Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Creative Journaling?


Journaling is one of the best ways to know your heart, delve into your subconscious and gauge your personal growth.   Journaling records events that mean something to you.  Journaling is a great way to solve problems, vent frustrations, and dream dreams.  Journaling is a door to your soul.

"Creative Journaling" is a method of journaling that I developed after attempting to keep written journals.  Each Jaunuary I would start a new journal (usually a beautiful leather bound journal or a cool, artsy journal given to me as a gift), and I would dutifully make my daily entries for the first week.  By the second week, I would journal 2 or 3 days.  By week 3, maybe one entry would make it into my journal.  By week 4, the entry would read "May".
Finally, I gave up trying to keep a written journal at all. It was too much like work and half of my entries were devoted to bitching about the difficulties of journaling!

Meanwhile, I was involved in other activities that I was having a blast with including online ATC (Artist Trading Cards) swaps, magazine swaps (yes, we each created our own magazines to swap. Mine was called "Ang-i-tude"), and altered books.  I was also reading and completing the activities in Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" and I was constantly sketching and collecting new ideas for paintings in my art journals.  Out of all these activities and others, my "Creative Journaling" course was born.

If you have been contemplating keeping a journal, if you have tried and failed to keep a journal, or if you have never thought of keeping a journal but think it's something you might like to try, you've come to the right place!  This method of journaling is one that's been proven to be easy to stick with and a no fail method for those who have insisted to me that they are NOT creative!  I've taught this method to family and friends, and I've had the pleasure of teaching this method in workshops through The Women's Center at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio.  I hope you will consider giving yourself the gift of "Creative Journaling".  It's a wonderful, inexpensive way to know "you"!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Materials For Creative Journaling


Most of the materials for "Creative Journaling" are easily found at your favorite local dollar store or super store.  You may need to visit your local craft store to purchase watercolor pencils.  If you are already a practicing artist, you probably have most of these materials on hand already! 

1. Composition Notebooks.  I recommend using the original black/white Composition notebook. I have tried some of the composition notebooks with cute, brightly colored covers, but I found the quality of the paper to be too poor for extensive handling.

2. Watercolor pencils.  Buy the best you can afford.  You'll be happier with the richer pigments.

3. Colored pencils. It's possible to find satisfactory colored pencils that are on the inexpensive side.Try Crayola's.  The pigments are rich and they have a smooth texture.

4. Pencil Sharpeners. Yes, I said sharpenerS as in multiple.  Years ago I used to watch an oil painter named Bill Alexander on PBS television.  He believed in washing his brushes frequently to avoid muddying his colors.  He used to say, "First, you are brush washers, then painters."  I say, "First you are pencil sharpeners, then journalists!"  There will be lots of pencil sharpening!

5. Colored Markers.  Once again, as with most art supplies, buy the best you can afford.  You'll be happier with the quality.

6. Fine or extra fine point Sharpies.  I use these for writing in my journal.  They write nicely on almost any surface.

7. Old Magazines, newspapers, junk mail, receipts, doodles. Don't limit yourself to the types of magazines you like to read.  There are amazing photos and fonts in that "Guns and Ammo" magazine that you would NEVER dream of having in your possesion.

8. Glue sticks.  I use Elmer's. I found a mega pack of them at our local wholesale club for around $6.00.

9. Scissors. A small pair for cutting single letters and other details.

And there you have it!  The basic list of materials to get you started on your way to "Creative Journaling".  I'll talk about each item in further detail as I explain the method.  See you next week!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creative Journaling - The Method


Prepping Your Pages - Page preparation is key in the Creative Journaling process.  Page preparation addresses several important factors in establishing journaling as a routine, enjoyable experience.  As a life long artist, I know first hand the anxiety that's triggered when facing a plain, white canvas or paper.  In the back of my mind there's always the little voice uttering, "don't mess it up".   Making those first marks on the page are always a little intimidating - until now.  But, before any marks are made, pages need to be torn - No more worry about maintaining a "perfect" book  now!  There are several reasons for tearing pages.  The main reason is to keep your journal from being too bulky to close. Gluing in additional papers without eliminating some of the pages would make your journal too bulky.  Another reason I like tearing pages is that it's symbolically and psychologically freeing.  It removes any feelings of  formality that you may have regarding your journal.  Save your torn pages for doodling or staple them together as a notepad.

