View Full Version : A few questions!

06-25-2010, 09:10 PM
:wave: Hi everyone! I have only just stumbled across this forum after looking at a thread by Zenica in the Pen and Ink forum. WOW, you guys keep busy and are so talented! As yet I have only looked at a few threads as they contain so much work and comments to look though but I will be sure to come back often now I have found you.

I am keen to start a sketchbook/journal for the pleasure of drawing rather than a need to keep producing "finished" pieces and improve my drawing skills. My questions are: is the "purpose" of keeping a journal to draw from life, or can any sort of reference that inspires you, creep in?! Does it work better if you have a theme in mind before starting - eg following a theme through like fantasy, florals or a story etc. Is it better to stick to one medium do you think or continue an exploration?

I realise these questions might seem a little "dumb", but my efforts in the past to try and draw on a regular basis or keep a sketchbook has been very haphazard to say the least, and I would love to complete a whole sketchbook that I can keep referring back to for years to come. I hope to be able to start following your progress in your journals on a regular basis :D

06-25-2010, 09:34 PM
Hello virgo, I'm a pisces, lol, I never kept an art journal until, like you, I saw this new forum and I wondered, why keep a journal? I did some research to see why and it's everything you mentioned-for ideas, inspiration, practice drawing from life, etc. I viewed many journals from the links provided at the beginning of this forum, there were drawings, paintings, notes, ideas, cut-out pictures, colorings, collages, etc. In short, an art journal is like a 'security blanket' of inspiration, not my words, I read it somewhere, lol. And it doesn't have to be a particular theme; it's yours to do what you want. If it is not a particular theme it can have a title of "My Everything Journal" or something to that effect.

06-25-2010, 09:50 PM
Jackie, it's entirely up to you what to put in your art journal. You can decide to make it all-media. You can use any source -- references, drawing from life, drawing from imagination, all three in the same one. You can do collage in it and transferred images. It's all up to you.

Some of the artists here have multiple threads, dedicating a separate journal by defining a subject or theme or medium. If you wanted to keep a Life Journal separate from your photo references and imagination sketches, you could do that -- or just put those all in together. I've got one that is just cats and mostly my cat Ari, all in pen and ink -- it can be that specific.

You decide that sort of thing and it helps to tell your readers the definitions in your top post so we know what to expect in that one. Like if you said it was all drawings from imagination and you did something tremendously realistic, I'd be awed because that's harder than using a reference or drawing from life.

Or just post threads for the different journals by what book it is physically, since the paper may be different and react differently. That makes it like picking up your sketchbook and leafing through it when you post every time you use it, and that's always such a rich experience for me.

It also counts as one if you draw on loose sheets of paper or specialty paper and put them in a folder or something. I'm thinking of making one out of a 3 ring binder with sanded pastel papers and other special papers.

06-25-2010, 10:08 PM
A journal or sketchbook, if you will, is a place for an artist to safely explore things without the issue of "finished". It does not have to be only from life, or a theme or even a single media. Some people do have certain sketchbooks where they work on a theme or a single media, but it's a choice. It's also perfectly acceptable to keep more than one sketchbook. I have 4 going right now, all different sizes and 3 different kinds of paper. I've had all of them for years and have yet to fill one completely.

My fake journal here on the forum was the exception on being finished and themed, but it only had 30 pages in it and I kept it for a month. :D

I have a small Moleskine that I can tuck into a pocket. I've only filled about 1/4 of it. I've had it about 2 years. That one is from life because I carry it when I'm out and about. But, I've worked in pen, pencil and colored pencil depending on what I had with me at the time. I have a square spiral bound that I've poked at for about 3 years. It also has the same mix of media. That one has been used for life sketches, mandalas, dream imagery and design notes. One I keep for design work only. I do fiber art and costume design. That one is primarily where I work things out. But, I've been known to use my other sketchbooks for design as well. My biggest sketchbook is 9x12 and wire bound. I've used that for life drawing, sketching from photos, drawing lessons from another web site, and working out a finished piece. There is also some design stuff in that one. Of the four, this is the only one I've posted examples from. I haven't posted every sketch in it. Some were too light to photograph and others were, well, sad to say the least. I've used about 1/2 the paper in that one. So, it's really up to you.

