Abstract Emotions

Hello lovely messians. Emma here.

When I create in my journals I like to use my emotions and how I’m feeling to spread my paint or whatever medium I’m using in my journal. Over the past few years I’ve been learning how to best put my emotions onto the page without making it to obvious to others what may be going on in my personal life at that moment. So using a variety of symbols and shapes I made a small list of what shapes would represent certain feelings.

I married up my shapes with some simple background work and produced a piece of artwork that portrayed how I felt at that moment. Why don’t you have a go…Maybe you’ve had a little bit of a rough day and your angry or upset. Let it out onto your journal pages using paint or scribbling with coloured pens and make a pattern out of your shapes and symbols. It’s meditative and helps to release them emotions in a harmless way.

First things first…create your emotions list. You can choose any symbol to represent any feeling you like.

You can see that I have a variety of symbols. You can have as many or as little as you like.
This is all centred around YOU so take care in choosing what shapes and symbols feel right for the different emotions you display.

Once you have your emotions list lets hit the paper. You can do this in your journal or on a loose piece of paper. I suggest using substantial paper or cardstock if your using any wet mediums. How about using coloured paper and different coloured markers or pencil colours or even acrylics. The medium’s you can use is endless.

Let’s get that background layer down.
If your having a calm day you may choose to make your background look like a still body of water or the ocean softly brushing the sand as the tide comes in. Or maybe you’re feeling angry and want a solid red background with some quick moving strokes of paint.

When you have your background and you feel like it’s finished move on to adding in your symbols. Going back to being Calm maybe you have chosen a continuous curved line for this emotion or you have little circles add these to your page in a smooth and soothing motion. Consider the way that your hand moves along the page and the points that your place your marks. On the other end of the spec, if you are feeling fierce and angry you could use a zig zag pattern and place it erratically on the page or dashes using a white marker or paint.

Your emotions, Your page. I’m just here to guide.

Below are two examples of my journal pages and both quite different…

It’s great how unique we portray our emotions when it comes to placing them within our art. Push your feelings from your body into your hands, channel your thoughts and feelings. Take as little or as much time as you need. Don’t let your emotions consume you but please if you feel like you need to stop and go back to it later then do so.

Action Steps


Create one piece in your art journal based on how you are feeling emotionally. Use your emotions list and create something from the soul.

Emma Szostok

Emma is a person who puts her heart and soul into the artwork she creates. She like to create using bold colours and feeling the paint with her hands instead of a brush. ‘Her heart is as Black as night but her Soul is as colourful as a Rainbow”


  1. Alyssa Rothwell

    This definitely adds another layer of meaning to mark making rather than them being just random marks. What a great idea!

    • Emma louise szostok

      Thank you !

  2. Kristin

    This is so cool Emma. I’m absolutely gonna put this in one of my next journals.

    • Emma louise szostok

      I can’t wait to see it ! Please make sure you tag me

  3. Kathy Russell

    What a great way to convey your emotions without saying a word.

    • Emma louise szostok

      Thank you. Sometimes we don’t have words for our feelings !

  4. Rose Sheridan

    I love your little mark making glossary. And that first page is particularly lovely! ❤

    • Emma louise szostok

      Thank you

  5. Phill Rushmere

    Emma that’s brilliant! I love the watercolour on the second journal page. Looks awesome with the gold!

    • Emma louise szostok

      Thank you

  6. Talita Chaves

    I love this idea: create my own emotions list! I never thought about that! It’s art therapy – so amazing! I’ll definitely try this in my journal! Thanks for the tutorial <3

    • Emma louise szostok

      Your more than welcome have fun with it

  7. Charlotte Erichsen

    I love how you can use this technique to let out emotions as well as steer them into a healthy direction. Thank you!

    • Emma louise szostok

      Thank you! It doesn’t have to be used for negative emotions either. I have used this technique when I’m overwhelmed or excited about something.

  8. Lauren

    Emma, I am obsessed with this page!! It is so so gorgeous! thank you for sharing your process – cant wait to try it!

    • Emma louise szostok

      Awww thank you ! I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  9. Jenny Sehlstedt

    This is such a brilliant idea, can’t wait to try it out!

  10. Clare Etheridge

    This is a great idea, like a secret language!

  11. Gabrielle Dearman

    Aaahhh! I love this so much! I love creating abstract art, and also use various types of lines and find I have attached meanings to certain ones. Especially when I make little cross-hatching marks on a section of work – to me it represents restoration / healing. One of my main motivations to joining GM was to more clearly put my emotions into my work, and this totally resonates with me. I definitely will be exploring this further! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Michelle Ward

    I love mark making – this takes it to a whole new level of meaning. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing. Off to express my emotions!!!!

  13. Sasha Zinevych

    I love this idea of creating little secret language/code for communicating your emotions onto paper!!

  14. MaayanB

    I loved this one!! Thank you very much.