Art Journal Every Day: The Heavy Stuff
February 07, 2014
If you're new to Art Journal Every Day, there is a short introduction here. All of the previous posts can be found archived here. There is a flickr group for sharing right here. Remember, it's just ten minutes of nourishing your creative self every day! No need to finish anything or even like it. If you've done some art journaling this week and you've blogged about it, or put it on flickr, please leave a link in the linky list at the end of this post. Thanks!
Today I want to talk about art journaling about the heavy stuff. You know, the icky dark corners of life. We all have bad moments, bad days, bad stretches of time. I'm a great believer that art journaler can help you work through some of those negative feelings.
The reason why I started art journaling with some regularity is that 2009 was a really rough year for me and I needed the emotional outlet. It definitely helped me process my situation. To this day, those are some of the most raw pages I've ever created. And photographing them for this blog post was a surprisingly emotional experience for me. I'll confess I feel a little naked posting them at all. But if there's one thing that I've learned, it's what a wonderfully kind group of readers I have. :)
Here are some thoughts on approaching the heavy stuff in your art journal.
Use a quote. I found the orange and white quote online and printed it out and glued it to my page. If you don't have the words, use somebody else's.
Just say it. Sometimes writing the words down -- the things that are really bothering you, without any sugar coating -- can be really helpful.
Keep it simple. There's nothing particularly artistic about this page. Some mist sprayed around a mask, some stamped text, and a few thoughts. Focus on your feelings rather than making it pretty.
Try ransom note style text. I cut all of the letters out of a magazine. When processing emotional turmoil I have found that a slow and mindless task -- such as searching for letters in a magazine -- can have a calming effect.
Celebrate the positive! I believe that finding little moments of joy in the midst of a crisis is enormously powerful. And it's reinforcing. Every time I see this page I acknowledge how far I've come and the emotional heavy lifting I've done and I'm proud of myself.
Sometimes you don't have the words. Find a visual representation instead. I thought that the figure on this page was the perfect way to convey my mixed emotions. And the fact that I felt I was going through something insane and wondering if anyone on the outside could tell.
Repetition can be helpful for processing. Why else would teachers make you write a certain sentence 100 times?
Find a single word that means something to you. I like Ali Edwards' One Little Word project because it forces you to distill your thoughts into something very small and manageable.
Dont' be afraid to talk to yourself. On this page I asked myself a million questions and tried to work out my feelings. It was really helpful to write it all down.
Just because your feelings are icky doesn't mean that your page has to be. Work in bright colors and go for "pretty" -- if that makes you feel better. If it's limiting, forget about it!
Make a list. Your journaling doesn't have to be flowy poetry. A list is a great way to get writing.
Work in stages. I made the background for this page long before the text popped into my head. Some days you need to art and other days you need to write. They needn't both happen on the same day!
Write it and then paint over it! I wrote some things down that I wanted to obliterate. So, I gesso-ed over the top and created a new page. (You can kind of see the old text peeking through.)
Talk about a period of time rather than a specific moment. Sometimes I find it helpful to reflect on a larger segment of time because it helps me gain perspective on the situation.
Do you have any techniques for attacking the heavy stuff in your art journal?
Here is this week's linky list:
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. I have two huge cardboard boxes full of crafty stuff that I'd like to give you. It's a mixture of used and new stuff. A large percentage of this giveaway is 12x12 paper. If you live in NYC and can pick the two boxes up this weekend, or at least by Monday, be the first person to e-mail me! You must take it all. :) Pick up is in midtown Manhattan. The boxes are heavy. You will need a car/taxi for transporting the stuff.