View Full Version : artist journals, clippings, sketchbooks

10-27-2002, 05:52 AM
Hi Everyone! How do you "contain" all those little bits and pieces of things that help you be more creative? Do you keep an artists journal? A bulletin board with clippings or wall of postcards, clippings, etc? Sketchbooks? And what do you put in them? I'd love to hear what everyone does.

I had an artists journal for awhile. And then I don't know what happened but I started pinning things up on the wall instead. Pictures torn from magazines and newspapers --of things I don't paint neccessarily like flowers, nature, but that I just like for the colors or something about it. Little bits of paper with notes to myself tacked up. Every now and then if I find an article on how to do something in an artists magazine, etc and that goes up there too. When I want to make a sketch that still goes in a sketchbook but I use the wall alot. I don't paint in the sketchbook now. I'll pull out a canvas board or sheet of canvas paper to try new things out on.

I'd love to hear what everyone else does.


10-27-2002, 08:48 AM
Pat, In the back of my half box easel is a pile of pages clipped or ripped from newspapers, esp. the sunday papers, old magazines, etc.. I am an image collector. If I could I would have a slide projector set up with all the images I see everyday and just have them continually flashing on a large wall as I work. Can you tell I enjoy installations?

I don't work from them , but rather let Them work on me. Like a hodgepedge of impressions, some or all make their way into my work. I am starting to "get" what the process is for the painters in "New American Paintings" and I hope sooner rather than later to have my vision become concrete.


10-27-2002, 09:01 AM
I've had great intentions of keeping an artist's journal for recording those fleeting ideas, resources, colors, words etc. but I never seem to form the discipline for using it consistently. For the last one, I digitally altered a collage cover and truly expected that I would stick to it but haven't to date.

I subscribe to several 'art zines' that focus on art journaling. Here's a link to one of them:

My work room has become such a containment nightmare that I suspect it's condition is my excuse for 'not doing the work'. I have stacks and piles and boxes of materials...and not a clear surface anywhere to work....but today I may clean


Rose Queen
10-27-2002, 03:20 PM
I wish I could do this, because a lot of little stuff just winds up in the trash when it could easily be glued into a journal, but I just draw the line at keeping a journal by hand. I type much, much faster than I can write, so more winds up on the page if I keep my journal on the computer, so my default is more stuff vs. handwritten stuff. I haven't figured out how to meld the two (yet...).

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10-27-2002, 04:29 PM
Pat - I'm an organizaholic whan it comes to my art (nothing else!)
I file EVERYTHING! I tear up my art journals and keep only things that interest me. They are filed in plastic pages in ring binders. I know interests change and sometimes I'd like to have the whole magazines, but they mount up so quickly and I could never find articles when I wanted them.

My new system works wonderfully. I don't only save things I'm currently doing. I had a whole folder of pastel articles before I ever picked up a pastel - just because they intrigued me.

I add pictures, quick sketches, ideas etc to the appropriate folder and its all there together when I want it.

Oh to be so organised in the rest of my life!!:D


Katie Miller
10-27-2002, 10:26 PM
I used to have a diary kept under lock and key where I wrote only the most personal things, along with an ARt journal where I wrote my felings about and progress of my paintings. and a sketchbook just for drawings. Several months ago I decided to put them all into one, my sketchbook. It is a standard 8.5 x 11" think black blank paged book. I draw in it, write personal experiences unrealted to art in it, write ideas, things i want to research, everything! It has worked marvelously for me.

At first, I tried gluing/taping/stapleing images I was drawn to as well, but that made my book too thick an clunky. So, I recently made an 2" inspiration binder where I can glue pictures to blank pages, and in the back I have photographs from museums and artist's postcards hole-punched so I can flipped through them easily. I also started a list of artist's whose work i've seen or whose name i've heard and who I want to learn more about, just so they're all in one place when I have some free time on the internet.

I have images on one of my studio walls too, but i can't reach any higher on it, and the other walls are too close to the messy areas where paint may be flung.

I highly recomend trying the all in one book method. I didn't know if it would work for me, but it did. On another extreme, I have one creative friend who says he has about 12 journal books, all for different things! I guess you just have to see what works for you.

Oh, I thought of one more thing..I try to bring my book w/ me everywhere, but if i cant i always have a small pad of paper that fits in my purse or pocket that i can quickly write things on, then i later transfer the info to my book so its not lost. many of these are from the middle of the might and notes i take in museums.

10-27-2002, 10:39 PM
Good ideas!
I see that I have the same problems everyone has,,,too many ideas not organized well enough. I've tried doing the joural, filing, and I just am not organized enough for it. I cannot find what I'm looking for most of the time.
In most things I'm pretty well organized but not this. I think I just have too many idea, photos, and notes.

10-28-2002, 08:10 AM
Hi Everyone! I really really enjoy reading all your responses. Its interesting to see how everyone manages their creative well.

Renee --kewl idea about images flashing on the wall when you work! I hear ya about needing images. If I don't see something new all the time its like I just go crazy. Have to keep putting into the well like they talk about in The Artists Way book. Have to keep feeding it :) And I understood what you said about they work on you. Most of the time, the stuff I collect and save, I don't use directly. It just simmers back there and mixes with all the other stuff I've seen, and things I've heard, and life. Then one day something bubbles up to the top and *I have to do it.* Could you tell me what "New American Paintings" are? Do you mean modern or contemporary art?

