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Friday, January 14, 2011

Recording Life Events

One of the most important things to do with your journal, I believe, is to record the events in our lives.  Not just the fun or pretty stuff, not just make an interesting page or a piece of art, but to pay attention.  To be present to our own lives.  To respect the hours and days.

As my friend and longtime inspiration Hannah Hinchman, author of my favorite journaling book, A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal, wrote: "We have won a moment in the unfolding universe. Doesn't that warrant comment?" 

Indeed it does.

(And by the way, Hannah is one of the artists included in the upcoming book; her interview will be up here before long.  Find her artwork on Picasa and her delightful books on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and more!)

My sweet husband had a bit of preventive maintenance at our local hospital this week, and I find it calming to sketch rather than try to read.  I'm not a television watcher, so paying attention, noticing, sketching works for me, no matter what the circumstance.  I take notes, right on my sketches, of things the doctor says, recommendations, results and so forth.

Not a lot of thought given to composition on this page...just fitting things in as I could.  I switched from Prismacolor colored pencils to a technical pen because it was more precise and I could get more on the page!  The border at top satisfied my need for "design."

On the images above, I'd imagined we would not be there that long, so I was going to just fill one page in my journal.  And fill it I did!  I kept sketching, and sketching, and sketching...and eventually gave it up and did two more pages.  The one at top was the last one of the day...

This is somewhat the type of journal sketch known as "reportage" drawing...real-time events as they unfold, telling it like it is.  Here is one definition of the term...


  1. Thanks Cathy, for starting this blog. Each post is of immense help to a fledgling sketcher like me.

  2. Delighted to help! I found other peoples' work so inspiring, just had to share it with a larger audience!

  3. This is why I want/need to practice sketching people more. We had this same day last summer. I sketched away but..... Let's just say your 'J' looks as handsome as ever when you sketch him. My 'Rob' asked me not to show my record of the day to anyone..... giggle, giggle :) Personally, I don't think he cared for the double chin he has when in a reclined position :)

  4. I agree, thank you Cathy/Kate for this blog and the sharing you do, and also about sketching the moments of our lives. When I go back and view a sketch in time I don't just see the sketch, or the object sketched, but am reminded of what happened in my life at that time, the big and the small. The guy sleeping on the train? Don't know the guy, but I remember the train ride and the trip. That was a trip to see my Dad in ICU. I didn't sketch Dad in the hospital (I took notes on his condition and Drs names to share with my siblings, and rubbed his back and gave him ice chips...) but I sketched people in the lunch room and waiting areas when I took a break, and it helped me relax and regroup. He's gone now, but those sketches are all related to him and bring back our moments together. At the time, I didn't think he would like to be sketched when he felt so down and out, but now I realize those sketches would be nice for me to have.

  5. Thank you both...

    Carolyn, when Laura Frankstone's interview comes up, watch for her sketches of her mother in the hospital. Touching and sweet--and her mom loved them!

    Sketching DOES help us to relax and focus on something besides our anxiety...

    And Pam, sometimes I don't show my sketches, either! They're not all winners...


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