Art Journaling: Transforming Memories
We all have material side effects of our own lifestyle whether we own too many books, clothes, DVDs, or computer parts. A big side effects of my lifestyle--one that has centered on travelling and moving and writing--is many, many paper goods. I've been extremely privileged to have seen so many amazing places over the past four years, but how do I remember all the places I've been? I am not a souvenir person. I'm also not big on taking pictures. What I am big on, however, are paper goods: ticket stubs, brochures, business cards, flyers. Basically, anything that is free and can be flatted to the size of a letter. Naturally, keeping all these things has amassed to, well, quite a collection of paper. Three near-exploding manila folders to be exact.
I'm moving again in about a year so I'm working on downsizing what I'll be taking with me across an ocean. I don't really feel that lugging three folders worth of paper is a very smart decision. My solution? An art journal.
I rediscovered an art journal I had started in 2015 that is about 1/3rd full of drawings, paintings, embroidery, and collage. I did most of it during a summer when I'd been pretty bored and it was a great, low-stakes art assignment that kept me busy and happy. What if I turned my stack of paper goods into some type of art project?
The Process Begins
The first step to journaling was sorting through everything. Simply put, I had to get rid of the stuff that either didn't mean that much to me and had little aesthetic value. It was difficult because everything I kept had at least some sentimental value to me, but nevertheless, a stack of things went to the recycling. Here's what my bedroom floor looked like after the carnage.
Step Two: Assembling
Now that I had narrowed down my pile to things that were sentimental and/or cool to look at, it was time to make it look good. Mostly, this consisted of rifling through things and finding a similar theme like color, style, or subject. I watched some YouTube videos on collaging, and while mine are nowhere near as amazing as theirs, I think they turned out okay. My first spread focused mostly on pink and green alongside natural motifs.
Not only does this condense multiple objects into two pages, it provides a way for me to appreciate things that would otherwise be sitting in a folder, unnoticed. I love that these pages conjure up so many great memories that you probably wouldn't know unless I explained them to you. The blue flower is from when my mom and I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit. The tiny letter is from a dear friend. I picked up the fern drawings at the Nature Center I volunteer at. The bright green is from Berlin. The person is from a museum in Spain. The list goes on.
Documenting a Process
In this spread, you can see some of the process of creating a journal page. The first illustrates a general assembling of parts that I wanted on the page: the moon, trees, and stagecoach. In the second picture, you can see my debate on which fabric to include: denim or suede. In the final picture, you can see all the parts cut and assembled together, including the addition of the ribbon.
Sometimes journal pages lend themselves to a simpler side. This one features a leaf I had picked up from outside my house and a pressed flower that James had sent me in a bouquet. You can't tell very well from the picture, but on the flower is a burgundy wax seal which was made with a kit given to me by a friend.
Overall, art journaling has become an important part of my mental, emotional, and creative life. While writing is always my main priority, this project allows me to be creative without the pressure to be really good at it. It has also been restorative to handle all my materials and reminisce on all the old memories. As I prepare to leave my hometown and my family in the coming year, it is a physical way of taking old things and making something new that I will carry with me into the future.
Though none of the following pages were made recently, here are some other pages in my art journal.