Combine the scraps on your desk with the choice of what to use and what to toss out and you have an interesting creative game. If you are a raw-art journaler, well, this is not only about paper. It’s about your life. Because, in raw-art journaling, you allow your work to reflect your development and sit with what shows up, refusing to run away from what you learn. You look at what you develop, you are kind to both your art work and the deep soul-work that journaling is. That’s the heart of raw-art journaling.
This weekend I cleaned up the studio after teaching several classes. There was a pile of paper scraps, too lovely to throw out, but with no clear use. The most productive question artists ask is “I wonder what would happen if. . . ” This is a rich challenge that blow open doors in your head to let new light shine on dusty beliefs. This is the heart of raw-art journaling. Your journal is the graphic expression of your life. Sometimes we work with joy, sometimes we work on the scraps–the uncomfortable, sharp edges of our lives. When the sharp edges show up, we refuse to choose the comfort of working on a kit, where everything is predetermined and the outcome depends on your ability to follow directions. In raw art, you provide it all, and the work sings with effort. You risk failure. You risk learning something uncomfortable. Yes, all that from creating a journal page. That’s why raw art is so deeply powerful.
I picked up a larger scrap and looked to see what might be discovered in it. The paper was blue green, with a yellow part and a few darker parts. Using a Pitt Pen, I scribbled outlines to make the darker spots look like the idea of trees. The yellow spot got a spiral to make it a sun, and then I drew some lines to create landscape horizons. I call this work The Landscape of Your Life. It’s a favorite raw-art journaling technique–where are my boundaries, what am I limiting?
We all create the map of our lives. We choose, we live, we repeat. We make the same dumb choices over and over again–because it fits what we believe about ourselves. This is our limiting story. The wrong partners, the depleting jobs, the sale clothes that don’t go with anything. Distill that, and what’s left is the residue of disenchantment. But those emotions aren’t caused by the circumstances. It’s the other way around. Our disenchantment leads us to defeating choices. “I don’t have any real talent,” or “I’m not really good enough to ask for a promotion, I’ll get fired,” we say, and there it is. Our emotions determine our choices and our circumstances. Luckily, you also have the power to embrace the affirming, uplifting, soul-nourishing choices. Much harder. It means changing your idea of who you are, changing what your limits are. It’s hard work. It changes our futures.
Believe that your emotions are caused by others, by circumstances, and you live the life of a hamster in a cage, constantly dependent on the moods of the big people outside the cage. Believe that your emotions cause your circumstances, and you deliberately choose what nourishes your soul, rather than repeating the routine.
All that from a journal page? Why, yes. That’s what raw-art journaling is–creating the life you want.
–Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler. Her book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art will come out in June, 2011.