What have you been avoiding in your art journal?
I am already super behind in Andrea Schroeder’s Creative Emergence e-course and I have been feeling a lot of resistance towards sitting down with my art journal and digging in to it.
It is always hard to get started with new creative projects when something is new. It is all so unknown; you fear the blank page. But what else is going on? What is the real reason behind your resistance?
For me, I can tell you that I am afraid of making mistakes. I have always been this way. Every time I get a phone call from an unknown number or I get approached by a colleague at work, I automatically get a violent pull of my stomach as it twists itself into knots: what have I done wrong now?
Journaling of any kind – written or creative – can be confronting. Each time we start a new page, we are inviting our greatest fears to bubble up to the surface so we can acknowledge their presence. It is no easy feat.
So it is not surprising that we feel resistance towards the process of opening ourselves up. It is much easier to ignore it and live in denial. Sweep the negative thoughts and feelings under the carpet and just get on with life. That has been my method of survival for many years. But that’s it – it is SURVIVAL; a way to get through each day. I wasn’t living, only merely existing.
We want more than to just survive our days. We want to grow and flourish! We want to get the most out of every moment we have on this planet and we want to create and LIVE our best life ever. Life is too short for only ensuring our survival. There is so much more to life than that.
Your art journal INKSPIRATION: Starting out with the neutral background
I got this idea from Samie Harding’s e-book Going Further: Finding Yourself in Creative Art Journaling. Samie states that “she started creating these as a way to get away from the Fear of the Blank Journal Page.” They are easy to make and can work if you want to prepare for future pages before you add paint and they also provide a great multi-layered look that Samie swears by. So, I decided to give it a go, to see if creating simple a neutral background would help me ease my fears.
Here is what happened:
I tore a page from an old book I got from an op-shop and placed the scraps of words on the page randomly along with pieces of page music and a map. The scraps of paper need to be neutral, with little colour but look for paper that has interesting shapes and textures.
I glued down the scraps of paper and spread a thin layer of gesso over the pages. Gesso is a white, paint-like substance that can be used for prepping the pages in your art journal. It is useful if your journal has thinner paper or paper that doesn’t respond well to water and inks as it provides a water-resistant surface that has a bit of texture.
Sammie suggests that once you have left the gesso to dry (or if you are impatient dry it with a hair-dryer like me!), you can add thin splashes of colour. I decided to use a thin layer of a yellow-green acrylic paint and then I applied a reddy watercolour wash with another layer of gesso/white paint to complete.
As you can see, my neutral background now is not just a blank page: it has layers, texture and different patterns and shapes that pop out from under the paint with colour here and there.
At this stage, I felt like I had broken through the block that had been holding back from creating and I continued on with some stencil play and darker colours to provide a contrast.
The layers are still peeking through…
I added another layer of gesso.
And more stencilled hearts with white paint over the top to create even more texture.
I got happy with my spray inks and let the colours drip drip drip down the page.
And I just continued creating on into the evening…
I added another layer on top of the second page – some printed pictures of myself and a self-portrait that I had drawn the day before. I gessoed again and then doodled on top of it, letting my pen take over.
When I look back at the pictures now and see the transformation of my blank pages, I feel so happy about how they turned out and that I managed to find a way to break through the block. Yes, they are not perfect: I think I over-did them a bit and I’m annoyed that I can’t really see the page music and the map through the layers. But overall, I like them. I created them and they mean something to me.
You can do it too!
Next time you are stuck and feel hopelessly blocked – try the neutral background and see where it leads you 🙂