Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How I Use Art Journaling as Art Therapy

I'm finding that art journaling really is a therapeutic process, especially the more so as I let go of consciously controlling the evolution of a page and just follow the flow. These days I often find myself reaching for my journal when I'm a bit frustrated or stressed, and it usually happens that by the time I've finished a page I'm feeling lighter and a measure of tranquility has re-established itself. I don't think it's just a distraction from negative emotions-- the journaling seems actually to help work them out as the frustration and negative energy gets channeled into the page via squiggles, sharp lines, energetic scribbling, or what have you. Catharsis. I like to notice how I'm feeling as I work. . . thus simply making for a very inexpensive and self directed art therapy. A win all round, in my book. :)

When I began this particular page I was regrettably a bit edgy and irritable. I picked up my journal and started writing in pencil, in different directions and handwriting fonts all across the page. After this was done I went over it again with more writing. I did this a few times. I just wrote whatever I was thinking. It was very free flowing, unfiltered, and spontaneous. (Venting, you might say. :P) Then I colored over all of it with a blue neocolor water soluble pastel. By the time I finished that layer of coloring, I was already much calmer. Swirling water over the page with a wet brush was an additionally soothing enterprise.

Once the page was dry, I was intending to doodle over it with a black sharpie and be done. However. . . my sharpie was not in my art supply box! I spent some time in futile searching all over my house, any place I thought I might have been likely to leave a black sharpie. All to no avail. This was disappointing. Somewhat grumpily, I sat down at the page again and grabbed the nearest supplies to hand, which happened to be my daughter's box of sidewalk chalk and a tube of glue.

I drew frustrated marks in chalk on the page and then rubbed them in vigorously with my fingertips. Then I dotted glue all over the page and smeared it over the chalk, again using my fingers. Now this. . . was actually looking rather good. I wish I had taken pictures at this stage. Pencilled journaling was showing through the blue, which was now mottled and softened by chalky colors, and made a bit shiny by the coat of glue.

I stared at it trying to think what to do next. Taking a cue from projects I've seen on Judy Balzer and Carolyn Dube's blogs, I began hunting for "people in the paint". Lo and behold, it did seem as though a shadowy shaped couple was trying to emerge from the depths. They were even holding hands! This was better than I had hoped for. I outlined them with paint pens, highlighting them here and there with neocolors to bring out their shape a bit more. Then I fingerpainted with some acrylics paint around them, did some more journaling over this, added my words, "If you trust the process you will see life emerging from the depths", and  layered more chalk, coloring, and smeared glue to the page until I was happy with it.
I also gave the woman, "life", a glued on fabric face.

I can't really describe how satisfying it felt to work on this and what a surprise the final page turned out to be. I am so glad to have discovered art journaling! This was the best thing to have come out of the hyperemesis. The fly in the ointment is I spelled "emerging" wrong, but meh. We embrace imperfection around here! :)

Until next time,


  1. This turned out so wonderfully! Thanks for sharing your journey. I love that you are trusting the process. I have found the more I trust my art journaling the more I trust myself.

  2. A couldn't agree more with Carolyn. It's amazing what can happen when we just let go and let the art/page/supplies move us.

  3. Leah, your figures and journaling are mesmerizing. Hope you find more time to play very soon.