Well, I have had great fun for the past few weeks taking part in an online mixed media workshop by the wonderful Laly Mille. I came across Laly’s work in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and then started following her on Instagram. She does exactly the kind of messy, heartfelt mixed media that I love, and her website is a work of art in itself. So, I treated myself to one of her workshops, Dear Jane.
Now, I must confess at this point that I am not the world’s biggest Jane Austen fan. I (like just about every other woman of my generation) did of course swoon over Colin Firth in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, but I’ve never read the books. Nevertheless, I thought it might be good for me to get in touch with my femininity a bit more, and this was an art journalling workshop about creating a heroine and connecting with emotions and qualities we admired.
So I got stuck in, with a bit of journalling, a bit of drawing, and quite a lot of collage, painting, ink, gesso and anything else that came to hand. And here’s the result:
The workshop is taught step-by-step through a series of beautifully edited videos, where Laly shares her process, favourite supplies, missteps and serendipities, as well as the how-to. On top of that, there is a Pinterest board to help you imagine your heroine, a Spotify playlist to get you in the Jane Austen mood, and a private Facebook group for sharing your work.
My own process, starting with the free writing in the form of a letter to Jane, got me thinking about heroines (I don’t really have any), and the kind of qualities I admire in women. Sticking those terms into a search on Pinterest did actually give me some potential heroines to add to my own Pinterest board. Turns out Pinterest is great for vision boards; as you choose certain images, it suggests others which might be relevant and you end up going down routes you wouldn’t have thought of, getting more and more inspiration. And then you’ll probably never look at the board again. But it’s the process that’s important here. I ended up deciding I wanted my heroine to be a sort of older, wiser version of me; someone I could aspire to be. So I found some images of older women who looked strong and happy, and merged them with my own image through judicious use of a light box and some imagination.
The collage layer involved a fair bit of sheet music and poetry, as well as a cup of tea and some guitar strings, to make it personal to my interests. Then there was a lot of paint, and a long time not getting the face to look quite the way I wanted it. But in the end, I’m pretty happy with the result.
I was hugely impressed with this class. It was easy to sign up to, and made the most of the online format by having various social media extras. There’s no set time frame; you can do it at your leisure. And the love and attention to detail is evident, both in the work and in the teaching. If you’re feeling inspired, go to https://www.lalymille.com/classes-laly to see what else is available.