Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why I Art Journal


In the past I had started many journals and found that after a short time, they remained nearly blank, unused and in a pile on the shelf. At that time, journaling was a frustrating experience as it became more of a symbol of an unfinished project rather than a helpful process. Then one day a number of years ago it occurred to me that my journals were there for me and only me. They could be anything, with no expectations and no rules. 


It does not matter whether I journal everyday or once a year. What matters is that I journal what I need, when I need to, and in any form that works for me.


Now art journals have become an important part of my life. I have several of them going at once and use them for different reasons. My current go-to journal is a 9x12 inch, spiral bound journal with 140b cold press water color paper. It is truly a visual journal in that every page starts with a layer of black gesso, continues with painted pages, and finished off with additional mixed media elements. There is text on every page as well but very limited actual journaling. 


The expression of emotion is in the images and hidden within the layers. And that is just fine.


I also have a smaller journal that I hand bound myself and that is used as a more traditional journal - with a lot of writing. All of the pages have been prepainted with watercolor washes and there is collage added as well. This journal is there for me when images won't do and I need to use my words. I do not journal in this book as often as my visual journal - but it is there whenever I am compelled to reach for it. And unlike my visual journal, this smaller one is private and not shared with anybody on line or IRL.


Both of these journals, and the many others I have made, are containers for my thoughts, feelings, ideas and concerns. They hold my stories. They are me...

15 comments:

Sue Marrazzo said...

A nice post!
Journaling is a very creative experience...Thanks for sharing, Seth.

Purvi Gadewar said...

I had a similar experience...initially I found Art journalling very intimidating...only when I realised that it was only for me and my creative expressions...did I enjoy doing it...
The pages you shared in this post are stunning...

Miss Marple said...

Great pages! I tend to write more in my "writing" journal(almost daily) than in my art journal(almost weekly). But I do need both in my life, that is for sure!
Have a great day and start in the weekend - Irma

elle said...

I'm still sorting out the hows and whys of art journaling. I've got a large number with blank books. I like 'pretty' but that doesn't express my realities. But then life is too short for uglies. Thanks for expressing yourself so well!

zandra said...

Love that! I have a few empty ones and glad I don't have to feel guilty that they are not complete!

Peg S. said...

Haven't done any sort of journaling since my diary when I was a young teenager so many years ago. I am not sure if I am so afraid of my thoughts that I don't dare write them down or that I feel they aren't worth the ink and paper. An art journal, though, is something I might be able to consider. Thanks for the idea, Seth.

lara said...

Its funny cause art journalling, in theory, should be a very liberating experience but i had an epiphany a few weeks ago that is a bit in line with your thoughts. Social media has kind of brainwashed me to want to share everything i do, instant feedback is gratifying, being a part of an artistic community online is reassuring. But that also put pressure on me to create "art" or at least something "interesting and pretty" each time which totally demotivated me on days i wanted to just get something out of my brain but didnt feel creative.
A few weeks ago i was writing on a black page about some emo stuff and was looking at it trying to decide what embellishments to add and what i should hide and it got overwhelming and all of the sudden i was like "whoa whoa whoa ... dude stop stressing out about making this pretty, the words are enough, you needed to get something out and there's no need to share it" and from then i've had some pretty great productive experiences in my journal!

JackieP Neal said...

Great pages Seth, thanks for sharing these. More so, thanks for sharing your thoughts about it, as it has helped others speak up and relay the same feelings many of us have about journaling and show&tell! (thank you lara)
hugs,Jackie ")

Liz Ackert said...

Found my way here from Jennifer Coyne Qudeen's blog ... looking forward to following you in the future.

Brian Kasstle said...

I have found after several years journaling it is something I have to do. After looking for a creative outlet I found art journaling through Orly Avineri and she encouraged, and prodded me on to continue and now I also teach. It has become a daily process for me and pages develop over a long period. I currently have three going. Two 8.5 x 11 journals(one hand made by a friend) and one small side kick - which is for any leftover paints, scraps, matt medium. I may not work completely in my journals but I do little things that I add to it. It may be a doodle at work, downloading images that speak to me, writing, finding vintage papers, or magazines. Eventually over time a spread is done. I like to think it part of my creative life. I have a vintage home and garden to care for somehow it all ends up in there. I love to hear how folks have done this for some time their process develops and matures. For me it is very natural.

Gathering Stars said...

No expectations, No rules........ Love it.
Glad I found your blog. It will be rewarding to follow.
Thanks :)

jinxxxygirl said...

'They hold my stories.. They are me'... I love those last lines Seth and they are so true.. I keep more of a sketch book than an ArtJournal... but i have kept a written journal for more than 28 years.... Sometimes i write in it alot, sometimes months will go by but it is there when i need it.. and these lines are true of it too. It holds my stories, my thoughts, things that upset me , problems i need to work out, happy thoughts, experiences... perhaps things i wish to say but don't say out loud... it is me...unedited.....Hugs! deb

Susana Magenheimer said...

I love how your pages have this dark, worn grunginess to them yet this light and softness comes thru - really exceptional. I have got to try using black gesso as the base. I too have empty journal books but at least I now journal in 3 of them. I found the weight of the paper based on my style that day dictates which I use. My mantra is no worries if I don't create every day art is supposed to be freeing not stressful but says easy does hard.

Darlene Campbell said...

HI Seth, I like the idea of taking the pressure off "art journals" and welcoming the idea they are there for when you need them. I enjoyed hearing how-why you use them and I like the idea of black gesso as a starting point. I've been wanting to keep more of a collage focused journal so I may steal your black gesso idea and have a go at it. It would be perfect in one of those larger sketchbooks I have sitting empty on the shelf. Cheers-Darlene

Cheryl turtlemoon said...

This post really struck a chord with me. Thank you so much for that, it's removed a block!