Some helpful tips about sketchbooks.
I have an art journal which I use in part to work on techniques and experiment with new media and also a personal journal in visual form. For example, I went to the Museum of Latin American Art last week and was inspired by Frida Kahlo. My intention was simply to render a portrait of her with watercolor crayons. What came out was a mixed media piece that looks more like an icon of some Byzantine saint. How interesting is that? Here is a quick one-minute video of that process.
Circumstances have kept me from engaging in any creative work for the last month or so. However, with this being a long holiday weekend coupled with my total lack of desire to participate in the annual Black Friday buying frenzy and with an unsettling urge to flex my imagination, I found myself headed to a local art materials store. My plan was simply to replace an ink drawing pen so I could do a little sketching in my art journal. Only a pen. That’s all. But the moment I walked in something started flowing inside me. The pen led me to the pencils, then to the paints, then to the canvas…. I left with armful supplies and a mindful of ideas.
Sometimes you just to follow the flow to see where you end up.
Just when I decided to try a 21 day creative romp, I have been sidelined by a brief illness. I will be fine in a couple of days, but in the meantime I have been contemplating how I order my daily routine which includes writing and arting.
I may be a bit obsessive about organizing my life with journals because I have a number of them. Each one is devoted to a different interest.
Starting at the top left is The Tree of Life journal, a commonplace book of articles on wellness and holistic health issues.
The Raven Book is dedicated to my spiritual journey. How did this journal become focused on spiritual issues? ” Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24
The blue journal is called the Hokusai Journal, named as such for its cover image with the artist’s famous image of a tsunami in front of Mt. Fuji. This is my writing journal, a place to experiment with words.
The passport-sized traveler’s journal on the bottom left is my Bujo, which is short for “bullet journal”. This is my day planner which is small enough to put in my bag.
Finally the open book is my art journal. It is a large paper Moleskine. This one I call The Book of Ladies because of the theme of the collages contained in it.
Having different books for various purposes helps me to achieve my creative and personal goals.
I haven’t posted anything here for about three weeks. In fact, I haven’t done any creative writing for even longer. I have a half-written story just hanging there waiting for a conclusion. It will never be finished at this point, I fear.
I tried doing some written journaling to see if I could get my writing mojo back. That has dwindled. My fear is that my creative self has become like a cold bowl of soup — no steam and a bland savor.
I tried some arting and photography. That’s not working either. I even tried one of those self-help art books that offer suggestions like drawing your dirty beach towel draped over a chair or painting a picture of your sleeping cat.
Nothing inspires me anymore.
However, lately I have been almost obsessed with physical journals and planners. I put together a new day planner which I will junk in a few weeks to set up another one for 2016. Besides that, I have been spending huge amounts of time disassembling a four-year journal and commonplace book I just finished and redacting it into thematic sections and adding visual elements.
What is that all about?
I think I have an idea. Perhaps focusing on placing creative elements into a book form is a way of containing and controlling expressions that I may fear to let out to the world with the hope that these elements will morph into something I can let go to the world. Perhaps it is the physicality of the paper and the ink and the act of coloring, cutting, and gluing that make the act of creation a more real thing to me than just sitting at a computer monitor dealing with the ethereality of bytes and pixels.
Maybe I just need to walk away from it all for a while. Or maybe I need to plunge into it more to thoroughly explore the explosive elements that think they need to be contained in a hard cover book.
When I get my creative mojo back, I’ll let you know.