Catherine -- maybe we've hung out in some of the same places before? :-) For awhile I was on the artistjournals list out of Yahoogroups (BTW, anybody who is into keeping an artists journal --that list is the place to be). And I remember seeing Tesha Moore's work there for the first time. She's incredible. I didn't have this new link you gave --*thank you!!!* I think some of the old links I had to her work were dead links. So I really appreciate this!

Rose --what about a sketchbook just for pasting things in? And you can continue to keep your journal on the computer? Thats what I finally wound up doing with some of my stuff. Just got a bunch of glue sticks and started pasting things into a sketchbook so they wouldn't get all dogeared lying around. But I write on the computer also.

Taminka -- Wow, you *are* organized. Way to go girl!!! I really like your idea about the plastic folder pages. That would keep everything really nice! Never thought of that before. Thanks!

Katie --you are really organized too! :) You guys are giving me tons of inspiration here. Speaking of which your "inspiration journal" sounds perfect! That works for me too sometimes untill I start saving stuff bigger than the sketchbook page. You know like stuff from newspapers which may be too big to paste into a journal...I think thats how the wall got going, LOL Your post was great.

Hi jenrou! Hang in there. These guys are coming up with terrific ideas! I'm gonna start using some of these.


Ron van den Boogaard
10-29-2002, 09:13 AM
I do keep a about four dummies in which I glue art ideas, notes from friends, do actual sketches, chewing gum papers, newspaperarticles, quotes I read , hear or invent myself. I paint in them. If I think I have a technical idea I can enrich the world with it goes in there. There is no particular book for any specific goal. It is just nice to be able to have three or four of them open at the same time when the paint is drying,
Besides this I do keep a real small one that fits into my pocket, so ideas, addresses, appointments, quotes, things i see that need to be sketched all go in there. Also diary snippets and loose thoughts when i am away from home.
Diaries and morning pages, that i all do on the computer and eventually get toasted on a cd, together with sketches and drawings that are done on the computer (e.g. animations)

Then some clippings make it into the altar, the sacred place of cherished things. And there are some clippings that make it to the wall, but this is very temporary, the route from there is either into the dummies or the trashcan.

then there are the doodles and sketches being made during projects, they go into the trash after pieces are finished.

hope this gives some insight. Is there a system to this chaos? Not really, but after a while the books really become pieces in themselves.

ron vdB (http://home.wanadoo.nl/brainbox)

10-29-2002, 09:26 AM
Hi Ron! Neat post. I kinda like that free form way you got there :) Maybe being all regimented about it is the wrong way to go.

To organize or not, that is the question. LOL

10-29-2002, 10:22 AM
That is what my art room looks like!!! Actually, not that bad. I do keep pictures out of magazines, newspapers, that catch my eye. I usually put them in a folder of some sort....(the manila kind of file folder)...and when I am stuck for inspiration, I usually go through them....and if the pictures still catch my eye, I go to sketch or paint them in my sketchbook...If the same enthusiasm isn't there the second or third time looking at them, I usually toss them. I also keep photos that I have taken in a photo box. I catagorize them by landscapes, flowers, people, occassions, animals, misc. Then I go through them for inspiration also...and many times, come up with a painting or two!! I also keep quotes, or pictures that are large, and put them up on my cork board. I also like to put notes from friends...encouraging, thankful words from patrons up there too...so I can see them when I feel like an art failure.

I have also wanted to keep an art journal, but haven't yet. I read somewhere that art journals can help you work out the problems in your art....also keep track of color combinations, or pastels used in doing a particular paint. It's sort of a diary of your artistic progress....which has me intrigued. I bought a great journal for it too....one of those nice leather ones in the AWS catalog with the leather ties and a bead to hold it together.

Thanks for all the great ideas...I have enjoyed reading this while drinking my coffee!!


10-29-2002, 10:41 AM
Hi Nancy! Thats a good idea to catagorize things --photos and could be done with lots of the paper type stuff we save.

Artist Journals...I'm getting back in the mood to do that again. Probably cause winter is here and theres more time. Those can be terrific. Did you check out that link to Teesha Moore's artist journals that Jersey posted up near the top of the thread? She does wonderful stuff in her artist journal.

BTW, your tinyhead...it reminds me soooo much of a project I did with the kids at the Park District. We made big papier mache cats and the shape of them was just like in your tinyhead :) Painted them in those kinds of colors too. Some decoupaged alittle...everyone did something differant. That was fun, and I think of it everytime I see your tinyhead :)

10-29-2002, 02:45 PM
I don't have a book per say. I may sketch something in a pad and like it then use it later in a painting. I may see something in a magazine and rip it out and put it in a file I have. I don't have a set method, whatever strikes my fancy when I'm in the creative mood.

10-29-2002, 03:25 PM
A wooden box, a basket for the seashells, a trunk and the walls (depends on the size of the item). I have to make a real effort to put stuff in these areas, but it is worth it on the slower days. Besides, if I do not do this, the puppy eats it... :D

10-29-2002, 06:53 PM
I have a bulletin board, too small, so overflow onto the walls. (I like to tack up inspirational writings, as well as images, plus all the things I want to enter, anything with a deadline, etc. etc.) A year at a glance calendar. A four drawer file cabinet (I would like another - I put lots of my "stuff" including my photos - under subjects - in here). Three bookshelves (more photos in albums here, plus zillions of reference books, etc.) BUT . . . I still have piles and boxes. I am hoping to have some wall cupboards installed over my .... oh, I forgot to mention the huge flat file that takes up a lot of space, and stores inspirational stuff, along with papers, paintings, etc.
I majored in disorganzation!