• Kirsten Holmes

Keeping a Visual Diary


Hello and welcome to h e r e . Art Therapy.


Does keeping a diary, the kind where you write down your feelings, vent, cry, secretly confess your unspoken desires, dreams, fears, anxieties, insecurities….. bring back memories of teenagehood? Did you note down things that you dared not say aloud or to the person concerned?

Well perhaps for those who lived through pre-social media times...but that will be another blog. On feeling old? My personal software hasn’t upgraded successfully to “fit” with the times… I digress.


So back to keeping a personal diary. If this is something that you ever did at any stage in your life, and if you dared to read an extract weeks, months, years later….did it take you right back to that feeling? Did you have a new perspective? Perhaps even be able to laugh at the size of the angst expressed? Or the extent that an issue had concerned you back then that you might even have forgotten about until reading that particular past entry?


I know from my experience, it was very cathartic to write things down that were bothering me. It somehow seemed easier back then to put things into words. But what about all those other feelings that you cannot quite put into words? Those feelings that you cannot quite pinpoint just yet but know are there disrupting some sort of harmony in your world? I will get to my point on keeping a visual diary.


So what is a visual diary?


Your emotional feeling Self is connected to your creative being. Another dimension to your verbalised feelings are in what you express creatively.


The idea is that you quietly sit with your feelings for 5 - 10 minutes a day and then just draw whatever comes for 5-10 minutes.


It is as simple as that.


Try this for a week and then look back on the various images, scrawls, markings that have emerged from your creative and emotional being over the past week.


You may want to ask yourself some of these questions:

  • How do you feel about what you have created?

  • Are there any memories that rise to the surface?

  • Does the image remind you of something, someone, somewhere?

  • Do you feel like there is something missing or out of place?

  • Are you in the image? Are you part of the image?


Jot down your thoughts AFTER drawing, not before.


Because we often keep feelings hidden from others, we sometimes lose our ability to communicate them. Expressing them through art is one way to begin to identify feelings that may be unrecognised or hidden. Art Therapy emphasises the importance of communicating feelings through visual form. Visual diaries enable one to let feelings go and get through difficult transitions in life.


Instead of using your familiar verbal vocabulary, keeping a visual diary is a way to discover our unique ‘visual vocabulary’ for expressing feelings.


Try keeping a visual diary for 1 week to start. You may want to look back over your week of visual expressions with a friend or in an Art Therapy group. I would love to hear back from any of you who would like to share your experience.


Kirsten