Any artist, designer, writer or other creative will know the feeling of a creative block: that agonizing experience of being uninspired, or unable to transform inspiration into art.
When experiencing a creative block, it seems that you’re no longer able to make the art that has previously come to you naturally, or at least, without too much difficulty.
It’s no surprise that creative blocks can cause distress in those who experience them. After all, creativity is an essential element of the lives and livelihoods of artists.
There’s no one solution to a creative block, just as there’s no one answer to what it is that causes one to feel that they’re shut off from their own creativity. One method of overcoming — and perhaps even preventing — a creative block, is to make use of an art journal.
Art journaling can take many forms, but in general terms, it involves filling an otherwise blank journal or book with artwork, be it in the form of painting, sketching or doodling.
Carolina Della Valle, an abstract artist based in Brooklyn, NY, describes art journaling as part of her art practice. “My art journal has become part of me and my daily life,” Carolina tells us. “Time may not always permit, but it sits in the back of my mind, looking for its opportunity all day long. It is more than a habit, it is a craving.”
For Carolina, the discovery of art journaling as a tool for her craft was in itself a lesson on creativity and the difficulties of being an artist: “In truth, I have "started" many art journals through the years but often abandoned them after my first ugly page! It was not until 2018 that I finally realized that rather than close the book, I can simply turn the page.”
To Carolina, journaling represented the freedom of progressing beyond self-criticism: “And there it was…a whole new opportunity to try again. That ugly page began to lose its power to discourage me. It was then that everything changed and my art journey truly began.”
An art journal doesn’t have to contain an artist’s finest work. In fact, it will often be filled with experimental, imperfect art — and that’s the beauty of it. The lines don’t have to be perfectly clean, the fine details don’t have to matter.
What is important is that the artist gets to test their ideas and experiment with different techniques and mediums as they discover and refine their niche.
“As a new artist,” Carolina says, “It is important to develop an art practice that allows me understand myself and my preferences, and give me the room needed to explore and learn this new language.”
In this sense, an art journal is a truly functional tool for Carolina and many other artists who keep such journals of their own. It represents a method for artists to create their own style and to see it evolve. “My art journal has helped me understand the type of artist I want to be,” Carolina explained.
Perhaps the best part of art journalling is that it requires little more than the tools that an artist already uses. It is also an ideal way to make use of excess materials and to rediscover the potential of old paints, pens, and other supplies that may be left at the back of a drawer or supply closet.
All that is required is a blank journal, a writing or painting instrument, and an eagerness to create.
For those of us unfamiliar with the creative demands of the art world, art journaling still has its benefits. Carolina tells us, “An art journal does not have to only be used to practice art.
For me, it is also a place to unwind and release. It is my safe place to visually vent! I love a good scribblefest! I always feel better after a journal page!”
Thank you to Carolina for contributing to this blog post. Be sure to follow her on Instagram.