I was emailing with one of my art friends and she said, “It’s as if people think that if it’s pretty everything will be okay.” I think it’s why many stick to the mass produced ephemera, stamps, and cookie cutter looks. It’s easy to make a pretty page when someone hands you instructions on how to do it. Use this color, use that color. Blend this colored pencil on this premade face. Stick this rubber stamp onto your page exactly 2.5 inches from the top edge and 3 inches from the right. And before long you don’t feel like you can do what you want, you are stuck in this pit of rules.
And here I say, screw the rules. Eff ‘em. Throw the rules out.
Take the rules you learned in that class about those faces and tip them on their side. Draw an oval and fill it with green and blues and all the colors YOU like. Those rules for blending? Follow those, but with the colors you love. Don’t worry about making it look just like so and so’s pretty girl. Make her yours. Give her purple eyes and red hair. Blend in some blue. Don’t think that you have to have the very same prismacolor.
You OWN that art journal, and that face, damn it, it’s yours.
Experiment on a few faces to create a look that is all yours. Fill a page up in your art journal to create your look, pick and chose colors you love. Go on, draw a variety of ovals, add some eyes, and a mouth you like.
You can do this.
Not because I say so, but because you KNOW you can and you WANT to.
When I was a kid I was pretty lucky to have parents that set very few limits for me. I was never told I couldn’t play in the woods (except when I cut down the neighbor’s tree, then Dad took my hatchet away for a week) or that I couldn’t go fishing on Saturday afternoons, as long as I told my parents, I was allowed to do it. There were rules but few limits. I never thought I couldn’t do things, and still I rarely stop to think that something isn’t possible, I do it. If I fail, well, I fail and I’m usually out a few dollars but I look to the experience as important as succeeding.
And that is the spirit I take to my art journal. I do it and think of the consequences later. I don’t think in terms of a ruined page, I think in terms of the experience of that page. I walk away and think, “Shoot, I won’t do that again.”
Don’t be afraid. It’s an art journal, it won’t bite. No one will see it unless you invite them to. You can close the book if you don’t like what its saying. You can change it. I’m a fan of leaving my ugly pages as they are, wart and all.
Remember to love your ugly pages too.
I deeply love my ugly pages. They teach me more about myself than the pretty pages. In the depths of layers glued in and painted on are deep thoughtful meditative moments. Moments when I’m so aware of who I am that it can be scary. I think that is what bugs us about ugly pages. Not that they are ugly but we’re afraid that we are reflected in them.
I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes when I art journal the meditative moment can and does move me to tears. When I’m writing about deep painful things it’s not comfortable, but my art journal is about stretching me and opening my eyes to what I can be not just what I am. Sometimes when I’m brought ot that new level of who I am, that deep realization, I realize that I can be more.
Your art journal is your place to let that go. Glue in and paint down your fear. Meditate as you scrape paint over the pages, roughly gesso them, and gently massage a new piece of you into place. Your art journal doesn’t judge you, you judge you.
If you are new here, this is your first visit, please realize this is a (so far) 4 post rant on stuff. Feel free to head here to read the rest of my tirade. Also, please don't assume that I hate pretty pages or would sneer at your art. This rant is about empowerment not judgement.