Thursday, February 16, 2017

Art Journaling Love: Meet Jen Morris

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” – Linda Naiman 

Meet Jen...
She is a a creative life coach,
 writer and 
journal artist 
in New Zealand.
 I "met" Jen in my FB group Mind.Body.Soul Art Journaling.
 When I asked her to be a part
 of our Art Journaling Love class 
she didn't hesitate.
 Thanks Jen!!!!

1) When did you start journaling? And how? Did something or someone inspire you? 

I've been journaling since I was about ten years old - although back then I called it a diary. I can't remember how I started, but I had a cute little notebook and used to write in it every day after school. Over the years I continued to keep a journal, although it was pretty sporadic - I could go days, weeks or months between writing. But when I did write, I would pour out my feelings - my fears, my dreams, my frustrations with life. I'd work through issues I was facing, like figuring out what to do with my career, dealing with depression or working through a break-up. For the most part, my journals were focused on writing.

Then in 2014 I had a particularly bad depressive episode (journaling is the main thing that helped me overcome this, and I haven't had one since). I signed up for Susannah Conway's Journal Your Life course after being encouraged by a friend who was also doing it. This course totally opened my mind in terms of how to approach the blank page. I learned about journaling techniques beyond the usual 'dear diary' approach, and I worked through some tough stuff using the prompts in the course. The course helped me rediscover my creative self - something I didn't even know was missing! - and I developed a daily creative practice. 

From there I learned about art journaling - something I'd never known about before. I had been longing for a way to express myself visually but wasn't sure how. I'd bought canvases and paints, taken art classes - I did art at school and studied art history at university - but couldn't bring myself to actually paint because I was so stuck with perfectionism and fear. Visual journaling has allowed me to create in a low-stakes way - because it's just for me, within the pages of a journal - freeing me from a lot of the fear. 

2) Where do you go for inspiration? Please share any blogs, people, magazines that are your go-to's!! 

My biggest inspiration is probably the work of Lisa Sonora. I love her approach to creative practice - she combines written and visual aspects in a way that really works for me. I also love the way her work looks - she uses a lot of alphabet stamps, collage and messy paint. Her way of working encourages mess and imperfection which helps me to let go in my journal. 

Other journalers/artists/creatives that inspire me are Traci Bunkers, Andrea Schroeder, Jude Howker (Ruby Jude), Susannah Conway, and Jamie Ridler - among others. 

Magazines that I especially love are Flow, Happinez and Australian Womankind - these are great for collage in my journals!

3) What types of journals do you use? Do you make your own? What is your favorite paper weight? 

My favourite journals are Moleskines - just the usual ones with around 200 pages. The paper is very thin - when I use ink stamps it shows through the other side and Sharpies are a no go - but Iove the soft covers of these notebooks - it feels like leather. I like the blank pages and I love that there are a lot of pages in them so I never worry about 'wasting' a page. The soft covers are great because they expand to fit all the collage, paint etc that I put in there. 

Because the paper is thin, I have to get creative about how to work on it. I scrape paint on the pages rather than use a brush, so it doesn't get too wet - but I love the messy look and unpredictable nature of working with paint in this way. I use collage when I want to stamp to add extra layers. A lot of the time I'm just writing a lot, so the paper is good for that. And as I said, with so many pages in one journal, I can write and do whatever I want without worrying about going through the notebook too quickly. It doesn't feel too precious to me, which is essential for me to have creative freedom. 

Some people think Moleskines are too expensive. They aren't as cheap as some other notebooks, but if you order them from Book Depository online they are quite reasonably priced!

I also use a homemade version of a traveller's notebook, or Midori. It's made out of thick felt with elastic bands to hold in lots of notebooks - in A5 size. I use this for my business/blog journaling. I like having lots of separate notebooks for different things, like course creation, blog content, marketing, business planning etc. 

I work in altered books too, because I love having something already in the background of my pages. I have a small atlas I work in, plus some other historical books with good thick paper. I work in these sometimes - mostly with more wet/heavy media, just when the mood strikes. But my Moleskine is my main journal - the one where I process emotions visually and in words, record my life, answer prompts etc. That's the one I work in most often.

4) What are your can't live without supplies?? 

For my writing, I love a good gel or ink pen. At the moment I'm loving Pentel Energel pens, and I also love Sakura Gelly Roll pens. 

I use acrylic paint a lot - mostly scraped onto my pages with an old credit card.

Alphabet stamps are a staple supply of mine - one of my main ways of working is to combine words and visual aspects. I'm a writer first and foremost, so words are my main tool. I love how I can use alphabet stamps to combine both the written and visual. I have about 20+ sets of alphabet stamps. I also use paint pens - Molotow and Posca - and the Pentel Pocket Brush pen for lettering.

I adore rubber stamps and clear stamps, and washi tape too. I feel like you can never have enough of these things.

I also love collage elements - I mostly use images and words taken from magazines and old books.

5) What's your advice to other journalers? 

I recommend starting where you are. Don't worry about recording your life, about what you've missed out or about doing it perfectly. Just start now, where you are, with whatever you have. You don't need lots of fancy supplies - you will probably build up a collection as you go and as you learn more about who you are and how you like to work. But just start! If you need help getting started, take a course or find free journaling prompts online to help you.

Journal as often as you can - daily if possible. Make it a ritual - set aside time each morning with coffee, or at night before bed - whenever works best for you. Light a candle, or some incense, or burn essential oils. Listen to music you love. Drink a lovely cup of tea. Make it a special time that you look forward to, that really nourishes you. The more regularly you journal and connect with your deepest self and your creativity, the more your life will shift in positive and profound ways.

Look at the work of others for inspiration, but don't get caught in the comparison trap. Get ideas from others - borrow things from people and experiment, try out their techniques and add your own voice. Allow the work of others to serve as inspiration. But if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or starting to doubt your own creative ability - switch off the work of others for a while and immerse yourself in your own journal. Use it to process these feelings and get back to what really matters to you - why you are journaling for yourself in the first place.

Be selective about sharing your journaling with others. First and foremost, your journal is a private place for you to grow. You need to have total freedom and feel completely safe in there. If you worry about creating work to share with others then that's going to influence how you create. If you want to share with others, make that decision afterwards. You want to focus on creating and writing for yourself, not others. 

Connected to the point above is to focus on the process, not the product. Journaling is a powerful tool for growth, creativity, self-discovery, healing and many other things. Allow yourself to get immersed in the process of journaling and keep an open mind about the outcome - approach it with a sense of curiosity. The real growth will only come when you give into the process and trust it to unfold, rather than holding tightly to a preconceived idea of how things 'should' look.

You can see more of my journal pages on Instagram (@jenmorriscreative), get free journaling prompts and learn more about journaling and creativity on my blog:

Favorite quotes:

"I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the façade of perfection."
— Crystal Paine 

"The core of your true self is never lost. Let go of all the pretending and the becoming you've done just to belong. Curl up with your rawness and come home. You don't have to find yourself; you just have to let yourself in."
― D. Antoinette Foy

Thank you so much, Jen for inspiring us!!! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your shared wisdom. I started journaling in a very similar way and truly appreciate your advice about art journaling. I definitely need to think more about what it means for me rather than a finished product. I see so many wonderful things that others do and I truly need to remember that it's about the expression of my feelings over what may be a project that I want to try. There is a time for that and it will come as I work through my pages. I also love that you spoke about the part of a journal being private and for yourself so that we choose what we share. That made me feel much better about art journaling and what the expectations are...there are none except those that I create. Thank you again. ❤


I appreciate your thoughts and ideas...they inspire me!! I will be visiting you soon. Have a CREATIVE day!!