Art Journaling Therapy

Art journaling is a ‘thing’. Have you tried it yet? I first heard about it a few years ago and was intrigued. There are many ways to do it but pretty much only one reason; therapy. Specifically to mentally unwind, go wild, let go and unlock your creative juices and your emotions.

Creative juice. We kind of get it beaten out of us. As a child we create all kinds of things and feel proud of our creations that is until an insensitive adult tells us what’s wrong with our masterpiece. So, why not get that back through creating a very personal art journal. You can call it your divorce art journal…

So, what exactly is art journaling?

Art journaling can be as abstract or realistic as you like. As colorful or grey as you choose (or should I say as you ‘feel’ on any particular day).  The first few times I tried the ‘word’ method. These two images from my journal are examples;

health benefits of art journaling
This one is an exercise where you randomly choose a word from a book. You can see I chose Giving Back and worked around that.
the health benefits of art journaling
I was feeling a little grey this day.

The ‘word’ method

Cull old books or magazines you’ll never read again and open to a random page. Scan the page quickly and find a word that draws your eye. Cut that ONE word or phrase out. Paste it on the page and build around it. In my first image above, ‘giving back’ was the phrase I chose and in the second image it was ‘paint’. The idea with this kind of art journaling is that you choose your word within seconds. Don’t give it much thought.

The point is to enjoy the process and while you’re doing it—surprise! You are creating an inspirational message only for you. The happy side effects are that you’re releasing anger, sadness, doubt, love, frustration…

Mixed media method

Layer your pages with various combinations of images, words, shapes and doodles. For example, use decoupage to lay your cut out words over top of abstract shapes. Add color using paint, or any media of your choice. Here is an inspirational video featuring Joanne Sharpe’s work. I like this example because it shows the use of vivid color mixed with stories, phrases and paragraphs. That said, she’s an accomplished artist so please don’t compare your own journal to hers and certainly don’t begin by setting expectations on your art journal. That would defeat the purpose.

Remember though, this is all you. Your story, your words and your handwriting. Your images and sketches. It is solely for you so fear not if a page doesn’t look like Joanne’s or anything like what your vision was initially. It. Doesn’t. Matter.

What you’ll need

Start by buying a spiral bound sketch book of any size, some mixed media such as watercolor pencils, pencil crayons, permanent markers (I like fine point), paint, old books, magazines, and crayons. Yes I said crayons. They aren’t just for kids, ya know. Watercolor over wax can be quite interesting. Other supplies may be paint tape, glue sticks to paste into the work, any clippings that you’re drawn to. Note: you can also buy watercolor paper in a pad, which can be better than a regular sketch pad if you plan to use watercolors.

Looking at a blank page can be somewhat intimidating. Here’s where the challenge comes in. Knowing where to start. My advice is this, don’t ever think about the end result because it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to send a message or have a purpose. For once in your life, this is purely an exercise in process.

Sometimes I use my art journal to paste an image of someone’s work that has piqued my curiosity. Here is an example of a photographer’s work that inspires, or strikes a chord with me.

I’m an artist myself and drawing and painting (in both oil and acrylics) has been my choice of expression. I have focused on portraits and figure studies for many years. So, I know the pain of trying to make something look like someone or REAL. Not easy.

In the last few years due to limited space, I’ve worked in small pieces mainly in abstract. I have to say I love the freedom of abstract work. There is no right or wrong but there is a successful piece vs. one that isn’t working. So, abstract painting is an animal all its own. Regardless, taking up art journaling allows me to let go of any expectation of my art. It allows me to get more creative and experiment. Most of all, it allows me to channel emotions and ultimately relax and destress.

De-stressing is something I thought my Escapees would be interested in. Art therapy, if you will, is much more fun than real therapy.

 5 Benefits of Art Journaling;

  1. De-stress
  2. Release emotions
  3. Get creative juices flowing
  4. Therapeutic benefits without the therapist

Bottom line is de-stressing is something we all need to do. Why not do it by channeling our emotions through creative expression? Art therapy, if you will, is much more fun than real therapy.

Here are two of my favorite sites with tons of art journaling ideas and inspiration at createmixedmedia.com  & clothpaperscissors.com

Have you tried art journaling?

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30 Replies to “Art Journaling Therapy”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Happy Monday 🙂

    Never heard of art journaling therapy, and good to know more about it from you here! Yes, de-stressing is surely something I can use, and I love the fact that we can get our creativity flowing this way as well.

