Get Messy Art Podcast

No Rules. No Perfection. Just Expression with Karen Price

Together with Caylee Grey and guests, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.

No more excuses. Okay? Okay.

Never miss an episode

Nope, Caylee didn’t become an American for the new year. That smooth, calming radio voice you’re listening to is Get Messy Guardian’s @ginnistonik. She’s interviewing the marvellous Guardians of the Community to bring even more inspir-action and encouragement to your ears.

The best part of someone else hosting the podcast is that we get to wax lyrical about how wise BOTH of them are. Such great insights in this episode. My favourite bit is the part where art gets lyrics… create alongside them and let us know what your favourite bit is too.

Since these are part of the new series of Messy Conversations, you get to watch it on YouTube if you’d like to see their gorgeous faces too – member or not.

Podcast Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Karen:
All righty then.

Jenna:
All right. Well, hello and welcome to the Get Messy Podcast. If you think this voice sounds a little different, you’re probably correct because my name is Jenna and I’m known as Ginnis Tonic on the internet and on Instagram. And I am interviewing Karen Price today, a Get Messy guardian as we’re having some conversations about Get Messy. So Karen, will you say hi and introduce yourself?

Karen:
Well, hello, Jenna. And yes, you’re correct. I am Karen Price and known on Instagram as Scrappy KLP.

Jenna:
Scrappy KLP. How long have you been with Get Messy?

Karen:
Four years or so. Yeah, since 2016.

Jenna:
Four years or so? Okay. Well, I’ve got a series of questions here, so we’ll get into those. And then I might ask some things just based on what you said, but we usually start out with just the big question. Why do you art journal?

Karen:
Why indeed? Okay. Well, journaling for me, it gives me the opportunity to play and be spontaneous, and it also helps me connect with my emotions. So I just find it’s a great creative outlet where there are no rules, no perfection, just expression. So it allows me to change my gears from my workaday life. It turns off my analytical mind and it allows me to just go with the flow and follow my intuition wherever that might take me. I always find at the end of completing a spread or having it almost completed, it really jazzes me up and it recharges my batteries. So it’s so many great benefits to art journaling.

Jenna:
So something you said resonated with me, and you mentioned your analytical mind and how art journaling helps with that. Could you tell me a little bit more about that? I’m intrigued.

Karen:
Okay. Well, my regular day to day business mind is it requires me to be analytical. So I have a job where I have to draft legal documents and commercial lease documents. So it’s quasi-legal, but also you have to have a business mind about it and just know all the pieces that go into creating premises for commercial space. So all of those things come quite natural to me and I’m able to apply my analytical skills to that very precise type of work.

Jenna:
Yeah. Sounds very technical.

Karen:
Yes, it is. So you’ve got to get it right and you can’t have any errors in it because it has huge ramifications, because commercial leases usually go for a very long time. You can start with a five-year lease and you be amending or doing some kind of renewal document or an extension or some kind of an amendment that you’re now in your 20th year.

Karen:
So if you get it wrong in the first lease, no draft, it carries on. It lives forever. So you just want to make sure that you’re paying attention to all the details. So it’s very detailed-oriented. Yes.

Jenna:
And really, I mean, we talk about this a lot with Get Messy, but really perfectionistic.

Karen:
Yeah. And that’s a real tough one to overcome because if I… And I mean, I’m only human. So there are times when I screw up. Usually it is caught before the document is signed, but when that happens, it’s very humbling and it’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard to leave that at the door when you come to do art.

Jenna:
Yeah. So that actually leads well into our next question. So how do you live a creative life?

Karen:
I’m an empty nester, so my kids have flown the coop and they’re both married. So I have a little more time available to me. So I can intentionally set aside some time each day to be creative. And that usually involves something, doing anything really with my hands, whether that’s fussing, cutting images from a magazine, painting a background page, playing with watercolors or stencils, doing some stitching, whether it’s slow stitching around a machine or even taking a long walk and being really sort of present in the walk listening to the birds and hearing the river flow and whatnot.

