Sunday, May 24, 2009

Keeping a Studio Journal

Keeping a Studio Journal

Keeping a studio journal is a process of catching ideas, and developing those ideas into designs and finally realizing those designs in art pieces.

A studio journal is a valuable tool that can help you in your creative journey. Learning to create is an exploratory journey and a journal helps you:
• Be focused.
• Get distance from and process with the internal critic.
• Learn your own expression and style.
• Share creative ideas with others.
• Express ideas visually. It enriches the texture of your visual life.
• Establish a pattern of observing, notating and using your studio journal.
• The journal catches and stores what you find visually stimulating and keeps it together in one place so those images do not get lost or forgotten.
• It is a place to do visual research. It is a memory aid.
• It is a toolbox. It is a good thing to return to when you feel uninspired.
• It is a place for all parts of you to express and have space to communicate.
• It is a place for sampling and planning.
• It is a place to try new art materials, supplies and styles.
• It is a place to collect, edit, organize, translate and finally make art.

The journal can have drawings, photos, collages, writing, paintings, etc. You work at your own pace and remember to have the journal handy for when you feel inspired by certain images and want to record them. Some people like to have a set time to use their journals and others like to use it whenever they feel drawn to do so. A studio journal is a place to process rather than decorate, although that may happen. In the journal do not try to cultivate a style or look unless it is a part of your visual research. Personal creativity needs to be developed and worked on and this tool helps with that process. Doing this work also means that you will be doing personal work. Your emotional, physical, intellectual and intuitive self will all have views, opinions, emotions and likes and dislikes to express.
Working in a studio journal helps makes an idea real and tangible. The moment you note the idea down in a studio journal a whole series of questions arise in your mind, and as you answer these questions often more questions and reflections arise. This is stepping into your own development as a creator and taking responsibility for what could unfold. The more you journal about your creative understanding and reflective process the more you develop your psychological strength that you are doing the work of educating yourself on the how and what of your creative process. Studio journals are a way of giving you permission to spend time in a creative pursuit. It is an active claim of who you are and how you want to spend your time. They contain potential projects. You note things that you may want to work on right away and other things that you may come back to years later.
Some people may want to record everything to do with their creative life into the journal; to do lists, material receipts, shows attended, etc. Other people may want to use it to support their habit of looking at the world in a creative way. Others may want to use it to develop the skill of creativity in whatever form that takes.
When we create we start repeating patterns. This will show up in the journal. As you collect, sort, and add visual materials to your journal you will note the themes and patterns in life that interest you. If you haven’t developed your style, this will happen while working in the journal.
The journal is a good place to work with your internal critic. It is a place to dialogue about fears, and thoughts that sometimes get in the way of your creativity. It is a place to honor and listen to what your critical side is saying and understand from its point of view how it is trying to protect and guide you. Often what you call your inner critic is really a part of you that remembers how disappointed or hurt you were when you tried something before and failed and it is trying to prevent you from making the same mistake. When you listen to and work with all parts of you, you move into new ways of understanding yourself. Your creative process is enhanced and you to take risks.
The journal can also be a place to keep personal goals and record your process with those goals. It is also a good place to record ideas after workshops before you forget the inspiring things that happened. It can be private or public. It may be something that you enjoy sharing with other artists or very personal.
If you are using blank pages, you may want to print out a template of lined paper or a grid to slip under a page that you want to write on. You may also want some plastic sheets to slip in if you are using wet materials in the journal. You may want to glue a envelope on the front and on the back page for collecting images that you are not ready to glue in. You may want to keep the journal out in a place where you see it all the time so you do not forget to use it.

How to setup the journal:

• You may want it to be random.
• You may want to start with inspirational quotes on the pages.
• You may want to start each entry with an image then write.
• You may want to start each entry with a color.
• You may want to start with process writing.
If you want to develop the habit of using the journal, usually if you practice for 28 days the habit is set. Then it becomes part of your life.

Journaling with Images
A way of processing with an image:
1. Where do you feel this in your body?
What are the body sensations?
2.What emotions are evoked?
What are you feeling?
3. What are your thoughts?
What ideas, reflections are emerging?
4. How are you inspired by this image?
Where would you take it? How would you make it yours?
5. Why is it relevant it your creative process?
Looking at the image:
• Divergent thinking: Free associate to the image
• Subjectively: How does it relate to me?
• Naivete: What is new, fresh here?
• Taking a risk: What can I do new here with this?
• Distinct Style: How does this relate to my own unique voice and or style?

The creative person is one who can look at the same thing as everybody else but see something different. A creative act takes unremarkable parts to create an unforgettable whole.
- Denise Shekerjian


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