Tuesday, January 18, 2022

My Word of the Year with Stenciled Ephemera

Happy New Year, StencilGirl® fans!  It's Sarah Gardner with my first StencilTalk post of 2022!

Have you picked a Word for the Year?  Are you trying to pick one? I've talked to several friends, who are still deciding on theirs. And hey, it's still early, you have time!

I've been intentional about choosing, and trying to live by, a Word of the Year for the past several years.  I haven't been doing this to jump in on the trend and post something on Instagram, though.  This is a very meaningful self-development exercise for me.  

I am a life-long learner. So, it makes sense that I would use my Word of the Year as a foundation for learning throughout the coming year.  For me, learning means being open. It means exploring and questioning.  It means not just accepting the status quo or the way things "have always been." It means having the humility to realize I don't know everything and can always improve.

My art/creative practice is part of this.  My art journal has always been a place where I give myself permission to "not know," to play around, and to learn.  My creative practice gives me the experience of being intentional in the way I am learning, and this translates to how I "practice" life and learn about myself beyond my art journal.

My word of the year for 2019 was "Gratefulness" because I had finally fully recovered from my tongue cancer surgery (in 2018). I had had so many wonderful care-providers and positive outcomes that I was, quite simply, full of gratitude.  I wanted to keep that feeling going into the coming year...and beyond. 

In 2020 it was "Grace," because that feeling of gratitude needed a little propping up as ordinary life, COVID, and some emotional and personal challenges presented themselves.  For me, "grace" is handling anything that comes your way with loving kindness (for oneself and others), courage, respectfulness, and gratitude. 

For 2021, it was "Intention."  I had just read Dr. Shauna Shapiro's book "Good Morning, I Love You," and her approach to mindfulness really resonated with me.  I'm such a perfectionist...(well, now I can say I'm a "recovering" perfectionist)...that it just felt right to me when I read: "Perfection isn't possible, but progress is." I think "intention" means that I am not just on autopilot for anything in my life.  I am paying attention, present in the moment, I am actively creating my life, and I am being kind to myself.  

And so, without further ado, I reveal my 2022 Word of the Year: Discernment. (Discernment does have a religious aspect to it, but that is not the meaning I am focusing on.)  For me, choosing "discernment" is a continuation of what has come before. It's about taking "Gratefulness," "Grace" and "Intention" into the future with me as I make a new effort to go beyond the mere perception of things and make nuanced judgments about their properties or qualities. "Discernment," for me is about making sure my perceptions are not overly influenced by assumptions and pre-conceived ideas. And it is using values like humility, generosity, and truth, as well as my awareness and intuition, to assist in making rational observations.  It's about linking the head, the heart, and the spirit in a wholistic way to make decisions and take actions.  Our life is all about the choices we make, and I am asking "Discernment" to inform mine.

As a reminder, I've created this little "book" out of up-cycled clothing tags to assist me this year. I've included words (there are many more, but I selected several that are important) that define what "Discernment" means to me. This was such a fun project, and I felt really grounded in my decision to choose this word. 

In order to add the "words" to my tags, I needed the right size for the tag, so I created the words with a stencil, stenciling each letter. Then I scanned the words to my computer, adjusted the size of the jpeg, and then printed them out.  I fussy cut the words and collaged them into my arty "pages." 

I have created other ephemera using black paint and stencils and then scanning to get smaller versions to use in my art journal.  It is another step, and takes some fiddling on the computer to get the images to the size you want, but I think the pay-off is wonderful, and it's another way that stencils can be so versatile!

Here are the StencilGirl® stencils I used (and/or who made an appearance:) for this project:

Botanical Stem by Rae Missigman
Early Art 2 by June Pfaff Daley (June 2021 StencilClub offering)*

*If you join StencilClub, you can access any of the prior months' sets!

Here's a video showing you, step by step how I made my up-cycled tag book:

Thank you so much for reading and watching! XO Sarah

Hi I'm Sarah and Juicy*S is my DJ name. I'm not a DJ. I would love to be a DJ. It's one of my fantasy dream jobs, really. I got this name when my sister, my friend, and I were slinging paint and working in our art journals, drinking wine, and keeping track of the funny things we were saying on a "sign-in" sheet...just craziness. We all ended up with a DJ name that day. I started my first art blog with this name, and I've had it ever since.

I have found that being creative, that making stuff, is a very fulfilling and beneficial activity for me. Creative play, and art journaling in particular, has become my self-care practice. It's so exciting for me to share what I'm excited about, and helping others find their own creative practice is one of my goals in life!

You can find me on Instagram @juicy.s.art and my website is: Juicy*S Art
I also have a YouTube Channel and an Etsy Shop.


  1. What a wonderful and inspiring video. There are so many things I want to try from this. You have inspired me to get moving again. Your tags are wonderful and so bright. This made me very happy. Thank you for sharing.

    1. What a wonderful comment to read, Kathy! Thank you! It makes me happy to know that you are inspired by this! XO Sarah

  2. What a wonderful, thoughtful, and inspiring column, video, and project! Thank you so much, Sarah!

    1. Thank you Terry! I appreciate your comment so much! XOXO

  3. This is just awesome! I love the idea, I love the execution, the stencils and the whole project!! I think the art world needs more of Sarah Gardner and Stencil Girl products!!

    1. Thank you so much for being such a dear friend and ardent cheerleader, M! Love you!

  4. This is fabulous Sarah. I am very inspired

    1. Hi Lynette! It's so nice to know I could inspire you! Thank you for your kind comment.


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