“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Therefore, I blog

Warning: Self-pity & whining ahead.

I made the mistake of reading Bridgette's wonderful blog. Her posts about visual journals. Visual journeying. Her classes with the wonderful Judy Wise. I lusted. I salivated. I, too, wanted to make a visual journey. Never mind that I have never been able to do this. As I said to Bridgette, "therefore, I blog". But I have a birthday coming up - a big one. With double 5s. What better way to begin my new year? I bought a spanking new journal yesterday: I was psyched. I would be successful this time. I could just feel it.

So last night I began. I would just lay down a few page backgrounds without any journaling. I would make ready - I would begin writing words on my birthday. Very symbolic. But it was horrible! I hated it! I hated just painting the 1st page. I knew what I wanted; I knew what the word for that page would be - MINE. I knew I wanted my handprint. This would claim the journal as belonging to me. How much more simple could that be?

The first step would be easy. Lay my hand down & trace around it. Done. I hated it - I hated it! Just a white sheet of paper with a black pen hand outline. Horrible! I painted over it. Of course the outline still showed, but that was cool, I kind of liked that - it would a subtle thing. I painted. I hated it. Every muscle in my body was tense, I was nearly yelling at poor Maggie to just stop meowing, I felt like I was having a hot flash, I felt like I had to get that stupid background done fast, fast, fast, fast. I was rushing, I wasn't breathing, the cat was meowing & wandering among pencils & paint & ups of water. I gessoed the page & blew it dry. Another hand outline. Hated it. By then, I was actually crying. Crying! Oh yeah, I can do this, I was sarcastically thinking, oh yeah, I'm goood at this. What was I thinking? Why couldn't I just put my hand on that page and draw around it & get on with the next page? So I decided to go ahead & write about it all last night. Fill in that first page.

It was misery. It was not fun. I could not sleep. I kept thinking, well, it's like yoga, maybe. The poses that are the most difficult for you may be the poses on which you need to concentrate. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about words. At some point in the night, I apparently woke up & wrote something down from that dream - the notebook next to my bed read "Joy was contentedly eating cookies shaped like her name." Isn't that wonderful? That's the kind of journal I keep best.

But I will keep this up. At least I will try. Surely it will get easier? Surely it will someday bring Joy & cookies shaped like her name?


  1. oh dear... i can see this was agony. i know you're right though. you can do this. it must be tried again and again because truly you can do this. like you so sagely say in the first paragraph; "i blog." you are already doing this. the hand thing. done. the writing thing. done again and again beautifully. you are brave. you can do this. i can't think why not if you actually always wanted to have one of these. i can't say "oh no, don't bother, you don't really want to do this anyway." cause you already said you did want to :)

    you'll add color when you are ready sweetie.

    i have a huge mirror in my bathroom that Judy Wise painted. she lives near me :)

  2. Robin - What an interconnected world this is! I'm a bit jealous that Ms. Wise lives so close to you! :)

    But you know, I don't know if I really want to do this. I get so ga-ga over everyone else's incredible journals that I want one too. I've started a million of them, but I just don't think I'm a journal person. Excuse? Maybe. But I've mentioned this to Bridgette & she said she'd always been a journal person, so maybe it's not an excuse at all. The writing down words here & there? I've always done that - like my dream words. I think I just want them to be prettier. :)

    We will see.

    I did work on painting I've had partly done for a long time. This summer has just stopped me. So maybe it will help to rev me in ways the blog doesn't. Again, we'll see.

    :) Debi

  3. Hi Debi,
    I’ve done the same thing--seen luscious photos of artist’s journals, especially the ones with layers and layers—and tried to duplicate that. Problem is, I have found I do not like doing layers and layers. Don’t’ like duplicating other’s styles, either. So, tried watercolor—ick, made a sketchbook paper warp; watercolor crayons—OK, I like the abstract shapes but a water-laden brush warps pages again; leftover acrylic paint on my brayer—home run! Really like this and it sure dresses up a hardbound sketchbook without major warping. Perhaps the trick is finding your own journal style, which takes some time. Listen to your own voice and try not to compare your results to what you had in my mind or to what other’s have done. For me, releasing expectations has let me discover different methods and ways that pleases me but is very different from other artist’s results.

  4. Gina - Oh! This new Blogger comment thing has its problems. It just ate my response. As soon as I'm through here, I will switch back.

