Written by ELA LINDSAY Artwork by NICOLA JANE
Today’s journals can be things of beauty—evolving, growing pieces of artwork. Unlike the simple “Dear Diary” spiral notebook of yore, multimedia journals involve much more than pen or pencil.
“Creative or therapeutic journaling is all about expressing emotions on paper,” says Agoura Hills resident Scarlit Bloome, a mentor and artist who teaches creative art journaling classes at the Conejo Valley Adult School. Bloome encourages each student to find their unique voice and use various media including collage, image transfer, stenciling and texture for inspiration.
“There is no right or wrong way of doing it. Releasing feelings is the goal of a completed piece,” she says. “Expressive journaling can be therapeutic because of the catharsis of putting down on paper emotions of anger, hurt, pain, depression, trauma, secrets, and any unwanted feelings through words, art or both.”
The process allows you to “free your mind of all the thoughts that are going round and round in your brain,” she says.
A pioneer in the study of expressive writing as a way to healing, Dr. James Pennebaker, author of “Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions” and “Writing to Heal,” has completed research indicating that short-term, focused writing can be beneficial.
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker says, according to the University of Texas at Austin website. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”
Author Dr. Lucia Capacchione, a frontrunner in the field of creativity and healing, developed the Creative Journal Method. She says journaling can be a tool for “personal growth, health and healing, inner-child work, creativity development, life planning, career and talent development, parenting kids and teenagers, and spiritual practice.”
Bloome says the only rule with expressive journaling is there are no rules. “Throw out everything you know about writing—grammar, spelling, complete or run-on sentences, punctuation and anything you learned in school. Express your emotions through color, collage, doodle, paint or draw(ing).”
Nicola Jane, who has been creative journaling for years, uses a combination of techniques.
“My inspiration to start art journaling was a need to create and express myself from spirit. It’s about having something inside and getting it out.” Nicola found inspiration and learned techniques from the magazine Somerset Studio: The Art of Paper and Mixed Media, along with utilizing a mixed-media journal from artist Kelly Rae Roberts.
“Color, short phrases or just one word inspire me.”
Bloome agrees that “sometimes writing or art on its own is not enough. Perhaps an art page needs words, sentences, poems, or a thought to complete a feeling. Or maybe a color or a doodle is needed on a page filled with words,” she says. “Expressive journaling is using whatever you choose to help you release and express your feelings and emotions without ever being in the wrong.”
“The benefits I get are many,” adds Nicola, who is also a jewelry maker. “(Art journaling) is a healthy way to escape and relax, it helps me to get quiet. . . . It’s almost meditative. I love getting all the supplies out on the kitchen table and making a mess.
“I love the paint on my hands, and my cat Luna, jumping up on the table to join the fun . . . the color, words and the process through mess. I think life is like that sometimes. It’s all about finding that ‘Zen’ place and creating something from spirit.”