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Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself

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Harrison is an aspiring 23-year-old artist whose private journal and art provide an intimate and moving picture of what it means to enter a contemporary adult world filled with contradictions. Full color.


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Harrison is an aspiring 23-year-old artist whose private journal and art provide an intimate and moving picture of what it means to enter a contemporary adult world filled with contradictions. Full color.

30 review for Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I am totally enthralled with this book. I am only able to breathe in bits of it at a time. My heart wonders how I might possibly be able to survive after I return "Spilling Open" to the library. At first I flipped through the pages to look at the eye candy of this book. I thought "just another art journal book - what's so special about this?" Then I started to read and examine each page. OH MY! This is totally how I believe art journaling should be. And I SO appreciate that Sabrina is not afraid I am totally enthralled with this book. I am only able to breathe in bits of it at a time. My heart wonders how I might possibly be able to survive after I return "Spilling Open" to the library. At first I flipped through the pages to look at the eye candy of this book. I thought "just another art journal book - what's so special about this?" Then I started to read and examine each page. OH MY! This is totally how I believe art journaling should be. And I SO appreciate that Sabrina is not afraid to share her heart with the world. In very tiny print at the back of the book it says "self help". Absolutely that's what this book is about. "Spilling Open" may not be right for you. For me it is a perfect fit. I think I may never mark this book as "read". I can see myself wanting to come back to it and back to it and back yet again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    AnandaTashie

    Spilling Open is a book that's composed like an art journal: mixed media art and free flowing thoughts, feelings, experiences. It's about becoming oneself (obviously), pain, love, living. It is a little angsty at times, but also real, sincere, beautiful. Quotes I like: - "Look for the dream that keeps coming back." - "If I don't love those parts of me - the tucked in, sucked in, silent parts - I think it will be a very sad journey... If you're not yourself, who will be?" - "I woke up wanting to go Spilling Open is a book that's composed like an art journal: mixed media art and free flowing thoughts, feelings, experiences. It's about becoming oneself (obviously), pain, love, living. It is a little angsty at times, but also real, sincere, beautiful. Quotes I like: - "Look for the dream that keeps coming back." - "If I don't love those parts of me - the tucked in, sucked in, silent parts - I think it will be a very sad journey... If you're not yourself, who will be?" - "I woke up wanting to go to Italy by car. Perhaps if I really drove fast enough I might catch air to Florence instead of typography class this morning. Sometimes I forget about the magic. Like the moon and red leaves and how the apples grow again and again outside my windows." - "... because of the fear, we don't trust our life, our story or our magic. Keep out of your own way." - "The thing that I've been noticing about myself is that I don't make it clear what is important to me because I don't want to lose the connection or seem like I'm too much work to them. But then I become too much work for myself because I'm not being true to myself. It isn't my job to judge what is TOO MUCH for them. My job is to be completely honest and myself and let the other person respond honestly with who they are and what feels right. I must not shift, alter, or hide myself in order to experience love - because that's not really love - that's when resentment is born." - "Megan always reminds me: The world looks so different when you remember to be energy, not image." (Note: Some of the punctuation and capitalization is different, though some is the same. Hers was free flowing and random at times and that would have been awkward in text. :D)

