View Full Version : Illustrated journaling

princess buttercup
06-29-2003, 01:24 PM
Is there anyone here who keeps a visual journal in the sense of an actual WRITTEN journal enhanced with drawings, scribblings, etc?

I did a search on WetCanvas and found a thread on visual journals but all the links provided were to journals that were primarily about the artwork. The pages were painstakingly painted, drawn, collaged and stamped and looked like each would have taken hours to create (at least they'd have taken a klutz like me that long!) There also didn't seem to be too much in the way of actual writing going on.

Inspired by a copy of Frida Kahlo's diary (which I am kicking myself that I didn't buy when I saw it because I can't find it now) what I would like to do is enhance my written journal entries with simple drawings, doodles and sketches in colored pencil, pen, marker or whatever. I'm not exactly sure, though, what my purpose in doing this is... I think I want to learn to express my emotions more visually, improve my sketching skills, and learn to be more playful and spontaneous in regard to creating visual images.

Does anyone else do this? Do you have any guidelines you use for getting the most out of the process, or do you simply draw and write whatever comes to mind?

Any thoughts and suggestions would be welcome.

Rose Queen
06-29-2003, 01:38 PM
I've been thinking about doing this for years, but my slow handwriting always makes me return to the computer for journaling. I suppose if I had a Wacom tablet, I could decorate a typed journal, but somehow it seems not quite right. Anyway, I will look forward with interest to the answers others give to this post!

I can, however, help you with your search for Frida Kahlo's diary; it's out there if you're willing to part with a bit of cash: http://dogbert.abebooks.com

Put in Frida Kahlo's name as the author and just the word Diary in the title; you'll get 4 hits, the cheapest of which is about $32.

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06-29-2003, 03:16 PM
I have, at 'special' times in my life, kept a daily journal but I don't keep one as a matter of course, unless you count my 'once-in-a-while observations etc. that I record [cos I like to]. For someone like myself, I could imagine it becoming a chore if I were to write something on a daily or even weekly basis, just for the sake of it. On the numerous occasions that I've kept a regular journal, the writings and scribblings go hand in hand - as they do now with my occasional notes, ramblings and so forth. To me, it's all about 'the moment' and so therefore, adding drawings, pictures or whatever, later would be a kind of 'false accounting'

I'm saying; it's all about expressing emotions, feelings, reactions and the like, so whatever you write or draw, surely must be done at the time otherwise the words/pictures would be meaningless, don't you think?


Cathy Morgan
06-29-2003, 11:23 PM
Here are links to online visual journals:

Aisling's Journals (http://www.aisling.net/gallery/journals/journals.htm)
the handprint journal about learning watercolor painting (http://handprint.com/HP/WCL/wjournal.html)

I've sometimes done the kind of journal you're envisioning - for several months or longer. I usually use a 3-ring binder and somewhat thicker 8.5x11" paper than ordinary copy or inkjet paper. Wasau Exact Vellum is pretty good for this - not too expensive, heavy enough so most drawings don't show through the page, a bit of tooth for pencil drawing.

I've tried writing comments or journal entries on the page facing the artwork - so the writing is on the left side of the binder and the art is on the right side. But this makes it hard to rearrange the pages later if you want to.

There are sketchbooks too that have the upper part of each page for visual art, with lines on the lower part for writing. I've never tried using one but it might be great.

- free draw - just let your pen or pencil or marker do whatever it does, without your mind controlling it or trying to draw anything in particular - scribble - let go, just watch. Usually a series of 6 to 10 quick free drawings kind of "cleans out" the mind the way Artist Way Morning Pages do, but in a more right brained way. (And you may generate some forms that inspire "real" artwork too.)
- I take a lot of photos of anything that attracts me. Printouts of these photos (on inexpensive plain paper) can inspire comments on what I saw, inspiration for artwork, etc.
- Of course - writing about art, specific ideas, sketches of ideas, etc.

06-30-2003, 12:53 AM
I have kept a journal when we've been overseas mostly and I tend to do little scribbles if it's appropriate, otherwise I tend to stick things into my journal and write a lot. I would love to do this more though.

princess buttercup
06-30-2003, 08:31 AM
Many thanks to everyone who answered. :)

Rose Queen-thanks for the link to Frida's Diary! Unfortunately money is tight right now, but at least I know it's out there somewhere and hopefully will still be findable once finances ease up. I leafed through it once at a bookstore and it was gorgeous.

Andyvry-yes, I agree that the drawings/sketches should be done at the time of the writing to capture and hopefully expand upon the emotions of the moment. This is what I plan to do... I just started my first handwritten journal. Prior to this all my journaling has been done online.

Cathy-thanks for the tips! I've started out with simple free drawing as I tend to freeze up if I set out with the goal of drawing something to specifically represent an emotion. My first drawing started out rather unimaginitively... I did some vines around my text... but then I kept adding things and embellishing and wound up with a couple of little sections of the drawing that were more original and I liked a lot! So I think I will continue with that. I'd also like to try your photo idea but I'm having a problem with my digital camera's software right now so that will have to wait. And thanks so much for the links... I'm especially enjoying Aisling's journals. Just the sort of thing I had in mind!