Karen:
Those types of things, I think if you just have the right mindset, you can get some creativity out of everyday life events.

Jenna:
Is there anything in particular you do or things that help you do to make that shift from like your analytical day that job that you do to kind of that creative shift?

Karen:
No. I think I’m quite good about just… When I leave my office, just close the door on the office and I just can switch gears. Sometimes when I’m really worked up about a deal, I might be having to breathe through a bit, maybe just take that walk first before I can settle down. But normally I find that it’s easy to switch gears. Once I go into my dedicated art room, I’m fine. Yeah.

Jenna:
I’m asking a lot of these questions because I am 100% an overthinker myself. So when you mentioned like the analytical mind thing, that definitely piqued my interest because I was like, “Oh, yes.” Then I work in higher education, and so that’s a part of my day to day life. So I definitely zeroed in on that. So then how do you define art journaling?

Karen:
Ah, well, I think… First, I’ll just give you a little background info of where I came from.

Jenna:
Please do.

Karen:
Yes. So I came into art journaling by the way of many a person’s gateway drug, scrapbooking.

Jenna:
Scrapbooking. Yep.

Karen:
Yes. So with scrapbooking, I was looking at a lot of the design teams and how they do their work and everything. It seems so very perfect, if you know what I mean.

Jenna:
Yeah.

Karen:
And I also come from a background of dabbling with… And not that I’m a great quilter, but I did dabble with quilting like pieced quilting. So getting those quarter inch seam allowances perfect when you’re doing triangles, squares, whatever, it was very important because if you didn’t, your whole pattern was shifted off and you wouldn’t have a square or rectangle or whatever you’re working.

Jenna:
Okay.

Karen:
So what I love, love loved, what I discovered about that, was I love the selection of fabrics. I love looking at the patterns, the colors, the sort of feeling that they gave me. So I translated that into scrapbooking because now I had paper and I had no seam allowance at all. So that was fabulous. So that gave me a certain freedom, but then I felt really constricted with trying to get my layouts to look as wonderful as everybody else’s on the design teams. So I know that’s a comparison thing and that’s not a great thing to do, but that was where I came from.

Jenna:
Most of us do that.

Karen:
Yes. So art journaling, really, for me, means total freedom. It’s a creative outlet where I can just express how I’m feeling, what’s going on in my relationships or what’s going on in the world by using words and various mixed media art supplies and putting it on a page. And it’s not on a canvas, it’s in a book or in a little booklet that I make or in a repurpose book and it’s not precious that way.

Jenna:
So you mentioned because it’s not into canvas. So for you, a canvas would be like more precious.

Karen:
It would be more pressure.

Jenna:
Yeah, pressure. Nice, nice.

Karen:
Yeah. Pressure on me because I would feel like, “Oh, now I have to do something really good.”

Jenna:
Definitely.

Karen:
Leaving it in a book makes me feel like it’s more casual.

Jenna:
So then what some of your biggest barriers to creating and what are maybe some ways you do to overcome them?

Karen:
Well, as I think you would probably appreciate, the busy mind. So on those days where I’ve been highly analytical all day long, it’s sort of an exhaustion that comes over you when you have to really work through issues. I call it mental gymnastics. I often say that. Of course, you have-

Jenna:
I like that.

Karen:
… standard form documents that you have to use, but what no deal is structured in a standard way. So when you get creatively [inaudible 00:09:20] guys and gals throwing the tenants wants because I usually work on the landlord side, so the tenants wants and their needs. And we’re always very cooperative in trying to make it a win-win situation. I have to often work outside the box and that is what the area that I call mental gymnastics. So I enjoy it, but it does leave me at the end of the day feeling like, “Whoa, now what?” Right?

Jenna:
Right.

Karen:
Yeah. So it can be draining on your energy. So a busy mind ends up with me feeling like I don’t have much left to give. When I’m getting all sort of wound up in my own thoughts, that shuts down my creative flow. And that is what the barrier is. So in moments like this, I find it sometimes difficult to feel like going into my art room. I feel like doing anything.

