Journal Your Way to Happiness

Journaling is included in this TED talk about the “happy secret” approach to living a more fun, productive, rewarding life.

It starts with how you feel, and how positive you are.  Your emotional level — how happy you are — determines how happy your life events are.

Click the Play arrow to watch it.  The video is about 12 minutes long, and very worthwhile.

If you’re in a hurry (though I hope you’re not), the screenshot below shows you the point to fast-forward to.  Start at about the 11 minute marker.  (The graphic, below, is a screenshot… click on the video above, to watch it.)

All of those suggestions can help.

Of course, “meditation” will mean different things to different people.

Journal your way to happiness - studies show that it works!They may include things like:

  • Prayer
  • Conscious meditation
  • Admiring art in a museum, gallery or studio, or even
  • The simple act of “being there”… being in the moment.

I believe the more of these elements you can include in your life, the happier you’ll feel.

Journaling each day — making notes (words, images, a recording, etc.) about one happy event of that day — can make a big difference in your happiness.

The studies were based on a 21-day practice of… well, whichever of those choices seem most appealing to you. 

Sometimes, people will become happier the first day.  Others will need to develop the habit, and — somewhere around day 21 — the person will pause and realize that she (or he) is feeling happier.

Colors seem brighter.

There seem to be more opportunities, more fun, and more whimsy in daily life.

Serendipity is in your favor, and life is better.

Maybe you can journal your way to happiness. It’s worth trying.

Art Journals – Beauty is in the eye of…

not coloring in my art journal... yetToday, I was browsing some sites where people have posted their art journals (or artist’s journals… same thing… it’s a term always in transition).

I quickly found a wonderful series of pages, and the artist  (Zom) muses if they’re part of an ugly art journal.

I want to say, “No! Those pages are lovely!” but I hold back.

It’s sort of like when I was pregnant.  Each time, I’d refer to myself as “the fat lady.”  At the time, it amused me.  Obviously, I was pregnant, not fat, but the size of my stomach… well, my humor runs to sarcasm.  Telling me I wasn’t “fat” made me question the vision of the observer.

Hello.  60 inch stomach…?  Fat! *chuckle*

But, of course, I understood the point.  They just didn’t understand mine… which was also okay.  Often, people don’t get my humor.

So anyway…

I look at these pages in all their loveliness.  I absolutely love the juicy colors and the choice of images.

However, if Zom wants to call them ugly… well, it’s her journal.  My opinions are different, but that’s my experience, not necessarily hers.

Moving past that semantic moment…

I love it where she says, “I don’t know how much of a connection I am feeling with this art journal. Is the form no longer relevant?”

That resonated with me.  For a long time, I didn’t connect with my artists journals.  I looked at them, tried to add to them, and generally felt a sense of ennui before completing even one page.

I became a different person over the past several years.  The reasons I’d kept an art journal, years ago… they weren’t there any more.  It was a different context altogether.  For starters, I’d been driven to keep my journal… it was a manic, almost “outsider” thing, for years.  It was how I kept my sanity during challenging years.

Since then, my world gradually shifted.  It wasn’t quite like watching paint dry, but it was very slow-moving.  I didn’t want to articulate it because the changes — even the minute ones — were radical, but — at the same time — they were constantly in transition.

What I’d say one moment might be totally different, even an hour later.  I suppose they were very subtle ah-HA! moments.

So, I’d put things down on paper and, later that day or sometimes a few days later, I’d shred them.  They weren’t me… not a “me” that lingered for more than a few minutes, anyway.  And, with such fleeting changes, I didn’t want to keep art around that represented that.  It took me back in time, uncomfortably.  It wasn’t a real ME-me, if you get my meaning.

I do like to document the process, no matter what the process is.  However, there are times when the changes are like trying on a huge stack of clothes in a fitting room: By the time I find what fits me and looks good, I’ve pretty much forgotten the oh-dear-heaven-that’s-not-me stuff, now at the bottom of the pile.

I don’t want to save some of those half-baked journal pages any more than I’d take photos of myself in unattractive clothing in the fitting room.

They’re not me.

They don’t have significance in my life, even as process.

Keeping those pages would be making the moment more than it was.

Perhaps I should journal about those pages.

