Trusting the Process: A Shared Art Journal Update

Shared Journal Begins

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my first shared journal experience with Maryland artist, Cait Sherwood. Art journaling is an important part of my creative self-care practice, and collaborating on a journal seemed a wonderful way to keep me going. We each started with a Moleskine accordion journal* and made some foundational marks, images, and colors for the other person to work with. You can find that first post here.

Since then, I’ve received Cait’s journal. I’ve been trying to figure out how to meld my art with hers, while staying true to my multi-layered style. I’ve  worried that I wasn’t leaving enough of Cait’s art on certain pages. How could I “trust the process” or the image when I was working with some imagery that wasn’t mine?

When I spoke with Cait recently, we re-confirmed our goals for the shared journals. We both accept that our journal might come back completely different. I also sense that there’s a give and take to this process. Some of Cait’s pages will remain untouched, some will meld elements of both our art, and some will change completely.

When I sent my journal to Cait, there were images to which I felt attached, but I made a conscious decision to welcome their transformation, because the beauty of the shared journal is creating with and in reaction to, another artist’s art.  You can see a sneak peek of what Cait’s doing in my journal here.

It’s amazing to see the transformation of this journal so far, and there’s so much left to go. The very first image at the top of this post shows Cait’s journal as it was when it arrived to me, with the exception of a few details and the “flags.” As you look through the images, keep in mind that some pages line up exactly while others only overlap in sections.

These pages took their time in revealing themselves to me, and changed the most.

Shared Journal Collage Evolution

Covering over everything in white gesso took a big leap of faith, but once I did it, and allowed the ink and paint to run, I knew the piece was moving in the right direction. I find these black and white lines both creepy and intriguing. Those complex reactions are always a sign that I’ve hit on something important, and am getting the inner critic out of the way. I think we can’t be too afraid of our dark parts emerging in our art, and the critic will edit them out if you let her, so don’t! If the dark parts really scare you, you can always cover them, tear them, bury them, burn them, or write all over them until they no longer frighten you.

[bctt tweet=”Make art that scares you. Then you’ll know you’re on the right track.”]

Shared Journal Evolution 2


Here’s a different section where Cait started with collage, paint, gesso, gold leaf, pencil, and gouache, I believe.

Shared Journal Evolution 3

Do you see the hand and the toes in the right side page above that Cait made? I saw those in pencil and decided to outline them with Micron pen. It’s a little hopeful and a little creepy, like someone reaching out of the abyss. I like it. I’m also really into that doggie peeking out from on top of the trees. Do you see him? Wily little bugger! I can’t wait to see what Cait does with all of this when she gets it back!

[bctt tweet=”Trusting the process means letting go and letting the art direct you, not the other way around.”]

I also started some new pages on the back side of the journal. Who knows where these will go once I mail the journal back to Cait in a few weeks…

Dancer Shared Journal


To see a little video tour of my journal, click here.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process, the piece, and how you might start a shared journal with someone in your life.

If you are looking for more guidance in your art journaling work, check out my online art classes page here. 21 Secrets Spring 2016 releases on April 1st, you don’t want to miss this edition!

If you are obsessed with this moleskin journal the way I am, you can find it here*.



*This is an affiliate link. It means that if you follow it and choose to make a purchase, you’ll support the artist empowerment work I’m doing at Mindful Art Studio at no extra cost to you. Happy Creating!


  1. Sally Swain

    Gorgeous, Amy. It’s great to read about your process….and see the evolution of the shared images.
    And brave to let the dark bits through.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Sally!

      It’s nice to have you here! I so appreciate you dropping by. Isn’t it fun to let the dark parts out only to realize they’re not as dark and scary as we thought?


  2. Carolyn Mehlomakulu

    I’ve never done a shared art journal before, but I’ve led some group activities that involved building on other people’s beginning to the art. What a neat experience and a beautiful reflection on your experience. Trusting the process is not always easy!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Carolyn:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment, I really appreciate it. Yes, I’ve found trusting the process more tricky when you are not live with another artist and are co-creating. I love creating art in groups – have you led it, or been a participant, or both? There’s something so magical about combining the creative energy in a safe space.

      Happy Creating!

      • Carolyn Mehlomakulu

        Both. I’m an art therapist, so I’m currently leading some groups. Thanks again for sharing some beautiful inspiration – glad I discovered the blog

        • Amy Johnson Maricle

          Carolyn – I’m thrilled you discovered the blog and I am glad to have your voice as a part of this community.

          Creatively Yours,


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