Jan 13

A reconsideration of “messy”

DSC01212Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing or perhaps it just IS . . . . some people are naturally tidy and others are naturally rather – ummmmm – messy. That’s just the way God made people, so there’s no point in trying to decide which one is right and which one is wrong. There are positives and negatives that come with both of these human tendencies, and usually we try to minimize the negatives and focus on the positives.

Green Paper ARtGreen Paper Art Blog


So for someone who is naturally disorganized, they usually aren’t bothered by clutter and messes all around. But then they trip over the kid’s skateboard and break a leg and it becomes apparent that there really are some things about living in chaos that are not helpful. But these people are really lots of fun, and throw great parties.

On the other hand, some of us are so determined to keep everything tidy and orderly, that we just don’t have any fun in life. That’s me. Well, that always has been me, and I kind of think that might be the way I grew up or maybe it is just my personality. And  there are some great benefits to being organized – I can usually find what I’m looking for, and I don’t very often find a peanut butter sandwich under the couch. Depends on the kid.

Mixed Media Journal CoverArt Journal Cover by Gabrielle Pollacco

But when it comes to making art, there is no way around it – art is messy. When I’m creating something, whether it is with paper, paint, glue, glitter, scissors, and stamps or whether it is with fabric scraps, needle and thread, ribbons, lace, and buttons . . . . I make a mess. And it bothers me. But not enough to clean it up while I am creating. But here’s the challenge:

As I’ve been learning about art journaling techniques, I find that some of the most beautiful journal pages are also the most cluttered, messy, disorganized, and unpredictable. The colors kind of all run together, in splashes, smudges, drips and swipes; the images are frequently lop-sided and haphazardly slapped onto a page. The edges are ragged and tattered, with “junk” hanging at all angles as if the journal has a perpetual case of “bed head.”

Junk Journal Mail ArtJunk Journal Mail Art

So all of this has given me pause and cause to do a bit of soul searching. Does art NEED to be messy? I mean, it’s OK if it is, but what if it isn’t? Does that mean it is to rigid, structured, unimaginative, and boring? Somewhere there must be a window of artistic, creative ‘OK-ness” that allows for individuality. Artists typically are individualistic and take very seriously their personal style of creation . . . . so that’s why I’ve been a bit surprised to see so many art journals that look very similar to one another.

As I look at the work of other artists for inspiration, I sometimes feel like I’ll never be as creative or as “artsy” as the others because I still tend to be . . . . tidy. Kind of. This has been a good exercise for me to try to get over the need to have everything “just so.” But still – I’m seriously reconsidering “messy,” but I don’t think I’ll ever be very good at it.

Art Journal Page PromiseJanni Kretlow

I’m including some images from other art journal pages that I find inspirational, with credit to each individual artist, and then as I develop my own art journal style, I guess I’ll just have to allow myself to be who I am or else I’ll have to be brave and get really messy! We’ll see how that works out  ;o)

DSCF1625Here is a page from my art journal from 2014 . . . . getting all “messy” is just really a challenge for me, but I’m working on it!

I hope you can join us for the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop this week. We always have great fun, and it’s a really good way to meet up with other bloggers. And be sure to leave a link to your blog so I can stop by for a visit. I would love to see YOUR art journal if you are brave enough to make one!


It’s time to share your blog at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop! If you would like to be part of the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop team, please contact Katherine at Katherine’s Corner for all the details.

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Happy Hopping!


1 comment

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  1. Kathryn Ross

    Hi Nina!

    I do love my art therapy of paper cutting beautiful images and words for creating mixed media journal pages. My daughter was over last evening working on the vision board she had to have for a meeting today. We enjoyed a couple of hours pouring through and cutting pertinent images and words out of old art and blogging magazines. Her board came out great. My stash of new things to paste into my journals has grown. One in particular might need to be modpodged onto a canvas! I’ll have to share a post I did last year on the new art journal I started in 2015. Got side-tracked with making tags later in the year–then ended up working on the Frill Mitts Fingerless Gloves.

    Yep–art is messy. But, that’s one place where I love my mess and know that beauty is to be had in that place.


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