06-30-2003, 12:06 PM
This month's edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club magazine, Outdoors, has a great article on doing a nature journal when hiking using pencil, pen, and watercolor. I haven't read it in detail but it looks like some of the suggestions can carry over to daily journaling.

I'm already doing the Morning Pages from the Artists Way each morning and some daily sketches. I'm thinking maybe some techniques from this article will help pull the two together.

I'll let y'all know how it goes.


06-30-2003, 10:04 PM
I used to do this all the time. This was a VERY free process, no attempt to create a pretty balanced composition, but that was my temperament. Yes, sometimes the journal would be used for working out art ideas, but often the drawings are just part of a record of where my head was at the time.



hope this helps


princess buttercup
06-30-2003, 10:14 PM
Dana-I'll have to take a look at that magazine next time I'm at Borders, if I can remember. I'll be interested to see how it goes for you.

Erik-thanks for posting those! Looks very much like what I had in mind!

07-01-2003, 02:48 AM
Hmm, well, I read through the article today at lunch and I didn't find much there. It talked about contour drawing very briefly and what to record on a hike but the woman interviewed was more interested in environmental crusades than the daily journal so the how tos were brief.

To be fair, she has a book out:


so the book may have better info

07-02-2003, 10:27 AM
One way to start simply is to just doodle in the margins of the pages in your journal. Make little sketches of your plans, people, places that come to mind as you write your thoughts.

I tried that this morning and was surprised how natural it came. One block that had stopped me in my tracks before was making the journal 'beautiful' . I'd buy this $30 handcrafted leather book and be afraid to mess it up. Every page had to be beautiful so it wasn't fun and spontaneous anymore.

Now I'm focusing on functionality and its so much more liberating. I'm writing on a regular legal pad and scribbling in the margins. (Just like I do at work when I'm in a boring meeting!) For my sketch pad, I bought a little $5 thingy which an electric blue cover that says 'Sketch pad' Not pretty but what's inside is what counts. ;)

This may not work for everybody, but I found it was the last piece that made journaling work for me.

princess buttercup
07-02-2003, 10:42 AM
Hi Dana... I think you are right, what I am using for my journal right now is an inexpensive art store sketch book. I've done a little sketching in the margins, but what I've done the past two mornings is to make a quick collage like I saw on the Aisling link.

So far it's been a lot of fun and I'm enjoying the challenge of finding enough images and words on a theme in the half-hour or so I'm allotting to this. I need to try not to let the collaging completely replace the sketching, though. The point of this for me is to enhance creativity but I also want to get comfortable with sketching--getting images out of my head and onto paper.

I think I'd be intimidated by a fancy journal as well. What's working for me is the idea that none of this needs to be fabulous, or even good. All I have to do is get something on paper! :)

07-02-2003, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by princess buttercup
What's working for me is the idea that none of this needs to be fabulous, or even good. All I have to do is get something on paper! :)

How right you are! So you keep appointments with yourself for journaling? I like the idea? :) Sometimes its so hard to keep some time to ourselves that this is the only way we can.

Maybe if its not too personal, some of us may want to share a page or two of a journal. My journal is prolly too personal but I've started some journaling in my sketch book which isn't that personal so I'd feel more comfortable posting that.

07-02-2003, 06:34 PM
Just happened upon this thread. I keep several art/ written journals. Some I share with other artists ( we mail them back and forth) and one just for myself. Sometimes I try out new techniques or mediums, sometimes I pour out my emotions, sometimes it's travel paintings and thoughts.

I don't know if you've seen the journal project. Everyone put in a few ( or more ) pages of their personal journals.


Have fun !


07-02-2003, 07:20 PM
Oh wow, lisilk, thanks for sharing.

I know cathleen (artbabe21) from the oil forum.

Who would have guessed groups of artists would pass around journals for each other to work on? A real group effort.

07-02-2003, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by DanaT
Oh wow, lisilk, thanks for sharing.

I know cathleen (artbabe21) from the oil forum.

Who would have guessed groups of artists would pass around journals for each other to work on? A real group effort.

Oops, sorry dana. I just read back what I wrote and see how it came out wrong.

The Wetcanvas Journal Project was just people sharing online, pages from their own journals.

The shared journals are something I do with two other women artists...seperately. HUH ? ( LOL )

I've known my friend Cathy for 25 years. She and I each started a journal, mostly art but sometimes lot's of writing. We each keep the journal ( theoretically ) 1 month, but sometimes life gets in the way and it's longer. Do as many pages as we feel up to, then mail them, repeat until the journals are filled. At the end we will each keep the one started by the other but both are filled with images from both. We started 2 years ago.

Then a year ago I start another exchange with a woman artist I met online several years ago. After exchanging almost a year, we actually got to meet in South Dakota last fall. It was great !

I know a lot of book groups online that do exchanges as well. It's a great way to learn about someone in a way you never could just by talking.



princess buttercup
07-02-2003, 10:16 PM
The journal project has some very nice entries. I shouldn't look at them very long though... too intimidating! :D

Dana, I'd love to see some of yours or other's journal pages if they want to share them. I can't put mine up though, I don't have a scanner yet. Hopefully someday!