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

5x8" moleskine, watercolor, pitt pen

5x8" moleskine, watercolor, pitt pen

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.

  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 collecting phrases and images from magazines. Add these collected bits to to a bound journal. This is Prompt60 #1: Start a Documentation Journal
  3. 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. Give your journal a fun name to remind yourself that it's about the process not the end result.
  4. Make some pages that you might consider "backgrounds" and let them be. Revisit your thoughts about when a page is actually finished vs. in-progress.
  5. Reframe your journal as a spot for testing, practice and experimentation. 
  6. Read The Creative License by Danny Gregory. 
  7. 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.
  8. If a bound "art journal" stresses you out, try using loose sheets of heavy white card stock or watercolor paper or even a cardboard cereal box as a base for collage. 
  9. Use your art journal to make a color chart for one type of art material. See Prompt60 #22 for an example with india inks. You can do this with almost any art material.
  10. Get started at Art Journaling 101 {free}.

[originally posted january 2010]