While I haven’t figured out the “What next?” question yet, I do think I’m going to do something somewhat daring, that will stretch my creative boundaries and help develop my artistic voice. I’m going to start keeping a journal again.
I haven’t been very introspective for the last decade or so, primarily because I spent five years seeing a therapist back in my younger years, back when we all thought it I had major depression and not bipolar disorder. As a result, I felt my psyche had been quite thoroughly washed, aired, and hung out to dry, and really didn’t need further examination. (There is such a thing as too much introspection!)
However, looking at how I’ve grown over the last ten years, and given that I’m standing at a crossroads, I think a bit of introspection is in order. So I’m going to stretch my psyche out a bit and start journaling. At the same time, since this is a visual journal, I’m going to play with mark-making – line, shape, etc. – and some unfamiliar media, like pen, pencil, watercolor, watercolor pencils, collage, etc. It will stretch me a bit and probably be a bit uncomfortable, at least at the start – but that’s really what risk and growth are about, right?
I’m hoping I can find the discipline to stay with it, at least for a month or two, maybe for an entire year.
Towards that, I’ve picked up a copy of Journal Fodder 365: Daily Doses of Inspiration for the Art Addict. It’s intriguing in that it emphasizes the journal as a working document, not as an art piece. (I was amused by some of the negative reviews which said that the journals weren’t inspiring as works of art! To me that’s not what journals are about, but apparently many books have been written about journals that are art pieces in and of themselves.) I’m going to try to work through as many of the exercises as I can, including their writing prompts. Some I’ll share here, some I’ll keep to myself.
My work so far has been quite technical – which is to say, 90% of the work in creating my pieces isn’t in design, but in figuring out how to make the piece and then executing on that design. It also doesn’t have any particular meaning beyond the look of the piece. I feel that I should slant my work a bit away from technical design/implementation and towards meaningful and artistic design, and I think journaling will help with that. It’s not about “Gee, how do I make this?” but “What does this mean to me?” The mark-making part of journaling will also help with artistic design and finding my visual “voice”.
I may also combine this with exercises from Finding Your Own Visual Language,which is a great book on finding your own voice. Although, I’ll likely keep the two journals separate, as one is more about introspection and the other is about finding your artistic style – a subtle but important distinction.