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    « Explode | Main | A White Day »

    Write About the Bad Stuff Too

    "Not all of your decisions will be correct.
    None of us is perfect.
    But if you get into the habit of making decisions,
    experience will develop your judgment to a point
    where more and more of your decisions will be right.
    After all, it is better to be right 51 percent of the time
    and get something done, than it is to get nothing done
    because you fear to reach a decision."
    ~ H. W. Andrews

    I've been thinking about all the stuff I don't write in my art journal. The focus in my art journal is happy - colorful - beautiful - silly. I use my art journal to figure things out, adding quotes as future motivation, making lists of pros and cons, brainstorming solutions, talking myself through alternatives, habits I want to change, documenting moments.

    It's the super serious stuff that I don't want in my art journal, because I feel like the pages will become downers and looking at them will make me dwell on the yukky stuff. It is in my written journal (which is just as often typed) that I explore pretty much anything - negative thoughts included.

    I'm not sure why it's OK in my written journal and not OK in my art journal?

    The video Journaling About the Ugly Things, from Aly of Rouge Raven's Nest, changed my perspective. Aly shared funky + refreshing ideas for including personal and emotion-evoking thoughts in your art journals. Aly shares her journals, showing us places to "hide" words, to keep them sheltered, yet still there. Hidden spots. Lovely ideas, and a way for this analytical girl to get OK with writing about bad stuff. I like that you can explore negative stuff but yet every time you turn to that journal page it's not so glaringly evident.

    I'll give it a shot.

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    Reader Comments (10)

    In my "words only" journal I have no problem writing down the bad stuff! I gets it out of my head, clears
    it, if you will....But i can see where I'd probably not want to put the "bad stuff" out there on an art journal page where everything is so pretty and engaging. But your right, no one is perfect and this is not paradise!

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterEden

    I think this is a very common thought, especially if you love color and beautiful patterns - I can see the difficulty in using those same skills to express negative emotions.

    Like Eden, I have no trouble writing about the bad stuff in my written journal - heck, that's what got me through adolescence! But though I don't do art journal pages (at least the way I see them on the blogosphere) I started to use my sketches as a sort of code for difficult situations and emotions I didn't want to put into words. They're often embedded with a personal symbolism. The ability to express the full spectrum of emotions is so important - we all need to find a way to do it in whatever form works.

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered Commentersophie_vf

    couldn't agree more! journaling only about the happy things rather defeats the purpose of it for me. it doesn't mean i have to air it to the world, but i think it's important to get those sludgy thoughts out in some form or other. it helps me make peace with it and move on.

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered Commenteraimee

    *Eden, I liked practicing my lettering using Eagles lyrics.

    *Sophie, Good point. Whether writing or creating art about the bad stuff, the important thing is to get it out of your head somehow! There is nothing that says I've got to include difficult stuff in my art journals, but if I do I will be hiding it creatively...

    *Aimee, Those "sludgy thoughts" muddy up our focus, eh? You do have a way with words!

    03.16.2010 | Registered Commentergypsy

    This is exactly what I need to read right now. I was thinking about that exact topic last night and was looking for a way to write about the bad stuff without it being so evident. I'll definitely check out the link.

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMissKoolAid

    Oh I do the same thing, I think I will go watch that video right away. I think the art journal should have room for all feelings but I tend to try to make things pretty that people are going to want to see. I may have to rethink that.

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate Robertson

    * Sophie, What a coincidence! I think that hiding or sheltering deep thoughts potentially means writing even more than we normally would. Let me know how it works out.

    * Kate, If I do a page and ultimately find it too personal to share, I blur the words or just don't post the art anywhere. It's such a cool idea to hide the deeper thoughts.

    If you just need to get the yukky stuff out of your head and don't need to revisit, you can even gesso over your words, letting a few peek through.

    ~ Tammy

    03.16.2010 | Registered Commentergypsy

    I am perfectly comfortable venting in written form in a spiral bound notebook (I had amassed several of these - maybe a decade's worth? - and a few years ago shredded them all). I need the release, but don't need to hang on to it.

    In my art journals I am equally as expressive in emotion but not in great documentary detail. I write and paint it over long passages of text or I use found poetry or headlines as shorthand, again, I don't need the details. Sometimes just the date (I date all of my pages) and a couple of trigger words are enough to remind me what prompted the page.

    I try not to have a particular outcome in mind when I work in my art journal, and I do journal about nice things, but notice that when I purposely journal happy things, when I look at the work later, it seems "off" to me ... I sense a disconnect between the real me and what is on the page. Not sure I'm explaining that right ... I guess most of my journal pages are more introspective and moody. I'll have to look back through my journals and pay attention to the "happier" pages, look for patterns. Hmmmm. :)

    03.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

    *Jeannine, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree with your point about the page seeming off or fake when you purposely push happy words. My challenge is that almost anything seems fake because I self-edit when I write on my art... I don't want to screw up the art that I've come to love.

    * Everyone,

    I'd be OK with burning a lot of my written journals (and have pitched a few) because I rarely re-read anything. But I don't foresee pitching any of the art journals.

    Do you re-read your written journals? When you do, do you remember the process of writing those pages?

    Great discussion. Looking back today, I found my art journal pages are more art than words. I love quotes and those are the words I often use along with color and images. To Sophie_vf's point, I hadn't realized that these were indeed personal symbolism or code. The images on each page make sense to me.

    You've all given me a lot to think about!

    ~ Tammy

    03.17.2010 | Registered Commentergypsy

    I do re-read my written journals, and find them extremely helpful, if only to remind myself "I've gotten through this before, and I'll get through this again". On other occasions, it almost serves as a cautionary tale - don't let history repeat itself.

    I have diaries going back to when I was 12 years old (and I'm 46 now!) and the only ones I've pitched were the ones that got damp and moldy, and a few that were play-by-play descriptions of soccer games I went to ( I wish I was kidding but I'm not).

    Right now, I'd like to recommend Lynda Barry's "What it Is" [gypsy edited link What It Is] which is a strange combination of collage, memoir, and writing/drawing instruction. It speaks to the relationship between the writer/artist and words, image and memory, and yes, unloading the bad stuff as well.

    03.18.2010 | Unregistered Commentersophie_vf

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