Art, Visual, or Creative Journaling?

Ready to do some artful journaling?  Wait. What? You can’t because you’re not a trained artist?  Well, that’s okay.  Me neither.  😉

Commonly called Art Journaling, putting colors and words on a page to express what’s on our minds is a way to creatively say what we need to say – even when we don’t realize we need to say it.  Our ideas need a place to ‘be’ – especially in this noisy world that constantly pokes at us.

I’d like to share something with you that I learned recently:

“Artful” journaling isn’t just for trained artists who are working out project ideas or practicing new techniques. Turns out, journaling artfully can be for anyone wanting to express him/herself through colors, words and images. A few terms are often used interchangeably. Knowing which is the best fit depends on our intent. 

  • Art Journal
  • Visual Journal
  • Creative Journal

Let’s break them down…..

Art journals have a long history. Well known (and not so well known) artists have worked out their artistic ideas, pondered mechanical development through images and words (da Vinci), documented historic events as they unfolded, and described works in progress. Sometimes called notebook, sometimes diary, other times journal. Whatever the term used, artists have been sketching/drawing/painting and writing thoughts for centuries. They use art journals/notebooks to work out their first draft (kind of like writing, don’t you think?).  Some current artists say art journals are generally associated with creating a product that can be/will be shared with others.

Visual journals also help us work out ideas, but have been historically associated with therapy. As a way to express one’s self, a visual journal acts as a safe place to work though personal ideas – thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc…. Colors, images and words help with healing. No harm in yelling at someone on a page, right? Visual journals are largely about the process for the person creating. Intention is more personal, less about sharing and more about processing quietly.

Creative journals seems to be a newer term, a hybrid of the first two types(?) – another place to explore and record what’s happening in our lives using colors, images and words. Creative journals seem (to me) to be the most relaxed (undefined??) of the terms used… as if to say, “I want to play with colors and words. I’m not necessarily happy or sad. I don’t necessarily need to be healed. I may or may not be artistically trained. I just want to throw paint at a page, doodle a bit, maybe add some pictures. I might throw in some words – found or created – for good measure. If I feel like it.”  It’s a place to think creatively (as much or as little as we feel like on any given day).  A creative journal seems to function on both the sharing/product side and on the private/process side – depending on the person creating it. The choice to share may also change day to day, entry to entry. I think I like this term best for these reasons…

Want to see a few creative journaling ideas? This fun one-minute clip will get you thinking….

 

All this talk about artful journaling and I wondered:  Do people still scrapbook? How is art/visual/creative journaling different from scrapbooking? I’m reminded of Beverly Goldberg as she lovingly cuts, glues and sticks pictures of her ‘schmoopy’ kids.  Or, as you’ll see in this clip, her devoted husband gives it a go.   🙂

To answer my question, I asked Google and here’s what I found (I’m paraphrasing):  Scrapbooking is defined as ‘recording family life events’ while journaling is associated with reflecting on and recording things we’re experiencing and/or trying to figure out.

Bottom line? Artful journaling (similar to keeping writing journals) is about process. It’s about exploring life, learning, and creative curiosity. It’s about figuring things out, whether privately or publicly. Or both.  As you’ll see in this clip, five journal artists share their perspective:  “Which type of journal you choose is really about your intent for its purpose.”   (18 min clip)

 

I’ve dabbled in “art journaling” over the past three years, trying different artistic techniques and materials as I’m learning, but realize I’ll probably call it “creative journaling” going forward – with my focus, my intent being on the process (as I do in my writing notebooks). Or, perhaps I’ll continue to keep multiple notebooks/journals to serve various purposes??

Side Note:  Though I describe my art-making as process-oriented (read: slow and organic), I’ve recently realized as I’ve been spending more time in my art/creative journal that my ‘making’ is quicker and more clear there.  I understand now after reading about these types of journals and hearing various artists’ perspectives about intent that my art for the public impacts my process; I consider what others may or may not like. That’s in stark contrast to my art journaling, for my eyes only… all bets are off. I sometimes choose to share parts of the process along the way, but I am selective, which affords me privacy and unrestraint.

