Sunday, 21 April 2013

Crafty: Tips For Creating A Visual Diary

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On Friday, I picked up my pens and crayons and created my 160th and final drawing in my first visual diary. I've been creating in my diary since November last year, and it's been a fantastic process, a real learning curve. A friend of mine gave me a blank sketchbook as a present, and as much as I loved using my old sketchbook as a doodle pad, I just wanted to make it more meaningful. And I'd wanted to get back in the habit of keeping a diary again, mostly so I can remember where I was at in my twenties! (and so I can laugh in a few years time)

Another reason for me was to get back into the art of drawing and being creative again. I used to enjoy drawing, painting and getting messy as a child, but for reasons unknown I gave it up. Mainly because I was a bit self critical of my work and didn't feel good enough. I decided to push myself, to try and work on myself and my own insecurities a bit. I was going to face my fears. I was no longer going to be the rubbish artist. I was going to be the artist who grabbed insecurity by the horns and carried on regardless.

When I first started, I decided to go with my first, initial ideas, even for stuff as simple as what colour pen to use! Intuition is key. As for materials, I started small. I used Berol pens almost exclusively for the first few months, made sure I had a glue stick on hand for those moments when I wanted to stick stuff in, and some colouring pencils for more detailed work. I soon levelled up to watercolour paints, wax crayons and gold sticky stars, as well as pasting in bits of wrapping paper, packaging, foil, and Instax photos. As for inspiration for what to write about, I chose the every day - what I did that day, standout moments, and inspirational things around me (one entry detailed the pair of pigeons who love sitting in the tree opposite my window, nicknamed Jack and Vera, naturally!) - you can choose anything you like to write about in a visual diary, which is why they're so much fun!

If you fancy having a go at creating a visual diary, there aren't many rules. It's all in the attitude of how you work with the diary.

  • First up, find a sketchbook. I went for a small, A5 sketchbook with a canvas cover I could paint on.
  • Your diary is your friend, so don't be afraid to be truly honest with it. Unless you choose to, no one else is going to read it, so you're pretty much free to experiment.
  • Try sticking in stuff you discover out and about, save things like packaging, sugar sachets, small leaflets you can tear apart to fit in the journal. Try collages!
  • I found that the diary helped me develop my writing skills - not just my written voice but also my handwriting, which is generally quite terrible, has changed a lot over the past few months. Neater with some more personality. I quite like it!
  • Keep writing, once a day. This is a bit obvious but the more you do it, the more you'll feel like getting the visual diary out. Maybe make some time once a day where you can sit down and doodle.
  • Go on an outing with your visual diary. Take it down the pub, to the beach or the park. Do some work on it while you're there.
  • Always go with your instinct. If you want to use a red pen but then think of using a pink pen, go for red. Trust yourself!

With that in mind, I'm about to go and start work on today's entry. Have you ever started a visual diary before? How did it go?

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