Put down the paint–all of it. Acrylics, watercolors, pastels. Lay down your neon gel pens, distressers, macro- and micro-glitter, mica shards and flower petals. Put them down. Now. You don’t need them to journal. Breathe. Clean off your desk. Breathe again. Just for now, we are going to keep it simple. You can go back to layers-upon-layers tomorrow.
Just for today, allow your journal to be a quiet discovery of what’s in your heart and soul. It doesn’t need six layers of paint, crayons, punchinella stencils, gloss varnish, sprinkles and hot chocolate sauce. The last dozen journals I’ve seen were heavy and colored and had ephemera stuck all over them, but not a single word that helped the owner make sense of her life.
I believe in slow art. Simple art. Original art. It has your fingerprints in it and your mistakes throughout it. Because it is original and raw. I believe that the original digital art was done by hand–ten digits, including an opposable thumb– with a pencil on paper. After that, pens and maybe watercolor pencils were added. That’s all you need to make meaning. Meaning might not come from words alone, but it doesn’t comes from pressure to buy pounds of tools to create busy, color-laden, thick, but word-empty pages, either.
Try going to spare. Simple. Pen and paper. With words. If you feel that your journal pages have become the boss of you, and meaning has taken the back seat, throw everyone out of the art van and rearrange the seats.
Put creativity and your good common sense in the front seat. Everyone else who is clamoring for attention (“But X puts paint in her hair and puts her journal on her head to get color!” “Be like Y and use that new archival peanut-butter-and-jelly stain to create an inner child page!” ) has to sit in the way-back and be quiet. Give them a coloring book and ketchup packets.
Now you are ready to drive. Find your meaning, purpose, and self awareness in simple, direct lines. Remember when you loved making things? Go back to that time. It was rich in content, satisfying in the doing.
–-Quinn McDonald has a Shaker and Bauhaus sensibility today.