Thursday, February 14, 2013

Art Journal Tip: Illustrate Your Freewriting

Happy Valentine's Day! Wishing you all a perfectly sweet and happy day. And perhaps a little art journaling to go with it, courtesy of  Art Journal Class, My Favorite Tips and Tip #5:  Illustrate Your Freewriting.

One of my favorite parts of any day is to sit down and get into some freewriting: Don't think, don't edit, just write! But sometimes, more often than I like, it's not so easy for me to approach my drawing practice with the same carefree spirit. I think it has a lot to do with choosing my subject matter. I'll have my paper, colored pencils, nice pastels all set out and then my mind goes blank. What will I draw today? The longer I sit there waiting for inspiration, the worse the anxiety becomes. Thankfully, I've learned some great ways to overcome this kind of artist's block by looking to my freewriting as a source of ideas. These include:
  1. Once you've finished your daily writing session, circle 3-5 key nouns you may have mentioned in the piece. Now draw them, either separately or together as a still life.
  2. If you're nervous about drawing (though I hope you will soon overcome that fear!) go through a few magazines or your magazine cut-out file and choose pictures to illustrate your piece AFTER you write. This is very different from the usual way of using cut-outs as prompts and inspiration for writing.
  3. After writing, go for a walk and find something that reminds you of what you wrote about. Either draw in your journal right there and then, or simply take photos and notes so you can draw later at home.
  4. Did you write about food or were your characters eating a meal together? Why not cook or bake whatever they were having and then take a photo? You can either alter the photo or use it as a drawing reference. (Note: unless it's a baked item that needs to cool down, it's not really a good idea to let food sit out in the open too long; hence the need to take a photograph.)
  5. A mini-collage can be a quick and satisfying way to illustrate your writing. These little gems are excellent for illustrating the mood or tone of your piece.
  6. If you're feeling stuck on both the writing and the drawing, trying choosing a new theme each month and dedicating an entire journal to that theme: Spring Planting; Back to School; Winter Holidays... Add the appropriate pictures as you go through the month.
  7. Try creating the daily life of a fun--and somewhat surreal--character. For instance, the adventures of a favorite teddy bear, a pet, or one of those little wooden art mannikins. Just like the traveling gnome first portrayed in Amelie take your little creature to unexpected destinations. Write and draw about his or her experiences.
  8. Photocopy and then paste a favorite or little-known poem into your journal. Write your response--why do you love this piece so? What does it say to you? Illustrate your feelings and key images from the poem.
  9. Never feel you have to restrict your artistic expression to just pencils or paints. How about illustrating your piece by making something out of clay or papier-mȃché? Or sewing? Take photos when you are finished and place those in your journal along with your writing.
  10. Round robin journaling. If you have a group of writer or artist friends, how about sharing journals? Have each participant start an art journal, then give or mail it to the next person on the list. In turn, the next person fills in a set number of pages, and then on it goes to the next person after that. At the end of the day (or year!) everyone will have a gorgeous and surprising new source of inspiration.
  11. Try this: a writing journal you will illustrate just with pencil drawing, another just for watercolor, another just for collage, etc. This is a good way to fully explore mediums and have handy references for larger paintings. And you might end up with some publishable short stories or poetry, all pre-illustrated and ready to go.
  12. Be sure to choose good journals: ones that take water, various types of inks, and are easy to stay open while you work. It can be disappointing to have buckled pages or find your artwork has bled through to the other side of the paper, thereby making it difficult to write or draw on the back of that page.
Tip of the Day: Still not sure where to start with a combined writing and art journal? How about joining The Sketchbook Project? Not only will you be provided with a sketchbook when you join, but the wealth of inspiration offered at the site will keep you motivated to fill up much more than just one book.

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