Visual Journaling: Drawing Your Feelings | Jordan Sondler | Skillshare

Visual Journaling: Drawing Your Feelings

Jordan Sondler, Artist and Illustrator

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8 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:47
    • 2. Practicing Vulnerability

      3:08
    • 3. Exercise One: What Inspires You

      7:02
    • 4. Exercise Two: What You Hate

      7:54
    • 5. Exercise Three: What You Want

      5:41
    • 6. Exercise Four: What You Fear

      3:19
    • 7. Exercise Five: Freestyle

      5:29
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      0:56
160 students are watching this class

About This Class

“I think that there is beauty in vulnerability, and I do not think that your feelings have to be pretty to be beautiful.”

Known for her emotionally honest work, artist and illustrator Jordan Sondler guides you through five exercises that will help you express yourself through art and connect more deeply with your feelings and identity. With her warm sense of humor and approachable teaching style, working through these meditative exercises with Jordan feels like working through them with a friend.

In this thoughtful and from-the-heart class, you’ll learn:

  • Guidelines to help you with your visual journaling
  • The importance of practicing these skills
  • Ways that visual journaling can work for you
  • A better sense of yourself and your internal experiences

Join Jordan and your classmates in a fun and meditative class that anyone can benefit from — whether you’re an artist by trade or someone who loves to doodle in the margins of your notebooks — and enjoy a no-pressure way to express and process your experiences.

 

Brooklyn Art Library, the home of The Sketchbook Projectis a (pending) nonprofit organization that has been completely funded by participation since 2006. By buying a sketchbook, you are helping us to ensure that we are fulfilling our mission of encouraging creative storytelling within a global community by keeping our physical library space free and open to the public, our digital library accessible worldwide, and making our collection as accessible as possible to people of all ages and skill levels through robust education programming. 