  3. 4 out of 5

    mathilda_craft

    Sabrina is therapy for the heart. This book is chuck/chalk full of emotion. So truthful. So much meaning and deep feeling. Sabrina is an inspiration for all girls and women of all ages. To remember what it is like to be young, to be insecure and always questioning... that it never really goes away, even when you are older. To be brave and take that leap of faith no matter the fear in your heart. She encourages us all to love deeply and courageously. Not courageous in the whole suits and armor meta Sabrina is therapy for the heart. This book is chuck/chalk full of emotion. So truthful. So much meaning and deep feeling. Sabrina is an inspiration for all girls and women of all ages. To remember what it is like to be young, to be insecure and always questioning... that it never really goes away, even when you are older. To be brave and take that leap of faith no matter the fear in your heart. She encourages us all to love deeply and courageously. Not courageous in the whole suits and armor metaphor, but in being vulnerable and opening yourself up completely. That is where the true bravery is. The guts to stand out, stand up and speak for yourself, no matter who you are. Her illustrations in her books flow so well together. Sometimes choppy, sometimes smooth... she mixes in many mediums and collage. What strength to show such imperfections. For we can only learn and begin to love ourselvs truly by embracing all that is in us: our faults and imperfections coupled with our hightlights. She is truly a beacon amongst this new wave of artists.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    If I had a checkout sheet for each time I have either lent this or had a student ask to borrow it -- well, I could unroll it like a long dramatic, albeit comic, scroll. As a high school teacher, I see it all, but the incredible disconnect that so many students experience on a day-by-day basis is easily addressed with this lovely book. No, you cannot just open it up and whiz through it and that is the delight. It is as convoluted as any human deserves to be -- we are yarn balls of convolution and If I had a checkout sheet for each time I have either lent this or had a student ask to borrow it -- well, I could unroll it like a long dramatic, albeit comic, scroll. As a high school teacher, I see it all, but the incredible disconnect that so many students experience on a day-by-day basis is easily addressed with this lovely book. No, you cannot just open it up and whiz through it and that is the delight. It is as convoluted as any human deserves to be -- we are yarn balls of convolution and, if care is taken, many times the unwinding to the little knot in the heart reveals a little nugget of gold - that opportunity to grow from a difficult time. Teens are delightfully complicated and they want 30 minute solutions. We were all teens once and I remember how everything was so magnified, so alive, so painful, so wonderful all muddled together because my filter wasn't finished developing. This book takes time to read and there is, on almost every page, an aha I feel the same way moment. Even as an adult, I hear the voice in my own head resonating. I have been so grateful for this book's wisdom and the drawings are so lovely. Young girls just eat this up and it sings for so many of them. Spilling Open, and Sabina Ward Harrison's other books up the ante for smart survival without smarmy "truths." This is solution based, but honors the "this is going to take longer than 30 minutes reality." In this time of fiscal responsibility, giant cuts in the school budgets, and other soul shrinking money based decisions, I find more sorrow at school because so many people are having a difficult financial time.Students are taught subjects, yes, but a good teacher listens to the whole student. Work is done on so many levels. We have forgotten the soul or spirit. We are forgetting what we really need to focus upon during our stay on this earth as alive and ethical humans. Spilling Open is a wonderful touchstone for taking the sting out of the hard world of what "they" might call reality - it is a real examination of real scars, and real red hearts held in an outstretched hand. I teach humans and this book has opened so many doors for invisible young girls. I wave a huge flag for Sabrina Ward Harrison. This book helps me be a better human and teacher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Certainly an honest and open look at life from the viewpoint of a young person in her late teens, early twenties--full of angst and self-questioning and attempts at self-understanding. Most of us can probably remembering feeling much the same in college. First published in 2000, it was a ground-breaking book for folks who were interested in visual journaling. Now, I believe most of its appeal would be among young people who are still puzzling their way through all of emotions of that age.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rat de bibliothèque

    "Sabrina is a luminous mystery, a carousel of feelings, lumps and discoveries. If you could lie down with her journals, you would see genius. That is genius in this book. Yes she is young Thank God We might get that much more fun out of her" - From the introduction of SARK, author / artist of Succulent Wild Woman Sabrina Harrison was very young at the time she wrote this and she was dared to be different, to be real, to be totally unconventional and out of the box - to really free herself. And all alon "Sabrina is a luminous mystery, a carousel of feelings, lumps and discoveries. If you could lie down with her journals, you would see genius. That is genius in this book. Yes she is young Thank God We might get that much more fun out of her" - From the introduction of SARK, author / artist of Succulent Wild Woman Sabrina Harrison was very young at the time she wrote this and she was dared to be different, to be real, to be totally unconventional and out of the box - to really free herself. And all along the way was pushed by the same people who held her hand to help her finish this book. This is a terrific book for any lover of art and even more spectacular for art students.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    i think i would have really loved this book ten years ago. a lot of the content really rings true of those awkward, formative years when you are finally on your own and not really sure what to think of yourself. but i found myself wishing that it wasn't so repetitive, and i also would have liked to see more original musings and thoughts vs. the quoting of other works, but hey, it works for her. again, ten years ago, i probably would have been completely enamored and inspired.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bonita Rose

    I saw this book at a bookstore over the weekend.. I NEED THIS BOOK.. it's a personal art journal/diary of the author.. so beautiful! I loved what I read, what I saw.. this book is so beautiful... try and get it if you can!!!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Howard

    Sabrina Ward Harrison is my inspiration! The collage works of painting, photos, text in this book are beautiful. It is usually found in the self-help section at book stores, but should also be in the art section. Great visual experience!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Mckenzie

