The Artist Book


Artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, Spirit Book No. 43, Renewed Wisdom


Artwork: Plants from Patagonia, Travel Journal

How can artist journals (or visual journals) be incorporated within art therapy? Let’s explore possibilities and ideas using found object collections, collage, stitching, reflective and visual writing. The journal can be understood as a container (or vessel) of thoughts, images, collections and written words.

“The idea of a book being a collection of objects that are ideas, moments of time, a landscape, and movements held together, can be a vital medium of artistic practice within art therapy. The words of thought and feeling held within the significance of objects selected, illustrate and enact a psychological quest. This is a language of wandering and finding significance in what is close at hand. The book is an installation that can be handled and read in many ways. Time is contained within the dimensions of the book’s architecture. The composition of the book, reveals itself as a structural building, a home place for an ephemeral story” (Pamela Whitaker)

Visual Journal by Erin Partridge,

Atypical 2

Atypical 4.jpg

Photos Above: Performance books, Atypical Gallery, “I Stepped Out and She Stepped in Again”. Artists: Elaine McGinn, Elvira Santamaria, Jayne Cherry, Katrina Sheena Smyth, Siobhan Mullen.


Photo: Nichole Rae, The Art of Daily Practice




Artworks Above: Miguel Angel Blanco, ‘Library of the Forest’ (three nature collections in wooden “book” boxes that are journals of his walking journeys and collectively all boxes are arranged as a sculpture). Miguel Angel Blanco’s website:

Miguel Angel Blanco has developed a collection of wooden boxes as a forest library, containing the findings from intentionally symbolic walks. These collections are his journals imprinted with journeys taken from the past thirty years. The Biblioteca del Bosque (Library of the Forest) is housed in the basement of his home in Madrid. Miguel’s walks are primarily taken within the Guadarrama Mountains outside of Madrid. The library as a whole is an evolving sculpture, it is also an ecology of life, documenting Miguel’s communications with nature.

“His library comprises more than a thousand wooden “book-boxes” each of which is a reliquary or cabinet containing the objects and substances (snakeskin, quartz crystals, resin, elm leaf) gathered along the course of a particular walk. Each of these micro-terrains represents a completed journey; but the library itself – ever growing – is a compound pilgrimage without visible end.” (Robert Mcfarlane, ‘Rites of Way: Behind the Pilgrimage Revival’, The Guardian, June, 2012).



Photo: Library of the Forest, Miguel Angel Blanco


Artist: Tom Phillips


Photo: Rose Marie Quinn, Artist Book,

A Poetry Technique for Finding Oneself, by Padraig O’Tuama

Photocopy a selection of poems for workshop or group participants to read and share. Each person works with a partner to select a few lines of a poem which means something to them  The significance of the poetry passages are shared with a partner. The lines selected will have particular meaning and resonance to each person’s own personal story. A discussion begins where each person uses their poetry lines as a springboard for personal discovery and reflection.



Photos: The People’s Library, Come Author Your Own Book, Libraries Designed, Built and Authored by Community Members

“The People’s Library is an ongoing collaborative project featuring libraries designed, built and authored by community members. The project transforms and repurposes discarded books into blank canvasses for the production and exchange of local histories.

In Richmond, Virginia in partnership with the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library, a thousand blank books are being created for anyone in the community to check out, bring home, fill with their histories and bring back to the library to be included in the permanent collection. The resulting installation includes a thousand micro-monuments, becomes the real and symbolic meeting place for alienated publics, and offers sustainable, collective and critical alternatives for the form and function of public art… People’s Library champions collective production as an avenue for face to face interaction between diverse publics. The project reflects the histories, needs, desires of local residents, and reinterprets public institutions as a space for production, meditation, and alternative education. Individuals in youth programs at each library have co-facilitated dozens of workshops. At each workshop, which are free and open to the public, participants complete various tasks, engage in conversation and learn functional creative skills.” (The People’s Library Website)


The Self-Reliance Library, Public Artwork by Temporary Services,

“The Self-Reliance Library consists of over 80 books about visionary architecture, desperate or wildly imaginative mobility, miniature buildings and nomadic living, self-publishing and design, skill sharing, everyday repair solutions, running a music venue, spaces for parenthood, toys and design for children, ecologically sound living, foraging, blueprints for fantasy worlds and alternate realities, pranks and mischief…The collection is designed to provoke the reader, encourage a deeper relationship with our shared natural and human environment, solve creative problems, or suggest imaginative directions for a range of creative practices. Most of these books have strong visuals and an accessibly designed approach to sharing knowledge”.


Artwork Reference, Cathy Malchiodi

Quotation below by Cathy Malchiodi, “Visual Journaling, Stress Regulation and Stress Reduction” by Cathy Malchiodi in Psychology Today, October 23, 2013.

“Visual journaling [aka art journaling] is a practice that has a long history among artists. The 2009 publication of The Red Book (Carl Gustav Jung’s visual images and accompanying text) is considered by many to be the quintessential example of visual journaling. Because of its history in art and psychiatry, visual/art journaling has also become one of the basic methods used in art therapy…Among creative art therapy approaches to trauma intervention, visual journaling has been used in a variety of ways to help survivors not only cope with hyperarousal and distress, but also as a means of stress reduction and self-regulation” (Cathy Malchiodi).

The following link describes the benefits of art journaling for trauma: Art Journaling as a Visual Voice for Trauma by Art Therapist Gretchen Miller 



Photo: Sketchbook page by Finola McGreevy

Instagram Poet, Rupi Kaur

We will also have a discussion regarding the potential of blogs and Instagram to be visual journals.

Rupi Kaur is an example of an Instagram Poet. You can link to her Instagram through her website. She has received worldwide acclaim for her poetry.


Instagram Poet, Pavana

“light a few candles

and burn a few bridges,

not everyone deserves

to be a part of your journey.”

by pavana


Above: Sketchbooks by Bridget Nugent

“however many storms

are within you,

there is always room for more.

the ocean

did not gain its vastness

by turning the rain away”

by pavana


Photo: Sewn papers once buried in a forest forming pages in a suspended banner book