Art journaling as art therapy, attempt 2 and 3

My second attempt at trying to come up with an art journaling idea was to create an Autumn day. This too turned out really terrible. I tried to use black gesso but I was trying to do what I did before the brain injury. That, of course, would not work. Although it is more accurate to say that I was physically not able to do it, but still it looked very bad and printing images made them washed out. Which is to say the whole page was ugly.

At this point I was feeling more than a little frustrated and I was ready to give up the idea of journaling. I decided to give it one last try though. I would change the way I was going about it and instead of having an idea then working to execute it, I would start with no idea then see where that took me.

I had already gone through a phase of buying art supplies whether I had a purpose for them but I only had two of the scrap booking paper collections. I decided to use the gold book first.

As I was looking through the pages I saw one that I thought would make very interesting frames. Luckily it fit both of the images that I planned to use. One was a post card that I had from a group that I had bought from the Stampington store a little over a year ago. The other was an image cut out from a magazine.

Unfortunately, I did not do a very good job in cutting each frame out. There are times I really hate being so shaky and this would be one …then I have to consciously remember to cut myself a break because the shaky could always get worse. I had seen an art journal background made with white gesso and light colors already. So I used black gesso to start. But in hindsight I should not have glued the images plus frames down first.

There was a big problem when using the black gesso instead of white. Namely, in the black gesso showing up so stark against the white paper. Since Americana pant had no hope of covering it I went ahead and painted the rest of both pages black. Then I tried adding colors again so I used the ‘Antique Gold’, ‘Cranberry Wine’ and ‘Deep Burgundy ‘.

I have mixed feelings about Americana paints but I’ll talk about that in another post.

I knew that I was using a thinner paint but I went ahead and painted the gesso with it randomly. Then while the paint was still wet I used a baby wipe to gently wipe the some paint off. It made an interesting effect.

Again, I should have waited to glue the images and the frames down. The paper quality is so lacking the baby wipe was able to get past the paint and the gesso. I added a little more of the black gesso in spots where the paper showed through. Not much,just enough to coat the end of my finger. Then I wanted to cover the frame edges that already had paint on them.

I still had the gold striped paper which did help some so I used it on the other side to cover the places where either gesso or paint went over the frame. I was cautiously optimistic since it was now starting to look like the art journal pages I had seen on Pinterest. Just having something succeed was a good feeling after the creative dumpster fire that was the last year.

Of course then I wasn’t sure if I could add anything else. It looked decent and I really wasn’t sure if I could actually add anything because I didn’t have much else. I went with one of the few things I had which was a death’s head moth stamp. It looked alright on one side but the stamp did not work very well on the other. So I did my best to cover it with washi tape.

I think it looked better before I added the stamp but I’m going to call this page done.

Art journal as art therapy, attempt 1

I have to say that I was nervous about making an art journal. Which sounds crazy, I know.  But I think I had built up this is bizarre expectation around what I would be able to do and would have started but not been able to finish. Then I had to shift the mindset I had cultivated years ago away from the finished product and towards the act of getting to that product.

I bought a Canson mixed-media sketchbook, mostly for the weight of the paper it had. It can hold up to many different mediums. I had a hardback sketchbook already but the paper quality isn’t very good.

I covered the Canson mixed-media sketchbook cover with black paper because seeing the printed cover bothered me.  I find it impossible to keep paint off my clothes so I can not explain where the smudges came from.

I did not know how to start an art journal page so while I was thinking about what to do I tried adding some watercolors to plain water on one page and on the other I tried to use more of the pigment.

To be honest it looked like some kind of a mess.

It was surprising to me to find out how long I  could sit up and how long it would take me to add watercolor to a page.  By now, my neck was starting to hurt even though I did not feel like I had gotten much accomplished. I figured I would leave this to dry and get off my spine.

Following a tutorial I had seen online for watercolor brush markers, later on,  I intended to make sections of different colors. I already had a  set of Arteza brush markers. But I had not used them for over a year. When I first made marks on the paper they were entirely dried out and only left streaky marks behind. I tried to revitalize them with a water brush but when it dried they looked like a bigger mess.