Use the discount code SKILLSHARE for 20% off your purchase at The Sketchbook Project!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I think that there's beauty in vulnerability and I do not think that your feelings have to be pretty to be beautiful. Hi, my name is Jordan Sondler and I'm an artist and illustrator. Today's class is about practicing vulnerability through your artwork. So I've been practicing art all my life, but a few years ago, I discovered that it was a great tool for processing my feelings. Journaling is not for everyone and that's essentially what we are doing here, but I encourage you to just try it. It may surprise you how natural it feels to draw your feelings. At first it feels scary, sometimes it feels dumb, but it's really telling how you are feeling about it in the moment. You can learn a lot from that. So today we are lucky enough to be in the home of the Sketchbook Project. The Sketchbook Project is an archival part of the Brooklyn Art Library, home to 40,000 different sketchbooks from people all over the world, including myself. You can get involved by ordering your own sketchbook, filling it out and sending it back. I'm going to be doing the exercises on loose sheets of paper but this would be the perfect opportunity to start your sketchbook. In this class, we're going to focus on five different exercises that are going to help you to open up and practice your own vulnerability through artwork. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the idea of this me too, but we're going to process those feelings through these five different exercises one way or another. As you complete these exercises, feel free to upload to the project gallery so I can see what you're getting up to. Thank you so much for joining the class, I'm really excited to get started. 2. Practicing Vulnerability: Practicing vulnerability through your art is so cathartic. I see a therapist once a week and it's something I have to do the other six days of the week just to stay sane. You might not be in the same position, but that doesn't mean that this won't apply to you. Vulnerability is something that you need to work out. It doesn't come naturally to most of us. By working through it in your art work, it's going to transcend in different parts of your life. A lot of people are worried about how they're going to set their artwork apart from their best friend or their frenemy. I think that, if you're authentic in what you're creating, you're putting your feelings and your original thoughts out there, you don't have to worry about your style or how cutting edge your work is going to be. It's just going to represent you more than anything else. Having a daily art practice, it's actually not as hard as it sounds. It is so beneficial, I can't even tell you because I will go weeks without creating anything other than client work. But when I can just get myself to sit down and every single day work on a project and I've already set the parameters for it, it is so much easier than you might think. When you're digging in every single day into the same projects, you're really opening yourself up a lot more and things start to flow out and feel a lot more natural. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, you're just jumping in and finding out. This is a process with no real endpoint because the work you're doing along the way is more important than anything that you could be reaching in the future, where you just want to focus on getting you to a place where you're consistently opening up and never waiting for inspiration to find you. In the next five lessons, we'll be addressing what inspires us, what we desire, and what we fear. In exercises 2, 3 and 4, we'll be developing templates that you can use for anything. But for our purposes, we'll be using them for your desires and your fears. In the last exercise, we will be pulling from everything we had just learned and you can create a piece that feels very unique to you. The best way to prepare for these exercises is by jotting anything down that comes to mind. Make a list of something that you heard when you are strolling down the street this week, or your favorite song lyrics, something that's stuck with you, something your therapist said, something your mom said to you. Any inspiration that you can have in front of you on a piece of paper is really helpful to get started. So the more guesswork that you can eliminate for yourself off the bat, the better. I love to pick a color palette, maybe four or five different colors, maybe less if you're working by hand like I'm going to be, and pick your size constraints to stick to for all five different exercises. I'm going to be working off sheets of paper. But if you're working out of a notebook or a sketch book, that's already determined for you. All right. Let's dive in. 3. Exercise One: What Inspires You: So this first exercise, we're going to be working on something that inspires us. This can be unique to you, you don't have to worry about it being uplifting or inspirational to anyone else. I'm going to be working on a phrase. I think this is the perfect excuse to use hand lettering. So I'm going to be using maybe three different colors only for this project. No I changed my mind, I'm going to use four. I picked a light color because that's what I'm going to lay down as the background. I'm going to be drawing on top of the letters with black, and then I have some florals in mind, which I'm going to use these darker colors for. Don't get too caught up with your colors. I think just pick a few that you're more drawn to and that's that. I don't spend too much time thinking about what I'm going to be using other than what colors I'm drawn to in the moment. So the phrase that I chose today is undateable. This is an example of something that might not inspire or uplift others but it's something that's always on my mind. I don't think it's a bad thing to be undateable. I think you can be undateable for many different reasons. It might be emotional unavailability or it might be that you're too aware of your self-worth. I'm starting off with the base color for the letters, then the second step will be me drawing over the letters. I embellish them a little bit so it's beyond just having the base color, and then that's when I will be drawing. I'm going to draw some floral around the lettering. I'm really just trying to take advantage of the size of the paper. Truly don't get caught up in how this is looking when you're working on your own, it's different for me, because I'm your teacher. It's really just about getting it all done. So this is where I am adding some embellishments, some intrigue, you might say, to the letters. I want to add some interest to this because even if people can't relate, it can still be a beautiful piece of art, but it's not something to get caught up in especially if you don't identify as an artist, just worrying about getting the feelings down. This exercise is, we're not digging as deep as perhaps the one where we'll talk about what we hate or what we love, but this is still very telling about you and your interests. It's also fun to make something look so beautiful that people might not associate as being fun or uplifting or beautiful typically, and that's what you get when you draw your feelings. I think that there is beauty in vulnerability, and I do not think that your feelings have to be pretty to be beautiful. I'm going to outline these letters because they just weren't fun enough for me. I'm mostly outlining the letters because I don't want them to get to lost once I incorporate other features into the drawing. It's important to me that the word itself is legible. This is probably the most important part of the piece. Okay. So now that we have a word or a phrase, we can go wild with color. This isn't totally necessary, I mean, you might not want to embellish the way that I am, but can be fun. By the way, I don't know if I mentioned, but these markers are the best, these Tombow's. Guys, I didn't plan this at all when I started, I started from knowing the phrase that I was going to illustrate. So you really should just dive in and see where it takes you. There are things that will drive you mad because we're not working digitally and we can't just go back and erase marker, but I think that's the fun of it. I think you'll know when you're done just by looking at your drawing and if you are at a loss for anything to add, just don't push it further. If you're happy with what you've made or you feel like this exercise served its purpose, don't push it too much further. I am almost done. I don't want anything to be too overworked. I didn't use the red because I just didn't feel like the work needed it. Sometimes I start out that way and think, oh, wow, four colors, that doesn't seem so bad, and then you just start finding your way in the illustration and I think less is more. At least that's my mentality for my own work. There you have it. All right guys, is time for you to get started on your own piece and don't forget to upload to the project gallery. Next step, we'll be working on what we hate. 4. Exercise Two: What You Hate: I think it's really important to reflect on what we hate, when you start making a list, it feels very cathartic, and when you start to draw these emotions, instead of unloading it on other people, you're unloading it on the page. So right now we're creating templates that we'll use for this exercise and the next. You'll be able to download my template that I'm creating right now, but you can also create anything of your own. Templates are helpful for this type of practice because we've created small spaces, small confinements in which we can work in. For me, it's a lot less daunting to draw something in each of these panels, versus to fill an entire page. This really doesn't have to be perfect. I already made a giant mistake in my design of the layout. So yeah, do with that what you will. I'll lay down some more color again. It's like last time I did stick with the same color palette to keep consistency which I welcome you to do. I mean, it's really just so you don't have to feel daunted by making a bunch of decisions. This first panel, I am drawing the weather, because today, it is very rainy and dreary, and I don't think the sun has come out all week. I love these pens also because you can switch between wits. There is a thicker and a thinner for finer detail. I like to work my text into the drawing, so now I'm going to be drawing around the letters. I hope you are having nicer weather wherever you are, dear student. To the next. So this morning, I was moving my car and when I got out, another car almost hit my dog. It was very uncool, so I'm going to draw this car. So most of what I like to work through in this hate exercise are things that are on my mind from the day because I think I spend a lot more time thinking about the things that bother me in the long run, and sometimes I just don't even address things that give me anxiety in the moment. So this is a nice practice of thinking about what bother me and letting it go. Though I think it would be equally beneficial to be drawing like larger things that you feel, like, if you're really paralyzed with fear of rage over certain things to work them out in this template would also be great. Can be fun to look back on these too, to see if you've gotten better at coping. This is the type of thing I think you could do on your lunch break, you could do it before you go to bed at night, you could do when you wake up in the morning. I don't know if that's how you want to start your day, but it's how I like to end my day. Done with that panel. The next thing that I hate are my next door neighbors. They play really loud music and they're generally [inaudible] I don't think we should get more details than that that. So I'm drawing their door and our hallway. If you draw things you hate in colors you love, it's easier to let them go. When I'm drawing these things, I really try to focus on what it is that's truly bothering me about the situation or the thing that I am representing. I think what bothers me about most of these things is that they're truly out of my control. Lastly, I'm going to draw my inbox. Hate my inbox because I can never get it down to zero. Also once, my emails decided to reintegrate themselves and now I have 20,000 unread messages. This is totally just a visual diary. For a visual person, this is truly the only way I know how to express myself. I've tried to keep diaries where I'm writing and it's just not possible, I just lose interest. I consider this to be a finished piece as a whole, but I don't know that I would necessarily put this out into the world. I've just been thinking about, is this something that is helping me? Here are all the things that I hate today. Go ahead and share what you hate in the project gallery. Next up we'll be drawing what we want. 5. Exercise Three: What You Want: So for Exercise 3, we're going to be drawing what we want. This could be what you want today, what you want this second, what you want in five years. I think it's important to talk about and write down what you want. So not only is it promoting self-discovery, but you can also manifest things for yourself. So we're going to use the same template that we had developed in the last exercise. You can download my template, or again, you could be creating your own for this project. I have my list and I'm ready to get started. First step on my list is a good nap. I don't think I've drawn anything with a person in it yet, but can be really fun to develop a character that is based on yourself. Make her look a little happier. This is me. Journaling is not for everyone, and that's essentially what we are doing here. But I encourage you to just try it. It may surprise you how natural it feels to draw your feelings. At first, it feels scary. Sometimes it feels dumb, but I think it's really telling how you are feeling about it in the moment. You can learn a lot from that. So I don't get too caught up with, if this one drawing of myself looks exactly like the last drawing I did of myself. I think it's important to remember that it's just representational for the most part. The more you work through it, the better you're able to find something that really looks like yourself. Okay. So the next thing I want is a home in Philly. We're going to lay down some cloak color to draw on top of. If you ever went to Philly, you know there's lots of brick. I find it really helpful in this exercise to be drawing things that I want, things that I don't have because it's motivational. I think you can be as detailed or abstract as you want with these exercises. I tend to get really wrapped up in this, and it just makes me feel so good to be working on this. So I like to spend a lot of time, but it can also be something you set a time limit for yourself for. You could be doing this in five minutes maybe. Let me know if you can achieve that because I don't know that I could. So next I'm going to draw a glass of wine. Some bubbles. It's fizzy. Maybe we're at a bar. Next I'll be drawing myself dancing in a disco music. I feel like with disco stock music is perfect. I end up working in these templates on more setting based imagery because typically I'm drawn to drawing just one singular graphic, or some typography. But really because I have a small amount of space in each quadrant, I'm able to push myself to explore. I feel like there's a lot going on here, and I'm not worried about which one I like better, or if one feels different stylistically from the other. It's really just experimentation. It's like what you would be doing in a sketch book. Some of you might be doing this in your sketch book. All right guys, I think I'm done. When you're ready, get started on your own piece and upload to the project gallery. Next up, we'll be tackling what we fear. 6. Exercise Four: What You Fear: For this exercise, we're going to focus on our fears. You can illustrate your phobias, your concern for the world, your fear for the future, anything that really comes to mind is applicable here. We're going to be developing a new template for this exercise. You'll be able to download the template that I'm using right now. But I also encourage you to develop your own. They're all going to be wonky. So this is my very imperfect template. My fear is being misunderstood. This exercise could be hard or painful for some of you, but once you start drying and processing your fears, I think you'll realize that you're not alone in this. I think what is scary about being misunderstood is that you're not controlling the narrative. You're not controlling how people see you. This exercise helps me to let go of some of these things. Let go of the things I can't control. I think that if you are stuck, if you don't know where to start, or you don't know how vulnerable you want to be at first, just start with something light. It can be your fear of cats. Then over time you might decide that you want to dig a bit deeper or become a little more conceptual with it all. Guys, just go with it. Sometimes something like this is going to happen and it's beyond your control, it's beyond the point of the exercise. So I'm going to embrace it. All right. I think I'm done. I hope this has helped to inspire you to start exploring your fears. Because I think once you start working through them in this capacity, it's really going to open up new doors. Next step is our freestyle exercise, where we'll be expanding on what we've learned so far. 7. Exercise Five: Freestyle: For last exercise, we are going to take advantage of everything you've learned so far in the process and apply it to creating a piece that can be the catalyst for a new series. For our purposes, you're going to create something based on what we've been doing at this point. Maybe you want to use a template. Maybe you want to focus on hand lettering. It's really up to you, but we are going to make something that hopefully will continue you on your visual diary experience. So I wanted to show you guys a project that I've also been working on in my free time in one of the journals from the Sketchbook Project. So as you can see, the template that I decided on for this was just cutting out a piece of paper, drawing on that and below on the actual page I was writing. Well not here, but happy mistakes happen and we've got to embrace them. So this is the type of illustration that you could explore in this exercise. But really I just wanted you to be able to see what it would be like to make a body of work in the same vein as each other. So for this last exercise, I'm going to go back and further explore hand lettering, and I think I'm going to draw a birthday cake that has some lettering on it. Really keeps the consistency just by using the same limited color palette. So I'm going to illustrate an affirmation, and I think that is the perfect opportunity for a series. You can come up with so many different, like motivational things, or just, I don't know, anything really, like any thoughts that stick with you. So for this, I chose to draw my message on a cake because I wanted it to feel like a little true to life, like something that could actually exist in the world. I mean, drawing it on a cake presents this in a palatable way. It can be interesting to explore that. So by drawing this on the cake, I feel like my message is easily digestible. It serves as a beautiful piece, which I wasn't really concerned with, with a lot of the pieces we created. But this is the type of thing that I would maybe go on to show other people, yet it still feels like I'm working through some of my feelings. The benefit of not planning this out beforehand is that I'm just not getting caught up in having this turnout to look a certain way. Honestly, I don't even know what the next line is that I'm going to draw. So it keeps my expectations low, and then I just see how, I don't know, it manifests itself. It feels very freeing. All right. So this is my piece and I could really see this turning into a series of just illustrated affirmations in a nostalgic and naive portrayal. This is on cake, but you could do this. I mean, just thinking back to the piece I did at the beginning of the class, the text surrounded by flowers. I like to have that kind of uplifting imagery with what I want to take seriously. I know it will all be okay is not the deepest sentiment, but just hearing that brings some relief. So now think about what is important to you, what you want to portray in this last project, but also beyond the project and take what we've learned from all the previous lessons and apply it here. 8. Final Thoughts: So I hope that no matter where you are, if you identify as an amateur artist or a professional, you were able to take this class and truly apply your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions, without any preconceived notions. I think that working on these projects and not having an end goal in mind, not getting caught up with perfection in the artwork is really important. I think you can take what we've learned and apply it to future visual journaling. Be sure to share all of your exercises to the project gallery. I can't wait to see. Thank you so much to The Sketchbook Project for having me in this amazing space today. You can go ahead and order your own sketchbook from the link in the resources tab. Thank you so much for taking this class with me, guys. I had a great time and I hope you enjoyed feeling it out with me.