Thursday, 22 September 2011

Why I keep a journal

I think it is safe to say that for all of us in life, there are limited opportunities to be imperfect, to be unfinished to be quiet. When I sit down with my journal I am allowed to be messy, self-indulgent, raw, honest, REAL. I can draw something I don't like and just scribble over the top. I can write in a way that howls with pain and may sound nutty to anyone else. I can let loose. Exploring, experimenting, thinking straight onto the page. There is sticky tape, glue stains, pages almost completely distorted from wet paint, water, tea. I can practise and discover ideas that I would be too nervous to do straight onto canvas. Showing people is like letting them take a peek straight into my funny little heart, but I am not quite so afraid to do that anymore. Being unafraid is something I'd like to get better at. I have shown myself that I can be brave in big life things, so I want that to translate to the way I feel about sharing my art. It doesn't matter if people see something they don't like. It's not about that. If something I have done can touch at least one person in some way, shape or form, then it all feels completely worthwhile. To me, that's what art and creativity is all about. It's what motivates me to keep going.

When I have shared my big messy overflowing journals with my dear friends and family, I have been blown away by their reactions. Some just smile. Others have cried. Once, a person who I thought would find it completely stupid said that certain pages gave them goosebumps. These reactions make me feel very humbled. Sometimes I get asked 'what made you write that? Who's that about?' but I don't need to explain. People will bring their own meaning or justification to whatever they see, despite what the true meaning might be. So I am allowed to just smile and say nothing. It is the one place I don't have to explain myself and that is earth shatteringly refreshing. I tend to over apologise, over explain, I feel bad about things that I really actually shouldn't. My journal doesn't glance at me disapprovingly if I paint a whole page pink and write my fears and woes all over it! It doesn't lower it's glasses to peer, questioningly, into my face and say 'Oh really?' when I translate sadness into some hideous bird with half a head and ridiculous wings.

If i neglect my journal for a while, I feel unbalanced. I feel all curled up, my feelings tucked inside, begging to be let out. When I come back to it, when I sit back down at my desk, swipe the chaos of the week aside and pick up my pens and pencils, the world suddenly gets very quiet. And I can just lose myself in it. But the best thing about it, is that it never asks me where I've been or make sly comments under it's breath about how I don't see it often enough. There is no prerequisite or expectation. No pressure. 

Keeping a journal is also a reference to different stages of my life and how I may have felt at the time. I can look at a blue squiggly page from some time last year and remember how terribly lost I felt that day. Or a splash of yellow and re-experience the sheer elation I was feeling in that moment. We can so quickly forget seconds in time that may be seemingly insignificant but in reality help us build the intricate histories that lead us to where we are now. 

A lot of my favourite artists, who I will dedicate a deserving separate post to, bare their souls shamelessly in their work. They are completely unafraid to tell it like it is, draw from their hearts and write in a way that echoes their innnermost fears, sorrows and longings. That feeling of reading or seeing something that touches you or something that you recognise from your own private thoughts or experiences, is unique and wonderful and exhilarating. 

My journal is helping me map out the next stages of my art practise and that is really important. I will no longer feel guilty when I choose to stay home, caught up in artsying... it's my work, my passion, my balance, my stability, my hope, my direction, mine. 

Have a spectacular morning, 
xx Jessie Lee

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