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Exploring Art Journaling

Editor’s Note: Anyone who has heard me talk on Paperclipping Roundtable the past six months or who attended my seminar at CHA Winter 2011 knows that I am both a personal fan of art journaling’s value as well as a believer in its increasing importance to the paper crafts industry.

Karen Stockham, today’s guest author, is the former owner of Tumblebeast Stickers and a licensed family counselor. She uses art journaling with her clients in her private counseling practice. I’ve asked her to share from her perspective as a mental health professional why art journaling is so useful to her clients.

For readers who wish to learn more about art journaling, enrollment is currently open for Karen’s new class at Big Picture Classes, called “Write Down To The Nitty Gritty“. Because it is a topic that I so strongly believe in, I will be appearing as a guest instructor during the class, sharing some of my own personal art journaling and the journey that it has taken me on.

Life’s challenges and the stress they bring are an unavoidable part of living. And sometimes the weight of certain challenges seems almost unbearable. There are many ways to help keep our buckets full and filling even when we are dealing with substantial grief.  Friendship, activities, hobbies, non-perfectionism, acceptance for what and who you are, a place to vent, family connections and friendship connections are all helpful.

And at our fingertips, we have yet another tool to use. People have long used journals to record feelings and thoughts. We use scrapbooking and crafts as a tool to record memories. Putting the two together in art journaling is a therapeutic tool I use in my private practice with clients which is not only enlightening but also a vehicle for releasing stress and working through life’s inevitable struggles. It is one way to fill your bucket.

Using expressive journaling with creative art is a powerful way to allow for connection building and profound learning about you and your inner self. It allows for time to create and for time to process. Guidance from your inner self is not only healing but extremely helpful as you heal. It is very therapeutic.

So what is the difference between a journal and an art journal? Journals become art journals when you add depth, color, and creativity through illustrations (such as photographs and embellishments of any kind) to your journal. That sounds like scrapbooking, card making and crafting, doesn’t it? Art journaling is not about creative talent – it is about allowing self-communication through more than just words. Combining both expressive writing and creative art expression allows for taking an in-depth look into your own soul. You can see what you already know, and begin to learn and address what you still need to discover. This can be a very rewarding journey of self-discovery.

To derive the greatest benefit from your art journal experience, don’t hold back when expressing yourself. Don’t worry about your creative skills (or lack of them). Ignore the negative voices telling you that you’re not an artist. Give yourself permission to explore, to play, to create, and most of all, to listen. The creative process is a healing process. Words alone can be limiting, and thus using writing and art together provides a place for pent-up traumatic emotions such as anger, hurt and grief to be expressed when they are much too painful or buried too deeply to express verbally.

Allowing for self-discovery triggers emotional catharsis. Gaining a sense of empowerment and a bit more control as you heal is essential. Art journaling is a gentle, safe and private way to let it all out. Through this process you can vent spontaneously, creatively and lead yourself to some therapeutic relief.

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5 Responses to Exploring Art Journaling

  1. Amy K March 19, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    I signed up for Karen’s class awhile ago, and am very much looking forward to it! See you both in class!

  2. Mary L March 19, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    I have been keeping an art journal for some time now without consciously realizing that it was a way to deal with the loss of my sister to cancer. Karen has validated my feelings exactly!

  3. Marilyn Nimmo March 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Seriously considering this class–need it!

  4. Lisa Williams March 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Very interesting! I guess I have been creating art journals…and didn’t realize it! Thanks so much for sharing this information! I can totally see how this type of activity is therapeutic….adding journaling to layouts not only lets one record their memories…but also their feelings about those particular moments.

  5. Gab March 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Great article. I’m off to BPC to find out more about the class now!

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