What do you want out of it? What do hope it will do for you? What goes into its pages?
Is there a difference between art journaling and keeping an artist's journal?
For me there is. I am an artist, and I've kept a journal for 40 years or so. It IS my journal, in every sense of the word; a record of the journey of my days.
To me, art journaling is more about making the journal itself a work of art, and if that's what you enjoy, wonderful. Some people even sell their finished journals; I would as soon give away a piece of my soul--it would amount to about the same. I go back to my old journals frequently...for a variety of reasons.
Just like the variety of reasons I keep one in the first place. They're reminders and learning tools!
Sometimes I just want to PAY ATTENTION to my life, to sketch the moments and days--whatever I see before me. I don't wait for "inspiration" or for a grand subject...I just sketch. It's who I am.
Sometimes I use it to reward myself, or take time to kick back, to get away, to create an oasis of calm in an often crazy life.
|Joseph was undergoing tests to make sure he didn't have a blood clot developing in his leg. Not a BIG deal, and he didn't, but it helped me to sketch him, and the technician and all those machines!|
Sometimes I use my journal almost as meditation, or to calm myself in a stressful situation by getting outside of it.
As our friend and fellow journaler John Payne noted in this post, journaling helps us keep track of things. If I don't remember when that medical test was, or what I used to create this or that effect, or when I tried that recipe or went to the Ozarks last, or saw godchild Molly Hammer in that play, or when Finn's birthday party was, my journals can tell me. If I need to know what years we moved away from our old farm, it's there too, in my 30-year-old journal. It's a wonderful memory enhancer.
Lapin remarked on one of his reasons for keeping a sketch journal in our recent interview #11--""I like the way sketching every day what I have in front of me keeps me curious and attentive to the most simple details of my life... "
Sometimes I need to process...an event, a feeling, a project. My journal's the perfect place to do that. It's safe, it's non-judgmental (if I can silence that Inner Critic or Parent!), it's private, and it's a great sounding board, odd though that may sound.
Someone wrote "how do I know what I think until I see what I've written?" I can understand this. I've had some real insights, breakthroughs into my feelings or attitudes...or tendency to procrastinate...once I write things down.
This may be a list, or a chart. I can graph these things, or just write, free-association, till I'm all written out. I can do rough sketches that express what I feel--it doesn't have to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be good, it just needs to get down on paper and remind me!
I can choose to share, or not...if it's personal, very likely not.
Somehow sharing something you're working through with someone else may not have the effect you were hoping for. They may not understand the background, and you can dissipate the energy without action. (Authors often say they can't talk about a current project, even with other writers, because then they won't WRITE it!)
I've recently found an old journal of mine from the 1980s...and I'm very much enjoying seeing where I was, then. Some things have changed a lot, some seem to be constants. But it's such a good tool for growth and contemplation...and sometimes laughter!
One of my observations was "If you truly want to be alone, you won't have much competition for available space!" That made me laugh right out loud, 25 years later!
(This particular journal had perhaps two sketches in the whole book...it was still an artist's journal, because--wait for it!--I'm an artist. I wrote a lot about what I was painting at the time, or what shows I'd entered, but at the time I had a separate sketchbook and just added a drawing if I REALLY felt the need.)
What I find myself doing more and more these days is working with my journal more like I did 20 years ago...as a tool for sorting things out, looking at my life, taking "compass readings," as our dear friend Laura Frankstone talked about in this post.
The book we mentioned earlier, The New Diary by Tristine Rainer, has been a great help in this, but most of it is just doing it.
I'd shared that I felt overwhelmed by going off in too many directions, so I'm working through what IS important to me, what I need to do, have to do, want to do...and seeing it in black and white I am far more conscious of what I need to do. And what I don't! What works, and what doesn't.
Sooooo...how do you use YOUR journal. What do you want it to do? What do you give yourself permission to do? Is it important to you?
Please comment, we fellow journal-keepers want to know!