My goal for 2019:

Continue building Creative Community in the new year. I look forward to encouraging others to discover their own creativity through writing, ‘arting,’ and journaling.  🙂

Do you keep a creative (art/writing/etc…) notebook or journal?

 

It Happened that Thursday

Thursday, October 19, 2017.  3:22 PM.

The cheery jingle of an arriving text message caused no alarm. Just another afternoon heading home from campus. Youngest sister checking in. I glance at the phone while the car cools down. Falling below 80 degrees in October is always the hope by Floridians, but jack-o-lanterns turning mushy in Florida heat and humidity is the reality.

Text Message You need to call me now.Ready to head home, I begin steering the car out of its space  and head toward the main road. Her words stop me:  “Mom just called. You guys need to call me now.”

I dial the phone. Her shaky voice does not hide her concern. I can feel it: Life was changing in the instant. An ordinary instant, indeed.

Looking back, rereading the messages, I see the irony now:  The text message arrived at 3:22 from a sister born on 3/22. What were the chances?

Little did I know what was about to happen. But it did that Thursday afternoon. I waited patiently for my husband to arrive home. A rare business day in Jacksonville had him on the road, now rushing while phoning my mother for details.

6:20 PM:  a text to my sisters – We’re on the way.

The hour+ drive felt like eternity. Heading east, darkness engulfs the remaining orange slivers of the setting sun as we drive toward the coast. Heavy rain threatens to slow us down. I think about Mother Nature feeling the loss as Bob slips quietly away in the sterile bed that will comfort him in his final sleep.

Heavy traffic shows no mercy as tired commuters, oblivious to our pain and determination, push toward home. Our wish to arrive quickly to the place protecting him as he dies slowly matters not to fellow drivers.

7:36 PM:  A smiling security guard welcomes us and asks that we empty pockets, open bags, and obtain badges. He is here – business as usual. We are here – anything but business as usual.  We are here because life is happening on this Thursday. We offer weak smiles and a pleasant thank you for his service.

A short elevator ride delivers us to the third floor. Doors open. We are greeted by locked doors protecting patients in the most critical moments of life, and their families who wait anxiously, hoping for the best, uncertain of what comes next. Beyond those doors we will see Bob, detached from life support, waiting for his body to quietly succumb to his failing heart for the last time.

His sister and cousin are there when we enter the room. His chest rises and falls. I want to close his gaping mouth. He looks like he’s napping and could catch flies. I smile. He looks peaceful, probably for the first time in a long time. Living with his wife, my mother, has been his hell for the past few years. We had no idea how badly until recent months. He is ready to go to the place where his wife of 43 years waits for him. Later that evening I learn that she died on October 20, 2011 after a battle with cancer. Bob is waiting until the hour he can join her. We are sure of it.

people sitting in hospital roomFor the next several hours, as shifts change and families go home for rest, we sit in chilly ICU room 305, as machines hum and beep. Nurses stop in frequently to check on us. Bob breathes softly as my two sisters, husband and I share stories about our times with him. We laugh at how much he loved to check in to this boutique hospital, just down the street from his home. In recent months, he would arrive with a book and his order for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He raved about their soups. Have you tried the soup? he’d ask with a big grin. It’s delicious! Come on! Order a bowl.. it’s on me! 

He’s been a part of our family for only four years, but his gruff Queens disposition juxtaposed with his unending kindness for others has left an indelible mark on our hearts. A grandpa to my nephews and niece, a step-father to my sisters and me, a father-in-law to our husbands, and a volunteer and philanthropist to many, Bob was kind, tolerant, patient, and generous beyond words. Now, as our hearts hold him close, his heart is ready to go. We reminisce, sharing things we know would make him laugh.  We suspect he can hear us. We hope that he can. We hope that he is feeling how much we love him, appreciate him, and will miss him. He and Laura never had children. We became his family in our short time together.