    Love the new look of your blog! Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…How to Make Money by Writing Reviews for BrandsMy Profile

    1. Happy Monday, Harleena 🙂 I feel any creative activity can do wonders for reducing stress. Thanks for stopping over!

  2. Every summer in Cape Cod, Cassidy’s aunt likes to art journal with my kids and her grandkids. I love to watch them. For some reason, it’s never drawn me in. Usually when I’m already at a beach vacation, I either swim or read. But I LOVE that this is a thing. Perhaps it will call out to me next time.
    Tamara recently posted…5 Reasons You Need Picture Keeper ConnectMy Profile

    1. Hi Tamara, oh that would be so much fun to do with kids. They’re so free already, they would probably come up with some bold pages. Give it a try next time 🙂 You can also photocopy your photos and add a layer with your photography.
      lisa recently posted…Art Journaling TherapyMy Profile

  3. I’ve never tried art journaling, though I’ve never been good at keeping a journal of any sort. Oddly, I think journaling itself stresses me out, because I set expectations for myself to make it routine and then I don’t and then I spiral into despair and self-loathing because of my inability to stick with it… Hmm, probably the opposite of what it’s intended to accomplish. 🙂

    That aside, I do draw and take photographs. My drawings are based on the characters from my books, but it’s therapeutic. I’m glad you’ve found a method that works well for you!
    Loni Townsend recently posted…I’m At Jeri’s #AuthorInterviewMy Profile

    1. Hi Loni, your comment made me smile. A written journal is something that can be, as you said, a stress producer because we feel we have to write in it everyday. I guess we got that habit from school. Art journal is completely different. No rules. No schedule. I also draw my characters in a scene from my work in progress. Either to motivate me or as therapeutic. More scribbling, actually. You’re the first writer to say they do the same! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Heard of Art Journaling before but never get the point. Thanks for clarifying Lisa. It looks like a great hobby and a good way to release whatever we might hold inside.
    Love your photo on the side – You’re shining!

    1. Hi Marie, it can be extremely therapeutic once you let go and let the process happen. No judgment. Aw, thank you for the compliment on the pic. 🙂

  5. I’ve never tried art journaling. I am a creative person though and love to get stuck into projects like this! I love that you use it to de stress, a great idea!
    Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor

    1. Hi Lianne, I think you would enjoy it since you’re a creative soul. You can get as messy as you have the space for. Or if you want to do some quiet doodling, ink pens and pencil crayons work just as well without the commitment to paints.

  6. I did something similar with a third-year creative writing student one year when I customized an advanced curriculum for her. We worked through the book Discovering the Writer Within and exchanged entries and commented back and forth. To make it more interesting, we started doing things like pasting in pics and using stickers. It was a lot of fun and definitely a creative boost.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Loni TownsendMy Profile

  7. Oh, this is just lovely, and I love your finished products! I’ve never tried art journaling before, though I certainly have colored quite a few times in my adult life and have found this practice to be immensely stress relieving, so I imagine you’d feel the same kind of feelings after something like this. Thanks so much for sharing, and being a constant source of inspiration, Lisa <3 XOXO
    Charlotte recently posted…The Secret KeeperMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Charlotte! Yes, coloring has really taken off as a grown up hobby. Kind of similar effects as art journaling. 🙂

    1. It really is fun and I think we have to learn to enjoy it without feeling as though its childish or a waste of time…because the benefits really are worth it. Plus, after many pages are done, your journal does tell a story. Thanks, Kim!

  8. What a great idea Art Journaling seems! I did doodles and sketches in my daily journal for a time but none of the pages were as artistic as the ones you showed. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    1. Hi Roland, keep on doodling 😀 I think it unlocks creative thoughts and helps with writing, too. thanks for stopping by!

    1. Hi Chrys, you could definitely incorporate your fashion sketches into your art journal. You’ll love it but the key is to let loose so not to make it look exactly like your typical sketches. journal writing is something they made us do in school, maybe that’s why you got turned off by it?

  9. Lisa, this is AMAZING. You are such a gifted woman, with incredible creative talents! I am sharing this everywhere. It’s a really great outlet for any woman to have- and I can only imagine the stress release from this type of journaling. It IS therapy for sure.

    1. Aw, thank you, Chris! Thanks for sharing this around with your followers. It really is a great way to explore and set our creativity free.

    1. Thanks, Louise. Well, I love your bright and bold images and paintings taken from your journal. Very inspiring 🙂

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