I’ve been bullet journaling since 2013 and have over 20 notebooks on a shelf to show for it. And yet…none of those notebooks on that shelf are actually full. I stop at the end of the month, so there’s always empty pages at the end that go unfilled if I don’t feel like I can squeeze in another month. Sometimes I’m just READY to start a new notebook so I’ll stop with more than a month’s worth of pages left. Other times it’s gotten full and I’m worried about the binding/shape of the notebook. A few years I found myself creeping up on January and while I could squeeze in two months, why not start the year with a new notebook?
Last July I bought a bunch of different sizes of watercolor notebooks on Amazon. My plan was just to use them all in an attempt to develop a daily creative practice. And while I had hoped I would fill them, I was still so new to regular creative time I didn’t really think it would happen. I try out new things all the time and they usually help me for a little while, but I don’t hold on to many “new” habits long terms.
I mean, I’m a complex human living in a chaotic world – what are the odds new habits will be forever habits? Slim to none. I assure you.
I started realizing quickly that my painting time – if I could disconnect a big and just make the goal: FILL THE PAGE – was quite meditative. It gave me guaranteed time to clear my head and play and I really enjoyed getting to know my gouache paints and mixing colors and just painting shapes and not stressing out about it too much. I especially loved it if I could do all of this in the morning before I had to start my day. That’s when I found it the most effective in terms of a tool to help me manage my mental health.
I also went to an art journaling “class” that introduced me to collaging. This was an excellent addition to my creative morning time. I ended up using collaging to help me spice up some of my less structured pages.
You see…I often paint two pages at a time. I’ll do one that has more purpose and real shapes – and the other page is just where I use the last bit of paint in my palette so I’m not wasteful. Those are the pages I would often come back and collage over. Or maybe pages early on that I didn’t love.
Because these are watercolor notebooks the pages are REALLY thick, so I could paint front and back. While I did have pieces of watercolor pages a little bit bigger that I would always keep UNDER the page I was painting just to prevent dripping etc., there was still no soak/bleed throughs. Every page, even the back of a painted one, could be used.
Gouache paints can be really opaque or watercolors, so the pages vary greatly in their paint saturation, but some of them are really saturated AND then coated with a collage and modge podge and yet…STILL CAN PAINT ON THE OTHER SIDE!
So what I now have is a full notebook where every page has something on it. And I’m so very proud it’s ridiculous.
I could have gotten a better picture of the fullness if I was patient enough to wait until the sun came up BUT I WAS NOT SO I HAD TO LIGHTEN THE EFF OUT OF THIS PHOTO.
I keep thinking, Should you go back and perfect all of the pages? Add flourishes? Collage over the ones you don’t like?
But the reason this works is because I don’t think too much about each page as a stand alone piece of art. It’s all just pages in a meditative art journal. If I start thinking too much on presenting a page as “done” I may never shelf the notebook. And I like the purpose this practice serves in my life now, I don’t want to over complicate it and get in my head about it because then it won’t serve that meditative purpose anymore.
So I’ll video/photograph it as a “complete” notebook when the sun comes up and I’ll put those photos on instagram. You all get the poorly lit, pre-dawn photos over here. Sorry.
But here’s my last page. I actually really love it – even as a standalone work of art.