For years, digital scrapbooking has been my means of recording memories for my family as well as a form of relaxation and creative expression. It has served to record specific events, to highlight favorite photos, and has been a way to just get those photos off the hard drive! I love every aspect of what we do, from capturing the moment with the camera, to the beautiful digital designs we play with, to the technology with which we put it all together. It all culminates with the pleasure of the layout evolving into its final form and then sharing it with our friends and loved ones.
This past year, however, something new to me has peeked up over the scrapbooking horizon. What about making a layout that expresses how I feel? What about making a layout with no pictures or against all the rules that have been so faithfully followed? What if it’s not an event or a photo that wants to be scrapped but a mess of undefined feelings or a symbolic revelation of personal discovery? What would that look like in my mind? What would that look like on my computer? What would that look like on my layout?
Well, this thing actually has a name: Art Journaling. It has seeped into traditional scrapbooking and has reached into the digital and hybrid realms as well. Let’s take some time this year and learn together how art journaling can weave itself into our digital scrapbooking skills. Since this is January, it’s a great time to start at the beginning of this venture. Several of our wonderful designers agreed to help us delve into this fantastic art form. So sit back, relax, and grab your favorite morning beverage as we undertake our first art journaling lesson together through the eyes, words, and experience of Durin, Cindy, and Syndee.
What is art journaling, anyway?
Durin: Much like a written journal or a diary, art journaling is a means by which we can express ourselves. Some prefer to use written words as their tools for expression; these are the writers and poets. Some prefer to use color, texture, and images; these are the art journalists. Art journaling is a very personal form of art and is completely subjective. Art journaling can use any type of media including paper, paste, ink, paint, and include bits of memorabilia, photos, and everyday items. It is a very close cousin of scrapbooking because the methods and objectives are so similar; they both use a variety of elements to create pages that capture moments or feelings.
What is it about art journaling that inspires you?
Cindy: It really encourages self exploration and I love the permission and freedom it gives each person to express themselves openly, honestly, and without limits. I also really like the artsy, collage style.
Syndee: Pretty much anything and everything about art journaling inspires me. I have seen many very personal pages where the artist really put themselves on the page. It’s such a wonderful way to express yourself in words and images.
In scrapbooking layout design, we have learned about a number of design “rules.” What about art journaling? What are the rules for that?
Cindy: I only know of one rule and that is “anything goes.” But one thing that I have noticed on most art journaling layouts is that there tends to be a lot of layers!
Syndee: That’s what appeals most to me about art journaling is that there are no rules! I love that I don’t have to worry about someone else’s design principles, that I don’t have to stay in the box, or color within the lines. I am truly free to be me!
I hear symbolism is an important component of art journaling. Can you tell me about that?
Durin: Like all art, using symbols allows the creator (writer, artist) to keep the work “artistic.” It is much more pleasing to view a painting or read a book that alludes to or uses a symbol for something rather than explaining it outright for us. It gives the work a little mystery, makes us think, and gives us a “secret” to learn. The feelings that colors evoke play a large part in art journaling as they define the mood of the artist. Iconic symbols such as crosses help us know the artist’s mind. We can think of symbols as ciphers, and even though the intent of the artist may not be the interpretation we derive, as with all art, that’s okay. A piece of art can mean many things to many people.
Sometimes we get stuck in the creative process. What would you say to someone who has an interest in art journaling and doesn’t know where to start or doesn’t feel “creative enough”?
Syndee: One of the best things about art journaling is that your page can be as simple or as detailed as you want it. Sometimes the simplest ones are the ones that catch my eye first. If you are interested in art journaling but don’t know where to start I would suggest beginning with an art journal style layout or paper templates set and a set of brushes that look like paint. You can create an entire art journal page with brushes! Look around for pages that inspire you and mimic them, but most importantly, PLAY, have fun, and forget about rules!
Anything else you would like to share about art journaling?
Durin: You do not have to start with a blank page. Blank pages are most intimidating even to those of us who design every day. Don’t sit down to create with nothing but white glaring back at you. Have something, anything, there to give you a start. A favorite quote, a color swatch, or even a doodle on a note can give you a starting point. A collection of images from Pinterest can give you inspiration. A few “paint and gesso experiments” would make interesting backgrounds. Ephemera from a memorable day with loved ones can be powerfully inspiring. Have something to draw from (pun intended) and that will alleviate some of your anxiety and allow your creativity to flow more easily. And remember, there is no right or wrong with art journaling. This art is all yours.
Using some of these suggestions, I dove into my first art journaling layout for 2014. The layout started with a template (as Syndee suggested) so as to avoid staring at a blank page (as Durin advised). As more and more items came onto the page, I became less inhibited and the layout themed itself. Once the theme was revealed, everything fell into place and I felt really excited about the layout. And Cindy was correct – my layout wound up with a lot of layers!
Will you join me in this venture? I am excited and inspired by Durin, Cindy, and Syndee’s words, and I hope you are, too. There is an Art Journaling category in the Scrap Girl Boutique where you will find an array of fun paper and layout templates, as well as amazing art journaling collections to help get you started. Don’t forget to explore the Brush section also! So go ahead! Throw out the rules! Throw caution to the wind! Play with your new supplies with artful abandon and enjoy your delight in the creative process! We will be equally excited to see and leave love on your Art Journal masterpieces when you upload them to the Scrap Girls Art Journaling Gallery!
Article written by Amy Flanagan