SO, WHAT IS AN ARTIST’S JOURNAL?
And what can it do help us begin being an artist or help us get back to art after a lapse?
“I must draw every day!”
How many times have you told yourself that, as a budding, or lapsing, artist? And how many times have you failed, and how has that made you feel? If you are anything like me, you have shaken your head sadly and thought, “Well, I must just be lazy, or lacking the artist gene, or whatever”, as yet another lovely sketchbook sits neglected with half-a-dozen drawings in it. That’s how I felt from time to time – until I discovered the concept of the Artist’s Journal. I have just completed another one, and it feels wonderful. So what is it? What’s different? And why does it work?
A trick of the mind
This is the only way I can explain it. I used to be one of those people who said, “I love painting, but I don’t like drawing.” This is quite a common statement among beginning artists who are seduced by colourful paints and sensuous brushes. So, rather than this being an ordinary sketchbook where you can sometimes feel it is a bit of a chore to complete before you get on to the “exciting bit” of painting a huge colourful canvas or watercolour (rather like scales and arpeggios must be practised before you can write your sonata), the artist’s journal becomes a thrilling work of art in its own right which is just as exciting (and sometimes more exciting) than the major works. It is a way of tricking our easily distracted minds into “turning up” at the page every day with new wonder and excitement. Somehow, because it is a diary, it easily suggests a theme, or a collection, or a progression, and as the emphasis is on observation and drawing (this is NOT scrapbooking), you naturally improve as you continue, while all the time focussing on the process of creating rather than the finished product.
And finished product you will have
Yes, you will finish it. And when you do, you will have a “product” you can be proud of – a book filled with everything that has fascinated you over a fixed period of time – not just plans for your future paintings – i.e. a day for every page that the book contains, which makes it doable in about three months if your book has 50 pages. And this book will show:
- Your progression as an artist and a record of how much you have improved;
- A log of whatever has caught your eye (ideas for this later) and therefore a kind of story of YOU;
- Volume ONE of the rest of your life, all ready to put on your bookshelf while you get on with Volume TWO.
I can’t think of anything more likely to get you started.
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