When I was pregnant with my now 7 year-old son, a friend of mine started dating – and soon wisely married – Dan Eldon’s sister, Amy. Somewhere in my fog of being terribly nauseous for 9 months and realizing I needed to quit my much-loved career in acting to raise “the alien” I was carrying, I heard murmurs about her brother, Dan Eldon. But nothing registered (it was all about me! I was pregnant!)
People say, “Everything changes when you have a kid!” They were right. I couldn’t travel like I used to, so I did quit acting and immediately, I was desperate for a way to get my ya-ya’s out, so I took an art journaling class at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. In the first class, the instructor pulled out Dan’s book. I had this strange visceral reaction: I felt dizzy seeing his work, hearing his story. It hit me on a gut level. My mind was spinning with déjà vu. I knew this, but I just couldn’t frame it.
I tossed and turned all night then, the next morning, I told my husband about the class and the book I had seen by this guy. His work was incredible, so real and raw. He wasn’t trying to make “art”, he wasn’t trying to make something “pretty”– he was expressing himself from his soul. He was only 22. He was amazing. But he died! And it was horrible. My husband looked at me then plainly asked, “Is his name Dan Eldon?” Good god! How did he know?! “Yes! It is!” I answered in amazement. “That’s Amy’s brother.” Finally the light bulb blazed on and everything made sense!
Immediately getting my own copy of the book “The Journey is the Destination”, I began pouring over it, studying the pages in awe. His honesty and inner beauty make the pages and his story come to life. He was so fearless, not only in his travels and his work, but also, more intensely, in his art journals. Could I do that? Could I be that brave? From what I saw and loved, the biggest challenge was just to be honest and true.
Seven and three quarters years later, I do just that. In fact, I do it almost daily. Art journaling is my work and my passion. My son’s growing into a happy healthy being and while I still miss acting, I get my ya-ya’s out almost every single day through art journaling. It’s my meditation. Although I’ve struggled with being open with my work, Dan’s vulnerability has been a beacon for me.
I’ve met some incredible people and some of my most intimate, truthful, and respected relationships have been forged because of art journaling and the freedom it’s given me. I’m also traveling again (short trips) to workshops and conferences learning new ways to be brave on the page.
I’m working toward having my own studio/shop where others gather to art journal, express, and share community. It’ll be our safe space, where we grow, express, share.
Just like Dan did in his too-short, brave and brilliant life. I’m honored, humbled, and grateful to be able to study his work. I truly cannot imagine my life without art journaling.