By 1:00 AM, knowing it’s the date he’s been holding out for, we are torn:  Do we stay or do we go and return in the morning? Vital signs indicate slow progression as his body moves closer to death.  We struggle with what to do. Finally, we decide to head home and return early in the morning.

Man lies in hospital bedAs my sisters step out and my husband comforts them at the door, I reach over and place my hand on Bob’s hand. I tell him I will miss him. I sob. I know this is the last time I will see him in life. His hand flinches. I gasp. And smile. I squeeze his arm in return. I’m certain I felt his hand flinch. He was letting me know things will be okay, that he knew we were there, that we loved him and would miss him. I felt sure at that moment that he really knew how much he meant to us, to me.

Friday, October 20, 2017.  11:16 AM.

As the elevator doors open, we are once again greeted by the now-familiar ICU locked doors, keeping death and sadness inside as the world passes by.  We are buzzed in to the solemn space. We learn that Bob took his final breath a little before 10:00 AM, near the time his long-time wife did just six years before. Now it is he who rests in peace, leaving us to figure things out. Little do we know how life altering that will be….

Joan Didion wrote in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” She reflects on the loss of her husband who suffered a heart attack as the two ate together.

Sitting by a windowShe is right. Life changes in the instant. Pain and sadness not withstanding, life continues on, though. Bills must be paid. Houses cleaned. Widows looked after. Roofs repaired because hurricanes don’t care that homeowners are sick and dying. In the weeks that followed Bob’s death, I feel like I grew up, in spite of already being 50. It was a life altering time for me, for us. As the country celebrated Thanksgiving, we sought respite as we tried to figure things out…

Fast-forward one year.

Man sits at dinner tableIn the months following Bob’s passing, I’ve heard him in my ear so many times, telling me to remember this, do that…  and I smile. It was he who told me in the sweltering July of 2015 to make a decision: Business or hobby? You decide! And so I did. I’ve often said in his absence how much I’ve continued to learn from him, as though he’s guiding me.

Thank you, Bob. I miss you greatly. I appreciate all that you brought to our family in the short time you were with us.

It happened that Thursday in October. Life changed in the instant. Indeed.

Writing Short(ly)

How many words does it take to tell a story?

One could argue that using fewer words conveys more meaning and requires more thinking.

Brevity is king.

In fact, many writers prefer to tell stories in short form, guiding the reader on a literary journey – in 100 or fewer, 50 or fewer, only six words, or even 140 characters. Writing shortly, often under the umbrella Flash Fiction, goes by many names. Here are a few:

  • microstory
  • short story
  • short-short story
  • flash fiction
  • six-word story
  • the 140-character story (also known as twitterature)
  • micropoetry

 

cover of a book, how to write short, by roy peter clark

No matter what it’s called, each short-form story has a similar quality:  the writer carefully selects and places words to tell a story. Similar to micropoetry, brevity is key.  Every. Word. Counts. 

 

book cover: 140 CharactersThough I was introduced to wordplay at a very young age (and always encouraged to write and tinker with language), it was not until 2009 when I discovered Twitter and short-form writing (beyond poetry) for the first time. I blogged about it in 2010 and again a few years later {here}. Turns out, short-form writing has a long history! Consider Telegraph messages… stop.  😉

Fast-forward to 2015, when I discovered an interest in visual art – an answer to writer’s block. As I tinkered with colors to heal my heart and head, my writing voice returned and I discovered that ‘writing short’ played a key role in my art pieces.

Carefully selected and places words are often seen, but just as often not seen – buried under layers of color and texture. When you purchase my art, there’s a good chance you’re purchasing my words, too, even if you never see them!

Now in my third year creating visual art, I am reflecting on my journey and continue to think about the process. I am seeing how my earliest pieces are simplistic, childlike – the efforts of a newbie artist, and I’m okay with that. Because I’m also discovering how ‘writing short’ fits into my own artistic style.

