Archive for the 'creativity journaling' Category
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
We all hear that voice at times. The voice that whispers in our ear things like “You’re not good enough” or “You call yourself an artist?” or “No one is going to buy your work”, or “You have no original ideas”, etc. etc. etc. This voice is the infamous Inner Critic who rears its ugly head right at the moment when we do not need to hear such negative comments.
Our first instinct is to tell the Inner Critic to just go away, or probably we use less polite phrasing. But basically we stuff it down. This is necessary as a means of self-preservation, but really what is essential is to face the Inner Critic and really figure out what that voice is saying and why. Inner Critic work is challenging because it means we have to face the ugly things we say to ourselves.
Get out your journal and try this exercise:
+ Give your inner critic a name
+ Make a drawing of him/her. A collage even.
+ Explore that critical voice- what is it saying?
where is it coming from?
how does it make you feel?
is there a theme?
+ Next time you start hearing the Inner Critic voice, write down exactly what it’s saying. Then respond to it. Have a dialogue with that voice. Ask it what are you trying to teach me?
And why do we need to do this? There are several reasons:
*the Inner Critic is negative energy. By understanding its role, you can shift the energy so it can work for you instead of against you
*understanding the Inner Critic allows you to know it and its dynamics, allowing you to sidestep the roadblocks
*once your can wrap your head around who the Inner Critic is, why it does what it does, you can release that energy. Forgive it and yourself and keep moving forward.
One thing to understand is that the Inner Critic was created to protect you at times. For example, “if I don’t try, I won’t get rejected”.
I did this exercise several years ago and it was extremely helpful. I highly recommend it.
self portrait, Teach Me To Fly, 2005
Some helpful links on the Inner Critic:
Pointed criticism, if accurate, often gives the artist an inner sense of relief. The criticism that damages is that which disparages, dismisses, ridicules, or condemns. ~William Ernest Henley
My friend and talented artist Patricia Anders posted this exercise and questions on her blog. This is a great exercise for us creative types and I challenge you to open up your journals and attempt to answer her questions and really try to see your work with a stranger’s eyes. I did it myself and will share my answers in a few days over at my art blog. If you would like, post your thoughts on your own blog and share a link here. Or keep it private in your own written journal.
Look at the work you have currently hanging on your studio wall or work space or in progress on your easel or your work table and pretend that you are someone else. Someone who does not know you and imagine what they might think of the artist who created it. Write those things down and keep them for yourself, to help you determine whether what you are creating is tied in with who you are or what you want to say or express. Post your thoughts.
Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true? Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently? Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are? Is the work you did ten years ago different? have you matured artistically or just improved your skills? Is there a difference? Is the content or the media the same?
It is important to the exercise to look at your work with a stranger’s eyes first. And then move on to answering the questions.
Art is not so much talent as character.. it’s what you are, the qualities of the person. ::: John Olsen :::
Interesting quote….is this true? This quote may be tackling a whole other issue entirely, but thought it was an interesting one to ponder.
This week’s post is not a writing tip, but a tip to help add images and artwork to your journal pages. A very easy way to add imagery to your journal page is to get your hands on a box of transparencies that you can print on from your local office supply store. They are pricey, but if you will use them, it is worth it! Read the instructions for your printer, of course, and make sure you are able to print on transparencies before experimenting.
1. Print out your image on a transparency sheet and then trim down to size.
2. Write out your journal entry in your journal, then glue your transparent image on top of your writing.
from my personal journal, 2007-2008
Or you can collage various papers and add some paint before laying down your transparency. I did that in the example below and added a journal entry on top of the collage, and then attached my transparency.
from my personal journal, 2007-2008
In the spread below, the right hand side, I placed a picture of myself behind a transparency of a tree. The actual writing of this journal entry is behind my photo in a glassine envelope. The layering possibilities are endless with transparent materials!
a spread from a collaborative visual journal
+ There are onlines stores that sell images on transparencies such as art chix studio. They have fun images that could inspire an interesting journal entry!
+ Somerset Studio published a book called Transparent Art that showcases mixed media works using a variety of transparency materials and techniques. I have never read this book, so I can’t give a recommendation. But it looks like a good place to start if using transparencies is new to you or if you are just looking for some inspiration.
