My Art Journal: First Update

I’ve stolen bits and pieces of my day the last week or two to come up with the first section of my art journal. It’s been slow but I am happy to be working at this pace. The point of art journaling, after all, is to be able to do a bit of art here and there to find some personal relaxation.

Again, let me stress, I am a non artist doing my own brand of art. I’m not good at drawing things, but that hasn’t stopped me from putting things together in my own artistic way. And I think art journaling does not have to conform to what others would find awesome– what’s important is that it’s your own personal kind of awesome. And journaling — in any form– should be a conversation with yourself. At least, that is what it is for me.

Why do I journal? I write my thoughts in words and in symbols or entries through pictures and phrases that are meaningful to me. No matter how painful or angry my words or entries may be in a journal written ages ago, I find lessons and reminders in those words when I go back to them. I relish the moments of happiness and triumph or joy when I relive them in those pages. There is a reward to being able to go back to a moment, be it good or bad, to get back in touch with that part of you.

I recently found one of my “What do I really, really, really want?” notebooks which I did at a very confused and bitter time. Things have settled since then. I got to a better place of “happy”. I am wont to dispose of the journal, though, because it’s purpose has been served. The point was to answer the question in as honest a way as possible. And through time, to go through the answers and hopefully find clarity with what you really want to do.

I’ve long since gotten past that tumultuous time of my life. And yes, I got clarity with what I really wanted,  and in the end, that stumped everything else. I might yet end up using those pages as part of a collage in one of the layouts in my current project.

Like I posted previously, because I didn’t get to do a journal in 2019 despite my best efforts, I want to begin this one with a recap of 2019. Those pages lead to my first cut out and multi page section which has the numbers 2020.

These layouts are on upcycled Manila folders so the paper takes watercolor, ink, and glue very well. I don’t use liquid glue but prefer the regular glue stick because it doesn’t saturate the paper with more liquid. The page bindings are reinforced with double sided tape and elements that help hold the pages together like the 2020 spread.

As you will see, it’s not strictly a 5.5 x 7.5 inch page layout. A lot of my layouts have at least one flap folding out. The page sizes are not standard because I worked with what I had at the moment. I even kept the tabs in some cases.

A question was asked in one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of regarding using manila folders for making junk journals. I had just done a quick reveal of the first signature of my book (or set of pages) and shared it.

You’ll find the youtube clip below for reference, and I’m going to work on doing a tutorial or two on the craft blog on how I pulled these pages together. Sooooo happy with the way it’s coming along.. Yes, I do have a channel and I just don’t have the inclination to work on developing it, but it’s one way I’ve learned a lot from fellow crafters from all over. There are just some tutorials best done on video rather than in pictures, don’t you think?

I’ve done much since I shot this video over the weekend.  I’ve been going through my stash of art materials both bought and created through the years, and I am so thrilled with the treasures I’ve found.

I found DIY Washi tape that looks as gorgeous as when I first created it and still sticks as well as it should.  That was one craft experiment that turned out great!  Various printed elements and of course, my paper flower garden.

I’ve looked at homemade washi tape tutorials, and I’m just surprised that there is none using the method that I used.  I am hoping I can do a video on that one of these days and show fellow crafters how I created what you see below.
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My art journal

Creating a journal has always been more than picking one out and writing in it for me. Since I finished my first journal spanning 2012-2015, deciding on my next format made for a lot of stops and starts. But after so many failed attempts, I think I’ve finally found something I am happy with.

From the beginning, I knew I was going to use upcycled paper. Sheets from file dividers, used Manila folders, and I zeroed in on a size. 5.5 x 7×5. I toyed with the idea of sewing signatures together, but then decided on working on sections I could compile together instead.

I had started in a totally different direction before the last year ended, but I had a new idea which saw me totally focused on a different design direction. I am quite excited with the thicker and bigger layouts I’ve come up with. And I know that I can still add the rose petal collage embellishments to the existing pages.

