Sunday, August 26, 2012

Create Your Own Artist's Journal

I spend some of my time outside of buying, reading, and writing about books trying to learn how to paint with watercolors. It is not easy. Believe me, it is easier to get words on paper than paint on paper.

Two years ago, in preparation for my trip to Paris and Italy, I decided to take up sketching and watercolor painting to record what I saw. (I was a bit sick of words at the time and didn't want to keep a written journal.) I had never done either before. I was not artistically inclined that way - according to my eighth grade art teacher. But she is long dead I am sure, so I thought maybe I was safe now in trying to draw and paint without fearing that she would swoop down to record an F next to my name in her grade book.

It has been fun and frustrating. Although I have been taking some private lessons and studio lessons, I recently found a book at the library that intrigued me. It is called Create Your Own Artist's Journal by Erin O'Toole. I spent time this weekend reading it and studying her sketches and paintings of her garden flowers, butterflies and bumblebees, cats and dogs, deer and turtle, farmlands and city streets.

I like her ideas of capturing images for one's journal close to home, then venturing out into the neighborhood, the marketplace, the countryside. She offers good instructions on observing and recording images that make up one's days. The weather, a cat napping, a hummingbird flitting about, a neighbor's iron gate, a family feeding ducks - all just waiting for your attention.

She gives helpful hints and tips for making up a travel kit so you can create art anywhere you go, creating a routine, and page design. And her own watercolors and sketches are helpful studies. She also makes handwritten notes on the pages to add to enhance her sketches. The best of both worlds - pictures and words. I found the book to be most helpful.

She writes:
Cherish your journal time and use it to gather your thoughts, sort out the complexities of life, and quietly observe your surroundings. Filling your books with the life around you, journals become a reflection of the present and, in time, will hold unique glimpses of your own history.

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