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Keep a Journal

by Keith Bond on 6/29/2009 4:57:27 PM

This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  Find out how you can be a guest author.

Your artwork has a unique ability to communicate and speak to others.  But there are times when you need to discuss your art.  Remember, conversations are so important when connecting with your collectors.  You cannot rely on your art to do all of the communicating.  You must learn to use the written and spoken word.  For some, this gift comes naturally.  For others it is easier said than done. 

I wrote the following in a previous article titled Creating Life, "Art can be moving and powerful.  It is wonderfully magical.  But art is also elusive.  So, what is art anyway?  To truly grasp what art is would be impossible in one lifetime.  It is far too complex.  Even more difficult is finding the words to express what our hearts and minds are trying to comprehend.

This article is about gathering the things you want to say so that you can say them when you need to. 

Write in Your Journal

Alyson Stanfield wrote, "Write in your journal.  Collect words and thoughts about your art so that you have them when you need them most." 

I love her insight.  This is something that I believe whole-heartedly.  Writing in a journal is something that I have done for the past few years.  I didn't do it very regularly at first.  But I began to see the value over time.  There are times when I simply must put my thoughts and feelings on paper, or they will be lost forever.  I still don't do it as often as I should, but I am improving. 

Journal vs. Blog

Keeping a journal is different than writing a blog.  It is different than your newsletter.  A journal is much more personal.  You are writing for yourself.  You are writing to understand.  A journal is a way to try to sort through your impressions and feelings.  It is a way to try to begin articulating what you feel.  It is also about your experiences.   

Your blog or newsletter, on the other hand, is more focused or pointed.  With a blog, you are writing for others.  You have an audience.  You can expound upon the ideas that originate in your journal.  You present topics in an organized manner to help communicate your story to others. 

Why a Journal

Forcing yourself to write about art (specifically your art), will help you sort through all the abstract concepts.  You will begin to wrap your mind around the ideas that are so elusive.  The simple exercise of writing promotes understanding.  It is like taking those scattered puzzle pieces and finding where they all fit.  Over time, your puzzle will begin to come together and you will see more clearly the image that it makes.  You will better understand art in general.  But more importantly, you will understand yourself.  You will understand your art and why you create.  You will understand the 'what' and 'how' behind your art as well.  With this understanding, you can then find the words to communicate it to others.  The more you write, the more you will find ways to share your story. 

When to Write

You must find the times that work best for you.  You may write daily or weekly.  You may write when a thought or prompting comes.  It is important to write things while they are in your mind.  If you wait, you will lose those insights.  If you get these thoughts when you can't spend much time writing, at least jot down a couple notes to prompt you when you have more time.  When you have a revelation about art, write it down.  When you are trying to understand a concept, write about it.  Before you begin a work, write about your initial inspiration.  Why do you want to create the piece?  If you are still trying to sort through your options while conceiving the piece, write about those options.  When you finish a work of art, write about it.  Write about its meaning.     

What to Write  

Much of the previous paragraph also includes what to write.  Additional topics may include your methods, your influences, and your frustrations.  Write about your experiences you have while creating your art.  You may wish to write your response to someone's critique.  Write the things you wish you had said to that client at the show.  Find a quote that inspires you and write about that.  Write about your successes or failures.  The options are endless.  Just write about art.     

Do it Now

Start now in keeping a journal.  Keep it simple.  Keep the entries short, unless you are on a roll and the ideas are flooding in. The next time you need to revise your artist's statement, you can harvest great ideas from your journal.  The next time you are speaking with a client, you will be able to articulate what your work means to you.   The next time you are searching for a blog topic, refer to your journal.   

A journal is the oft-overlooked precursor to communicating about art.   


Keith Bond 

PS  Over the course of several years, you will find that your journal will be a great documentary of your evolution as an artist.  You will see yourself grow and change.  You will gain strength and encouragement.  You will be inspired.  You will laugh and cry over past experiences.  Your journal will add meaning to your art and will enrich your life. 


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Fred Mindlin
via web
Keith Bond`s piece on keeping a journal was helpful and interesting. However, I would urge him to read or reread Strunk&White`s "Elements of Style" --available free online -- and note especially the difference between "different from" and "other than" -- in re his "Keeping a journal is different than writing a blog."

Just one of those malapropisms that annoy a former school teacher...

Cheers, Fred

Zura Ledbetter
via web
I enjoyed Keith's article on keeping a journal. I am an advocate of journaling for all creative people. It enhances my art in numerous ways, and it keeps me sane at times.

Ruth Housley
via web
Hi Keith,
This is very good information that you wrote about keeping a journal. You always write good articles.
Thanks again.

Verna D'Alto
via web
I have just read Keith Bond's article on keeping a journal. I have always kept a journal and have more books than I can handle. My husband will probably burn them when I pass.
But Keith's idea to keep an art journal is great. I find myself forgetting about what I thought about a painting I did last year, or even last month. These writings are so important as it also gives you an idea about "what is the one specific thing that identifies your art." That is from another article.
Last year, my brother bought one of my paintings. Only recently he remarked "do you know I can see figures and people in your paintings." He and others have also remarked about this feature that stands out in my abstract mania. Thank all of you who write and give me new ideas. Verna

Iris Brooks
Mr. Bond, I just happened across your artical on keeping a journal as I was reading a piece by Clint of Fine Art Views. I so enjoyed your artical that I will look for your writings from now on...for enlightening encouragement and for your artistic viewpoints...Thanks for that artical, for I needed that information to help push me along!


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