Friday, April 16, 2010

Question of the Month--Journaling?

Our group question for the month is "Do you keep a journal or sketchbook?" Hope you enjoy this range of responses, from the devoted to the guilt ridden. Our members had lots to say on this subject, so it's a long post. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!


I started keeping a sketchbook journal over 7 years ago when I went on a fiber tour of Mexico. I wanted to add some watercolors to the travel journals I had kept, so took a short class. I enjoyed it so much that it soon became a regular habit, one that I believe can be life changing. I have over 50 volumes now, all in handmade journals that I design. I started teaching artful journaling over 5 years ago to share these techniques. My journals contain snippets from my daily life, overheard conversations and quotes. It is my constant companion.


I couldn't live without my journals and have various sorts:
  1. I've been keeping written morning pages for about 15 years now after reading Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." They are stream of consciousness writing and a way of quickly clearing thoughts out of my head every morning.
  2. I meet with a sketch group weekly and keep a sketch journal of places we go.
  3. I occasionally work in a big art journal as a place to unleash creativity without any criticizing or advanced planning.
  4. I keep an idea book full of sketches, pictures, and notes for possible projects.

I have a large blank-paged journal into which I write inspirational poems and writings, pithy sayings, memorable quotes and beautifully wrought sentences or paragraphs from books that I have read. I use different colored pens and vary my handwriting so each filled page is decorative. I dive into this journal whenever I need a specific saying or quote to write into one of my handmade cards.


When I go on vacation, I always take a sketch book. Thanks to Leigh, a member of our group who did a "Drawing a Day" for 365 days, I do a drawing a day while on vacation. I especially love bird watching and use drawing to deeply see the birds that I find in my binoculars. With a photo and my laptop, I pencil in the scenes and then use watercolor mostly. My husband, on the other hand, is not troubled by reality and makes a very quick sketch and paints it. I aspire to such fluidity.


I am not a faithful keeper of a written journal, although I have spent hours thinking of thoughts to fill the pages of several journals. I do love to prepare journal pages and fill the pages with art; however, find I am very reluctant to write on my art! LOL

But when I travel, I always have a journal with me to record a once in a lifetime adventure, sketch a memorable visual diary or to collect collage material along the way. But my primary venue for journaling is my blog, which I try to keep up faithfully.


I keep an on-going, chronological idea book and art journal calendar. Both include information on workshops attended, notes and sketches for projects developed, inspiration from exhibits seen, photos and articles that inspire me, postcards received from favorite artists and galleries, business cards, art group meeting notes, new products, blogs, books and websites to check out. I sketch in a separate sketchbook on Tuesday mornings. For every trip taken, I create a visual travel journal.


I'm a journaling fool! I love journals and have kept them on and off since I had a little locked one in grade school. I always do a travel journal when I take a trip, writing at the end of each day and gluing in collected ephemera--I also doodle and draw, using watercolors to add some zip. I've been doing Morning Pages, daily writing, since I discovered them through Julia Cameron's Artist's Way about six years ago. But the most fun I have is keeping a visual journal. My visual journals are filled with paint, collage, writing, and poems, and sometimes bits and bobs of found treasures.


I've started journals numerous times but have never really filled any, although I continue to work on a loose-leaf watercolor sketchbook. It allows me to practice drawing and mixing colors. I also have a few simple sketchbooks laying around to record ideas for jewelry, stitchery, and painting projects; nothing fancy!


Journaling and I have been at odds for some time. Oh I absolutely adore the journals of my friends. The colors, the words and images are all so beautiful yet poignant with unveiled truth. Despite this, how many journals have I started and then abandoned? Many upon many. Usually all started when my life seemed out of control or in a distasteful place. Some were all text trying to find answers, others full of colors and images that gave a voice to my feelings. But all were abandoned due to a lack of time, energy or motivation.

I have not given up on journaling though, and I'm pretty sure when the next challenging time comes my way I will start yet another. And after a passage of time that one too will be set aside. But perhaps each has served their purpose for their specific time and place. And I think I'm good with that.


