Why Commit to a Year of Art Journaling?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the idea of offering a year long art journal class is wicked scary to me! So I can totally understand why signing up for a year-long class might be scary, too. I mean, a year is a LONG time!

When thinking about this class, I drew inspiration from Marianne Bland’s Art Project 2010, during which she made a new piece of art every single day for a year. Wow! What an accomplishment! I love the idea, but could I commit do making art every day for a year? Realistically? Probably not.

I mean, I make a LOT of art. I go through phases where I’ll make a new canvas every day for a few weeks, but then I don’t do any art for a week or so. Then I’ll work in my art journal every day for a while, and repeat. I’ve always been like this: periods of inactivity in between periods of hyper-creativity. Could I force myself to make art on the days that I really wasn’t feeling it? Probably, sure. I could whip up some backgrounds for future works, sketch out some ideas for future pages, or carve a new stamp. But did I want to? That’s where I’m not sure. Maybe those periods of inactivity are essential for my art-making. Perhaps during the down-time, I am giving my creativity a chance to recharge and store up new bits of inspiration.

So commit to daily art making? Maybe. Fallow periods aside, some days are just so crazy busy that I don’t have a second to make an art. Or I’m so exhausted that I’d rather zone out in front of the television screen than my journal. (Though frequently, I do both at the same time!)

Commit to weekly art making? Sure, now that I can handle! In fact, I think that vowing to make (at least) weekly is good for my mental well-being! If I go do long without letting my creativity express itself, I can fall into a serious funk. Weekly art making will be a preventative measure against creative block.

I think being gentle with yourself is important for any expression of creativity. In my former incarnation as a writer, I found that the slightest bit of criticism would cause me to seize up and be unable to write for a day, week, month before I could convince myself to get over it and just write. I dropped out of a college because my short story was shredded to bits during a full class critique. [I say “a college” because I’ve dropped out of  several.] When I established a daily writing routine, I nurtured myself by a) starting the first few minutes of the writing session with “I don’t want to write today because” and following that train of that and b) telling myself that I could write the word pickle over and over again for the full session and still consider it a job well done. Ridiculous, right? Well, it worked. And I never did fill a page with a single word!

How to be gentle with yourself as an artist? Allow yourself to make “bad” art. Who cares if you hate it? The point is that you MADE it. Make lots of “bad” art and you’re bound to have some “good” art sneak in there. Find beauty in the pieces you don’t like, and if you really, really hate, gesso it and start over again. [I use the terms “bad” and “good” very loosely because they are completely subjective. The only opinion that matters is your own, but if you are overly hard on yourself, then nobody’s opinion matters.] When you aim low, you free up your mind to have some fun instead of worrying what the end result will be. It worked for my writing; it works for my art.

Another benefit of a regular practice is that a “bad” page becomes less important. Oh well, you’ll think, I’ll make another next week. So what if you don’t like the end result? Either keep adding to it until you do like it (which is a frequent tactic I use) or bring out the trusty gesso and start over. (I use gesso a lot, too! In fact, last night I made this page:

Lace - Full Page Spread

Sometimes Lace

Follow Your Heart

When I turned the page after it had dried, I realized that this lovely portrait:

Pale Portrait

Had become this:

Pale Portrait: Ruined

Did I cry about it? Nah… though I sure felt a pang, since I feel like this is one of my best portraits to date!  I’ll just gesso over the page and start over. (I am happy, though, that I snapped a picture before the mishap!)

My creativity is like a faucet turned on full force. I don’t worry about a messed up piece because I know there are plenty more where that came from. I am certain that in a year of art journaling I will make some Moira masterpieces as well as some real doozies. And that’s just fine with me.

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About craftymoira

Weekly Art Date is an online art journal course taught by Moira Richardson of Crafty Moira. Weekly Art Date is hosted on artjournaling.ning.com.

2 responses to “Why Commit to a Year of Art Journaling?”

  1. susan schultheis says :

    I am very interested in taking your classes. First I want to say that I cannot freehand anything but a dog that looks like a camel, so I am a little concerned about the portraits/faces you will be drawing. (which class/session?)
    Also, could I possible sign up for the first class and if I feel I can handle it and want to continue for the year, could I pay $30 more after the first session?

    I really would like more info on each session/week. do you have a title of a technique you could use? a title for the products you will be using? canvas, art journaling, which weeks you will be working on what?

    Am I asking too many questions?

    thanks for any info you can give me. I did read your post on the Art Journaling site but you were very vague as to when you will be doing what.

    thanks for your response
    suzieq23

    • craftymoira says :

      Suzie,
      Thanks for the questions! Never too many questions!

      1) I hope that I can help you learn how to draw more than camel-dogs. 🙂 For the first portrait lesson (which will be in Part One), I am going to teach the lesson as though you have never drawn anything. In fact, we will be tracing a photograph to start. I am actually pretty new to drawing! My new year’s resolution for 2011 was to learn how to draw! And I did it! (First time I ever followed through on a resolution!)

      2) Yes, I will offer a discount for anyone who signed up for only the first part to be able to sign up for the full year. I’m very flexible like that. 🙂

      3) One technique during January will use: White gesso, clear gesso, gel medium, and watercolor pencils. We’ll be learning how to alter magazine images using these supplies.

      4) Every week will be a lesson for art journaling. This could be something as simple as a writing prompt or a discussion about color schemes to a full-length tutorial video about a specific technique (like altering magazine images). Any additional non-journal projects are bonuses just for fun.

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