"Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything." Eugene Delacroix
I often hear from a lot of people who've never kept a journal before (or who have only been keeping one for a short period of time, or who dabble in it but aren't faithful) mourn that their work isn't "very good". A few thoughts on that-
It's something that takes practice and time. Your journal is a perfect place to crack open a new set of paints, or a favorite pen, or your glue stick and ask yourself, "What if?" Don't judge. Don't worry. Try something on a page or two, finish it and turn the page. Move on. Don't look back. Go back to it in a week or a month and see what you can pull from the page.
There's a current trend to make journal pages "perfect". With this current trend, comes the feeling that people think that they can do something once (or twice, or even a few times) and have it come out SHINING and PERFECT and FABULOUS the first time.
That's not true.
"There is no such thing as talent. What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way." Winslow Homer
I'm all about the WORK. You have to do the WORK. You have to put in TIME. You have to put in ENERGY. You have to sit down and DO IT. Some people get this. Others don't. You also have to WANT to do this. Don't keep a journal because you think it's a current trend. Do it because it's a yearning pull in your gut. It's an inside voice that says that you HAVE to do this.
Some want it easy. They want an easy way to make a journal page that they'll love. That they can send to Big Name Magazine and that Big Name Magazine will fawn over and publish. It's not about that. It ain't that easy. It's not about publishing. It's not about being fawned over. It's about staying true to yourself. Staying true to your voice. It's about hard work. It's about passion. It's about asking questions. It's about experience and documenting a life, your life.
"Every good painter paints what he is." Jackson Pollock
Some use paint. Some use paper. Some use both. Some use pens. Some use fabric. Find the medium-not one that you like, but one that you LOVE. Find a medium that makes your heart skip a beat when you see it AND when you create it. Don't try it once. Do it again and again and again. Rinse and repeat as I say. Ask yourself, "What happens if I do this?" "Shit, this didn't work, what happens if I try it this way...but hey, look-I did learn that I could do this even though what I had in mind didn't work." Push yourself. Push harder next time.
"Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life." Henry Miller
Which brings me to another thing...don't have something in mind and expect it to come out perfect. Having something in mind is fine. Perfection is not. Journaling is about two things-
Experimentation-having a safe place to try something out
Documentation-having a safe place to express yourself
"They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my reality."
So, how do you get there? How do you start?
"When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college- that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?" Howard Ikemoto
You start by working. You pick up your medium of choice. You crack open the book and you start. You WORK. You work forward. Don't look back. Don't judge. Don't compare. Don't say, "Shit! My work isn't looking like Big Artist so I must be no good." Don't EVER let that Evil Inner Critic Voice in. There is no room for her now. There is only room for you and for the WORK you are doing. PLAY. Play hard. Work hard. Push yourself. Finish a page. Yay! Turn it and work on the next page. Don't judge. Don't stop. Keep pushing.
"The artist need not know very much; best of all let him work instinctively and paint as naturally as he breathes or walks." Emil Nolde
Limit yourself to a few colors, papers and pens. Limit your choices. It will make it easier.
Ask yourself at the end of every page, "Am I done? Does it feel like I've said all that needed to be said?" Don't concern yourself with good or bad. Just answer that question.
The more you work, the more it will click. You will realize what colors you like, what your symbols and favorite imagery are to use. You will learn what you like. You will learn to push yourself.
"The best reason to paint is that there is no reason to paint...I'd like to pretend that I've never seen anything, never read anything, never heard anything...and then make something...Every time I make something I think about the people who are going to see it and every time I see something, I think about the person who made it....Nothing is important...so everything is important." Keith Haring
I don't have anything to say. Oh hell, yes you do. You can make a journal page about ANYTHING.
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."
Make a page about something-anything that happened today. Did you eat something that tasted good? Did you hear something that made you happy or angry? Did something spectacular happen or was it an ordinary day? Did you recall a moment from your past? Are you thinking about the future? Did you see a color combination in a catalog or shop window that you want to try with paint, paper or fabric? Did you take a photograph that you want to paste in your book? You see, there is always something to journal about.
So, if it calls from the heart, do it. Keep at it. Do the work and don't give up. When you start to fall in love with what you are doing, when you are okay with things, then you can look back. Then you can ask questions and see what worked and what didn't work. Don't tear things out. Leave them in. They are documents and windows into glimpses of your life. The pages in your books are moments of your life that you've captured and held tightly onto. Don't let them go.
"I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say 'he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.' " Vincent Van Gogh
2 years ago