Spiritual Art Journals
Cherry Sweig

#1, June 2016

A Monthly Series for the Monthly Newsletter of

St James Episcopal Church

La Jolla, California

By Cherry Sweig

  Art has always been a means of expression for mankind. It can be a healing, inspirational and spiritual.

  While traveling abroad since 1984,

I discovered the value of painting in a journal to record my personal growth, experiences and as studies for larger paintings.  These cherished bound artworks have evolved into a large collection of my reflections on destinations worldwide such as St Mark’s Square in Venice, Monet’s garden in Giverny, France to capturing the spirit of everyday life here at home. 


  In this series, I will be sharing my techniques, examples and new imagery in hopes of inspiring your own painted spiritual journals.  

For this first entry, my watercolor supplies and a two page spread are shown.  A lightweight and simple setup includes a cigar box, my paint palette, travel brushes, sketching pencil and watercolor paper journal.

I always start with a quick study of the pigments in my palette as a warm-up exercise.  

Next, I dedicate a page to an affirmation statement that is usually creative summary, such as “It’s all about the journey."

Choosing from a variety of compositions, one can paint entire scenes from edge to edge or leave space for borders.  

   Designs are endless and unique. Writing my thoughts of the day is the finishing touch along with decorating the covers. Through this process, the rewards are like a gift back to yourself. I have learned new insights about my faith and my life goals. 

See ALL Paintbook JournalsPaintbooks.html


Second in a Series…July/August 2016

Spiritual Art Journals: 

Inspirations from Our Own Coastline

By Cherry Sweig

  During every visit to our local coastline, I am reminded of the powerful presence of the ocean and my appreciation for living so close by. 

For this, I’ve dedicated one of my journals to La Jolla’s magnificent coast. 

One of my favorite viewpoints is The Children’s Pool.  Ellen Browning Scripps built this remarkable philanthropic landmark in 1930. It has since become a charismatic local attraction for beach goers, wildlife and especially for painting my journals. 

   This week, I decided to test a new set-up that I assembled for a painting trip in Southern France next month. There’s a shelf that holds extra supplies attached to two legs of the tripod. I can also use a heavy rock to hold it in place during a windy day.  While I usually work on these journals on my lap or a table, using the tripod gives me the freedom to stand, observe and move during the creative process.  It’s an ideal outdoor art studio that needs to be lightweight for travel as well as inspirational in our own backyard. 

 I began with a black fine point permanent marker for the outline shapes as an example to show how a simple contour drawing can be developed into a color rendering. Applying layers of watercolors, light to dark, I filled in the areas with a #8 Kolinsky sable watercolor brush.  I painted across the centerfold to reflect the whole view. 

   Sometimes I use my journals as a preliminary rough draft for larger plein air or studio artworks. An image or even a fleeting moment discovered in a relaxed setting can be captured quickly.  It’s how I collect ideas for compositions. A simple scene of the pelicans lofting along the shore will somehow spark an idea for a long horizontal theme.  The clear turquoise color of the water changes to dark ultramarine blue in the shadows of the Children’s Pool walkway.  

   Start your own journal!  It’s easy to find an inspiring subject here along our coast.  Through the process of watching the action of the waves, the ever-changing colors and nature’s liveliness, all of our senses are revived.

Recording your observations can take a day at the beach to another level, a new way of seeing and artistic inner reflection.