I know that not all of you do the whole art journal thing. And some of you might be old hands at the art journal thing. Still others are just delving into a world that you recently stumbled into…
Why Did I Start Art Journaling?
Over my life, I have dabbled in artsy-craftsy things. I have made all kinds of stuff, from paintings to jewelry to dream catchers to decorative items…the list goes on. I have been a creative writer, or at least spent a lot of time writing creatively. I have worked in a number of odd jobs centered around something creative. I have dreamed up and created businesses, a most creative endeavor. But I never did see myself as all that creative. I never considered myself to be an artist.
I did always love taking pictures, that really started with my first kiddo. I couldn’t stop myself from taking dozens of pictures at one sitting, trying to catch every nuance of every smile or funny little expression. I had to take as many pics as fast as I could, trying to make sure I didn’t miss a single moment on film. You can imagine how that habit has grown now that I have four kidlets!
First Step – Scrapbooking
So, I started light-weight scrapbooking, meaning I occasionally put together scrapbook pages with my favorite family pictures. I didn’t really have any rhyme or reason or consistency to it, I didn’t really even consider it a hobby. It was mostly about enjoying taking pictures of the people I love most in the whole wide world. I take gobs of pictures, and I love sharing the really good ones.
Scrapbooking didn’t hold my interest much or for too long. I had two hang-ups:
- I always felt a bit like I was cheating, just using little things that I could buy and just gluing them together on a page, and
- I couldn’t ever find exactly the right embellishment or doo-dad for my pages anyway.
Very quickly I started making my own little doo-dads for my pages. That was a springboard for way more to come. I’d get so involved in making the little doo-dads and wanting to experiment with other things that I’d totally forget I started with a scrapbook page.
Second Step – Watch Some Videos!
I started journaling when I was in fifth grade, starting with spirals. I have kept written journals throughout most of my life, although it slowed down a number of years ago for reasons I won’t go into here. So I was poking around the interwebs looking for lovely journals and ideas for making my own paper.
I started seeing some art journal technique videos, some pictures of other people’s art journals, and I was hooked. It was the perfect mix of creativity, journaling, pictures and thoughts about my family. It wrapped up so many things that I liked to do. It seemed pretty efficient, actually. I could satisfy a lot of my needs all at once.
Third Step – Get a Journal!
So I went out and grabbed a sketchbook with some really nice, heavy paper. I didn’t really know what was going to come next, I just took it home and rubbed my hands on the paper and thought about it for a bit. I wasn’t sure how to get started, I wasn’t sure if I needed to have some theme for the whole book, or if I was just going to draw in it, or just paint in it, or really what to do. I was paralyzed by all of the crisp white paper. Blank pages, whew, that’s a block all on its own.
So I’ll show you my first page.
I feel super bashful about sharing it cuz it’s really, uhm, well, you ca see for yourself. It’s not my best work, let’s leave it at that. But it’s a really important page, I think. I didn’t decide to get rid of it or throw it away or gesso over it. I’ve kept it, and I look at it often. It’s an inspiration so many times when I want to create but don’t know what I want to create. It shows me where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come, and of how much growth and courage I’m capable. That in turn shows me I can go way further. And the point is to just get going, something will come from that.
How I Use My Art Journals
Now I have several art journals going at one time. I do have some themed journals, like my Quote Book. The journal I go to the most has no theme, it doesn’t have only one type of project in it. I don’t use it as a journal for working out thoughts or problems or deep-seated things from my subconscious. I really outgrew the need for that kind of journaling a long time ago. Instead, my main journal is all about experimentation. I love to experiment with new mediums and new ways to use mediums I’ve already been using. I love to try new techniques and ideas. I use many different sources of inspiration, so often I have words or text in my pages, but it’s more about homage to the inspiration upon which the page was built.
Many of my art journal pages lead to larger pieces of artwork. Some directly translate to other works and some just lead to other inspirations and other experiments that eventually lead to other artworks.
My art journals are where I work that stuff out. I don’t have to worry about ruining an expensive canvas, or having something that turns out kind of dumb being out in the open for anyone to actually see. I don’t have to worry about anything. I think of it as doodling. Maybe some of it turns into more serious matters, but mostly, I use my art journal to play and enjoy myself and to relax. Nothing heavy, nothing serious.
Just me and some art stuff and my journal.
How do you use your art journal?