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Revisiting My School Art Sketchbooks - My Introduction to Journaling

I've been spending time looking through my old sketchbooks this evening as my Mum brought my A-level photography work when she visited recently, so I've been taking a trip down memory lane.

I spent over an hour leafing through these: the beautiful, the clumsy, the playful, confessional, the experimental. They read a bit like a messy teenage diary and I love them because I remember the creative state of flow I would be in when I was working on them.

Sketchbooking was a wonderful way into journaling for me, maybe the first place I had where I could freely write about what I thought and what I felt - using images as jumping off points. There weren’t any wrong answers, there was only personal reflection, and that was valued. What a gift to give teenagers that space 💫

I loved the conversations and the personal expression that was not only accepted but actively encouraged in the art classroom. I actually didn't do 'Fine Art' because I didn't think my technical skills were good enough, so I did Photography where I could focus on concept and keep the images really simple... a classic tale of secondary school insecurity unfortunately! In Photography, we spent a lot of time mind-mapping things that were important to us and playing with creative idea generation, which I could have done all day long. I spent hours researching artists, philosophers and sociologists, as well as contemporary news and cultural conversations. This was the only subject where there was room to explore personal interests, and I expect it's accurate to say that I often got carried away.

I still work in notebooks and sketchbooks now, taking neat handwritten notes and presenting the ideas I love in complicated mind-maps and headings and underlines. Visual presentation has always been an important part of my creative writing, and it feeds into my growing love of vision boarding and collecting and arranging images and words of what we want for our wellbeing.

In a way, Instagram is a contemporary version of the way I journal around images - and it uses a lot less paper than our poor school art department had to supply! Collecting pictures and sharing my thoughts is a passion of mine which has danced through various different mediums and is still finding new ways of existing as creative work. This trip down memory lane to where some of it started for me has been a beautiful reminder and something I'd like to remember more often.


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