Thursday, July 4, 2019

Matthew Grundler: Visual Journals

Old Dictionary Pages Become Art
by Matthew Grundler
A New Layer of Dictionary Page Art
by Matthew Grundler

Early in my life, I was always surrounded by sounds of lyrics and the beats of music, and I was always building all sorts of things.

When I struggled at an early age with prioritizing, people suggested that I make lists to order my priorities. It was not that I hated to write, I just felt like ideas were easier to show visually, than to describe with words. It was easier for me to build things. Georgia O’Keefe said that “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.” 

Visual Journaling
by Matthew Grundler

by Matthew Grundler

After I got married, had kids, and was teaching full time, I needed lists because some tasks were not getting finished. And then, about two years ago, my wife introduced me to a thing called visual journals.

I thought that visual journaling was interesting and fun, and three very influential people (known as the Journal Fodder junkies) influenced my journaling path: David Modler, Sam Peck and Eric Scott.

I attended an all-day, pre-conference workshop with David, Sam, and Eric, and quickly began to see how others use their journals for more than diaries and lists. I learned how to use a journal as a place for everything at all times. I became fast friends with these three, and we began sharing ideas of things that could go in the journals. Sam Peck, who has an MFA in printmaking, inspired me to start printing again and to add these prints to my journals.

I was hooked!

I began experimenting with all sorts of mediums and drawing styles. Sometimes, I even find myself using a Sharpie instead of pencil because once I start with a permanent line, I am fully invested and have to figure out ways to change something and take it in a different direction if necessary.

I found myself watching lots of Friday night journaling videos by Eric Scott, videos full of great ways to find ideas for mixed media. One of these videos included book pages with boxes drawn around words: blackout poetry.

Black Out Poetry Journal Page
by Matthew Grundler

Journals can help us understand how different subjects connect. And so, with this newfound fire for journaling ablaze, I bring the idea of journals into my classroom.

Thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for asking me to share my journals. 

More Visual Journal Pages
by Matthew Grundler

Try It:
1. Glue book pages into your journal (little kids' book or any other type).
2. Scan through the pages looking for any words that jump out at you.
3. Be patient, knowing your work is work in progress. It will change over time.
4. It is OK not to finish a page before you move on to another page.

More Visual Journaling Resources:

Matthew Grundler

Matt Grundler is an art educator from Plano, Texas. He is a proud parent, and blogger. With is Art Educator wife Laura, he is co-founder of the popular Twitter chats #CreativelyConnectedEDU and #K12ArtChat. Matt started out as a graphic designer; however, after finding the commercial side of design unsatisfying, he soon found his niche as a K-5 Art Teacher and now teaches at the middle school level. Both Laura and Matt are passionate about raising their three creative kids, sharing their love of art education with their professional learning network, and continuing to grow every day.

Sharing Our Notebooks is offering a giveaway of a book Matthew recommends - JOURNAL FODDER 365 by Eric Scott and David Modler - for a reader of this post. Please leave a comment by 11:59pm on Sunday, July 28 to be entered into this random drawing for a used copy of this book in very good condition.  Please be sure to leave a way to contact you as part of your comment.

Please know that Sharing Our Notebooks welcomes all kinds of notebook keepers - of any age and interest - to open up their pages and share their process.  At the present time, I am accepting all notebook entries and am especially hoping to receive more entries from boys and men who keep any kind of notebooks.  If you are interested in writing in this space, please contact me, Amy, directly.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I have been experiencing a journal drought and have turned to other media (yarn,greeting cards mainly) to express myself creatively. I'm still making lists, but my mojo is missing. Thank you for sharing your examples. Maybe using completed lists as my ground is a start? I teach blackout poetry and found words-those are familiar friends. I would love the book as a spark to get me back on track. Contact me via Twitter, which is how I got to this post. @steinatdavis

  2. Matt, after reading your post, I want to see more visual journaling pages. Creativity has no bounds and you proved that. I am so excited to see you featured at Amy's Sharing Out Notebooks site.

  3. For an all-words journal/notebook kind of person, these seem very risky and scary...and inspirational! This is the direction I would like to push my brain and my creativity! Two of my other resources/mentors in this kind of journaling are Austin Kleon and Lynda Barry. Now I'll add Matt (and his resources) to my list!

  4. I love your notebooks! It's especially good to see men making art journals. I'd love to win a copy of Journal Folder Junkies 365. Could use some inspiration.

  5. Wonderful inspiration here, Matt. I've kept a journal for a long time, and when I taught, with my middle-school students. I'll certainly share with former colleagues. Thanks for the links and for "a journal as a place for everything at all times". Exactly true. Your pages are inspiring!

  6. I love these notebooks! I really want to take the time to start a visual journal. I've always kept a journal (gratitude, personal reflections, professional, etc.) but I'd like to add more art and sketches into a journal. I'd also like to encourage my own children and my students to begin visual journals if they are interested. Thanks for sharing your work. I'd be thrilled to win a copy of Journal Folder Junkies 365.

  7. Gorgeous pages, Matt. I have been experimenting, but I am always second guessing myself-not good for creativity. Your work encourages, inspires, and provides some momentum for me to keep at it. Thanks for sharing Matt's unique eye, Amy.

  8. What an inspiring post! My mind is whirling with possibilities of ways to spark my own creativity and ways to share these ideas with students. Thank you, Matt and Amy!

  9. Delightful! I plan to send this link to an artist friend. I think she'll enjoy it as much as I did.


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