Bad “art”

Bad “art”

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it very hard to stick to one hobby alone. After all, there are too many temptations out there, and each creative endeavour fuels the brain differently – it’s fun to discover new materials to play and interact with, and see what comes out of the experimentations.

I rediscovered the love of journaling last October, and have since then filled two notebooks of ramblings, ideas, memories and opinions. As I progressed in my writing however, I noticed I was also very attracted by the notion of doing something visually creative with paper and stationery.

Now, I must add a disclaimer here: I don’t think the pages I filled are special. They’re not particularly beautiful or unusual, and that’s definitely not a negative thing – I started doing collages simply for the joy of playing with images and colours, and these were the space for me to have some non-commercial, creative fun. It was my way of relaxing and letting go of expectations, of “what will others think of this,” of any idea that one’s creative endeavours must always be amazing. I just wanted to get messy with glue and glitter.

A closed notebook on a white wooden surface

This is the cover of my A5 size notebook. It’s decorated with some leftover fabric (featuring cats, obviously) and the artwork from a tin of… Sardines? Cod? I might add more stuff to it as I go along, since I don’t consider any of the pages here “finished.”

Side view of my notebook, with all the wavy and textured pages

This notebook came with different types of paper, so I play with it depending on the “canvas” I want. As you can see, the middle pages have been used the most, and apparently I’ve not much love for plain white paper.

Open notebook, showing two pages of a collage

I tend to go by colour and texture, more than whether the things make sense together. My brain seems to enjoy adding stuff to paper until it looks filled enough and has things to make the eye wander.

Another two pages of my collage notebook, on a white wooden surface

Fabric scraps and teabags are game. See the eye on the lower left corner? I stole that from my husband’s studio, he’d removed it from one of his paintings – does this count as artistic appropriation?

Two unrelated pages of my collage notebook open

Collages made using medical information leaflets and other bits and bobs

If you can’t read the weird Balzac quote above, it is as follows: “No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.” What a weird fellow he was (and I hope no one followed his advice!)

Collage using glitter, ink and paper

Collage in oranges, yellows and reds

I say this again proudly: none of these collages are groundbreaking or particularly good. What they are, is FUN. I loved making them with no end game in mind, no agenda and, until I decided to share them here, I was perfectly convinced none would ever see the light of day. It’s very liberating to create with full freedom from our inner critic and, if you’ve never tried, I urge you to give it a go. It might even fuel your creativity for the more “serious” stuff you make.

How many hobbies do you have? Are they all fibre- or textile-related? Let me know what’s tickling your crafty mojo lately in the comments section.



33 thoughts on “Bad “art”

  1. So many, so many. Most roads seem to lead me back to free motion embroidery. I love the feel of the fabric in my hands and the speed at which something appears from my efforts. And now I have some noise cancelling headphones, and I listen to the fantastic Haptic and Hue podcasts, I’m in my happy place.

    1. I absolutely *love* my noise cancelling headphones for crafting! So many audiobooks have been consumed whilst poring over fibre 🙂
      I’d love to try free motion embroidery, it sounds so… free!

  2. I used to enjoy scrapbooking (as it used to be called) just for the sake of being creative but it’s something I’ve not done for ages. Your books have sparked an interest and you might have opened up another rabbit hole here Leonor!
    I have lots of creative distractions, many involve fibre, fabric and stitch but my current one is working with wire…..I’ve got an huge wire angler fish on my table right now and I’m having a lot of fun with it!

    1. The Angler Fish sounds interesting Karen. Are you going to show us when it’s finished? I’d love to see it.

    2. Yes I will Ann. I’ve taken a few photos of it as it is in its “naked” state of chrome wire but it’s going to be covered with painted Tyvek fabric and burnt before it’s finished.

    3. Hooray for rabbit holes, Karen! Scrapbooking is so much fun, and I find it great for idling the brain while the hands are kept busy.

      I’m going to want to see that wire angler fish 😀

  3. How many hobbies do I have? How long have you got?
    Amateur dramatics and the costumes, props and stage dressing that goes with it; wet & dry felt; crochet; mixed media (and felt) pictures; these are very much the current ones, but there are loads of others which have sort of taken a back seat all of which are textile related. I don’t think there’s any that I haven’t had a go at at some time even knitting which I gave up as a bad job yonks ago. Oh and flower arranging; and gardening but that’s a chore not a hobby these days.
    The one thing that I don’t think I have ever tried is Journaling/scrap booking and doubt I ever will. Although Ruth’s trees book has stopped me saying “Why”, it’s not something I feel competent to even attempt. But more power to your elbow Leonor, some of those pages you’ve shown us do promote thought.