I ended up throwing those markers out. They have a wide range of colors though so I may have to buy them again in the future.

I wasn’t ready to give up on watercolors but I did not know what I could do with them. I thought maybe I could do a couple of pages of mirror images? since I already intended to test out some alcohol markers, I got out my big tattoo coloring book. If you intend to add colored images to your art this is the book to use.

I picked an image of cats with curly whiskers. I colored it and when I went to cut it out I discovered that because my dexterity was so bad I ended up cutting off most of the whiskers anyway. I  tried to paint one full page with the watercolors then used one corner of another ripped out page to try the dots of watercolor on too. When it was all dry I added the cats to the pages but it ended up looking rather bare. In an effort to help that I added some flowers from a Tim Holtz ephemera pack. Unfortunately, the glue I was using made the alcohol ink bleed.

Well, my first attempt at a two page spread in an art journal didn’t look anything like some of the beautiful spreads I could find on Pinterest. I didn’t much like it and felt like adding the flowers was a bad idea. Maybe I needed to try to use a different medium?

Hopefully these answers will help

When I came up with the Idea for this website I was very sure I did not want create a running log about my time in the hospital. Nor did I want to talk about the effects of MRSA. I doubt that anyone would want to hear about it anyway. This blog was always meant to be about my struggle to find a new way to create art. From what I have read there is a lot about art journaling that appeals to me as well as mixed media art in general. Because there was so much damage done to my brain stem I have trouble using my right hand as well as general ataxia throughout my body and damage done to my nervous system. With all of that said I need to modify most of the techniques I am seeing. I am simply writing about my way of modifying those art journal ideas.

My aesthetic preference tends to run on the darker side. So I often do not have butterflies, white modeling paste and white gesso, which are what seem to be popular for art journalers. I do like bright colors for paints and shimmery colors with black. As for writing, I can’t write anymore so I tend to avoid that where I can. And there is just too much neurological damage to allow me to keep a straight line if I draw. I mention thses issues because they are part of the reality I have to live with now. Anything artistic I do would be limited and dictated by my body and how much it limits and dictates to me. I hope this answers any questions you might have about me and clarification on my story.


About Me

My Story

I would draw all the time. I could just have some printer paper and a mechanical pencil, or some charcoal and a sketch pad, either way, I was always drawing. I used ink pens for drawing, for inking my own lineart and shading with cross-hatching. I would also do watercolor paintings but I used waterproof ink for the lineart and I would often paint with ink as well. Art was my passion and what I wanted to do with my life. Making art was everything to me.

Then 2013 happened. I had an ear infection which unbeknownst to me was an MRSA infection and the ear is a straight line to the brain.  For years my health had been declining culminating in the MRSA infection in 2013 with several brain surgeries, a coma and then more pain then I had known was possible. But the kicker in all of it was the loss of use of my right side. I could no longer write or draw. This with the loss of my ability to be understood when I spoke effectively meant I could not speak or write for a long time. That alone was very isolating but not being able to draw was devastating. It also took a lot of work but after trial and error, I was able to hold writing and painting tools in my left hand.

So I found ways to make art that had nothing to do with drawing. First I made collages from the few magazines I could find, as I did when I was a teenager. Then as work on my motor skills, I started to do adult coloring. Now I want to get back to the creative side of art. There have been several times I saw bits of it already with coloring. So I am going to start Art Journaling to see if I can find a new way to make art again.

What I’m hoping you take away

I want to show my path to making art every step of the way so that people who are in a difficult situation, be it from health or some other factor, would see the things that don’t work and the things that do. As with what my life has become, take my example as a worst-case scenario. Then apply the rest of the example that best works for you. Or just go on this journey with me and see where art therapy ends up taking you.

My goal

I want to show that you don’t need to be able to draw or have any particular skill at writing or painting to still be capable of making something beautiful.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

All the best,