Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Use an Art Journal

Things You'll Need:

art journal (this can be any blank book that inspires you)
adhesive (I prefer glue sticks most often)
decorative paper
rubber stamps
old book pages

Starting an art journal is a powerful way to move beyond words in your daily writing practice. Not only does working with images access a different part of our brains than words, making art is a source of playfulness and creative joy.

When we make pictures in our journals, we often come to deeper insights about ourselves and the world around us than we can when we carefully shape our thoughts and write them on paper. By adding color and form to the pages of our journals we illuminate them and in the process we illuminate ourselves.

Try working with a symbol for an abstract idea that is a significant part of your life. Some interesting concepts to work with could be creativity, grace, competition, prayer, forgiveness or gratitude. Make a drawing that symbolizes what you’ve chosen to work with. When you finish making your symbol, write about it.

Begin collecting interesting images from old magazines and keep them in a large envelope or a flat box. When you’ve gathered a good collection, every once in a while randomly select an image. Paste it in your journal and write about it. Why do you think you drew the image to yourself at this particular time? What message does the image have for you? What other images does this one call to mind? What memories does it evoke?

Decorate a blank artist’s sketchbook by making borders on the edges of pages and small pictures in their corners, leaving plenty of room for writing later. Don’t plan how you will embellish the blank pages. Just pick up paints or colored pens or pencils and let yourself go. After you finish decorating the journal, flip through the pages and pick one that fits your mood each day rather than making sequential entries from start to finish.

Use your journal entries as triggers to inspire art. Review what you’ve written over the past week or month and find word images you can translate into drawings or paintings.

If you stop yourself from keeping a visual journal because you think you’ll make a mess in your journal, try drawing or painting on separate pieces of paper. Cut and paste the work that best expresses what you felt into the pages of your regular journal.

Cover inexpensive spiral notebooks with your own drawings, an image from a magazine or a paper or fabric collage. Protect your work by covering it with a self-adhesive sheet of laminating plastic.

How to start a mixed media art journal
Step 1 - Pages from my art journal before I get started in my studio.Open your book to the first two-page spread. (The very first page, often used as a title page, can be left blank and returned to on another occasion.) Rip apart your magazine pages, old book pages and decorative papers. Place these elements on both sides of the page spread to act as your first layer. Reserve one or two areas where you have either a blank space on the page or a blank area on the decorative paper.

Step 2 - A page spread from my art journal.This layer is where the stickers and rubber stamping comes in. You may see smudges if you stamp over glossy areas, so keep the stamping to the sections of the spread where there are decorative papers and old book pages. Continue layering on the stamped images and stickers until the pages look balanced and you're happy with the lay-out.

Step 3 - A page spread from my art journal.On the blank area where you reserved either directly on the page or on the decorative paper, add journaling using the sharpies. You may also wish to add drawings and other doodles throughout the page. Adding a doodled border also finishes off the page spread well.

Tips & Warnings

Don't be afraid to add too many layers.When selecting magazine images, don't forget to find interesting text to include.If you'd like a more finished or polished look, opt to use scissors rather than ripping apart your papers.When choosing your adhesive, be sure not to select something that is too wet or it'll cause the pages to wave or curl.You may want to let each layer dry completely before manipulating the next.

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