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Old 05-18-2010, 05:18 PM
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Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

I decided to call it Folio One because it is a Folio -- it's an A4 Moleskine Folio sketchbook. Like other Moleskine notebooks and sketchbooks, it looks antique right from the beginning. It's got that beautiful black leather-look cover that'll protect it from anything, the elastic band to hold it shut, a black ribbon bookmark sewn in and heavy cream colored drawing paper.

I'm not sure if it's heavy enough to handle Sketch and Wash with light washes, so I'll try it first with a Graphitints drawing on something close to the middle of a page, where the washed areas are small and any cockling would be minor. I didn't do that experiment on the first page.

Instead, I decided to run with what it reminded me of and do some text with some improvised freehand calligraphy for the title. It's such a formal, fancy, cool book that reminds me of things like adventure movies with natural historians and scientists going into jungles and deserts, archaeologists poring over ancient tombs, all that sort of thing.

I read an article on "Cabinet of Curiosities" in Wikipedia -- here's the link. They're interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Curiosities. I've always loved the idea, ever since I collected rocks, fossils and shells as a child. I don't have space for one though, and half the cool things in it I don't have access to anyway. Not without going on trips I dearly wish I could take.

So instead, I'll use photo references from the WDE and RIL for some of the curiosities. Include things from fiction and illustrations from my own fiction. Label everything so that myths from my made-up world don't confuse people when they're near things from real mythology even if it's obscure. Examine ideas and philosophical concepts as well as physical science and natural history -- and revel in nature, which to me is the soul and core of my spirituality.

I don't need to do a collage journal with lots of lace and little hearts and rubber stamps and pretty little girls chasing butterflies... that's not who I am. It's beautiful when it's done well -- see some of the lovely art journals here in this forum. It's just not who I am... who I am is a little boy who never grew up but always dreamed of being Darwin crossed with Ray Bradbury and Audubon when he did. I get to be just as self indulgent as the creators of those vintage-photos and lace and doll drawings are, that's far better than copying their works.

It may seem a little fancier and more pompous than "The Goof Off Book" because of its tone. But believe me -- this is more my letting my inner child be the pompous, garrulous, curious little boy he really is. It won't be perfect. These things never are. Even on the Frontispiece, I didn't center "ONE" perfectly when I inked it in, because I misjudged letter width enlarging the letters to match "FOLIO."

I made up the text in pencil and then edited it when I inked it, which actually got it to lay out a little better after that goof. So this is also a statement of intent -- a focus for what this art journal is about. I might put Neptune in, and putti doing rude things like peeing in the acanthus leaves.

But that's okay. It's me, it's mine, it's organized the way I want it and it'll become intensely personal as well as wide-ranging. Enjoy.


Folio One - Frontispiece
8 1/4" x 11 3/4" - A4 size
Pigma Micron pen size 05
Moleskine Folio Sketchbook size A4 cream drawing paper.
Photo reference "Trail Snail" by lisilk for May 14-16 Weekend Drawing Event.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:46 PM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Looking forward to this one, Robert! It's the child in us that brings that spark of creativity. It's just amazing how much imagination it can bring!
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:04 PM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Your "cabinet of curiousities" is a great idea, Robert. And I love your title page. I'm not much of a collector; just don't like clutter, so bringing home a stick with moss and lichen on it, or a beautiful feather I might pick up, then drawing/painting those things and then discarding them would be very satisfying to me.

Waiting to see what we might find in your "Cabinet".

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Old 05-18-2010, 11:20 PM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Great title page, Robert. I am looking forward to what you do with this. It should be lots of fun.
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Old 05-18-2010, 11:38 PM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Thank you! Raymond, I was a weird kid and way too intellectual for my context, but now I can indulge everything that ever disturbed adults around me in this journal and I love it.

Carole, thanks! Also thank you for mentioning a stick with moss and lichen on it! I have a stick with lichen on it that I've already done once for a Scavenger Hunt, so I might try it again in pen drawing in this book. I do collect still life objects but I lose them in moves and sometimes give them away and the stuff... circulates. Also I need to rein in that tendency to collect things. This book will help!

Debby, thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:30 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

This looks good Robert. Can't wait to see it being filled.
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:38 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Wow, Robert, I love the idea, and I loved reading the introduction to it

Looking forward to see more!

Great notebook choice, the Moleskine perfectly suits it I think
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:46 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Robert, way to go.. your title page is awesome! I thought it was a typed page from an art book! Will be watching the thread for more! Thanks for all your wonderful advice.
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:49 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Thank you! Actually, it's more the reverse... the Moleskine inspired it and if I'd used a different sketchbook I probably would have done a different theme or introduction. It's cool to have a theme and a focus though. It may be broad, but it's got a couple of commitments in there. Not necessarily to organize the pages by topic like an encyclopedia or index them, but to label them and think about how the objects on them relate to each other and the world, to jot a little more text about my thoughts in this one.

It's as full of experiments as The Goof Off Book in its way. I finally dared to do it -- trust my ability to draw well enough to put together a book of observations as such. Did you ever see The Spiderwyck Chronicles? The book in that movie inspired me as much as Brian Froud's book of sketches for The Dark Crystal and the field notebook in The Mosquito Coast. The frontispiece is inspired by illustrations in several dinosaur books including Robert Bakker's wonderful Raptor Red.

I might take a long time to finish this, or not. I'll find out when I get there. But there are some other faster mediums than pen and ink I could use for some of it, like Conte crayon, colored pencils and pastel pencils. I'll see where it goes -- but it doesn't all need to be in the same medium, though I toyed with the idea of the entire book being pen and ink just to keep that look.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:31 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

I LOVED the Spiderwyck Chronicles.. my kids have the series and the illustrations are amazing! It's so cool that you can incorporate a theme in the journal, but whatever you end up drawing/painting is going to be wonderful. It has to be. Will have to check out the other two books you mentioned. I love illustrations in books, they are almost always better than the words!

