Why watercolor journaling is part of my artistic ritual and why you should journal too.
Welcome back to my blog. I wanted to share a bit today about why I find watercolor journaling so important to my growth as an artist, even if I’m not actively building a painting portfolio.
I’ve been journaling in watercolor for 4 years now, almost to the day. I have just about every loose watercolor I’ve painted for practice. Eventually this got to be too much to store so I started buying spiral bound journals and eventually to a book bound type journal.
As an artist, there’s something about what I’ve come to know as “rituals” that help get me in my “flow” as I’m creating. Laura Horn talks about this in her podcast episode 110 “Tips for Painting a Series” and I’ve come to realize that whatever it is I’m creating, my watercolor journals are part of my ritual.
I don’t know why I didn’t date them all along, but it didn’t start out that way. Now, I not only date them, I write about where my inspiration for the doodle in my journals come from, which allows me to look back and gain inspiration from my inspiration.
Watercolor journaling allows me the freedom to explore in a place that I hold sacred. It’s a private place for me and only those that I choose to invite into it. It’s a place I can choose to hide or share. It’s a place where I leave all of my shame and pride behind and where I develop ideas for some of my best and worst work. It allows me the freedom and safety to try new ideas, even if they aren’t “my style” so to speak.
My journals have become my playground. I approach them with complete abandon of the ideas I subscribe to and allow everything to flow freely. Safe. Unadulterated. Raw work.Jen Shannon
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY
There’s a lot of pressure we put on ourselves to sit and produce beauty every time our brushes touch the paper, which many people find paralyzing. If you have a daily practice of just putting something on your paper, things begin to flow. Imagine turning on music you can get lost in, taking a moment to close your eyes and take in your surroundings, then begin to paint without the pressure you put on yourself and to just let whatever comes out of your hand color your paper. You may discover something new you didn’t know was in you. You may produce crap. The point is you have a safe place to be great and to be not so great. Then you can take the not so great and try to find ways you can either make it great or decide what you could try differently next time.
Sometimes I love painting in colors I would never use for an actual painting. And sometimes I discover what I think I would never use in an actual painting actually looks good and I SHOULD use it for a painting.
Here’s an example where, at one point, I was learning to create white florals and was experimenting with loose, watercolor bleeds and different “shades” of how to create white.
I want to encourage you to develop your own artistic rituals. Make a point to practice every day. If you’re feeling blocked, creatively, paint 9 circles (3×3) on your paper, dropping in whatever pigments you like and see how they bleed together. See what happens if you mop up extra water or drop in extra water at a point when it is close to being dry. Do color studies to see how different color react to each other.
Pay attention to how colors mix together to create new shades of what you didn’t know you had.
Turn off Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and just allow it to flow. Then grab a watercolor book and follow along to see what you can produce. Below is from Jeannie Dickson’s “Hello, Watercolor!” book.
Grab inspiration from anywhere. It could be a leaf outside, a combination of nail polish colors from an email ad you may have gotten, or even from your own clothes. This was from a key lime pie at our local grocery store.
I hope you find this blog post encouraging. I want you to feel free to create; free to have a safe place to experiment with new techniques. Happy creating.