Journal Page Mathematics

I wanted to show you how the journal page from yesterday’s post (which, if you haven’t read it yet, go give it a gander!) came to be. 

My pages evolve organically, with layers added in bits and pieces here and there until, finally, they come together. They’re not in order as you turn the page; rather, they are scattered and added to and get messy and come to be as they’re supposed to. 

I may not have a particular thought in mind until the final push — a collection of layers, created from the cast-offs of other pages and projects being worked on, will, suddenly, call to me the same way you see a face in the grain of a wooden door, a dog in a puffy white cloud, or Mary in the center of a tomato. In the slant of sunlight or the shadows of a lamp, it all magically becomes clear in a way I’m sure the Divine always saw, but I needed time to see. 

Which is a very positive and together-sounding way to explain my process. My students have been asking me why I make the decisions I do while doing art, and I had to come up with something.

Allow me to walk you through the evolution of a journal page. 



I used this page to test a doodle foam stamp I made for Journaling Deep. It worked alright (this is before I discovered GAC 100 and its magic properties for making brayered stamps work better).


Not pictured: I decided to see if my soft pastels would work the same way my charcoal does, ie. using erasers as drawing tools (I have several erasers, now, and blending stumps). It didn’t. So I covered the page with bright, dreamy colors and then let it get all funky because my fixiatif was in my car. 


I then decided I couldn’t really do anything with a page covered by pastels and painted over them with gesso. This is when I started to get an idea of what I wanted to write/journal about — I’d been listening to Sara Bareilles in the car and there was a lyric I wanted to do a page around. This is about the same time my Leg Pain became my Leg and Arm Pain and I stopped being able to sleep (still unresolved). 

I knew I wanted a representation of myself, and didn’t want it to be an illustration, per se, but a drawing with a nose. So I hopped over to Tam’s Fabulous Faces course and watched the first video — it is an amazing class, by the way! I wholeheartedly recommend it. What’s even more amazing is even though I followed along, my work looks different than what she drew. That’s the mark of a great teacher! 


I painted the face with acrylics and watercolor crayons, leaving the rest of it white. 


I remembered a page I’d done recently that transformed a bleh page into one I loved, so I borrowed the ink writing and Cobalt Teal, as well as the lines of dots I’d done on there. 

This is am important step to cultivating your own mark — instead of sitting down to find inspiration online or in a magazine, look back through your journal for bits and pieces you can transplant and refine on a later page (I’ll be offering a short course on pushing through your creative roadblocks next week if you want to learn more about this whole process!). 


By the time the page was finished, the message had changed from one of anger to one of positivity and hope. And that, my darlings, is the transformative power of visual journaling



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