One of the questions I hear most often is “How do you start a journal page?”
I sit down, pick up the first thing that attracts me, and I make a mark.
Sometimes, though, my page is all gross and manky because I am not very mindful of what’s happening to the other pages when I’m working on a spread, so if the gross and manky bothers me, I collage or gesso.
And then I pick up the first thing that attracts me, and I make a mark.
Composing a piece beforehand, doing preliminary sketches, choosing a colour palette – all these ways that one might prepare to create art – have their place in my practice, but generally, they don’t have a place in my art journal practice. Preparation of that variety isn’t useful to me when I am simply wanting to meet myself on the page.
It can interfere with the operation of my intuition. It can interrupt the flow of inspiration.
So, when I want to art journal, I just begin.
Morning pages (as taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way) have been a huge influence on the way I art journal. Like Natalie Goldberg, who advocates stream of consciousness writing practice for its own sake rather than for the sake of the end result, Julia Cameron advocates writing three long hand pages of brain dump every morning to prime the artistic pump.
While art journaling is my ‘primary’ artistic practice with forays into canvas and other visual art forms (digital and hybrid journaling, photography and memory keeping) being supplementary, the fact is, if all I ever did was process journal (journal for the sake of it), I’d be a happy camper.
So, beginning is the most important step. That act of deciding to grab something and just go for it – that’s where the juice is for me. It is empowering and thrilling and I never know where my inner artist is going to take me. It’s an adventure every time.
Because this is the way I work, I keep all my supplies out in front of me or in easily accessible bins beneath my work surface. If everything was ‘away’, I’d never think to use any of it. I am very inspired by the array of mediums right there at my fingertips.
I live in a tiny space, though, so I’ve limited my ‘at hand’ supplies to the following:
Fluid acrylic paint
Sakura Glaze pen (black)
White paint marker
Matte medium (fluid from Liquitex because it comes in a handy bottle)
Grungey texture or text stamps
A few flesh coloured Prismacolor pencils
A few flesh coloured Copic markers
A few Gelly Rolls in favourite colours (pink, gold, green, blue)
Scraps of paper (patterned, text)
A few rolls of washi tape
A small pan of watercolour paints
A few favourite stencils
A few ink sprays
I have way more stuff than that, and I will drag it out if I really want to use it, but for the most part, having a limited collection of supplies means I can have them all out in front of me, and I can just sit down and begin.
Beginning is everything. :)
This spread began with text pages glued down in my little fauxdori because the pages were super manky. I used matte medium to do the gluing because I find that other mediums ‘stick’ better to matte medium than they do over gloss medium.
I spread some paint around – the first colours that called out to me – and then, as I was fiddling and swirling Nikel Azo Gold and Fine Gold, I saw the image of a bronzed face pop onto the screen of my mind. It looked like a statue to me – like a goddess…
So I grabbed some charcoal and sketched it out, elongating the face and exaggerating some of the features to really drive home ‘goddess’. I added black paint to the right side of the spread because I really wanted the contrast of her bronzed appearance against a very dark background.
Then I played with shading in fluid acrylics to get the ‘bronzed’ look I saw in my own imagination. I think I did a pretty good job of it. :)
The rays of illumination were just an impulse, and I always obey my own impulses (unless my impulse tells me to toss the whole thing out – that I *never* do). The words came naturally, emanating out of the image itself. I did those with a Sakura Glaze pen.
Supplies Used: text pages, matte medium, charcoal, fluid acrylic, Sakura Glaze pen.
So, how do I begin? I just do.
And you? How do you begin?
p.s. I teach intentional creativity as a practice in Book Of Days Boot Camp, which is FREEEEEE. Check it out here. (requires membership in my on line community, which is also freeeeee!)