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My 15 reasons to keep an art journal

- this text is the intellectual property of D.C. Thomas. For editorial use and other purposes, to obtain written consent, please contact the artist through the contact form.

1. My art journal is part of my private art collection

Day by day, I collect thoughts and ideas in writing and sketches that depict my inner world - one that is both beautiful and sometimes gloomy. I seldom depict my out-of-body life experiences.

I get to face all of my feelings and document them.

The realm within me has reached out and it spreads onto the blank pages of a beautiful notebook, so my eyes can see it.

I am free to write and draw anything I want. Everything I've ever dreamed of and moved forward, allowing myself to tend to the mind in a different way than I have done before.

I design and conceptualize my little art gallery with its temporary and permanent collections, and have a solo exhibit each month of the year. All of this, while doing research and still learning about art as much as I can.

2. Habit can lead to discovery

Habit and practice can lead one to better results and the discovery of new things. Discovery of unexpected realizations can feel like a righteous reward.

Everything you construct in your art journal is the sum of your consistent endeavors.

Now and then, we would stumble upon things that we’ve only been led to by luck, pure chance, and incomplete thought. And that is okay.

Once in a while, each one of us gets our share of luck in life.

Though, relying on good fortune is not a healthy, nor recommended approach.

Writing and drawing, once turned into habits, will keep your creative flow constant and your train of thought in a bold line throughout those pages.

Discipline those skills and put them on a schedule.

By facing your inner thoughts, fears, and dreams, you will discover the facets of your beauty and uniqueness, while achieving consistency.

3. Organizing Creativity

Have you ever seen a messy art studio?

Tubes of paint everywhere, canvases torn apart, others half painted, art supplies still with their seals on, glassless frames, paint splatter on white walls and stained vinyl floors...the list goes on and you pray for it to least, I do, because this happens to me when I take breaks from painting and burst that bubble which prevented me to see the cluttered space in which I work.

Well, an art journal can be just the break you need to bring some order into your life and organize ideas into lists, create your patterns, lists of symbols, and so on.

Take that journal with you outside, breathe in the fresh air, and clear your mind. Vent and give yourself the chance to lay down your plans and detangle those lines of thought and questions.

4. Improving selectivity (while building an art portfolio)

You might feel this is the beginning of a very special project. Therefore, everything you make note of in your new art journal should be worthy of being documented.

It must be approved by your selection process and by your own set of criteria.

Everything you write and draw about is important and it needs to be executed well. You look at those blank pages, at the beautiful covers of your new notebook and you know that the time and energy you will be dedicating to this project deserve a vast array of beautifully and carefully chosen words and nicely drawn lines.

One thing you can do, on one of the first pages of the notebook, is to make a list of characteristics and parameters in which you want to encapsulate everything you plan to work on.

Your inner critic knows how to do this and it's a challenge for you to see this list of DOs and DON’Ts with your own eyes.

Pursue your goals and respect your plans, especially when your inner critic is always traveling with you.

Add or subtract to the list as you make progress. Be as selective as you can and write down when you feel strongly about a change you just made.

5. The only audience is you

Take on as many roles as you want when you add something within the pages of this precious project.

You are the critic, the artist, the producer, the one that casts the light onto what matters as your words find their places on the stage of your art diary.

Don't be afraid to try this freedom. Don't second question your talent and the outcome of your endeavors.

If something is upsetting you, paint over it and make changes.

If you don't want to waste the paper, use Washi tape, photographs, or colored paper scraps to make something fun out of it.

You are the director, you cut, and you are the only one who approves what stays or goes.

If doubt arises about anything you've created so far, take a break and revisit it after a while.

6. Portable art studio (the art journal as a recording tool of your life)

You can carry this notebook with you everywhere you go. If you are confident enough that what you have in it won't be discovered by an unwanted party, this journal can sometimes take on another role: security blanket.

If during the day you find a moment to yourself, try to vent, relax, or add to those ideas that compose your art portfolio. Improve your creative skills in the pursuit of what makes you happy.

7. Encourage your creativity

This one goes back to forming a habit out of creating and maintaining this art journal.

Just taking a glance at your notebook and knowing you have a project on standby, your creative abilities will be challenged.

You'll ask yourself What's next? What am I going to draw about today?

If you think that you will hit these bumps along the way, list ideas, media, and tools you should use each day of the week.

Do your research, and see if something special happened on that day. Ask yourself: What is so special about this month of the year?

Think of colors and tools you have never used before and give them a try.

Research art techniques, take an interest in learning more about yourself, and transfer your knowledge onto paper by using your unique style, making up symbols, exploring the shapes and forms of our world, looking into interesting historical facts, asking a beloved relative about peculiarities of your childhood and put that on paper!

8. Meditation as fruit of habit

You might wonder: What's the point of all this?

That is a question whose answer should benefit you, whose answer should lead you to take an enjoyable journey, having art in mind as a therapeutic tool for relaxation purposes.

Keeping an art journal is not a duty. It’s not an obligation.

If you feel compelled to give it a try and then you want to regularly contribute to it, to make a habit out of it, it’ll be your choice.

You are free to do this or pass and look into something else that could bring you joy.

It can be a challenge to introduce a new habit into your life, especially if you have a busy schedule or you have tried to try to stick to a schedule.

A lotus pose is perfect for supporting your open notebook while working on your breathing exercises. Combine that with colorful lines and words associated with bliss.

Think happy thoughts, and write positive words.

You don't have to clock in and clock out when you create in this notebook.