Karen:
So I will often avoid even walking down the stairs to that room because I just feel like, “Ugh, what am I going to do when I get there?” But then I just remember that the feelings isn’t what it’s about, is just about doing small little baby steps to get to this point where you feel like you are able to do something creative. And that could be just spending time tidying up my room, putting groups of papers together that I’m not going to do anything with today, but no, it’ll come in handy tomorrow.

Karen:
So I just do little tasks that will help me feel like I’ve done something creative, but it doesn’t have to necessarily result in a finished page.

Jenna:
Yeah. I even like literally translate that into working really small sometimes.

Karen:
Oh, yes.

Jenna:
So take the babies like literal. Make it very small. So what then has been one of your biggest lessons when it comes to creating art?

Karen:
I think it is that there’s no one right way to create art. It’s an individual expression and there is no right or wrong. So many things in this analytical side of my world is black and white. So knowing that there is no one way to do it correctly is really freeing. So I think that is the biggest lesson for me is that I don’t have to be a Picasso. I don’t have to be a realistic drawer. I’m not a very good drawer at all. And sometimes I think we get ideas about what an artist is and what that means.

Jenna:
Oh, definitely.

Karen:
These concrete set of skills. And when you don’t have that, then you can’t surely call yourself an artist. But that’s all negative self-talk and I try to shut that down as much as I can.

Jenna:
Yeah. So are you comfortable calling yourself an artist?

Karen:
I have great reinforcement. My husband often will say, “Yes, you’re an artist, you’re an artist, you’re an artist.” I think that’s… You hear something often enough. You start to believe it a bit.

Jenna:
Yeah, definitely.

Karen:
I think I have a skillset combining colors and images and text and things like that. But sometimes it is still hard to use that A word.

Jenna:
Yeah, it is. It’s amazing how hard it can be for such a simple little thing. Something you mentioned earlier that made me think of was like the right and the wrong. I mean, it’s funny because even after all of the… All this stuff I’ve learned from Get Messy there’s still that battle of right and wrong even with sitting down to do art. So, I mean, is that something you… Do you have that battle that often or do you feel like maybe it’s happening less and less, or are you just like I’m over it, I’m good?

Karen:
No, I’m definitely feeling like it’s less and less.

Jenna:
Okay.

Karen:
Sometimes I watch a tutorial and they’ll have specific steps and sometimes I follow them exactly and sometimes I don’t. Then I’m just like, “What does it matter? I don’t have to make my piece look like that.” Again, back to the freedom thing. I think it’s great that you can just pick and choose what things speak to you and then translate that into your own work.

Jenna:
So then that’s actually a good… What is the best art advice you’ve ever received?

Karen:
Ah, yes. That is that not to focus on the outcome, but instead it’s the process that’s important. So just getting your… For me, it’s very tactile. So getting my hands, doing something that is creative is the process that I love the most and it’s the most beneficial to me.

Jenna:
Definitely. And it’s funny because not to focus on… Something I’ve noticed, not to focus on the product of the art itself, but sometimes the product of the end result, the feeling you have, like the satisfaction. Because you mentioned that like, “I don’t feel like I want to sit down. I don’t feel like it because I definitely encounter that a lot.” But then my future self will thank my past self if I do this because I will feel better at the end, no matter what.

Karen:

It reminds me of a song, love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will. So when you think about that, I mean, some…

Jenna:
Oh, yeah. I’m writing that down.

Karen:
Yes. So if you can just change that then like art is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will, I think that’s a real truth. You have to be working at it all the time. It’s not just going to come to you because you wish it, it has to be something that you practice. And having a daily practice is going to get you there.

Jenna:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I love that. That’s giving me so much to think about, Karen.

Karen:
Of course.

Jenna:
Because I often think about the practice part more in terms of, oh, well, like discipline, as opposed to, I like thinking of it as an act of love for yourself. That’s the practice. Not the, “Oh, I’m getting better at collage or something.” But the practice is the act of self-love.

Karen:
Yes.

Jenna:
Okay. All right. So then what is your go-to technique or tool?

