My parents gave me my first journal (for writing in) for Christmas just after I turned 8. Below on the left is my first entry. Feel free to click on the photo, then hit “All Sizes” so you can enjoy the random thoughts of an 8-year-old Noell. The second one is the first entry of my 9th journal, just before turning 15, at a time when I prefaced most adjectives with the word, “like.”
My Childhood Journals
I continued exploring my thoughts in journals through college. I have something like 25 separate books. Now I scrapbook and enjoy a more flexible and artistic approach to recording my thoughts and experiences.
Last year, I took a class from Dina Wakley on Visual Journals. I’ve said before that I never learned anything in any of the scrapbooking classes I’ve taken. Dina’s class isn’t a scrapbooking class. It’s more like an art-experimentation class, and I did learn from her. She gave me some great inspiration to expand on my scrapbooking and explore something more artistic in nature. It is because of her that I started my art and visual journals.
What are Art Journals and Visual Journals?
They’re whatever you want them to be.
Personally, I see my spiral art books as my “art journals.” They are my place to play with artistic methods–drawing, painting, collaging, etc. I think of my visual journal pages as any visual piece I complete (that is different from a standard scrapbook page) that expresses something I think about. If I made something in one of my art journals that is self-expressive, or that can be used on a self-expressive page, I tear/cut it out to put into my visual journal, or to add it to a visual journaling page. I also add some of my art journal pieces to scrapbooking pages.
Above is a piece in my art journal. Because there is something personal behind the two mushrooms, there is a possibility that, once I finish it, I may choose to put it in my visual journal. If I don’t go in that more personal direction, I will either keep it in my art journal, or put it with a series of artistic pieces about mushrooms.
I like to use a variety of bases for my visual journal pages. Sometimes they come from my small art journal, like the piece above called, The Show. Other times they come from a piece in my larger art journal, like this one I showed in this week’s video tutorial:
After experimenting with some Glimmer Mist and some mesh as a mask on a couple pages of my larger art journal, I decided to use this one as the foundation for an introspective piece with lyrics from Alanis Morissette’s song, You Learn. This song has always thrilled me because it so expresses my view of life.
As opposed to playing the artist, there are times that I just want to capture my thoughts or feelings with a photo and my words. Here is one I did the day I pulled my bicycle out of the garage for the first time after a hot summer:
Obviously, this didn’t come from my art journal. I could turn it into a scrapbook page. But for now, I think I might want to leave it as is as and include it with my other visual journal pieces.
Sometimes I just want to do some art, and then partway through I find myself personalizing it. Here’s another example of that…
While making this piece, I was aware of how even photographs of modern dance thrill me beyond almost anything else. I decided to pull it out of my large art journal and make it into something about my love for the dance.
At some point I will bind these journal pages together into a home-made book, which makes my approach to visual journaling a little different. I like the flexibility of that idea.
Meet Dina Live
Are you interested in learning more about Art and Visual Journals? Join me on Tuesday at 6:30pm PST for Paperclipping Live because Dina Wakley will be my guest–not a call-in guest, but a real live guest with me in my scraproom. She’ll share some of her journals, tell how she got started doing it herself, and how it has influenced her scrapbooking. She’ll also tell you about the online class she will be teaching later in the month.
I am so glad I took her class. I love being able to explore my psyche and my art all at the same time, with no obligation to make something perfect. Plus, it’s an exercise that reminds us that storytelling doesn’t only happen through words.