The act of choosing is, in and of itself, the first step to creating art. If you get stuck there, you’re not going to get a whole lot further. In the hopes of getting a little more ruthless in my approach – and in the hopes of narrowing down the piles of unfinished projects that lie around my house like so many reminders of my creative ADD – I spoke with Linda Woods, mixed media artist extraordinaire and all-around cool person.
Linda (the beautiful brunette) and her sister, Karen Dinino (the stunning blonde), are the authors of Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books. If you have ever thought about creating an art journal, this book will take you by the hand and lead you gently into the fray, suggesting projects, products, and techniques. And if you haven’t ever thought about creating an art journal, what are you waiting for???
Because art journaling involves making art from the everyday material of life – receipts, scraps of paper, odds and ends, magazine pictures and words – I thought Linda would be the perfect person to talk about the challenge of excess and how to narrow down your view in order to get SOMETHING on the page. Here’s a paraphrase of our conversation:
Lain: Why is it so darned hard to focus on creating art? I try to sit down but end up distracted by sixteen other things.
Linda: Just like in life, it’s hard to focus and do one thing without doing three other things at the same time. In order to get the paint going and get the color going, I tell myself I’m going to focus on one thing.
LE: But when you’re working in an art journal in particular, anything can be a subject from the weather to your soy mocha latte. How do you pick just one?
LW: It’s not easy! It’s a habit. I tell myself that for ten minutes a day, I am going to focus on just one thing.
LE: One of the things that stops me dead in my tracks is that when I must choose ONE thing, I tell myself it must be the “perfect” thing.
LW: That’s a self-defeating thought right there! It doesn’t have to be the “perfect thing.” And it doesn’t have to be the “right” thing. In fact, I stop myself from making corrections in my art journal, or going back and making changes to my work. I resist the urge to go back and add things to it. In the moment I made it, it was perfect.
LE: Making art journals seems so freeing and easy, in a way. Why do we find it hard to make even those small steps towards self-expression?
LW: You have to let go of judging. Judging holds us back. A lot of times when we create, we ask permission. We don’t just trust that we know what’s right for us. I do fear that people copy what they see [online], and then they lose all individuality. We need to let go of comparisons.
LE: So basically, we just need to do it – put our buns in the chair and go at it.
LW: Your surface becomes your confidante and your best friend. You make art because you love it, no matter what it is.
For more information on the dynamic duo of Linda Woods and Karen Dinino, to read more about their first book, Visual Chronicles, or to get updates on the upcoming Journal Revolution, visit their website. Keep up with Linda’s daily meanderings here.