Category Archives: Art Journals

The Soulful Art Journal

"Earth" from My Art Journal

“Earth” from My Art Journal

I hope you will take a peek at my new blog, The Soulful Art Journal. For a number of years, creating art journals has been one of my favorite forms of self-expression. It has been an outlet for the creativity I didn’t realize was waiting to be born. Working in a journal is really play, but it is also serious work. Art seems to be the junction point between work and play where the two can join in a satisfying and joyful mix.

Mixed media helps me to express myself in so many ways that surprise me. Today, there are so many wonderful artists who have been creating personal art journals or who simply enjoy looking at them. They feed my inspiration and their creative spirits help to keep me focused on my creative work.

I’ve been inspired to begin a workshop, The Soulful Art Journal, for women. I plan to post entries of my journal, entries about the process of creating my workshop. If you are about to embark on this kind of adventure yourself, I hope this blog has something to offer you in the way of ideas and inspiration.

I’d love to share the art journal pages of other journal enthusiasts on my blog. Also, I would love your feedback.

http://thesoulfulartjournal.wordpress.com/

Love and peace,

Kartika

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Art Journal Therapy: Dealing with Pain

Cut
COLLAGE: CUT

I created these pages in my art journal during the painful breakup of a relationship. During this period, I used collage and writing in my journals as a way to move past grieving. I understood that artists have an opportunity to deal with their demons by turning to the creative process – so, I would show up at my art collage group with a broken heart and leave with a sense of relief, as if some part of the wounded me had started to heal.

Having done some work on dealing with emotional pain, I realized denial would not be an option for me. I was hurting, and pretending otherwise wouldn’t change that. However, expressing myself in a way that was beautiful to me and reflected my honest experience could have a transformational power. It’s as if the energy of grief can be redirected and used as fuel for self-awareness and ultimately used to heal the heart. It doesn’t happen instantly or even by itself, but it can be a powerful part of the process of moving forward. And only by going through the suffering, and that process can be facilitated by the simplest forms of creative expression, can we re-emerge as somehow more complete, more compassionate, and more human.

The connection between pain and art is undeniable – human beings have throughout time expressed their emotional, mental, and spiritual despair through some form of artistic expression, whether it’s by singing the Blues, writing songs about love lost, creating fiction that tells stories of the trails and tribulations of the human condition, or by putting onto canvas the extreme difficulties of inner and outer life. And so while it is true that suffering and pain are inevitable in life, there are endless choices we have on how to deal with them. I choose to go to my art journal, drink lattes and watch streaming Netfix.

One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Even in the midst of extreme physical pain and emotional disappointment, she was able to develop her work and become one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Her paintings bring tears to my eyes.

two fridas
She has said,

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
– Frida Kahlo

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Art Journals: A Spiritual Practice

eGYPT kat
Art Journal Page: The Underworld by Kartika

…through writing we connect our journeys to the experience of a multitude of life travelers before and all around us. We can learn tremendously from these others and their writings, and still–we have to make our own way.
Christina Baldwin

Yesterday morning while grabbing a bagel with egg and cheese at Revelation’s, Fairfield’s used book store, coffee house, and restaurant, I found an inspiring book on art journaling as a spiritual practice – “Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest,” by Christina Baldwin. As usual, when something is on my mind or needs my attention, books on the subject tend to fall from the shelves of Revelations (like a revelation) into my hands. And, although the book was a bit tattered, it was a great deal at two dollars.

There comes a journey…and there also comes the urge to write it down, to bear witness to our experience, to share our questions and the insights that come from questioning. The spiritual journey is the one trip we are all taking together. You may be in a bookstore, a grocery store, at a restaurant, or home in bed. Whatever you think your doing, whatever else you identify as happening, you are also somewhere in the middle of your Spiritual quest.
Christina Baldwin

Christina Baldwin talks about the value of journal keeping in helping us to define and articulate our personal narrative as we take up pilgrimage and engage is the intimate dialog with self.

It took me a while to discover my tools for expressing and recording my journey toward more consciousness, or more self-awareness, on this mysterious and perplexing path of life. And even though I had meditated for many years, and had experiences of the quiet space of awareness within, I didn’t feel I had brought my inner experiences fully into the manifest world. So, I joined a fantastic writing group of wonderful, creative people who were dedicated to self-discover through creative writing. My insecurities were overridden by enthusiasm and the joy that comes from allowing oneself to free write and to keep a journal where I could record my thoughts and feelings.

Later, I took up the painting and collage – I had wonderful mentors who offered inspiration and guidance – and discovered the freedom of that wonderful medium – the art journal. The art journal gives everyone permission to be creative. The art journal invites us to think outside of the box, to be imperfect, to cross out mistakes, to use any medium we like, to experiment with the unknown. They can become our diaries where we express our thoughts, feelings, and stories in our own style, in a place we will not be judged. We never have to show anyone our pages, but we can share if we choose to. We can then find others, all over the world, who are enthusiastically engaged in a similar yet unique process of self-discovery. And, we can meet them on line or in our communities. We can find books on the subject that inspire us to move forward and become increasingly in touch with our creative muse. We can find and join in with art jounalers everywhere.

