Thursday, January 31, 2008

CREATING JOURNAL ART ~ Drawing with your eyes closed!

I've been asked repeatedly to conduct classes on creating journal art. However, the process is so easy that instead of classes I decided to just share the steps with anyone who is interested in creating their own journal art. (I hope you'll share this info with your friends.)

1. It helps if you actually journal, meaning writing down anything that goes through your mind. It's been called "emptying your mind on paper". The best time is in the morning right when you wake up. Have your journal handy and just start writing. Don't worry about clarity, punctuation, spelling or sounding good. A journal entry is truly an opportunity to remove the clutter from your mind. It helps to write down every word that goes thru your mind, even if it's . . . "I don't know what to write, I don't know what to write, I don't know what to write, take clothes to laundry, oh, and pick up kids at 2 and make deposits at bank....". Hopefully this will help you get started.

2. After journaling, about three pages, your mind is clearer and you'll be in a better place to connect with God/The Source.

3. You might want to write down a question prior to creating your journal art. Because your art may just give you an answer.

4. Close your eyes and let your pencil move across the paper, creating lines, circles, swirls, and other shapes. Try to think of nothing as you draw. Draw lightly, although heavy enough so you can see the lines. It's just easier if you don't have to look at a lot of heavy dark lines.

5. Open your eyes and try to see the hidden image, the image that's meaningful for you. Sometimes it's pretty clear and sometimes you'll have to spend some time finding it. It you can't find anything, close your eyes and try again.

6. Once you find an image, trace it with your pencil. You might also enhance it. ie: if it looks like there should be a foot/shoe on the end of the leg, add it. Make any enhancements that will make the image clearer for you.

7. Now trace it with a sharpie "ultra fine" pen (this is a waterproof black pen).

8. Using your watercolor pencils or watercolor crayons, start adding color. Color just like you used to do in coloring books.

9. With your small angled paint brush, add water and the colors just come alive. Dip your brush in water and then lightly tap it on a towel to remove most of the water. You actually want to add "moisture" versus big drops of water.

10. Sometime during this process, words might come to you. A name for the image, the answer to your question, phrases and/or maybe a poem. Write these down next to your image.

I've been doing this for about eight years, so it gets easier and easier for me. I think it started as a reward for completing my three pages of the journal. Now I create journal art anytime during the journaling process and sometimes I just decide to create journal art without the journaling. However, I always find the art is more meaningful to me if I spend time clearing the clutter from my mind by journaling. Music also helps, so use meditational music, or whatever music soothes you.

This process is fun for children and adults. It seems to amaze people that they can actually see images within the marks and that the images mean something to them. However, when you think about it, art is created by the use of lines, circles, squares, squiggles, ovals, marks and this process just gets you going in the right direction.

If you paint, your journal art is also a source of inspiration and ideas. Remember, creating your journal art should be fun, hopefully tell you something about yourself and give you answers to some of your questions. Please try, and keep trying, this fun and "very healing" process.

SUPPLIES Sketch book, with paper that is heavy enough for watercolor (I prefer spiral bound notebooks and because the paper is thick enough, I tend to use both sides of the paper for journaling and my art) Watercolor Pencils Watercolor Crayons Small Angled Paint Brush (Nothing expensive) Ultra Fine Sharpie Pen Light Lead Pencil Pencil Sharpener (Sometimes it helps start by simply sharpening all of your pencils) Water (About 1/2" deep) Think moisture, not lots of water Towel or Paper Towels for the paint brush

ENVIRONMENT Comfortable work space. I usually sit in a chair and prop my feet up. Enough light. Music Water, Hot Tea or Beverage of Choice Side table for your art supplies If you plan on answering the phone, have it nearby so you don't have to get up.

INTERESTING TIDBIT: I've shared this process with lots of family and friends, from 2 to 85. It's interesting that children just get it!! They close their eyes and go to town and are excited about finding images. Adults . . . we have a harder job. I've seen adults close their eyes and they are just unable to move their pencil for "fear" of doing it wrong. If you find yourself in this category, just say to yourself, I'm going to spend tonight just making lots of scribbles, if I see something . . . great . . . if not, I'll just scribble some more tomorrow night and the next night and just keep doing it until I see something. At the very least I'll be at the page/on the page/in the process/doing the work.

When I started painting again, after putting away the brush for over 25 years, I said . . . "My goal is to paint 800 paintings". People were so impressed with my ambitious goal. What they didn't realize, is that I'd created a safe place for myself to learn, grow, try, fail, experiment . . . without saying "I'm no good at this, I'll just quit". My goal was never to become good, it was to paint, paint, paint . . . and the more I painted and learned, the better I became. I'm almost at 650 and when I get to 800 . . . I'll give myself a new goal of 1000. In otherwords, I'll never be finished.