For the last six months a journal has sat on my studio table. From time to time I have paged through this journal and added a thing here or there, completing some pages along the way. On those page throughs however this journal has often stopped me, stumped me, and other wise frustrated me like no other journal has. This journal has a looming deadline and must be conquered before time is up and my frustrations were quickly turning to a panicky feeling every time I was near this nearly empty, needed to be filled, monster on my studio table.
What journal is this you ask? How is it possible that someone who writes grocery lists on fine art paper and will splash watercolor with near abandon on a thirty dollar sheet of Arches can be stopped by a collection of color copied sheets bound into a book? Those are the exact questions I asked myself this week. Why? Why is this a stopping place instead of a jumping in place?
This week I finally had an answer to that question - I have been trying too hard. Trying for perfect. Waiting for the right idea for every page. Desiring that each and every background would shine and be the star it was meant to be. As an artist I recognized that desire, the elusive quest for perfect and as an artist, I also was seeing the same results, nothing; a not-so-blank-sheet as it turns out. When perfect is the goal, nothing is the result, because nothing is perfect, particularly when making art. We all see the flaws we create so clearly that the resulting work will never be perfect. It will be so completely un-perfect that we will be stopped in our tracks.
Thankfully, I also remembered our goal and original starting place for this idea. The Smash Journal and the desire to make our own custom version to use as a collaborative project because it was fun.
Let's get reacquainted with the original idea:
Watch the Smash Journal video.
If you type Smash Journal into Google images.
If you have followed my links you should see a common thread of delicious non-perfection. A mash-up of lives, ideas, images, drawings, and day to day stuff that is glued down and penned in with abandon. Books bursting with extra papers and lovely unique liveliness. No thought was given to the background other than that it was a vehicle for the stuff contained on the page. Not perfect and in its non-perfect state we reach wonderful, fabulous page turning journal goodness.
In my focus on the not-so-blank part of the project I was forgetting the most important part of the project title - journal. A journal is a personal record of experiences, thoughts, events, and observations. A record of a daily life on paper. This week my focus came off the project as a vehicle for perfect pages and went to a focus on the project for MY pages, it is a journal after all.
With the pressure to create perfect pages off my back I have been creating my pages all week with complete and utter abandon. Oh, I am still going out of order and not quite taking the sheets as they come but I am not letting sheets stop me anymore. It's my journal and the pages need to be mine, whatever that means for the background. Suddenly, I am having fun with this journal. Knocking out multiple pages a day, not because of a looming deadline but instead because I am enjoying myself.
If you too are a part of this project and have been stopped by the pages, the project, the pressure of perfect, let it go. Perfect will never happen and the idea of perfect only gets in the way of making the pages yours. Remember it is meant as a journal, not the fancy Art Journal where the pages must be beautiful works of art, but as a record of your thoughts, observations, and experiences.
A journal journal that's real and a reflection of you and your life. Go! Smash some of your life today into those pages: receipts, recipes, drawings, photos, thoughts and all. It will be beautiful because it will be uniquely you. I know that's what I cannot wait to see in December, the completely unique approaches, the beauty that we each placed on the pages that reflects who we are and where we are at that day the page came to be smashed together.