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Friday, January 4, 2013

Journal Pages Don't Have to be Precious!

A page of squiggles--I usually try to make a note of just WHAT I'm testing, because I forget rather too quickly...the guy at the bottom was sketched with my Namiki Falcon, though, I think...

Aquacolor tests...

Playing with paint...

Ink testing in my journal...
People sometimes tell me they're afraid of ruining a journal page...but really, you CAN'T, at least in my opinion, because it's your journal.  It's a learning experience.  Share it or not, it's your choice.

Your journal doesn't have to full of beautifully designed pages, with arrangements worthy of publication and calligraphy worth of Denis Brown.  

It can be a place to play, to explore, to test--materials, techniques, or yourself!  I do a lot of that, testing out a new pen, seeing how transparent my watercolor are...it can be a recognizable image, or just lines and spirals.

I often fill whole pages with tests from various inks or pens...at the top of the page I threw in pencils for good measure.  (And as noted that page would be a LOT more useful if I'd written down what I was using!)

Some of us have a fear of white paper, but I love this E.B.White quote from late in his life: "Even now, this late in the day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me--more promising than a silver cloud, and prettier than a red wagon." 

If the first page of a new journal intimidates you, skip it!  Start working several pages in and come back to it.  Or use that page for a traditional beginning--a favorite quote, a hand-drawn map, a list of intentions or goals, or a sketch of your current watercolor or sketch kit, as Liz Steel and Vicky Williamson often do!

Whatever you do, relax, trust yourself, enjoy your journal, and have fun.

27 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for reminding me of this! You are my hero!

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    1. i know right?!?!? reminding you....informing me!!! I always felt like a journal was for near-perfect works. Now a writing journal I will scratch out and scribble in the whole day long with random thoughts, one sentence entries or multiple entries throughout the day with a time stamp to remind me when I wrote the entry.

      So doggone critical of my own visual gifts! geesh!

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  2. Perfect!
    I usually put my current journaling color palette on the first page.

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  3. So important to get a reality check now and then!!!

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  4. This subject keeps coming up--and I know it's because some people DO such stunning pages every time. I don't. <:-D

    Glad you both liked it!

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  5. Absolutely true! The way I get over the problem is to journal on normal lined notebook paper so that I don't feel as though I am trying to get my page published! :-) I'm sure that if I were to use expensive paper I'd feel the pressure to get page to be perfect every time.

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  6. I know that can be a problem for some...I think I get around it partly by binding my own books. Even though I use "good" paper, I know I can make more whenever I run low. I definitely don't feel pressure to always be perfect, because no one CAN be!

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  7. This advice is the most basic and important advice one can give to a fellow sketcher. I wonder if it was any different before the Internet. These days we see people posting nice sketches and it's easy to believe that every page of their sketchbook is like those sketches.

    Yesterday I botched up a sketch from a statue rather badly. Today, having a few minutes, I went to the same statue and did a crude sketch of the same piece just to see if I could get the proportions better. I did but the page I was sketching on already had a gesture sketch of a person that had walked across the museum lobby and a note about an upcoming sketching session with friends. Like you, I use good paper but there's an endless supply of it :-)

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  8. Absolutely, Larry! I once gave a friend one of my handmade journals and she didn't start it for *years*...it was "too good." She also felt a bit that way about a new Moleskine...it's important to just DO, not worry about results.

    I've had a lot of botched sketches...sometimes I share them, sometimes I don't, but if I don't it's usually more that it's so darn much trouble scanning and tweaking and uploading!:-D

    Glad to hear you gave it another go...I learn a lot when I do that.

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  9. Thanks for reminding us of the freedom to use our journal as such.

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  10. In workshops I tell people, "It's only paper. They will make more."

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  11. So true, Kate, so true! Maybe we should declare a "Present Your Worst (or messiest, or least 'successful' or 'polished') Journal Page Day".

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  13. I appreciate your insight, Kate. Thanks for the reminder to just have fun with our sketchbooks and USE them. I think I started to worry more about making "good" pages when I began sharing my work with people. It's a self-imposed pressure to produce perfect pages! So I've made a point, on my blog, of sharing some of my less-than-perfect sketches, too. It keeps my perfectionism from having the upper hand, and I hope it encourages my readers to "just do it" and not worry about the results so much.

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  14. Thank you for making it ok to be imperfect!!xox

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  15. You are SO right! And often, the more imperfections, the more interesting a page becomes! And I just LOVE simple sketches like this one :0)

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  16. My biggest problem is I want my pages to look like the pages I view here. It has just occurred to me that I am probably only seeing the "best" and that my humble attempts are probably the "norm". I have several sketchbooks that I quit using before the end of the book because I was striving for a level of perfection that maybe isn't there. I love the idea of sketchbooks/art journals. I really want to be able to create one. But maybe I already am and I need a reality check

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  17. Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! And Leslie, I think you're right about people mostly sharing their successes rather than ones they're not as happy with, or that perhaps don't have the same intent. (Sometimes I don't care, I'm just trying to respond, as quickly as I can!) I'll try to remember to share more of those.

    Linda, NONE of us are perfect, or do perfect pages. Of course it's not there...so yes, I think you already are. Or keeping an artist's journal, which I personally think is far more important than creating "an art journal." :-D

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  18. Kate, I just received your Artists' Journal Workshop book, and I love it! So many great ideas and sketches!

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  19. Thank you for posting this! why? Because I've had it in my head for so long that I had to use make completed drawings or sketches in my journals. Something like making a journal that was ready to be placed in a display case in the Louvre or something! I can make a page of just marks and the name of the material used to make that mark for future reference?!?!!?!? if I may be so blunt ""GTFOH""!! Seriously though, this post has someone released me! I have so many EMPTY journals or journals with just a couple drawings in them because I've been ....afraid...of not liking what I've done or not feeling like it's at the same level as the journal pages of those who've been doing it longer.... not better, just longer. With all the art media I keep buying and not using...I now have the idea to just TEST them in my journals...do some color mixing...dry vs wet testing watercolor pencils, water-soluble oil media, etc etc etc.

    in a word...THANKS!!

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    1. FILL THOSE JOURNALS!! And you're welcome. :-D

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  20. Best post (and truest) I've read in a while. Thank you. I think people who don't art journal will see us working in ours, surrounded by various materials and creating emphatically, and they figure it must be the next Michelangelo. We need to create for ourselves :)

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  22. Hi, Cathy! My name is Lena, I'm from Russia. I bought one of your book 10 years ago and it helped me) I love your arts)
    Can you tell me, where I can buy your book "Artist Journal Workshop" in electronic form, please?
    Thanks for your drawings!))

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    1. Hi Lena...it is available as a Kindle edition on Amazon, if you have that option! Thank you very much...

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    2. Thank you for answer! I bought this book on Amazon!
      I will write a review when I read a book)

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