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e s s a y s

The Importance of Journaling

There is no more important tool at the disposal of an artist who seeks to create relevant work than the journal.

Journals are a way to ask open ended questions- what does an emotion look like, what is a visual metaphor for a particular idea. It is a way to keep track of influences, life experiences, dreams, ideas that all affect ones work.

Art is about internal and external communication.  Where critique is a tool for the external, journaling is a vital tool at the hands of an artist who seeks to access their ingenuitive self before, during, and after the creative process.  In essence, it is simply the verbalization of the experience.

Art encapsulates the whole self. It is an outrageously effective way to have insights into ones own life, but one has to be conscious of this window, and must actually peer through it, to make the connections.

Often answers are not immediately present or obvious when one is on an ingenuitive path. Often it takes time, and a healthy respect for absurdity to generate an answer. Open ended questions and a willingness to see answers in the unexpected are part of the benefits of journaling.  Journaling is a way to tap into infinite ideas by boldly walking down wonderfully unencumbered paths of thoughts to find the best solutions. There is no such thing as the one right answer in art. Journaling is a way to keep decisions in the context of goals and the process that don’t make a piece more right or wrong, but rather, more effective in communicating.

Journaling is a way to bring language to the visual experience, to allow it to be understood through the intellect, rather than just viscerally. There are infinite ways to approach art. Sometimes visceral and unconscious work, that is, work that happens without a lot of premeditation, taps into our most powerful emotional places. But even these works are valuably understood in retrospect with verbal dialogue. This verbal dialogue can be simply descriptive, capturing the emotional experience the work generates.

In original, ingenuitive art, answers ultimately only come through the artist. Certainly flashes of inspiration manifest in the world around and the input of others such as is accomplished in critiques are valuable factors, but ultimately this input is processed internally and the actions that result are the conscious or unconscious decision of the artist. Journaling helps to make this a conscious process, even when it means staying conscious of the unconscious.

As artists we must honor and stay true to our selves. We seek to forge our own way that honors our uniqueness, our experience of , “I am”. Honoring the self is staying true to it. It is about trusting that each of us posses a unique way of representing any and all ideas.  It is about not letting the ways of others define ones own way.

Journaling is a vital tool for keeping a dialogue with this self. Without it, without conscious interaction with ideas, it is much more difficult to stay conscious of ones process.

To create without introspection is to run the risk of allowing influences to unconsciously take the place of original work..? Within the student teacher relationship is a tug of war with these concepts of learning and originality. A student seeks out the influence of a teacher to learn about that teacher’s way, but ultimately that student must step past what he has learned to find his own voice. As important learning is, it is only a way to the ingenuitive end and this perspective must never be lost.  Journaling is an important tool in this weaning process.

By the time a student is in high school, this journaling dialogue should be apart of the creative process. A teenager is very much in the development place of discovering his or her own way to be in the world. Every parent can attest to the difficulties and magic of letting go of all that has been taught and watching a new incarnation of their child emerge.  In all aspects of life we hold that it is good to be conscious.

Journaling guidelines for young artists:

1. Check in on present emotions. What have you been feeling? What has been causing these feelings?  What are some images that might metaphorically express these feelings?

2. What things are you passionate about right now? Relationship issues, politics, current events, a particular author, musician, artist etc that is affecting you?

-often listing these things can lead to ideas about what to create. Art work that reflects a passion will be exciting to explore, and will provide insights into the experience of the topic.

3. Asking open ended questions about ideas or experiences. What does something you are experiencing  look like? Is it narrative, or metaphorical? Would you recreate the experience to horror it or see it with clarity? or would you  use metaphors to  add insight or more layers?

4. Explore how different media would change the experience of creating art.

5. During a project a journal is a great place to  explore  compositional and theoretical problems. Sometimes writing them down allows the mind to find other answers.

6. Never rush answers. But be conscious, look for them in your words, and in between the lines. Sometimes what you don’t say is the loudest part. Remain conscious of what you avoid…then stop avoiding it! Put it down in words. Journals are private and are only for YOU to know yourself better. ]

7. Do not ever fear writing anything down. Nothing bad ever came of consciousness. Sometimes the gained insight isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s painful and requires you to grow, but that’s the good part. Art hold the power to change your life.  Do not be afraid to ask it to help you on your path.

8. Keep track of what you are trying to say with your work. It often changes along the way, and the end product might be something completely different from what you set out to do.  How you got there is vital to your own self knowledge. Knowing yourself is a pure path to joy and peace.

9. Dream journal. This is the best way to tap into subconscious feeling and ideas. It might be your greatest source for visual metaphors.