you in our final lesson for field notebooks. 6. Lesson 5 - Field Notebooks: in this lesson, I'm going to introduce you to what I call field notebooks thes air sketchbooks that travel with me on walks and hikes. I even carry one in my purse. Field notebooks joined my journey at a stage where I was beginning to realize that I still had a connection to the world around me, one that extended beyond the confines of my home. I was still plagued by a lot of fears, but I was seeing the things around me more clearly than I had in many, many months. I was different forever so, but the ocean had remained constant. I could hear the roar of the waves from my bedroom windows when I wake up in the middle of the night. The sound of the ocean was comforting to me. The birds chirped. Every morning, the leaves started to return as winter faded into spring and and then into summer and the flowers were blooming. I remember one morning wanting so badly to be on the beach, I wanted toe watch the waves crashing. Instead of just hearing it, I wanted to feel the warm sand between my toes and the smell of the salt in the air. It was such a strong desire that the fears that I had couldn't stop me. So I went and soon leaving my house, my house got easier. In fact, I wanted to go out and to explore. I wanted to see that beauty around me again. So many of my memories from that tragic time are dark. I remember the icy room as dark, but photos prove otherwise. The room had an entire wall of windows that lead in a ton of light. But that's not how I remember it. It took a long time for me to see the light again, but eventually I did. Eventually I'd laugh at my son's jokes. Without feeling guilty. I'd stop feeling so terrified that my body was going to fail me if I pushed it. I take longer walks, and then eventually I was hiking. But being on the go took me away from my studio and my art. So I created a field notebook to take with me. I gathered as fuel supplies I absolutely needed because I didn't want to carry a ton of weight, especially because I wasn't really strong enough to carry it all in the beginning, I began documenting all of the beautiful things that I saw. I added written notes and feeling civil sketches, recording the dates in the location. It became a record of all of the successes that I was having slowly allowing me to let go of all of the doubts, the fears, that guilt that came with such a tragic event. Shortly after I came home from the hospital, I told my mother that I feared every single moment I was terrified of what came next. She told me that it would take time that it would be a lot of little successes that would remind me that I would be okay and that's slowly. The fears would not be so big in that moment. I didn't believe her. I had months of bad news and tragedy, so I feared letting my guard down. But you know what it did happen. The nerves became less sensitive. I could think about my baby and even talk about his birth and not ugly cry. You're going to need a few supplies for this lesson. As I mentioned before, I try to pack his few as items as possible, but there's a few things. We're going to need a sketchbook with watercolor or Bristol paper, something that can handle the water, water color palette, a water brush or paintbrush, a pencil, a white gel pen. I use a universal signal and micron liners or water soluble pens. One of my favorite things to do is to pre prep my field notebook pages. I do this in a few ways. All that water color washes to the paper, making sure to keep the colors relatively light so that I could easily draw over top of them. I use leaves and plants from outside to help add texture to the backgrounds as well. So before I take you outside on a journey to the beach and for hike up to the mountains, let's prep a few pages together here. You can see that I have already have a few pages done, but I've collected different types of leaves from my backyard and all we use them to add texture. Now, using this leaf, I've mixed up a really pretty pink color to use. I'm adding water color paint directly over the top of it and pressing it down on top of the paper kind of like a stamp. It's not going to use this Brera again, and I'm gonna press the leaf onto the paper. The first impression was wet and watery, but as I kept pressing out the leave, the impression got lighter and lighter. I want to add another layer with a different leaf color, so I'm using my little mini blow dryer to dry this layer quicker. I've mixed up a really pretty purple color now and will add water color paint to the different shaped leaves and press that onto my paper like I did with this 1st 1 without layer dry. I'm going to add yet another layer with one last color. This really pretty yellow. I'd like to take you on a walk to the beach. Now I want you to listen to the ocean waves, crashing the seagulls calling and imagine yourself beside me. Can you feel the warm sunshine on your face as it warms your shoulders? Que smell the ocean air and feel it sucked into your lungs? Becoming a part of you? Can you feel the sand beneath your toes? Susanna Conway says in her wonderful book. This. I know that you can't get over grieve, you move through it as you learn to live with the loss, you have to learn to swim with it. So for the next few minutes, I want you to enjoy all that the beach has to offer. Living on the Oregon coast, I have the gift of both the ocean and the mountains, a short distance from my home. There is a hike that is super easy, and yet the beauty is magnificent. The first time I went was months after our loss, and I had yet to push my body so hard. Even though it's an easy hike, I'd have to hike my way in and out. I was so excited to do it, but there was a fear that was hiding beneath the surface that kept telling me that I couldn't do it, and if I did, I might die. This is the dialogue that exists in my head. After the trauma that I endured in the hospital, I am left with this intense fear of my own body and a distressed that has taken a very long time to overcome. This hike was a huge help. In doing that, I decided to film this hike because I wanted you to tag along. Maybe think of something of fear, an old story that you tell yourself something that is holding you back something that plays in your mind and tells you that you are not good enough that you're not strong enough. At the end of this hike is a beautiful reminder that no, on Lee, can we do the hard things but that there are gifts waiting on the other side. And then once we're there, we're going to sit for a minute, and