Archive for June, 2009
With summer now in full swing, paintings to be made, journals to be bound, a toddler to chase outside, and blog posts to write I have been finding less time to do my own journaling. For these reasons I am going to be posting journaling tips every other Tuesday. I am working on one about journaling with your Inner Critic. Should be interesting…but just need to find the time!
But I didn’t want to post this week without a prompt at least. With the absence of my own journaling these past few weeks, I have asked myself- Why do I journal anyway? I have missed it. The absence of it is very real for me. I have kept a journal since I was a little girl in various ways and forms. But it was only really, the past 7 years that it became a conscious and consistent habit. But why?
…It is testimony, evidence of a life. My life. It is a learning tool. It is Me.
So here is your journal prompt: Why do you journal?
…writing a journal implies that one has ceased to think of the future and has decided to live in the present. It is an announcement to fate that you expect nothing more. It is assertion that you take each day as it comes and make no connection between to-day and other days. Writing a journal means facing your ocean you are afraid to swim across it, so you attempt to drink it drop by drop. It means that you count the last leaves of a tree whose trunk has lost its sap. ~ George Sand
As promised, mixed media artist Seth Apter has been so kind to share a few pages of two of his travel journals as well as his process of creating these treasures. His travel journals are astounding. I always have the best of intentions to create a book like this, but never seem to follow through. So I just had to pick his brain to see how he creates these books.
amanobooks: Do you have a regular journal that you keep while you are traveling and then go back later and incorporate your writing with your work? Or do you work on site?
Seth: I create the structure for my journal, which so far has always been a handmade book, before I leave for every vacation. I often add a color wash to the pages, which typically are either cold-press watercolor paper or blank, vintage book pages. I keep the pages loose on the trip and bind them when I come home after they are all completed. I always pack a small journal kit, which is different depending upon the vacation. But I always bring a selection of makers, stamp pads, watercolor brush pens, rubber stamps, rub on letters, glue stick, scissors, pieces of handmade and found paper, and the like.
While I am away I am always looking out for things to add to my journal, whether it be receipts, brochures, business cards, local paraphernalia. ephemera, found objects, and other souvenirs. And as I am taking photographs I am also thinking about what I might want to put in the journal. I always start to create pages when I am away. I really enjoy taking time to work in the journal while I am actually on vacation and in the place that is inspiring me. I don’t think I have ever actually completed a page while on vacation though.
I also write random notes about the vacation during the trip too. It is the only way I can remember everything and I always look forward to my note writing on each trip. One of my favorite things to do is to give people I visit or meet on the trip a page to complete for my journal. This way I take home a piece of everybody from the trip and they become part of my journal.
When I come home, I print out pictures, gather all the stuff I brought back, sit with all my art supplies, and complete the pages. Then I will bind the book and complete the cover. The journals I have from my trips are really sacred objects to me. Each time I look through them I am transported back and I re-experience the vacation.
Thank you Seth for your generousity and for sharing your creative process in creating these fantastic travel journals!
As summer approaches, trips and vacations may be appearing on the horizon. Our photo albums generally record our vacations for us. We look at a photo and say “I was there on this day and we were doing xyz”. Creating a Travel Journal, however, is a great way to capture more than just static images.
When you bring along a journal and write while on your trip, you are giving yourself a moment to slow down. It allows you to soak it all in. Even while on vacation there is a tendency to to do it all and get it all in while you can. Try taking a moment to just sit and write about your surroundings, your observations, your plans, and your adventures.
+ Write out your itinerary in your journal
+ Collect maps, ticket stubs, currency, matchbooks, found objects and ephemera that capture the flavor of your destination
+ Pack an envelope to collect these various found mementos to add to your journal later
+ Observe your surroundings, capture it in words
+ Bring a watercolor set, or at least a favorite pen, to sketch a scene
+ Write about the people you meet in your travels. Have them write something in your journal!
+ At the end of your trip, create a top ten list of moments you don’t want to forget. These can be pretty funny when you look back. It is also interesting how a short phrase can bring back a flood of memories.
Writer Ann Somerset Miles shared some pages of her journal that she kept on her vacation. Her entries are mostly written and her accompanying illustrations add color and character to her pages. You can get a glimpse ino other aspects of Ann’s work at Wild Somerset Child blog.
Ann Somerset Miles
Writing as you travel will capture as much and even more of the essence of your trip than just photographs. Write during layovers, on a bus, or at the day’s end. If you want to do a more detailed travel journal later with your photos corresponding with your text, you can. But writing down the details while you are traveling helps keeps the memories fresh.
from one of my journals, 2006
leaves I collected on a walk around the B&B we were staying at
Stay tuned for next week’s travel journal post featuring a few of Seth Apter’s travel journal spreads.
His process of ceating a travel journal combines the two approaches- doing some of the journal while on vacation and then finishing it later after the trip.
Who are you? A simple question for a complex answer. Answering this question in your journal could lead to some interesting writing. For a quick and simple way to start, make a list of roles you lead in your life- I am a… mother, father, sister, daughter, friend, scientist, teacher, etc. Move on to characteristics and attributes- athletic, creative, messy, tall, quiet, funny, dreamer, etc. As your list grows, get creative in naming the different facets of yourself.
Tackling this question in list format is the easiest way to start answering this fundamental question.
visual journal entry, 2004
For the visually inclined:
For the above spread, I simply printed out a self-portrait I painted years ago and blew it up to just show the eyes. I doodled with ink around the image and then journaled my list.
+ Print out a photo of yourself and attach to your journal. Journal around your image.
+ Challenge yourself to draw your portrait in your journal before writing your list. If sketching your whole face is daunting, focus on just your eyes. Eyes are the mirrors into the soul, after all…
+ Write your list out. Print a photo or drawing of yourself onto transparency. Attach the transparency on top of your writing.
+ If you are new to altering your own photographs, I highly recommend Karen Michel’s book The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery : Mixed-Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals, and More for great ideas on how to use your photosgraphs in your artwork.
The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change. ~Richard Bach
Looking at yourself with honest eyes can be a courageous thing to do. Growth requires self-examination. Using your journal to explore themes of “you” is a safe place to do so. Journaling has not been called a form of “cheap therapy” for nothing!
“Know thyself?” If I knew myself, I’d run away. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe