Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Art Journaling-How to do it, and why

So I shared the art journalists that I love and some of their amazing work, but I have to confess that when I have gone to art journal for myself, I quickly spiral into a conversation in my head that goes something like this:

"What should I do.....? Hmmm.....maybe I'll work with the idea of motherhood. Wow, motherhood is a big concept. And all the pictures I am finding (in my big book of art that I bought 2 copies of so I can cut one up) are of very Christ-ish babies. And the moms all look bored. Or mad. Well...I guess that's accurate. Ok, I'll pick one. This one. You've spent too much time on this already, just glue it down and get going. Well now that looks stupid-it's just sitting there. Here, I'll throw on some paint, oh! It gooped! Well, I guess that's part of it. This isn't working the way I thought it would. And now I only have another 20 minutes if I'm lucky. Words, I need to add words. Love-no that's way too stupid. Giving-that sounds, um, dorky. Ennui-that makes me sound cultured (I think it means bored) but I hope the kids don't find this in 10 years and ask me why I was bored. Frick it, just do it already. There. Bored. Right across her forehead, now some more paint, DAMN IT, the baby's awake."

It's never looks like I thought it would. And I never have time to "finish it". I think my problem is that I look at these amazing artists and their expressions of themselves, and I think that there is a right way to do it. And mine doesn't match.

Then I think about the stories I've heard about early museums and how in the beginning, since they actually showed art made by people who were still alive, they would sometimes come across some poor tortured soul adding things to their paintings! They didn't see their art as finished at all. So I am taking a new approach. My art journal is a work in progress, and instead of trying to think of something relevant in my life to document, I am instead choosing a song to work from. I am just going to add images that the song makes me think of, and may end up relating to my life in some way (I think the songs that get caught in my head are always related to what's bugging me anyway).

The song I am starting with is Hey You from The Wall. And here is where I am so far:

No, not far, but I am being gentle with myself. And I invite you to try it out. No unreasonable expectations of perfection here (anymore) and I find that rather than writing in a diary, art journaling gets me thinking about bigger pictures (ha-punny). I start thinking about what I was going to journal about in terms of the images I find to use. It broadens my understanding, both of myself and I how I relate to the world in my head. It gets deeper. Sometimes. And sometimes it just looks like a bunch of prom dress pictures glued in the shape of a fan with the words I really wanted one of these scrawled across the top. And that's ok.


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