A reader sent me this video of artist Debra Frasier talking about how she creates a picture book:
Towards the middle of the video, she talks about how critical her journal is to her process, how it’s “this active space where a kind of magic happens… it’s not a scrapbook, it’s not a diary, it’s this place.”
She learned to think about journaling this way from her mentor, the artist Paulus Berensohn, a dancer who turned to pottery. (He wrote a popular book called Finding One’s Way With Clay.)
There’s a documentary about Berensohn called To Spring From The Hand, and the website is full of all kinds of interesting stuff about his life and work.
In the mini documentary, Soul’s Kitchen, Berensohn talking about his journal and bookmaking workshops. He says:
The journal is not so much a way of diarizing one’s life, but a portable studio, a place where you can hang out, with your imagination, your intuition, your inspiration.
His emphasis on the journal as a place reminded me so much of what I’ve learned from Lynda Barry: that the page is a place where you go wandering around. (Because I don’t believe in coincidence: I wrote that post on this day 4 years ago.)
Debra Frasier makes an appearance in the documentary and she explains what Paulus taught her:
That you have this antenna that knows where you’re going before your body knows where it’s going. So if you have this journal space, and you allow yourself to trust whatever is drawing your attention, and put it into that journal, it gave me a way to magnetize the question, be alert to the answers, and have a place to store it.
Berensohn himself said making a journal was “like building a nest,” which reminded me of Thoreau’s idea about nest eggs.
Recently I saw a piece about how Americans don’t hang out anymore.
But not only do we not seem able to hang out with others, we can’t even hang out with ourselves.
Your journal is a place to do that.
(And I suspect that if you can hang out with yourself, you can get a little bit better at hanging out with others.)