Diary of a Junebug
Art therapy to deal with life's rotten lemons
Art has helped me in so many ways - and no I'm not exaggerating. It's literally something that keeps me going, helping me get through the day. I wouldn't say that art is my whole life, though it's been kinda more prominent in the past few years, but it's something that gives me a purpose.
That's not to say that I've been creating art all the time. Art blocks happen, lack of inspiration or motivation, or just the need of a break to step back and focus on other stuff. For me, creativity and inspiration are kinda like background apps that are running behind the scenes while I do other things. It's usually open so if inspiration strikes, then I have somewhere to put it to use for later.
Usually when I have an idea, I like to sit on it a bit before getting started - I don't know why, but that's how my brain works, though part of it's probably because I tend to procrastinate. That kind of creative process may not be practical if I plan to run a shop like Daisy Jane - who's usually consistent when it comes to creative output - but for me, it works out perfectly.
Since college, I've gotten into art journaling and now it's become kinda my thing as I've been doing it consistently for a long time. And by consistently I don't mean every day or on a regular basis, but it's something that's stuck with me throughout the years, even more so since I started running the camp. Even when there are days when I don't feel like journaling, it's still in the back of my mind, something to use for later when I do have the motivation to create something. Although I'm not creating content all the time, I'm always open to ideas and inspiration, and that's what keeps me going.
From going on adventures, getting into a new show or movie, reading something interesting, to just hanging around and not doing much - I find inspiration in all these things. I like trying out new and different things because it opens my mind to more ideas, more ways I can express my creativity. I guess that's why I've been journaling a lot more over the years - because there's so much I want to explore and expand on. It'll be interesting to look back on my journal entries in the far future to see how much has changed.
I wonder how future me will look back on these years. Hopefully it'll be mostly good memories.
The reason why I've been thinking so much about how art has helped me is because we've been making a lot of art at the camp. A friend of Daisy Jane has come to visit along with their sister and they're both in need of a break and some art therapy.
I've been following Ken at quillinkstudio since about last year thanks to Daisy Jane and I really enjoy their speedpaints and studio vlogs. Turns out that Daisy Jane knows Ken from college, which was why they gave a shoutout to Happy Floral Mail during a stationery haul video a while ago - and that was how I found out they know each other.
In recent vlogs, they've been opening up about mental health and emotional neglect following the death of their mother a few months ago. They have a complicated relationship with their parents and siblings, which was why they pretty much ran off after finishing college. The only family member Ken has the least antagonistic relationship is Carol, the one who has been constantly left to deal with everyone else's shit, resulting in her putting herself last.
Basically their family life's a mess. Their parents argued constantly - father was neglectful while mother was abrasive, and the siblings were selfish and snobbish - it's hard to believe that Ken came from a family like that. Being the youngest as a latecomer, Ken was probably spared most of the abuse as the father died when they were young and all the siblings except for Carol had moved out.
Carol's basically the neglected middle child who desperately seeks to please, only to be stepped on. Since the father's death, Carol stepped in to care for the mother in hopes of earning her love. While the other four siblings have their own lives, Carol was stuck trying to earn the approval of people who constantly put her down. It's pretty fucking sad and it's no wonder why she has all these problems now.
Ken says that they have mixed feelings about their mother. On one hand she kinda doted on them because they were the baby, often to the point where she forced them to fit into her image of what she wants them to be. They only visited her out of obligation because no matter how far they were, the mother still has strings attached. While she would brag about their success as an illustrator and writer, she also undermined them, pitting them and the siblings against each other.
After the mother died, Carol became lost. All five siblings were in the same room for the first time in years and as expected, it was a disaster. Later Carol and Ken got into a big argument in which Ken told her that if she continued with her self destructive behavior, then the next time they visited home it would be for her funeral. The two "had it out" as they described it, and it made them truly realize how fucked up their family was.
At least some good came out of the whole blow up seeing that Carol's here with us now. The day after, Carol admitted that she wasn't okay and hasn't been for years. So Ken suggested that she come along with them, to leave home and start over. She had always spoke about leaving for as long as they could remember, only to be saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the mother.
Like her sibling, Carol aspired to be an artist. She also dreams of being an actress and singer. And of course, the mother shot her down, forcing Carol to suppress her creativity. At least now, she's slowly finding herself again.
It wasn't easy, but Ken managed to convince Carol to get away. She basically took off without a word, which was really the only way she could've left. There's a lot of unfinished business Carol has to deal with, but for now she has to distance herself, which she's still struggling with.
