Artist Spotlight

How Gisele Chastain Uses Art to Unwind Her Innermost Thoughts

Lucky wife. Mama bear to 2. Boy mom. Daily life. Homeschooler. Coffee. Lover of all things creative.

Why do you love art journaling?

The thing I love most about art journaling is how the process of creating allows my mind to work through and unfold the layers of my innermost feelings and thoughts in a healthy way. I feel as if there is so much within me that I don’t realize about myself or give myself credit for…my creativity, my potential, my passions as well as my insecurities, baggage and fears…and when I let go and create without set rules and expectations I get to know myself better.  Sometimes I even surprise myself. 🙂

Describe your art journal process.

My creating process is a little different than it used to be when I had all the time in the world (and didn’t know it). Now that I have a toddler and a newborn, I have to be as efficient as possible in my creating. At first thought this seems counter-intuitive and less than spontaneous but it actually has its benefits. I get to spend a lot of time really contemplating what I want to express, the mediums I could use, and a loose idea of how I’ll execute my designs. I write all of this in the notes section of my phone in the most descriptive way possible. In a way, it’s like writing down a dream…something you can see so clearly in your head but translating it into something real is so difficult.  My next step is the physical creating. This is where again I’ve had to adapt my creating style. I tend to have 15-30 minute periods in the day where I can create, which means that my supplies need to be out and ready. I try to work on multiple pages at a time to facilitate drying times. In one sitting, I’ll paint backgrounds, then in the next I’ll work on collage or layering and so on until I’m happy with each page. I wouldn’t say that I have an exact process that I use each time, I kind of just start where my idea originally began and figure it out as I go.

What tips do you have for beginners?

My advice to beginners is…just start! Don’t think too much about it. Your page isn’t going to be hanging in Louvre or even the local gallery, it’s just for you! You don’t need tons of fancy supplies. Seriously, just grab a candy wrapper or a coffee sleeve; glue it onto a piece paper and trace around it to make some shapes. Now journal around the shapes about where you got it, the taste, the emotion it evokes, what you love or hate about it, the memories from last time you had that item. Now splash a little paint on it. If you don’t have paint, splash some coffee or tea on it…you can use anything! Tada! Your first page is behind you…didn’t that feel great!?

What do you do when you don’t know what to make?

When I don’t feel particularly inspired to create, I often go looking on the internet for anything that may trigger some creativity in me. Some of the ways I find inspiration: perusing catalogs or magazines, looking at quotes on Pinterest, browsing beautiful art journal pages on Instagram and listening to music. Sometimes just painting a background is all it takes.

What are your must have supplies? What is your journal choice?

My favorite go-to supplies are acrylic paints, black pens, magazine clippings and paper scraps, gesso, stencils and small alpha stickers.  I also love my glue pen.  I like being able to glue paper scraps down exactly where I placed them. I’m a perfectionist that way.

As far as journals are concerned, I am currently trying the loose-leaf method and using some of my (embarrassingly large stash of) scrapbook paper, which I plan to bind together after the current season is finished. I love that scrapbook paper is sturdy and I can start with the pre-printed background image if I like. This can seem less daunting than starting with a blank white page. Previously I enjoyed using the Moleskin Cahier size, its small enough not to be overwhelming while still allowing me enough room to create.  The downside is that the pages are fairly thin so it requires the extra time to glue multiple pages together to be able to handle heavy gluing, layers and paint

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In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

When do you find time to art journal when you have kiddos?

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t do it all. If I want to be creative, something has got to give and that something is usually putting on makeup and doing my hair. I’m going to be honest, some days I shower and throw my sweats back on. It’s not glamorous, but that’s my life right now. I usually create during nap time, after the kiddos are in bed or in the mornings if I can manage to get up early enough. On occasion I’ll set my toddler up with supplies and let him create next to me. This is really fun and often he inspires me with his creative freedom and lack of inhibition.

You use paint in such a unique, beautiful way. How do you continue to think outside the box?

Well, first of all, thank you. 🙂

I love that quote by Maya Angelou that says, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” When I wasn’t consistently making time to create, I used to worry about running out of ideas but I realized that when I create my mind is suddenly filled with all sorts of new ideas and methods to try that will challenge me stretch my creative muscles. And that’s one of the things I love about the Get Messy community… we get amazing prompts each week and get to be inspired by the unique beauty that others are creating daily, which sparks even more curiosity and creativity.

How do you come up with the words for your pages? How do you allow yourself to open up? Is it difficult, or does it flow out of you? Do you have any tips for those who struggle with the journaling part of art journaling?

When it comes to the words for my pages, sometimes my pages are created specifically for words I’ve already written and other times I’m inspired during the process of creating. That being said, I don’t try to force wording, some pages just seem content to be left alone. Writing is something that I love to do and the way that I have always best expressed myself. When I do feel moved to write, it comes fairly easily to me now that I have had years of practice. That being said, (and I’m no expert on the matter) but if you struggle with the journaling aspect of art journaling I suggest starting simple…perhaps write down just one thought that ran through your head while creating a page, no matter how silly or insignificant it may seem to you. Remember that your journaling doesn’t have to be eloquent. Try writing down what emotions a page you created evoked. Write down a memory or a conversation you had with a stranger and create a page around that. In the end, it’s just like the artistic act of creating the page itself, you just have to start, get through the awkward stage of learning something new and let yourself be free to find your own personal style.

You speak about your motherhood in your art journaling. How important do you think it is for your kids to have a creative mother?

I think it is really important that my children experience and witness creativity in various aspects of life. I want my kids to see that the way I use creativity in my life is different than the way that my husband, (who is an engineer) uses creativity, but that in the end, we are all creative beings.  I think that being creative is important not only in our artistic endeavors but also in free thinking and problem solving. And on that same note, I think that creating art is a great way to play with your kiddos!

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Gisele Chastain

Lucky wife. Mama bear to 2. Boy mom. Daily life. Homeschooler. Coffee. Lover of all things creative.

Unwind your innermost thoughts through art journaling

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