Why a site about Contemporary Journaling?

Much of modern life has become about collecting experiences. Once it was buying the t-shirt (collecting objects) now, people take a selfie (collecting the experience) to illustrate where they are, and what they are doing. I have nothing against selfies as such. I do wonder what is actually happening when people dash here and there, seeing this and that, and take a selfie to mark the day. In sketching or writing in a journal, it forces you to slow down, to think a moment, to make connections between this idea and that idea, to internalise the experience, so it can be part of your history, your story and who you are. It is these connections made in a journal that make the experience more solid. It is more solid because you have slowed to focus on it. The journal is just the tool. In writing about something it allows me to clarify my thoughts. In sketching something it allows me to understand how something exists in the world.

Contemporary journaling frequently combines visual elements such as photos, sketches, and collage with written text. Journaling has been heavily influenced by book arts and artist books. Some modern journals are more about the images between the pages than the written content, exploring the format of a journal with pages that fold out, have concertina pages, or  hold memorabilia in pockets.  This format shift can be taken to an extreme with  journals that are on filing cards, or postcards instead of notebooks. As a genre, contemporary journaling is behaving like a teenager, with all the passion and energy of a young life, rebelling against tradition and conformity of lined notebooks.

I do not mean that journaling is for the teenage years as the people I know, who keep a journal are well into their adult years. As people they are not interested in too much introspection and recording angst. Instead their thoughts and interests look outward. They witness events in their community, recording their reaction to life. They are externally focused paying attention to what happens on their patch of the globe, recording by sketch or photograph the places they live in and what they see.

Technology has also influenced the genre as digital journals which can include photos, video and sound. The internet has also influenced journaling as people seek out others that keep a journal and share prompts, ideas and techniques which means a genre journaling grows producing many interesting hybrids. For instance groups such as Urban Sketchers, and Everyday Matters encourage people to stretch their creativity regularly by developing a habit of illustrating their lives or where they live.

I have had an interest in contemporary journaling most of my adult life. Since 1989 I have kept a journal every day. There are 2 exceptions or breaks in this record. each is a break of about 6 weeks.  I stopped journaling for a while after the Canberra fires and again when my mother died. Both times were a crisis point in my life and although many people use a journal to work through points such as these I found I did not want to. So I followed my gut and did not. I enjoy seeing what people are doing with their journals, how they are using them and why. At the moment there are are sites that focus on sketching and art journaling but not much on writing and the practice of keeping a journal. There are other sites that focus on writing but not on the visual elements. I plan to mix the two topic areas as I do in my own journals. I figure I may have a few tips to share that may be useful for others. Creativity sparks in the form of prompts, books read, gallery visits and travel may help others with journaling ideas too and since my own journal practice is always changing as I try out various techniques in my own journals I will share them with you.

As a side note – one area I don’t plan to go is the angst ridden navel gazing stuff under some disguise of honestly working through issues. If you have metal health issues dont pick at the past like scab that wont heal, see a professional and get real help. A doctor may suggest a journal for health reasons but the internet is not the place for it.

Apart from the genre being interesting to track, explore and participate in it is important for creative activities to be validated. Creative people need to know it is OK to be different. In the last 18 months I have had the wonderful experience of  seeing a local group of Canberra Urban Sketchers grow and in the process people have learnt new skills,  the experience of sketching has been enhanced by being part of a group. A common interest validates the activity. It’s nice to feel that what you enjoy is not so weird, or out of place. Sometimes if you read about an activity online and it is something you have half thought to do – seeing someone else do it helps you take the first step. Knowing someone else does it validates the desire to try something. If you encounter a group interested in the same thing it can be very powerful as well as educational. A group can expose you to new ideas that leads you to trying out something new which in turn leads to developing skills.

So the reasons behind me focusing on Contemporary Journaling are

  • The genre is shifting and changing quickly which makes it interesting to track. The internet has led to groups forming and different forms of journals.
  • In order to constantly write about a topic I need to look for new stories. Research always leads to learning new things. This will improve my own journaling practice.
  • After many years of journaling I hope I have something useful to share
  • Creative activities of all types need to be validated – it makes a better world

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35 Replies to “Why a site about Contemporary Journaling?”

  1. Luann

    Always enjoy listening to your thoughts.

    Lately I’ve gotten into publishing mini books of my photos. (Mytime seems to slip by more quickly now that I’m retired! Haven’t figured that one out yet.)
    I write in them when they are delivered. I also publish my blogs once a year and make additional notes in them.
    I’ve never had a problem writing in a book. I know some people think it’s inappropriate. I feel that as long as I own the book, it’s mine to do with as I please.

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      that is a great idea – I am currently traveling at the moment and had planed a travel album but had not thought of printing a blog or taking it further into a digital journal, Thanks!

      Reply
  2. Maureen Bond

    Sharon, other than seeing your journals in Tones and Tints and a couple from other talented ladies, I’ve had nothing to do with sketching and notes.
    I’ll study all your information in today’s blog, then if I may, sit and watch for a little while before joining in.

