We all know what a journal is. It’s where you express your thoughts and desires, document your days and adventures, and pour out whatever else is on your mind. But, have you heard of art journaling?
It’s more than just the doodles in the margins of your diary, or the little hearts and smiley face exclamation points you use for emphasis when writing about a red-letter day.
Art journaling is done with art and craft materials like paints, pencils, pens, and pastels, but can also incorporate found objects, left over paper products, fabric swatches, or anything else you want to preserve and highlight.
Art journaling is also used as a spiced up sketchbook with the extra seasoning coming from the added elements of color, texture, layers, photos, mementos, etc., to help you express yourself, try out new mediums and designs, and whatever else you usually do in a sketchbook.
Think of art journaling as a diary/sketchbook leveled up, times 100.
So, why should you be art journaling? I’m glad you asked…
1. The Creative Process Clears Your Mind
Ever hear of athletes getting into the zone? That’s the same thing you experience when you spend time creating…you’re transported to a different state of mind and detached from the immediate worries of the day.
Sometimes the hardest part of creating is getting yourself started. But, once you get into it, it’s like a meditation where the activity of your hands distracts your brain from its usual thinking processes. This in turn reduces stress, which is now proven to be good for your physical health, too.
If you’ve ever wanted to meditate but found that it’s not as easy as it seems to just sit still and breathe, art journaling is a fantastic alternative to achieve a calm mind.
The lingering effects of clearing your mind through art journaling allows you to get off that hamster wheel and enjoy life more.
2. Making Art Keeps Your Brain Healthy
The connection between your eyes, hands, and brain is well documented as helping your brain to maintain its youthful elasticity that can fade with age and inactivity. Did you know that creating art actually rewires your brain?
Many people don’t realize that making art is a natural problem-solving exercise. As you work on a piece you are constantly making decisions about what to do next, especially in art journaling.
What materials am I going to use, what colors, what media, where am I going to put the next line, or piece of collage?
As small as it may seem, continuing to engage your mind with thinking tasks like this keeps it working well. This is why they recommend puzzles, games, and other creative activities, as we get older.
“Neurological research shows that making art can improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Thus, art enhances cognitive reserve, helping the brain actively compensate for pathology by using more efficient brain networks or alternative brain strategies. Making art or even viewing art causes the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.”
You know what they say: use it or lose it.
3. It's a Safe Place for Self-Expression
Especially these days, you should totally be art journaling to express yourself. Use your journal for all those things that you don’t want to say out loud but you know…you want to say out loud!
No one ever has to see it.
And if that still makes you feel uncomfortable? Write the nasties, the uglies, and the unmentionables, and transform them by collaging over the words, or paint over them and put something more pleasing.
Either way, you’re still expressing yourself and when you do that you get it out of you head and free up space.
I promise you…the process of self expression works wonders, even if you never see the words or images again. Think of it as cheap therapy.
One way I do this is by writing really small, fast, and sloppily. That way, it’s hard to read for any outsider, and even myself. So, even though it’s not really readable, it looks pretty cool to see so many little words that I know had a cathartic effect on me at the time of writing them.
4. Source of New Ideas and Inspiration
For all my art and craft making friends out there… Do you ever experience creative block?
Whether you’re a visual artist, musician, writer, or other creative, an art journaling practice will make that a thing of the past.
Chances are, when you feel stuck or don’t know what to create next you turn to looking at other artists work. It might be through Pinterest, museum sites, blogs, Instagram, etc. I love going to art shows and seeing what other artists are making. I always come home inspired.
While that is great, there is a huge drawback: You need to be careful that you don’t, copy others’ work. It takes almost as much brain power to try to be different than what you saw as it does to come up with a totally new idea on your own.
Enter the art journal…
When you’re in the creative flow working in your art journal in the way that I teach in my Jumble Journal Method, your own new, unique, ideas open up as you work. After you’ve been doing it for a while you build up your own library of personal inspiration that you can come back to.
This is the method I use to come up with all of my unique jewelry collection designs and I love the benefits of designing this way:
- First, when you’re working in a Jumble Journal like I teach, you don’t waste materials. You can work with almost all recycled and reclaimed materials. For me, that is huge because I work with silver and gemstones. I can’t just sit down and play with those materials and wait for ideas to hit.
- Desiging this way is far more enjoyable than toiling and trying to THINK a design into reality!
- It keeps your brain in a creative state that overflows into other areas of your life.
- I feel productive, even when it just seems like random play, because I know that I’m adding to my inspiration archive that I will use later.
I think the most important thing about designing via art journaling is that I don’t look to other artists for inspiration anymore. I just flip through the pages of my earlier work, and marvel at what I’ve created.
5. It's Helps Build Your Intuition
Ready to get woo-woo with me? Art journaling helps you not only to start to feel more confident in your art-making, but also to trust your own inner guidance, instincts, and intuitiveness.
When you take time to detached from your thinking brain and your mind has calmed, you are open to receiving messages and inspiration. The more you do it, the more you start experience it outside of your art-making sessions, too.
Regardless whether you feel it’s from your higher power, your higher self, or just from the consciousness of your own brain, it’s there, and it’s a pretty cool experience.
Sounds crazy, right? It’s not.
It’s probably my favorite benefit of being in that creative art journal headspace.
Set an intention at the start of your practice, and see what happens and what appears on your page, and in your life.
I honestly could write an entire book about everything art journaling.
I just can’t shout from the rooftops enough about the benefits of art journaling and why you should be doing it. The 5 reasons listed above are pretty compelling, don’t you think? I’ve experienced all of them, and more, and it’s changed my life.
I would love to show you how it can do the same for you, and you can check it out with my free roadmap to the method I’ve developed, called Jumble Journaling.