I’ve gathered some old art work and materials I’ve incorporated into the layouts. I have even fished out an older basic watercolor cake palette (which is what you see in my section avatar in this post) and began creating basic page backgrounds. Just like my first art journal, I am trying to add fold outs and cut outs to make the book visually unique, starting with a 4-page spread of “2020”.

I found some magazine cut outs I had originally intended for a totally different kind of journal project and this time, I used them in some spreads for embellishing later on. I’ve even pulled out my stash of handmade paper I’ve acquired through the years to use as part of the layouts.

It’s coming out pretty nicely and I haven’t even started journaling.

I’d still like to begin the book by retracing the last 12 months as mini entries. 2019 was a positive year mostly because my world stayed in a good place. You know how people say things can only get better? They did and they stayed good. Nothing remarkable or ground breaking– but sometimes, “good” is okay. And that’s 12 months worth journaling.

I’m giddy happy thinking about how this project, which I’ve tried to get going so many times before and had fallen flat and hanging, is finally taking off. I can’t wait to paint and spray and paste and write.

Journaling has always been about capturing my thoughts and feelings in words and pictures for me to go back to in some future time. When I am in the process of writing down my entry or creating the layout, that is me lost in myself, trying to express what’s in me or memorializing the feeling or thought of the moment. It’s a way of speaking in my own inner voice. It’s something I didn’t get to do last year, but 2020 will be different.  Having gotten this far in just the first four weeks of the year, I know I will be able to tick this off my list this time around.

The “Why” of Journaling

My journal is moving along.

I am one happy camper as far as that’s concerned. I have kept a diary and wrote long hand since I was child. Even when I first arrived here in 2000, I would write in those elegant journals – pouring my heart and soul into every word. At the same time, I was sort of writing online but in a very spontaneous way.

I still have a blank journal from years back – a holiday present from someone who used to answer to “Husband of Pinay New Yorker,” (now answers to “ex”) – I haven’t shaken off the urge to write and chronicle what happens in my life, what I feel and think about – be it in a dozen words, a picture or page after page of entries. Somehow writing those things longhand was always my preferred mode over typing, despite my typing speed of 90wpm.

Not too long ago, I discovered art journaling and that opened a new channel of expression for me. I found that I did not have to relay every single thought or feeling or memory in words– I could represent them with my own version of art.
Decorate a Journal for Swap-Bot I have always loved writing. The spoken word, to me, has always been about expression. Writing is a means of memorializing my day to day. I like that I’m able to do that with words, with color, and express so much with just one photo.. or two.

I journal like I blog– principally for my personal benefit, so that I can capture the day or a thought. Because at the end of the day, we tend to forget. During some moment in the future, remembering might actually help us.

I know that it has helped me to move forward remembering what happened so many years ago. It has helped me to reflect on how far I’ve come when I go back to those days and moments I had already forgotten. And sometimes I do need to be reminded. I need to go back to that “once upon a time” moment to remind myself to go in a certain direction to avoid the pitfalls of yesterday.

I like going back to those moments when a word or a phrase I read now brings me back to memories of “onion soup”. I like going back to both the dark and happy times because it lets me see how far I’ve come. In my weakest moments, remembering helps me to move on. During those moments of triumph, I feel grateful as I read about how I was in a very different place, not too long ago.

I journal because I want to learn from the mistakes of the past and cherish the happy times that have come after. My journals remind me I have time and again overcome, and whatever comes my way, I will be able to handle.

Why do you journal?

Related post: The “How” of Journaling

Art Journal Reboot

For starters, I managed to draw and assemble a new section avatar. Yay! And rather than aim for a masterpiece, I settled on what I came up with on the first try. I was thinking of spraying it with ink. But then I was afraid the sign pen ink would end up bleeding. I could also take a snapshot of the black and white logo and color it digitally. (just like my Friday Five logo.). Somehow I didn’t feel quite okay with that. Then I remembered my flower collage– and that was that.

