Friday, 14 October 2011

An Ugly Art Journal

An ugly beginning.

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 my art journaling is dynamic. An art journal can be anything you need it to be, and what I need changes.

At the moment I have two art journals, an A5 journal (8" x 6") and an A4 journal (12" x 8"). The larger one is different from any art journal I have had in the past. It is very plain. So far all it has in it are drawings and writing. They aren't elaborate drawings. Well, you have seen a few of them, they are my drawings from the 120 Day Challenge. No collaging, no painted backgrounds, no fun art journaling techniques, just drawings with a bit of colour. There is a lot of white page compared to my other art journals.

My smaller art journal is older. I began it last February. It looks like my other journals, with backgrounds and collage and writing. More of the usual art journal (is there such a thing?) and I am struggling with it. I thought I was wrestling with it because I am still doing it in the 'old' way. I assumed I was a bit bored with the format. I have considered abandoning it.
Last night I thought what the heck and started working in it. Just sticking down some collage, not paying too much attention. Just gluing stuff in without worrying about how it looked.
It felt good.

And then, this morning a new possibility came through to me about why I have been struggling with this art journal.
I think it might be my ugly art journal.
~another ugly beginning

In the past I have always had my ugly art journal pages. We all have them. I have written about them, talked about them with my students. I believe they are a necessary and important part of our art journals. Being willing to make ugly journal pages frees us in ways that beautiful pages can never do. (Go here and here to read older thoughts on this subject.)
But an entire art journal? Am I willing to be that free? Can I continue on with a book that is mainly ugly pages? With only the very occasional pretty page?


PaperPumpkin said...

Am I wrong to think that they are not ugly??!!! Anyway, I do LOVE art is freeing. Kathy

Ricë said...

As soon as I finish getting it uploaded, you MUST go listen to the new podcast with Sue Kreitzman, who talks about the whole "good art/bad art" thing. She'll make you rethink "ugly," is what I'm thinking.

Kel said...

this post jumped out at me Zom as I recently posted about a travelling journal contribution I made, and the process I went through weighing up what to present on my page

as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder

people who think journals should be 'pretty' might think mine are ugly, but I journal for me, for the deeper truths which are revealed when process journalling

i guess that's the difference;
you can journal for pretty
or you can journal for process

mostly the two are competing, not complimentary

perhaps part of art/visual journalling is working out what we most value

Zom said...

I am loving your comments. You guys are writing what we gain from being willing to make 'ugly': That what we judge as ugly someone else might find appealing. That we don't really know what is 'good' or 'bad'. And that the end result may not be what is important. I agree with you, I intellectually know these are true - and now I get the chance to let that in a bit deeper. Experience-wise.

It will be interesting...

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

This post sort of alarmed me...yo do not make ugly journal pages...each one is a process to making a more perfect ...sacred mark. I realize you believe they are necessary but I see them as stepping stones to the next color selection... next sketch. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Zom said...

Dear Mary Helen with your gentle and wise heart, I realize that americans don't always share the Australian self-deprecating humour.
But of course you are right.

susan christensen said...

Hey, Zom - I read this post and am tracking all these comments with interest - agreeing especially with what Kel says. I will throw in one more thought, this prayer I recently unearthed in a pile on my studio work table which seems apropos: 'God, please set aside everything I think I know about everything I know today'. Be gone, White-Powdered-Wig Art Judge!


Kel said...

white-powdered-wig art judge

La Dolce Vita said...

we had this conversation long ago when you first brought the subject up and for some reason I have really been struggling with this lately...
maybe it is the process of working stuff out on the page and that isn't always ... "pretty"... for me anyway.... cathartic maybe... sigh

Alison said...

Um, you showing us your "ugly" pages reminds me of some of my slim friends telling me they're fat. Yeah, right.
Still I get that you think they are ugly and I applaud you for having a whole "ugly" album and to keep going with it.
Because I'm so new to art journaling I totally want all my pages to be either gorgeous, pretty or at least balanced designs or striking or having SOME artistic merit in my eyes in some way. I understand that this is how I work and if I have too many ugly pages in these early stages I'll get disheartened and stop doing it! So I'm OK with my need for this right now. Thanks so much for sharing your process with us.

Zom said...

Alison, I read this in my email and didn't realize it was from 'my' Alison. I think you have some good points, but as you are in my class, and I have seen your art journal pages I have to have a bit of a giggle. Being that you are both slim and your AJ pages have been at the very least pretty.

Parabolic Muse said...

Okay, I have to tell you, this is such a fun post! I get to say this, of course, because I'm not having a relationship with the journal you are calling ugly. I'm distant from it to a large extent. But this is fun becasue it is relatable and you come to a great conclusion. I love the idea of an entire ugly art journal. Go for it! Think how beautiful it will be!!

Diana Trout {} said...

Go for it! I'll content myself with the journal-y art page. Funny though, isn't it? What we think of as "ugly" sometimes really isn't :)