How to Create an Essence Board

Posted by on April 8, 2014

Last July I felt run-down, exhausted, and like I was losing myself. I was so tired all the time that I never felt like painting or writing. I hadn’t taken time off work in months and I ended up skipping a family vacation to use that time to stay home and relax instead.

Artist’s block passes and I know that, but it still scares me when I don’t feel like creating because creating is so much of who I am. When I don’t feel like creating, I don’t feel like myself.

I wanted to reaffirm to myself who I really am, in a way I could see. I needed something to remind myself of what I am.

I love the idea of vision boarding and sometimes I make vision boards, but this had to be something different, a work of art in itself.

Somehow this felt like the only creating I could do. I packed up some magazines I had laying around and walked to my best friend’s house so I could have some company while I worked.

And I made this:

I call this my “Essence Board”, a perfect visual representation of Who I Am. Colorful, creative, joyful, peaceful, adventurous. I keep this on my desk and whenever I look at it, I feel my spirit hum with joy.

It’s far too easy to forget who we are in this busy world. We have so much stuff on our plates, so much to do that we rush from thing to thing without stopping to think or imagine or consider what we really want. Visual representations of our souls are powerful ways to remind us what we want, what we’re here for, and who we are, and I think everyone can use one at some point.

So how do you start?

How to Create Your Very Own Essence Board!

Step 1: Round Up Your Materials

  • Photos or magazines (I like Yoga Journal, National Geographic, and those free magazines you get at the health food store). Bonus tip: Include some photos of YOU!
  • Scissors (pronounced “ski-zors”)
  • White glue/glue stick/Mod Podge
  • Something to glue your images to. I used mat board, but illustration board, cardboard, foam core, or really sturdy poster paper works too.

Step 2: Start Cutting!

“Whoa whoa whoa…you have a TON of stuff on that Essence Board, McKella. What the heck am I cutting out?”

Honestly, whatever you want! Here are some ideas:

  • Colors that sing to you
  • Words or phrases that resonate with you
  • Animals that make you happy
  • Bits of nature if that jives with you. Water, plants, rocks, flowers, and trees can add a lot of appeal to your Essence Board! If that doesn’t work for you though, don’t worry about it. This is YOUR board.
  • Images that represent parts of yourself that you want to focus on. For example, the teacup I used in my Essence Board says “peaceful” to me. The hands and feet say “grounded”.

If you still aren’t sure what to cut:

Some people can jump into cutting images and some can’t. I find that working with images helps me organize my thoughts, but if that isn’t the case with you, that’s ok! If you aren’t sure about the “Essence” you’re trying to convey with this board, try this:

Write down anything (positive) you can think of to describe yourself at your best, when you’re happy. This can be a list or in paragraph format. If you use paragraphs, just go through afterward and circle or highlight the words that jump out at you. If you aren’t sure what to write, ask others what you’re like when you’re happy and at your best.

Think of when you feel most like yourself and write anything you can about those times.

This can give you an idea of what you’re looking for. Now cut cut cut!

Step 3: Arrange your images.

Start playing with different ways to lay our your images. I like to start with the larger images and use the smaller pieces (like little color scraps or the small chocolates above) to cover up seams and corners and smooth and smooth out out the overall look.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Overlap, combine short and tall images, long and short ones, and don’t forget images of you! You can even decorate yourself or make yourself a little costume like my skirt on my Essence Board.

Step 4: Glue it all down.

I like to use gluestick and then Mod Podge the whole thing when I’m done. You can also use apply Mod Podge with a sponge or bristle brush, lay down your image, and Mod Podge over the top as you go.

Or you can just glue and not worry about the Mod Podge :)

Step 5: Display where you’ll see it all the time!

My Essence Board lives on my desk. You can put this on your bedside table, hang it on your wall, keep it on your dashboard, wherever you’re going to see it a lot, and preferably in a place where you could really use a reminder of Who You Are.

I love my Essence board because it reminds me that I’m a joyful, creative being even when I don’t feel that way. Art can move us. It speaks to our souls in a deep way and sometimes all it takes is a visual reminder to change our whole perspective.

Now, tell me all about your Essence Board! Feel free to post in the comments, link to a blog post about your Essence Board, or post an image to my Facebook page! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Opt In Image
Get Your FREE Audio!
Banish Your Creative Blocks and Make Art You Love!


  1. Leave a Reply

    April 8, 2014

    I never have enough magazines with the right kind of images for these, but I am so going to use pinterest to create an essense board!

    • Leave a Reply

      April 9, 2014

      I have a “Essence” Pinterest board too! I don’t know how I lived without Pinterest.

  2. Leave a Reply

    April 16, 2014

    I’ve had fun creating vision boards lately. I made a “vision binder” by taping pictures and words to plain paper using double stick tape, punching holes in the paper and putting the pages in a binder. I also love making vision boards on Pinterest. I recently made a “my story” board on Polyvore: I like your idea about placing pictures of ourselves in the board. It makes it even more real.

    • Leave a Reply

      April 16, 2014

      I’ve been loving the binder method lately too! And I have a scandalous love affair with Pinterest…I might need help…anything we can do to make vision boarding more doable is wonderful!

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>