For as long as I can remember, I have loved to paint. One of my earliest creative memories is playing with finger paints. The feel of it squishing between my fingers is as vivid to me now as it was then. I found as much pleasure and enjoyment from the velvety smooth textures as I did from my ability to create abstract images on the page.
While the images in my head were never mirrored as well on the page, I still persisted. I revelled in the process and spent equal time preparing my artistic space as actually painting.
Then I discovered doodling. Much to my Mom’s dismay, I tended to focus my talents on the address page on the wall beside our phone. I became a notorious doodler, filling the margins of my textbooks with vines and patterns and experimenting with new ways to “draw” letters.
With the advent of the personal computer, came my love for fonts. For someone who never really mastered cursive writing and had average penmanship, the ability to change a single word into a multitude of styles with a few clicks was magical.
Little did I know then that my passion for paint and color, texture and shape would prepare me for a new trend called art journaling.
Art journaling entwines art with words. Whether you wish to record daily events and ideas, create a memory book for a trip or use it as a form of therapy, art journaling is a beautiful, fun and personal medium for expression.
What Is Art Journaling?
“Many people keep journals, and many people like to draw. Many people exchange letters, and many people have memorable adventures. But few people experience the delightful symphony of these combined interests. Art journaling acts like a master score, blending the various sides of the soul into a harmonic song.”1
The beauty of art journaling is that it is a safe place for expression and creativity without the confines of rules or judgement. A thought expressed in a few simple words surrounded by images or colors or textures can speak volumes.
Art journals are the perfect way to express your personal style or try something completely new while taking pleasure in the whole process rather than focussing on the finished product.
It is also wonderful for children as the combination of art and words can be such an incredible source of self-expression. It allows children a safe and fun way to process their world and deal with their emotions.
Journaling encourages fine motor skills and neurological development. In young children, using scissors and glue sticks, gripping pencils and paint brushes and scribbling are all precursors to writing.
Art journaling can evolve to foster creativity and connection as well as serving as a way to teach and understand subjects such as reading, math and science. “Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” 2
As a parent it is also a beautiful way to share and connect with your child, whether you work on your own journals at the same time or create one together.
What Does the Research Say?
Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas described in his book, Opening Up by Writing It Down, how taking a few minutes to write about personal experiences or problems can help you heal emotional wounds, boost your immune system and feel a greater sense of well-being.
Journaling has been shown to be associated with drops in depression, anxiety, and increases in positive mood, social engagement and quality of close relationships.
Art journaling welcomes all aspects of who we are. Our happy thoughts and joyous memories, our broken hearts and unmet dreams, our past and present selves. It is expressive and creative, imperfect and diverse, rewarding and personal. For me, art journaling is a new activity forged from old passions and I enjoy and appreciate all it has to offer.
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy – Creston
1. Chloe Collin, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, 2009
2. Sydney Gurewitz Clemens