Friday, January 23, 2009

Finding your voice

You know what I get tired of in this little community?



Pissing contests.


Come on.


Get off your fucking pedestal. Don't put your art on a fucking pedestal. Don't put artists on pedestals. Stop being so damn judgmental. It's a fucking journal page. Seriously.

This isn't to anyone in particular, btw. It's to *anyone* and *everyone* who has ever had any doubt-self imposed or thrust upon them by others. I was going to say something yesterday but needed time to soak it all in.

What do you use a journal for?

It's YOUR safe place. It can be a place to:
get it out and onto the page
-seriously all those cute little word stamps (dream, believe, create) totally apply to art journals.

Your art journal is for *you*. Who really and honestly gives a shit if someone else doesn't think it's "good enough". HELLO? IT'S A JOURNAL. It's not hanging in the fucking Louvre.




It ain't the Mona Fucking Lisa.

I highly doubt that Da Vinci sat down and worried if what he was putting in his books was "good enough". Seriously.

I had someone email me and tell me that a page the other day "just wasn't me" (uh, it was a simple page and it said what *I* wanted it to say). Uh, okay. I've had someone email me in the past saying that my shit looked like everyone else's shit (fuck you, I don't think so). Uh, okay. I've had people say absolute stupid STUPID shit to me that they would never want said to them nor would they say it to anyone else. I just stand there with my mouth open thinking "Really? REALLY? Did that person REALLY just say that?" Yup. Yes, they did.

I'm not tooting my own horn (or anyone else's horn here). I'm not just talking about MY experiences here 'cause I KNOW others have had 'em too. I'm just saying that a journal is your place to sit and expressive yourself-in whatever means you want, however you want, whenever you want (though I am a firm believer in daily journaling). It is *not* meant to be judged.

It has nothing NOTHING to do with how GOOD ANYONE is.

If I want to cut out an image, slap it down and write a few words around it and call it a page. If it says what I want it to say, it's a page. I don't need someone to email me and tell me that "it's someone else's image", it's not "original", it's not "you". If it friggin' says what I want it to say and I'm DONE WITH IT, I'm moving on. I want YOU to do the same thing as a journal keeper. As a journal artist.

Open up the page. Paint. Collage. Write. Do whatever makes you happy. Push the envelope. Try. Fail. Try again. Push push push. Play play play. Use your book to express YOU. Move on when you need to move on.

Stop looking at the shit in the magazines and comparing your work to it. It's NOT you. YOU are you. Seriously. You want your work to look like YOU made it. Not like someone else made it.

Someone tells you you're not "good enough". Screw 'em. Do a page about it and move on. You've got a journal to fill. You've got pages to play with. You have things to record. You have moments and thoughts and ideas to spill out.

Worried about what's gonna happen when you croak? Why? We all go through shit-good times and bad times. It's that sappy saying called a roller coaster of life. It's true though-up, down, we all ride it. People say "Oh, I don't want my kids to read this when I die." WHY? So they'll find out that Mom (or Dad) was a real, honest, unique person?? That Mom or Dad fucked up every now and then. That good things and bad things happen-TO ALL OF US. We share one common thing: we're all human. Get over it. Write it in your journal. Someone reads it and gets pissed. Screw them-your journal is YOUR book. Not theirs. If they read it, that's THEIR problem. NOT YOURS.

It's your book.

It's for you.

Don't ever forget that.

Go make something and don't look back.


Laurel said...

Amen, sistah! Love you and your work and your honesty - the world could use more of it! There will always be foolish people who act unkindly - just think of how unpleasant it must be to live in that kind of mind! That's their own internal punishment.

Unknown said...

Hi Kelly,
As you were writing, I had the big boss in the room for my yearly eval.I am good enough, thank g-d. Actually, I'm damn good...Even if my eval form has nothing next to the "committees" I'm in section. "Amen" on your post.
On another note-GOOD NEWS! A Dutch company is taking over production of Polaroid film. Heard it on NPR this morning if you want more info.

GoodchefT said...


I'm just concerned my dog is gonna slobber on my journals and chew them :)

You make very good points Kelly.

Anonymous said...

This always goes around and around...seems like every person has had these thoughts once or twice. Although I admit, I've never thought that I didn't want anyone to read mine when I die....I was hoping people would read it when I die. lol

BE HONEST...with yourself...and everyone else.

Amanda said...

Very well said. I once had a boyfriend, who is now an ex, tell me once that I wasn't an artist I was more of a craft person. It really hurt me at the time until I realized he's a fucking asshole who had no idea what he was talking about. You go girl!

crimsoncat05 said...

yes, very well said. I admit, sometimes I have those "my stuff will NEVER look like X" or "I can't do something that good" moments... When I DO have those moments, I realize it's time to stay off of Flickr, stop blog-surfing, stop reading the Stampington mags (for a while, anyway- LOL!)... I have to stop comparing MY stuff to anyone else's, and go make some art of my own.

scaredymama said...


