I was so excited to learn that Frida Kahlo had had an art journal! Her full journal is published as a book, The Diary of Frida Kahlo, and it provides an intimate view of Frida’s thoughts and processes, somewhat like a behind-the-scenes of her larger paintings! I find that the by-line, An Intimate Self-Portrait, is a wonderful description, not only of this book, but of art journaling in general.
The book includes introductions, diary pages, and a translation from the Spanish, but mostly it is indeed an intimate viewing of Kahlo’s journal, and that’s what I felt as I leafed through it. It is as if you were holding Kahlo’s real diary in your hands, and I love that authentic feel.
Frida Kahlo worked in her diary during the last ten years of her life. It documents her deteriorating health, but it is also a very free, spontaneous visual documentation of her life and thoughts.
Kahlo was known to be a slow artist. Her drawings were made carefully, thoughtfully, and over long periods of time, much unlike her journal, which is so free spirited and much more intimate. She used her diary as an escape, a place to let go and capture feelings and images which had no other outlet. The portrait Kahlo depicts throughout these pages, using lines and color, text and poetry, is unmasked and authentic.
I love looking through this book, there’s so much to see and read in her imagery, so many little details hiding in her choice of color, in her doodles and bleeding pens. I’ve read that most of her drawings in this journal were spontaneous and unplanned. She would drip some ink randomly on the pages, and let images appear from those spots. Have you ever tried that? I love it!
Frida obviously had a great sense of humor, she makes her ink blots, draws what she sees, and then writes to herself, on the same page, “who is this idiot?”
She used many different media, such as ink, gouche, watercolor, pencils and more.
I love her use of drawing and combining text. Her texts are mostly associative, referring to her drawing, and not documenting anything specifically or linearly.
I enjoy looking at her pages, noticing her efforts to erase in some places, add meaning in others, draw and draw, even drawing some images on top of each other. I imagine her hands creating freely and her mind letting go, wandering.
I think a journal gives us a much better and more complete sense of who the person/artist is. It’s so different than visiting a museum and looking at paintings. The journal unfolds gradually, you leaf through it and have time to study and think about each page, whereas the painting strikes you as a whole, all at once, and is more of a showcase than an intimate, authentic look. I hope I enjoyed this peek! Do you know of other artists whose art journals have been published?