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Saturday, July 23, 2011

What inspires you?

What do YOU turn to when the journaling seems more of a chore than a delight?  When you begin to feel it's an obligation, not an essential part of taking care of yourself?  When nothing seems to work out right? (Interesting that this should pop up just now...the Universe speaks to me, too!)

We've been discussing something similar over on our open Facebook group after a question from our own Laure Ferlita, with lots of terrific suggestions, but I wanted to get more in depth here...

First off, try NOT to think of your personal journaling as a chore, an obligation, a duty.  I've seen more people apologize for not posting more often, or enough, or whatever.  Don't, please.  You'll make yourself crazy. (Trust me, I know.  I've done it.)

You don't have to work every day, and you don't HAVE to share it.  Try not to think "oh, this isn't good enough to show"...if you really don't like it, you don't need to share it!  If it's private, if you need to express an emotion you find yourself worried about or using a word you wouldn't in polite company, fine!  Use it anyway, express what you wish, get it out of your system (it may be blocking you!)--nobody says you have to post everything you do.

Or if they do, give 'em the raspberry!

That approach takes your personal artist's journal away from YOU and makes it public domain.  You find yourself worrying about other people's opinions, and that is not what an artist's journal should be. You are an artist.  It is your journal.  Do what you want.

(Yes, I know I've said that before.  I'll probably say it again!  I'm still keeping journals after 40 years because I believe that.)

If scanning's a pain, try photographing, it's quicker.  Upload from your smart phone, that's quicker still. If Photoshopping takes too long--resizing or tweaking your image to lighten it or increase contrast--try something simpler, like Picasa 3, Microsoft Office Picture Manager, Paint, or similar, even the software that comes with your smart phone.

Or just DON'T.

In other words, don't make it a chore. You don't owe anyone but yourself.  (Do I need to hear that again myself?  Yes, yes, I do.)

What inspires me is looking at work by artists I adore...those artists who are in the book, many of my favorite Flickr artists. and books that have been meaningful to me.  Danny Gregory's books, and his An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers that I was fortunate enough to be included in, along with a SLEW of other artists who inspire me...and of course, Danny's first drawing book, Everyday Matters--and the Yahoo group and Facebook group by the same name (as well as Sketchbook Skool, where I am one of the teachers) that grew out of it!

I love David Gentleman's travel sketches, and have been rereading/drooling over David Gentleman's Britain, lately...you can click on the link or the cover below to "Look Inside."  I'm eyeing David Gentleman's London at the moment, also recently released after some years.  No "Look Inside" this one though, darn it...

He makes my fingers itch to get out there and sketch!

I'm having an Albany Wiseman  droolathon right now, too...The Artist's Sketchbook below is my favorite, but I've recently found some of his early books that are a delight...

(And funny that my own most recent book got entitled Artist's Sketchbook!  The writer almost never gets to pick the title of our own books...but this works.)

Artist's Hints and Tips: Drawing and Painting People is wonderful...as is Drawing Solutions,  and his books on landscapes, and....well, lots more.

(Our dear friend and correspondent Laura Frankstone got to study with Wiseman at a workshop in Provence a few years ago...when I was looking for his books via Google, I found her blog post right up front!   What a marvelous opportunity...)

Judy Martin's Sketching School (Learn as You Go) is FULL of wonderful art of all types (and yes, Wiseman's there too...)  I drag it out at least once a year, just for the pure pleasure of it.  It's a "look inside" book too, so you can click on the link above or the image below to browse.  Remember, if you hit "surprise me" you see a LOT more...

Perhaps a stroll through a Flickr group will inspire you, or a visit to a real-life museum.

Try sketching from the Masters (most museums will allow that, if you work in pencil), or make a study of a sculpture you love.  This is the Quanyin at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art that I've visited ever since I was a kid.  I plunked myself right down on the floor and sketched in that quiet presence.  It was marvelous!

And of course just cutting yourself some slack, and PLAYING in your journal may be all that you need to really inspire you...draw how you feel, draw what you're thinking about, sketch what you wish you had or where you wish you were.  Sketch the first thing that your eye falls on, draw a memory or a dream...

...and tell the Inner Critic to take a hike!  You're NOT wasting time, and it doesn't have to be great art.  This is a gift you give yourself.

Sooooo...what inspires YOU?  Please share in the comments here...


  1. I'm most inspired by experiences. Taking a class with a good teacher, whether online or in person, can energize me. Visiting art galleries or a store with decor I admire can be wonderful, especially if I have a sketchbook handy -- or even my camera. I also love to share art ideas with friends, whether learning or teaching.

  2. Thank you for making me realize I can scan images rather than photograph them. It never occurred to me. Durrr.

  3. Sure, either one works, Marta! Teri, I know just what you mean...

  4. Thanks for permission to not post everything. It made me work in a sketch book yesterday that I havent been working in. It was for me only and fun. Why do I feel it has to be shared. It doesnt. I have that sketching School book too. I get inspired by books and on line blogs like this one.

  5. I'm inspired by nature; flowers, birds, trees, fish, beach finds. I feel alive when I'm out exploring my world around me.

  6. Oh, Stephanie, I SO relate to that! My fingers itch to get sketching!

    Cris, I've just seen so many artists apologize and feel pressured and their journal becomes one more obligation or something to stress over. It needs, precisely, NOT to be that. For one thing, my journal is a place to shed stress, not add to it.

    So hooray for you, I bet that sketchbook drawing felt GOOD!

  7. I'm re-reading Hannah Hinchman's book, Life in Hand, and must say she gets the juices going and establishes a sense of freedom that is rare elsewhere.

  8. I can't tell you how many times I've read that book! It's wonderful, isn't it...

  9. Thanks for the much needed encouragement.


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