    I wanted to thank you for your sage advice re: finding my own journal style & not comparing to others. That's a big obstacle for me, I'm thinking. I am going to continue on, though, and we will see if I can work through this.

    Again - many, many thanks.

    :) Debi

  5. I was so feeling your pain! :)It drives me nuts when I can see what I want in my head, but somehow can't get it down on paper...

    You triumphed in the end though! It looks great.


  6. Honey, you already have an incredible journal, this blog. How many of us come everyday just to see your latest, wonderful work, both with words and pictures. I know I do!

    You ROCK! And don't you forget it!

  7. that really is good advice and wise words from gina. you do have a very distinctive style, maybe recognizing it or seeing how it fits into visual journaling will help. i have done a single page so many many times or maybe 3 or 4 all in different journals and i just threw out the last one recently. it is just too ridiculous for me to keep trying it. i have found my creative voice in photography and blogging. it started with photoshop and digital scrap-booking. soon i was creating digital art to express myself that often didn't even have a photograph of a person on the page :)

    mind you i have never painted, drawn or used traditional art supplies in my entire life that anyone could say "oh wow! that's good!" it seems such an abstract thing to me, being an artist. i know you are one. it shows in every painting and idea you share with us. i do hope you find the creative voice that satisfies the itch you have. from what i can tell from reading your entries this art stuff has given you much angst and even pain. i found i couldn't tolerate the pain related to traditional creativity. i need it to feel good at least on the whole. so of course as anyone can see from my blog i have found my voice.... and i know you have too in terms of your blog. everyone who comes knows this.

    we all here love you and your work.

  8. Celeste & Christy & Robin - Thank you for all your support. I've managed 2 days, but I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a journaler. Journalist? :) We will see.

    Love you all!

  9. I enjoy journaling and blogging most when I see it as a memory archive for myself.

    I think Joyce is onto something - you can enjoy gaining nourishment from eating you - your name, your handprint ;)

  10. Hele - I don't know. I've never really journaled, or whatever the correct term would be. I DO write things down in a daily calendar, ideas & dreams & lines & thoughts, but that's about it. I'm not sure this is gonna fly.

    But I love the idea of eating my name & now I'm really wondering about that dream. it was quite glittery. I may have to post a story about it.

    :) Debi

  11. I will say that I have tried to do visual journaling; took a few workshops from Julinana Coles. Within the context of the classes, I did just fine. I'm not so good on my own, however.
    I also have many journals that I've tried to do visual journaling in. Pitiful bunch that they are; they sit neglected and unfinished.
    And then, I discoverd blogging!
    For me, this is the way to do my visual journaling. It is perfectly valid. I struggle with the same distractions as you do; so many things get in the way. So, no, I won't have those cool visual journals that others seem to have. And, that's ok.
    Just look at your body of work on your blog! That is something to behold!

  12. Wow...can I relate to this struggle!

    I once saw someone's creative journal (she posted some pages on her blog) and I was blown away by the beauty. So many layers and little notes and sparkles..the whole bit. I had never thought of doing journal pages in this way before. I had always just written words..ink on white paper. So I wanted to try! I thought, ok, I will just begin with a wash of paint..of colour..a favourite colour and see where it takes me next. Well, I couldn't even do that part! Didn't look like a soft wash of colour...it looked like a kindergartener took a paintbrush and just painted the page! I never tried it again.

    But you....even through all of your struggles and tears, I still love your processes. There is so much heart in you...even when you are frustrated or stuck. There is so much going on inside of you, and I so wish I had a little of that inside of me. Your creative journeys are rich and abundant with emotion..whether you call that emotion positive or negative, it is all a beautiful part of who you are and it brings out so much depth in your work..written, painted or photographed.

    I'm in deep admiration.

  13. Paula & Jaime - You are both so kind. I am already not journaling. I just don't think I'm meant to do this. But I do have a great new sketchbook!!!


  14. Want to know my first thought when I read your scanned journal page? Before I read any comments, I thought, "What is she unhappy with? She's got a wonderful journal page! I love it."

    I do love it. Just the way it turned out. Real and true and personal. Everything a journal should be.

    These visual journals - yes you can do it.

    If you want to. And if you don't? Well, Christy is right. You've already created an amazing visual journal. Right here.

    An aside. I was finished with my comment and doing the word verification thing. Know what my word is? candol. I swear it is! can do with the l slanted to look like an exclamation point.


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