The other thing is that you don't have to share your sketchbook/journal with anyone. It can be as private as a diary, if you so wish. Or, you can share it with the world. Just be kind to yourself and don't expect each page to be a masterpiece.

When purchasing or making a sketchbook, one thing to consider is what you use to make marks. You want the paper to be able to handle what you are throwing at it. That may involve some experimentation on your part. And, if you find that the paper in the book doesn't work for what you do, don't be afraid to try another media in it. You might find you like that too. It's all about experimenting and having fun.

06-26-2010, 06:12 AM
Thanks so much to Floating Dove, Robert and Dr Debby for your thoughts. Hopefully I will get brave enough to share at some point in time! I think the idea of "being kind to myself and not expecting each page to be a masterpiece" might be the difficult part for me to grasp, but the most important in terms of developing my skills as an artist.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, I am really pleased to have found this forum!

06-26-2010, 08:18 AM
Hi, Jackie!
What I've found helps overcoming my fear of messing up my "Aht Jehrnel" (high-class Brit accent, there!) is to get a cheap sketchbook and consider it my "play book" -- the book I play in artistically. I have a 3 1/2"x5" pad that goes into my back pocket, and along with sketches and scribbles, it has also had shopping lists in it! It's 65-lb. paper, so the watercolor sketches are a little wavy, but that is OK -- I'm just playing around.


Vivien Maloney
06-26-2010, 06:51 PM
Hi Jackie - In answere to your questions; a sketchbook/journal can be anything you want it to be. You can either sketch from life or sketch from photos. I have two Journals on this Forum - "Vivs A4 Sketchbook/Journal" which are sketches from the Scavenger Hunts and are all from life. My other Journal on this Forum is - "The Changing Seasons Journal", which are mainly sketches from life but I will include anything from photos too if I feel it fits my theme. I did intend to sketch in my Changing Seasons Sketchbook more but have been busy sketching for the Scavenger Hunt instead.
Hope this helps.

06-26-2010, 07:18 PM
. . . but my efforts in the past to try and draw on a regular basis or keep a sketchbook has been very haphazard to say the least, and I would love to complete a whole sketchbook that I can keep referring back to for years to come.
Hi, Jackie! You have excellent advice to which I'd only add: select a size and media that you can keep with you ALL THE TIME. If your pens and sketchbook are in your purse or in the briefcase you carry with you all the time, you are more likely to use it every day. For instance, if you are waiting for the dentist or waiting for the bus, instead of whipping out the Blackberry and checking email, you'll whip out the sketchbook and knock out a 1-minute thumbnail of the potted palm. Or record a comical comment someone just made or jot down an idea for your next blog posting.

By the way, as I am sure everyone else can attest, once you get the sketchbook bug, you'll not just have "a" whole sketchbook to which you can refer in years to come, but rather a whole shelf full of completed sketchbooks that become your treasures.

Have a ball and remember: no pressure and no rules! :heart: :heart: :heart:


06-27-2010, 12:29 AM
Jackie I'll just reiterate what most of the others have said. Its all up to you. I have 2 threads here one of cat sketches and another purely anything goes. For both of them I use a number of actual sketchbooks and papers. I use them to explore and try things. Some are from life, others from photos, some are doing exercises from books. I tend to swap around a lot in terms of the techniques, materials and subjects I use, just how I am. But that's okay. Don't put pressure on yourself and just have some fun with it. It is to play and practice, no expectations. You will be surprised at how quickly your work improves and its always good to look back through and feel good about your progress.

06-27-2010, 06:17 AM
everyone is right because a sketchbook/journal is personal

no rules

yours :)

I would never call mine a journal - though they often are a sort of diary/journal of places, they aren't intended to be a diary (which a journal implies to me). So mine are strictly sketchbooks.

I always have a lot of them on the go at any one time because they are an important part of my work to me.

I have books that are specific to ongoing projects - like the Norfolk coast, Cornwall, my Waterways Project and others that are general and can have anything in. They are never specific to a particular medium - I'll use anything and everything in the same book.

