“Facing” My Younger Self

August Theme
Faces, the Human Form & Characters
Week 34 – August 22
Art Challenge: Layered (Using Multiple Mediums)
Journal Prompt:  Speak to your younger self- what advice would you offer?

The photograph below is my favorite picture of me.


I remember everything about it . . .

I was living in San Diego, California.

It was the summer before 7th grade.

I was taking a black and white photography class just for fun.

I was wearing an outfit my mother made me – my favorite.

It was white with black stripes and bright red poppies splashed on it.

I remember the moment the photo was taken.

My teacher shot it with an old Kodak Brownie camera.

I was doodling on my notes when he took the candid picture.

I developed the picture myself in the darkroom.

It was the last picture of me where I remember that I was completely happy.

I hadn’t yet noticed boys.

I didn’t know what a heartbreak felt like.

I didn’t yet understand what “mean girls” were.

I hadn’t experienced the death of a loved one.

I was unaware of things like body image and self-esteem.

Currency consisted of trading what I had in my lunch box.

I played hard all day and slept solid every night.

I didn’t know about world events: politics, crime, disease or war.

I had never even heard the word “stress.”

I was going to glue this photograph in my art journal, but as I was thinking about this moment, I was subconsciously scribbling my own version on a scrap of paper on my art table. I was using a plain old cheap pencil. I didn’t think about the smeared paint and wrinkled paper I was drawing on. If I had grabbed an expensive sketching pencil and a blank sheet of drawing paper, I would have been hung up on creating a “perfect” sketch – I’m so glad I didn’t. I decided to use my sketch for the page instead of the photograph.

I slapped some Napthol Red Medium acrylic onto the page and spread it with a credit card.  While the paint was still wet, I used a bamboo etching tool to scratch some thoughts about that little girl into the thick paint.

Using a stamp from the Mixed Media Essentials set from Paperbag Studios, I stamped a few bold flowers, similar to the poppies in my clothing. I dug through my box of painty papers and found a paper towel that I used to blot some wet paint. I always keep things like that – I never know when they might come in handy.

Cutting random shapes from the paper towel, I used gel medium as an adhesive and sealer to attach the pieces to my art journal page.

Next, I ripped out the sketch I made and used gel medium to attach it to the painted page and let it dry well.

I used a Stabilo pencil I dipped in water to emphasize my darker values and make the lighter areas pop.

A touch of red on the poppies and the lower lip helped to connect the sketch to the background.

I used my Dymo Caption Maker to type out the title . . . “little girl self.” I think that says it all.  The only advice I could give to that young girl would be to savor that moment. Freeze it in your mind and hold tightly to it. When life is difficult, think back to that time when you were innocent and carefree. And stay there as long as you can, even if its just for a fleeting moment.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If i had my life to live over,
I would start bare foot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daises.

— Nadine Stair

We are so excited to announce that the FABULOUS Jenny Doh is our featured artist this week!  Find out how Jenny approaches our challenge HERE.

For more information on this week’s challenge you can find us here:

Instagram: #documentedlife #documentedlifeproject

Looking for previous challenges? click HERE

Visit our blogs: Sandi KeeneRoben-Marie SmithRae Missigman

Join us on The Art to the 5th™ Academy™ – a thriving “community” and classroom for “The Original” Documented Life Project™!  Find us on Instagram: #documentedlife

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  1. Mary Nasser

    What a profound and gorgeous page, Lorraine. So heartfelt and insightful and very beautiful. Love the way the you used the red to tie the page together. Thank you for sharing your inspiration and process.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Mary you are always so kind with your comments – you are one of the reasons I enjoy posting – to make friends like you! xoxo

  2. Mary W

    This is an amazing post and page! Love the story, the picture, the colors, the everything. I have a similar picture that would be very fun to use. Thank you for your time (that reminds me of an Alabama song) you art a forty hour week for a living, just to send it on down the line.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Mary! I have to go look up that Alabama song! I’m happy you liked the spread – I sure would love to see what you are creating!

  3. Avatar

    She takes my breath away! Amazing and inspirational artwork! Thank YOu!

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank YOU, Marsha Sue! You are so thoughtful, and I really appreciate your taking the time to comment!

  4. Sandi Keene

    Lorraine, she/you are so beautiful at the tender age of innocence. I love how you interpreted this challenge so thoughtfully and personally. Soulfully – that is the perfect word. Like you.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Sandy, you always choke me up with your beautiful words – thank you for them. You know me, so you know so much more to the story after this photo was taken. I love you for that – and trust you with my heart!

