Creative Note Taking!



If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know I love to art journal!  Even though I just started doing this four years ago, it’s become a huge part of my life.  It’s how I process the hard in this broken world, as well as a tool helping me listen, learn, remember and disciple.

At the beginning of this summer the Lord laid it on my heart to create a new online art journal course to accompany Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame.  Now I wasn’t primarily creating something for other people, though others were using it.  Rather it served as a forum for me to share my journey as I’ve been working my way through this (and provided accountability to keep me journeying as I am a highly distractible individual!  :0).

When I began I had no idea what the Lord would have in store… I just knew it would be good!  And it has been life changing!!!  I can’t recommend art journaling your way through Dr. Curt Thompson’s book highly enough!!!

In addition to learning a ton about shame – and how not to be emotionally hijacked by it (something I desperately need to learn) – I also started learning how to use art journaling for note taking – and I’ve been blown away at how much more I’m learning and retaining as a result.

Since I’m currently surrounded by friends getting ready to dive back into school, I thought I’d share some ideas for using art journaling to take notes in a way that enhances your learning… and remembering!

When I first read through the second chapter in Dr. Curt Thompson’s book, where he explains the 9 domains of the mind as well as gives an overview of the anatomy of the brain, I read through the text underlining what stood out to me.  Soon the pages looked like I’d bled profusely (got to love red highlighters!) and I found I wasn’t retaining much.

Now in my art room I have a basket filled with different sizes of paper cut into squares and rectangles that are leftover from projects.  I started writing down on these slips of paper key things that stood out to me.  When I finished the chapter, I took time to arrange the slips of paper in my art journal – talk about a great way to interact with and review the material!  I was amazed at how much I remembered and how I was able to identify key thoughts from the chapter.


But there was a lot in that chapter and I soon found pulling out slips of paper was a bit cumbersome, so next I grabbed a tin of gel pens and starting taking notes in color!  Was this ever a blast!  But I also found was learning a bunch doing this!


Then, whenever possible, I started taking time to sketch a quick picture summarizing key ideas.  It’s amazing how pictures stick!


I especially found it helpful to story board key thoughts from the chapter to capture of the flow of what was being communicated.

But things really went into warp speed when I began asking myself questions from the material I was reading – personalizing what I was learning.  This took it into the realm of “So what difference can knowing this make in my life?”


Imagine my surprise when I was watching a YouTube  video on note taking to discover they highly recommend using color and asking questions!!!  Sure wish I’d known this 34 years ago! :0)

But here’s the neatest thing – this isn’t just something that can help when you’re in school.  I learned this while processing through a book I was reading.  It can also help you retain and remember even more from sermons on Sunday or even when you’re at NavNites or conferences!

Multi colored gel pens are now a staple in my purse!  God truly is the greatest teacher ever! And I’m finding, with Him, class is always in session!