I see a growing collection of my words – many blended with colors, some standing strongly in stark black and white, while others hover quietly on brown patina’d book pages and the private pages of my writing journals.

Still, others stick quietly to our fridge and tap me on the shoulder when I walk by, or are pulled from my word notebooks and added to my photographs. Then there are the carefully chosen quotes by others that convey my deepest feelings…

All tell my story.

 

What would your story say?

Ten Tips: Keeping Art Brushes, Sponges, and Stamps Usable

One of the things I learned from our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party was that sharing tips I’ve learned about the process in the past three years is a “how-to” I can gladly contribute. Here are a few things learned along the way….

Ten tips for keeping brushes, sponges, and stamps usable… (because it gets expensive replacing them!):

  1. Do not leave brushes/sponge brushes in water for long periods of time.
  2. Do not let paint, ink, or adhesives dry on brushes, sponges, or stamps. Let them rest in a brush tub, to keep them moist. Use the scrubber in the bottom to gently loosen paint.
  3. Change water often when painting, especially with watercolors.
  4. Use paper towels, a fabric cloth, and/or baby wipes while working on a project – rinse and wipe tools when switching between tools during a project.
  5. Use the correct brush for acrylic vs. watercolor paint. Acrylics are too harsh for natural hair brushes and will damage them.
  6. Avoid pushing, jamming, or squishing brushes, sponges, or stamps into paint, ink, adhesives, or other mediums.
  7. When finished, clean brushes and sponges in warm soapy water and pat dry.
  8. Lay brushes horizontally to dry to avoid water running from bristles to ferrule (thing that looks like a collar).
  9. Store brushes upright once they are completely dry. *Never store brushes with bristles facing down.
  10. When finished with a stamp, use a product like StazOn to clean the excess ink, especially when using permanent ink. Gently pat the stamp with the cleaning product. Follow with a dry cloth or paper towel. Gently pat the stamp and let it air-dry.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for playing with colors?  Follow RobinLK Studios on Facebook for the latest information.

The Counting Game….

Snippet of a Grocery Receipt
Things That Begin With C

 

  • chicken
  • Crystal Light
  • cat food
  • coffee creamer

Creating my list for a quick stop at the grocery store is a mental game for me:

  1. Make a mental list.
  2. Repeat it a few times out loud.
  3. Count the items.
  4. Keep the numbered items in my head.
  5. Enter the store.
  6. Go to it!

I’m sure people wonder why I have a quizzical look on my face as I stand between aisles. Actually, who am I fooling? They aren’t paying any attention to me. They’ve got their own lists and looks.  I wonder:  Are they playing the counting game, too?

Yesterday I added Chobani yogurt, celery, and cheddar popcorn to the cart {bonus!}.

Seemed to be a C sort of day….  😉  How do you keep your brain sharp?

 

Facebook logo with link to RobinLK StudiosArt + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Grammar Gremlins, Shoddy Spelling, and Cantankerous Typos

We’re often told first impressions matter. What does a first impression say about you and your business?

Business owners and fellow bloggers/artists/writers/creative types, could grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and unnoticed typos be sending a message you didn’t intend?

I enjoy wordplay – crafting narrative text – creative messages and stories from found words and ideas that roll around in my head {or smack me when I least expect it}.  I also get plenty of inspiration from reading others’ wordplay, too.

But there’s another kind of writing – informational, daily text – signs, menus, advertisements, messages, invitations, flyers, projects for the workplace, etc… the content of everyday life, including business. I like to read and create this text, often describing myself as an ‘information junkie.’

What surprises me about daily text is how often it’s riddled with sloppy writing in our increasingly informal culture (in the U.S, anyway).  For a few years, I used the local newspaper in our community to teach writing. There were so many errors that students were surprised the publisher went to press each week.

