by Dina Wakley
What is Art Journaling?
Simply put, an art journal is a journal in which you combine art and words to express yourself. That’s it. It’s not complex, and there really aren’t any rules for art journaling. It’s all about self-expression.
Art journaling has a long-standing artistic tradition. Artists through the centuries have kept notebooks in which they sketched, practiced, experimented, and recorded themselves. Vincent vanGogh kept notebooks (and he used moleskins!). Picasso and DaVinci were two other prolific sketchbook keepers. You are in good company! If you feel like exploring famous and not-so-famous artists’ sketchbooks, go to Artists’ Sketchbooks Online.
You might be thinking, I’m not an artist! Well, I beg to differ. You are an artist, and you can create an art journal without drawing or sketching. In fact, I’m lousy at drawing, so I use collage techniques to express myself. Stamp images, vintage photographs and magazine images make up for the fact I can’t draw.
Why Keep an Art Journal?
I sometimes read comments from people who don’t “get” art journaling. They wonder why people would take a blank book and fill it with images and words. I can’t answer for anyone else, but I feel compelled (creatively and emotionally) to art journal. It nurtures my soul–which sounds “new agey” and abstract, but it’s true.
I’ve kept a regular written journal since I was 9 years old (in fact, I still do). I’m a big believer in the value of keeping a journal. I have 18 volumes on my shelf. Sometimes I would sketch or draw in those journals. I’ve always been drawn to art and, eventually, when I was in my early 30s, I couldn’t keep the art suppressed any longer. I started keeping a visual journal in addition to my regular journal, and it fills a need I have for expression and creativity when words alone just don’t cut it. Plus, it’s just plain old fun.
I think artists (and that means you) all have different reasons for keeping journals. The reasons are very personal and individual, and could include:
- To experiment with art techniques & ideas.
- To get your thoughts & feelings out on paper in a creative way.
- To document your life, your being.
- To enjoy the process of creating.
Think about why you are going to start creating an art journal. And honestly, you don’t have to have any other reason than, “I want to.”
Silencing the Inner Critic
I know how we are when it comes to artistic things. We think we’re not very good. We think we can’t do it. We think everyone else is better than we are.
I want you to check your inner critic at the door for this class. Don’t allow it to give you any doubts about what you’re doing and creating. I want you to chant with me, “There are no mistakes in art journaling. There are no mistakes in art journaling.”
So, there’ll be no self-defeating behavior, and no comparing. Sound good?