THE TOPIC IS:
HOW TO APPROACH A PAGE
THE TECHNIQUE IS:
AND THE JOURNALING PROMPT IS:
DEALING with our INNER CRITIC
1. Approaching the page
So, now that you have a few backgrounds ready to go, what next? How do you get some content on the page beyond color, texture, and pattern? How do you go deeper?
When I art journal, I typically approach my pages in one of three ways:
1. From an open and organic place letting my intuition guide me,
2. With an idea in me but no visual concept or plan, or
3. With a specific visual idea in mind.
Below I talk a bit about each way.
A. FROM A PLACE OF "I DON'T KNOW"
The blank slate. The white page. Let's start here.
When you are open to allowing anything to rise to the surface you are opening yourself up for real epiphanies.
This is really what it's all about for me with art journaling. PROCESS. When I stand in front of my art journal with no plan then I am allowing the process to guide me. The colors, textures and work become my guides and lead me into territory I may not have expected to enter. It requires LETTING GO and TRUST. It requires a belief in the PROCESS and my INTUITION. And the results are exciting and eye-opening.
B. WITH AN IDEA OF WHAT I WANT TO WORK ON
Often I will walk into my studio with something brewing in the back of my mind. In fact, this is really how I started art journaling in the first place. I was dealing with a lot of drama in my life and needed some creative relief. My art journal was the most incredible place to explore my feelings and thoughts, my angst and anger, about what was going on. Most days, something would happen out in my life and I would think, "I want to art journal about that!"
There's absolutely nothing wrong with starting with a nugget of an idea. I provide art journaling prompts exactly for that reason. I think of my art journaling prompts as little shovels. I love to give you something to start digging with...who knows what you'll unearth in the process!
When you have an idea that feels ripe for the process, my suggestion is to try to keep it in your body as you begin to work. Let it float around inside you. Let the words and feelings and images arise organically. Don't force anything. You'll know you're forcing it when the process starts to feel inauthentic. Thoughts like "I should put an image of _________ on the page" or "Most people would expect the word ________ here" come into your mind at those moments. Remember, there are no rules with art journaling. No shoulds. Try to allow and say yes to any words or images that come up during your process. Put them on the page and ask questions later!
It's amazing to see where our intuition wants to guide us. So much learning to be had there.
C. WITH A PLAN
Sometimes you will come to the page with a pretty specific plan. An image that's flashed into your mind to represent a thought. Or an inspiring quote that you want to remember and the perfect layout to go with it. That's totally fine. I say, go with it. Explore this kind of process.
BUT, be aware that when we have an idea in our heads it is often VERY difficult to reproduce it on the page. And the desire to do so can trap us. My suggestion is to be open to the evolution of your plan. Where you start with it may or may not be where you end up with it. And that is just fine!
Here's a video covering these three ways to approach a page. If you have questions, join the discussion over in our Facebook group.
2. A new technique: COLLAGE
USING COLLAGE AS A BACKGROUND LAYER
I love using a variety of collage pieces to create a background layer on my art journal pages. My collage bins are full of old maps, old sheet music, tissue paper from old sewing patterns, old wrapping paper, book pages, dictionary pages, even telephone book pages! I save a lot of stuff these days and it's all good for background collages.
The thing I love about these pieces is that they create visual and physical texture on the page and often inspire what comes next. The words, images, lines, and patterns that are part of these elements come through even when I paint over them...which I usually do.
I try not to choose the pieces that have some meaning, in order to lighten my load while I work. What I mean by this is, I don't look for--and use--only the map pages that have a location that has some meaning to me, or a dictionary page with a word that feels significant. Instead, I like to choose the pieces randomly, without any concern for what they say. I like to keep myself open to what might show up, and I like to allow these pieces to create a visual layer without it being somehow message-laden.
USING COLLAGE FOR IMAGERY
When I want to use collage for imagery on my pages, I go to picture books, magazines, old calendars, old greeting cards, items from my mail pile, old photographs, and the internet. There are so many sources for clipart online...I've included some great links for you below.
There are two ways to approach imagery with collage: intuitively or with intention. Either is completely fine. I urge you to try both and see how they feel.
Check out the video below for my tutorial on using collage images in your art journaling!
Open a magazine or an old picture book and as you turn the pages, see what pops out at you, asking to be included. Trust your initial reaction. Don't spend any time analyzing or judging your reaction or the image. It doesn't have to have an obvious meaning to be used. Pull out the page and set it aside. Keep going, still allowing individual images to call to you.
When you're ready to use these images in your work, cut them out and arrange them on the page (on a white or already painted or collaged background). You may find that some are less interesting now than when you first found them. You may also discover some meaning coming forth...a theme or connection between the images. Follow this thread and see where it goes.
Open up an old book or calendar or magazine with an idea of what you are looking for already in your head. Perhaps you're creating a page about your relationship with your child, so images of mothers holding babies would be great. Perhaps you're thinking about abundance...then pictures of a harvest or a bouquet of flowers might represent what you want to express. You might want to look at specific kinds of books or magazines to find those images.
GREAT RESOURCES FOR CLIPART ONLINE:
The Graphics Fairy (mostly free vintage clipart)
Creative Market (free goods every Monday, amazing diversity of original imagery)
Open Clipart (free images)
The Artchive (free famous art images)
A long list of links to free images sites (Incredible @rt Dept.)
NOTE: I just print images out on regular printer paper and find it holds up well with Mod Podge.
OTHER WAYS TO ADD COLLAGE
(click on each photo to see it in larger scale)
3. USING JOURNALING PROMPTS
A JOURNALING PROMPT IS LIKE A LITTLE SHOVEL...IT HELPS YOU DIG UP MATERIAL FOR YOUR PAGES!
How to Use Journaling Prompts
Each prompt will have:
- a theme
- background information (generally speaking, my thoughts on the topic)
- suggestions for putting it on the page ("Where can I go with this?")
- some relevant quotes by famous and not-so-famous people, and
- some images (mostly mine) to jump start ideas for imagery
You are welcome to use it all, none of it, or some piece. Whatever works for you. The prompt is available online by clicking the bold RED title link which will open up a new page. You are welcome to download the pdf to save and print out.
A WORD ABOUT journaling prompts
A journaling prompt is sometimes a great inspiration for a page and throughout UNFOLD I'll be offering you a variety of prompts to try out. They are always optional. You are always welcome to not use any prompt, to just work from your intuitive place or you are welcome to choose subjects for your pages that come from something that inspires you (your relationship with your mom or an interaction with a friend or some emotion that just won't let up, for example).
What you will find, I hope, is that my prompts encourage you to excavate some emotional territory that is ripe with material for your art journal. My goal is always to provide you with opportunities to dive deep into the work of figuring your stuff out. And so the subject matter of my prompts is always going to provoke you in that way. If you feel too triggered or sensitive about the topic, you don't need to deal with it. Or, you may decide that's a great reason to art journal about it...because it is triggering. Ultimately, it's completely up to you. Do what feels right and helpful.
JOURNALING PROMPT: INNER CRITIC
Suggestion for the Inner Critic prompt: You may want to really let your Inner Critic know that it is not welcome here. In that case, I suggest cutting one of your backgrounds out of your journal (or just using a separate sheet of heavy paper, watercolor or cardboard are great for this) and do your Inner Critic journal page on that. Then at the beginning of every session you can put it out in the hall. Give your Inner Critic a time out! You can even make it a ritual for your art journaling practice. Believe me, the Inner Critic is LOUD when we get creative, and I want you to have as much space for this work as possible.