Are business owners lazy? uneducated?  Definitely not. Their mistakes are, however, plentiful.

To be clear – we’re not talking about literary novels or academic papers, here.  Instead, we’re talking about ephemera – items designed to be useful or important for only a short time. Does that make the poorly written text acceptable? Goodness, no!

We’re talking about your business presence…. your livelihood. Your street cred.

 

We’re talking about writing basics that impact a business’s image:

Lack of editing that leaves mistyped words or too many words: Using “and” when you mean “an” or typing “the” twice and not not noticing.  {See what I did there?}

Incorrect word choice:  Its vs. it’s, farther vs. further, the triplets: two, to, and too; or quiet and quite. How about whose and who’s? Is it every day or everyday?  (Hint: Each applies at a specific time.)  How about apostrophes? All of these are frequent mistakes. Sloppy. Unnecessary.

Spelling errors:  With so many resources at our fingertips, spelling errors are just plain careless.

Because I read and write (a lot) for my ‘day gig,’ I see them every day – grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and typos that negatively impact a business’s (or person’s) image. We could chalk it up to busy-ness. We all have too much to do and not enough time to edit our message. Right? Wrong.

Prospective customers/clients want someone who is polished, with attention to detail, because if you’re careless in your message, where else will you be careless?

These are the place I see the most offenders (sometimes, even creeping into my own writing…..eek!):

  • Marquee signs
  • Restaurant menus
  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • E-mail
  • Newsletters/Flyers
  • Advertising
  • Work-related papers

Just recently, I saw two glaring typos:  the misuse of it’s and its on a state’s Visitors page (used three times/two were incorrect) and the use of and when an was intended on the page banner of a fellow artist’s website. Uneducated? Absolutely not! Completely missed? Absolutely.

Think of it this way:

It’s like that time you miss a button or forget to zip your slacks. The person who notices might understand and probably feels badly for you, but won’t say a word. He figures you’re busy.  Or careless?  Ouch. He’s embarrassed for you. The person walks away, making a mental note of your lack of attention to detail or carelessness.

Your prospective customer/client may think the same way:  You’re (too) busy, you’re careless, or you don’t have a good grip on language basics. No matter what the customer/client is thinking, I’m betting it’s not the message you intended to send.

Potential buyers look for someone who is polished and attends to details.

 

So what’s a blogger/creative type or small business owner to do?

1.   Find an extra set of eyes. For a few dollars a month, ask someone to take a peek at your content: blog posts, website, flyers, menus, marquee signs (drive-by editing.. nice!)…. and give you feedback.

2.   Hire someone to write content/develop materials for you.

No budget? How about bartering?

In my 30+ years writing and 20+ years teaching writing, I’ve developed many projects and have been asked to help others refine their message, either by creating a written piece for them or editing/revising/proofing a work in progress.

  • Recommendation letters
  • Résumés
  • Annual Performance reviews
  • E-mail messages
  • Advertising
  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Teachers’ How-To
  • Curriculum resources
  • Community resources
  • Grants
  • College Application Essays/Letters
  • Book drafts (two manuscripts in progress)

Give your prospective customers/clients one more reason to select you.  Show them your attention to detail, often missing in today’s hectic world. It may be the very thing that sets you apart from your competitor.

facebook logo with link to RobinLK Studios
I welcome your message and invite you to LIKE the page to keep up with current happenings, sales, and services.

Feel like you could use an extra set of eyes to proof, fingers to develop, or time to  brainstorm?  Click on the Writing tab or send me a Message on the RobinLK Studios Facebook page.  Would be happy to talk about your business needs.

Sunday Morning Ideas….. {Six Word Wednesday}

 six-word story about sunday mornings

Sunday mornings quietly await our ideas….

6

What’s your six-word story today?

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Ghost Dog…. {Six Word Wednesday}

 

What I saw when I looked at these words….

Ghost dog, sail sand and sky.

 

Do you see a six-word story in these words? 

6

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios