how to trick your inner perfectionist {and become an art journalist}

"If you’re going to be a writer,
the first essential is just to write.
Do not wait for an idea.
Start writing something
and the ideas will come.
You have to turn the faucet on
before the water starts to flow."
Louis L’Amour

A variety of wicked tricks to psych out your inner perfectionist so you can spend more time creating art. Trust that with practice and experimentation you will become more confident and comfy about your art journal work.

Try one or more of these ideas to break through the fear of the blank page.

5x8" moleskine, watercolor, pitt pen

5x8" moleskine, watercolor, pitt pen

  1. Start with a creative prompt. For example, Daily Paper Prompt #1: Rainbow. Prompts are fun constraints, little challenges. Like coloring houses with just one color, black and white. Creating an art journal background with coffee. 
  2. Start with a simple, inexpensive journal rather than the gorgeous leather-bound, monogrammed italian journal you received as a gift. Simple is good. I bet you'll "jump in" faster when the paper or journal is not precious.

  3. Reframe your journal as a spot for testing, practice and experimentation.
  4. Make a list on the page. Often the easiest way to start! Embellish the list with paint, markers, washi tape, anything within reach of your art space.
  5. Give your journal a fun name to remind yourself that it's about the process not the end result.
  6. Some ideas for playing on a journal page? Mix mediums. Draw circles in ink, paint with watercolor and watch the ink run. Stitch a photograph to your page. Finger paint plaid stripes on your page with heavy body acrylics. Get out some acrylic paint, smear some on the page and doodle in the paint by scraping lines with a dull pencil, palette knife or edge of an old credit card. Just play. 
  7. Find inspiration in your day-to-day world. Draw a backgammon board with neocolors. 
  8. Print a quote or lyrics and staple them to your page. Draw a frame around your words with a Sharpie.
  9. Hide a page you want to destroy. Revisit your decision in a week.
  10. Instead of a bound "art journal" use loose sheets of watercolor paper or heavy white card stock. You can face a single page even if you get wound up about "ruining" a pristine journal.
  11. Use your art journal to document your art materials. Paint a sample of each color of paint and label with the name or code number and brand. You can do this with colored pencils, neocolor wax crayons, pastels, watercolors and even fonts!
  12. Take the next index-card-a-day challenge starting June 1st.
  13. Get started at Art Journaling 101 {free}.

[originally posted january 2010]