Whew, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking! Time to get back in touch with the emotional side of our painting practice.
The idea of keeping a gratitude journal is everywhere. And there’s plenty of research suggesting it can help people become calmer and happier. Have you ever considered keeping a visual gratitude journal? Or a “beauty journal” or “journal of delights”?
Aside from the emotional benefit of focusing your attention on something good, pleasant and positive, this also helps you start thinking about how to represent abstract, intangible things in visual language.
You could use a separate sketchbook for this, or simply let it be one of the things you do in your studio notebook. I find it’s a wonderful way to approach travel sketching.
Oh, go ahead, use some words to get yourself started! What are some of the sources of beauty and delight in your life? Make a list or write a little paragraph.
Do you ever use these things as the subject of a sketch or motivation for a painting? Is this appealing as a way to motivate yourself to practice sketching? Or as a mindfulness practice?
Instead of just writing about things you are grateful for, try making sketches representing or symbolizing things you are grateful for, or sketches of little moments of unexpected beauty or delight in your day.
Choose one thing to represent each day, or several. Use images of actual things, invent symbols, or simply make abstract colored marks that capture the feeling. It doesn’t have to be something that anyone else would recognize. Add words, or not, as you choose.
If you really enjoy this practice, you can create a separate journal for it, or you can simply create some pages in your studio notebook with little boxes to fill.