While driving on the highway the other morning, I looked out at the horizon, and I saw a big hill, way off in the distance. It instantly reminded me of the hills of Pacifica, California, where I lived for three months a few years ago. Pacifica holds a lot of significance for me, and I always get emotional when I think of it because it represents happy times with my husband. We are no longer together, but Pacifica causes me to remember how he loved me then. It is very special to me.
Anyway, when I saw the hill, I thought that I could somehow create an art journal entry inspired by the hills of Pacifica and everything that all means to me. I opened up to a spread in my journal which was all white except for a small rectangle that I had already stitched. I proceeded to dampen some of the paper and then I painted with watercolor. After the paint dried, I added some epherma- a print out of a map of Pacifica, and a doodle my brother had done once.
After I added them, I looked at the overall spread and felt... lost. I thought... should I write something? Maybe add another image? Or should I stamp a design? Perhaps more collage? I considered carefully the hills I had painted... I could write over them... that would look cool. But, I didn't want to cover them too much. They are the pivitol part of the spread, and I liked how they look.
That's when it happened. I realized that I was looking at this journal spread as art; as meaningful, as an evokative piece representing my lost love and all that implies, and I
I told myself what I had read in book after book, blog after blog, even heard on countless youtube videos... "your art journal is a place to play. Don't take it too seriously."
Well, after I told myself that... guess what? I stopped working on the piece. I felt as though I'd lost something, lost some significance. Once I told myself to "stop taking it seriously," the art I had been making (a beautiful yet sad tribute to a very important time of my life) stopped mattering to me.
AND THAT IS WRONG. OH, SO VERY WRONG.
I had let others (who create fantastic art journals, by the way) dictate to me how to approach my creativity. Not that they didn't mean well! But... everyone is different. I even once read that a journal is an ideal place to work out ideas for later, larger works. After all, several famous artists had art journals specifically for that purpose. Which is great... for them.
But think about it... why should our art journals be places just to play around, test new techniques, mess with different materials, work out ideas for larger work?
Why can't your art journal BE the piece you are creating, all heart and soul, coffee drippings and pen-ink words blurred with your tears as you're creating beautiful, passionate ART from your gut?
It can. Because it's yours. And that's the entire point of an art journal, after all, isn't it? To be to you what you need it to be, regardless of what it may be for someone else?
I realized something today. Since I began art journaling on Valentine's Day 2012, I have been trying to create what I see in books and on youtube. And, while these resources are invaluable for inspiration, they are by no means the standard. The same goes for the creator's ideas about their own art journals- great for inspiration, but not the standard. There is no standard. It is whatever you want it to be. Sometimes it is good to throw caution to the wind and just scribble with a crayon, lost in bliss, letting your hand create whatever it wants. And sometimes, it is OK to open your journal and create your proudest piece to this date. Art does not need to be on a primed canvas atop an easel to be art. Your ART JOURNAL CAN BE YOUR ART, not just a place to play or test new materials/techniques.
The more I learn, the more I grow, the freer I become :)
Oh, and this piece is not finished yet!