Start your own journal!

I've been writing about my journals/sketchbooks all week and I've had some great feedback.  It was hard to share my watercolors with you.  I love to show my quilts, but somehow the watercolors seemed too rough, too amateurish and entirely too personal.  Thank you for all of your comments and e-mails.  They have been very positive and encouraging.

Now it is my turn to encourage you.  Many of you have said something to the effect of "I can't keep a journal or sketchbook.  I don't know what to write/draw/doodle."  If you want to start journaling to support your creative life, here are a few suggestions:

Your journal is not a precious object.  

I think of my journals as tools.  They enable me to be more freely creative and as such are a means to an end, not the end itself.  It is hard to make that first mark in a new book.  Especially if it is, say, a beautiful handmade book.  My advice is to just do it.

Brian gave me a journal for my birthday that was made by a friend of mine, Jude Larzelere.  It was gorgeous:  beautiful, delicate rice paper on the outside cover, old maps of Cape Cod on the inside covers and beautiful, thick, sumptuous handmade paper for pages.
He thought I could use it as a vacation journal.  And was very disappointed when I didn't take it on our next trip.  But it was too wonderful to use.  Wasn't it??!!

I rather begrudgingly took it with me the following year.  And I've carried it with me since.  And even though it has become a bit travel worn, I find it is much more beautiful to me with my own art, and memories of each trip, inside it.

Just do it.

If the blank pages scare you, open the book to page two or three and paint a page or two.  A light watercolor wash will do.  I have found that painting a few pages not only makes me happy, but it enables me to calm down enough to start sketching.

I use the watercolored pages as backgrounds for quick sketches of objects in my studio.  For example, this is a cholla stick I picked up in New Mexico.  It was one of my first sketches of 2019.  Talk about making your book more approachable (imperfect), I labeled it the first time upside down.  Silly me.  So I did it again in the right direction.  I think it makes it very symmetrical.  
And when I say draw what's in front of you, I mean it:
The first page of each of my new journals is labeled.  I, you'll be surprised to know, come up with inventive names for my books:
Other ways to plunge into those first pages of a new journal include:
  • Making quick quilt sketches with colored pencils
  • Gluing in an inspirational quote or a picture from a magazine
  • Using stencils or stamps to pattern the page.  
  • Making a quick collage with colored paper or fabric.
  • Writing a short poem (or copying in one that you love)

Keep going.

Don't be a perfectionist.  Remember that your journal is not a work of art.  It is a tool.  It is a place for you to be wonderfully free.  You don't ever have to show it to anyone.  You can keep it in a drawer or under the mattress.  It is a safe place to explore and expand your creativity.  You will make lots of sketches or Notans or stamps or collages that are awful.  I know I have.  But you will also make some good ones.   And those good ones can spark ideas that you can use in your art.  

Remember the purpose of the journal.

It is a tool.  It is meant to jump-start your creativity.  It is an idea generator.  Do not spend all day on it.  At some point, you need to take a deep breath and get to work.

I'm linking this post with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday and Confessions of a Fiber Addict   Go see all the wonderful work there!  


piecefulwendy said…
I keep a little notebook right next to my chair in my living room. If I get bored while watching a show, I'll often pick it up and sketch a quilt design. I guess in a way this is a little journal of mine. Thanks for helping me think of it that way. I am definitely one who struggles with messing up a beautiful new journal, and I hadn't given thought to the idea of thinking I had to make it beautiful, but i do. So thank you, too, for the redirect in my thinking.
Lori said…
I started a quilt journal and a gratitude journal. Its hard but I keep trying.
Katie Pasquini Masopust said something similar in a class I took with her, must be 20 years ago, about using your precious fabric. She said, "fabric is like Frito Lays Corn Chips, you can always buy more. It was excellent advice then and remains excellent advice, today. Thanks for the reminder.