Wednesday, 11 September 2013

More penguins, and some thoughts about art journaling

Sketching those penguins just made me happy, so I painted some more, this time in my art journal, with acrylics.

It doesn't look finished yet, but I'm not quite sure yet what's missing. Maybe some journaling? I must admit that, very often, I find the adding-of-words part of art journaling really difficult. After all, that’s why I paint, because I find it easier to express myself in images than in writing. But that's what art journaling is about, right? Keeping a diary that combines the visual element with some added words, instead of just writing. The journal part is an essential part of it, it’s what makes it an art journal. Or is it? Actually, what is art journaling, exactly?

I only heard the term "art journaling", and learned about it, about two or three years ago. Before that, I just kept a sketchbook, in which I mainly made little versions of the paintings that we did at a painting class, with notes about the techniques, paints, colours, inspiration etc. It didn't have a name. It just was a book most of us in class kept. Then I learned about art journaling. And that’s how I conceived the whole art journaling thing, that it was all about pouring your soul onto the painted pages, in words.

After two or three years of art journaling, and always feeling that somehow, I did it wrong, because of lack of words, I decided to look a bit deeper into the matter of art journaling, to find out more about what it is, how it’s done, how others do it, and what they think what it is.

Definition of "art diary" from Wikipedia:

An art diary, art journal or visual journal is a daily journal kept by artists, often containing both words and sketches, and occasionally including Mixed media elements such as collages. Such books will frequently contain rough workings, in cartoon form, of ideas later to appear in finished works, as well as acting as a normal diary, by allowing the artist to record their day-to-day activities and emotions.

 Definition of "art journal" by Marion Boddy-Evans on
An art journal is a journal or diary that has a strong visual element to it, an expression of your artistic creativity and imagination, not filled only with words like a traditional journal. It's a journal for using your art to express your memories, dreams, and thoughts. How you create the images, and what type of imagery you make, is entirely a matter of personal choice. There are no rules. You can paint or draw, use pen and ink, photos, collage, doodle, stickers... anything and everything.
There’s an added element in both of these definitions to my perception of art journaling (although still including the journaling bit), the element of it serving as a collection of ideas for reference for later paintings. The same idea also appears in wikiHow's "How to Use an Art Journal", which suggests to use your journal for trying out new techniques, and making notes about the experiments (point 4), and also to chart your supplies (point 3) in it.

So what is an art journal? Well, there really are no rules. It's entirely up to you, it’s your playground, to do whatever you want to in it, whatever suits you. And if you don't want to add your thourhgs and emotions in the form of meaningful words to your pages, that's totally fine too. It doesn’t even have to be a journal, and you don’t even have to call it an art journal. As long as you have that special place to play, that’s fine, whatever form it takes, whatever it contains. For me, my art journals are more about trying out new techniques, and ideas, creating references. They are the place where I can uninhibitedly try out ideas for a painting, which I don’t yet want to paint straight on a canvas. It’s a record of my creativity, or to just do 'something', when I don't have the time and energy to paint a 'proper' painting. It’s my playground.

Treat it like a real diary if you want, or simply use it to collect your works and practice. The whole point is that the journal is for you, by you, and its contents are completely up to you. (wikiHow "How to Use an Art Journal")

Unfortunately, I still don't quite know how to finish off my penguin page...


  1. I love this penguin page! It's so great, just do what you feel like, if nothing more comes up then leave it like that, it's wonderful!

  2. It is gorgeous!! Maybe you could you text cut out from newspaper or a magazine and wash over it? I love text and would like to use it more in my own paintings :0)

  3. I agree completely! I tend to use words, and I tend to write but believe there's no right or wrong. Thanks for the motivation to make a trip to the zoo. Hasn't happened yet, but everytime you post more paintings from your zoo pictures, its seems to make me want to do it.