Saturday, April 25, 2009

To Keep an Art Journal As Practice

To keep an art journal is a ‘practice’ as in meditation and yoga.

Every day in your meditation or in your yoga you bring a different ‘you’ to the practice. A simple example of this is that on some days you have not had enough sleep and your meditation or your yoga will reflect that fact. Another example, once in a while you will have a glass of wine with dinner and then have another after dinner. Not only will the meditation and yoga be affected, but any exercise - and in a way - any motivation, will be affected.

When you set out to keep an art journal as a spiritual practice it will be the same. Some days you will be brilliant and many days you will be average and some days you will just suck.

Once you decide that you are going to keep an art journal on a daily or semi-weekly basis, you will immediately come up against impossible obstacles to doing so. These obstacles are exactly why you haven’t already started – press through. Growing is not always comfortable and one way to add in a new practice is to make it more uncomfortable to not do it than it is to do it. For example if you promised yourself that you would work in your art journal at least twice a week and you made it Monday, but forgot all about it until 11:30 pm Saturday – make yourself do at least a portion of a page anyway. You will teach your mind that you are serious about starting this practice and you are going to do it no matter what! It may take a few late nights or missed dinner dates, but your mind will get the message.

For the best results in using this ‘practice’ you want to cultivate a non-judging attitude. With frequent and regular practice you will bring yourself to the page with more creative confidence and learn to trust the process and yourself.

I use an affirmation that one of my journaling teachers gave me, “Create to be authentic, not perfect.”

To Keep an Art Journal as a practice is actually a practice in being authentic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Keep an Art Journal Takes Practice

A friend said to me the other day “You have always been a better self-starter than I have.” I stared at her in astonishment. This is not how I see myself. If I want to accomplish anything I have to paint myself into a corner and have no way out but forward. To others this looks like self-starting.

Side note: This brings up all those funny initials that geeks use ROFL, LMAO, LOL. For the rest of us these translate into hysterical giggles.

Ahem, where was I, oh yes to keep an art journal takes practice…let me tell you how I paint myself into a corner.

Ø First of all I tell everyone that I am having a great time with my art journaling and my altered art journals. I tell them all my new ideas and how I am going to make a million dollars with my art.

Ø I make sure that I clear off my work table every week all the way down to the surface

Ø I make sure I have all the pens, pencils, paint and stencils I could ever use.

Ø I make sure I can find stuff

Ø I schedule time to do it

Ø I tell the kids we will be painting at “X” time (“Is it time yet?”)

Ø Then I stand in front of my paper with all the stuff sitting there and it seems easy to start.

Many of us think we should already be able to do this or know how. Many of us feel blocked when it comes to creativity. With practice you will gradually cultivate confidence and skill but it will take practicing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

To Keep an Art Journal as A Survival Tool

Days like this are when my determination to keep an art journal becomes a survival tool, much, much more than recreation, therapy or spiritual practice.

The kids have an extra day off because of teacher conferences YAY YAHOO – except it is snowing - hard. I spent the morning puttering around my art area while they watched cartoons and now the art supplies are in good order for when the giant HO-HUM sets in.

We will practice mixing and using acrylics, our ten year old is developing a real technique and it is great fun watching her daubing, spraying and speckling. This is where my art journaling comes into play. While she works I use her extra paints to prep pages in a couple of my new art journals. No matter how often we do it – we always have extra paint mixed and out. This way I am there to help turn her big wet pages, hand out wipes and admire, without hovering. It is a great opportunity to prepare pages with colors I wouldn’t normally choose myself. It allows a fresh flush of color on as many pages as I care to work up.

When the kids are home for several days, especially in the winter, I can get several layers down on my pages, creating a feeling of depth as well as strengthening the paper. I always have at least two journals going and often three. This helps me keep going – painting journal #2 while #1 dries. I let the pages dry, at least a little, before putting wax paper under and in between because if I put it in too soon it affects the texture pattern and sometimes that isn’t what I want. Sometimes it is.

Now the gray day is turning to evening and suppertime and we have survived the day in great spirits with lots of art to show for it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


You know insights seem to happen in the moment, but there are a myriad of things that lead up to having the insight. In this case I went to the Denver Art Museum (first time), visited a friend's studio (and nearly drooled), have been reading magazines and books on my particular art genre, and also have been collaging quite a bit since early December to complete 2008 and envision 2009. I think that all of these 'doings' led to my insight.

I write, and as a writer it is very important to read. Every class, workshop and many books I have read about writing, all recommend lots of reading. And it is recommended that a person read all kinds of things to see how other folk do it – not so you do it like them, but so you see different ways and methods that you can use.

Insight - It's the same with art! To create, no matter what form of creativity you choose, it will serve you to surround yourself with an environment of art! I am not saying you need to move or buy a new house or tons of original art. But you could get an annual pass to the local Art Museum, make a point of visiting the summer art fairs, subscribe to an art magazine, join an art association for your type of art or participate in an art group.

We all know (we do - don't we?) that insights are worthless if they are not followed with effective action. So for your first action get out a pen and your journal and list what actions you will take to bring art to your daily environment.