Before the weekend, I started working on my first multi-page layout. But first, I finally decided I will pull together these sheets of paper I had cut out of binder dividers, assembling them into a 9×15 inch spread. I will pull sections bit by bit so I can work on the layouts without carrying the entire book with me. At the end of the year, I will bind the final project into a solid book.

I am optimistic this one will get off the ground, unlike previous attempts after I did my altered book.

So back to my multi page layout. I used a lot of multi page layered layouts in my first art journal and I really liked how those gave my art journal a two dimensional feel.

I just really love the idea that I’m finally doing another book. There were many things that I failed to do in 2018. Continuing my art journaling was one of them.

I am not an artist by any means. I am creative and crafty, but I need to watch a dozen videos teaching me how to draw and practice many hours to come up with a passable sketch. But as personal as any journal is, it’s your own art that matters. It can be stick drawings, purely collage, or a hodgepodge of pre cut or preprinted kits. If you ask me, anything beyond simply writing down a journal entry can be an art journal.

I first heard of art journaling from Julie Fei Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Everyday project many years back. (Read more about here.). Then I got into journaling swaps as well which showed me how journal prompts could help you keep writing. For the most part, I preferred to journal day to day about what was going through my head or what I was feeling in my heart at any given point in time.

I did the backgrounds ahead and worked on each layout as my entries moved on. I like that pace and hope to do the same with this one. I’m hoping it will be as fulfilling an experience working with an altered book before and shifting to a “create as you go” journal as I assemble this one along the way.

My One Sentence Journal

One sentence journalI’ve been busy drawing letters of the alphabet after joining the Instagram challenge from @handetteredABCs to write the entire alphabet a letter a day this February.  (You can learn more about it at their website here, and jump into my Instagram account and click on any letter you see..)

I jumped in at H and am currently at O.  It’s been a fun journey but I’m in such great company!  I drool over the calligraphers who can create such beauties in literally a stroke of their pen.  I wish I could do that.  I can render lettering but I draw them.  Like most art, it takes practice to improve one’s craft and inspiration hit me last night to start this new journal.

 Just one sentence.  Any other blurbs or write up will have to be elsewhere like here.

Strictly in pen.  I have my art journal for the fancier stuff.

In a small enough size that I can lug it anywhere.  I want to be able to carry it with me easily without lugging a tome.  The page size is also key if I am to do a page without devoting a day to it.  My art journal is always a work in progress because I do the page layouts and then decided on embellishments and then do the actual journaling.  This one is much, much more abbreviated than that.

Should be a notebook I can tear pages off and later pull together into one journal.  I must’ve rendered one line over 20x last night, tearing off the mistakes out.  I will have to grab another one soon. I have these freebies I grabbed from a conference at work from a sponsor which was made of recycled paper.  Perfect.  No expense, and more importantly, the paper takes the ink from the pen with ease.

This is as much to practice my lettering as it is to memorialize words and thoughts that might mean something to me at any given point in time.  Self explanatory.

I have been journaling since I was young, and I still have my handwritten journals  which I began when I arrived in New York almost 18 years ago.  I’m almost done with my first art journal in an altered book, and I’m beginning a new one.  This is both simple and not simple, but it works the same way in giving me a channel of self expression.

In one sentence.

Looking back

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I am constantly going through my things, sifting through what I can give away, throw away, or keep.  There are always bits and pieces that somehow surprise me with a memory or a longer peek into “what used to be”.  Being very sentimental by nature, I used to find it hard to just discard or throw away things, even long after they have served their purpose in my life, or if their meaning has changed through time or by virtue of circumstance.  Letting go has never been easy for me, but several life altering  shifts that took place in the last couple of years have caused me to just do that more easily.

I am still not quite as adept at it as someone I know who will not think twice about throwing something that seems useless or nondescript.  I’ve seen pieces of projects and parts of other things go missing, only to find out later it was mistakenly thrown away.

