Art Journaling is good for you! In this post, I want to share with you the benefits of regular art journaling and why I love it!
I have always been a dabbler in art, an artistic dabbler, putter of paint on paper. But only recently, in the last 5 years or so and with YouTube becoming ever more popular I have found so much inspiration between the pages of some of the most amazing Art Journalers on YouTube, that it has become an almost daily ritual for me. And I, to be honest, I think I am a better person for it. I will give you links to some of my favorites at the end of the Blog, so keep reading.
For the absolute beginners, what is an Art Journal you may ask? Well, it is very much like your traditional journal where you would write your thoughts, emotions, memories, daily reminders, free thoughts, etc, just in an art journal you can do this with paint, pencils, inks, pastels, paper cut-outs. Basically whatever takes your fancy. It can be as plain or as complex as you want to make it.
There are so many known benefits to Art Journaling, so the list below and my thoughts on them are definitely not an exhaustive list.
Art Journaling is good for Stress Release.
Think of it as an automatic un-wind and calm down button. The act of being creative in whatever medium tickles your fancy, falling down the rabbit hole of putting paint to paper, sketching, cutting images that speak to you out of your favorite magazine and putting them on a page, takes you away from what is occupying your mind and brings you to the present. You drift off somewhere between your breaths and just let go. I guarantee you, you will feel your shoulders drop from where they were hunched up to your ears and you will be smiling.
Art Journaling is Therapeutic
For people that have a little more on their plate than just everyday stresses, art journaling is a wonderful way to express your emotions, work through things that have you anxious, depressed or overwhelmed. Art Journaling is safe, it is just for you. You can literally let it all hang out on your journal pages. You can fill your pages with written journaling, get it all out and then cover those words up with layers of paint and pictures. It is an amazing way of turning something negative into a positive. It can be as dark and brooding or as light and airy as you want it to be. Your pages will never judge, they will never criticize, there are no limits in your Art Journal because it is yours. Only you see it.
Art Journaling is good for cognitive brain function and memory
No matter what age we are as adults we have those days where we walk into a room and have no idea why we are there…… this happens to me far too often.
Research has shown that regular art practice benefits fine motor skills, creativity, and emotional balance. It increases the serotonin levels in the body, it helps you with focus and concentration, but I think the biggest thing is that it gives you a platform to learn new things, to experiment and play. It makes you excited about life because you start seeing things differently, through an 'artists eye' and those inspiring images you see have a direct impact on your health and well-being.
Art Journaling can re-acquaint you with your Inner Child
Remember the days when you could play, run around, make friends and do things without a care in the world. Far too often nowadays we either self-criticize, or we worry about criticism from others. Gone are the days of doing something just because it brought you joy!
Well, you can be that 6-year-old kid again in your art journal. Finger paint, paint funky make-believe animals, draw unicorns, create imaginary worlds from cut out magazine images….and why not, it's your journal! Remember the freedom and joy! You can keep a visual diary of all your best moments
Keeping a record of your memories is a wonderful way of connecting back to how the memory made you feel, who was there, what you were doing. 'But I can't draw a stick figure!', you say. It's your art journal, stick figures are great too! You can print out some of the millions of photo's on your phone, cut them out and stick them to a painted background. You can experiment with actually drawing something from scratch and adding a quote that reminds you of the day. Whatever it is, however you want to record the memory, every time you look back at that page it will take you back to that place and time.
Here are some of the reasons why I Art Journal (besides and maybe in addition to the reasons listed above)
Yup, as clichéd as it sounds 'Practice makes perfect', okay maybe perfect is not the aim here. But practice definitely makes you more comfortable with the act of creating. You will definitely improve, you will find your style, you will experiment and try new things. There is nothing better than if you have found an artist you like and you take inspiration from them and with practice, you can honestly say that you like what you have created. Practice also build a habit and a creative habit is ALWAYS a good thing.
I'm hearing that 'But I can't draw a stick figure!' again. Art Journaling is simple. It's about being imperfect, it's about making a mess, it's about turning the page on something you really don't like because you can. It's as simple as taking a piece of paper (any paper) and a pencil and making marks on it. Whatever marks you want to, however they speak to you. This flows nicely into my next reason.
Let me re-phrase that. It's as cheap as you want to make it. Don't get me wrong nice art supplies can seriously make a huge dent in your bank balance, but they don't have to. For those of us that are either starting out or are just doing this because it brings us joy, inexpensive is just as good. One of my first Art Journals was two Home Décor magazines that I bound together and put a cool cover on - ala Dede Willingham, and what I loved about that journal was that there were no blank pages. You could cover over them, you could add to them, whatever took you fancy.
The other books I use for Art Journals are Thrift Store books / Vintage Books that are on their way to being thrown out. A little gesso on a page and you are good to go. I started with inexpensive craft or acrylic paints, colored pencils and a set of brushes. Sometimes have less stuff is better, because you don't get stuck trying to figure out what you want to play with today.
Face it, a lot of us have never considered picking up a paintbrush or pencil to paint or draw because we have never thought we were good enough. You see all these amazing artworks on social media and think, 'there is no way I can do that!'. Well, you don't need to, just the act of putting a mark on paper or canvas can be considered art.
We are all too caught up in having to be perfect that we forget to have fun. Art Journaling is just that, FUN! There should be nothing serious about art journaling, it should be messy and imperfect. And because it's your safe space, you can do anything you want.
Literally anything goes. Art Journaling is not just painting or sketching, it can be collage, mixed media, slow stitching, fabric art, you name it, you can do it. I can see some of you reading this and going….collage…..mixed media…..huh! The beginners' version of collage is cutting out pictures you like from your favorite magazines and gluing them down in an interesting way - lookup 'Glue Books' on YouTube. (Some of my favorites are: Gayle Agonstinelli, KagedFish) and mixed media is mixing all sorts of art mediums in one piece, so you can use acrylic paints, pencils, magazine images, and fabric to name a few. One of my absolute favorites for mixed media is Tiff from SouthernGalDesigns. I just love her way of playing in her Art Journals with whatever she has on hand on the day. And she is never scared to try new things or make a piece that turns out not how you imagined it but it's beautiful anyway.
So I challenge you to find an old notebook, a reading book, get hold of your kids paints and colored pencils or buys some really cheap ones, a stick of glue and some scissors and start creating!! I can promise you that once you have created that first page, even if it's just a couple of random scribbles, it feels so amazing that you will want to do another one and another one.
Just let yourself be six years old again and do art because it's FUN!
I promised a list of my favorites, so here they are -
☆ how to art journal ☆ - Jordan Clark
a guide to art journaling! - Brianna Collins
Anything by Dede Willingham