Welcome to the art of curiosity; my personal amble through the worlds of art, crafts, books & all manner of other curiosities. You'll find examples of my jewellery & art work plus an account of how I'm attempting to confound depression & my bipolarity by pursuing my creativity. There's a lot of whimsy too; my mind set is distinctly frivolous at times!

So, Dear Reader, won't you join me on my journey?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Creating an illustrated journal - but how to start?

Let me state my case clearly; I'm on the lookout for advice. I've kept private therapeutic art journals for years, my written journal is my best friend & alongside my dogs, my constant companion is a sketchbook. But now I want to take what seems to be the next logical step and start an illustrated journal. Maybe it's because I've got another birthday on the immediate horizon, but I have a fancy to leave something behind me & an illustrated journal seems to fill this archival need.


This won't be my first attempt - not by the longest chalk imaginable. Time & time again, I've fallen over the twin hurdles of layout & my calligraphic inabilities. How do I produce a legible text? And how do I stop myself from committing drawing-squeeze or over-elaboration? Now the latter is a major problem. The art teacher who successfully sapped my self-belief & enthusiam for art at the end of 13, told me that my work was 'too detailed'. Since returning to the art fold after years in academe, I've strived to stay true to the line ( hence my love of unwinding with blind contour drawings) but my darned meddling brain gets in the way & before I know it, I'm restating until my page is a whirling mess. This isn't a problem in a sketchbook because leaves can be detached. In my art journals, gesso, paint & collage sort this problem out for me. But how to stay the hand in a journal? I'm seeking to display a clarity that I don't find in life itself; I want to sift my life & get the essence of it on to a page. So how to do this without getting in a mess?

If any of you have tales of discoveries you made when you first began your own illustrated journals or have tips about layouts, I would deeply & gratefully appreciate your advice. You never know; you might one day be doing my great-grandchildren a favour! How's that for an example of running before I can walk ;-)


Kelly Kilmer said...

It's a journal! :) It's not supposed to be an immense work of art. It's supposed to be a place where you PLAY and EXPERIMENT and try new things. It's your place to try out all of your techniques/ideas/things you have been wanting to explore! Ignore any past critics and GO FOR IT!

Speck said...

I wholeheartedly second everything Kelly wrote and am going to expand on that a little (or a lot.)

The answer to all your questions is "No rules, just right" like the steakhouse motto.

Nobody is handing out grades here. It doesn't matter if anything is crooked, off balance, crowded, detailed or sparse. As to text, it only has to be legible enough so that *you* can read it. Geez, write it in secret code for that matter. It's *your* playground and you get to decide where the happy little trees live.

I have the same problem with overworking and over-elaboration. To combat that I do speed sketching. Ten minutes tops with the pen then go to paint/color. Another answer is to use a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Draw only one thing, draw it large and fill the page. The PPBP won't allow you to get lost in details.

On layout, I just leap in and start drawing. I take about 10 seconds to consider how to contend with the valley, but that's about all the planning I do. In whatever big white space is left I write a title with a 3.5mm calligraphy pen. (It is seldom correctly spaced or centered.) In whatever space is left after that I journal in my scribbledy handwriting the who, what, when, where and why of the drawing. Somehow it comes out to be a cohesive whole without much thought.

None of my pages would win any awards and art teachers across the nation would shudder in horror, but I don't care. Ultimately my journal is for me and me alone as a lasting record of what I thought was interesting to ponder that day. As long as yours does the same for you, you're doing it right.

Anonymous said...

You have to make a mess. I like to make a border around my pages (like Teesha Moore often does) but not always. I also like to have pages painted first (but again, not always.) I don't even draw much - I collage, and I find that I get a lot of useful stuff out that way. The biggest thing is to let it just be for YOU, I reckon!

Speck said...

Just in the nick of time, Roz Stendahl on her blog Roz Wound Up is just getting wound up about journal page layout.

Roz blogs about the art of keeping a journal and how whatever you want to do is OK. She is a large part of why I'm so laid back with my journal. She did a series of posts titled "Journaling Myths" or something like that. It's worth digging in her archives to find them. There are other journaling gems in there too.

the art of curiosity said...

Kelly, Speck & Caity; I OWE you!! This is just what I needed; some refreshing, 'go for it', 'get down to it' & 'don't fret' advice.

Speck, I've got a Pentel Brush pen so I'm going to have a go with this as soon as I can get to my work table.

I shall now try to be 'loud & proud'! Kelly, Speck & Caity - I thank you :-)

the art of curiosity said...

Speck, thank you SO much for the link to Roz' site; it's utterly perfect & you're an absolute doll!