Creative Journal Prompt: Switch, Change, and Rearrange

I’m doubtful that I have ever met anyone who isn’t troubled by sadness, anger, or regret over an event or events in their past. Be it heartbreak, childhood trauma, family issues, divorce, death… the pain from the past can feel like a thousand pounds of black, heavy hurt to carry around for years. It’s hard not to let that pain affect your attitude and behaviors. It’s difficult not to carry that big heavy bag around, becoming cautious and jaded.

To tell someone to rearrange his or her thought process about that event is too easy. But perhaps it is possible to gain some solace by literally changing your perception of that event in a tangible way.

Materials required for this Creative Journal Prompt:
– paints & brushes (acrylic, watercolour, or gouache. Anything that dries quickly. NO oil paints)
– sketchbook
– sheet of cardstock or other thick paper
– scissors or other paper cutting tool
– modpodge or white glue

To do this exercise, I’ll need you to dig deep. Really focus. Close your eyes and take yourself back to the situation that brought you pain. With your eyes closed, imagine your feelings transformed into colours and shapes. What colours do you see? Red does not always mean anger. Perhaps in your mind, your anger materializes as green. Maybe sadness isn’t blue. Maybe it’s yellow. Let your mind explore the progression of emotion and interpret that into colour.

Now express those shapes and colours onto the loose sheet of paper. The key is to be abstract and conceptual. You aren’t painting an object, but a feeling. Let the brush move as you focus on the hurt of the past. My painting (pictured) might look bright and cheerful, but I assure you, it is a representation of some of my darkest hurts. The number of lines is representative of something specific. So you see, you can be completely abstract and metaphorical in your painting.

Creative Journal Prompt: Switch, Change, and Rearrange by Bri Ketler

The next step is to repeat the same process, but this time, focusing on a memory that brings you the most joy. Again, close your eyes and imagine those feelings as colours. Transfer those feelings onto the page using your paints and brush.

Creative Journal Prompt: Switch, Change, and Rearrange by Bri Ketler

Once both paintings are dry, pick up your ‘negative’ piece. Look at it and really re-live the hurt. Now take your scissors and destroy it. However you like. Whatever shapes you like. Be it manic quick cuts or strategic slow cuts to savor the moment. Imagine ruining the pain. The scissors are your strength. The scissors are your power to control your mind. Or, if you prefer, use your bare hands to tear your painting apart.

Creative Journal Prompt: Switch, Change, and Rearrange by Bri Ketler

Gather up the ruins of your ‘negative’ piece. You will now take the pieces of this painting and arrange them onto your ‘positive’ piece. Glue them down using white glue or modpodge (either will dry clear). I like to use a paintbrush to paint glue onto each scrap or apply directly onto the painting. If you are so inclined, add on to the finished product by painting or drawing over it. The finished piece should be a reflection of triumph over negative feelings that have been holding you back from being your best you.

The resulting art is a powerful reminder that we cannot erase the things that have caused us pain, but we can change our perception of it and go forward in our lives with positivity and new outlook.

Creative Journal Prompt: Switch, Change, and Rearrange by Bri Ketler

Bri Ketler

Bri Ketler is a thirty-something mother of two, artist, crafter, and volunteer in the Calgary area. A Calgary native, she decided to spread her wings and move to Edinburgh, Scotland in 2001 to pursue a degree in the arts.She graduated with her BA in Art and Design from Edinburgh College of Art in 2005.

She worked as an Interior Designer in Calgary until her passion for art overwhelmed her desire for wealth and fame.When she is not chasing after her two young kids, she is teaching art to teen girls in need and creating dolls for her small handcrafting business, Lil’Zo.

Bri believes that art is a powerful outlet, and many internal issues can be confronted, exposed, and resolved by simply letting go and allowing oneself to be creative – even if they don’t believe they are the ‘creative type’. Everyone can benefit from getting over their fears, and simply putting pen to paper, paint to canvas, click a shutter, put hands on clay, or whatever medium one chooses. Find her online here.

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