I love history. Old journals, documents, newspapers… they all tell stories that otherwise would be lost and I’m fascinated by them. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love keeping journals, especially art journals.
Keeping a personal history is important, though I will confess that keeping a personal history was not what I thought I was doing when I began art journaling. In the beginning, I thought of it as a way to practice new techniques, and then it became a means of inspiration to create when I was paralyzed by fear. Now in hindsight, art journaling has taken on a new meaning for me.
As I’ve been working on making my art journal a daily habit, I’veseen my progression as an artist. My first pages were pretty terrible and unimaginative as I was trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of what I was doing. I used to be embarrassed by those pages, but as each blank sheet of paper metamorphoses into something colorful and full of texture and layers, I can see reflected in those pages the changes I am going through as a person.
There are a lot of qualities I see in other successful people that I just do not have, but I want to develop. I’m not a morning person. I am easily distracted, and I give in to my fears way too often, sometimes without even realizing it. I get frustrated with myself a lot because of these things, but when I look through my art journal, I can literally see my progress- and not just as an artist, but as a person. As I flip through those pages they serve as encouragement for me on days when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I am progressing as a person. I am making changes and I don’t need to be frustrated with myself. My art journal has come to serve as a reminder for me to have patience with myself and to keep working, no matter what. I still have a long way to go, but I will get there. It may take me longer than it takes other people, but that’s ok. I’ll get there. And when I doubt that, all I have to do is look in my art journal.
I know that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by my weaknesses, or frustrated when I compare myself with other artists and come up short. Were all human, and we all feel this way sometimes, to one degree or another. But if you keep a record of your progress, you will be able to see how your hard work pays off and it will help you realize that you are making progress. Even if it’s a tiny step at a time, that’s ok. We can make our dreams come true!
These two pages are a couple of my first art journal pages ever. They are pretty terrible, obviously, but I am grateful for them. They are bricks in the foundation of my art, and represent the time and hard work I put into becoming a better artist.
These next two, plus the first one at the top, are the newest pages I’ve created. I still see a lot of weaknesses in each page, but they also show new techniques I’ve been practicing. A calligrapher I know on Instagram (colorsofchrist– she’s fabulous!) showed how she uses pearlex powders to create bright colored inks that stand out wonderfully against black backgrounds. I didn’t waste any time! I had to try it, and though I need to add a bit more powder to get the same richness of color, I loved adding bright text and splashes to my black pages.
I created the background for these bottom pages with modeling paste and acrylic paint, but it was still missing something, so I decided to use my calligraphy pen to sketch a bit on the surface. In some spots I used a lot of ink to create thick, spontaneous lines.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope I’ve helped you remember that art is a process, and that if you struggle with fear and frustration like I do, keep an art journal. It can really help you remember your progress and motivate you to keep working.