Anonymous said...

Rock on, woman! Superb post!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kelly,
We haven't been in contact for a while but it's great to see that you're still out there creating . . . and of course, you're absolutely right.

I got the link to your blog via Twitter (thanks to ArtbyChrysti)-- I'm glad to "see" you again online.

Kim (Nickens)

Barb Smith said...

I've gotten those notes/emails/comments, too. Asking if I was trying to be like this person or that person, trying to copy their style? NO, NO, NO!!! I do look at other peoples work in their journals...I enjoy seeing the art and reading the thoughts/feelings of the artist but I don't look to copy. WTF are people who critique your innermost thoughts/art like that thinking? Geez!

I guess I was just taking the long way around to get to the point of saying YOU GO, GIRL! I love your pages and the parts of yourself that you share through them...keep up the awesome work!

Peace & Love,

Sandy said...

You go girl! I loved your post. I too have gotten those emails and questions the past almost year now. People who just don't understand. They are really close minded.

I love your work, I love your honesty and how you put it out there on paper. That's what makes it you, that you created it, not how it looked or what style you chose that day. I do all types of journaling. I don't have a particular style.

I gave up caring what anyone thought of me a long time ago, I was raised that way by a wonderful woman, my Mom. And good for you for not letting them get to you.

Angelika Westermann said...

Okaaaaaay, I get the message. Boy, but I thought you were not supposed to use these words....
I wish I had you say these words several years earlier! My inner critic has been very loud for years and years, and since my husband is a mathematician he has not much to say in this region of interest. The world has been a very lonesome place before I found the internet and a plethora of friends and artists out there.
Love, love, love your class!

Judy Shea said...

Um hello? What are these people talking about anyway... I have one word.. JEALOUSY.... I have watched my friend, Raine, (i know you know her) evolve since she took your class at Inky's and man, just BEAUTIFUL books.. really.. Bravo to you, Kelly! Pish, pish on the rest of them.

Renee said...


So well said. Loud and clear.

I get that so many times with my writing, where someone gets hurt and it isn't about them (currently writing a post about this).

I know I will die probably sooner than later and I always tell my family that when they look at my journals just to remember if I hate them one day, keep reading, because I will love them the next.

You inspire Kelly.

Love Renee

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I just LOVE YOU!!! I'm glad you said all of that. A long time ago, before I even knew who you were, someone (who shall remain nameless because I don't know her name) told me she didn't care for your work because it's too "messy" (and I am paraphrasing here). And that's when I said "sign me up" because I knew that if it was "messy" that it was REAL. I started three new journals this for each of my nieces and my nephew. I was just going to write letters in them, but I know better. Those kids will know how cool Aunt Tray really was someday because I was REAL in my journal pages.

And that's all of the babbling you'll get from me today! mwah!

Joy Logan said...

I get so few viewers on my blog I don't have this worry! I have such personal art journals I dare not post mine,lol. I do love yours Kelly for their looseness and being you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, and here I was going to say that I picked up the latest Somerset on Art Journaling and I was sure surprised not to see you and Teesha in the credits. There were so many pages that looked like your stuff.

On the topic of other people reading... there are some things I paint over - just cause I don't want to have to edit out what I need to vent over and people do look at my journals occasionally - and I really don't want to deal with the fallout when they read how I REALLY felt the last time they unloaded on me. ;-)

Seriously, Kells, I love your stuff. Even when I don't agree with you, I love that you make me think and how you integrate the most disparate elements into your unique voice. Keep it up!

Long Black Eyelahes said...

Kelly, you are the one that got me journaling and i love it, and i love how you share yours with us, just wave bye bye to those people(with 5 fingers, not 1)and you keep on doing what you are doing, your blog is still my all time favorite!

Zom said...


Anonymous said...

Good to hear that :)

(just one silly question *at least, I'm aware it is a f**** silly question* but I'm a real beginner... where do you find those awsome pictures you put in your journal ? I pick up some magazines, print sometimes from things found on the internet... but I don't find those kind of "spiritual" pictures (this lotus hit me so much!)

Have a nice week-end Kelly :)

Anonymous said...

That was so much fun to read!
I love drama and intensity. Guess it comes from being raised in Italy and working with Italians.
I think I'll go through paint and words around right now!

Kelly Kilmer said...

Thanks all of you for the echoes!!
I'm so happy it resonates with many of you :)

Nolwenn-I actually "collect" images of lotus. There are just certain things that stick with me that I love-hands, lotus, feet/shoes, hearts, birds, etc... I always recommend going to the bookstore and making a big pile of magazines to go through :) Also used bookstores, new age stores, etc...
Grab a camera,too and visit a local garden, etc... :)

Ricë said...

great vent/great rant! it needs to be said. someone posted a comment on my video about Simple Journal Page backgrounds and said it was "basic and childish--bleh" and i had to comment: journal page backgrounds = not rocket science. geez. if people are taking this stuff this seriously, what are they doing with the big stuff, the life-and-death stuff? yiiiii.