+ There are also ways to do transfer techniques with transparencies. If you do a quick search online, you should be able to find articles on this technique.
+ I highly recommend using your own images, if you can or are willing. Your journal entries will be much more personal if you use your own images.
+ You can even use older artwork as your starting transparency image for your journal entry. It is always fun and interesting to go back to a finished painting and rework it in your journal.
One of the greatest things in the world is to train ourselves to see beauty in the commonplace. ~Charles Hawthorne
The point of having a journal is to record your thoughts and events. It is easy to fall into the trap of writing things out like an itinerary of events. For example: Today I woke up and ate breakfast before I had to get ready for the day. I then got dressed and left the house.
Yes, that definitely records what happened that day, but if you stop and really think about the details and write them out, your entries will be so more richer. Here is an alternative to the above example:
I woke up around 5:30 am and the world was so still. When I let Foggy out, there was snow on the ground and on the fence. The snow seemed to glow in the morning’s darkness. And inside the house, all was quiet. The world felt like it was still asleep.
When I read that entry, my memory comes to a sharp focus on that moment, the morning of the day my son was born. If I had just written the first example, I don’t think I would remember that stillness of that January morning. It brings it all back to me. Even the way the light came in through the kitchen window.
Try writing a journal entry this way. The easiest way is to do it in the present tense. Sit on a bench outside in a park during your lunch break. Describe what you see, what you hear, what you smell. Remember the “wh” questions you learned to ask in your high school writing class- who, what, when, where, why, and how. Get it down. You are painting a picture with words.
Artist Erin Kenepp is chronicaling a whole year of her life with a visual journal entry for every day. It is really quite amazing.
page from Erin Kenepp’s visual journal
I love this visual journal entry that she was so generous to share here. The marriage between the richness of her words and the simple use of color captures that moment so well.
If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches. -Rainer Maria Rilke
Although many artists like to say that their work speaks for itself, we usually have to talk about the work whether in an artist’s statement or at a show. Someone is inevitably going to ask you, “Why do you like trees so much?” or “Why do you use red circles in your work? or even “Are you ok? Your painting looks like you’re tormented” (yes, I did get that from a friend once!) Anyway, wouldn’t it be nice to have an answer prepared so you don’t find yourself tongue tied? But better than that, it’s good to have that conversation with yourself- figure out what symbols or themes appear in your work often and then find out what that means to you.
Use your journal to get the thoughts out, brainstorm, figure out what it is that you are trying to say. You can use this exercise to help you write that dreaded artist statement. When you write your artist statement you want to be concise and not too wordy or convoluted. In your journal though, you can be wordy, have spelling errors, awkward syntax and even incomplete sentences. This is about getting it out in the first place. Exploration before the execution.
Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist. ~Edward Hopper
+This is a big one: look at your life, yes, at you, at who you are. What moves you? What issues do you find yourself gravitating towards? Are there certain themes or events in your life that have had a impacts on the way you think or behave? Do you have a life philosophy? Write these out in list form. You can go back later and dedicate a journal entry to each one.
+If certain themes or a general feeling appears in your work, write it down. List form. Go back and pick out areas to write about. How does this theme in your work reflect areas of your life, your own personal history? After all, we create what we know. Where could these themes be originating from and why? Or maybe we are creating what we don’t know, what we wish for….
+Make a list of the symbols, figures, shapes that appear or that you are drawn to. For each one, list what they could possibly mean. Or if not a meaning, how does it make you feel? Once you have a list, you may find themes. Themes can always lead to a series…….
+Write about the colors that you are drawn to. Why do you always pick up that Paynes Gray? Colors have a whole psychology to them. Look it up, put it in your journal. Here are a few links to start with:
+So you like to paint a bowl of fruit and really there is no reason or symbolism behind that, that’s great too! This is still a good exercise to do to help with the artist statement or the gallery chat. If you think about it, of all the things in the world to paint, you are choosing fruit. Why? Maybe you just love to paint and the organic forms and the vivid colors allow you to explore paint and all its wonderful qualities. Writing about what motivates you helps clarify why you do what you do.
