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Keeping an Artist's Journal - Lesson 1

Kate Johnson's "Keeping an Artist's Journal" class started yesterday and the first lesson covers the basics:  Exploring what YOU want and expect from this class, plus practical matters like materials and supplies.  For one of our first exercises, I need to decide what I want from my journal and the class, and plan what will go into my journal. 

I keep a daily visual journal and since January 2006 completed at least one journal page per day.  Some of these pages were in themed journals, i.e. vacation travel sketchbooks or figure drawing practice.  But most daily drawings/paintings are in my chronologic sketchbooks - with dated pages.  The contents of each page vary considerably - from personal moments recorded, to Everyday Matter challenges, to drawing or painting practice.  Journals 1-7 are Aquabee spiral Globetrotters - purchased because they were inexpensive and therefore I wasn't afraid to mess them up.  But the paper wasn't ideal for water media, and I moved to the large Moleskine watercolor journal (pink band) as soon as it was available (journals 8-17).  But I hated the landscape format of the book and Moleskine was polite, but not moveable, when I emailed them multiple times to see if they could make it in a portrait format.  So I took a weekend codex bookbinding class and now use journals that I make.  They are approximately 6" wide by 8" tall and contain 6 signatures, 48 pages, of Fabriano 140 lb, soft press watercolor paper (journals 18-26 - which is the current one).  They have paper backed book cloth on the outside which is very sturdy. I took the photograph on some fabric that I just painted with corn dextrin resist and thickened procion MX dyes.  One of my goals is to paper-back some of this cloth to see how easy it is to use as book cloth.


Here is the inside of my current journal, beginning with the double page spread showing my journal, palette, and current art tools.  This will be the first page for Kate's class, but before it is over, I will be using Volume 27.


This is the first half of the drawing, showing my journal and current palette.  I use 3 triads of primary colors to mix watercolors that I want - plus a few miscellaneous extras.  I also have a small commercial travel watercolor kit made by Daler-Rowney which has different colors.


I just realized that I mislabeled the brown on the right which is burnt umber - the burnt sienna is in the bottom triad on the left with yellow ochre and Payne's gray.

This is the second half of the spread, showing my leather pencil case and examples of the tools I carry in it.  I have only one, sepia tone, watercolor pencil in my daily pencil case.  The other 39 are in a separate pouch, which I take only when I can't use wet media - for example at my neighbor the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.




I also bind most of my sketchbooks. Could you blog about the bookcloth you make? I have covered my books with my failed prints (wood cuts and etchings), watercolor paintings, commercial scrap booking paper, or purchased fabric.

This entry is enchanting, I was enthralled at the sketchbook accounting and your binding skills, Love to see "tools" and palettes - you are off to a great start!! Oh how I wish I had seen this class enrollment. I hope you can post your work for us to enjoy as you continue the class.

I imagine Kate's class will be first rate, inspiring and full of useful information. I haven't posted on EDM in ages and ages, though I am painting lots rather than doing as much in sketchbooks. I love your entry with the lined up pens. That repetition and variation!

You are so inspiring! I think I really must learn how to bind my own books very soon. I hadn't heard of "codex" before and just did a web search to see if I could learn more about it. It looks like it might be a good system for me to try. What was the hardest part for you? Is there anything you especially like or don't like about the finished product? Is doing the book board/cloth hard to do? Thanks for showing these pictures of your beautiful journal. I had the same issues with the Moleskines. I love the Fabriano Venezia sketchbooks I use now (9x6") but they don't open flat so are hard to scan and I have to order them from Wet Paint in Minnesota -- nobody else carries them.

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