FarStarr said...

Yeah Kelly!
How can anyone tell us what should and shouldn't be in our personal journals??!!
Keep it up!

Mary S. Hunt said...

what a voice!..
well said

some people totally don't get 'it'
they never will
and not worth worrying over
as a whole we are doing what we can to encourage and inspire...those who are following along and are on the same page will benefit..those that are like you and eveyone made comment on
simply won't.


Susan Stokinger said...

Kelly, I have to laugh because all I wanted to add was Amen, sister and I see Laurel beat me to it. I am just beginning to find my voice and I will take that advice to heart. Plus, fxxx em if they can't take a joke. Later. Susan

Purrplekatt said...

Wow, what an awesome post!

I know my pages aren't anywhere near what people consider perfect, but I never much cared (what they thought) and it infuriates me to no end when I hear others say they are even afraid to start journaling because they aren't good enough. Next time I see that posted anywhere I'm going to refer them to this post!

Christy said...

I have the flu and have been in bad sick so I am just now seeing this post and all of the comments. Kelly you crack me up. You are a superstar for all that you do and especially for standing up to the idiots who try to bully you. In my world I just hit the delete key. But I always do a journal page about it so I can let it go. I would agree with one commenter who said the people leaving comments or sending you messages with silly 'opinions' are more than likely just jealous. Keep up the GREAT work!

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, and yes. My pages are for me. I'm glad if you like them, but I'm not upset if you don't!

Stampmaiden said...

Kelly, while reading your post all I kept thinking was "AMEN sista!" and "man, I've got to comment those words now" and then I get here and see there are a few that beat me to it! LOL! I read your blog a little late though so maybe I'll be the last to write "AMEN SISTA!" and keep doing what you do. I love it and no matter what you do it's "A Kelly" period! or exclamtion point. LOL!

Kristin Wilkinson said...

Yee-Haw!!!! I love it when someone has ovaries big enough to tell it like it is! Notice I didn't say balls big enough? That's because we're WOMEN and it's our ovaries that give us the guts to stand up and say SCREW YOU and get off your soap box! and, I for one am tired of people telling me I've got balls cuz I don't, obviously. ;) BRAVO for you. now get back out there and make another journal page!!!!!!

Kathy McElroy said...

I love the way you think. You go girl. I'm with you 100%. Someone had to say. It's about time. I feel the same way. I am me and what I do is my expression of who I am. Get with it or get over it. You rock!

Melissa said...

Uh, wow. No, I mean WOW! You shared much wisdom here. Thank you.

My fav part though....that you cursed. Ha! I just love that. I don't curse on my blog, but in real life...I'm a total potty mouth and very proud of it.

~Magick on Sister~

Anonymous said...

Lotus is one of the thing that catches immediatly my eyes :) Thanks a lot for your sincere answer.

Have a nice day/week ;)

Karen said...

Woo Hoo - I completely agree! I can be critical enough of my own stuff - I don't need (or WANT) any help! I find it arrogant and condescending. thanks for the rant - I'm totally feeling it!

Anonymous said...

How refreshing that someone with an opinion shares it! You go, Kelly. I couldn't agree with you more on this topic. It's amazing sometimes what people will say. I don't think they intend to be mean spirited. They just don't think.

Anonymous said...


I am re-visiting you after Rice Freeman Zachary mentioned this post in her similar rant.

I just wanted to say thank you for being who you are. Yours is one of the first artist blogs that I visited. There was no superiority with you but encouragement to play, to experiment. That is what I want to be for others as well.

I bought neocolours from you, probably 2 years ago. They are still going strong and I am using them with a group of highschool students now that I am passing on the encouragement and permission I have received. There is no right or wrong or better and best ... there is just who we are and the mark that we make.


Anonymous said...

thank you Kelly! I can't believe people can be so rude and immature-I know I've not posted pages because they weren't 'good enough" but I'm trying to get over that-I do this for me, it makes me feel better, it's therapeutic. I used to keep journals years ago (written journals) and I threw them all out so nobody would get hurt-I'd like to have them back to read them again-I would give anything to have a journal from my grandma....
take care and I look forward to signing up for your next class as soon as I can:)

Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! That's to be put into a pipe and smoked... you go girl...


Cindy Ericsson said...

"It's your book. It's for you." So true. The last time I checked, I had not entered a juried journal competition. I have many more important things to do, like putting what I want in my journal. And occasionally sharing that with other people who play nice. And getting to see what you and others choose to share. Thanks!

donna joy said...

well said! a journal should reflect us-not copy everyone else. that's what makes it our journal-

Kristy C said...

Kelly-this is an awesome post! Amen!