Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Art Journal or Artist's Journal?

"Nitty-Gritty" artist's journal page,
5.5x8.5" Canson Universal Sketch pad
In a pinned post on the Artist's Journal Workshop Facebook group, Cathy Johnson makes an excellent distinction between an art journal and an artist's journal.  To quote:  "Art journal or artist's journal? We've been talking about our expectations of ourselves and our journals, and that's one reason I make that distinction. An art journal is expected to be ART--an artist's journal is simply your journal, and you are the artist. You can make art in it, if you wish--or you can play or plan or explore or even write your grocery list! The pressure to produce is gone. Give it a try!"

Personally, I like to do both, but primarily I yearn to spend most of my time with an artist's journal.  Someplace where I feel safe and free to sketch, doodle, write, experiment, explore,...whatever!  An artist's journal to me is a chronology of an artist's continually unfolding process of development.  And, well, as an artist I am currently on the steep end of the learning curve!

But in order to feel free, an artist must feel comfortable with the book itself.  For me, even the most inexpensive watercolor sketchbooks are still too intimidating to use as my artist's journal.  Well, I recently found the solution in a post by Alisa Burke!  Besides being an amazingly creative artist, she is also a believer that you don't have to buy expensive materials to make beautiful art.  I was blown away by what she could do in cheap sketchbooks of 65-lb paper, even using watercolors!  Wow!  

The Canson Universal Sketch pad
takes watercolors pretty well!
So I searched what inexpensive sketchbooks out there in the 65-lb range, and I discovered the Canson Universal Sketch.  Reading reviews, people were using watercolors in it with pretty good results.  So on my next order to Amazon, I threw in an order for a 5.5x8.5" Canson Universal Sketch pad, and it's perfect!  This sketchbook holds up surprisingly well with watercolor paints. No bleed-through so I can paint on both sides of the paper. The bright white paper allows colors to be vibrant. 

I know I shouldn't feel stifled by thicker-papered, nicer, more proper watercolor paper sketchbooks to use as my artist's journal, but I do. So to work around my hang-ups, I've found a really great solution for me. Besides, my fountain pen draws so smoothly on this paper, which I also really appreciate.

The first photo illustrates my "nitty-gritty" use of this sketchbook.  While waiting to backup my hard-drive, I sketched the backup drive.  While watching Danny Gregory's interview with Prashant Miranda, I paused the video and sketched Prash--my very first attempt to sketch someone's face!  And while browsing the web I came across a cute illustration of a gecko that I wanted to remember, so I copied it into my sketchbook, and noted the colors I used.

The second photo illustrates an attempt to get some more drawing, painting, and calligraphy practice in my artist's journal.  I got out my stack of reference photos and felt in the mood to sketch a blooming prickly pear.

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