    Wonderful book. Wish I had read this when I was 20's. Lot's of wisdom for a young woman. Now here I am 40+ years later, still loving it a nd the messages.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    a forever fave. i read this when i was 19, and again when 19 was half my life ago. it's messy & repetitive & glorious, which suited my adhd brain just as well back then as now at age 38. swirls of paint, ink-scribbles, photos, found-image collage, safety pins, fragments & friendship tales. grateful for the truthful way she talks about body image (inc. her skin) & fully celebrates her friendships - including with her folks. i felt the beauty of her handwriting even more on this se a forever fave. i read this when i was 19, and again when 19 was half my life ago. it's messy & repetitive & glorious, which suited my adhd brain just as well back then as now at age 38. swirls of paint, ink-scribbles, photos, found-image collage, safety pins, fragments & friendship tales. grateful for the truthful way she talks about body image (inc. her skin) & fully celebrates her friendships - including with her folks. i felt the beauty of her handwriting even more on this second read - it has a lost-art feel in the digital age. i found sabrina ward harrison & dan eldon around the same time; so this book is twinned with 'the journey is the destination'. here's to another 19-year journey, seeing where we get to.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine Dodge

    One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. How thrilling and breathtaking to be caught up in Sabrina Wards Harrison’s mind and feel so much at home. This piece is a treasure and a gift.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Prompt G: A book by an author with the same first or last name as you

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex Mitchell

    I still remember how I felt when I first laid my hands on “Spilling Open” by Sabrina Ward Harrison. Hypnotized by its colors, I let the continuous flow of handwritten words wash over me. It felt like I was going through someone’s secret journal, and every time a new page would call out to me: This is the map, find the treasure. “Spilling Open” is a young woman’s adventure to live her life out loud, to belong to herself, to claim her own magic. Her sketches, photos, and paintings created over a pe I still remember how I felt when I first laid my hands on “Spilling Open” by Sabrina Ward Harrison. Hypnotized by its colors, I let the continuous flow of handwritten words wash over me. It felt like I was going through someone’s secret journal, and every time a new page would call out to me: This is the map, find the treasure. “Spilling Open” is a young woman’s adventure to live her life out loud, to belong to herself, to claim her own magic. Her sketches, photos, and paintings created over a period of several years form a beautiful tapestry for her journal entries sprinkled with inspiring quotes from May Sarton, Henry Miller, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and Rainer Maria Rilke to name my favorites. Now that I am holding Sabrina’s book in my hands again after so long, it feels very different to me. I see beyond the visible, the beautiful mix of images and writing on the pages, to the invisible intention at the heart of her book. Who am I? Am I good enough as is? Can I be okay with the unknown, the unanswered questions, the mystery of Life, and my place in it all? If before, it was her questions that sparked my own search for answers, now I understand that there are no answers. There is no treasure to be found. Sabrina’s personal quest is not a map, but a window through which we witness her stumbles, losses, insights, and her faith. We move from page to page and witness. We know that on the next page everything will change for her. We see how the suffering leads to love again. Or how feeling inspired will turn to self-doubt again. We have hindsight reading her finished book, something she didn’t have when writing it. “I want to be more and more myself as ridiculous as that may sound.” - Henry Miller We witness Sabrina moving forward in spite of her confusion and unanswered questions, and this is her gift. Her book is a gift of perspective. Not because she had perspective when she wrote those pages, but precisely because she felt lost so many times. Her intention to stay true to herself and stay open to Life was a daily commitment. She dealt with her feelings head-on as they came, reminding us that Life is a moment-to-moment experience. The only thing we can be sure of is that everything will change. The adventure lies in accepting it all, as is, no matter how messy it gets. Our lives are works of art in progress, and Life is in our awareness of the process.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin H

