Ink-Spray Map Journal Page

Working with pen and ink always brings about the idea of fusty, precise, maybe even overly-precise journal images. Ahhh, the joy of raw-art journaling! Raw art journaling is not about fusty, it’s about meaning making.

I wanted to create a journal page that would help me think about my life–how I’ve grown, what issues come up again and again, how I can continue to grow.

A map seemed perfect for that task. I’ve drawn several maps in my journal, but always after a trip, as a way to log what I’ve seen and where it was.

This needed to be less precise. So I filled several small mist bottles with about 10 drops of ink (re-inkers or India ink) and about 2 teaspoons of distilled water. Distilled water is important if you live in a hard-water area, like I do. Otherwise, the bottle goes from misting to dribbling in about five tries.

I randomly spritzed a page, so it looked like this:

Ink-sprayed water color paper. Let dry completely before working.

Then I sat down and began to divide up the colors into areas like a map–land areas, oceans, boundaries. I made up titles for areas, “Ghost Dance Lake,” which is the place for memories that will live in your heart forever. They can be good or painful, but they are with you. There is an area for “unformed ideas,” and “scattered drylands” for ideas that may still work, but are not in use.

Map in progress, with land masses and boundaries drawn in.

I made a group of splatters into “detail islands” (lower left) because I often don’t connect details well.

There is the Plain of Plain (left, top) a place of simplicity, which often looks big and flat and boring to me, but if you look closely, it is filled with interesting colors and texture.

I should mention that the top example, with no writing, is not the same as the bottom example, that I used to color in my life. I’d worked on the bottom one before I realized that I needed a “before” and “after.”

You can do this kind of map more than once. You can do it often and have it look different every time. You can use one color and talk only about intensity over time. Monochromes are great for mapping how long after a particular incident you still remember it vividly, or how long it takes till the incident really changes your thinking permanently or the feeling fades entirely.

Multiple colors can represent time or place or ideas. It allows you space to think things through and draw conclusions. All perfect raw art and meaning making for a journal page.

–Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler and creativity coach whose book Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art will be published by North Light Books in July of 2011.