As with anything, setting a solid foundation will help ensure a successful outcome. I want to give you the pillars of my art journaling practice, and the things that work for some of my students, so that you can build a life-long nourishing creative self-care practice through art and art journaling.What will appear on the page is an adventure and is therefore uncertain, but your dedication to your art practice is not.
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Fromm
Making a regular practice of art journaling does not necessarily mean that you create in your art journal every day at the same time without fail. What it does mean though, is that you figure out a few things:
That means that you have permission to make something ugly, to mess up, to try new things, to not have all the answers, and to make something that is not nearly as good as your friend might do it. You do it because this form of expression is natural, is needed, and feeds your spirit. The improvement comes with practice and risk taking.
Figure out a way to incorporate art into your life regularly. For some of us that means daily, and for others that means a weekend retreat every other month. Ask yourself some questions: Do you enjoy journaling for long stretches 1 – 3 times a week? Do you work best in the morning? Before bed? Or do you prefer to carry a portable art kit with a travel journal and fit it in whenever you can throughout the day?
Are you one of those people that would benefit from making an artist date with a friend? Or with yourself? Or simply writing your art time into your calendar as an appointment every week? Figure out what works for YOU and commit.
I want to make sure that I make clear how much I actually want you to experiment. As a general rule, you will get so much more out of this course if you really practice with the techniques. Just because you’ve “finished” the class, doesn’t mean you are done working with the techniques. I offer these to you because they are flexible, simple, and yet meaningful and fun.
My suggestion is to really work a series of images with each technique, especially those techniques you most enjoyed. For example, with the ink and string drawings, I recommend doing 5 – 10 different images. Experiment with making very few lines on the page, a medium amount, and a page that is very dense with black ink and relatively little white space.
When you start working into the images with your chalk or oil pastels, you can experiment with dry and wet ink and see which you like better. You might also decide to add in some acrylic paint and see how that works, or some watercolor. All of these materials will behave differently with the ink.
Part of what I’m trying to help you take advantage of is the beautiful effects that happen naturally. The ink and string make ghostly lines, chalk against the ink makes a strong contrast, and watercolor paint over ink may make the ink bleed. This is perfect for a beginner who wants to make interesting images, or the experienced artist who needs to break out of a rut.
Can you see how when you work this way, art work is adventurous? Can you see how you have to be willing to completely mess it up in order to make interesting things happen? This is what artists do. Artists practice taking chances and having adventures on the page. You can do that too.
Creating layers in my journal pages is a blessing. It gives me permission to let it all hang out because I know I can cover it up if I’m not happy with it at the end.
If I feel like painting colors, I create a background, if I want to draw I can do that on a blank page or one of my pre-prepped backgrounds, if I feel like writing, I know I can doodle or paint over it to keep my words completely private from the world. Working in layers gives me permission to do whatever I feel like in my journal.
I like making the space that I create in inspiring. That means I display my own art, fun postcards, beautiful pictures, and keep little stones, milk pods or driftwood. Think about what inspires and encourages you, and keep it visible.
I would love to be a part of that inspiration to help you continue to push past the boundaries that the inner critic, into the adventurous creative landscape that exists within you. I hope this little printable poster can help remind you to create wildly and often. If you are looking for more guidance on setting up your own art space at home, you’ll find a wonderful set of ideas here.