Let's Talk About Sketchbooks (and Art Journals) Volume 7

It has been a little while, but today I'm back with another post in my sketchbook series! The little book that I'm talking about today is something that I would definitely not call a sketchbook, it is entirely an art journal.

The story behind it is this: As I've mentioned many, many times, at the beginning of July I moved from DC to LA. In the months leading up to this big change I was leaving my job, packing up my apartment, and trying to figure out how to move to the opposite coast (where I'd lived for my entire life and where the vast, vast majority of my family and friends were) and I was having a lot of feelings about it. I wanted a place to work out those feelings, and, of course, making things always helps me with that, so I started a daily art journaling project for myself.

The idea was to make at least one page for the book each day. Not to just decorate a page, but to completely create it - background, writing, etc, all on that day. I then punched holes in each page, and bound them together with book rings, adding a new page or two each day. I'm not exactly sure why I decided to do it this way, I think I thought it would make a cool project and a nice creative challenge. And this way, I could end the book whenever I felt like it. With a pre-bound book I could end up with several blank pages that I didn't feel like filling, or I could fill all of the pages and still want to add more. 

Emotionally, my goal with this book was to get really honest about what I was feeling and thinking. I think a lot of the time I'm not really honest with what I write in journals and sketchbooks. I gloss over or downplay or write something vague. I don't think this is because I'm afraid of someone else reading what I've written (let's be real, no one cares what I write about in the many many journals I keep), but more that I'm afraid that writing something down makes it real, or I'm afraid to admit something. But I feel like it is also important for me to get that stuff out. This project also makes a good time capsule of my last days in DC and of my state of mind at a very specific and important time, so hopefully I will like looking back on it one day.

Phew, sorry that was such a long introduction. This project is unique so it needed some explanation. Now, onto some of the pages.

I haven't made covers for the book. I just started with page one. I love how simple but impactful this one is. I wastercolored a lot of the backgrounds in this book because I was working on my 100 Days of Watercolor Without Reference project at the time. Using the date stamp became something I did every day, and I used my stapler a lot too.

I included some quotes about change that felt relevant. I also played around with different shapes and sizes of pages. The largest pages are 4x6", but you can see a narrower page on the right with 2 other pages peeking out from behind. I just love layered pages like that.

Hoarded paper from Japan on the left, and a photo transfer using a Chartpack pen on the right.

Made the day after my roommate moved out of our apartment, kicking off a few months of living alone. Rifle Paper Co. paper on the left, and another photo transfer on the right (with a book page peeking out from behind).

One of my first geometric collages! I actually made my first ever ones as 4x6" to go into the book and kind of fell in love with the size. I painted and wrote on a book page on the right (using what I had around my desk).

I took a lot of Instax photos in those days. A lot of them ended up in the book, either on pages, or in envelopes/bags.

One of those bags is on the left. It was just packaging for something that I recycled, punched holes in, and decorated with Sharpie drawings. Behind it is a page made from security lining of an envelope. On the right, I wrote out a text that I sent to my roommate. I included some kind of writing every day in one form or another - long, short, whatever. 

On this day I felt awful and like I had no creative energy. So, I made the page by layering on tons of stickers as a kind of mindless activity. The one on the left page summed up my feelings. Now, this page cheers me up.

Keeping it simple with watercolors on the left. On the right, I made an envelope out of really delicate newsprint paper to hold journaling that I didn't want anyone to be able to see and read easily. I didn't really think that one through - it took a lot of finagling to make it so the newsprint wouldn't completely tear apart when I opened and closed the envelope, but its pretty.

While making the book I took a trip to visit family in Boston. I didn't bring any pre-made pages with me - just my stapler, hole punch, date stamp, and pens. All of the pages from that time were made on paper that I procured when I was there. On the left are a piece of a shopping bag and greeting card, and on the left is the envelope the greeting card came in (with more Instax photos inside).

The penultimate pages. Opposites. Very indicative of how all over the place my feelings were at the time.

I stopped adding to the book 2 days before I drove out of DC. I had envisioned working on the book at least until the move and maybe on my road trip out to LA, but ultimately, I felt like the project was finished and that adding to it would become more of an obligation than the emotional and creative outlet that it had been up until then. So I stopped.

I highly recommend trying out this type of project. Working on it really did make me feel better and more in control of my emotions. And it is pretty cool how something can come together with just a little bit of work every day. I was super busy when I made these pages, but I got a pretty chunky little book after about a month of working on it. If you're interested in this idea and would like to know more, let me know!  I'd love to share more, or maybe even make it into a class...