But there are things that we need to get rid of or shed as we go through life.  Just as we shed people, we must shed things.  There just tends to be too much at some point in time and we must unburden ourselves of that load.  I am doing just that.

So I was actually looking for something else when I spied this notebook that I had used as a journal sometime in 2013, tucked somewhere in my room where I had meant to keep it hidden.  I didn’t forget about it, but I just didn’t feel the urge to write in it.  It was one of the “What do I really, really, really want?” journals.  Like millions of others who read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I had followed her speeches and writings and picked up this prompt to help me focus on getting some clarity at a time when I felt I was “floating” needlessly.

I have at least two of these journals, the first one, definitely ended.  I was just hoping to read through the main response, not the journal entries themselves, and maybe make a visual summary of the answers I wrote down — but that idea got shot down once I realized where I was heading at the time I wrote that in 2012.  Not worth it.  Between then and now, I not only did a complete 360, but I had jumped from one universe to another.  Still, I thought, it would be helpful to be reminded of my state of mind and heart back then, if only to go back to the lessons I learned from that experience.  Once I’m done “being reminded”, that one will be shredded and gotten rid of in full.

The main idea is to ask yourself the question — and yes, you do ask “really” three times for emphasis — and then write about the first thing that comes to mind.  And as the days go, you can go back to your answers to get a picture of what it is that you have been writing in answer to the question.  After doing two books and here about to go on a third, I have discovered it DOES work for me.  (But that’s just me.)

This second book that I have, I had written on intermittently during one of the most volatile periods in my adult life.  In many ways, it got me to where I am now.  It made me who I am now.  So this one, I believe, is worth doing a visual summary for, and maybe even worth keeping.  I haven’t quite started reading yet as I just stumbled upon the book this morning, but you can see it has sparked a different kind of inspiration within.

I have leafed through the first 5 or 6 entries to start the visual summary.  I haven’t even read the actual entries and I could hear my inner voice screaming what I wanted, and I am relieved I had actually gotten myself to get it done.  It’s a very personal reveal that I’d rather keep to myself, but suffice it to say, even without reading back, writing those thoughts and sentiments made them a reality for me.  I think I got, and am on my way to getting, that which I really, really, really want.

 

What do I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want? (Book III)

I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia years ago and have only read it once, but I have picked up one very important practice from reading the book.  I’ve tried to answer this question that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, posed to her readers as an after thought to the soul-searching she chronicled in her book: “What do I really, really, really want?

I am now on my third journal and am into my fourth or fifth entry in a new notebook.  A good amount of time and many life events and decisions have passed between the journals, and even I have found the change in my answers and state of mind quite enlightening.  I know that a lot has changed between 2012 and now– both in my personal circumstances and the world in general around me, and it has been quite a journey.  It is in looking back at the answers I had written — not necessarily the journal entries per se — that I have seen such a marked difference in the way I used to think and the way I am now.

The very stark difference between what I wanted then and what I want now gives me pause to reflect on how my feelings have changed since I first started answering the question.  I had made it a point to just go over the answers and make a visual summary from time to time, but at this point, I don’t think I’m ready to read my entries in depth just yet.  I am, however, ready to continue answering the question in the “now”.

Gilbert says you have to repeat the “really” three times to stress that it has to be something you truly want — as against something you might “maybe want” or “half want.”  It must also be something spontaneous after asking the question.  This time around, I’ve taken to doing a bit of art around each entry.  Whether it is to draw a border around the page or color in the lettering of either the question or the answer, or to add some graphic I intend to fill in with color later on, each additional time soent embellishing the page gives me a chance to reflect deeper into my answer.  Sometimes the succeeding blurb is a sentence or two only.  Sometimes it fills the whole page.  Again, the key is spontaneity.

Answering the question when I write on that journal’s pages is like an ongoing essay that gets written a bit at a time with each entry.  And when I go back to read them all, I’m supposed to find my answer from the very words I’d written.