Artist Spotlight

Roben-Marie Smith brings beauty into the world through art journaling

Roben-Marie Smith is a tech-savvy artist, instructor and woman of faith and her mission is to serve others and help them get the most out of their art as a hobby, or as a business.

What is art journaling to you?

As far back as I can remember, I have been a creative person. Art journaling is a part of who I am, and like I was as a child, I still find comfort and personal satisfaction in creating. Journaling is my way of bringing beauty into the world…art mixed with words to create something personal and inspiring. I am not content to simply document with just the written word. I need to express myself with color and texture and images! Need I say that art journaling is also fun!?

What does community do for your art?

I’ve been creating and sharing art for years and before social media, it was done through my blog and teaching and networking at art retreats and classes around the US. Through sharing video tutorials, helpful blog posts and providing service to my audience those relationships have flourished over the years.

Connecting with other creatives and building a community of like-minded artists has not only helped me form long-lasting friendships, but it has enabled me to run a fun and thriving business.

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

Living a creative life takes many forms. It is the time I spend painting, cutting paper for collage, writing in my journal, trying out new recipes, taking interesting photos and even appreciating the beauty of nature.

My journals are not just a place to write down my thoughts and observations but a place where I can experiment and play.

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

My creative space has gone through many evolutions over the years. The biggest change came when I finally gave myself permission to see myself as a “real artist”. My space had become cluttered and unorganized and it took a complete overhaul of the room to make it a place I love to spend time in creating.

While my space is small, I maximize storage with dressers and old wooden crates to organize my supplies. I like most things hidden but within reach and others out in the open. Clutter and disorganization zaps my creativity. I have a large window overlooking a lovely yard and canal and a large table at the center of the room.

A hanging antique lamp that I bought on a shopping trip with my mom and dad when I was in high school takes center stage in front of the window. The curtains are made from kantha quilts and aprons hang from vintage pieces of wood moulding.

I’m especially fond of pretty bowls, enamelware, wood boxes and vintage tins for storing my smaller art supplies.

Do you have creative routines?

Often, my approach to creating is simply asking myself what I feel like doing at that moment. Sometimes I have to do small things to get myself going like cleaning and organizing. Most of the time my “starts” begin by painting random papers.

I tend to be one of those people that needs to have noise around me to help me focus. But I find more and more that a lot of inspiration comes from being quiet. By just observing. In those moments things that are stuck in the back of my mind tend to come forward.

I’m always challenged with over-thinking the process. I am so neat and organized in many areas of my life but that doesn’t work for me in art. Being loose and relaxed and just allowing my work to evolve without much forethought is when I enjoy the creative process the most.

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

My Salvaged Journal is my most favorite handmade journal. I call it DJ since it was made using the covers of an old dictionary. It holds most of the pages that are special to me. My currently favorite is one that whenever I see it, my heart feels happy and I think…wow, I made that!

What is your biggest barrier to creating? And how do you overcome that hurdle?

My biggest barrier when I began art journaling was over-thinking the process. I am so neat and organized in so many areas of my life that I brought that approach to art journaling and it just didn’t work for me. Once I began to loosen up and relax and just allow the pages to evolve without much forethought is when I truly began to enjoy art journaling.

This is still a challenge for me in all art forms I undertake, but not allowing perfectionist tendencies to get in the way is a key in overcoming it.

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

Yes, this is certainly not a one time thing. I would say 90% of the time, I paint over the things I don’t like. I also think collaging is the perfect solution as well.

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

The worst thing I do is negative self-talk about how I will never be creative again. There is no magic formula but I find that a few things work for me. In some cases I just step away and focus on something else. I might window shop at stores that inspire me, read magazines such as The Simple Things or Flow Magazine, take a walk, visit the beach or a park. The simple fix is that I create something for others. A couple hours of making mail art to send to friends or family often works like a charm.

How has Get Messy impacted your creativity?

The Get Messy community is encouraging, fun and creative. The stories are inspiring and have helped me see creativity through so many different perspectives.

Roben-Marie is one of the incredible teachers at Get Messy. She shares her art and her heart in the Season of Mess.

You’re invited to embrace the messy middle and join the best art journaling community on the internet.

What journal do you use?

I prefer and mostly use handmade journals.

What is your one *must have* supply?

At this moment I would say my set of Caran d’Ache NEOART water-soluble wax pastels. They are fat crayons (about the size of your thumb). Unfortunately, they’ve been discontinued.

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

Messy hand painted papers to use in collage and my art journal.

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

My art table, which has now been raised up so I can work without the neck pain from leaning over.

Who are your favourite Messy artists?

Kristin Peterson, Kristi Nazzaro, Cait Sherwood, Orly Avineri, Fran Rees, Francisca Nunes and so many more!


Advice to new art journalers:

One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is a thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt. Realizing that each voice is unique and valuable is key to fighting the negative thoughts that bombard you as you put yourself out into the public arena. Art, as with story, is meant to be shared — to encourage and inspire others.

There is a reciprocal relationship that strengthens both the artist and the audience which makes facing down those fears worthwhile. It can be intimidating at first to put yourself out there but I have found it very rewarding.

I encourage every person with a desire for art in any form to start, just jump in, no delays. Be bold and just DO.

Find comfort and personal satisfaction in creating

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