Why Keep an Art Journal

There are many different reasons why people choose to keep an art journal.  For me it’s mainly because it helps me to unwind and makes me feel a bit more productive enjoying an evening watching TV but it’s also about practising and sharpening up my skills.  I find that when I don’t draw for a while I’m not as good at really observing things.  Plus it allows me to experiment with new techniques or new pens, etc.

Reading through the various websites and blogs that talk about journaling there are a load of other reasons why people make this a regular practice ……

  • Sharpening Skills: Some use it simple as a tool to improve their drawing skills; capture ideas for a bigger art project or to experiment and it is a great tool for all of these. Getting into the practice of drawing daily will help you sharpen your skills and drawing a subject from different angles, at different times or day or focusing in on different points will force you to really look at and understand a subject before you paint.

One of the websites I was reading recently reminded me that the gridline approach can help when copying from a picture so I thought I’d give it a try and used it to recreate an image of a hydrant I photographed in San Francisco

Grid lines

  • Emotional Expression: people also use journaling to work through more difficult emotional issues – journaling can help with emotional expression, fear, anger, guilt or shame can be damaging emotions and channelling these onto the pages of a journal can help focus the mind and work through issues.  It’s a way of giving a voice to your thoughts which can be very powerful.
  • Self awareness is also another reason why some journal – admitting to yourself what you really want in terms of your goals and wishes can give you focus.
  • Managing Stress: Many people use creativity to work through trauma or stress, it can give a voice to things that are difficult to verbalise or can support more meditative practices.  At the most basic level it can force you to focus your mind on the present and has the effect of slowing things down giving you time to think more clearly.
  • Just because you enjoy it: some keep an art journal simply because they enjoy the process and want time and a place to be creative.  I like creating little children’s character – I know it’s a bit childish and I don’t usually share them but it keeps me entertained.

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