I am writing again, and doing several projects; too many, probably. Online, I'm doing The Documented Life Project and Tangie Baxter's Art Journal Caravan and Symbology Project. I'm behind in all of these. In real life I'm taking two poetry classes through the through the MOLLI Program at the University of Montana. I missed the first two sessions of both, made the next two and will make the final two.
All this has gotten me back to my journal. Several of these projects have participants who are interested in the actual stuff of journals; hence, this post. All the art journaling and collage-making I do is done digitally, so my actual real-life journal has always been pretty plain. White lined or unlined pages and black ink with an occassional foray into colored paper and ink, often short-lived. Mostly just writing, but occasional doodling. And I rarely print my art pages.
Now I'm trying something different, and enjoying it very much.
I've used Circa Notebooks from Levenger for decades, both professionally and personally. I love the versatility of them. I can use paper of different sizes and move pages around easily, within or between notebooks. I can have several notebooks with different covers for different projects.
It has finally occurred to me that I can print out interesting pages to use for my writing. I have accumulated a vast library of digital images, and there is no rule that I must write on white paper. This is what my current journal looks like (click the images for credits & larger sizes at flickr):
I'm loving using these. The images encourage me to loosen up and play a bit. You can't be too serious when there's a picture of a squirrel on your otherwise blank page. Making the pages was itself a fun creative activity. I didn't get serious about that, either; there is no fancy photoshopping here, just plunk the images down and print.
I panicked for a moment when somewhat busy pages popped up as I prepared to take notes in my poetry classes, but I decided to just go with it, and it worked really well. Better for me, in fact, than a thin list of things I want to go back to. Why didn't I realize this when I was in school?
As you see, I'm also printing out some of my collage/art journal pages. I think I've discovered all the various ways it is possible to screw this up: put the paper in the printer the wrong way so that the backside prints upside down; don't get the paper into the punch securely so it's wonky in the book; don't be careful about measuring before cutting the paper in half. I seem to have a genius for this.
It's worth it, though. If, like me, you don't have the space or energy for in-real-life mixed-media art work, but you wish your journal looked a bit more interesting, I recommend this approach. It's very fun.