It might feel awkward to dissect your own work like that, but we are visual communicators. Even if you think there is no meaning to the dots you placed in the lower right corner, something compelled you to do so. Find out if there is a deeper meaning or maybe you will find that you are guided by something else, something more intuitive, or more experimental. Finding this out is valuable and can only enrich your work.
++These tips may also help if you are feeling stuck or blocked with your work. Figuring out what you are drawn to and what symbols or colors can help jumpstart ideas.
Some of the pictures are truly mysterious to me…which is why I so often say publicly that I don’t know or don’t care what they’re really about. And yet I can also say that the paintings are prayers. ~ Susan Rothenberg
Continuing with the visual journaling theme this week and looking at your journal as a place to experiment. If you are a painter or a visual artist of some kind, a journal can be a very useful tool in housing ideas, generating ideas, and just letting yourself to let go.
It seems to be a psychological thing because a canvas is something that will be up on a wall. Or to be submitted for a show or added to a body of work. Pressure! But my journal is for me, not a finished piece of artwork. Not anything that anyone is going to see, unless I feel like sharing. It can be ugly, it can be messy. Or it can turn out a new discovery.
It actually helps me to keep visual journal entries along side written entries. Along side grocery lists. Along side a photo of my son and an entry about something funny he did. It helps me to keep things loose. Less precious. Less sacred. If I had a book solely dedicated to amazing visual journal pages, I probably wouldn’t use it! Or I’d be a little less risky. And this type of visual journaling is all about experimenting.
Mixed media artist Amber Gibbs often uses her journal to experiment with different collage techniques. She discusses these experiments on her blog, which is very helpful to see how to loosen up and play.
journal spread by Amber Gibbs
:: So, you don’t collage? Well then slap down some images on your pages.
:: You’ve never used your own photos in your work? Here’s your chance.
:: Drawing a face freaks you out? Draw a face and write all around the head like a halo.
:: You only use colors like Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber in your paintings? Do a spread using Hansa Yellow and Napthol Red.
:: Use up your stash of odd bits of different textured paper.
:: Instead of using glue to attach images or paper, explore different methods of attachment- staples, eyelets, needle and thread, etc.
:: Try different mark making tools for your writing- graphite, conte, charcoal, ink and nib, white-out pens, gel pens, crayons and watercolor to create a wax-resist, etc. etc. etc.
a visual journal spread in my 2007-2008 journal
My son was born in 2007, so my time in the studio went from full time to any time I could get! When I came to the studio to work, I always started with visual journal page. It was a way to just get the creative juices flowing. An exercise to experiment with no pressure visually as well as a place to write my intentions for that day down. The page above was one of these studio morning pages. Several weeks later, I was working on an encaustic painting and trying to figure out a composition….when I remembered this page I had created. I went to my journal and looked up this page and I knew what direction to go in for that encaustic painting.
Use your journal to try new things out and create without pressure. Creating visual journal pages in this way can loosen you up and create new possibilities for you and your art.
The sub-heading for today’s tip is “creativity journaling”. I plan to have a few posts geared towards creative types for ways to use journaling as a brainstorming tool for creating art. Creativity journaling can include visual journaling, but it really has more to do with writing.
I have worked on a few series of paintings and always seem to have ideas about future ones swimming around in my head. Before I really get into the thick of working in a series, I journal. I write an entry (or more) about what issues I want to tackle. Looking at these entries I find that most of what is written are questions. Why? How? What happens if? How come? Where did this come from? etc.
I hopefully work out the answers to these questions visually through my paintings. More often than not, though, the paintings lead to more questions. So back to my journal I go!
After writing down the issues, it may also help to just brainstorm about what symbols you might want to use. Write anything and everything down. One idea can always lead to another. Make sketches next to your lists. Or even collage images down.
U.K. artist Vivien Blackburn created a book called “Ravelled Sleaves”. In this book she utilizes the image of her hand as one of the symbols of herself and her identity to depict feeling torn between all the demands on her during that time in her life-art, school, work, family, life. I think we can all relate to that at some point in our lives!
You can see in just three images how the hands transform into a wave that threaten to drown her. Be sure to check out Vivien’s Sketchbooks. Her sketchbooks are such a treasure to look through. Landscape studies combined with written observations and color studies are so insightful into the way her works progress. Then go visit her web site to see how her sketchbooks influence her finished paintings. And she also has a blog!