My altered books sometimes turn out to be a cross between an altered book, a journal, a scrapbook, quotations from whatever I'm reading, and a place to try new techniques. They are usually not beautiful and they certainly aren't planned ahead of time and so lack any theme or cohesiveness. I usually don't show them to anyone. I like to make them in old books that have absorbant paper and that would otherwise be going to paper recycling.


I have found a form of journal that I can keep up with, don't laugh--it's a calendar. I started doing my art over the calendar photos. I put in large letters or cut out images in the little squares. I will sketch some thing I saw only in small format. If I have more to say than space allows, I make a small accordion pull out. The best part of this kind of journal is I do pick it up every day.


I do a little journaling every day in my weather "journal". At the first of the year, I print a blank calendar with just enough room in the boxes for my daily scribbles. I write down the temps, the accumulated rain and other weather conditions for the day. I've been doing this for over 20 years. It's nice to be able to go back and see what kind of weather we've had here at the house on any certain day.

I also keep three design journals for ideas for my beadwork and related art. I will never die, I have too much work to do and more ideas keep coming. There are a few more journals hanging around just for conversational airings and mind clearings.


I make time for journaling when I travel. I keep meaning to journal while at home, but there always seems to be so many other things to do! When I'm traveling and have taken the time (and space in my luggage) for my few supplies, I feel guilty if I don't journal. When I arrive back home I'm so glad that I have those great little watercolor paintings that I remember having painted while looking out the window of the villa or through the shutters onto a canal in Venice on a rainy afternoon.


I keep a large sketchbook as my daily journal. When I take the time, I decorate the outside with art and it pleases me. But most of the time it's just a plain old sketchbook. I write nearly every morning while I enjoy a cup of coffee. In these pages go: problems I am trying to work out, to do lists, sketches of things that inspire me, ideas for newsletter issues and blog posts, dreams, concrete plans and pictures or programs that I want to save. Sometime I tear out the thinking and diagrams and put them in file folders for my work. It makes a chronicle of my life and I do go back for reference. I have MANY of them now as I've been writing a journal since my early twenties.

I also have a visual journal that is nearly full. This I use when I take Julianna Coles and other workshops. It's one of my large duct tape journals, and I love the texture of the cover as it's become softer over three or four years.

For anyone who's considering a journaling habit, I recommend an article by Christine Cox about her Workhorse Journal.


I've kept a diary off and on for 50 years, but it was often hard to stick to and there are great gaps when I quit writing. Since finding Visual Journaling five years ago, my journal is never far from me, often riding in the car, open, on the seat next to me. I work alone in my studio. It doesn't work for me to journal with friends. Often, doing a bit of work in my book is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.


I seem to always end up with my journals being studies in color first, with ideas inserted later. The entries are mostly thoughts and ideas I come up with to answer the question, "what's life all about". I tend to install my humor, maybe because I think life occasionally can be funny if you look at it in a certain way. I also like to write stories, and I take the subject of choice, for example, "Esther the sea fairy" and fill the journal with the plot. With this type of journal, my colors and drawings, etc. apply to the subject.


I am a sporadic journaler. I love the idea of journaling, and am in awe of those who can write (or make art) on a consistent basis in a consistent way. But, I prefer to dabble... trying lots of different things, and moving from project to project. My journals reflect this. Currently, I am working on a journal inspired by an Artfest workshop by Traci Bautista. It is made out of paper grocery bags, and filled with color and doodles. Love it. In the past I have made fabric/fiber journals, a gratitude journal, and about a year ago, I made a "Make a journal in a month." I am much better at starting projects than finishing them... so I found it very freeing to decide that a journal could be "done" by simply tearing out the rest of the pages! LOL


We'll be posting pictures of some of these much-loved journals soon, so keep visiting.


Anonymous said...

And I... the wayward PAC member, have a journal I carry to make lists,take notes, about arty things,or blog/ websites to checkout and anything I want to remember, all done in pen, I tuck collected ephmerea in the back. I keep a blank one in my artspace and tape in photos of anything that inspires me. I hope to take a journal workshop one day, to learn about the technique...

Anonymous said...

Wow! You guys are all some kind of wonderful and journalling fools! Lenall