Making and Using My Visual Journal

Published: Mon, 06/26/17

by Kathleen Horne

There is something wonderful about a handmade book!

It is a container - a place to hold safe, to make sacred, to explore, or keep track of something important or special.

It is both a physical container that keeps everything together, and an emotional container, that allows free expression and exploration within a carefully defined space.

Whether we use our book  as a journal, a sketchbook, a place to collage, a way to document our travels, our gardens, our creative projects, or our dreams, the book itself is significant. It is fun to shop for "the perfect book", but it is even better to make it yourself!

My own visual journal is a significant part of my ongoing expressive arts practice. In it, I regularly explore my inner world through a simple daily practice we call "in this moment" (link to the audio here).  Sometimes, I use it for a deeper self-inquiry (an example in this blog post) I also use my journal to set intentions each year and chart my progress, to track my travels in image and writing, and to capture new creative ideas. A few years ago I took my first book-making class from my dear colleague and business partner, Tamara Teeter Knapp. Prior to that, I thought that bookmaking might be just too hard, too time consuming, too intricate or tedious. Was I surprised and delighted! I was excited to be able to choose my own color palette, my own perfect papers, and even the color and weight of the binding thread. Most of all, I was thrilled to be able to create my own "just right" container, to hold all of my musings, wonderings and wanderings, images, sketches, and more.

If you love handmade books, but aren't sure how to use them in your own life, try the "in this moment" meditation above, get our complimentary e-book by signing up on our website, try our 4 week e-course, our Kindle book, or sign up for our next Expressive Arts Discovery Virtual Workshop. or our Tending the Creative Fire Virtual Mini-Retreat. All of these options are available to you wherever you are located, and we have ongoing FB groups to keep you connected and inspired.

I consider my visual journaling to be a way of taking  just a few moments to tune in to myself, with mindful presence, and to allow an image and a quick writing to arrive on the page in response. Whether I use a pencil, pen, paint, collage, or some combination, I always find myself with increased self-awareness, deeper breathing, and increased focus and relaxation.  Later, when I reflect further on the image, I see more and learn more. When I keep my images together in my book, I am able to view them as a series, and the self-discovery and exploration - both emotional and creative - continues to unfold, with deeper meaning.

I have taken several workshops from Tamara now, and I have learned a few basic binding techniques, have painted my own covers, deconstructed recycled books and used maps to add interest or create themes, explored a variety of sizes, shapes and papers. I use them myself, I gift them to others, and I have sold quite a few as well. I made all three shown in the photo here in just a couple of hours!  Having learned some of the basic skills, I am now beginning to think and dream outside the box, and come up with new ideas to try out. Oh, and did I say I love it?


Tamara is offering BOOKMAKING BASICS in our Sarasota studio on Saturday July 8.
This is the class that will get you started, or, if you are already making your own books, it will expand your skills.
  • Learn a simple binding technique that you can use again and again.
  • Learn the basics of creating your own bound art journal.
  • Learn about and use bookmaking tools.
  • Create a few different types of bindings, including a simple pamphlet binding.
  • Have a lot of fun!

Here are the links and details for everything. And watch your calendars as more summer programming will be added soon! 

Embracing the power of creativity!
Victoria, Tamara, Kathleen

Kathleen Horne, MA, LMHC, REACE
Victoria Domenichello-Anderson, MA, REACE
Tamara Teeter Knapp, BA, Certified K-12 Teacher

Expressive Arts Florida Institute
200 S. Washington Blvd. Suite 1
Sarasota, FL, 34236