  5. Denise Miller

    Love everything about your page! The poem at the end is beautiful…I’m in my 50’s and in my "I don’t care what others think" stage (wish I always felt that way). Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt page.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      I’m in my 50’s too, Denise – and I agree, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time with worrying about everyone and everything. I’m glad you liked the page – you are so kind to comment!

  6. Avatar

    Lorraine, this is truly a beautiful page. I so appreciate your sharing who this little girl is, it really makes the page all the more special.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank you so much Janice – I am glad it spoke to you – and thank you for taking a moment to comment, it means so much to me!

  7. Sabrina K.

    So beautiful, Lorraine. I could so feel your words and then how wonderfully your image contained them. Thanks!

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Hi Sabrina! I think all of us "little girls" have been there – thank you for commenting, it matters to me – you are so kind to do so.

  8. Rae Missigman

    such a beautiful photo of you and such a great post. I love it. I love every. single. thing. about it. You would think I would be used to be amazed by what you share each week, but I just keep being amazed. xx

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Oh Rae – you know I think the same about you – each week, you amaze me with your talent and also inspire me to work harder and better every week. I love you , dearest friend!

  9. Avatar

    How precious! Thank you for being open and vulnerable. Your work is beautiful.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank you so much Kimberly, I so appreciate your words and understanding of my page – your taking the time to comment has made my day!

  10. Fran Rees

    What a beautiful "poem" and a beautiful page. You captured so much of the innocence of youth in both your words and the sketch. Very touching! Your sketch really captures the photo of you – I can see why it is your favorite photo.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank you so much Fran – don’t you just love that poem? Look it up, there is so much more to it, but that’s my favorite part. Thank you for taking the time to comment – you are always so kind to me!

  11. Jane Christensen

    Thank you so much for sharing this and showing the whole process. I have to tell you, I cried when I read your background story. A beautiful memory.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Awww Jane, I am so glad you were touched – you must be a sensitive soul, and thank you for taking a moment to comment. Big hugs to you!

  12. Linda McDaniel

    So glad I took the time to read this tonight! Beautiful work, words, and woman! San Diego? I don’t think I ever knew that! Precious girlfriend, thank you for being you xo

    1. Lorraine Bell

      And thank YOU for being YOU Linda – think of you so often, and dream of a day filled with catching up, sharing a coffee, and definitely lots of laughter and memories! xoxo

  13. Avatar

    I really, really love this. Everything about it.. thank you for sharing your thought process and the sweet memories of an innocent time. This journal page will be a treasure for you for years to come.

  14. Megg Demko

    Oh Lorraine, you and I would have been friends way back then and held each other’s hands through this life. I may go find that favorite photo of me today. I don’t remember where it is but I recall I’m wearing yellow. I need more yellow in my closet.
    Thanks for a Sunday morning gift.
    Love you,

  15. Avatar

    This entire blogpost is wonderful: the journaling, the memories and the art itself!

  16. Avatar

    Very beautiful page ..love the drawing and the shades of red.Super awesome and very inspirational ..

  17. Megg Demko

    I tried commenting early this morning with no luck so I’m going to try again. I wish I was your friend way back when because we would have held each others hand through life, but I am so glad you are now. I may have to go find my favorite picture. I think I was the same age and I am wearing a yellow jacket. I need more yellow in my closet.
    Thank you for the beautiful words and inspiration on a quiet Sunday Morning.
    Love you,

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank you Megg, it was there, just waiting to be approved – I am honored you took the time twice to comment! And yes, we totally would have been friends . . . from the moment we would have met. And of course you would have worn yellow, because when I think of you, I think of sunshine! Love you sweet, sweet friend!

  18. Avatar

    wow, what an intense reading. It felt like I was with you while they were taking this picture of you.
    This is what I like most from art journaling…that the readers become a part of the page aswell.
    Loving every second of this page.
    Thanks for sharing!


  19. Yara Bertran

    Every week I am looking forward to see what is the Challenge and how you will work through it.
    I cant believe is already September, and I go back to see what you’ve done and this challenge is my favorite so far. You made me feel super nostalgic. I have two teen ager boys. And I keep telling them "enjoy life, don’t rush, don’t stress, be nice." Thank you for an amazing page and for Sharing

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Thank you so much Yara! I’m glad this challenge touched something deep inside. And keep giving yourself that advice – don’t rush, it goes so fast, like smoke through a keyhole!

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