Journaling Life: Anatomy of a Journal Entry

Last week I presented an entry on a mixed media journal page I created, wrote a bit about how relaxing it was and inserted a few images. I went on mainly to talk about the process and how it appears, but today I wanted to touch briefly upon the internal workings of such projects. As I’ve mentioned before, a friend had persuaded me to give it a go, and it turned out to suit me very well. I’ve noticed that it’s not uncommon I start doing something journal-y, thinking I’ll just be at it for a few—because this feeling of having to move along quickly is what we as a society have been trained to do, and I loathe it, but it’s a really difficult lifetime habit to break free from. With this activity, though, there is something about it that beckons us deeper into the process, and time passes before you know it.

I was privileged to witness the creation of Girl on Canvas by Stephanie Hopkins, and it remains one of my favorite of her pieces. It reminds me so much of a brick wall whose chipped away surface reveals hints of life in earlier times. Perhaps old poster advertisements, lost and found notices, sales specials or even health warnings, such as now, in our own era. Click images for more details. (Photo courtesy Stephanie Hopkins)

One might get a lot or very little done in, say, a two-hour period, and it generally doesn’t matter either way, because the process is what I’m looking at here. This isn’t to say the results aren’t important, and I do in fact appreciate greatly the beautiful work I see from so many talented people. But I have found that when I do finish a project, its beauty alone isn’t what makes me love it so much, but also my experience in its creation.

When I completed this project, I was elated. Sure it had some elements I might change were I to do it again, but overall I was quite happy with it, despite its imperfections. I remembered wanting to get back to it, which is something I hadn’t been experiencing in the past couple of years, even within activities I have loved my entire life. That alone was so significant, and I started to feel as being cut off from my passions maybe won’t be so forever after all. The new wings of the project were lifting me up a bit, even if only just a little, which really helped so much.

My next project didn’t take quite so long to create, even though it was also spaced out in time a bit, and it matched my mood: subdued, but not so much negative. I didn’t really choose the colors; it was as if some unseen hand drew me to the ones I wanted (needed?) and, despite having sorted through my ephemera dozens of times before and not finding anything suitable, this time particular items jumped out at me. They really did speak to my internal activity: a richly rosed-up metallic shade of bronze hinted at a boldness I may have felt, but acted upon quietly; matching material with shades of the same that reflected my craving for complementary, sort of an emotionally symmetric sensation; while simultaneously adding in a strike of contrast for balance. The butterfly perched upon that brought in and gazed over a sense of continuity in my new joy, which was more of a very peaceful undertone that lasted long after project’s end. It is the sort of contentment that functioning within a world of intense rush erases and eliminates, and being within it once more added to how wonderful it felt.

The next day I began another project, this time with an idea toward something a little different, moving away from strips and taking on something with more substance, something that also might be meaningful for an observer rather than just myself. Still, I also was yearning to reach back to my roots and explore poetry—actual words, but also a sort of poetry of thought or feeling. One of our local grocery store’s floral section is topped by words in script that read, “Poetry in Bloom,” which I think is so apt a way in which to describe flowers, which can so often touch someone in the same manner as poetry.

Left and above: Hints of what is yet to come.







I hoped to do this as well with my piece and, remembering the appreciation I felt seeing others’ projects, started out with angles I know I enjoy. It may be silly to some, but there is indeed a brand of happiness to be gotten from certain combinations, effects, images, presentations. Sometimes the viewer observes one item at the outset, such as a key tied to a ribbon, attached to a button, surrounded by matching shapes, affixed to the fold of an envelope or pocket. My key, as seen in the image below, is a heart held in the hand of someone turning it, and that abstract sort of beauty is included in the prettiness of the key itself, combined with the loveliness of the ribbon and button—well, it’s pleasing to the eye (at least I think so) and I have wondered of the workings of the brain and all its attendant chemicals. I don’t really know much about that at all, but there does seem to be some sense of delight at opening the envelope to pull out the little card secreted inside, bearing lines from various works, including some poems, that speak of love.

Perhaps it is no accident that the card’s final poetic message reads, “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life; that word is love.”

Closing the flap back up doesn’t put an end to all this, for there remains what was there before we checked inside: a happy little golden flower surrounded by a few other, smaller ones resting on a very soft material whose threads reach out, beckoning us to the best of human emotions that so often aids in dealing with what is not so lovely.

It probably would be accurate to say that not everything in mixed media journals needs to have any sort of deeper meaning, and I suppose I’ll also create lots of those too. Or perhaps they do have deeper meaning but, not unlike the formation of these therapeutic labors, the process is the principle. We don’t always have to talk about it, but do enjoy.


One thought on “Journaling Life: Anatomy of a Journal Entry

  1. Pingback: Ephemera & Mixed Media | Layered Pages

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