    1. You’re sure kept busy, Ann! I think it’s fabulous that you’re interested in so many hobbies. I’m a bit sad about the knitting, though, as I love it so 🙂
      Journaling is not as much a hobby for me as a journey of self-discovery. It’s been paramount for my understanding of who I am, and for analysing certain things in my past. It’s very much a mental health thing, and I’m glad I enjoy doing it or I’d be in trouble 😀

      Here’s a tiny suggestion: it doesn’t matter whether you’ll be competent or not, just whether you feel you’ll have fun trying it out. If the answer to the latter is yes, go for it! I know my collages aren’t special, but they’re fun and I’ve enjoyed putting them together, and that’s enough for me.

  4. Love your scrapbooks, Leonor, and the lovely free spirit they convey. It is lots of fun not to constrain yourself by what you think is perfect or finished and just let rip.

    Of course I’ve tried lots of other creative things: printing, slow stitch work, embroidery, crochet and so on. Also lots of creative beading which is particularly good when travelling as the kit is very small. My most un-fabric-related pastime is that I play a large surdo drum in a community percussion samba band. In fact we have a gig tomorrow so I’m looking forward to playing in the sunshine for the first time this year!

    1. Lindsay, I didn’t know you played drums! My husband used to do Capoeira and I bet he’ll know what a surdo drum is (funnily enough, “surdo” means deaf in Portuguese…) I hope you got to play in the sunshine as planned!

      We’re so often told to “put our hobbies to work” and pressured into making beautiful things from the get-go, we’re not encouraged to make mistakes, create just for the joy of it. Everything needs to be “instagrammable,” or saleable. I like to fight that notion 🙂

      And… now I want to see that beading!

  5. Yes I too use journalingscrapbook as another means of creativity. A “no think just do” whether it’s collage, watercolor or drawing in small books nothing challenging…..not too much thinking!

    1. Exactly, Irene! It’s only meant to be fun and let the brain be idle. Who cares how it comes out? I personally get a dopamine hit just knowing I made those, and care more about knowing I’ve spent time on them than whether they’re any good. It’s fun to let go 🙂

  6. Love your journals Leonor! It is such fun to try out new things and “play”. It is definitely freeing from the idea that each piece must be “perfection”. I have tried loads of different techniques and mediums and love to add that to my fiber art. Some things work and some things don’t but it is great to try and see what happens. I love the “what if” way of working and I think this type of journaling promotes that.

    Regarding the white pages, I usually take some paint or colored gesso or ink and put some color on the pages first. Then when I am ready to collage, the page isn’t so white/blank.

    Right now I am trying out some experimental portraiture in the style of Carne Griffiths:

    Trying to be a bit more loose in my interpretations of things. A hard one for me 😉

    1. You are definitely the queen of experimentation, Ruth! I love that, and I bet you’ve had fun at the time, plus now have a wealth of knowledge to put into your other artwork.

      Regarding the white pages, I’ve been thinking about doing exactly what you suggest! I found this Aussie artist called Laura Horn ( and she uses a lot of abstraction on her work, it’s very “yummy-looking” for me. I might have to borrow my other half’s watercolours and gesso 😀

      Carne Griffiths has beautiful work! Those lines flow really well with the portrait.

    2. Glad you like her, Ruth! I’m just poring over her YouTube videos, I love to see how she comes up with certain things in her work 😀

  7. It would seem from reading the replies (and reading posts on the forum) that most of us have tried many different crafts – how is it possible to not have a go?

    Annie is one for filling books with sketches, samples etc and we do enjoy looking at the pages of the books made by the members of the forum 🙂

    1. Different crafts is where the fun is, Lyn! There’s just something about different mediums that fire up different areas of the brain, I think – it’s very addictive 🙂 Before finding fibre arts, I used to play a lot with paper, so I guess this is me “going back to my origins!”

      Does Annie also like looking at her notebooks on a shelf and marvelling at the fact she filled them herself? I *love* seeing my collection and knowing they’re full of ramblings and collaging 🙂

  8. Leonor you have been enjoying yourself & letting rip – your journal is great and I admire your skill in this regard. In the past I’ve tried to be ‘loose’ with happy abandonment….for me a solo climb up Mount Everest, I finally made it to a metaphorical base camp (even that was in my dreams) but no further.

    Echoing the comments above….I too have tried so many diverse hobbies/skills, all with a common ‘creative’ element – as evidenced by the collection of necessary tools and books along the way!!! – often re-visiting them years later. However, a constant that I always return to, after a play away, is ‘textiles’ in some form.

