Although I have always wanted to keep a sketch journal, somehow my attempts have never really gone very far. Although my intentions are to be consistent when I begin a journal, life gets in the way and soon other things have stolen my resolve. I make art all the time and am constantly doodling, but somehow the process of keeping a sketchbook amps up the volume on my perfection-itis. If a drawing is in a book, it has to be of some artistic value. Right? Each picture has to be a successful part of the whole book, adding to it’s beauty and flow. Right? And everything has to be in chronological order. Right? Once the sequence gets broken, it is a lost cause. Right? And the art has to be at the same level as in all those wonderful sketch journals that other artists keep. Right? Such is my self-talk.
Well, after reading Hannah Hinchman’s, “A Life in Hand,” I think I have finally begun to move past my emotional hurdle and have caught the fever for consistently recording my life experience with honesty and clarity in a sketch journal. To quote Hannah Hinchman, “(The journal) is not meant to be a magnum opus with a consistent plan. It is an accumulation of moments of true wakefulness. By making a record of what you have seen with a note, a phrase, a sketch, or a lengthy, absorbed drawing, you make it your own. Next time you turn to look again, the world will be a degree richer and more distinct, and you will belong to it more completely.”
To me, the idea of capturing my experience in one place, in visual and well as verbal form is inspiring and freeing. I don’t need to make “perfect” art in chronological order in one journal, take notes in another notebook, keep track of memories in a diary or calendar and gather inspiration in yet another book, and keep it all neat and orderly. “A Life in Hand” says my journal is a place to collect thoughts, drawings and anything that matters to me all in one illustrated journal. And that means it is going to be messy sometimes, but full of life experience, both mundane and sublime. Life is messy, so a journaled collection of my experience is going to be messy, if it is to be real. It is an exercise in clarity. I am ready for that.
So, my intention for January 2017 is to fill this one little handmade sketchbook with my life experience this month – to become more aware of what is going on around me and to use it to clarify my thoughts, visually and verbally. This month I will put down my experiences in this notebook that I cut from one sheet of Fabriano Artistico, soft press 140 lb watercolor paper. It measures 5″x 8″ and has 16 pages (32 sides), so will fit into my bag easily. Two of the pages are shorter than 8″ because of how the cuts are made from the large sheet. I put those at the beginning and end of the book, and they will be great for title page and notes at the end of the book. This seems like a goal I can attain. No rules about what to put in the journal or what order to put entries in, or needing to make a great drawing every day. I simply intend to fill the book by the end of the month. I will set one rule, which Hanna Hinchman set with her first journal: to keep it with me constantly and open it several times a day and put something I am experiencing down in it. Hopefully, that will get me well on the road to making a habit of working in my journal consistently.
Wish me luck – 16 pages by the end of January. I hope to post weekly progress updates here.