I was about 18 when I first started keeping a visual diary, and how I wish someone had put me on to them earlier! I now keep at least 4 visual diaries (or art journals as I call them) of varying size and format around the house and in my bag so I can quickly note down ideas as they come to me.
Art journal keeping is a wonderful way of documenting the creative process, it can be and also can be a way to document our lives.
I’m not so good at expressing myself through the written word, I tend to cringe when reading old diaries so the art journal works well for me. I like to use plain black covered hardback bindings with a good medium to heavy weight paper (90 gsm minimum) so I can use watercolours without too much distortion to the pages. Try to find one made with“archival quality” paper and be aware that the term "acid-free" is not regulated and can be misleading. Just because it is "acid-free" now is no guarantee that it will not turn acidic in another 10, 20 or 50 years - important things to think about if you plan on leaving them to your descendants.
These are some of the things that appear throughout my journals:
- Ideas for designs, paintings and assemblage
- Cut outs from magazines
- Invitations to art shows
- Pieces of fabric
- Lolly wrappers
- Prints (directly onto pages)
- Books to read
- Movies to watch
- Inspiring quotes
- Funny things my kids say
- Pressed leaves & flowers
- Planting designs
- Seeds sown in the garden
- Postage stamps
- My children's drawings
- and lots more!
Being time poor, as many of us are, I like to write or draw ideas for design or art projects I would like to do one day but can’t find the time for now. It’s great to flick through an old journal when I find myself with time (which happens so rarely!) but lacking in inspiration. Even if I never use the material I’ve collected over the years I hope that when my children are grown, it will provide them with a snapshot of both my creative mind and the world we lived in.
I thought I’d share with you some selected pages of a the art journals I've kept over the years. As you can see they are not neat and pretty Martha Stewart style scrapbooks but I love them just the same as they are a record of my creative life.
I have recently given my 3 year old daughter her first art journal, which I’m hoping will be a thing of wonder to look back on in her later years :)
I have also found the ideas in the book Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachery great for harnessing creative energy. There is a chapter on journaling in this book with loads of tips from practising artists, many of whom chose to use their journal pages as finished artworks.
So if you haven't started an art journal before, give it a go! And don't be too precious about working directly onto the pages - you can always paint or paste over if you make a mistake or don't like what you've done.
I will have a post on Bookbinding sometime next year.
wishing you a lovely weekend