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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reposting this longish essay about the uses of an artist's journal.

Hello everyone,

Back three years ago when I posted this, there were many fewer people following this blog. Since the question comes up again and again, I thought I'd repost this. It's still my answer to the question about the uses of an artist's journal. My uses. My journal. Maybe yours, too?
Back then I mischaracterized/misunderstood Kate's journals... they ARE pretty and they do have lots of finished sketches, but, as she has often pointed out since then, they are way more than pretty and often NOT polished and arty. ;D.

I hope this is helpful. I could TRY to say this all again in a different way, but I decided not to ;D.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My big fat black journal

I’ve long been a fan of the kind of beautiful illustrated journal that Kate Johnson and others, like Roz Stendahl, Pam Johnson Brickell, and Danny Gregory, to give a few examples, produce.

Theirs are visually arresting books---almost art objects in themselves. They feature well-designed pages and handsome lettering. Often the books themselves are handmade, the paper of good quality.

While there may be entries of a personal nature, they are not so private that no thought is given to the appearance of the page for possible public sharing, even if the sharing is of a limited nature. In general, text and image are both important. The pages themselves may not be pristine. In Roz’s, Kate’s and Danny’s books, there’s lots of experimentation going on and many quick, quick sketches, but the overall effect seems to be of a well-made, nicely designed artifact. (I say ‘seems,’ because I have only seen these journals on line.)

My own illustrated journals, until recently, were different from these. They were more sketchbook than conventional journal, without a strong textual presence.

In those pages, I’ve practiced drawing because I LOVE it and so that I could become better at it. I’ve taught myself how to use watercolor, and, in more conventional journal-writing fashion, I’ve tried to get down on paper, in images, the important events and people in my life.

From the time I was about 8, though, I’ve written in diaries and journals. My sketchbooks were a thing apart from those written records of my life. For the past 6 years, my concentration on drawing and producing my blog Laurelinesput an end to my journal keeping.

A few months ago, I turned to writing in a journal again. In taking up journaling once more, I remembered the lessons I learned years ago from the powerful, transformative book, The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. Rainer advocates journaling as a means to communicate with oneself, to develop creativity, to solve problems, to enrich the inner life.

Emphasis is on freedom of expression, expanding consciousness, finding a state of flow ---and getting all of this down on paper any way you can. Well-designed pages? Good paper? Nice lettering? Well, unless you operate that way instinctively, intuitively, with your eyes closed, without censors or brakes... no.

When I restarted my journaling life, I had not planned to include imagery. Or not planned NOT to.
I just bought a big blank book (big enough to allow me to scrawl across a page) with mediocre paper (something that the sketching me would not have been happy about) and started writing.

And images appeared, there, along with the words!

Not as illustrations, but more the rough lineaments of daydreams or nightmares, the quick capturing of something my eye fell on as I paused in my writing, time outs from hard thinking, notes for paintings and projects, sometimes plain old documentation, too. The images are more fleshed out than doodles, yet only rarely are they anything close to polished art pieces!

The more the images appeared, the more I gave way to their flow. Now, I can hardly wait to see what will happen next!
Why I don’t KNOW what will happen next is because this new journal of mine is about process and not product. It’s about communication with the self, not with others.
And it’s about pulling together the various aspects of myself---myself the artist, myself the writer, myself the mother, wife, friend and all the rest... all in one place, between two covers of a regular old, big, black, blank book.

It’s an illustrated journal, but it doesn’t look like Kate’s, or Roz’s, or Danny’s, or Pat’s. It’s rough-hewn, private, with buckled and splattered pages, loaded with crossed-out words and wiggly arrows. It works for me. I write about it here as a way to show there are many ways to make this thing we call an illustrated journal and to say that maybe something LIKE this may work for you, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meaningful Journaling

A peaceful day in the backyard, spring green and our baby dragon smiling at us.

Recording a celebration--family birthdays and Easter, all rolled into one!

My presence necklace, a slow, contemplative sketch to help center me...

A sketch from my husband's hospital room, after his cancer surgery...my journal helped keep me calm.  (And he is fine, now, thank you! This was from a few years ago.)

Keeping an artist's journal can be life-changing...at any age.  Far beyond making art, creating a pretty page, trying a new technique or exploring a medium like watercolor or pen and ink, it can help us to cope, learn, experience, and honor our lives.  It can help us rejoice, process, calm.

We can discover the myriad of small things that we are grateful for--just those gratitude lists alone can be life-changing.  Yes, I repeat a lot, as I return again and again to these lists--I AM grateful for the things large and small that make up my days.  Fresh coffee.  Cats.  Memories.  Books, art supplies, watercolors, a pen with a butter-smooth nib.  Music.  Mindfulness.  Meditation.  Flowers.  Laughter.  Friends.  Options.  Nature.  My walker, when I need it.  Leftovers!

My husband's love and support.

Journaling itself. 

How do you use YOUR journal?  What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

More on Bookbinding from our friend Shirley!


Former student Shirley Hememd got the bookbinding bug and has sone some amazing work!  Check her blog post for tons of inspiration, and let her know in a comment if you'd like to see more like this.  She's done some adventurous work!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Quick Sketching in Color

This is a little video I did for my Quick Sketching in Color mini-class...it's been private for just my students until now, but I decided to share it with you!

It's my quick and easy accordion journal I carry in my vehicle for sketching wherever I am.  I'm not much on shopping, so I do a LOT of "parking lot sketches" while Joseph does our business.

Sometimes I can add color on the spot, sometimes I exercise my color memory and do it later...that's what I did for this demo!  Either way works, it's your journal!

Check out the class info, here: http://cathyjohnson.info/sketchingincolor.html 

(By the way there are TWELVE videos in that class!  Not bad for 4 lessons...)

More on a different kind of quick and easy journal here on YouTube, or see my CD, here.  It includes both these types, plus ring-bound, book cloth, making covers and more!
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