Crafting the Visual Memoir: Artful Traveler Journals

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An artful traveler is someone who longs to go boldly in the direction of their dreams.

 

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

There is only one journey,

Going inside yourself.

 

There is an allure and romance to travel…a call toward unknown lands and sacred places.

Maybe we are, in fact taking a trip to a foreign land, and want to document our journey.

Life is a journey. We have stories to tell, adventures to share.

We long to travel more deeply, more meaningfully into the unfolding moments of our lives

There are no ordinary moments, all is glittering around us, if we just knew how to look, how to find.

We see beauty everywhere, we long to express what we see and hear and feel and wonder about….if we just knew how to capture image and word and feeling, drawing it out of the cloud forests of our imaginations.

We long to express what we see and hear and feel and wonder about…if only we had an easy simple way to give it form on the page…in ways that feel good and life-giving and make us happy.

To express the journey we are taking, we just need a few simple tools and different ways of working with them.

The Artful Traveler is inspired by creativity and art-making, and also has fear that gets in the way….

There are places we want to go, in our work and in our lives, and in the world;

but we find ourselves holding back, hesitating, dreaming more than doing.

The compass pointing us on the journey we want to take is our heart.

But the heart’s longings seem so irrational and irresponsible to the mind.

The world we live in is a world made by rational decisions. We do what we’re supposed to do, what other people want, what other people expect, and find ourselves feeling uninspired, overwhelmed, worn-out,  exhausted, maybe even angry. We might find ourselves doing a bunch of stuff we don’t want to do, and yet, still have long to-do lists full of things we just can’t seem to ever cross off. We imagine our problem is time. Or time management.

How do we listen to the longings of the heart, when we’re supposed to be responsible and productive?

How do we move forward when we’re so afraid: of how we’ll fail or succeed. Of what other people will think. Of how we might do it wrong or mess things up.

Why an Artful Traveler Journal? Why a visual memoir?

There isn’t a map or a guidebook that exists for traveling in this manner…so we have to use our powers of imagination and creativity to make the guidebook as we go.

I believe that the heart’s longings are not random. What you long for in your heart will take you into the life you most want to live.

I believe that everyone has creative powers. If you have dreams, you are creating.

I believe it’s easy to learn how to tap into our creative powers to design the life we want to live.

I believe that all desire to “make art” and “take amazing journeys” come from the wise place deep within our own hearts that knows the exact route to the happiness we seek.

I believe that fear is desire in disguise, and that we can easily transmute fear into rocket fuel for the journeys we want to take.

I believe that taking the journey of the heart is a Hero’s Journey. It takes courage. (BTW: Courage comes from the French word for Heart)

I believe we can learn how to be courageous and turn what we fear into an ally, while we are making more art and taking more journeys! We can get started right now. Our dreams don’t have to wait.

 

What is a Visual Memoir?

Visual Memoir is the term I use to describe my process and resulting product of combining:

expressive writing + photography + collage + mixed-media art journaling.

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The Artful Traveler Journal is a beautiful, compact form that can be taught in a short workshop.

It provides the container for our explorations.

Some of us have tried journaling or art journaling or and found it:

boring, a chore, overwhelming, guilt-producing, another thing we want to do and don’t feel we’re doing “right” or “pretty enough”

or we feel stuck in a rut, relying on the same old techniques we’ve already learned;

or we sit down at the blank page and stare into space…and put nothing on the page…

or we put something on the blank page and hate it and quit

or we finish a page, but it doesn’t really feel satisfying in some way that is hard to identify

<insert curse words here>

 

If you’ve experienced any of the above, let me reassure you:

There’s a really good reason for it…

and

We will deal with that reason in the workshop.

 

These are manifestations of stuckness, and there are many pleasant and wondrous ways out.

I will gently guide you out of any stucky muck and back to your own happy creative place.

Sound good?

 

Common Dilemmas We Experience With Travel and Art Journals (or virtually any type of creative thing we want to do)

our memory cards and extra hard drives are full of photos we snap and rarely look at again

we’ve got bins of lovely scrapbook or art supplies – that are too precious to use (!)

we have stories to tell, but don’t know how

we have feelings inside we can’t quite put words to

we don’t like how we look in photos

we have experiences that are hard to write about

we have ideas for books we want to write

projects we’re eager to make

pictures of people and places we’d love to take

we have dreams of who we could be if we were more: creative, motivated, artistic

and had more time, or money, or skills,

and the right supplies, or the perfect journal, or a better camera

la di da di da….

the voices go on…

we’ve got books and magazines full of pictures of how other people do crafty art journals that inspire us but also tweak the overwhelm and envy buttons: How’d she do that? I wish I could do that! I could never do that!

we have stories inside of us to tell, but…for some reason they remain in our minds and they are not, in fact, getting out on paper

or else the stories are getting out on paper in ways that are difficult and strenuous and feel like a forced march

 

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//

This workshop was created to answer one of the most common questions I get asked about my work:

How do you travel so freely in the world? How do you have time and money and freedom to create? Where do you get the ideas for your work? How do you write so much? How do you keep your visual journals and sketchbooks while traveling? What supplies do you bring with you? Do you do regular writing separate from the visual journaling? How do you use photography? How do you make time for journaling while traveling? How do you work with limited supplies? oh…so many good questions.

While I answer all of those questions, the real question I’m answering is:

How do you create when you feel broken?

How do you work when you don’t feel like it?

How do you trust your heart when you’ve made a ton of mistakes?

How do you create when you can’t draw or paint or write as good as everyone else?

How do you move forward when it seems like so many other people are doing or have already done what you want to do?

for example… :)

//

 

In this workshop, we’ll dive deeply into these topics while I’ll show you my favorite way to make artful travel journals.

Artful Travel Journals are:

small and compact, so always at the ready as your travel

infinitely adaptable to your particular interests and needs

simple, easy, and fast to make and

….require no special techniques or supplies

Once you learn these methods, you’ll be able to create artful travel journals on the fly, where ever you are, with whatever supplies are at hand.

Most importantly, these methods will help you make maps and guidebooks of your own journey…toward more heart, more creativity, more freedom.

In this workshop we will:

Build a series of small, portable visual journals made up from unlikely materials.

Create our journals out of unusual suspects, stuff that you can find at the office supply or grocery store.

Make fantastic use of the stuff in your recycling bin and junk drawers…and long-lost projects.

Play with pretty paper and the usual suspects of crafty supplies: paper punches, tags, ribbons, stickers, rubber stamps, stencils, washi tape! (Do you know about washi tape?!)

//

Once we build our portable journals, we’ll use one to document the days experimentations in visual memoir travel adventure.

We’ll go on a mini photo and ephemera-collecting safari in the neighborhood and and learn how to incorporate what we find into our stories.

We’ll make use of personal photos and objects we’ve brought with us, that we want to learn how to write about.

We’ll play with collage and paint and drawing materials in ways that open up your unique expression and forever cure any doubts about how talented and creative and artistic you are.

Read that last paragraph again and thing about what that would mean for you…

What could happen if you found a way to deal with doubts about your creative abilities?

What new worlds would open up?

What would that be worth to you?


Do you long to experience more beauty, more adventure, more color, more courage, more meaning, more discovery, more freedom…in your art and in your life?

I hope you’ll join us!

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