At the beginning of this month, as we contemplated the concept of creativity, I challenged you to create a vision board for yourself: a board which would visually capture the things that you hope for yourself for the year to come. This past weekend, as is our tradition, my 6-year-old daughter and I created our own vision boards (an aside: this is a great project to do with your kids, particularly when they're on vacation from school and you have no idea what to do with them while they're home. Alex loves doing vision boards, and I love doing them with her -- and it takes some time to do, so we always feel like we've spent some quality time together as a result).
In any event, I thought I'd pop in before the end of the month by sharing our process with you (such as it is), in case you haven't created your own board yet, and were looking for how to get started.
A couple of disclaimers before I begin, however:
1. My daughter and I sort of go a little insane with our vision boards. Please do not let this deter you. There is no right or wrong way to do this. At its core, a vision board simply requires you to have a stack of magazines for you to page through and cut out the images that move you, a flat surface to adhere them to, and some adhesive. You can even just use a cork bulletin board, magazine photos and thumbtacks -- no glue required. Feel free to do this simply. Seriously.
2. I'm feeling a bit vulnerable sharing this with you, for I do not consider myself an "artist" in the traditional canvas-paints sense of the world. This is, actually, also okay -- because the vision board is not something that you ever need to share with a single soul. Vision boards are completely personal: normally, I wouldn't be sharing this, but I feel that just the exercise of making a vision board, the process of making your dreams visible and concrete, is so transformative, that I'm totally and fully willing to risk ridicule by sharing my work. But remember, you're not going to have to show anyone, if you don't want to. This fully selfish exercise is all about you.
So, as I mentioned before, all you need is a stack of old magazines, a flat surface, some adhesive, and some time to daydream. As it turns out, I'm a pretty voracious recycler, so we hardly had any old magazines in our house to do this. So Alex and I went out and purchased 3 magazines each -- magazines which tend to be favourites anyway. When we came home, we took about an hour or so to go through each page of our magazines, cutting out images, phrases and even articles that spoke to us. We also looked around for letters and cards that we'd received during the past year that had speceial words or phrases, and added those in the mix.
Once we had our images, words and articles, it was time to glue them. Again, any flat surface would do, along with rubber cement or glue; however, Alex and I like to hang ours on the wall all year long, so we actually use 16"x16" stretched canvases, and we adhere or cut-outs with gel medium (which is sort of like the paste you used to use when you were in kindergarten) -- smearing some on the canvas with our bare hands, placing our cut-out on top, and then smearing some more gel medium on top of that.
I like to make sure that my canvas is completely covered by the images and words (sometimes overlapping them on top of each other):
But Alex doesn't care if there's some white space between words and images (also, she tends to be highly liberal with her gel medium):
Either way works (and the gel medium dries to invisible, anyway). Remember, this is all about you. Whatever works for you is perfect.
Now, to be clear: at this point, your vision board is complete. There is no need to do anything further -- just hang it somewhere where you can see it every day, and you're officially finished. But because Alex and I like to make things complicated, we like to embellish our vision boards with paints, glitter and other ephemera, just because it's fun to do. I have my vision boards from past years still hung in my home office, because it's interesting to see what was important to me in past years, and see how much of what I envision for myself has manifested. In fact, as an avid journaller, I sort of consider my vision boards almost art-journaling boards, that help decorate my office and provide inspiration.
Anyway, this year, I took a look at the collection of images that I'd cut out for myself, and I noticed that I could group them under the following categories:
a) Inspire -- a hope that my current book The Beauty of Different inspires people, but also a hope that I find inspiration to start building upon the first book and writing a second;
b) Explore -- a desire to return to traveling, not just to familiar places (like back to my home of Trinidad and my husband's home in England), but also to new, faraway places; and
c) Love -- a renewed focus on taking care of my family, and building a home filled with love and peace.
So I decided that I wanted these three words to also appear on my vision board and wanted to incorporate them in the final product.
These days, for some inexplicable reason, I've been doodling a lot of birds in my journal -- I honestly have no idea why. But since I have, I decided that I would draw a bird "tweeting" the three words.
And so, I pulled out some acrylic paints and started adding them. I also added some paper flowers and other decorative stuff I had hanging around:
And Alex? Well, she finished hers up rather quickly by adding acrylic paint and some metalic pipe cleaners. Isn't it cool?
So anyway, once I finished up and the paint dried, I added the words with a black Sharpie in the speaking "bubble" I'd drawn for the bird. And then, I hung it in my office.
Now, again: I do not claim this to be high art -- or anything even close -- but seriously, this isn't the point, you know? And there is no reason for anyone to do as much as Alex and I did here. The point is that there's something really, really therapeutic to tearing out images and words that mean something to you, that capture your hopes, and place them somewhere concrete.
For some inspiration, check out these images of vision boards around the internet. And again, a bulletin board with thumbtacks works, as well (and avoids that messy glue or gel medium). Or, take a tip from my friend Maile, who used butterfly shapes to capture her life list items -- the same would totally work for a vision board -- your magazine articles in butterfly shapes? How cool would that be?
But again, it doesn't matter how you do it. Just be sure, as 2010 wanes to take some time to capture your hopes and dreams in a concrete way.
It's better than a spa day.
And of course, if you do share your vision board, or you simply blog about the process (without sharing any images, if doing so feels too private), please leave your links in the comments below. I'd love to see them and/or read your thoughts about the process.