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art journal

What is Art Journaling?

I could go on for days about what art journaling is, and the benefits of using an art journal. I always come back to the analogy that art journals are:

Sketchbooks on Steroids

Before I explain that, let me give you a little background on me, and my tumultuous relationship with sketchbooks:

Basically, I’m intimidated by the idea of sketching. 

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried and have given up because of the fear of “getting it wrong,” and not being able to draw what I want. It gives me big time anxiety and I always end up feeling like a total failure.

Does that sound silly? Because it feels really really silly. I mean, it goes against everything I teach about art being a process, and a journey, and enjoy every minute along the way!

Sketchbooks, in my opinion, are supposed to be a place where one can work out ideas for projects, or work out feelings, or a place to just relax and draw ideas for later reference.

The thing is, I’ve never been able to draw realistically, and haven’t taken the time to learn. I’ve never figured out how to get what is in my head onto a blank sketchbook page, and comparing my attempts to some of the cool-looking sketchbook pages I see on the internet sure doesn’t help.

sketchbook drawing comparison

Because I’ve not succeeded at being a good sketcher I get paralyzed every time I look at the blank page. All I can see is the future of another messed up page. And another thing… I don’t like to waste paper/pages and materials. 

I can feel the anxiety starting in my chest just thinking about it.

So silly! I feel like such a hypocrite because I pride myself on telling people they can do anything, and that creativity can be learned! Right?

Well, sometimes the whole “you can do anything” truth comes in the form of working around your blocks, and finding new ways to fulfill your desires without actually being able to do the actual thing you want to do. In my instance, that would be working around actual sketching. 

Does that make any sense?

That’s where art journals come in. 

And they're freaking MAGIC!

So, what exactly is an art journal and art journaling?

It is similar to a sketchbook in that you create, on pages, inside a cover. But one of the things that makes it an art journal instead of just a sketchbook is that you use whatever media you want. Pens, pencils, acrylic paint, watercolors, collage, pastels, colored pencils, oil pastels, stickers, fabric and fiber, decorative tapes, crayons, and on and on.

painting in art journal

Beyond the art you can make ON the pages of an art journal, it is also common to build and bind your own art journals, from scratch, then create pockets, fold-outs, inserts, cut-outs, and various other methods of altering pages. (It’s easier than it sounds).

Art journals end up being pieces of art in themselves.

I consider the building of the journal–it’s pages and components–as two dimensional sculpting, and it satisfies a totally different part of my creative hankerings that a plain ‘ole sketchbook just can’t.

Remember that phobia of wasting and messing up that I mentioned?

One of the beautiful parts of building your own art journals is that you can make them from all recycled material! So, not only can you satisfy any fear of wasting materials, but you can feel good that you are using items that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

And, if you’re using recycled, repurposed, and reclaimed materials for your pages, you might be less worried about messing up because, what are you “messing up?” Stuff that would normally be trash!

I know that it totally frees me to do things that normally I wouldn’t because I can always get more recycled paper, and quickly build another journal!

Brilliant, yes?!

Art journals are the perfect place to:

  • Play
  • Work out ideas
  • Diary write
  • Bullet Journal
  • Keep your lists and calendar
  • You name it! Just for fun!

NOTE: I’m showing some of my more completed journal spreads here. DO NOT DO WHAT I DO in comparing my idea of sketching to others! Anyone can art journal, and it’s really easy!

I have multiple art journals started with different themes and purposes. I even have one that is my Warm-up Journal where I doodle and scribble, and try out colors, techniques, or other little things before I jump into a more focused journal. You know…just in case I mess up. 😆

Truly though, anyone can do it.

And I’m making it my mission to show as many people as possible how amazingly fun and satisfying it is.

If you’re interested, you can check out my free guide to see what it’s all about:

Need Help Getting Started?

The FREE
Jumble Journal Roadmap
will show you how!

If you have any questions, drop me an email. Chances are, if you have a question, others are wondering too, and I’d love to update this post with more information to get it all covered.

👇 Help me spread the word! Pin it! 👇

How I Went from Stuck to Inspired in 30 Days

Not too long ago I was in a bad place. 

I’d taken time off from being a working artist to raise my children and to work on some volunteer opportunities. While I was away the whole world seemed to have changed on me! 

I tried to get back into daily art-making and it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. I did not take that well and spiraled into a creative block that lasted three years.

The good news is that I got unstuck and I’m feeling more creative than I ever have.

Whew.