    Having admitted that I can’t do ‘loose’, I was born unquestionably inquisitive so my forté is experimenting. This seems to get around my inner critic & certainly fuels my more serious endeavours 🤪

    1. Ah, but “being lose” is very much a recent thing for me! I think I spent many a year staring at that Mount Everest, daring not to take a single step, until one day I just decided to go for it. In the beginning, it was with the knowledge that no one would ever see what I was making (I could hide my “bad” work from the world) and now I no longer care what others think – it’s been *SO* freeing for me 🙂

      All the work you’ve shared with us is amazing, Antje. I wish I had your talent for textile arts! 😀 Isn’t it funny though, how we all want a little of what the other can do, simply because it doesn’t come easily to us?
      You keep doing your experimentations, and don’t forget to make plans for us to play together in the future! 😀

  9. Now that looks like journaling I might do. Lots of things added to it and not my drawing or painting. I know I could learn to draw better but I probably won’t. This is very creative. You should be proud you’ve kept it up. Most people ( including me) start but stop shortly after.

    1. You definitely don’t have to add one single drawing to your collages, Ann! It’s just fun. I often remove interesting images from paper adverts I get, or magazines, to use later. I love to appropriate other people’s work and make it my own, because it’ll have a completely different context – plus, no one is meant to see it, so you can do anything your heart desires with it. It’s very freeing 🙂

      I don’t do collages of this sort every day, but once in a while my brain sort of asks me to do something fun that’s not fibre-related (aka, not reminiscent of work) and this just pops up. I do most of my collages in my journals, but those are tiny things meant to decorate a page where I’ll be mostly writing. That one I’ve kept up consistently!

  10. I love your junk journal, my favourite is the page on which you wrote of getting obsessed with ridiculous stuff! I’ve not done junk journalling for about four years… Time to have a go again as it is such fun.

    1. Thanks! I don’t recall what the ridiculous thing was, but the feeling comes back when I look at those pages, which to me is very interesting – the memory fades but the brain retains the sensation 🙂

      Junk journaling is all about letting go, right? If I’ve inspired you to do something just for fun, then I’ll consider my time writing this post a very well spent one 😀

  11. Poor Mme Balzac! (I had to check him out!) that said, he enjoyed a variety of relationships over his 51 years both with women and (it is rumoured men) and finally married only 5 months before he died. It didn’t stop him writing at length about the topic so I suppose one would say about the quote ‘what would he know’. Worth have a look at his Wiki page, intriguing look into arranged and loveless marriages and fun times outside the marital homes.

    Fantastic post Leonor. This is purely my interpretation of your post but for me you have hit on a topic which I am noticing more often on social media (FB and Instagram). This is what appears to be the development of a constant uploading of only creatives ‘best’ work. This has been given the title ‘inspirational’ but in effect I think it is off putting. It is like it’s a competition to see who can do better and in the end one finds individuals apologising for perfectly beautiful work because they perceive it is not up to some ridiculous standard. The bar has become so low that most creative individuals cannot pass under it and therefore feel that their work is not worthy of sharing. But I digress and I will now step off my soap box.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I have never journaled – I think it might be time to let go and enjoy this freedom.

    1. Haha, Honoré de Balzac was indeed a very interesting character! His marriage timing was perfect (for Mme Balzac at least, probably saved her some trouble) and his writings on topics he probably knew nothing about are legendary – I wonder if anyone would’ve given him the time of day if he were born in another time?

      Your interpretation is spot on, Hélène. I am tired of seeing people lose courage because they see what “art” is out there and assume theirs would never be worthy of existing. I’m trying to tell people that it’s ok to not be excellent, and it’s also ok to not show your work to anyone if you so choose – finally, if you do show it, who cares if it’s good or not? If it was fun, you’ve done it right.
      I also particularly dislike watching people “flex” online about how bad their art is, when they’re very much aware they’re showing stuff regular people wouldn’t know how to create. They’re just humble bragging and I don’t like it!

      We need to show people our failed experiments. Our bad art. Our moments of doubt. Why do we insist in pretending none of those things happen? Let’s normalise failure as a learning curve and let’s rejoice in our wanting to create, whatever the outcome 🙂

    2. I do so agree with you both. This is one of the reasons why I will not even join in with Facebook, Twitter et al. That and the trolls you get telling you that you’re useless and worse. My answer to that is – don’t read them, so to avoid being tempted I don’t join in the first place

    3. Ladies,
      How right!
      we need to start a movement.
      I gave up a long time ago on Facebook because creatively it has become such a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ space. I rarely share things these days.

      The ‘humble bragging’ always reminds me of the kids in school (no doubt we all knew them) who maintained they ‘never studied’ and still managed the straight As in their exams.

      Stepping back off the podium now. But let’s think about establishing a space for ‘bad’ art. Helene x

  12. Love your journal, especially the page with the cream flowers. Great fun doodling with stuff.

    1. Thanks, Carlene! I loved those flowers so much, I just couldn’t throw them away once they wilted, so I just had to add them to my journal 🙂

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