For now Carol's living with Ken, which admittedly hasn't been easy. They worked out a contract with each other, like promising to keep up with therapy and learning how to communicate in a healthy way instead of letting things blow up. Ken wants to help her as much as they can as long as Carol's willing to do her part. There's a lot to unpack as we can't undo years of trauma, but at least we can put the past behind us and move on to a better future.
Art therapy has been super helpful for Ken and Carol. Along with filming a vlog, Ken's also working on their graphic novel, which is about the stuff they've been talking about on the vlogs regarding their family life. It was something Ken had been working on and off for a while before shelving it because at the time it was too difficult to write about. Now with the mother gone, a weight's been lifted off their shoulders, thus giving the novel a more hopeful message as the initial reason why they shelved it was because it ended up being too bleak.
Carol's been trying out different art mediums, figuring out what calls to her the most. So far it's painting and art journaling, the former which she hasn't done in years, the latter being something new. She's also learning digital art, which she's picking up quickly and seems to be getting into. It's good to see that making art has been helping her a lot.
In between art sessions we've been enjoying the scenery as usual. Carol has been practicing digital art by drawing sceneries, something she found out she enjoys a lot. Having spent most of her life in the suburbs, being out here in nature has been a refreshing change of scenery for her. Seeing her and Ken fascinated by their surroundings feels like watching baby birds taking flight for the first time. The two have a tendency to wander so it's been kinda fascinating to see them get lost in nature.
It's sweet but also kinda sad, especially for Carol. I can't help but feel bad for her, for her wings have been clipped for so long that she's unable to find her way now that the strings holding her back have been cut. At least Ken's there to guide her as she tries to find her footing, to finally take back her life after giving everything to uncaring people who just take, take, take from her.
Healing's a difficult process - they will probably drag each other down more than lift each other up. Ken's been open about how hard things have been for both of them, and while it fucking sucks sometimes, they knew exactly what they signed up for by taking Carol in. Ideally, they want to save their sister, but realistically it's not gonna work out like that. Getting her away and giving her the help she needs won't magically make all her problems go away, but it's a start.
Today, we took a walk along the mountain trail, where we collected berries, moonstones, and maple fern leaves. I've never seen maple fern leaves before as they only bloom every few years according to Isabelle. Since they're rare, we decided to collect a bunch to save for a later project. I have no idea what to do with the leaves yet but I'm sure we can come up with something great.
We wound up staying on the mountains all day as we kinda got lost a bit at that fork in the trail where things kinda get confusing. There's a peak up there I haven't explored until today as whenever I try to look for it, I can't find it. The trail only shows up if we get lost but by then it's getting late so we have to put off exploring for another time. Finally, after years of trying, we finally got to explore the peak!
Getting up there was tricky as the slopes are super steep. We had to take the long way around so we could take short breaks and not risk anyone getting injured. It's a daunting climb, but the view was so totally worth it! Not only the view is breathtaking, I can see even more places to explore. That's what I love about exploring new areas - it's like unlocking a door leading to something bigger.
Since we worked so hard to get up here, it made sense for us to spend the rest of the day making the most out of our discovery. Now that I know how to get there, I now have to find a way to make this area more accessible with things like trail markers and ladders. Ken documented the whole trek for the vlog, an impressive feat as, like I said, the climb wasn't planned. As fun as the whole thing was, don't expect something like that again - in other words, don't try this at home, kids.
(Will that stop me from doing something like that again? Knowing how I tend to be a poor planner, probably not. Then again, I guess it's good to be aware because if things go wrong at least you knew beforehand.)
At the peak, we found a field of colorful pinwheel astras. The light breezes caused the petals to spin, which was fascinating to watch. Normally I don't like looking at spinning things for too long because I'm kinda prone to getting headaches but looking at the pinwheel petals was surprisingly calming. It was kinda funny when the four of us immediately pulled out our tablets/sketchbooks to draw the flowers. We also took a bunch of pics too and they turned out great.
After exploring around the peak for a while, we rested underneath a giant lemon tree. The tree was full of perfect lemons - it was like nothing I've ever seen before. Lemons are kinda hard to come by as they don't grow at the camp, so they're only accessible at the market box for me. Finding a perfect lemon is like striking gold, so to see so many at once is like hitting the jackpot. So of course, we collected a bunch and later made lemonade when we got back to the camp.
Speaking of lemons, Ken and Carol are taking the perfect lemons as some kind of a sign. Something about them growing up with a neighbor who always gave them crappy lemons from their tree that end up sitting in the fridge until they get thrown away. Ken says it's a really long story that's funny and interesting so it looks like they'll have to cover it in the upcoming vlogs about the camp. Seeing how the lemons seem to be a sign of hope for the two, I'm intrigued.