Happiness is Art Journaling Your Gratitude

My older daughter, Olivia, recently returned from a semester abroad in Central America. Among her most precious souvenirs were an armload of custom journals and an appreciation for luxuries we take for granted in the US–like long, hot showers.

gratitude art journal
Gratitude art journal page by Gioia Chilton,
from PAGES Summer 2013.

Her experiences made me think of how often I complain about petty annoyances when I should really be expressing gratitude for all I have.

In the new issue of PAGES (Summer 2013), art therapist and mixed-media artist Gioia Chilton explains how keeping a gratitude journal can help you focus on the best in life, making you feel better, more optimistic, and happier.

Her gratitude art journals are filled with illustrated short lists of positive thoughts and experiences. Gratitude art journaling is about enhancing appreciation, not feeling indebted, says Gioia.

Making artwork around these thankful thoughts helps you savor them, says Gioia, adding, “Gratitude journaling shouldn’t feel like a task you have to accomplish.”

Art journaling about things you’re grateful for also helps you decide what to journal about, a boon to those of us whose minds go blank as soon as we see an empty page.

If you’re really stumped (and some days, I really have to think about what I’m grateful for), she offers gratitude art journal prompts, such as:

  • Write about three things that went well recently; draw a visual symbol for each.
  • Envision the part of you that is most centered and secure: to what (or to whom) do you attribute this quality? Paint an abstract depicting how you feel about this as a background and then journal over it.
  • Create art to commemorate a national or international event (an inauguration, say, or the Olympics) that made you feel proud.
  • Notice the awesomeness of simple things like running water, hot showers, and electricity? Try using any of these a theme in your art to remind yourself of it.

I know Olivia can relate to this last prompt, and we are both grateful for the love and care of her host family, the incredible educational experience she received, and her safe return home, among many blessings big and small.

For more art journaling techniques, tips, and inspiration (as well as bookmaking techniques), be sure to check out the Summer 2013 issue of PAGES, now available for download.

P.S. Do you keep an artful gratitude journal? If so, does it help your attitude and your art? Tell me about it!


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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