I recently started a daily habit of what I call “meditative paintings.” What I do is I focus inward for a moment, notice how I feel, what I’m thinking of, what is bothering me, what is making me happy, how I feel physically, etc., and then I use this self-reflection to make the following choices:
- What music to turn on (am I in a jazzy mood? Am I pumped?)
- What paper to use (expensive hot press? Cut up student grade scraps?)
- What color to use (am I in a mellow mood, perfect for desaturated tones? Am I in a colorful and vibrant mood?) Note: I start with one color. Later, if I decide I want to add another color, I can choose it then.
- What brush to use (round brush? Cat’s tongue? Wash brush?)
- The starting point on my paper
After I make these choices, I move my brush verrrry slowwwwly. This allows me to only focus on the shape of the brush on the page, the way the color spreads, the music drifting–or blasting–from my phone. At this point I don’t focus on anything else. If I start to worry about things like where the painting is going, whether or not I moved the laundry to the dryer, bills, etc., I regroup. I take a deep breath, pause, then resume my focus on the sensory experience.
Often what comes of this is a purely subconscious piece, in which my feelings/joys/concerns come forward and form a small, abstract work of art. They are mere “doodles” really, but I have been feeling so relieved after doing them, as if I’ve just written ten pages in a journal.
So began the wordless diary.
I don’t yet have a designated sketchbook for this project, and so I’ve been using smaller scraps of paper to do my morning “doodle.” I hope to soon get a nice watercolor or mixed media journal in which to put all of my wordless diary entries.
Why I don’t keep a written journal:
I am one of those people who feels worse when keeping a journal. I think it’s because when I write my thoughts/problems down, I’m bringing them forward to my conscious mind. Sometimes I wind up discovering issues I didn’t know I had. Which only makes things worse.
But when I keep a wordless diary and paint instead, it’s as if these subconscious problems slip past my conscious and into the puddle of watercolor on the paper.
Even cooler? I can usually interpret what I’ve painted, even if it looks like a blob to the rest of the world. It’s the weirdest most awesome thing ever.
So if you’re one of those people who can’t keep a written journal, try keeping a wordless one instead! You can use any medium, and the only wrong way to do this is to think too much. Stop thinking. Only focus on the senses. And just move your tools around until your brain says “okay done.”
What about you? Do you keep a written or wordless diary? Tell me all about it in the comments below!