Lori Greenberg making glass beads at torch 2016
Making Glass Beads 2016

It took me a long time to find the magic potion that got me out of that slump, but once I found it, my transformation happened fast. I’d like to show you how to overcome creative block, or stuckness, too.

But first, let me tell you all it all happened.

How things went downhill...

Glass beadmaking was my jam! From 2000 to 2008, everything I made sold as soon as I put it up for sale. I traveled the country selling at shows, and making great friends at conventions.

What could possibly go wrong?

Anyone remember that U.S. housing bubble thing?

Yeah.

Countless people lost homes, incomes, and their businesses, and pricey glass beads were not exactly a high priority anymore.

Just like me, the jewelry makers and stores who had previously bought my beads were struggling, which led to people using less expensive materials like copper and resin, and more imported components. Customers adjusted their buying habits and just like that, glass beads were not on top of jewerly makers’ shopping lists anymore.

image of glass bead production work
glass bead production work

I, and a lot of my friends held on, thinking we could weather it, and figure it out. We’d done it before when we’d come up against cheap imports flooding the market, we could do it again.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, at least not for me. I’d grown weary of trying to climb that hill and I was fortunate enough that I was able to make the decision to take some time off to raise my kids and focus on some volunteer projects.

While it wasn’t ideally what I wanted to do I also knew that my kids would only be young once, and work would always be there.

Or so I thought.

I had gone into a creative funk...

Time went by and as my kids entered high school I was ready to get back at it. I lit up my torch and got to work. I signed up for my studio tour show again, and spiffed my web site back up. There was only one thing missing…

My creative juju had disappeared.

I could still make great stuff because my skills hadn’t gone anywhere but I just didn’t have the new ideas like I used to. And it kept going on this way. The longer I couldn’t snap out of my stuckness, the more concerned I became.

In an effort to find my muse I tried distracting myself from being blocked with different types of media. Maybe it was time to reinvent myself again?

I tried different kinds arts to snap me out of it.

  • 2012/2013 – I tried fused glass micro-mosaics:
  • 2014 – I tried glass murrine making.
  • 2015 – I tried writing fiction, and published 12 coloring books for adults.
mandala coloring books for adults

While all of those creative endeavors kept my mental health afloat, I was beginning to think that something was seriously wrong with me. It all felt like just going through the motions. I had no zest, or motivation, or drive. 

Nothing was rekindling my spark.

THEN, 

  • 2016 – Someone posted on facebook about an art journaling workshop.
    I had no idea what that was but it looked bright and colorful, and I needed a getaway. So, I signed up and went without expectation. I just needed a break.
Art journaling turned it all around...

That long weekend, when I found art journaling, things started to change. It’s funny because I have always been afraid of painting, drawing, and basically any type of what I call “flat art.”

It had always bothered me that I couldn’t draw realistically, and I envied those with great looking sketchbooks. And here I was, with the things that always scared me on the verge of giving me one of the biggest gifts of my life.

When I got home I was inspired, but I also knew that workshop inspiration fades. I made a commitment to art journal a little bit every day for 30 days.

I found that the more I worked in my art journals the easier it was to access my creativity.  At the end of the 30 days I noticed that other areas of my life, and my attitude, had started to shift, too.

I was excited about my day job of jewelry-making again and I’d started to grow a following of customers at a rapid pace.

image of hand holding pen and journaling
The Jumble Journal Method...

I continued working in my journals and eventually realized that I hadn’t been stuck at all for a long while. I’d been putting out unique collection after collection of my silver jewelry, and had so many ideas that I couldn’t wait to get to. And I was really having fun with my flat art creations and the journals I’d been making.

I started to pay attention to what I was doing and how I was doing it and that’s when I started to take note of what I now call my Jumble Journal Method.

It’s a way of creating art journals where the techniques address all kinds of blocks that we, as creative-maker-artist-crafters come up against, and the more you do it, the freer you feel. 

I’d love to show you how you can overcome your own blocks, and how to stay in that creative frame of mind. You can get my free Jumble Journal Roadmap below that shows you the exact steps I took to go from stuck to inspired.

Need Help Getting Started?

The FREE
Jumble Journal Roadmap
will show you how!

5 Reasons Why You Need to Art Journal Now

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.”

www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com

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. 

image of art journal with multiple sections of writing
One of my "hard-to-read" self-expression Jumble Journal Spreads

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.

illustration of journaling supplies

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.

Need Help Getting Started?

The FREE
Jumble Journal Roadmap
will show you how!

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