Art Journaling is Good For Your Artistic Life

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

I have to tell you about my experience with art journaling.

Those of you who know me by now understand I am not the type of person who reads step-by-step instructions or a student who reads the entire chapter of the lesson. I typically skim over the material to gather key information I might need and just try it out. If I make a mistake, I simply learn from it and move on, I don't dwell on it.

Don't get me wrong, every coloring decision I make has thought put into it, but I have never been one who wrote in a diary to reflect on my project. I like to roll with the pencils and see where they take me.

Now, knowing that about me, I want to share with you one of the best things I have learned from my practice partner Kathy--taking time to reflect on my projects as I complete them. It started while we were chatting one day about a project she had worked on a few months back. When I asked her what colors she used in this project I just thought she would give me a general idea or tell me she couldn't remember. But oh no, I was totally impressed when she not only told me the colors used, but the specific brand and where on the image she used the exact combinations. My immediate thought was, "Whoa this woman has the memory of an elephant". Since I know that isn't the case I had to ask how she knew all that color information. She told me it was recorded in her coloring journal so all she had to do was flip back to the project to answer my question or refer back to it when she works on future projects. My next thought, "a very useful idea, but I know myself and I would have a really hard time trying to do this because I don't typically write things down". But I can admit, interest was piqued.

Kathy helped me set up a journal template that would work for me. Everyone is different, we all think differently and I know what makes sense to me doesn't always make sense to others. But it's great, because my journal is simply that "My Journal". It is personal to me or you; that means we can use our journal any way we want to so that it is very useful for us. I know Kathy likes to keep a journal to document the supplies she used in her projects so she can use the information on future projects. I like to use my journal to document my progress through my project and the specific areas I am focused on. In my journal you will find a ton of process pictures of my projects with quick notes about what I like and don't like about where I am at.

I cannot tell you how much this journaling of my projects has helped me. I am not super organized like Kathy is, by having a consistent template that I fill out for each of my projects, but I now I have something to refer back to and really evaluate my work. I can see where in the process of a project where I went in a wrong direction and what I was thinking or doing that caused my issue and grow from it. I also like to look back at old projects from time to time to see where I have grown. But with my art journal, I can also look back at projects I liked and see what specifically I did that went well and how I can duplicate the process on current projects. I can also look back at the ones I am embarrassed of and see exactly what went crazy wrong and work on those issues to improve my future projects.

My art journal is more of a visual journal with quick notes. The best thing is that I found a way to make it work for me. I like to use a digital journal, because it is quick and easy for me. I used to use the Notes app on my iPhone. I would take pictures of my project throughout the process and then write a couple of thoughts of what materials I was using and/or what I was happy or frustrated about. This worked just fine for me because it really helped me see the process all together. But now I have moved to a journal app, it is pretty fancy and I paid money for it--but it's visually appealing and very easy to use. There are many different types of journaling apps out there that can help you too when it comes to keeping your own art journal.

Here are links to a few apps that you may find helpful for you to journal digitally (you may need to check with your device specific app store if the ones listed below are not available for your device):

Notes app: (with basic note apps allow you to take notes and add pictures)

Journaling apps:

Remember, there are so many different ways to journal and the only right one is the one that works for you! Your art journal is simply a tool that helps you self reflect to see where you are, where you came from and where you want to go next with your art. I've learned that there are journals that allow you to just be creative (like a sketchbook), there are art journals that document things like dreams or vacation but most importantly I am learning that journals can be anything you want them to be. This is just the start of my journaling series as I want to explore several different types of ways of art journaling. I never thought I would be a journaling person, yet here I am excited to fill the pages of my next journal.

You can find more of Frankie's work, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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