There's a thought, you could write a children's book and illustrate it. You'd be awesome at that!
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:21 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

If I ever wrote a children's book, the publisher would not let me illustrate it. They pair unknown writers with famously good illustrators and vice versa, new illustrators get well known authors. It's a way to launch careers that makes sense. Author art only goes to decorate authors' websites.

Besides, I don't want to get known as a children's author. It's never been my thing. The demands of children's book writing are weird -- it has to be shorter, it has to use simpler words, it has to pass a ton of strict editing criteria that other novels don't and still somehow manage to be a good story. On top of which, they could easily decide that instead of getting Spiderwyck style illustrations, they want to give me the goofy modern-art looking stylized cartoony ones where everything's out of proportion and done scribbly in primary colors because Children Are Supposed To Draw Like That.

I didn't draw like that as a child. Maybe as a two or three year old, I can remember some blobby dinosaurs with a lot of triangle teeth and relatively skinny bodies, but I was adding a lot of detail even then and frustrated at not getting the shape of the tyrannosaur head right. By kindergarten I was doing strange little four or eight sided mandalas and forests of winter trees that receded smaller by five or six layers in perspective.

Good Teachers loved me and paid a lot of attention to me, giving me cool things to read and letting me do projects at my level. They also honestly graded me high because I was way past what kids my age were doing, even when it came easy like drawing or life science.

Bad Teachers got scared of me, picked on me, chose any excuse to lower my grade and tried to shut me down when I didn't agree with the propaganda they were spouting. They confiscated books above the other kids' level, broke up any friendships I had with other kids and sometimes pushed it to the point where I thought they'd get me drinking hemlock like Socrates for corrupting the youth. They believed kids were blank slates who just accepted anything adults told them without question and never had any original thoughts or observations.

It was hard at the time, but today I look back and smile. Times have changed but while education's gone downhill in some ways, it's better in others. Though it was horrible in those years, I look back on them as a clean fight and a fairly solid victory.

But I loathed Children's Books by and large, other than the antique ones like Grimm's Fairy Tales and the color fairy books and all, where they didn't really write down to children but put in the folklore in all its gruesome detail. Terry Pratchett is right -- children enjoy a certain amount of blood and gore in stories as long as the stories make sense. So whenever someone suggests I write and illustrate a children's book, I flinch at the thought of selling out, writing something dreadful, preachy and dull that I would've thrown across the room when I was that age.

Instead, I hope to write the sort of adult books that children sneak out of their parents' shelves and read cover to cover, hooked on the story. Though I still won't get to illustrate them, since publishers of adult books pull that career bootstrap thing with authors and illustrators too. I would have to build a career as a top notch illustrator and then I probably wouldn't be assigned to myself anyway but wind up drawing other people's stories -- something I've rarely if ever had any interest in.

It's more that when I write, I like to do some author art and when I do sell a pro novel, whatever it is will get some author art up on my Website For The Book so that readers have a reason to keep coming back. Fan art by the author, basically, with prints and coffee mugs as a merchandising stream along with the royalties. It's definitely going to have veracity since I'm the only person who knows precisely what Blue the dragon looks like... well, actually having already drawn Blue, other better illustrators could change his pose and do him better. But I originated him.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:05 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Wow, Robert! What a great introduction to your new journal and a wonderful first page. I'll be sure not to miss any of the postings from this one. You inspire me!
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:05 PM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Dena, thank you!

Rose -- don't think I'm riled at you for asking. It's a natural assumption -- an author who can draw ought to do children's books because they're generally the only books that get illustrations any more. I do wish publishers would illustrate adult novels more often, especially those with really good settings either fantasy/SF or just the "travelogue" style of fiction. Imagine a James Michener novel about Alaska or Hawaii that's also full of good realistic illustrations of the place and the events... or a mystery set in London in the 1930s with good illustrations... they'd rock.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:14 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Hi Robert...

I totally understand. It makes perfect sense to me now After hearing your point of view above, the light bulb went on... it's a wonderful thing when you know your full abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and have thought everything through. You really are amazing... and what a great idea for adult authors to illustrate their novels. You're sure right about Michener's "Hawaii" for one! Terrific idea. I'd love to see that too!

And I am with you on not wanting to write a children's book because then you'd have to hang out with kids all the time. I think I've had enough of that too! And adults are more my cup of tea. I hated some of the illustrations in books when I was younger but LOVED others. I guess I never really thought much about it, but your thoughts are spot on.

So sorry you had teachers that did not encourage your love for reading and drawing when you were obviously quite gifted in both areas. Now we don't have any art in the schools (worth mentioning it) for the kids unless when they are in HS they take a course. It's sad that art is fading away and music classes, too.

Carry on, my friend. Your paintings and words are a balm to the soul.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:42 AM
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Re: Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

Oh, I didn't get art till I was in high school. This country hasn't ever understood what it does for a child's education to teach realistic drawing at an early age -- what this teaches in observation, focus, creativity, ability to express yourself. I wouldn't have been quite such a hotshot in grade school if they had, because within two or three years the rest would've been doing recognizable pencil sketches of cells or the structure of the feather or a rat skull.

I've seen 19th century drawings by grade school kids that would blow you away, totally amaze you. There's a myth in this country that only the talented few can learn, but there was a time when those rich enough to be in good schools all routinely came out capable of good realist drawing in pencil, charcoal, pen and watercolor. Also capable of recognizing and appreciating great art when they saw it. I'd love to see art reintroduced to the grade schools, it would do something good for the kids and for the country and the economy.
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