May 14 2017

The Art of Journaling

The A5 and A6 Enigma from Taroko Design Shop

I had one of those infamous pink diary’s with the lock and key when I was in elementary school. That pink diary became my constant companion when my father died when I was seven years old. I’ve been an avid journal-er since. For more than two years now I’ve been using art and text to document my life in my journals, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized and took to heart, got past the fear, and said, “It’s my journal(s), I can do what I want….” I think the rebel in me knew all along and pushed the boundaries, broke the “rules.” Refused to even acknowledge that there are rules to keeping a journal, to doing things like adding your planning into your journal. And the diarist knew that I could journal about whatever I wanted, and was happy to be writing down the feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, plans, and more. But the artist… oh, the artist…the artist in me was filled with fear.

I have followed LittleRavenInk (Courtney Diaz) and Rhomany from Rhomany’s Realm, as well as many others on YT, for a good long while now, and the thing I love about both of them is their individualism, how they have found their voice in their art, on the pages of their journals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a journal, a sketchbook, a planner, etc., their style is unique. I’ve got a style, I suppose, but it ebbs and flows, it’s not ingrained yet… it’s still underneath the surface, appearing and disappearing as I find my way… As I delve into deeper recesses of my artist.

My first pages in my A5 and A6 Enigma’s, Illustrated Journals

You see, writing down my thoughts, my feelings, adding bits and bobs of things like quotes, pictures, every day ephemera and/or bought ephemera, and other things isn’t the problem… I can do that and do do that on a regular basis. I often use my journal(s) as an art journal, scrapbook, common place journal, planner, and more. I add bits and pieces of my day on the page in a variety of ways, from drawing and water-coloring, to using markers, to writing diary style, to quotes, adding pictures and receipts, bits from magazines, receipts from stores, etc…, and the thing that has been bugging me about my whole journal journey is that I wanted to do something else… something more. To hone in on the artist part of me. To improve my skill and technique, to experiment with different mediums, but to concentrate mainly on the art. On creating at least one piece of art from my day. Maybe it was the new notebook I received in the mail, or maybe it’s my favorite fountain pen or the current watercolor palette I’m using, or maybe it’s my grandson playing or Mr. Rockstar using the grill, or maybe it’s a selfie I’ve drawn and water-colored. Not necessarily in a “sketchbook,” though I do that from time to time especially when I go somewhere and want to chronicle the moment by drawing the outside of the coffee shop or the lake at Swan Lake or the people at the park, which I have learned is called urban sketching and I enjoy, but more like a real life journal that chronicles everything from the mundane to the special event to travel to just playing around and drawing one of my supplies.

I did some serious soul searching last weekend, and my past Tuesday Talk video was about some of this… about investing in myself and my goals, about delving deep and realizing that I’ve been putting off trying to really “illustrate my life,” out of fear… out of insecurity… out of a lack of self-confidence. And yet the past year has improved my self-confidence, lessened my fear, knocked loose some of those insecurities and I’ve tried things and done things that the artist in me wouldn’t have even thought I could do–things like open my own journaling group, start Patreon, call myself an artist… WHOA! Did I just call myself an artist? Yep, sure did!

I’m not a professional artist, but I’m learning… I’m going back to the basics of drawing and learning to do so in a class offered by Danny Gregory on Sketchbook Skool. I’m experimenting on my own with watercolor until I can take a watercolor class–that is on my To-Do list after I finish the Drawing class. I’m learning on my own and taking classes. I’m journaling every day, drawing and water-coloring every day, and have gotten serious enough about that I purchased a new journal with 68 GSM Tomoe River paper in it from Taroko Design, the journal is called the Enigma and it’s got the most divine paper. I also have a Strathmore Watercolor paper journal/Sketchbook with 140lb paper for when I do happen to go Urban Sketching, or for practice, since painting with watercolor on Tomoe River paper is quite different than on watercolor paper.

Using my Winsor & Newton set to chronicle my day in my Omni Journal.

Right now I use a Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor set, but I want to invest in the Daniel Smith Watercolors and create a basic travel set and then add to my collection as I go. I have goals… plans, but first it’s time for me to just start. I can’t wait until I can afford the Daniel Smith watercolors, though I do have a small travel kit that one of my wonderful friends made for me (I use those when I create works of art for people). Instead of waiting around, procrastinating even more, I sat at my DIY craft table and opened up both the A5 and the A6 Enigma and created my first page. I’ve realized that the A6 is going to be my fun, experimental tiny book of sketches, watercolors, etc… I’m going to take it with me every where I go and sketch something… anything–it might be the mailbox or the neighbor’s car or dog or pool or tree, or the coffee shop, or the front of the grocery store, or the people waiting in line at the doctor’s office. And the A5 will be my actual “Illustrated Journal,” also known as an “Artist’s Journal.” Some of those sketches might be of my supplies, of a tree in my own backyard, of Mr. Rockstar, of my grandson Mr. Viktor, of my own car, of myself, of pictures I’ve taken, of people (Friends, Family, etc)… I am going to illustrate something each day.

If any of you have seen the pages of my (Omni) journal or my Hobonichi you know that I often sketch bits and pieces of my day on my journal pages, sometimes it’s cartoon like, sometimes it’s fancy stick figures, sometimes it’s an actual sketch and watercolor… but I also add a lot of text, ephemera, photos, etc to the pages of my (Omni) journal/Hobonichi. I am going to continue to do that, because those are fun… I’m not always serious when I draw those bits and pieces of my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious sketches within the pages of my (Omni Journal) and Hobonichi, but there are far more fun drawings…

I’m going to be chronicling my journal in depth on Patreon, but in bits and pieces here and on YT. I hope you enjoy the process, I know I hope to.

Once I get things together, I’ll make a revised Journal Supply post and video.