Published: 08th February 2021
How art journaling made the COVID-19 lockdown 'therapeutically' bearable for art lovers across India
Art journaling goes way beyond creativity and also helps in self-care therapy. We find out more about how some artists across the country used this to sail through the lockdown in 2020.
In the endless hours of isolation during the pandemic, a lot of us turned to art for comfort and strength. Also, in these weird times, a clutch of artists — most of whom ran out of paint and stationery — created art with the little things around them.
Art journal Spread with old magazine papers by Sakshi Salil Chavan
By leaning on an existing (and poetically vibrant) art journaling community on Instagram, a lot of us were greatly inspired to make art with leftover acrylic paints, dried flowers, old magazines and some poetry during the lockdown.
So that does beg the question: what is this art journaling all about?
The aesthetic version? It’s a creative outlet to document our thoughts, ideas and fragments of imagination.
Plainspeak? Thinkpoetry on one side and a collage of artistic whimsy on the other, creating a compelling visual to wow your following on Instagram.
Journal Spread by Sahana Mira
Leading that brigade
Most people who have made it in the virtual world of art journaling often have an origin story that goes back to when they were yea tall. Take Reshma Khatoon @story.of.tokyo, a young doctor from Hyderabad, for instance, “When I was in my teens, I got this very pretty Nightingale journal where I used to scribble my favourite song lyrics, spill glitter, stick chocolate wrappers, scraps of pretty fabrics, movie tickets and I always tend to doodle something. Later, I discovered other artists on Pinterest and I fell in love with their art journal entries. This is how I got invested in making a proper art journal.”
For others, the journaling came from a more powerful place within. Like Naba Ahmad @ohnabaa, a 19-year-old artist from Lucknow, who uses her journal to evoke powerful emotions. “Art journaling gave my thoughts a shape. I was able to transform all my random thoughts into a strong message,” says Naba.
And then there are the purists, for whom it's all about the art, so help them God. Much like Sakshi Salil Chavan @sakshi.exe, a 21-year-old artist whose journal spreads on Instagram have earned her 7000 followers and an art store for customised painting and mood boards. “Art journaling, for me, is a creative process that develops your visual creativity and sense of aesthetic as it prompts you to select specific colours, textures, materials to create exactly what you have in mind,” she explains.
Tangerine themed journal spread by Naba Ahmad
Art that stemmed from a virus
With the pandemic wreaking havoc on the mental health of so many, scores of us turned to create something to not make ourselves ache of boredom — and keep our sanity. Naba used art journaling to cope with the pandemic, “I just used to scribble on the pages and started writing on some prompts to make a journal spread. It gave a sense that I can create something valuable which people could relate to. It made me feel less alone during the times of complete lockdown.”
Therapy. It's a word that's overdone and underutilised all at once. What a lot of people don’t know about art journaling is that it goes way beyond creativity and is a pretty effective way to get some self-care therapy. “The act of cutting things up, sticking them, writing and doodling somehow equate to the idea of unwinding the mind and transferring it onto paper,” explains Sakshi, before adding, “Sitting for 15-20 minutes with a blank sheet lets you create anything which is on your mind. I feel the amount of patience this process requires makes it therapeutic.”
All of which can help you feel zen. Increasingly so. Naba shares, “Every form of journaling helps a person to reach a calm state of mind. The fact that there is no limit for an art journal spread makes it more important.”
Journal spread by Naba Ahmad
Hang on. Why are we cuttin' stuff up?
This would eventually bring us to a question on why one has to journal among so many other artistic options out there. “I believe embracing an art journal will help you bring out that creative side which is hidden inside. You’d be surprised at all that you can unleash and create if you just try,” adds Reshma.
Sakshi agrees and adds how there's a lot of discipline to be learnt in the creative chaos that art journaling unleashes, “Journaling in itself is a good habit because it enforces you to evaluate your feelings and nurture creativity altogether. While art journaling does the same, it helps develop your own style and soothes the mind as you keep practising.”
Journal spread on the theme "Cosmos" by Sakshi Salil Chavan
This might already lead a few of us to go search for a journal in the dusty corners of the cupboard and start some journaling.
Power to you. But before you get started, here’s a small guide to art journaling. “I didn’t get good at art journaling in a day or two, it was a gradual process of learning what colours define the idea I want to portray. I won’t exactly call it practice but developing one’s way to reflect one’s taste and choices. Also, I would like beginners to not stuff it with too many things at a time and make it clumsy. One will eventually know what’s to be added and whatnot,” says Reshma.