Journal Page–Getting Started

This isn’t about journal prompts. Many sites that give prompts. Opening a favorite book and randomly pointing at a word or sentence and using that to get started is just as good. A dictionary works, too.

Most of the journaling courses I’ve been to in the last two years are all about the page background and prep. There are fads on backgrounds. Right now, it’s layer on layer of acyrlic paint, gesso,  even tape. I love watching the fads of content, too–we’ve gone from dunce hats, wings, and birds to big-eyed ladies with long necks, heads tilted precariously into the page. I don’t draw people.

I want to write on the page,  draw something that goes with the words, so those other techniques are fine, but not for me right now.  I’m a word-lover, a raw-art journaler, and I love the story effect. I’m all about the story, the words, the emotion, the growth.

Start by placing blocs where you will draw.

To begin with, I freehand a space about the size of a business card or playing card on the page. The allows me space to work when I’m done writing. For me, writing comes first. I know, old-school. Love it, though. Add another two shapes to create interest. You could just as easily write in the blocks and use the rest of the page for color or drawing. That’s up to you.

Writing in progress, images in progress.

Next, I tell a story–in this case about seeing Christmas decorations up so early in our local mall. You can write about your kitchen table, or the first phone you owned, a summer afternoon when you brought home a snake. You can also look at the last exchange of text messages, tweets or facebook photos in which you were tagged and write about that or explain them, or flat out make up a story. For me, journaling is telling stories from my point of view.

Story complete, images at bottom changed.

When the story is done, I consider the spaces. What goes in there that makes the story work? Emphasizes a point? What color? How about printing out a photo that started it all to begin with? In this case, I changed the sketch at the very bottom. I wanted some bright colors on the bottom of the page.

This spread is related in color, although the pages have different purposes and content.

True, the first page contains a lot of writing, but that was what I wanted to do today.  The next spread is very different. I found a poem I liked and tore it out, along with the authors name and a bit about the poem. On the left side, I took a strip of watercolor paper and highlighted the watercolor with colored pencils to bring out the flowers standing on the shore. On the right side, I cut out two pages and sandwiched a paper bag between them to put in some photos I take at the Desert Botanical Garden tomorrow. This spread is very different than the last. Not much writing. It doesn’t bother me that the spreads vary from each other wildly. So does my life.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and raw-art journaler. Her book on raw art journaling will be published by North Light Press in June, 2011.