    I keep coming back to this book. Not necessarily to go through it from cover to cover again, but to look through it & draw from it again. I feel the work still holds up; after all, the questions of self & life that Sabrina Ward Harrison was thinking on when she was younger are still questions people ask themselves today. Questions like, How can you get through pain? Find out who you really are? Be who you really are, do away with your masks, live without being afraid of what's going to h I keep coming back to this book. Not necessarily to go through it from cover to cover again, but to look through it & draw from it again. I feel the work still holds up; after all, the questions of self & life that Sabrina Ward Harrison was thinking on when she was younger are still questions people ask themselves today. Questions like, How can you get through pain? Find out who you really are? Be who you really are, do away with your masks, live without being afraid of what's going to happen once people see the real you? There's also an aesthetic reason. I love looking through people's sketchbooks, especially when they're stuffed full of things, & looking through this book really satisfies that. I envy Ward Harrison's ability to execute her pages. They all feel effortless, yet they aren't haphazard. There is a definite sense of design & composition that underlies the pages; they all make cohesive wholes, which shows the amount of thought & time Ward Harrison put (puts? i'm not sure) into her journals/sketchbooks. There's no sense of simply sticking things wherever & then writing on top of them. The writing is as much a part of the page & the design elements as anything else, it all blends together well. Even when Ward Harrison is feeling sad, the pages of her book exude a feeling of exuberance for life & all its questions. Even when she feels small, & unpretty, & hurt, & aimless, even when she's full of questions that she doesn't know if she can answer, it always comes back to that. You can feel the life in her pages, through the colors, photographs, words, & ephemera. There is the real sense that Ward Harrison embraces the whole of life, continuing to search for-- & find-- what makes it all worthwhile.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    "When did I start doubting who I am? My friend Marguerite who is ten just can't comprehend NOT BEING HERSELF. That's why she is so vibrantly alive and glorious." "...watching the branches let go..." "...be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart, and learn to love the questions themselves. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. You need to live the questions. Perhaps you will gradually witho "When did I start doubting who I am? My friend Marguerite who is ten just can't comprehend NOT BEING HERSELF. That's why she is so vibrantly alive and glorious." "...watching the branches let go..." "...be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart, and learn to love the questions themselves. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. You need to live the questions. Perhaps you will gradually without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day." --Rilke ""I believe that loving fearlessly is the bravest thing in this world. It's not loving without fear. It's loving fear-less-ly, courageously. To be afraid and to love regardless .. there is such power in that." I think what is left un-lived and unexpressed in love hurst the most." "I try too much to protect and hold on to what I must let be free.." "The world looks so different when you remember to be energy not image." "study that voice inside that whispers.. YES...'

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bria

    Although this book does make me miss a number of things about being 21, it also reminds me that I'm overall quite glad that I'm not 21. To be honest, it probably would have been a bit much for me even then, but maybe at 15 or 16 it would have hit closer to the mark. As it is, reading it today, it mostly serves to illustrate what a cranky, stuffy, old woman I've become, completely unmoved to the point of irritated boredom by sentiment. Which is not to say it is not a beautiful book, a deeply pers Although this book does make me miss a number of things about being 21, it also reminds me that I'm overall quite glad that I'm not 21. To be honest, it probably would have been a bit much for me even then, but maybe at 15 or 16 it would have hit closer to the mark. As it is, reading it today, it mostly serves to illustrate what a cranky, stuffy, old woman I've become, completely unmoved to the point of irritated boredom by sentiment. Which is not to say it is not a beautiful book, a deeply personal portrait of the intricate and overwhelming struggles of youth and personhood that do not dissipate with age but continue to pursue us lifelong, &c &c. But mostly it is a beautiful book that one should read before one is inured to the notion of beauty, before one grows too tired of these devouring, inescapable issues of selfhood and longs to turn their inner eye outward.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Selby

    I recently thumbed through this mini epic of self discovery again. A dear friends of mine adored Sabrina Ward Harrison in high school and for a good reason. Fun, messy, and aesthetically pleasing splash pages at every turn. But it is all about the content. Very self aware, very inspirational, these are the words of acceptance. She loves to quote Rainer Maria Rilke and SARK. It is about accepting everything you were, and are, and becoming everything you could be. In retrospect slightly naive, kin I recently thumbed through this mini epic of self discovery again. A dear friends of mine adored Sabrina Ward Harrison in high school and for a good reason. Fun, messy, and aesthetically pleasing splash pages at every turn. But it is all about the content. Very self aware, very inspirational, these are the words of acceptance. She loves to quote Rainer Maria Rilke and SARK. It is about accepting everything you were, and are, and becoming everything you could be. In retrospect slightly naive, kinda silly, and a little self absorbed. But ultimately all self-help-ish books are. This one stands out for being so tender.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kricket

