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The Belle Simplicity of an Artist’s Journal

What I love most about any visual art is the process – watching as an artwork develops, lives, breathes, dies, forms, and changes.

My high school art teacher, Mrs. P, used to ask us to draw out our art before starting to paint, specifically when using watercolor. I didn’t understand why mess with what could have been a perfect, soft reflection of a landscape or a vase of flowers. “Why do you want to see our pencil sketches on the final piece?”, I would question (like any 16 year-old who thought they knew all). “Because seeing pale colors on a piece of stark white paper would be boring. I want to see some mess, some missed attempts, your initial idea and your end result all in one.” Mrs. P was very wise.

image via: http://www.savetheartist.net/

I have since understood what she meant. Looking at some of the great paintings through time, I am always baffled. But I am more mesmerized and intoxicated by the sketches and prep work that come before the masterpiece.

Take Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun, painted in 1952 – a vital piece in the memoir of American painting:

Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952, www.wikipaintings.com

Now let’s look at his sketch in preparing for this final work:

Edward Hopper, Morning Sun Sketch

I absolutely love this sketch! I love the text and especially the thoughts along with the figure.

That rough, unkept feel to art is probably why I love artist journals so much. A place for pure creativity, the birth of ideas – some that come to life, and some that do not come to fruition. Artist journals can be a truly independent and sacred practice, or a collaborative action. A book like this (or pile of paper, scraps, receipts – anything really) can combine mediums, or exist solely as one medium. Best of all, anyone can do it. You or me – whatever creative, artistic, or non-artistic thoughts we have can create a piece of art in itself.

Artisit Journal Pages, www.pinterest.com

Page from "1,000 Artist Journal Pages," www.pinterest.com

Journaling, and even just appreciating other’s journals can provide great inspiration. It is also a way to share your thoughts, dreams, and fears.

The Sketchbook Project is facilitating the creating, sharing, trading, and exhibitioning of personal art journals. YOUR personal art journals! The Sketchbook Project is a global art project that brings participants journals on a travelling exhibition around the world. Their purpose is to allow anyone to take part in art and create a collection of work that represents the current state of artists worldwide – amateur or expereienced.

The Sketchbook Project, www.sketchbookproject.com

Anyone can join! All you do is sign-up online, receive a sketchbook, journal ’til you can’t journal anymore, and send it back to the facilitators.

So remember to appreciate the art behind the paint. Most of all, remember to appreciate your own art, no matter how rough, unfinished, or unpolished.


Comments (1)

  1. Charu Colorado
    September 28, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I am currently scanning a group of sketches from the late 90s to make into cards and also to be enlarged and exhibited.

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