Susan E. of Plays with Needles posted about how tea is the Elixir of Life and about how the ritual of drinking tea figured into her mother's death. Tea is the subject of her Bead Journal Project for April, a detail of which is pictured above.
My head is spinning with thoughts inspired by Pam's post:
Pam T. of Beads and Other Things posted about Anger and Fear, about her process with cancer and her Bead Journal Project for June, part of which is shown above.
My head is spinning with thoughts inspired by Celticat's post:
Mary (Celticat) of Contemporary Bead Art posted about Spanish Madonna and about how her beading takes on its own life, different from her sketches. Above is her Bead Journal Project piece for April.
And my head is spinning with thoughts inspired by these books:
Pat B. Allen is an artist who writes about the artistic process, how we can know and express our authentic self and how we can find a spiritual path. Reading her book is changing my world. While this isn't a "book review" post, I am more than smitten with all that she says!
Here are my top 5 inspirational books (not in order, because it always depends on what I need at any given time). These are the books I always grab when I need a creativity boost or tools for banishing the internal critic:
- Art is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen
- Wild Geese (a poem) by Mary Oliver
- Improv Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madson
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
- Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline
Let's begin with the root of this phrase... What is journaling? In my youth, it meant keeping a secret diary. Although the idea of writing my thoughts and secrets in a locked book was very appealing to me, I rarely wrote more than a few pages in any of my diaries.
In my middle years, several of my friends became enthralled with keeping journals, recording their thoughts, on paper. When I would complain of some life event or be struggling with a decision, they'd say, "Try journaling about it." I tried sometimes, yet it never seemed to work for me. Why? Maybe because...
- I was embarrassed by my thoughts.
- It seemed like too much work.
- It seemed self-indulgent.
- I thought I had to write stuff that was "worthwhile" or "important."
- Writing from my brain (analytically, as I did then) simply repeated my thoughts (boring) and didn't get to the heart and soul of anything.
No, I don't journal every day. I did for a while, when the Artist's Way was new to me... But still, I know when I need to journal. It's when I need to say something from within... something, maybe, that my intellect can not grasp or is not aware of... when I need to hear and acknowledge my own inner voice. That's when I write!
That's also when I bead! Much of my bead embroidery is visual journaling. It happens most easily and deeply when I work improvisationally... without a plan or with only the barest of thoughts tucked in the back of my mind.
So now, with the Bead Journal Project in its second year and 20 journal pieces behind me, I'm thinking today about what visual journaling is and about how we do it.
I believe there are many equally valid ways to use art and beads to journal visually.
For example, in Pam's June BJP, she boldly puts everything on the table... UGLY, FEAR, ANGER... it's all there, obvious and visual. She shakes it out of her pores and her guts and slaps it in our faces, acknowledging and honoring the part of her that normally would remain hidden. Is this not a gift to herself? To show the demon is to tame it!
Less in your face is the way Susan deals with the flow of her life, especially in and around her Mother's death. We don't know about that when we look at her piece. We know only of the peace she finds as she sails along in her cup of tea and plays with her needles. But Susan knows about the death and the missing and the sadness. She allows her heart to be touched by it as she beads about the contentment she finds in the rituals of drinking tea.
Even less revealing is the way Celticat beads and sketches. Her first act of visual journaling is her sketch, using pencils, crayons &/or water colors to record an immediate, impressionistic, gut-level sense of a place, person or idea. Not a photographic rendering of her subjects, Celticat instead allows her emotional slant and her feelings to blossom all over her sketches. This process continues in her beaded versions of the sketches. We don't get an obvious message from her work, as we do from Pam's. But we do have a sense that if we knew her visual language, we'd be reading an inner book when we look at her work.
What about you? Here are some questions for thought....
- Did you keep a diary when you were young? How often did you write in it? What was it like? Is it important in any way to your artistic process now?
- Do you keep a written journal? How often do you write in it? What is it like?
- Do you journal visually? What is your process? What materials do you use?
- Just curious... Have you read Art Is a Way of Knowing? Did you fill the margins and underline many passages like me?
If you write a post on this subject, please let me know... I'd love to see a dialog about visual journaling!