One of the best things about art journaling is that you can completely let go—write whatever you feel, draw whatever you want, and even hide all of that under a layer of paint over it if you really wanted to. There are no rules, standards, or criticism. Except the ones we impose on ourselves.
We are our worst critics, and this is most true when we stare at an ‘ugly’ art journal page and are seized with a desire to tear it up and maybe even throw the entire art journal into the trash. Don’t! That page, and your reaction to it, can be your first step to true creative liberation. Read on.
So, what’s really freaking you out? Chances are it’s not about how you hate the color of the flower you drew, or how your letters look lopsided. Is it the raw emotions? The fear you’ve said too much? The fear of making a mistake? The hidden expectations? ‘Ugly’ only makes sense in reference to what you think is ‘beautiful’—and what words, thoughts, ideas, actions you feel are ‘acceptable.’
But acceptable for whom? Each time you say your art journal page is ugly, you’re journaling for an audience—someone’s approval, or permission. Who is that someone? Explore that feeling and see where it comes from. Where did you get this idea of what’s good and bad, ugly and beautiful? And, as you stare at the page, whose voice do you hear in your head? Is it your parents, your teacher, your best friend who always does everything right and sometimes makes you feel like an inferior sidekick?
These people have control/say over your page. Now is your chance to get that page (and your creative freedom) back. You don’t push these critics back into your subsconscious—give them space in your journal. Let them whine all they want, because right now you’re going to realize their whining has no hold over you!
Get a piece of paper and give these pesky critics a chance to say their piece? Go ahead, scribble down all the painful insults and the petty judgments. Putting them on paper gives them less power than giving them space in your head.
Then paste that paper next to your ‘ugly’ journal page. Tell yourself: ‘You can say what you want, but stay out of my page.’ Or, think of those two pages as the two faces of yourself: the one that dares to create, and the one that aims to silence you. The irony is that by giving the critics a chance to ‘speak up’ you have already conquered them. You have turned a creative block into a chance to create. You have made something ‘ugly’ into a way to reveal something beautiful about yourself. And ultimately, your art journal is a tool for insight.
Do you still want to rip apart a page that has taught you so much?
Now tell your critic, “Thank you.” In the gentlest and most positive way. And, in one little blow, that critic can do nothing but whimper away.
Photo from 123rf.com
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