In my twenties I worked abroad and had the foresight to keep a diary. There were plenty of parties, fun places to visit and new cultures to experience and write about. On reading the diaries back later I discovered that quite frankly they were all as dull as ditch water – patently I am no latter-day Pepys.
Disappointed I stuck the diaries into a box and there they have remained occupying a number of different attics over the years. It was only recently that it twigged why they were so very boring. No illustrations! Load and loads of words, and more words. To quote Lewis Carroll ‘”What is the use of a book”, thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”‘
And this leads me on to ‘illustrated journaling’ or ‘art journaling’.
In my other “I wish I could draw…” Posts I have suggested ways to encourage those who have yearned to draw, and for whatever reason have been put off, to have a go. In the first one simply entitled “I wish I could draw” (I hadn’t planned to make a ‘series’!) I mentioned the art of doodling, in the second ‘Part 2‘ I recommended the use of a notebook, small enough to put in the pocket, to encourage impromptu sketches; and in ‘Part 3‘ I suggested finding a friend or a group to sketch with. If none of the aforementioned have inspired then perhaps keeping an art journal might help?
As with everything else the term ‘art journal’ differs depending on the needs of the user. Some are used as ‘garden journals’ and are a way to keep an illustrated diary of the change of seasons and how the plants develop throughout the year; some are ‘travel journals’ and are a way of creating personal ‘postcards’ of the places visited. Some ‘art journals’ are what I used to know as scrapbooks, full of sweet (candy) papers and theatre tickets and other memorabilia along with doodles and small lines of text and then others are full of pages of beautiful collages and calligraphy. And so on.
I keep my particular art journal mainly at home and I use it to jot down illustrated thoughts of the day or week – for example Molly dog snoozing, or the first cherry on my little tree and as you can see on this Post, washing on the line and bread-making.
I try to fill each page either with one big picture, plus text of what I am thinking at the time or with loads of little pictures. I do think that it is a lovely way of encouraging drawing without it becoming too serious or daunting.
The ‘rules’ I am trying to abide by for keeping an art journal are as follows: -
1. I Try to make an entry every day. If I don’t there is always tomorrow.
2. I add the date and perhaps a comment about the day (I notice that I always mention the weather, I’m a Brit so I suppose that is no surprise!) or add a comment about how I am feeling while drawing and/or mention something significant that is happening that day/week.
3. I don’t measure any drawings, don’t check the perspective, don’t use a ruler, don’t squint one eye while holding a pencil in front of me, if using a pencil I try not to erase any lines. I realised that often I wouldn’t start a drawing because I thought I hadn’t got enough time to do the subject justice or that there were a lot of angles and it would take me ages to get them right. I have decided to keep the ‘serious’ drawings for my sketchbooks and quick wobbly (mainly pen) line sketches for the journal.
4. Whatever I am drawing I try to keep my head still and just move my eyes around the object I am drawing and then flick them back quickly onto the page to check and back to the object again. Previously I found I was moving my head from the object and then down to the page and by the time I looked up to the object again I couldn’t quite work out where I was and of course I had moved slightly so was checking the object from a slightly different angle.
5. I try not to deliberate about what I am going to draw so if I am about to water the garden I will sit down for a few minutes and sketch the watering can.
6. If for whatever reason I am feeling timid then I find that if I draw a small box on one area of a new page and sketch something within the lines then it sometimes stops that scary – ‘ooooh loads of white paper to fill up….’ feeling.
I bought ‘The Creative License – Giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are‘ by Danny Gregory (publisher Hyperion NY) recently and I found it extremely inspiring and would recommend it to friends who wanted encouragement in picking up pen and paper. Again if you are thinking that you want to be able to draw but feel you can’t then he also has a blog entitled Danny Gregory; Drawing, writing, what have you - go and have a look.
Hope the above has inspired you. Until next time. cheers KnitNell