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Maureen – I am putting together a video where I show some page spreads that are less than perfect – some real workhorse pages as well as a number of different journals I have kept over the years. Absolutely no obligation – or guilts about this join in when the mood stikes you to do so.

      Reply
  3. Marianne

    Having taken several of your stitching classes I am thrilled at this new venture! I have journaled for years and am trying to cultivate a new sketchbook practice and seeking ways to combine the two. Currently I write my journal on my computer and import images either scans of my sketches or scans of my photos. then I print the pages into a looseleaf binder. But I am trying to figure out ways to incorporate writing with sketches/drawings as you showed in your video. Eagerly awaiting things to come!

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Thanks Marianne at times I have used a computer to keep a journal and there are apps etc out there for it but somehow a book ie paper and pen is what has always called to me. Everyone journals in a different way and all ways are OK in my book

      Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Lorinda I don’t plan on writing a newsletter but you can subscribe to the posts and have them delivered to you via email – the sign up is in the side bar

      Reply
  4. Annette Graves

    Oh this is going to be fun and can’t wait. I journal some, but nothing serious. I love the part when you said about picking at the past like a scab that it won’t heal. That is a wonderful comment in my book my dear. The stitches are awesome and I know this will be also. Hugs and THANK YOU for sharing your talents with us. oxoxox

    Reply
  5. Marly

    I’m looking forward to this. I’ve never kept a diary for more than a month or so, I think because looking back always seemed tedious: let the past be past, lessons learned and move on!
    Just recently I have started recording, in pencil in an old loose-leaf ring file (nothing permanent, I’m not interested in posterity!) my ideas for new quilts. The focus is on ideas for the future and the loose-leaf format enables me to easily add to or alter my original plan as I go. Sometimes these ideas spill over into my blog when the quilting blogging community generously share their experience and opinions.
    A journal, as I see it at the moment, is not for publication, but for private consumption. In my case a place to record ideas, and answers to the question, “Where to next?”

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Marly I think you are aiming at a studio journal – ie it catches ideas and documents the process of stuff made. They are a great tool and thinking space.

      Reply
  6. Dijanne Cevaal

    As a keeper of journals since I was about 15 and writer on scraps of paper well before that I am looking forward to seeing how you develop this. I recently lost my journal I had been keeping from the beginning of this year when I went to France to house sit to almost the last day I was there ( I think I left the journal behind in a church where I had been exhibiting) in June- and I feel quite bereft- so many thoughts , ideas, drawings,lists,observations and encounters were recorded in that lovely Rhodia folder ( it’s a new Rhodia product which I just loved- lots of pockets to tuck things into, like cards flyers etc- things you encounter on the road) and to boot I lost my lovely purple Lamy pen with it. I have felt a little lost without it- so have returned to a journal that I started last year when I was in italy- but the 6 month gap makes me almost feel as if I lost that time- but I did make a lot of quilts during that time so I have other evidence of doing!

    Reply
    • Patricia Visser

      Terrible to loose your journal! Good Idea to write your name and phonenumber in the journal in case a kind sort of persons finds it!

      Reply
  7. ginny

    I’ve been looking forward to this change, and I agree if you have real mental health issues get help! The world of embroidery has opened to new generations because of your skill and profound diligence at ‘pintangle’, I can’t wait to see your personal exploration of journaling at ‘In a minute ago’. Thank you for sharing your brilliance, the world has been made a better place, one stitch at a time and now one page at a time.
    Ginny

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Ginny you are spot on with my build strategy – I am a chipper and over time aim to build a resource a bit at a time and hopefully it will be useful to people

      Reply
  8. Jules Woolford

    So excited that you’ve started this Sharon. I’ve come back from the Symposium with so many new thoughts/ ideas about my journaling/sketching and writing!

    Now I need to catch up with The Fog Watch 🙂

    Reply
    • Sharon B Post author

      Clare its in the side bar – others have subscribed in the last hour so perhaps you just missed it – If you are on mobile device you have to scroll to the bottom

      Reply
    • Jennifer Althaus

      I’m on my iPad and in order to see the subscribe feature I have to turn it “landscape” rather than “portrait”. Maybe that will help you.

      Reply
  9. Juno

    Wow, set up and ready to run! Even whilst travelling. By the way am enjoying Jerry’s posts 🙂

    Reply
    • Jan Gibb

      I love the idea of continuing prompts for creative journalling. I did your course and have used a journal ever since for recording my ideas and making some of them into finished products. The course, for me, was one of prompts and ideas to explore, and I found it really helpful in getting ideas out of my head. I used spiral bound art joumals
      Jan

      Reply
      • Sharon B Post author

        Hi Jan gret to hear from you as it is always nice to encounter a student and I am pleased the course was useful for you. I have taken a note of what you have said about prompts.

        Reply
        • Jan Gibb

          Yes, things like cutting up a picture to make new designs, exploring colour combinations and the paper cutouts (I have cutout felt and made 2 embroideries from this) were some of my favourites, but enjoyed it all
          Jan

          Reply

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