What do think about Art Journals?

What do think about Art Journals?


What do you think about Art Journals? Over on Quin Creative, there is a touching and thoughtful story about Quins Fathers Art Journals. It prompted a few thoughts or perhaps it is better described as a reaction from me.


To be honest I had not really thought about how someone might respond to an art journal after I am dead. Of course I am aware of a possible interest as I think my family might be curious in the future, but generally I am too much living in today.

I keep a journal to make sense of the day. There is something about ordering my thoughts as I write that helps me feel as if I can make sense of life.

I keep a blog for a similar reason as often it is to record something seen, such as a web site visited. Or to record something done, work in progress like stitching or something shared like knowledge about a stitch.  Thinking about it, my personal journal also looks outwards rather than inwards. Most of the time I notice things and processes around me rather emotional responses in me. To me observing people, society and culture is much more interesting than my internal life, yet that observation is in fact my internal life. I don’t spend a lot of time on angst as – lets say I get distracted from my self as life is  far too interesting.

I keep a Studio journal to catch ideas of the moment, make sense of what I have seen, work out designs and possibly work them. I do take notes about what I am stitching and what I use such as the type of thread I use and fabric used etc I take notes about and for my sampler such as what stitches I use etc. Generally however I have not thought about how my studio journals may make some future reader feel. They are notebooks but looking back on them I have a lot of me in them particularly if they are studio journal and written journal combined.

What about you? No matter what form a journal takes takes, do you think of the possible historical significance when you keep a journal? Do you journal? Why do you journal? If not why not? Curious minds (namely me) want to know. If you have time leave a comment or respond on your blog and leave a link  I am sure other readers would be interested too.

If you are interested in art and studio journals and how I use them browse the Art and Studio Journal Category 


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  1. Hi Sharon, this is an interesting post, not least because of the responses it has invited. I don’t keep a journal of any kind – my diary is just a list of important dates and appointments. I was prompted to start a blog to document my work and to share it with other people after reading other blogs on the internet. I love blogging, I like to share my work with other like minded people, receive their comments and read their blogs in turn. I share very little of a personal nature, my private life is exactly that. I tend to skip any posts of a personal or private nature on other people’s blogs and just concentrate on their work, ideas or reviews. I don’t know if my family would be interested in having information about my work, but I have thought about it and to that end, in addition to my blogging I have made a book documenting my work. I do sometimes wonder what on earth will happen to the things I have made and the stash that I have collected over the years when I no longer have any use for it! Currently, I am trying to use it all up.

  2. I have kept journals from time to time, such as when caring for two spinster aunts with Alzheimer’s, and caring for and enjoying new grandchildren. These phases of life are very interesting, and I think besides just writing down events, etc., I thought of putting them into a book to be published posthumously – entitled "With Faith and a Sense of Humor." Each episode would be a separate book – and at this point, it would look like "Durant’s History of Civilization" in 11 volumes. Life is, indeed, interesting, if you see it that way and don’t get bogged down in the negatives.

  3. It’s been a while since I read Artist’s Way, but if I recall there were certain pages which were to be written as fast as possible, then torn up and thrown away. I used what I called my "dump book" during a time of personal crisis into which I dumped every negative thought and emotion as fast as I could. It served the purpose helping me keep temper and tongue in check at a time when I really needed to deal calmly and reasonably with the "outside" world. It was a good tool for the time. Having served their purpose, those pages were torn and tossed. For day-to-day, I agree with Sharon B–the universe always has something interesting to offer.

    I am hoping in 2010 to use a journal as a studio tool to bring some "virtual" work into fruition, and I appreciate the examples on this blog and elsewhere that serve as inspiration and guide. (Of course, the year’s a quarter gone! Tax day today in the U.S. as well. Happy filings!)

  4. I had a very similar experience to Susan C.’s. I burned two years of journals and it helped me immensely. Writing in the journal was very theraputic at the time, but burning them helped me move forward and not dwell on the past. IF I write anything now, it is of little importance as I do not want others reading my thougths after I am gone.
    After taking the Studio Journal class last year, I attempted to keep a studio journal and still feel it is important and add to it on occassion. I could see where a studio journal would be a valuable tool for one reseraching a particular time and place if it resembled yours, Sharon.
    Unfortunately my studio journal has become a hit and miss affair, much like my blogging.

  5. I admit I don’t blog – not sure why – not enough time – not enough to say – never succeed at keeping a diary or daily journal. I do keep a Studio Journal and I must admit I’ve never really thought about what would happen to it when I’m no longer here. However, given that I don’t journal or write secrets in it I’m not really concerned. It has served my purpose of keeping notes of inspiration, ideas and project plans.

    An interesting question to think about …

  6. I do occasionally think about how a journal might look to my descendants (assuming I get anyone past my own children:). I wish I had letters or such from my ancestors … what a blessing to get to know folks who had input to my own self! 🙂 In my family in particular (I come from Appalachia where families are often closely inter-related), there tend to be recurring personality types each generation — would be cool to know how someone whose personality was supposedly like mine actually felt about things. 🙂


  7. After reading "The Artist’s Way" by Julia Cameron several years ago, I journalled daily, recording my emotions, upsets, happy times, and felt that it allowed me to put away all I had written, and clear my mind of their turmoil. But then I found myself re-reading them after months had passed, and all the emotions would surface once again. I wrote of the sabotage of a so-called friend, learning I had several chronic conditions, of the deaths of family members and the feelings of loss they evoked.
    One day, I took all my journals and burned them, and let loose all those emotions, watching them fly away as wisps of carbon on the breeze. And I burned the demons.
    Now, my life is much quieter and simpler, and I no longer write in a journal. Nor do I record my art work. It is the creating of it that breathes life into me. Of course, time may again change the way I look at journalling. I do enjoy reading your blog, and learning from it, so I do thank you for sharing your work.

    Susan C.
  8. I’m terrible at journaling even tho I mean to. I had wanted to document before I die how a 20 acre garden for the birds turned my life upside down… So this year I joined Robin Atkins Bead Journal Project and it has given me the structure and motivation to document it in 12 installments.

    It will tell how a garden which I simply started to attract birds for my husband led to :

    -a collection of hundreds of old-fashioned roses
    -a nursery specializing in plants for the birds.
    -thousands of people visiting the garden learning to attract birds and conserve water
    -eroded land turned into a forest
    -being featured in a one book and in Better Homes and Gardens
    -sending rootstock to David Austin’s breeding program
    -speaking engagements around the world
    -hugs from former customers who still bring me pictures of their gardens. …
    -a wonderful wild garden full of birds and wildlife that started with a dead tree and no water…..

    My blog this month has the 4th installment….. Hips! Hips! Hooray for Roses….

  9. First, thanks for mentioning the blog post. When I checked in on your blog this morning, it was a nice surprise! Second–when I teach journaling, the question of privacy comes up so often. I always tell the story of my mother, with whom I had a difficult relationship. After she died, I found a pack of love letters she wrote to my father. It introduced me to a mother I had never known, and was a comfort to me. And for those who want to hide secrets in their journal, well there’s a chapter of that in the book on raw art journaling I’m writing.
    And thanks to you, for keeping a thoughtful and meaningful blog that helps so many journalers get started and keep writing.

  10. I have started many journals but it seems that i’m enable to keep one ! I wish I could though. That’s a little bit while I started a blog. I thought that if people would read me, I would keep on being motivated. It works so far. Lovely website btw.

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