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AJED Blogiversary Archive Pick: Good Advice

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every DayIf you're new to Art Journal Every Day, there is a short introduction here.  All of the previous posts can be found archived 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, use the hashtag #artjournaleveryday so that we can all take a peek.  Even if you're not on social media, you can see everything (from twitter, pinterest, instagram, and facebook) that uses that hashtag here.

Over the years I have doled out tons of art journaling advice.  Today, I'm taking my three favorite advice filled Art Journal Every Day posts and combining them into one mega super awesome cool great rad advice filled post.  Say that three times fast!  ;)

I'm combining:

  1. August 26, 2011: Even When You Don't Want To
  2. January 20, 2012: Letting Go of Expectations
  3. June 20, 2014: 5 Tips on Making Time

I think that there are a few common barriers to bringing the practice of art journaling into your life and I'd like to remove them, if I can:

Fact: I'm not always in the mood to art journal.

Fact: I don't have the time to art journal.

Fact: I don't like how my pages come out.

Let's tackle each of those one-by-one, shall we?

In my opinion, being "in the mood" to create is myth.  Just like I'm not always in the mood to be nice or wash the dishes. But I do those things nonetheless.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
Making art is a discipline.  And I know that I need to crack that art journal open every day, if only for two minutes, and even especially when everything I do looks like crap. 

Here are some ideas to help motivate you when you don't particularly feel like art journaling.  They work for me.  I hope they'll work for you!

  • Take your journal to bed.  That's right.  Lie in bed and read it.  Look at a few pages.  Let it be the last thing you look at before you fall asleep.  You may find that you're ready in the morning.
  • Write with the intention of covering it up.  Take a blank page and just start writing -- whatever is in your mind: your shopping list, your dreams, a list of people you hate, whatever.  On another day, you can come through with crayons or gesso or whatever strikes your fancy and cover the whole thing up.
  • Be a little kid.  Take some bright colors and scribble on a piece of paper, an envelope, a napkin, whatever is close at hand.  Awesome collage fodder for later.
  • Make a tag.  Tags are so compact and easy and achievable.  Decorate one and stick it in your art journal later.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day

  • Find a page you don't like and cover parts of it with paint.  Sometimes it feels good to destroy something.  And now you have a not-blank canvas for later when inspiration strikes.
  • Add one thing to one page and call it quits. Doesn't have to be any good, but it's enough to check off "art journal" on your to do list.
  • Change formats.  It could be a journal in another size.  It could be a journal with black pages instead of white.  Just make a change to kick yourself out of your rut.
  • Change locations.  Take your journal with you to your office, in the car, to a coffee shop, or just into the living room.  Never underestimate the power of your surroundings to change the way you feel.  Sometimes your studio has too many distractions.
  • Open your journal and prep a page, whether that's a wash of color or masking tape and gesso.
  • Consider a supply break up.  Break up with your normal art supplies and try some new friends on for size.  It may be the creative kick in the pants that you need.

I say to you what I say to myself: It's the days that I least want to open the journal, that it gives the most back to me.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
So what if you're looking at that list and saying, okay, but I just don't have the time to do any of that.  Well, one of the things that I have said over and over again is that you just need ten minutes a day for art journaling.  So let's talk about making those ten minutes happen.  Here are five things that I think help:

Do it early in the day.

Every day starts with the best intentions, but it doesn't always end the way I expect it to.  I've learned that it's best if I start my day with my art journal to ensure that it happens.  The later in the day I wait for those ten minutes, the less likely they are to happen.

Don't try to create great art.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
Pressure can be good.  After all, they say that necessity is the mother of invention.  But pressure can also be paralyzing.  Don't let yourself stare at that page.  Just plunge in and try something.  If it doesn't work, great!  That means that you've learned something.  I think of my art journal as a place for experimentation and risk taking, not a place to create beautiful finished art.  This really helps me just play and actually use my ten minutes for creating rather than thinking and staring and wondering.

Leave your art journal lying around.

I never put my art journal away.  It's always sitting on my desk or the floor (in my studio the floor is like a really big extension of my desk -- you can tell when I'm insanely busy because the floor starts to fill with stuff).  By leaving my art journal out it (a) reminds me to open it up and play and (b) allows me to wipe off excess paint, glue in a torn piece of paper from another project, stamp off excess ink, test out a new stencil, etc.  I'm always amazed at how quickly my art journals seem to fill.  It's because I use my art journal as a place to collect everything that is excess in the rest of my art life.  It's kind of an artsy trash can.  And like any trash can, you want to have it out and ready for use at all times.  Remember, the ten minutes in your journal doesn't all have to be in one block -- two minutes here, five minutes there, it all adds up!  Doodle while you're on the phone!

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
Prioritize your art time.

Don't help the neighbor.  Don't look at other people's art online.  Don't clean that spot on the counter.  Don't watch those TV commercials.  Make ten minutes in your art journal a priority.  Those are your ten minutes to nuture your creative soul.  Protect those minutes.

Find an art buddy.

Do you know how I manage to carve a stamp every single day in December?  It's not because I have so much time in December.  It's because I know that I'm part of a community and the expectation from my art buddies is that I will create and post a stamp.  How do I manage to post a blog post every single day Monday-Friday?  It's because I know that you, my art buddies, are waiting for it!  Whether you join an online community, an online challenge, an online class, or grab some real life friends, having an art buddy (like a workout buddy, but less sweaty) can be a real motivator towards making the time to create.  Spare time is like spare change.  It doesn't exist.  But you can choose to make time.  Find the person or people who can help you make the time!

Great!  So now you have the discipline and you've made the time, but you can't get your pages to look how you envision in your head.  

Well, I can't either.  

I'm sure somebody out there gets it "just right" every single time, but it's not me.  And yet, I love my art journal and just keep creating!  

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
My secret?  I have learned to let go of my pre-conceptions of what it's supposed to be.  And thusly, whatever it is, is awesome!  Part of the reason ten-minutes-a-day works for me is because I have learned to let go of expectations.  I just add another layer each time until my page decides what it wants to be.

Imagine that you have a date tonight.  You've been thinking about this date.  You have been planning this date.  You've imagined all the ways it might go. What you will say, what you will do, what you will eat, what the other person will say and do and eat.  This is a night that is going to make you happy.  This is a night when you will laugh a lot.  This is a night when you will have deep conversations.  You will look perfect. Your date will behave perfectly....and so on.  Well, that's a lot of pressure for a date.  And if it doesn't go that way you'll probably come home quite disappointed.

Keep in mind, I'm not telling you to lower your expectations.  I'm telling you to let go of your expectations.  They are different statements.

  • Lowering your expectations is about expecting (and accepting) less.
  • Letting go of your expectations is about assuming nothing and embracing whatever may come.

I promise you that even if nothing about your art journaling changes, changing your attitude about it will make the process and the outcome much more pleasurable.  

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
Here are some ways to help you let go of expectations:

  • Narrow your focus.  Instead of thinking of the end result, think about what you want to accomplish in the next few minutes.  For example: I want to use this stencil.
  • Follow the shiny ball.  What does that mean?  When something interesting flits across your line of sight or through your mind, follow it.  Take that detour.
  • Walk away.  I often find that the pieces I hate the most are the ones where I was relentlessly pushing and pushing and pushing and overworking my art.  Sometimes taking a break and coming back another day with fresh eyes is just the ticket.
  • Do something to purposely ruin it.  Rip it.  Cover it with paint.  Ruin it.  Gasp.  It works.  It makes you less afraid.  And forces you to let go of your expectations.
  • Don't compare yourself to others.  Maybe I should say that again: don't compare yourself to others.  As Dr. Seuss has taught us, "No one is youer than you."  Art journaling is not a competition.
  • Make art every day.  When making art becomes part of your daily routine it really takes the pressure off.  Release that valve by taking ten minutes a day to do something artistic.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day
The next time you sit down to create, try not to think about where you're going.  Focus on where you are right now and enjoy it!  Whatever's next will come.  Exist in the moment, being true to yourself.  Kind of works for life too, don't you think?

I love my art journal.  I know that art journaling every day has made me a much better artist over time.  How about you?  Do you art journal every day?  What kind of barriers do you face?

Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. All of the photos from this post are from my instagram feed.  :)