Art Journaling Unpacked – Going by Feel

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of feel in art journaling. This isn’t so much about the emotional component, but the tactile component and the satisfaction that lies in that aspect of making things.

For me, the tactile experience, the feel that certain materials give in the friction between the implement and the support, even the smell of certain materials – that physical aspect of art is the chance for mindful awareness within it, and it gives back to me so much more than I give to it.

Art Journal by Feel – I stopped looking altogether while drawing these shapes

I know that I spend a lot of time concerned with the improvement of my visuals themselves. There’s nothing wrong with taking great joy in your improving competence and grasp of how to do things over time. But I think it pays to simultaneously develop a willingness to go by feel, to do things that may undermine the visual polish and sheen of well executed work.

Art Journal by Feel – This is a scratchy scouring experience with this brush
Art Journal by Feel – Controlled doodling in contrast with uncontrolled markmaking

The horizontal stripe format inspires me to write, which is something I haven’t really embraced much within my visual journaling. I worked the prompt “I love…” and decided to adopt a positive focus. (Something I have found challenging but crucial.)

Art Journal by Feel – I love the raised blobs of heavy body acrylic through this simple stencil

Likewise, I am not normally someone who uses a lot of stencils (I get very lazy about dirtying and cleaning them) so that was all the more reason to use this very basic pattern.

Art Journal By Feel – snippets of writing don’t have to be pretty to work with these raw marks

A lot of my work actually starts by feel, now that I think about it, not just fast journal pages like this. The willingness to just randomly start with a mark placed anywhere on a canvas and then develop that into a full painting is something I think I have developed through making pages like this – seemingly not that related to something like this, but having very similar starting points.

They look completely different but both start with random choices and marks made based on feel.
Art Journal By Feel – The finished spread. It’s not refined, but it is a special record of a few days in my life, and an exciting test of a color palette

So – is journaling by feel something you’ve ever tried? Have you ever done a whole spread this way, or is it something you rely on in different parts of the whole? Comments are welcome!

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