I began painting and doodling, writing out song lyrics and creating collages in a notebook long before I had even heard the term art journal. It was mostly just playful meaning making, recording a thought and venting frustrations. It wasn’t very artistic (aka pleasing to the eye of an outsider) because it was the process I was enjoying. One day I stumbled into the world of art journaling on You Tube and so my journaling intensified.
Art journalling is sometimes seen as just another art form and the focus is on the artistic elements of the art journal page. Most tutorials on the internet focus on making art in a journal. Intentional or expressive art journaling is not making art on a page as an artist. When art journaling has an intention and is focused on turning our private world into a tangible form using art materials, it can be a richly therapeutic experience.
Intentional art journaling releases authentic self-expression and is a mirror for self awareness. It uses a prompt such as music, a body sensation, visualisation process or visual or word cue to inspire a free outpouring of our inner world using art materials into a journal. You can watch me model the expressive art journaling process here.
Intentional/therapeutic art journaling assists us in emotional articulation which eventually (and this may take quite some time) leads to us being able to share our thoughts, emotions and experiences with others in an authentic manner.
Making shapes, marks, colours and words in an art journal is inherently therapeutic even when applied without any training in art therapy because intentional art journaling reveals the heart and allows us to process and move through life with hearts and eyes wide open. This in turn shifts the internal atmosphere towards health and wellness.
Lucia Capacchione is the pioneer of expressive or intentional art journaling. She declares that art journaling assists in:
• personal growth
• health and healing
• inner child work
• creativity development
• life planning
• career and talent development
• parenting kids and teenagers
• spiritual practice
There are also no inherently right or wrong way to art journal, there is simply the way you will do it. Lean into your intuition and let your gut instinct be released. If you’re a bit stuck or overwhelmed with the idea of intentional art journaling, you can try a simple art therapy exercise here that will get you started and help answer your questions. If you need some tips on which art supplies to get you started, try this video.
Please be aware that intentional art journaling can sometimes facilitate a natural emotional release. Please do not hesitate to seek additional support with a qualified art therapist or counsellor should expressive art journaling trigger you. Lifeline is also an excellent place to seek help or in an emergency call 000.