Karen:
Well, I’ve been thinking about that, and I find myself gravitating mostly to collage type things. And I don’t know if my definition of collage is what everybody else’s is, but basically I will have a background already prepared or else I’ll prepare a background and then I just find some images and I play with text and I feel like, “What does this person or this image is saying?”

Karen:
Often it will be related to how I’m feeling. So I will then place those down on a piece of paper and just have a play with that. So collage is definitely the easiest thing for me, I would say. I just have dabbled in abstract painting and watercolors and things like that. But the good old collage, that’s got it for me.

Jenna:
Yeah. Definitely. And again, I’m going to keep revisiting this because I identify with it so much. With the analytical brain thing that you you mentioned, what is this image telling me? And I find out my feelings that way. So when you go in, do you know what you’re feeling or is it through the process, maybe you figure out what you’re feeling or does it depend?

Karen:
It does depend and it can be both at different times. I would say that I’m a very intuitive creator. I do not have a set idea of what I’m going to do when I start and I will paint a background. Say I’ll do a whole bunch of background pages and then I assembled my own art journal with those pages. The colors and whatever, if it’s text, if I’ve used old books and stuff like that, it really doesn’t come together.

Karen:
I just start working on that background and then I go look for the images, whether or not they match here and there. But often they will. And then I’m like, “Oh, okay. Well, that looks good on that background. Okay. Let me go further,” and then look for other things. So yes, it’s sometimes I will take whatever image I like that I’ve cut out from a magazine or even a calendar or something like that and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what that image might be saying.

Karen:
Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times it’s kind of like, I don’t know. So then I will often canvas my husband for his opinion. I go, “If you just saw this, what do you think about that? What does that say to you?” And then he’ll tell me. So often I will say there’s probably a good third of my work where I’ve put the whole page together and I don’t have the quote written until I sort of look at the finished product.

Karen:
Then sometimes I have to survey my husband and I’ll say, “Well, I’m thinking of this for a quote or whatever.” And he said, “Oh, well, that’s interesting. I thought it would say this.” So then I can spin off that, so we work off each other.

Jenna:
Oh, that’s really fun. So is that for you the final step of a page when you’re ready to call it done, you put words or a quote or something on it?

Karen:
Yes.

Jenna:
Yes?

Karen:
Sure, yes.

Jenna:
So what do you do when you don’t like a page you’ve made?

Karen:
Well, I’ve not actually destroyed it, although I’ve sometimes felt like it. I will either cover it up with other colors of paint or something like that, or I’ll just rip it up and use it as collage fodder.

Jenna:
Yes. So have you ever been through artist’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Karen:
Yeah. I think that we’ve all been there, right? So it happens from time to time. And I don’t know if it’s artist’s block because of that A word again, but I would say that I would call that losing my mojo. So when that happens, I just give myself some permission to just take the time I need to get that mojo back.

Karen:
Sometimes that can be in the form of even not wanting to create, but that doesn’t stop me then from scrolling on Instagram, looking for inspiration or watching a YouTube video with processed video or a Get Messy tutorial.

Karen:
Sometimes, depending on my frame of mind, I will just go, “you know what, I’m just going to do a Get Messy recipe and we’ll see where that takes me.” Or the dice game or whatever. And that will kickstart something.

Jenna:
Yeah. I have the same way. I start seeing people creating and that can help me get going too when I feel like, “Oh, I don’t really or I don’t have any ideas or something like that.” So what tips do you have for beginners?

Karen:
Just to start. If anyone is interested, they should just start. Don’t overthink it. And this is coming from me, the overthinker. Just go for it. So I would highly recommend getting in touch with that kindergarten self, the person who was never self-conscious about just taking that crayon and going wild on the piece of paper and not having any feelings of failure.

Karen:
When you were a kid, you just did whatever you wanted and you would show it to your mom and your dad and they’d be like, “Wow, that’s really great.” It’s just like tapping back into that kid like wonder and then go on for it. Just start slow, mix some marks on a page and then build from there.

