Embracing Imperfection: My Ugly Pages
By: Amy Maricle
Last week I spoke with a young woman who said she had been inspired by some of my blog posts to start an art journal. She bought special supplies, put on her favorite music, and got to work. After about an hour and a half, she said that she felt thoroughly frustrated and disappointed. None of her pages were pretty, fun, or even interesting to look at.
Finding Your Inner Artist
I spend a lot of my time trying to help people find their inner artist. Everyone has it. No, not everyone can transfer the image in their mind to the page, or incorporate some clever humor into their art, but everyone who wants to express something can. Your art is for you. If you want to share it, you can, but art making is a time for you to explore you inner landscape on the page.
You don’t have to take advanced drawing or painting classes in order to make art, but I have found that because art takes some training and practice, knowing a few tricks will help you feel more successful. You can read about that here.
“Mistakes” Make Great Art
When teens or adults start making art again (after that long hiatus since childhood) usually the hardest part is getting past the idea that you shouldn’t do art because you don’t have “talent,” or that it’s just for kids. Art is a great teacher. If you pay attention to the process, it will speak to you about your life. Part of making art is making mistakes. It’s what we do with them that counts. Who said that? If you know, please tell me in the comments!
Let’s Get Real
Listening to this young woman, it occurred to me that in my efforts to inspire you to create, I haven’t shown you my mistakes. Seeing mistakes is important. When you only see the pages that I or other artists deem “finished,” or “pretty,” it doesn’t give a lot of permission for your learning curve or for those pages that are just not working, does it? So, I bring you the awkward, unattractive, lost, and perpetually “in process” pages. And in the spirit of embracing imperfection, I am sharing them in a very low-tech video.
After the video, I have included a list of ways that I deal with my imperfect pages. Would you read them over and tell me what you would do? You can help me out with my imperfect art journal pages or tell me what you like to do with yours!
My Imperfect Pages, Art Journal Flip Through
Give Your Art Journal Page a Fresh Start
1. Gesso over a page you don’t like and start over. When applying gesso over a page with watercolors, it will smudge the colors, creating a muted multi-toned background for a quote, list, text, or collage.
2. Collage a brand new page. Start with a magazine photo of a landscape or image you enjoy and cover the whole page – then add in elements that help to create a bit of a narrative or a story. Or, choose a beautiful paper to serve as your new foundation for that page. Next you can paint, cut and paste images, personal pictures, or words.
3. Cut it out! You can either cut out a part of your page that does not please you, or you can cut or rip out the page all together. Just be sure if you do this that you pay attention to the way that the book is put together to see whether or not this will cause other pages in that signature to fall out.
4. Other ideas? What else do you do with those pages that just don’t work?
Looking for More? Check Out Art Journaling 101:
What do you do with your “imperfect” art and art journal pages? Are you a fan of cutting out things that don’t work? Or, do you prefer to try to work it out by altering things little by little to see how it changes the whole?