Getting Started - Open  the cover of your Composition Notebook  (From now forward known as Journal!) Leave the first page intact and tear out the 2nd page just inside the red margine line.  ( It's important not to tear the page out to the binding - you don't want to destroy the integrity of the remaining  pages by loosening  them at the stitching.)  Now, flip the 3rd page over.  The back of page 3 and the front of page 4 are now the 1st "spread" in your journal.  The back of the first page and page 3 will eventually be glued together, but first, it's time to add some color to the 1st spread!

Using Water Color Pencils - Using water color pencils seems less intimidating to the "non artist" than using watercolor or acrylic paints, but I often prep my pages with paints now.  Using pencils has several advantages that I think are important - especially to those who are just finding their creative voice.  The very act of "coloring" begins to quiet the left brain and the analytical thought process, while at the same time allowing relaxation and the creativity of the right brain to come forward.  You begin to "zone out" and become engulfed in the current moment of applying color.  Secondly, using pencils allows for better control when using water to blend the colors together.  To begin with, I recommend selecting only 2 colors for your first spread, a dark tone and a light tone.  Select 2 colors that you find pleasing together and that appeal to you. For today's demonstration, I've chosen Blue Violet and Pink Madder Lake Loew Cornell water color pencils.  Remember to have your pencil sharpener handy - you're going to need it!  Begin applying color to your pages in random splotches.  This is not the time to make spirals, stars, or flowers.  You are just applying color.  Alternate using the tip of your pencil with the side of your pencil. Use a combination of rough, heavy strokes and light, soft strokes.  Make both jagged strokes and swirly strokes.  Overlap your colors in some  areas and leave some white paper showing in others.  Go "into the zone" and let your hand guide you.  Once you have applied all the color, moisten a paper towel with water and wring out the excess.  With the moist paper towel and  a light stroke, begin blending the colors together.  Play with using circular motions on straight, jagged lines and blending curved lines straight across.  Be sure leave some of your darker strokes  intact for contrast and interest.  Set your journal aside to try for 5 or 10 minutes.

Using Collage Materials - While your spread is drying, pull out a magazine and begin tearing images and words that appeal to you.  Don't analyize or question what you're drawn to.  Just tear it out of the magazine.  If you flip back a page to look at an image, stop questioning yourself and tear it out for your collection.  Try to avoid removing entire pages and take just what you need.  I store my larger images in a pocket folder (a large ziplock bag works nicely,too.)  I keep my smaller words and images in sandwhich bags.

Working With Your Spread  Now take a look at your dried spread.  What images do you see?  Are any of the shapes familiar to you?  Draw an outline around anything recognizable to you.  Begin filling in these shapes with color.  Don't be afraid to introduce new colors into your spread at this point.  Use whatever suits your mood including markers, colored pencils, or additional applications of watercolor pencil.  Think about the images that you see.  What do they mean to you?  Did you tear anything from the magazine that you want to incorporate into your spread?  Now is the time to do so.  I also suggest gluing your pages at this point.  In my example, I found a clown figure on the left side of my spread along with another smaller image of a cartoonish looking male.  On the right side, I found the image of someone with their arms crossed. 

As I completed adding color to my spread, I contemplated the addition of collaged items.  Nothing that I pulled from the magazine fit the mood of the spread so I didn't add anything; however, this is the point at which you may find that you need to add an image or word.  If you don't use what you pulled from the magazine today, save it for future consideration. 

The Anaylyis  This particular spread was easy for me to analyize.  Thursday next week, it will be two years since my mom died and she's been on my mind more so than usual.  She collected clowns and I connect them with her.  On the right side of the spread, I see myself, arms crossed, trying to keep my feelings inside.  As I colored in my clown, I thought of Mom and all the happy memories that made us laugh.  On the right side of the spread, I wrote her a letter and told her how much I miss her and how much a part of my life she still is.  I don't know what's up with that funny looking dude next to the clown!
What did you find in your spread?  Did you gain new insight about yourself or another?  Did it help you express an emotion that you might have kept hidden from yourself?  Did you find the solution to a problem?  Was it just a freeing exercise in creativity? 

This method of journaling will eventually lead you to experience all of the above.  Make a commitment to allow yourself the expression of creativity and self discovery.   Take an hour and prep a week's worth of pages.  This makes it easy to journal on a daily basis and totally eliminates the "white page syndrome" that can block creativity.  Stay tuned for more helpful hints and journaling prompts, and feel free to post any comments or questions you may have regarding Creative Journaling
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