The Joy of Journaling (the melting pot for my paintings)

Joy of Journaling process

The Joy of Journaling was unknown to me until about 6 months ago. Before then, the only type of art journal I used was a sketchbook full of my latest on location drawings. But these were not for evolving, testing and solving. So what made me start keeping a different type of journal; what changed?

The short answer is several things: First, I took a couple of courses (FYJ and FYV) on line (I’ve blogged about these previously here) which encouraged the process as part of painting development. Secondly, I started to develop series of paintings about a particular subject. Both of these things, nudged me to keep quite a different type of art Journal.

In order to develop my paintings, which, so far, are about place and my feelings of place, I need to talk and write about those feelings. I also need to consider a range of other things associated with creating the work. I need a place for that ‘stuff’; somewhere to go with it. The Journal was that place!

The Joy of Journaling-The contents

I used to keep books and journals for previous creative endeavours, including for my design work (I was previously a landscape designer). The Art Journal I am describing provides me with a focus for my early painting work in series. Whereas previously, I may have been tempted to scribble things on bits of paper (that eventually got lost) or think things but not write them (eventually they got forgotten); this way, they are captured. Moments in time; ideas to discard or develop. But the journal is more than this, its also a place for evolving some of the painting process; some of the workings out. Here are the things I’ve included in the ongoing journal for my current painting series about cotton mills.

  • Quotes
  • Exploration of Why I wanted to paint this particular subject; digging into the reasons through constant exploration.
  • Drawings and small collage pieces that explore aspects of my work
  • Evaluation of painting preference, related to aspects of painting including tone, colour, mark making etc.
  • Versions of my paintings with analysis
  • Exploration of colour palette and notes of colour mixing
  • Exploration about the feelings and mood I want to create in the paintings and why
The joy of Journaling  Journal pages

Here is a video I created about the journal.

The Joy of Journaling-A way forward

For now, it seems that this journal approach will serve as the ‘thinking’ part of my more intuitive painting in series approach. A place for the structure and thinking, so that my paintings can be developed more spontaneously and intuitively. I will of course still keep sketchbooks for drawings and collage experimentation. It is also likely that I will start to keep a more general type of creative journal. Getting emotions and feelings related to art practice and daily thoughts out on paper may be a useful antidote for feeling stuck-such is the life of an artist!

Do you keep a journal? If so, how do you use it? Is it a key part of your daily life/creative process? Whatever ‘your way’ is, happy journaling and I welcome your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “The Joy of Journaling (the melting pot for my paintings)

  1. I look forward to hearing more about how your journal helps you in your art-making process! I have been keeping a written journal for most of my life (personal reflections, memories, venting, ideas, the usual stuff). Interestingly, after I started sketching in 2011, I found less need to write. I think sketching has fulfilled some kind of need that writing never could fulfill, and now whatever the need is is being fulfilled in my sketchbook. I still keep a written journal, but only occasionally instead of regularly. And I always keep a travel journal with lots of reflections and note-taking about wherever I am visiting.

    1. Thanks Tina, how interesting that your sketching has taken away from some of the need to write. I guess to me, the drawing and writing go hand in hand but I can understand why it has changed for you.

  2. Hi Liz

    I do love the idea of a dedicated book for a series – and your journal is just delicious and inspiring.

    A ‘sketchbook’ – for me at least, is something that is beautiful and rather daunting.

    I’ve been doing this journal kind of thing for a while – but tend to call it doing stuff in my workbook. I found calling it a workbook meant that I was less likely to feel precious about what kind of mess I made in it. It has now become a melange of things that quite often didn’t work, collage, ephemera etc and I really value the recording of process/mark-making/observation.

    I really love the idea of a dedicated book for a particular series – going to try that – will help use up my stash of sketchbooks I feel intimidated to use lol

    1. Thanks Elaine. Yes, I think a dedicated book for a series is definitely right for me. I’m glad its been helpful for you to read it too. I agree about sketchbooks getting too precious. I don’t want my journal to be. It has to accompany my series of paintings and therefore needs to be useful!

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