Meditation versus habit...

Consider the latter as a pathway to achieve the bliss of meditation on beauty, colors, and thoughts that have been collected in your journal throughout time.

This notebook remains at your disposal whenever you feel like adding something new to it.

An art diary could be a portal that can lead you to meditation.

Creating in it because you feel compelled to do so, then you can say that habit has led you to a different stage: regularly achieving happiness through art.

9. Construct ideas into stories

That list of ideas that you just finished could lead you to greater accomplishments: a novel, a book for children or adults, an illustration catalog, a landscaping project, etc. You establish the subject and target for your product.

That small list, the notes, the lines and colors you used in those pages, every single idea could propel you to the stars and beyond.

Everything that you write down can take you further because you declutter your mind, you lay everything down and you have a better view of what coexists in your mind's creative bubble.

You’ll have a clear view of the direction you want or need to take.

Visual chaos can ensue when you randomly write down notes about the same thought, but once your eyes gain access to your mind's data, you’ll be able to create order.

If you don't succeed at once, just because you have transferred your bright dreams onto paper, you will revisit them later and try to solve the puzzle; otherwise, your train of thought could vanish into thin air and lose the chance of making some of your dreams come true.

10. Subjectivity becomes fuel for your art

I dream of strong women, cosmic angels, blue horses, and marzipan flowers on a field of sugary daisies and I imagine myself yodeling amongst little birds while sitting on a rainbow. I am not afraid to write about that and I'm already painting it.

In your head and your art journal, you can be as subjective as you want, there is no limit. Dream of anything that makes you happy.

My mind tells me that, in my dreams, I can live on the moon and drink sodas while watching ballerinas performing cosmic pirouettes, with the earth in the background. Yes, I'm painting this one too!

Imagination is such a powerful tool. It frees us and it generates emotions. It uplifts spirits.

An art journal compiled of all these theories and imaginations, depictions of our concocted worlds, and notes of how we live our lives, is just a stage on which we perform.

A stage with no schedule and nobody to tell us what to dream about.

The blank paper of this notebook is the platform where you pile on dreams and thoughts that don't submit to the laws of physics.

They can take flight and form their worlds and you are the only one who has a saying in the degree of achievability.

11. No censorship, no formal writing, no rules but your own

Forget page formatting and grammar rules, you can also forgo techniques and make everything your own.

Write your credo. Write your beliefs and everything that brings joy to your eyes. Write what makes your spirit soar.

No system of rules can decide what you are allowed to do within these pages.

12. Rediscover yourself later in life

This one can take us back to what I said in the last paragraph of reason no.7 . Still, this can go even further than that.

The whole purpose of your art journal can be based on this motivation alone.

Document how you live now or unique circumstances, like life during pregnancy, traveling experiences, a relationship, an important work project, a guilty pleasure, etc. It can be anything.

Art journal versus scrapbook (?)

Remember that the pages of an art journal contain fine art, interpretations, thoughts and poems, prose, or songs you composed about feelings you didn't overcome.

This takes everything to a whole different level.

This is your time capsule, containing the interpretation of your own life.

You own it and you are in it.

Shards of your mind - as it is and as it shifts while going through special moments - will be protected and kept in these bound pages that are meant only for your eyes.

13. A diary doesn’t kiss and tell (if you guard it well)

Establish this as the golden rule. Protect your secrets and work. This is serious business.

You will know what is the best place for guarding everything you want to keep between the pages of your art journal.

When you decide to carry this precious keeper of copyrightable artwork or writings that can easily be turned into a novel, adding extra protection to it would be a smart decision. Even better if you have a vault in your house and/or at work, provided it's in your office and you are the only one with access to it.

But what do you do if you need to take it with you?

There are multiple options you can consider in taking this step, like a locking document bag, security deposit bag, a portable file chest, or a notebook with a lock. Of course, each one of these options varies and I remain optimistic you could find one that fits your criteria.

Remember to always keep your personal belongings in your proximity, within your reach, and where you can see them that is.

Given all the security measures you have taken to protect its contents, this art journal is your confidant and it contains the blank space you need when you wish to vent, to work on a great idea, or document your life in secret.

14. Symbols are your best friend, your language

You love codes, secrets, and semiotics, and Leonardo da Vinci's journals have always been so fascinating to you.

If you wish to make it even more complex and challenging, you can codify your writing and make up your language for everything you create in your art journal.

That, itself, is a safety feature and no one will understand its contents if they dare pry your private notebook.

It's challenging for you because you'll be putting your creative skills to work just to invent a system of symbols, and how to efficiently combine such characters.

15. Build your art alphabet

You can build your customized alphabet for this art journal. Add artistic flourishes and other embellishments that are representative of your style. Who knows, maybe you will decide to even publish this alphabet one day, even if it's for children or young adults.

Put your imagination to work and see how you can depict your emotions from A to Z across the blank pages of the notebook you just purchased.

The easiest way to plan this out: start writing down the alphabet in a vertical line and then start attributing emotions, activities, skills, and names of cities or animals to each letter.

Sincerely, you can designate anything to it, even memories, and then start illustrating them.

If you, however, worked on making up your language, I’m sure you've already settled on a special alphabet and that should make things even more interesting.

Don’t give up on art!

It’s a universe in which there’s infinite room for your professional and personal growth.

Do what inspires you to live happily and depict your little world. Within that space, give it some sun, build a galaxy around it, and let it expand as far as you wish because there are no limits in the art world.

D.C.Thomas <3


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