Artist Spotlight

Sarah Gardner connects to herself through art journaling

Sarah Gardner is a self-taught artist. Juicy*S is her DJ name. She's not a DJ, but she would love to be one. It's a fantasy dream job for her. She started her first art blog with this name and has had it ever since. She is also a lawyer, wife, and mom of two (Tess 20 and Harry 17). She lives in a small surf town called Cardiff by the Sea in Southern California.

What is art journaling to you?

Art journaling helps me connect to myself. I am a firm believer that we align ourselves with our own potential and truest essence when we intentionally engage ourselves in the practice of creating…anything… even something bad. My art journal is a safe place, just for me, where I can play, experiment, and learn. My art journaling is a mindfulness practice where I’m asking “what if?”.

I am present in the moment, finding flow, and open to whatever happens.

What does community do for your art?

We are creatures built for connection. So it stands to reason that if we are throwing ourselves into something that gives us personal joy, valuing creativity… we will only get more joy out of doing this with and among like-minded people. In about 2014, I wrote on a piece of paper that I cannot find now: “I want to be part of a community of creative women who gather together and support one another in their endeavors.” I had in mind that I might create this locally, in real life. But Get Messy is that for me now. It’s virtual, but very powerful.

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

In the past, I have had difficulty making time for myself and for creativity. When I enjoyed it most, it was something I was doing just for me, but I had a hard time justifying spending my time this way. Over time, I realized that I needed to spend time this way, in order to be happy, productive, and supportive to others in my life. I think it finally hit me this year when I did the 100 Day Project… I can make something just for the pure joy of making it. I can do this every day. I don’t have to explain it to anyone else.

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

I have an ‘art closet’. This is under the stairwell to our second story and it is pretty big…I am not that tall, so it works out. I keep most of my supplies in there, very organized. There are a few in my garage, but mostly in this closet. I have an antique desk where I work and film most of my videos. I also use my daughter’s room, her built-in desk when she is away at college. I’m kind of a roving creator. During the 100 Day Project, I had stuff all over the place, and everyone just had to deal!

Do you have creative routines?

I don’t have routines. I am not a very routine person. I do have a planner, and I know that I have certain things I need to get done, and for the most part I do them. I do something…anything, no matter how small or how little time I spend, I do something creative every day. Even if it’s only pulling pages out of a magazine or doodling for a few minutes. It’s necessary now, and it’s built into my day, like brushing my teeth.

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

Oh man, this is a tough one! It is hard to choose. I think I can say that the pages that I love the most are ones where I was in flow and trusting my intuition and the pages kind of just “happened” without me deliberately planning or wanting them to turn out a specific way. When I am creating in my art journal and something serendipitous like this happens, I get that excited feeling in my stomach..butterflies, I may even get goosebumps. To me that’s magic…that’s awe and wonder.

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

For a long time, perfectionism was a huge barrier for me. I still want things to turn out in a way that I like, but perfection isn’t the motivating force or the dictator in my head anymore. I finally realized that perfection isn’t possible. Perfection is a liar.

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

If I don’t like it, it isn’t finished. I just keep adding, or covering up what I don’t like, or I glue the pages together! Usually, I can get pages to a point where I like them, though. But not always. It took time and practice.

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

I don’t think I’ve had a block. I think I am interested in too many different things, so what gets in my way creatively is having too many ideas and not being able to set priorities. I have become better at setting priorities. One of the ways I do this is to make commitments, like The 100 Day Project, or take on challenges and swaps. Accountability keeps me creative.

How has Get Messy impacted your creativity?

This community is very inspiring. I am inspired all the time by the artists here! It feels more impactful here than in the general social media scene. It feels more connected and supportive. I have made dear friends in this community, including my collaboration partner, Melenia from Greece. We are still talking on Zoom whenever our schedules permit, and one day we will meet in person!

✨ 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 started out using blank journals and then moved into re-purposed or altered books, and I work back and forth between these. I also make my own mini or junk journals and have fun working a bit smaller in these.

What is your one *must have* supply?

I am thinking of something that I use in most of my art journal pages and I would have to say that is Caran d’Ache watercolor crayons. They are so yummy and saturated and versatile!

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

I usually make collage papers, what I call “art papers” and what some call collage fodder. This can be just doodling with black ink onto sketchbook paper. I can always use more art papers. They will often inspire me to create something else.

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

Feeling inspired by something I read or listen to is very important to my creative practice because I like my pages to have meaning. I like to process what I’ve learned and document it but also pay a little tribute to the truths I have discovered.

Who are your favourite Messy artists?

I love the pages of Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd; Alyssa Rothwell; Eva Magill-Oliver; Tansy Hardigan; Rae Missigman just to name a few!

What’s the best art advice you’ve ever received?

Trust yourself.

Advice to new art journalers:

You need to let yourself learn. As a recovering perfectionist, I realized that you can’t know how to do anything until you learn how to do it, and learning means making mistakes and practicing. If you’re just starting out, you may have a little frustration because what you are making isn’t matching up with what you envision. You may be emulating other artists. You have to work through this. Find what you like. Other artist’s work can be inspiring. Take what you like and make it your own. Do this with a lot of things and over time your work will start to form into your style.

Sarah Gardner aka Juicy*S

Sarah Gardner is a self-taught artist. Juicy*S is her DJ name. She's not a DJ, but she would love to be one. It's a fantasy dream job for her. She started her first art blog with this name and has had it ever since. She is also a lawyer, wife, and mom of two (Tess 20 and Harry 17). She lives in a small surf town called Cardiff by the Sea in Southern California.

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