Before I go to put pen to paper, I tend to think about how I feel and how much it feels like I want to say on the page. I've been journaling for a long time so I generally have a good idea of how much I need to pour out onto the pages.
Some of my favorite ways to journal on a page after I've made art are:
1. Write down the sides of pages (see the left side of the page above.)
2. Journal on the focal image.
3. Journal around the focal image.
4. Journal in chunks around the page (see above where it says "Who am I and where am I really going?")
5. Journal and then paint or collage over what I wrote. Sometimes I'll let some words peek out. Sometimes I'll cover everything up (rarely do I do this. It has to be something that I am really, really worried about someone reading and that rarely happens.)
6. Write my words really fast and on top of each other. So, I'll write a word that looks like it's squished or written poorly. I'll write a whole sentence like this and then write the next sentence so it's partially on the one above. The more I write like this, *I* know what it says but someone reading it won't. (It's a great way to get it out and onto the page and it looks really cool, too.)
7. I play with my writing. I'll write cursive. I'll write in all lowercase. I print. Some days I'll think back to High School when I would play with my writing in the margins of my notebook and I'd write graffiti style, bubble letter style, etc...)
8. Play with the colors of the pens that I'm using. I tend to gravitate towards black and white pens but it is fun to use other colors to journal as well. If my page is dark (and I want my journaling to be read) I'll use a white color or something like a Souffle pen (writes great on dark pages) that will pop. If it's light (and I want my journaling to be read) I'll use a dark color (or colors) that can add to the page.
9. I'll write on tape on the page. I tend to use pens that are permanent for this like a Rapidosketch .35 with permanent black ink, a Latte pen, Sharpie waterbased paint pens, Sakura Glaze or Souffle pens (see my list of extensive list of pens here and my basic favorites here.)
10. I'll write on transparencies. I use the same pens as I do in #9.
11. I'll write across the whole page covering everything I glued or painted down.
12. I'll look at my page, not have a lot to "say" (write), hold it from a distance and try to figure out where it needs something added to it. I'll pick a color pen that will go well in that area.
The truth of the matter is that there isn't a space on my page where I won't write. It all depends on my mood, how much I want to say, how I think I want to write and the pen* (or pens) I am using. The key is to play with your pens, how you journal and how you approach your pages. The more you PLAY and the less you worry about perfect pages, the more it will start to click. When I'm done with a page, I always ask myself, "Have I said everything that I've wanted to say here?" if so, I consider it done and I move onto the next page.
Keep playing and experimenting. Don't worry about good or bad pages. Note what you like, what works for you and what you want to achieve. Look and see how others approach their pages. Use their ideas for jumping off points or for inspiration but see if you can get the ideas to work for you and make the pages in your style. (Yes, I am one of those teachers who thinks that it is GOOD and perfectly acceptable to copy others (after all, that's how the masters taught) but then there comes a point when you have to take what you've learned, practiced and experimented with and start to shape it into your own voice.)
Look for inspiration EVERYWHERE:
Journal pages of others.
CD (record!!!) covers
your own journals!
One of my favorite ways to encourage students to play with their writing is this:
Get a large brown paper bag and open it up (you can also use poster board, or any BIG paper.) Paint or collage the heck out of it. Don't go for ART just fill it up. Now get your pens and your paint brushes and ink and paint and whatever tools you have to write, doodle, draw or make marks with. EXPERIMENT. FILL the page with all different styles of writing and mark making. Now step back. It should look, um, interesting. DON'T THINK ABOUT IT. Let it dry. Take a photo (if you'd like) for a before and after shot. Now take a metal ruler and CUT IT UP. Yes, cut it up. See how different the pieces look cut up? Make copies and alter the copies. This is one of my favorite exercises in not only playing with pens, writing styles and tools but also in SEEING.
Play. Practice. Experiment. Don't give up. Push yourself. Keep at it. I was told by Nuns in grade school that I had the worst handwriting. That didn't stop me. For years I hated my writing in my journals. I played with how I wrote. I tried different pens and different ways of writing. Now I realize, my writing IS ME. It's MY MARK that no one else can duplicate. So razz anyone who makes you think differently!
*One last tip, if you are pen nut like me, limit your selections (as you work) and rotate what you have. This way you're not overwhelmed but you can try new pens, find your favorites and see what works for you!
2 years ago