It's Art Journal Conversation time, the third wednesday of the month! i love that i get to have conversations with some of my favorite "art journalers." i am just as curious as you are about their styles. So let's pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and chat with them about their process, supplies, and their thoughts on what goes onto their pages.
I met Andrea a while ago through Maya Road. i have been a guest designer for her a few times on the Paper Crafter's Library blog. i noticed something she had posted over there and was completely drawn in. Then i went in search of her personal blog and loved what i was seeing. She experiments a lot in her journals and i love that she writes out her creative process or thoughts on the opposite page. i think you will enjoy those too! Andrea also has a great feature on her site called Art Journal Express, a video tutorial where she shares her creative art journal process. Let's Chat with Andrea!
Do you art journal every day? If so, what time of day works best for you?
I wish I was able to art journal everyday! I'm at a very hectic stage in life right now. My husband travels a lot which means I have to shoulder the bulk of the load at home - running our 5 kids to and from activities, taking care of my 94 year old grandpa who lives with us, and trying to manage an online business. We're very blessed to have a live-in nanny who helps with the household chores - but even with her help I find that time is really scarce, and prioritizing is essential. Unfortunately I can’t always rationalize art journaling as a priority LOL!
Because I own a creative business, in a typical week I will spend time pretty much every weekday creating something - but it's usually something that relates to my business - which although still fun, isn’t really for “me”. Of course depending on my deadlines, some weeks I have more time to create "just for me" - and when that happens, the first place I turn to is my art journal. So there could be weeks where I art journal almost every day, and other weeks where I am not able to art journal at all. I would probably have to say though that on average, I probably art journal once or twice a week.
I find that my best time for art journaling is in the early afternoon - when my essential tasks for the day are done, and before the kids come home from school. That's usually when I am most relaxed.
How do you typically start your art journal pages? Does your process change?
I have a little "routine" I like to follow when I am getting ready to art journal. I tend to be a messy artist/paper crafter - so by the time I am finished working on something, stuff is everywhere - covering all my tables and sometimes even in baskets on the floor. I rarely clean up that mess at the end of my creative session because usually by then I've either run out of time or I'm simply too tired. Of course then when I'm ready to create again I'm faced with a big mess - and there's nothing that I find more stressful than sitting down to create and having to dig through piles and baskets to find what I want.
Because I know myself so well in this regard, I always set aside time at the beginning of an art journaling session to get my space ready. I clear my desk - putting everything away in it's "home" and set out my newsprint. Once that is done, I make myself a latte, turn on some music and pull out a selection of products that I think I want to work with.
I then prep my part journal by adding a layer of gesso to my page.
It may sound unusual, but I find that going through this routine “centers” me - it’s almost meditative. I am a classic Type A personality, a perfectionist, very analytical, and an overthinker - which can really get in the way of the creative process. My biggest struggle as an artist has been to put aside my self-critic and learn to identify and follow my creative intuition. My routine seems to help me in this process.
While my routine stays the same, how I approach each art journal page changes, because I art journal for many different reasons. I art journal when I need to process thoughts, emotions or particular experiences I am struggling with. I art journal to stretch myself creatively. I art journal to try out new products, and I art journal when I am learning new techniques.
How important is the journaling part of the process? What makes it significant?
If I’m art journaling because I’m trying to process thoughts and emotions, then the actual journaling part is very important for me. So in these instances, when I have a lot on my mind, I will use a technique I call journal spilling. I start by just writing - or “spilling” my thoughts onto the page - whatever is in my mind and in my heart.
I will then apply my mediums and layers on top of my journaling. Usually by the time I’m done, very little (sometimes nothing) of what I wrote is actually visible - and that’s the way I like it because it’s my way of saying I dealt with the issue, got it off my heart and it’s now time to put it into the past and move on. I typically like to finish off those pages with a quote, a Scripture or a sentiment that positively speaks to whatever I was struggling with.
Those kinds of pages are my most significant pages because when those issues or emotions crop up again I will often go back to that page - look at it, absorb the message - and use it as a reminder and as encouragement.
When leaning new techniques, stretching my creative muscles or playing with new products then the journaling per se isn’t part of the process - or at least not in the same way as I described above. Each page I create though, does have a central meaning or message which I may condense in a single word or sentence on the page.
What's your best advice to someone who is just getting starting to Art Journal?
Be gentle on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Challenge yourself creatively and know that you can’t grow creatively unless you step out of your comfort zone. Let go. Have fun. Create and grow at your own pace. Accept yourself and your way of learning and creating.
Art is something I came into later in life. When I first discovered the world of mixed media and art journaling it was love at first sight. But it took a couple of years before I gathered up the courage to actually try it. For a good part of my life I had yearned to be creative but strongly believed that I was creatively challenged. But I was determined. So I took classes - LOTS of classes - in person and online. I read magazines, I bought books. I practiced and practiced and practiced.
Through this process I learned a few things about myself. I much prefer online classes to in person classes. When I am in class, I feel very self-conscious and cannot relax. My muse is silent. I spend way too much time looking at what everyone else is doing and feeling as though what I am doing is no where near as good. Even to this day I feel the most creative freedom when I am alone in my studio.
I also learn best by emulating or “copying”. As I follow along with what the teacher is demonstrating (or as close as I can), I become comfortable with mediums and techniques. Once I achieve that level of comfort, it feels more natural to me to start experimenting and playing. Eventually my own style with that technique starts to emerge.
Three of the pages that I shared with you today are what I call “learning” pages. The woman’s face was something I drew while working my way through one of Willowing’s online classes. The “darkest night” page I created as part of one of Mindy Lacefield’s online classes - you can see a little picture of the original which I glued into my journal on the left hand page. The “She Held His Heart in Her Hands” page is one in which I employed techniques I learned from Mindy’s class, but brought in a little of my own style as well.
The last piece of advice I would give is not to worry about finding your own style. It will eventually come. I honestly don’t know if I can still truly say I have found my signature “style” - I still spend a lot of time learning and experimenting, and incorporating the “styles” of artists I admire into my own artwork.
How do you know when the page is finished?
I’m not sure that I can really explain how I know when a page is finished. It’s more of a feeling. When a page “feels” done, then I’m done. I still have a few pages in my art journals which feel incomplete to me, but because I’m not sure what else the page is saying, I leave them be until they are ready to be finished.
What types of Journals do you use? Purchased, homemade, or other? Why do you favor the kind you use?
I have used all types of journals - both homemade and purchased. I would have to say that right now my favourite journal to work in is the Dylusions journals. For the last year I have been working in the large journal. I like the weight of the pages - they stand up to a lot of mediums and a lot of layers without buckling. I also like that the journal expands nicely. And I just love the size of the page.
I always journal on the right side of the page and then use the left side for notes on the mediums I used as well as processes so that if I ever want to apply any of the colors or techniques onto other mixed media pieces I remember what I did and used.
I am an avid paper crafter, art journaler and mixed media artist with a passion for teaching, sharing and inspiring others towards creativity. For the last 10 years I have taught paper crafter’s around the world through in-person and online classes, digital tutorials, kits and now through my current online business - Paper Crafter’s Library. I share my life with my husband Todd, 5 children (6, 8, 11, 14 and 16), my 94 year old Grandpa and our dog Ginger. When not working I enjoy date nights with my husband, spending time with the kids, traveling and exploring, art journaling, reading, cooking and working out at the gym.
What words gave you inspiration?
Have you ever tried out a person's style in your art journal?
If you could sit down with Andrea, what question would you ask her?