I have been posting about my artistic process on Instagram, and it has made me realize how central art journaling is to me as a painter. I've always known that I'm into art journaling, that I love it. But since I have been deliberately documenting my process I see how almost everything I paint begins in my art journal.
In The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield defines a phenomenon known as "resistance", a blanket term for everything that we put in between ourselves and our work that we somehow know we should be doing. For me, there is the amorphous and hard-to-name thought mixture in my mind, there is the art that I have learned will come to exist (but now is in my near future) and there is the SPACE BETWEEN. This space between, what Pressfield calls resistance, is what I reckon with every day as a painter.
I once made a short comic about this process. You can click through the above image to read it.
On a practical level my art journal is often my palette, it's where I put paint before I put it on a "real" painting. Or, if I have paint leftover, it goes straight into the art journal.
But mostly, my art journal is my starting place. I approach it with my daunting feelings of apathy and resistance. And to cut through, to interrupt, the space between my mind and my future art, my strategy toward the journal is to do ANYTHING, and to do whatever that is FAST. Doing it fast helps me race ahead of the anxiety or worry about my choice of what to do. No matter how I feel about it, I have to persist for a time.
That means that if I am concerned that what I am making is ugly, worthless, dumb or inherently bad, I must continue. If I am convinced that what I am making is amazing, outstanding or beautiful, I also must continue. If I sense that my work is pointless, that I am just stirring around in my own muck, if I sense my own mediocrity, I still must continue.
This is because, like us, our feelings about our work are always going to be evolving. Any type of thought we have about what we make is temporary. If we continue to work, it will change rapidly. We must continuously act on our creative thoughts in order to let our work develop and change. We are alive, we are forever changing. We are the life forces channeling these creative ideas, therefore our artwork is only of us--so it must change too. Only by doing our work do we allow our art to live and evolve.