Artist Spotlight

Cindy Gilstrap finds magic in creative flow

Cindy is a mixed media artist with a love for art journaling, messy paint palettes, stitching, vintage paper, vintage fabric, and new art supplies. She loves combining old and new, creating quirky bright happy art, and encouraging others to create.

What is art journaling to you?

Art journaling to me is an anything-goes playground! There are no rules or expectations that a page has to be anything other than fun to create. It’s a place for exploration with new techniques, color, composition, expression, and more. It’s a place I can go and just let myself enjoy the process of creating just for the sake of creating.

What does community do for your art?

I adore the art journaling creative community. It’s a place to learn, share, and lift each other up! I love sharing creativity. When I can inspire someone in the community to create that just makes my day. It’s really not about me, it’s about inspiring others to create and celebrating them.

How do you live a creative life? How do you incorporate journaling into that?

I find creativity in almost everything I do. From decorating my home to working on my website. Opportunities to be creative are all around us. I fit my art journaling into my creative life by always having it available to work in. So if I get 5 or 10 minutes during the day to just throw some paint on a page that is creativity to me. Then when I come back to that paint on a page, I may look at it differently and go in a different direction than I originally planned. That is where the magic happens when you go with the flow.

What does your creative space look like? Where do you journal?

My creative space is a room in our home that was meant to be an office. It has doors that shut so I am able to keep it closed off from the rest of the house. It’s a mess most of the time but that just means I’ve been having fun creating. I love vintage items so my shelves are filled with vintage collections that inspire me, one being my colorful typewriter collection.

What is your favourite art journal page that you’ve ever made and why?

Well, that’s hard to answer. I’m not sure I have a favorite but this one definitely speaks to me. I don’t necessarily love the art part of it but it’s more about the message that went along with it. The message was “I’m not listening anymore” to the negative self-talk and inner critic.

Have you ever made something you don’t like? What did you do?

I make things I don’t like all the time. At first, that bothered me but now I just look at it as part of the learning and growing process. A lot of times I just leave it and move on. Sometimes I come back to the page or in some cases a canvas, and paint over them and make it into something else. One of my favorite paintings I’ve done came from a canvas I painted over twice. There was something about the first ugly layers that worked their way into the final layers that made it beautiful.

Have you ever been through artist block? How did you return to your work?

Artist block is definitely a common thing I experience. I’ve learned over the years that I just need to step away from my creative space and from anything creative on social media for a few days or more. Then I slowly get back into my creative space and sometimes that just looks like cleaning it up. LOL I find if I clean up it often leads me to just playing with things I’m organizing and that gets me going again.

How has Get Messy impacted your creativity?

Get Messy is such a great place to go for inspiration. When I’m not feeling creative I’ll login into Get Messy and find something that catches my eye in the different lessons and prompts. I’ll play and explore and get my creativity going. I love that it’s a no-pressure place you can go and you can pull what you need and not feel guilty about not doing it all. Get Messy is the best!

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

What journal do you use?

I usually work in multiple journals at once. My two favorites to work in are junk journals I make myself and the Moleskine cahier 5×8 size.

What is your one *must have* supply?

I love supplies so it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pick one I think I would say white gesso. I use it as a base for my pages, mixing it with other colors to tone down a color, and just as white paint.

What do you make when you don’t know what to make?

When I don’t know what to make I just open up my art journal and start with paint or collage without thinking much. I just enjoy the process and that usually leads to something else.

What is the most important (non-tool) thing to your creative practice?

An important thing to my creative practice is nature. Observing the colors, shapes, and lines in nature is a great way to ignite an idea. When I see something in nature that inspires me I usually take a photo and save it to the notes in my phone to refer to later for inspiration.

Advice to new art journalers:

Just play! It’s all about thinking like your 6 year self and just playing on a page. It doesn’t have to be anything at all. Just playing with paint and color and collage is such a great way to express yourself even if the final thing doesn’t really make sense. It’s the process of play to get there that’s important. Ask yourself? “Did I have fun playing just to play?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then you did it right no matter what it looks like!

Cindy Gilstrap

Cindy is a mixed media artist with a love for art journaling, messy paint palettes, stitching, vintage paper, vintage fabric, and new art supplies. She loves combining old and new, creating quirky bright happy art, and encouraging others to create.

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