Anyway, this blog entry (linked below) is wonderfully, deliciously thought-filled.  Click to read the pages.  They’re very good and some may resonate with you as they did with me.

pinch me to see if you’re dreaming: An Ugly Art Journal

pinchmetoseeifyouaredreaming.blogspot.com10/13/11

I don’t write as often about my art journal as I used to. I think my AJ and I have been going through a difficult phase. I knew things needed to change, not because anything was ‘wrong’ but because, for me, the innate nature of

Saving Images for Your Art Journaling and Mixed Media Collages

Are you art journaling? Do you struggle to collect and organize collage photos, papers and ephemera?

I’ve found a system that works well for me. It might help you, too.

Art journaling – and mixed-media collage – can require lots of images. And, to remain “in flow” as you’re creating a new journal entry (or embellishing an older one), organization can be vital.

Here are some tips.

Step One: Sort collage elements by themes

I save my collage elements – especially magazine photos – by color, in manila folders. I start with the major color groups (red, blue, green, etc.) and then expand (lime green, turquoise, etc.) as my collection of saved images becomes too large for anything simpler.

I include all kinds of papers in my folders. So, when I want something blue, I open my “blue” folder and I’ll see my primarily blue magazine images, but also blue tissue paper, maybe some bits of blue ribbons or fabrics that I intend to use in collage, and so on.

Of course, my art journaling collages are usually more color-driven than image-driven, per se. So, organizing by color makes sense to me.

For someone else, it might make more sense to organize by other themes, instead of (or in addition to) by colors.

And, I’ll admit that – for art journaling – I’ve started folders that say things like “skies” and “green plants.”

Your categories might be “faces” or even more specifically, “women’s smiling faces,” etc. Or, “nature,” “dark-looking castles,” “cute cottages,” “kissing,” “fast cars,” “vintage images,” or whatever.

Step Two: Store the folders in a big portfolio

All of my manila folders are stored in one large, flat old-fashioned artist’s portfolio. You know, those huge black folders. Some are made from heavy cardboard, covered with a black, textured surface. Others are fabric, and sometimes reinforced.

If the portfolio is inexpensive (under US$20) and comes with a handle or shoulder strap, that’s ideal.

(Collaging the outside of your portfolio is optional.)

But, any good, big portfolio will work fine.

In my studio, the collage elements portfolio fits nicely on top of my chest of drawers.

That’s the same one that holds my fabric art and mixed media supplies, like my iron, fusible webbing, and fabrics like muslin, etc.

Of course, you can also hide the portfolio folder under a bed, behind a door, between or in back of bookcases, and so on.

I’ve tried many organizing systems for my stacks of wonderful papers and collage images. This has worked the best for me.

Composition Book Artists Journals

 

Mead composition bookA composition book art journal is any journal that’s kept in a composition book. Those are generally school-type, saddle-sewn (along the crease) notebooks with cardboard covers… similar to exam/test booklets, but a little more permanent.

Composition books are inexpensive, so many people like them especially for informal journaling. It feels less intimidating to use a journal that doesn’t cost much, and is familiar from our years in school.

They’re so affordable, you can buy several. Put one in your car, one in the baby bag, one by your bed, and so on. Then, you’re ready to create a journal page when you have some free time. The journals are so inexpensive, you can rip completed pages out and bind them into your more formal artist’s journal.

(“Binding” the loose page can be as easy as taping it into your other journal. Or, you can glue it, sew it, staple it, etc.)

Composition books have lots of lined pages in them… as many as 100. They come in a variety of sizes, but the traditional ones are about 8″ x 10″ or so. The traditional ones often have a b&w cover that looks sort of marbelized.

You can also find composition books with red covers, plain manila covers, green covers, and so on. You may want to choose one with a color that reminds you of your childhood. (But, the color may not matter if you’re going to cover it with art anyway.)

Also, it’s easy to embellish the cardboard covers. I’d still use something (such as fusible interfacing) on the back so that threads don’t pull through, but you can sew through the cardboard with a crewel needle. Then, you can embroider on it, add beads & buttons, etc., in addition to other embellishments.

(For more about sewing on your journal pages and covers, see Sewing on Journal Pages.)

Sewing Onto Your Journal Pages

You can sew embellishments onto your paper journal pages.

