Art Journaling – Why Bother?

I started my first Art Journal as an assignment in my training as an Art Therapist. It was the place I went to at the end of every day as I tried to make sense of the daily challenges and pain experienced by my clients and my role as a therapist. Later, I incorporated art journaling into my therapeutic practice and today I teach art journaling workshops in my studio and artist collective to those interested or simply curious.

Over the years, I have found an art journal to be a safe, nonjudgmental “place/space” to:

  • lay down one’s feelings be they fleeting or habitual; dark or bright;
  • make space for images that bring clarity or solace or even surprise wisdom;
  • work out complicated emotions and thoughts and then let go;
  • transform negative thinking into healthy resilience;
  • practice and play with art processes and techniques;
  • paint with fingers, hands, sponges, brushes, …..;
  • leave a page incomplete to be revisited another time;
  • share with another – or not.

My art journal is like a trusted friend. It documents and records, questions, stands by silently, supports, challenges my assumptions, and lets me have my say. My art journal is a transformative learning tool… a record of my growth and ongoing transformation as a human being, as a woman, as a friend and family member, as an artist.

My art journal uncovers the sunshine behind the clouds and I love it!

Art Journal page – Self portrait, mixed media – December 2016

Do you art journal?

Pandora’s Box

A. MacPhail, 2016

Reading the Times Colonist and found this wonderful description of the experience of Art Therapy. Tim Olsen, recovered alcoholic, went through the Miracle Valley Treatment Centre in Mission and enrolled in an art therapy program. He describes his experience, “You got canvas every day with black and red pastels that helped open the Pandora’s box. It brought out more of my soul, more of what happened to me.”

We all have a Pandora’s Box in our closet; sometimes holding unspeakable events/memories. Art making continues to amaze me as it unlocks the unimaginable, the unspeakable, and the unremembered. And the beauty of it is that within the making is the transformation. And through the transformation we may find the courage to change.