This current series about art journaling began with a republished piece, Learn: Journaling through Art, and continued with last week's Learn: Art Journaling as Listening. Today's post explores the art journaling topics of beginning, art journaling topics, and tools and techniques.
Art Journaling: Beginning
The first step in art journaling is accepting what comes. At the start of the art journaling workshop last month, Briana led us in some breathing exercises based on the teachings of creativity coach Eric Maisel to help us focus on the present moment and let go of self-judgement. (Often, our inner critic speaks loudly when we sit down to face a blank page. I've read that another good way to quiet the critic is to name its voice and invite it to go sit in a corner with nice piece of chocolate cake.)
Art Journaling Topics
- an inspiring quotation
- your favorite things (or people or activities or foods)
- an inspiring person
- your jumbled emotions (or your emotional clarity!)
- a vacation memory
Mixed-media and fiber artist Traci Bunkers, in her book The Art Journal Workshop, recommends including negative emotions and experiences as well as positive "because they all make up who you are and help you to become who you want to be." (For more on accepting wholeness, you might be interested in reading Explore: True and Also True from the blog archives.)
Tools & Techniques
Both the books mentioned above cover a great variety of tools and techniques. In the recent art journaling workshop, Briana had acrylic paints, stamps and ink pads, glue sticks and stencils available for us to use. Each of us also received a kit Briana had put together which included deli paper, plastic "credit" cards (used for burnishing and for spreading paint), telephone directory pages and pre-painted papers. Also available for us to use were various tools from the recycling bin: paper tubes, various caps and lids, string and rubber bands among other items.
One of my favorite techniques Briana demonstrated was layering a stencil beneath a phone book page and then spreading paint over the page using a plastic card. On the red paper in the top image above, you can see the effects of a string laid in paint and then pressed onto the paper (or the paper pressed onto the painted string). In that image, I created the black dots by spreading black paint onto bubble wrap that I pressed onto the page.
Briana used glossy magazine pages to demonstrate a technique I used for the pink and yellow paint in the second image above. For this technique, paint is first applied to the magazine page and then pressed onto the journal page. On my page, I pressed the pink and yellow onto my journal page, then rotated the magazine page 180 degrees and pressed it onto my journal page again. Using the plastic card, I applied black paint over that. I used the corner edge of the card to make the spiral design within the black; the Hs were stamped with black ink.
What I Learned Overall
During the short time available during the workshop, I tried to experiment with colors I don't usually use and techniques that were new to me. My goals were purely to try and to test (and I hadn't intended to share any of my playing around); I felt no pressure to create any particular result. As I went along, the process felt increasingly intuitive. I can see how practicing art journaling in this process-focused way could be expansive and deep—a way to play and to develop new ways of perceiving and creating and, ultimately, of understanding or even creating oneself.
Art journaling will definitely be a practice I continue to explore. If you're feeling drawn to try art journaling, I urge you to give it a shot! If you're doubting yourself (as I had been before I jumped in), you can find encouragement in the earlier posts in this series—Learn: Journaling through Art and Learn: Art Journaling as Listening—as well as in the resources listed above and at Briana's blog. As always, you're welcome to share your thoughts here on the blog, on Facebook at our community page, or via twitter.
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