Posted in inspirational, journaling, writers, Writing for healing

The Artist’s Journal and Two Prompts

Sue's fantastic gourd drawing

“If you have the idea that an artist is not a decidedly practical person, get over it.” -Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.

Painter Robert Henri advised his serious students to find any kind of  day job to pay their bills. Then, the way was clear.  You immersed  yourself  totally and completely into art, day and night.  Art (or writing, dance, poetry, theatre etc.) became your source and reason to live.

A while back I blogged about the artist Morandi and the concept of simplicity. He represented the union with spirit, self, and community, all fused into one.

cactus flower copy

“ I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” Frida Kahlo


“My stories have become stories of ordinary people breaking free, finding themselves, embracing love, honoring their souls.” -Colette Caron, The Spirit of Writing, Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life.

Here are a few ideas for your journal this week. Even if you don’t consider yourself artistic, you can still do art.

Journal prompt one:

1) Browse a magazine section at a bookstore or pick through free mags at the library. Find pictures that inspire you and paste in your journal. Write freely about why the art or design pulls you in. Is it the scene itself or the theme,  persons, or colors that are attractive? Shapes and lines?  How would you describe your photos? Sensuous, bold, tenacious? Separate from you or inter-connected? Write about what motivated you to select the picture. Don’t worry about grammar, tense, or creativity.

Example of the above prompt from my journal. Figure one, the gourds.

  •  Sensuous goddesses, my gourds. They are mine, I grew them. I know them from seed to maturity yet they hold mysteries. I held them as my children, dried their tears and guarded them against the elements. I know their textures, their baby bodies, their rotundities, their siblings, and the  variations in shapes as they grow.  I held your vigil.  A gourd is myself. She represents the divine feminine. We are women, we hold water, we serve, and are limitless. We will never be destroyed-she is the seed-bearer and she is me.

Journal prompt two: 

Select an image that doesn’t inspire you.

  • Story: I had an art teacher who was most instructive and polite in pointing out which one of our pieces may not be working. In his  sophisticated way he’d let you know by saying  “I don’t respond to this one so well.”

Not everything you draw or write is going to be a hit, even with you.

Example, prompt two, figure three (boats) from my journal.

  • I don’t know whose fishing boats are in the photo and it bothers me. Who is out there and where are the people on board? I’m used to being able to pick out the locals.  The sea looks boring, cruel,  and uninviting.  Who are all the strangers on the edges of the coastlines that are now more littered and invaded? The boat is a ghost on a moody afternoon. I can’t seem to stay focused on the composition. I’d never use it for a painting and everything seems unresolved. Are the boats a metaphor for something in my own life that I don’t understand right now? Maybe a sunset would help this photo be more lively.

So, from the above personal perspectives, I’m able to pick out what I like and what I responded to in order to choose what to present later on for a formal piece or inclusion in a book chapter. I learn what my true feelings are. I discover my spiritually intuitive hits on things.

Everyone will have a different take on images and stories.

Resolution to this exercise. Always end on a positive note if possible even in your journal. As Pollyanna-ish as it seems, staying hopeful is constructive. Leave yourself with a happy ending. Example: I am going to keep my drawing of the gourds for an entry piece.

Journaling serves the purpose of a working tool to sift through ideas, images, and themes. Pitch out and toss what doesn’t inspire.

Until next time, happy journaling!

All art, writing, photography credits: the author.

Coming up: Interview with true crime author and journalist, Cathy Scott.


I made it this far and plan to keep going. I believe nature heals the soul. I love to journal, to write, do art, and music. I'm not afraid to tackle tough subjects. Solar-powered & drive hybrid. Trying to do my part. Earned my BA at 53. And, I believe, it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

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