    this was one of my favorite books in college. sabrina ward harrison was 21 when she created this journal of photos, paintings, collage, and quotes. it's a great book for a young woman working on accepting herself, or going through a break-up/starting a new relationship, and since i spent most of my college years doing these things over and over again, it was comforting and helpful and hopeful. upon re-reading, i'm sad to say that i think i've outgrown it. maybe that's not such a bad thing at thi this was one of my favorite books in college. sabrina ward harrison was 21 when she created this journal of photos, paintings, collage, and quotes. it's a great book for a young woman working on accepting herself, or going through a break-up/starting a new relationship, and since i spent most of my college years doing these things over and over again, it was comforting and helpful and hopeful. upon re-reading, i'm sad to say that i think i've outgrown it. maybe that's not such a bad thing at this stage in life. i'd still recommend it to all the college ladies trying to find themselves.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This is a selfish portrayal of a young girl that blossoms into a world of self-discovery. The poetic writing is adolescent and not very intellectually stimulating. If anything carries this book to 3-stars it is the creative art and organization of the text. The scribbling chaos and collages are child-like yet very intriguing. The blind contour portraiture is loose and alive weaving throughout the pages of the book. Each picture accounts for varies moments of this girl's life. I would recommend t This is a selfish portrayal of a young girl that blossoms into a world of self-discovery. The poetic writing is adolescent and not very intellectually stimulating. If anything carries this book to 3-stars it is the creative art and organization of the text. The scribbling chaos and collages are child-like yet very intriguing. The blind contour portraiture is loose and alive weaving throughout the pages of the book. Each picture accounts for varies moments of this girl's life. I would recommend this to people who appreciate abstract art like Cy Twombly.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    sabrina is so refreshing. not only is she brutally honest about her internal evolution, but she defines these shifts brilliantly in visual form. an ex-beau of mine (whom i adore) introduced me to sabrina's work while he was attending SCAD. when he came home with one of her books in hand, i immediately sat on our couch and fell into her world. moments later i wrote her a letter!..... and yes, yes: she replied. a stunning woman.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarcomical

    in freeform art journal style (don't expect to see lined-up paragraphs or even tons of text on each page), sabrina speaks to the artist spirit with her willingness to spill out (as in her other books) her insecurities, hopes, desires...all while encouraging you to be willing to do the same in your own life, whatever your occupation. *visit her website at www.sabrinawardharrison.com to see her work

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donnajo

    A self help book. Done in art with journal type writing all over in every direction of the page. It sure was a different type of read. I have a few of her books. This is really the first time I sat and read one. It's the type you wouldn't feel like reading more than a page or two at a time. Today I sat and read almost half the book to finish it. It had quotes from different people and had you thinking at times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christiana

    this book gushes emotion. i hate the fact that i connect so well with it, and i hate even more that it can be found in the "self-help" section of the bookstore. Sabrina went to school for graphic design and what she took from her studies is beautifully organic and intuitive art - design wise and emotionally wise. We know that we're not alone in our own personal crazy mixed up worlds. Such an inspiration.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Sabrina's beautiful photography combined with her journal-like writing and erratic painting makes this "self-help" book one-of-a-kind. She shows the reader her life in a way that will make them feel better about their lack of perfection. Read it if you love SARK's Succulent Wild Woman.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharry

    I was a bit skeptical in the beginning. The foreword both put me on guard and intrigued me. One of the most beautiful things about this book is how she is a horrible speller. :) The only reason I make note of this is because, truth be told, I'm a super speller and until some years ago, it would bother me when people misspelled things. Anyway, awesome book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I absorbed the hell out of this book during my post divorce years. I found the collage style artwork awesome to look at. I noticed this book on my right column here Goodreads as I was browsing other novels. I had forgotten all about it. It is a neat coffee table book and/or one to share with your friends.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    My friend heather was given this book back in 2000, and I bought myself a copy bc i loved her copy so much. I bought it during a hard breakup and i found this book to be comforting, artistic, inspiring. it is a unique book in that it is a journal full of a women's heartfelt reflections, personal art, etc. I still pick it up and read it and I've had it for 8 years.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I think I liked the format of this book more than the actual content itself, although I did like certain quotes and lines throughout. It was the scrapbook/journal/collage/montage format that kept me engaged and interested in seeing how all the different medias were combined. And makes me think of how my life would look if I were to make a book like this. Interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katy Metzler

    This is a great book to read if you want to do some soul-searching. Harrison's journal asked a lot of important questions which I ended up asking myself, and her progression towards 'becoming herself' was inspiring. I found a lot of truths in this book.

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