At the moment I'm using

A Canson 12x 10ish hard back book for trips to Cornwall and experiments and stuff related to paintings of Cornwall. It currently includes illustrations for my grandson for a book I'm making him alongside plein air work in watercolours, charcoal, mixed media. oil paint, collage ......

A 'large' (A5) moleskine that has bits of anything and everything in

A folio watercolour moleskine that's for the Waterways Project

An A5 landscape sketchbook for the Waterways Project

An A3 sketchbook with zoo sketches and other bits and pieces in

A small 7x5 inch sketchbook with Norfolk sketches

A hand made concertina fold book of still life objects

oh and lots of others!!!!

I just grab the books that go with whatever I'm setting out to work on - plein air or studio - and use the one with the right paper/right size.

I stick stuff in that interests me, make notes of things I don't want to forget, art materials shopping lists ....

They don't have to be neat or perfect, it's MINE!

I always sketch 'seriously' though, the drawings/paintings are for a reason, because something interests me, it's a chalenge, practice, it's preparation for painting, looking at colour/texture/perspective, lots of reasons. I don't draw/paint what doesn't interest me as some kind of challenge.

Do start using sketchbooks :) they are so useful.

Draw or paint what really interests you - the challenge of catching light, form. light and dark. texture. a scene. fur and then really really observe it whether it's from a photo or life. Do work from life a lot though as it is so important in developing your work. The human eye sees so much more tone and colour than a camera can.

06-27-2010, 06:49 AM
Thanks guys! It is so nice of you all to share your thoughts - I am feeling a little more comfortable with the concept and not so scared of the "Aht Jehrnel" (high-class Brit accent)!!! I want to devote some time to creative pursuits tomorrow, so fingers crossed I will get past that fear of the "first page" and have something to post soon. Thanks again :)

06-27-2010, 07:57 AM
I'm just wondering what planet that high class British accent comes from !!!!

aht .... yes


06-27-2010, 01:47 PM
Jackie, skip the first page and come back to it. Or do a color swatch page for the first page. Then the book has been broken in. Some people, if your book will take wet media, add color for backgrounds to random pages in a sketchbook. That also breaks in the book and gets you using it. Most importantly, have fun!

06-27-2010, 04:13 PM
Hi Jackie,

Thanks for checking out the Art Journal "society" :)
We are all really just friends who love the same things - lots of sketchbooks, many different mediums and of course, Ari (Robert's famous cat, who secretly plots to rule over us all!!).

You don't have to worry about finished works with a journal. Its more like a representation of your artistic pleasure. Some of us carry a journal with us everywhere we go, thats just something you can do in your spare time. I have 6 sketchbooks that are all being worked on at the same time for different reasons. That sounds like a lot, but its not because I have one for each thing I want to practice.

I have a blue journal that is the main one for my thread. That is "Zen's Journey". I have not split the sketchbook load into separate threads yet, but several of us have 4 or 5 threads. One for each journal and each type of art. Watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil, graphite, mix-media etc. Whatever your heart desires!

Have fun and Welcome!


06-27-2010, 09:00 PM
Thanks for the welcome Zenica, I have some of those Pitt Artist Pens that I have to get around to using so maybe this might be the time and place?!

vhere - I have an accent that can't be defined but liked Rich's comment LOL! I was born in Manchester but moved to Oz when a baby so have a strange mix of an aussie upbringing with strong manchester accented parents and family - thus the aussies think I sound pommy and the poms think I sound aussie and when in USA not so long ago they thought I was a kiwi :D

06-27-2010, 09:00 PM
Debby, like that idea of skipping the first page - you must be able to read my mind LOL!

06-28-2010, 08:42 AM
I'm just wondering what planet that high class British accent comes from !!!!

aht .... yes


Typo? "jehr-nal"

It comes from the planet TV, of course! :evil: Perhaps "Keeping Up Appearances"?? But I would certainly not blame my grandfather, who came from Sheffield! :thumbsup:


06-28-2010, 02:20 PM

and skipping the first page or using it as a tester page are both good ideas

06-28-2010, 06:23 PM
hehehe I took the coward's choice and left the first page blank for now :wink2: