Art Journaling and Your Spiritual Autobiography 

Leaving Adolescence:

Keeping a journal helps you keep track of your spiritual autobiography or spiritual memoir. This journal can include sketches, drawings, paintings and other forms of creative expression. I want others to experience the freedom I have found through art journaling.

Angel with Feathers

For me, art journaling to tell my spiritual story began in college. College was a place where new and strange influences came at me from every direction. At art school new ideas flooded my mind and new images constantly flashed before my eyes. What was once taboo had become commonplace. Every idea I had was stretched and challenged. Possibilities exploded at museums, at art openings, at lectures and from the countless influences from my diverse classmates. My teachers blew my little world open with their breadth of experience and their strange and curious ideas. The way I looked at the world changed at a rapid pace. I looked at the art I was making and wondered whether someone else had crawled inside my brain. It was one wild time.

College didn't just change my ideas about art and life. It changed my ideas about God. No longer was I surrounded by the Catholic influences of my elementary and high school years. At Pratt people believed all kinds of things about God. Some people didn't even believe there was a God. Pratt became a place where I could decide what I believed for myself. For the first time I felt like I really had the freedom to redefine myself and decide what I really believed.

When I entered art college I began using art more deliberately to tell my story. Art gave me freedom to express emotions, memories, spirituality and beliefs in a whole new way. Now when I made a painting it was much more about my internal world and much less about making “good art.” I had a new way to explore what I believed, and what I would become, and it changed me. Moving beyond adolescence and into my adult life came with new found freedom that redefined me in new and wonderful ways.

When did you first have real freedom to decide what you would believe and who you would become? How did this freedom change you? How did you express this new found freedom? Consider using art as a form of expression without worrying about making “good art.” Focus on what is happening in your internal world and actually “draw it out” in your journal. Try letting a picture help tell your story.

Sharing My Journey 

Letting a picture help tell my story:

Just because I want something doesn’t mean I’m going to get it. I’m 21 years old and I’ve scarcely dated. I want to have a family of my own, but I’m beginning to wonder if that will ever happen. I pray and ask God to help me find the right person. I won’t settle for someone He doesn’t want me to be with. I won’t give myself away to someone I don’t love or to someone who doesn’t love me. 

I still wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Insecurity still creeps in. “Maybe I’m not pretty enough?” I think. I get out some paints and a large canvas. I paint myself as I believe I look. I think I look pretty in the picture. I think, “It looks like me.” I still wonder what it is I’m doing wrong. I question why it is that I am always alone.

Sometimes, my self-confidence hits rock bottom. This is when I really ask the question, “Am I pretty?” The question has to be asked because nice boys seem to find me invisible and hurtful ones seek me out. I think that I might not be pretty enough for the kind of man that I desire. My dad says I’m pretty. Sometimes I meet someone and I’ll be hopeful. I’ll think, “Maybe he’s the one?” But then, he’s mean or he treats me like a fool. My dad never treated my mom or me that way. Why is it so hard to find someone who is nice and will treat me with respect? Something isn’t right. What’s wrong with me?

 Woman with Flowers

Am I Pretty?
Age 21


Sharing Your Journey

Letting a picture help tell your story:

Recall memories from your early adulthood. Make a time line of events from this period. Consider happenings that changed how you perceive yourself. Circle the event that has had the greatest influence on your perceptions. Use your journal as a place to write about these changes.

Now, take your journaling one step further and create a sketch about this event. Use color, shape, shadow and line to express your feelings about this event. Your “final product” does not need to “look real.” Rather, let it be expressive of feelings, beliefs and thoughts. Let creativity be a form of self-expression without concern for the quality, skill or outcome. Use what you have written, and created, to learn about how your past influences your present. Finally, ask God to reveal how this event has shaped you, and ask Him to help you find its place in your spiritual autobiography.

Testimonies: The Power of Inspirational Christian Stories was formerly titled Dancing in the Doghouse. This spiritual autobiography has been renamed and redesigned to better reach its audience.

Latest Work!

Sunflowers With No Pot,
Age 47

Van Gogh painted sunflowers. I'm no Van Gogh but I'm inspired by sunflowers too. You can paint them in a million different ways: interpret them however you'd like. They give you permission to do something brand new. 

My painting lets sunflowers grow in the middle of a bedroom. There is no pot to hold them. They magically grow out from the floor. I am more interested in how I feel about this space than I am interested in describing it accurately. This was a time when I was down, and I felt safety and comfort in my surroundings. Today, I try to use that space to pass that feeling on.

Memories Art!

A Bed to Sleep In,
Age 24

It should be no surprise that I hate beds. Even before I lie down, dread creeps in. Nothing brings me comfort. My childhood bed was made for a princess. It had soft cotton sheets, a beautiful antique wooden frame, and a warm floral comforter. I hated it. Constantly exhausted, my beautiful bed was a place of torment. I'd fall asleep to wake up 5 minutes later. Sleep never lasted. My beautiful bed was hell. Finding God in the dark, emptiness of the night was my only hope of escape.

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