On Journalling

Archive from May 14, 2015

I have been writing in a journal since the age of seven, though my dedication to the craft has waxed and waned over the years. What has remained consistent over time is how the act of journalling has saved me. Even now, when life seems to be handing me too much and solutions far from attainable, journalling helps me find clarity amidst chaos. I journal when I feel myself turning inward and shutting out life and those I love. I journal when emotions cloud my vision and I need perspective. I journal to help my mind tune into the tasks at hand. Truly, the act of journalling is cathartic and grounding.

Only recently have I begun to appreciate and love my method of working my concepts out through journalling. Part of that acceptance and love resulted in the creation of this site, which over time I hope will become a rich archive of thoughts.

When I was in art school, high emphasis was placed upon working  through your ideas conceptually in your sketchbook. This does make good sense: your sketchbook is the map of your ideas. Sometimes, it is the ability to trace backwards that saves you. Rather than gently adopting this practice, however, I aggressively devoured it, taking full ownership with grave seriousness. Yes, I viewed a sketchbook as a valuable place to work things through, but  I also took a severe view, that a sketchbook filled with drawings was empirical evidence of one’s deserving to call themselves an artist. I saw a full sketchbook as proof of one’s level of dedication to their craft, a measurement of one’s seriousness about their success. Success on whatever terms, it didn’t matter to me. If you wanted to go corporate, gallery, craftsman, teacher, or artisan that was your prerogative. What mattered to me then, of myself and my fellow classmates, could be summarized by artist, Joan Jonas: “The answer is the work. To work. To care about the work.” An empty sketchbook  to me said “wanderer,” or “lost soul,” and I wanted nothing less than to be wondering or lost.

I can hardly type these words of admission out now. It was such an unfair, hypocritical rule of judgement. Time, thankfully, allows for perspective if one chooses to look back and reflect. Now I understand everyone creates differently and at different speeds and volumes. Why I couldn’t accept this fact then I can only cough up to youthful arrogance with something to prove. To whom? Myself I guess, but what self I imagined I was proving this to, I still do not know. Truthfully, I hardly ever wanted to sketch my ideas out. I wanted to write them out. I was deeply ashamed of that for a very long time. I had worked in my mind writing my ideas out was antithetical to what a serious artist –a true artist– would do.

I forced myself to do the opposite of what felt natural to me. I vowed to suppress the urge to write, with slips here and there. I worked to fill blank pages (which, believe me, are equally as terrifying to face by someone who considers themselves creative as they are to someone who considers themselves not) with smearings of pastels and mixings of oils, cut outs from national geographic magazines paired with funny drawings, passée wrapping paper found at a thrift store glued onto canvas and worked over with acrylic paint, all in search of something I did not know. All the while, I drooled jealously over the pages of my classmates’ sketchbooks, effortlessly bursting with drawings, collages, paint samples, and photographs of inspiration. I envied their carefree, intuitive approach. Without knowing, I was wondering. I was lost.

There was always a feeling of without at the end of a project, always a feeling of reaching for something within but always moving ever-so out of arm’s reach. For a long time I misunderstood this feeling inside as a form of artist block, even though it was. It just wasn’t the form I expected. I’m not proposing that writing is the key to releasing me from my captivity, from my wandering or my being lost.  Is it really captivity? It’s too early to tell, and clearly, the issue is bigger than the solution of, “Oh, I just need to journal and then I’ll finally feel like the creative soul I know I am.” I  recognize in the past, with a few exceptions near the end of my post-secondary experience, there were  elements of withholding in the way I worked because I didn’t think what I had to say, literally, was deserving. I hope to change that here. Now. I have so much to share creatively with the world, whether through writing, design, or installation. I offer this page and the others as examples of that breadth of creativity.

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