Encouraging creativity through art journaling

Designed for young teens, workshop encourages judgment-free creative expression

It’s creative. It’s fun. It’s art journaling, taught by instructor Maya Hum. And it’s ideal for young teens ages 12 to 14 years.

What exactly is art journaling? “It’s kind of like traditional journaling in that it’s personal self-expression,” explains Hum, “but instead of writing, you’re sketching or using other styles of art to put onto paper what you are feeling.” Hum covers numerous mediums for the students to use – like drawing, sketching, collaging and mixed media that includes acrylics and watercolours. “I like to give the students pretty much free rein,” says Hum, “and I encourage them to incorporate anything so that it feels effortless.” Hum says students could incorporate memorable concert ticket stubs, or photos of friends or chronicle what they’ve been doing. “There are no errors here,” says Hum.

Hum emphasizes that art journaling, just like writing a journal, is personal. “This creation is just for you,” Hum says. To that end, she keeps her classes a judgment-free zone. She says that teens have enough emotional turmoil in their lives. The students are encouraged to help each other, share ideas and be nice. And they don’t have to have any artistic skills to take the course. “This is all about exploring, experimenting and learning to express yourself in a different way,” says Hum. She’s had artistically inclined students tell her they appreciate her guidance in sketching and drawing, while others like the fact that the classes are loose and free-form. And as unstructured as it is, given her background as an art teacher, Hum does sneak in a bit about art theory. “Once I’ve got their attention doing something like transferring images, or talking about colours and layers in a collage, I ease in a few subtle points about theory. A bit sneaky, but it works,” laughs Hum.

In art journaling, the options are limitless and there really is something for everyone. “Teens often have a difficult time expressing how they feel,” says Hum, “and art journaling is a really healthy outlet, a good way to destress and, I think, vital for self-care.” And as Hum points out, looking back on your journal in a few years can be a fun look back at your life. Visit ottawa.ca/nepeanvisualartscentre for more information and to register for courses. Find Maya Hum’s information at www.mayahum.com.