You can use any page in a book like fabric (to sew on, for example) by using iron-on interfacing on the back side of the page.

Yes, just iron it on, the same as you would iron interfacing onto fabric. It won’t always stick 100%, but it will work well enough that you can sew through it.

(If you try to embroider or sew beads onto regular pages in a book, the thread tends to pull right through the paper, if the thread is tugged.)

You can do the same thing with your journal cover. A strong crewel embroidery needle will usually sew through cardboard… but you’ll probably need a thimble to push the needle through.

artists journals cover - treated as fabricYou can then embroider with embroidery floss, yarn, thin ribbon, etc. You can add buttons, beads, and so on, too.

At left, you can see one of my journal covers that I’ve embellished with sewn-on buttons. (Click on the image to see it larger.) The biggest button is part of the journal closure. When it’s not in use, a string of hemp (secured to the back cover) is wrapped around the button on the front cover to hold the journal closed.

After you’ve finished your sewing (or other embellishment), you can glue a page or fabric over the ironed-on interfacing, so your stitches are concealed. If I’m doing a lot of this in a book, I’ll buy a second copy of the same book, so the “backing” page is what it would have been, if I hadn’t covered the original with interfacing.

You’ll find iron-on interfacing at any fabric shop. It’s usually kept in a bin or on shelving next to where they cut fabric yardage for you.

You can also iron on Stitch Witchery or another fusible adhesive, and that gives you the option of sticking something wonderful on the other side… interfacing isn’t all that interesting.

For example, you could fuse an actual piece of fabric to the paper page.

Then again, after I sew beads onto the page, I like to cover the interfacing side with more paper… maybe a collage.

You can sew onto your journal pages, or turn them into fabric. It’s easy!

Foam Brush Notes

PaintbrushesPaintbrushes are important for many artists.  I have jars & jars of them for all purposes.

Foam brushes are useful in almost every kind of art I create.

When I’m creating collages, especially torn-paper collages in my artist’s journals, I apply the gel medium — as an adhesive as well as a sealer — with a foam brush.  (That same gel + foam brush works fine for applying glitter or metallic leafing to my art, too.)

I also use foam brushes to apply cheap, vivid, cadmium red paint (acrylic) as an underpainting when I’m working on an art shrine (that I’ll also paint) or a fine art painting.

Stores such as Michaels, A. C. Moore, and Hobby Lobby often feature foam brushes on sale.  For example, from 16 – 22 January 2011, Michaels were selling 14 foam brushes for $1.

Check your local Michaels’ weekly ad to see if the same sale is at your store.  (I don’t know if this link will work for you, but I view their weekly ads at http://michaels.shoplocal.com/michaels/default.aspx?action=entryflash )

Two more notes: I generally get at least three to five uses from each foam brush.  I wash them thoroughly and promptly after using them.

And, if you use the kind with wooden handles, the wood can be recycled in a variety of projects.  (For some of my cloth dolls, that handle is the perfect size to reinforce the doll’s neck, as the wooden dowel will extend from the head through the neck and then into the torso.)

Artists’ Journal RR #2b – Debbie O’s pages

The following two journal pages are glorious examples of work by Debbie O. of our Yahoo Group, ArtistsJournals.

They’re wonderful mixed media journal pages with fabric elements, and they’re full of personal insights and juicy imagery.

These continue the journey of Round Robin #2b (a larger blank journal) as it traveled across the U.S. and then to foreign lands.

Alley Hauldren’s Journey to Winchester, TN

After arriving in Tennessee from Arkansas, it was time to continue Alley’s journey.

During the final phase of Alley’s adventures, she reached Winchester, Tennessee.  That part of her trip inspired the next two pages in this round robin artists’ journal.

This transformed this journal into a true mixed-media artists’ journal, as Alley included actual cotton from Falls Mills.

These are her pages, larger:

Alley Hauldren’s Third Journal Pages

After Arkansas, Alley and her husband were on their way to Tennessee.  The map in this collage shows the route that she and her husband took as they headed toward Memphis.

Paper ephemera illustrates their journey.

Here are her journal pages, larger:

Click here to see the last two pages of Alley’s section in this round robin journal.  They cover the conclusion of her trip as she drove from Dallas (TX) to Winchester (TN).