Our Peek Inside… series takes a look inside people’s journals to celebrate their imagination and inspire others. This week we are happy to welcome Kimberley Dudek, a powerful and dynamic professional speaker who encourages others to journal as a form of mental health support and exploration. Kim holds a dual major in Anthropology and History and, as an advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome, she has been featured on both local media and CBC radio.

Photo courtesy of Kim Dudek

My journey with journaling started in grade school when I was young. We had to keep a diary which we handed in every week to the teacher. I was glad when I switched schools and didn’t have to do that anymore. I started journaling again many years later in university. Indeed, I got my very first Paperblanks journal, the Charlotte Brontë wrap, in 2007 from the university bookstore. That journal got me through a lot of tough times, exams and much more. My favorite journal style is the Ultra, and my favorite designs include Enchanted Evening, Turquoise Chronicles and Tuscan Sun. There are many aspects of Paperblanks journals that appeal to me, including their beauty and diversity. I would say one of the strongest points of appeal though is the paper inside the journals, which carries different art mediums including watercolor pencils brilliantly. While I use color in some of my journals, my illuminated poetry journal demonstrates these features beautifully.

Why keep a journal

Better question, why not!? A journal is a record of your life, a legacy to leave once you’re gone, and a place to preserve wisdom. A journal provides mental health support and stress relief. It’s a place to store trip memories, photos, poems, ideas for stories, articles, sketches, websites, presentations and more. For me personally, my journals are a place to study Gaelic, store recipes and write letters; I also track medical issues, nutrition lists and a lot more in my journals. Perhaps my most prized project is my illuminated poetry journal, which was a gift from my father for Christmas of 2017. In the post I shared about it on the People of Paperblanks page, I show more of my illuminated journal project. 

Photo courtesy of Kim Dudek

Many people are nervous of journaling because they may be teased for it or think it’s uncool. My advice is don’t be afraid! Treat your journal like a safe place to let go of whatever is bothering you. Your journal is a friend who you don’t need to schedule time for and will go anywhere with you. I use different approaches to journaling depending on how tired or overwhelmed I’m feeling. I may keep my entries short or put them in point form. I also leave the labels on, so I know which journals I have, whether or not they’re lined, and so I don’t get doubles. As someone who loves to sketch, I would love to see Paperblanks release an actual sketchbook. I would like to see a spiral binding so it lies flat and a heavy, smooth cover so it can be used for sketching or writing on. Dimension-wise, I would suggest the height of the Grande and the width of the Ultra or slightly more.

“Treat your journal like a safe place to let go of whatever is bothering you.”

A journal is much more than just a place to write in. It’s a place to store so much more than just words. It has so many more uses… dayplanner, sketchbook, guest book, goal tracker, you decide! Stencils, stickers and whatever else you wish can be used in your journal. Your journal is a place to free yourself from the everyday.

Illuminated Journal Tips and Tricks

As a special gift to end this blog, let me give you some tips and tricks for creating an illuminated journal! Before attempting a project of this sort, ensure that you have some time to devote to it initially. Many things, including materials, pieces, themes and much more, must be considered and sufficient for such a project. These details are important and show why a project of this nature shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. There may be a bit of expense at the start, but it is very worth it in the long run.

Photo courtesy of Kim Dudek
Take the time to find the pieces

As you begin a project such as this, take the time to thoroughly search out pieces for your journal. Track down those poems you wrote in school when you were young, write down others that you recall. If you find a piece from someone else that you like, be sure to ask permission to include it. Keep a pen and paper handy to make note of any image or design ideas that come to you for each poem. My illuminated poetry journal contains a few pieces that are not mine but which I found fit to include.

Run some tests

Before putting any piece in your journal, try it out in your sketchbook. Experiment with different lettering styles, layouts, and lettering and image combinations. Track down tutorials for both on either YouTube or Instagram. A project like this is worth a bit of investment. This is where you want to get that special set of pencils or pens, or that particular calligraphy pen. Assess what you already have and go from there. My art supplies are mostly Faber-Castell, a make I’ve been using for a long time.

Photo courtesy of Kim Dudek
Keep a color record

Once you begin to test colors in your designs, note the name (and number) of the colors so you can refer back to the ones you like for the final piece. Experiment with new techniques such as blending, shading, graining and stippling. Try outlining a design in a fine dot border. Another beautiful technique is to select either several complementing colors or several shades of one color and color the entire page starting with the lightest and getting darker. After coloring, take a tissue and rub the colors to blend them for a beautiful effect!

The art of illumination is both ancient and beautiful! The attention and detail put into an illuminated art piece is truly astonishing. An illuminated journal is an investment of your time, and it’s a bit of a financial investment certainly (as much as you want it to be). An illuminated journal is a place to color your world as brightly as you wish, and an investment of your creativity if you dare turn it loose!

You can learn about Kim and her work in our previous blog collaborations or on her website: aspies.ca

We are continuously looking for People of Paperblanks to feature on this series. Please send us an email if you have a project that you would like to be featured.

Mental health affects us all. If you or someone you know needs help, you are not alone. 

Call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States or 1-833-456-4566 for Crisis Services Canada.

Outside of North America, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources: www.iasp.info.


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