Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping an Art Journal

Keeping an art journal is an essential tool in the process of intuitive painting. Thoughts and ideas have to be written down before they get lost in the brain-chatter of a normal day.
I have kept an art journal, on and off for 15 years. The desire to archive comes from a problem with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and a very poor short-term memory. It distresses me to find memories fading into the maelstrom of everyday life and the relentless march of time.
My journal contains photos of my paintings, dates, sometimes a description of the process and buyers’ details. I write quotes from books that inspire me and words of wisdom from mentors and art teachers. Notes from workshops and lessons are included along with relevant photos so as not to forget the techniques demonstrated. I have included all the invitations and brochures where my work has been exhibited and those of all the wonderful exhibitions I have visited. I also write in my thoughts regarding my art process and how I feel about certain aspects of art-making.
When I started writing my journal, my words were extremely wooden and impersonal; I was terrified of revealing myself in case somebody accessed it! My typical British upbringing made me very guarded and private. I am hypersensitive and was afraid if I revealed anything of myself; I would invite scorn and ridicule. I have never considered myself a good writer and am hopeless at spelling (I love spell-check!).
Just writing this now makes me want to laugh; how can you be an exhibiting artist and be frightened to reveal something of yourself? With practice, I started writing from the heart and was quite amazed at what appeared on the pages! By journaling, I have revealed who I am to myself, “This is me!” Self-knowledge is incredibly empowering.
By writing about my painting, I have been able to see how to proceed. The journey that a painter sets out on, can take many twists and turns, decisions to follow a particular route sometimes takes guts and determination. In order to continue to develop and expand, one has to experiment, take risks and learn to listen to that inner intuitive voice. A good thing about ADD is one gets bored with repetition and excited with experimentation. Apparently Leonardo da Vinci exhibited ADD tendencies, with many projects on the go and never quite finishing things!
The writing of this blog is now a new extension of my journal. It is definitely not a private space, rather a place for the sharing of ideas. I so appreciate the wonderful comments artists take the time to write and love visiting their blogs to see their space.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dianne, what a wonderful posting here. I read with interest your thoughts on having an art journal and I can see the benefits. Its just your personal writings and thoughts and perhaps this is just what I need to do to de-clutter my feelings about where I am going with my work. I feel a bit better today and am going to try and make this journal for myself. Thank you!

Kim said...

Hi Dianne,

This is such a wonderful, wonderful post. You have so much to share here and so much to remind me of what I already know. You said, "Self-knowledge is incredibly empowering." which I have found to be so true. I have a section of quotes from artists on my blog, may I use this from you?

I have to say I laughed hard when you talked about not being able to spell...I love spell-check as well for the same reason. But I have a daughter who is a writer and she tells me many, many writers can't spell, either. So maybe we can call ourselves writers if we can spell or not :) Speaking of writing visit my blog today for an opportunity for writers and artists.

You also mention how writing your blog is an extension of your journaling. I have found that to be true as well...maybe we can say blogging is more like an interactive journal. I can say I learn so much from reading the blog of others as well as having people comment on my blog.

Thank you so much Dianne, you have given me a HUGE gift today!

Kathy Hebert said...

Hi Dianne:
Wouldn't this make a lovely book? I am enchanted with the photos and the way that you write on the page. How many journals have you done?! - Kathy

Sharon Wright said...

It is a brilliant, fascinating thing to do, how wonderful to look back in detail at your thoughts, say, 10 years ago. Bit scary, too. If only I could be so organised.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Thanks for you comments dear art friends! Answering you Kathy, I have completed two journals and am working on my third.

Carol said...

Very brave and liberating. Have you ever though of having them published? Your write incredibly well!

Mineke Reinders said...

I admire this so much, wish I had the discipline and fortitude to keep a journal like this. Loose scraps of paper and ratty spiral notebooks are all I use, anything more formal intimidates me... After reading this, maybe I'll get up the courage to use those moleskines :)