Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art Journal Wrap, 2010

Now that Nanowrimo is over for the year (at least for me), I took the extra time these last few days to finish up the two art journals I have been working on since New Year's Day. For my final entry, I decided to write about what I had gained from keeping these volumes--it was a lot! For instance: 

- Art journals gave my writer's group a purpose and a theme to keep us all focused on a shared creative goal. For 2010 we chose "Travel," mainly because there were so many ways we could interpret the word, from actual on-the-road traveling, to individual life journeys, to placing our fictional characters in unknown and foreign settings, e.g. Paris, 1930. Travel also gave us a multi-faceted prompt for the accompanying artwork we created. 

- From the class and the journals, I gained confidence in art making. I could experiment (and fail) without having to explain or apologize for why things "looked the way they looked." In his book, Writing Poetry from the Inside Out, poet Sandford Lyne refers to journals as private studios. In my art journal, I could experiment in private. 

- Art journaling for 30 minutes before working on my WIP, or before making a piece of pottery, centered me. It was meditative and helped me to get rid of the "noise" I sometimes find following me into my work space, you know, things like, "Buy milk. Reply to e-mail." 

- Art journaling gave me a weekly class to attend over the summer; I love being a student. Homework assignments encouraged me to keep journaling. 

- I felt part of a community of art journalers. I am so inspired by these creative souls. 

- I found a wonderful way to outline my writing--with pictures. Although I have always used magazine cut-outs to illustrate my characters, scenes, and especially my book cover mock-ups, this year I found I was able to go much deeper. By creating multiple collages that followed my plot chapter by chapter, I was able to express my story visually before I wrote it. When it came to the actual writing, it seemed to just flow straight from the pictures. 

- I gained a lot of insight into what I believe is the future of the book, especially with the increased use of e-readers. I feel certain that books are eventually going to be illustrated throughout with both still and moving pictures. Working with an art journal is a great way to prepare for what may be the next step for all of us who write. 

- Looking for ways to make my art journal interesting, I learned techiques I would never have tried before: rubber stamping; colored pencil on black and white photocopies; drawing and painting onto backgrounds such as papyrus and mulberry paper. 

- Which also meant I learned some new techniques to share in my own workshops. 

- And because I had to go shopping to buy these fun items, I had no excuses for avoiding Julia Cameron-style "artist's dates." 

- My finished art journals have given me some deeply personal, but quite wonderful "picture books" for my own appreciation and enjoyment. 

Reaching the last pages of these two latest art journals was much more emotional than I thought it would be, similar to the end of any great adventure that took me to places I never thought I'd go, but that also turned out to be some of the best times of my life. 

There have been so many journals of various types throughout my life, each one completely different and each one my "favorite" in some way or another starting with the first lined, spiral notebook I bought in London from Boots the Chemists on Regent Street. In it I wrote about friend and author Hugh Cook and his raincoat (well, he did tell me to keep character notes!); I wrote about someone's gray eyes that later were assigned to the character of Ravenna in my book Better Than Perfect; I wrote the story that I'm still writing over and over every day of my life--the story of me. Every character, thought, idea, setting that has been a part of my novels, my poems, my drafts, my screenplays, my Christmas cards has come from my journals. What would I do without them? 

Tip of the Day: Wondering what to give for the holidays this year? Art journal supplies can open a beautiful world for someone special. Maybe even you!

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