So, even if we have never thought of ourselves as creative or articulate, the truth is we can easily enter into a conscious journey of self-discovery. We can begin to explore that universal creative potential that resides within. We can pick up a pen or a simple pencil and begin. We can put pen to paper and reflect on our thoughts and feelings along the way. And, as we observe and articulate our human experiences, we get in touch with the what the author calls, The Watcher – the part of us that is separate from it all – the place of pure consciousness, the Observer.

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Art Journal Page: The Guardian

girl in door
The Guardian by Kartika (gouache medium)

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.
George Santayana

This is a page from one of my art journal pages, done in gauche and colored pencil. Somehow working in an art journal feels less risky than working on a canvas or a single piece of paper. I’m more able to let go of expectations – after all, it’s just a little journal – and allow myself to simply play and enjoy the process. An art journal is where I’m free to have a personal dialogue with myself – no one has to see it or read my words unless I decide to share. It allows me to experiment with ideas and different media – so what if I make bad art or no art at all, that is not my purpose. Most of all, spending time with my art journal is like being with a friend who helps me heal and work through my demons and sometimes come out the other side. It’s possible I may feel that serotonin rush when a color or a line feels right or the words make sense out of senselessness. I may even feel in synchronicity with my muse, the creative spirit that gives my life meaning.

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Art Journal Pages…

Sometimes I ask myself why I feel so enlivened and connected when I sit down with one of my my art journals – my inner critic starts to harp and nag, telling me I’m just being a bit silly, dabbling around with glue and paper, paint and scissors. Real artists are busy perfecting their craft, my critic chimes in – they are honing the skills that allow them to create real art. But, deep inside I know that is not my truth because my journals connect me to my journey, to that spark inside that can become a bit dim doing real life. “To thine own self be true,” is an adage I try to live by. And of all of the millions of other people who are telling their stories in their art journals, who sit down to enter bits and pieces of themselves in their personal diaries of images, words, and colors, not one of them will ever create a page exactly like one of my pages. So just as each snowflake is a unique expression, every art journal page is a one-of-a-kind expression, like a thumbprint or the structure of a budding flower.

Kartika

My art journal – Dream

My Art Journal – Ananda Mayi Ma
My art journal – Questions

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From My Art Journal Pages…Painting in Gouache

Art Journals With Water Color Paper Are Perfect for Mixed Media Art Pages

I like to have lots of different kinds of art journals for different purposes.  I like to paint, be free to use heavy markers and all kinds of mixed media materials, so I use journals with good quality water color paper. I also love using  gouache paint, as well as water colors and acrylic paints. Gouache is similar to water color paints but is more opaque than water color, so it’s very versatile. It can also become light and transparent when diluted with water, and you can get that delicate wash you get with water color. Gouache colors are very vibrant. I would love to hear more art tips from fellow art journalists! Please share your blogs and your inspiration with me.

“Earth” from My Art Journal

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The Artist’s Way is Meditation in Action

“Water” from Kartika’s Art Journal

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.”

Julia Cameron

Making art is meditation in action

It’s my experience when I’m deeply committed to a creative act, whether writing, painting, arranging and decorating, designing a bracelet, or making a meal, it is meditation in action. I find a way to temporarily unplug from the “matrix.” I escape from my linear mind into the imagination where all things are possible. When we face an empty page or a blank canvas, we’re invited into the unmanifest where all things are suddenly possible. We tap into the right side of the brain.

That’s why The Artist’s Way speaks to me so deeply. I bought this book when it was first published in 1992. I skimmed it, and put it on a shelf. Then I picked it up again, after I started doing art a number of years ago. I knew I loved making art. I just needed to discover who I AM as an artist. And, reading this book inspired me to embrace that journey.

A blocked creative makes excuses for not follow the muse:

  • I’m too busy to paint, write, or learn an instrument, etc.
  • I can’t afford to be an artist; I need to make money.
  • Maybe next year I’ll have time to start my novel.
  • I’m too old to start playing piano.
  • Being creative is a luxury and I can’t afford the time.
  • I’ll look silly if I sign up for an art class.
  • I don’t have the talent.

The excuses are endless, and the years go by as we bury our dreams of living a creative life. Our lives may feel flat and we sense something is missing. On some level, we long to express ourselves creatively, yet we don’t give ourselves permission to follow through. Often, we let fear stop us–we fear we will discover we don’t have talent, that people will make fun of our efforts, and that somehow we will fail.

Julia Cameron offers a technique in The Artist’s Way to help us remove the blocks to our creative spirit and tap into the parts of our brain where inspiration resides:

The morning pages

When you wake up in the morning, go right for your pen and notebook, and without thinking, write three pages. Don’t judge yourself or your writing, don’t think of this as “art”, don’t correct your grammar or your spelling, don’t censor yourself. Do this every morning as a tool to get in touch with that part of the brain where insight and creativity reside. This process helps us to discover what is on our minds and in our hearts, learn about our fears, and get the creative juices flowing.

 “It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power.” Julia Cameron

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