Jenna:
Yeah. I’ve realized that too. That’s often my advice is to just starting. And I kind of find that. So this is a part of what I do in my day job is that gap between a beginner and then the experts and all that. And of course I’m like, “I can’t call myself an expert.” It’s kind of like the A word.

Jenna:
But when you hit a certain point though where you’re pretty comfortable with it and people ask that, you’re like it really is just start. That’s the hardest thing, but it’s also the most truthful thing that you just have to sit down and start. So I found that funny because that was just the same kind of thinking I have.

Karen:
Oh, good.

Jenna:
So what do you do when you don’t know what to make?

Karen:
That kind of goes back to the other question earlier, but doing small baby step things-

Jenna:
Baby steps.

Karen:
… in and around your creative area. But for me, I often will fussy cut out images from a magazine or sometimes I will doodle. And I don’t mean doodle people and objects, but just doodle random objects, that kind of thing. It’s just patterning really. It’s nothing-

Jenna:
Like mark-making?

Karen:
Yeah. That’s what I find. And that just gives me an outlet for the day, but it’s again, not a finished product. It’s just a step in the process.

Jenna:
Yeah. The baby steps to get… The catalyst to get you going.

Karen:
Yes.

Jenna:
So touched on this a little bit earlier, but could you talk a little bit more about how you find time to make things?

Karen:
Yeah. I think it’s very important to set a time for yourself to have that ability to go and explore your creativity. So setting aside a time and doing something creative daily is a priority that I set for myself. And I think it’s important to know your sweet spot when it comes to time of day. So for me, I find that, that would be ideally in the morning or early afternoon.

Karen:
So where my energy level is really high because as I said earlier if I’ve had a very busy day where I’ve just been doing those mental gymnastics, then it just leaves me with little or no energy, and I find that when I get up against the wall, I find it very difficult to create when I’m tired.

Jenna:
I thought of this because of course the listeners can’t see this, but I’m looking at you and your office space.

Karen:
It is my office.

Jenna:
Is your office space the same as your art studio space?

Karen:
No. I have a dedicated room in our basement.

Jenna:
Okay.

Karen:
I know I’m very blessed. I’m very blessed to have that. I realize that and I have projects often like in process or just leave out on my desk. I know I can just pick up where I left off. So that was a total bonus.

Jenna:
Well, I mean, I asked that because it used to be I had a… Of course with COVID, I’m now working from home and my office space, I have a desk I share. And I’ve got all my art supplies and they’re just tempting me and I’m just like, “Oh, to be working, but I’ve got these lovely art supplies over here.” But it makes for really fun time during Zoom meetings. I’m just going to doodle over here.

Jenna:
Well, Karen that’s all the questions I have. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with anybody interested in art journaling or any insights?

Karen:
No, I don’t think I have anything additional to add, but I definitely feel like, especially in these COVID-19 days, that it is important to have a hobby. I think for most people, like if they’re feeling trapped at home, this is a way for you to escape that feeling of being bound. I think it’s really an awesome opportunity to explore your creative side. And maybe it wouldn’t have had the time otherwise to have that time to explore.

Karen:
So I would really encourage people to give it a whirl and it doesn’t need to cost the world to just start art journaling. It really means picking up a pencil and having a piece of paper and just getting started.

Jenna:
Yeah. And just going back to that, just start. Always going back to the, you just have to sit down and start and stare at that blank page or half blank page and get going.

Karen:
Exactly.

Karen Price

Karen Price started her creative journey starting with scrapbooking but wanted “more” and that’s when she discovered the wonderful world of art journaling, and joined the awesome art tribe at Get Messy in late 2016. She hasn’t looked back since! Being curious and willing to “try it all” keeps her busy and downright messy. She has a crazy love for all things vintage, which you will often find featured in her {he}art work.

Caylee Grey, host of Get Messy

The Get Messy Podcast

I'm Caylee Grey. Creator of Get Messy, official fairy freaking artmother and your pro excuse-squashing ninja.

In the Get Messy podcast I’ll be chatting to a selection of amazing, real-life humans just like you are who are dealing with the very same barriers … but overcoming them to create their art.

Together, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.

No more excuses. Okay? Okay.