Journaling fast and easy – when big feelings and thoughts happen
So it seems our neighbour in the-house-with-the-garden-with-many-trees no longer lives there. The place is being done up, so we’re wondering if it’s about to be sold. The sad part about that would be that the many gorgeous trees would probably be taken down.
These trees are too big for a town-house garden. That’s true. And the sun has trouble reaching some neighbours’ gardens because of them. I know. But still…our garden has always felt like such a green haven because of those huge trees. I love them! They were a big reason why we bought this house.
Every fall and winter a green woodpecker would sit in the top of the chestnut tree for hours on end, relentlessly laughing its laughs at me. And I loved it. As well as the hawks and sparrow-hawk that would sit in them and sometimes hunt in our garden.
I would miss them so much if they were gone. I am a nature-minded person. Without those trees I’m not so sure I’ll still like my house. Or my garden. So secretly I have begun to develop fantasies about moving to the country…
(Not to mention how these trees form a huge chunk of my privacy. Working in my studio they kept me very private and secluded, which appeals immensely to my hermit nature.)
[Sweet and sour synchronicity… While I am typing this blog post, a man climbed in the biggest tree behind our fence and has begun to cut it down, branch by branch. It seems I have prophetic qualities 😉 )
Little time vs lots of story
Capturing events and feelings can be done in many ways. But sometimes we’re just too busy to sit down for intricate paintings to express our feelings in depth and in layers. Sometimes all the time you for is journaling fast and easy. But still you want to express A LOT! And still there’s that big pile of energy that wants to be released. How to go about it then?
Stick figure triptych
Ever since I’ve been journaling, one way for me to visually record events, feelings and dreams when pressed for time has been to draw incredibly simple stick-figure drawings. Often framed, often in pairs, triptych or quartets to build the story.
Journaling fast and easy in the triptych format feels best. Existing of three elements, they form stories fast and naturally because they always have a beginning, a middle and an end.
In my example, the first image is the starting point: a lovely green oasis behind our fence that is the view from my studio. But I already depicted that danger is on its way in the top right corner by drawing in a saw.
The second image shows a dream I had one night of a treeless concrete-and-brick desert behind our fence that offers no privacy anymore. A mocking, victorious saw barges into the drawing to depict the discomfort I think I’d feel when the threes would be gone.
And then in the third image I allowed my feelings even further in and elaborated on the options that would then be available to us. We could plant our own trees. But they would take long to grow. Or we could move into the country where nobody threatens to take down ‘my’ trees. That was an option that really fitted my dramatic mood, so there appeared the For Sale sign.
Do you need to add text?
It’s up to you whether you want to add text or not. The trick with this kind of journaling is to keep the page as visual as possible. So, in essence, you try to capture everything you want to say in the image, so I try to add little or no text.
In this case using two words on each element added to the drama – which I felt was totally called for in my dramatic mood. I mean, thinking about moving house when a neighbour takes down trees is pretty dramatic, right? Well, I wanted to reflect my personal drama as poignantly as I could in this simple setup. And that was a great release of this energy!
Go ahead and try!
Would you like to try an easy triptych?
Then sit down for a few minutes and think of a situation in your life that affects you right now. What touches your emotions? What makes you afraid or worried or sad or angry? Pick just one situation. Grab a little piece of scrap paper and jot down a starting situation, the problem and your desired outcome.
Now take a pencil and draw three 2×2″ squares next to each other or underneath each other and sketch your story! Use your eraser as much as you like until you feel that you’ve captured your story well.
You can leave your triptych like this. But if you like, you can trace the pencil lines with a black drawing pen and add some color for extra pizzazz.
You can stick the triptych right into your journal and voilà…art journal page almost done. Almost. Because now it’s time to assess if your page needs a few words. Only a few! And then you’re done!
Want to learn more?
There’s tons of ways to draw fast and easy stories like these. And there are a lot of ways to make these drawings really pretty. If you want to learn more, check out the Life Book 2017 year-long art journaling course, because a video lesson of this technique PLUS ways of beautifying these simple story-boards will be part of it!