When artist Billie Jean Sullivan moved to the Vineyard last year, she envisioned what she wanted her home to be like. Shortly after settling in, she envisioned the man she would like to see in her life. These projections were aided by the construction of mixed media collages, called vision boards, which helped her to focus on her goals and, in both cases, visions became realities.
Ms. Sullivan has been creating vision boards, also known as goal boards, for 20 years now and she has used them not only to draw out a life map but to help prompt changes in her life.
This Saturday, Feb. 18, Ms. Sullivan will share her secret with others in a first-time class at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs. Participants in the three-hour vision board workshop are encouraged to, “Meditate on the direction you would like to see your life going, sit down with some magazines and bring in clippings, quotes, feathers, photos, buttons, whatever speaks to your soul to collage into a personal vision board to create a clear new path in the direction you would like to see your life move.”
Said Ms. Sullivan, “It’s just intentions you’re bringing into reality. It’s been a playful way of creating something and putting it out there to the universe.” Vision boards were popularized in recent years by John Assaraf, one of the experts involved with the bestselling book, “The Secret,” a self-help guide based on the law of attraction and positive thinking.
Ms. Sullivan, who is a multi-media artist and has a background in graphic design and magazines, stresses that no artistic ability or background is necessary. She will supply the background board and will also provide assorted collage papers from Jenni Bick Bookbinding, fortune cookie fortunes and tea tags, some pictures, odds and ends, and glitter. She can also print out words or sayings in different fonts for collagers.
“You should come to the table with your intentions,” she instructs. To start on the project she suggests, “Meditate and then it’s about being very spontaneous.
“It’s almost a subliminal way of bringing things into your future — manifesting what you want…I think the beginning of the year is a great time to do it. You can focus on intentions for the new year. Meditate more, exercise more.”
Ms. Sullivan credits her vision boards with helping to define many of her life changes, including her move to the Island. She notes that once the board is completed and hung somewhere visible, the process is complete.
“It’s very passive,” Ms. Sullivan said. “It’s not like something you have to concentrate on. You put it aside and it’s almost like an order form for the universe. These are my intentions and then you can go on with life. ”
Ms. Sullivan gave an example of how a latent desire can even be fulfilled. Given her love of horses, she has included one or two in many of her boards, without any real intention, and she notes that shortly after relocating to the Vineyard she connected with an older woman who needed someone to ride her horses with her.
According to Ms. Sullivan, an avid collager, creating vision boards is the perfect outlet for non-artists. She also creates collaged daily journals.”It’s so cathartic,” she said.
“I think art is one of those things that’s very therapeutic,” Ms. Sullivan said. “It’s just a good tool to have. Art is a cure for many problems and people don’t always have that in their tool bag…This [vision boarding] is non-judgmental. Just let it rip. Just let all the pictures that appeal to you come together. It’s almost like a tapestry. It’s a personal journey as much as anything else.”
Ms.Sullivan noted that once people learn the techniques, they often continue making boards. “It almost becomes a visual language, ” she said. “I think the more you do this kind of thing, you find your own visual language.”
2012 Vision Board: Dream Your True Life with Billie J. Sullivan, 1–4 pm, Saturday, Feb. 18, Featherstone Center for the Arts, Oak Bluffs. $50. Pre-register: 508-693-1850; featherstoneart.org.
Gwyn McAllister of Oak Bluffs is a regular contributor to The Times.