I haven’t posted about journaling in a while, so I thought I’d write about how I keep up my writing and drawing practice.
Last year, I started keeping a morning written journal where I spent 10 to 30 minutes writing freely. This is different than the free write some people do, or the morning pages, where you write to loosen up and just throw the pages away. I can’t do that — I horde words and stories. I write about what’s happening in my life and my mind, the details of the day before. I also use that time for story beginnings.
During the day, I keep a visual journal for taking notes, practicing drawing, trying out painting techniques and giving myself a place to play. Play is the best way to learn.
One of the things I’ve learned is that size matters. Maybe.
I bought a little journal with nice paper that would be easy to carry. I could sketch discreetly. It would be light and perfect. Except I didn’t really like it after I started using it. It was too small. I resisted it for a while, but it was the only thing I had. I only did one painted piece in it. A loose tree:
But I used it, nonetheless, and actually wound up with a few expressive drawings:
|My husband at Salty’s bar– a fish was on the wall behind him|
|Church notes during a music service|
|Further church notes|
I think if I’d liked the journal better, I would have gone back and painted a few of these, but looking back, I enjoy the simplicity and these drawings bring back memories — simple visual language in a letter to my future self.
My next journal was a Strathmore hardbound 8.5 x 5.5″ watercolor journal with cotton paper. It was a little larger and that made a big difference. However, it was hard to use that thick paper for light sketches and writing. It felt like I was wasting it. It had a precious quality to it. It did force me to try more paintings and to work across the spread. However, that didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.
I went on happily painting pages. One thing I like is to use my leftover paint puddles to paint journal pages so I can draw or write on colored pages later. This wonderfully absorbent paper didn’t do so well with my wet techniques:
|paint seeped through|
I had some seepage problems with journals before, but not to this extent.
|The sun got green ooze.|
I had better luck with writing and illustrating, though the paper seemed meant for watercolor:
|At the Tula’s a gluten free pasty and coffee shop|
|At Sound Grounds after my first venture in my power chair on the bus. I colored their logo the wrong colors|
So now I’m back to an inexpensive Canson Art Sketch book, hardbound 8.5 x 5.5. The paper is only 65 lb. I’ve used it before and it buckles when I paint, but the buckles flatten out after a while and there’s not the same kind of seepage. It’s great for writing and doesn’t feel precious.
I’m most excited about trying my new Winsor and Newton inks:
I also have a big 9×12 Canson Mixed Media spiral bound book when I need to go big. That means I’m now keeping 3 journals. The morning write, the day and travel book, and the big journal. I’m also considering keeping subject journals — like one for Bridge Meadows Meetings, one for concerts. one for spring flowers — I don’t know if it’ll feel as if I’m spread too thin or if it’ll help me tell the story of myself to myself a little better.
I think the different sizes and different kinds of paper bring out different styles. It was easy to do minimalist sketches in my little journal, easy to paint in the watercolor one. It’s fun to do collage and paint in the large journals. But the humble 5.5 x 8.5 Canson seems to be right for everything at this point. I wonder if I’ll feel the same 50 pages from now?
If you’d like you can read my last post on journaling in 2014 here.
How do you keep your journals and sketch books? What’s worked and what’s not worked?
By the way, Danny Gregory, who I blame for getting me addicted to visual journaling, has a new book out, Art Before Breakfast, which I’ll review next week. Check out his blog for inspiration to illustrate your life and to live better through bad drawing. It works 🙂
Thanks for reading my blog.
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