we're going to sketch in our field notebooks. Okay? - Don't be too picky about color. Don't waste your time trying to mix up the most perfect color. It's about just putting splashes of color down on the paper and enjoying the process. Prepping your pages are justice fun as being out in the field and adding your illustrations . Foreign field notebook. First, we're going to, um, Prepper pages. I'm gonna be working in the studio so that the good lighting and the camera angle will show the best of what we're doing. But this is the stage that I am adding color. This is how I prepped my pages. Sometimes I'm using the leaves as impressions and throwing down color like I did earlier in the video. Or I'm gonna be adding just splashes of color and blobs and and squiggles on my page. I like Teoh. Put the paper or the color on the paper at this point this way, because when I'm in the field later on, adding those drawings on top of this watercolor is so fun. So I've put down a really pretty pink and green, and now I'm going back with a really wet purple, and I'm going to just kind of drop that color in on top of my pink Ah, watercolor that's already down and just let those colors melt together. They're going to bleed into each other and then because I just love the way that the splashes look behind my drawings once the illustrations are or the line artist put on there . So I'm gonna put in purples and greens and pinks and just add in a bunch of splashes, and you do that by just getting your brush really, really, really wet and soaking that color with that water and just making sure that when you are going to make your splatters that your just your brushes super wet and then I hold it and I just kind of beat it against the edge of my finger so that the splashes kind of flick onto the paper here once all of that is dry. Um, I will then move on to another page. Sometimes I'll work in more than one. No book at a time. And that's how I put my pages. So once the pages prepped and then now I'm in the field. This is where I would open up my notebook at the beach or in the mountains on a walk on a hike in my backyard wherever, and I'm gonna start adding my sketch on top of it. Sometimes I'm working really quickly, and I'm only going to use my my pen and go directly onto the paper. But because I've got extra time this time I'm gonna use my pencil, and I'm gonna kind of sketch out my leaves and my flowers with my pencil. And I like to do it really lightly because I will go back later and erase any marks that are left over. Now that I'm done with my pencils get, I'm gonna go over with my micron pen and I'm gonna add my line art over it. Once I think in these lines you start to see how beautiful it looks with that crisp line over those water color splashes. You know, coping with loss is deeply personal and a very singular experience. No one can really help you through it. The best thing is to allow yourself to feel all the grief to give yourself permission to do that. However, that looks even though this is our final lesson, this doesn't mean that the journey through your grief is done. I'm not done and I may never be. It took me some time before I accepted the reality of that. The grief I feel now isn't as raw and painful. My heart aches and I miss my baby. I also have days where the fear and the sadness overwhelm me. But as I've journeyed through this grief from such a tragedy, I've also come to accept those days and to welcome them. They aren't everyday anymore, and that's how I know that it gets easier as time goes by. That comment was infuriating to me in the beginning, and that's because I couldn't see beyond the immediate pain I had blinders on, and I couldn't even fathom not feeling the weight of such sadness. But, my friends, it does come and it's on a different timeline for everyone. The type of loss and the situation around that loss, all the also can factor into this reality. So please be gentle with yourself. Loss is a roller coaster of emotions, and as I've said in other videos, this was my journey and how the process looked for me. Many criticize themselves for not doing it right. When people buy into the idea that there's only one healthy way to grieve, then that's easy for them to attack themselves when they naturally find that they're doing it differently. This kind of self criticism never helps anyone. As I face my grieve, I drew inward to explore it from a very personal perspective. Then I began to expand outward, to express creative insights that could only come from me. Art became an expressive form of dealing with my grieve and feel. No books were an important part of that expression. I hope that you get a chance to create a field notebook for yourself, It may be one that you use Onley in your garden, in your backyard or even in your home in the beginning. And as you get strong enough and brave enough to venture forward and outside and into your parks and your cities and your beaches and the lake in the mountains, wherever it is that draws you, I hope that you'll take your field notebooks with you and that you'll use them as a way to express yourself to record the memories of the things that you see of the beauty that you have all around you and all the beauty that you have within you. I've now finished in kin and all of my pencil sketches, and I'm coming back through and adding lots of little lines. Little flicks of my my pen to add shadows. And it's kind of a form of hatching. And I'm just going to start to add lines here and there, thickening up areas, darkening the areas that I want to show the shadows, especially around the edges of the leaves, where there's a fold so that I can show that there's depth there. Okay, once you finished all of your shading, you can also begin to add text or journaling around your into illustrations. You can play with the positioning of the text. You can always add text later on. You can be in the field or outside and, um, in do your sketching and then later on used those pages to Journal on. Or maybe you're out on a walk or hiking. You've got a lot of emotions that you want to write down until you're gonna focus on the journaling in the position of the texts and add illustrations at a different time so you don't have to do it all in one sitting. It can be a page that you you build upon. I want to thank you for coming on this journey with me. We got a chance to visit the ocean and a hike into the mountains to get outside and to explore, and I hope that you really get a chance to play with your field notebooks. 7. Your Project: uh