Using the Journal as a Notebook—and a Reminder

November 13, 2009

Using your journal as a notebook. And a meeting reminder for the MCBA Visual Journal Collective meeting on Monday at 7 p.m.

Above: For me the visual journal is a place to keep notes, work out book structures, make class supply lists, and keep tabs on my experiments. Sometimes there are pages of notes with swatches, sometimes, as above, the notes are squeezed into any available space because I happened to be working on a page when I started thinking and writing my notes.

First the reminder: Monday, November 16, 7 to 9 p.m. is the next meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective.

It is the final meeting of the year (we will start again the third Monday of January 2010). Local calligrapher Christine Osman will give us a short talk about calligraphy and its tools so that we can think about how we can use hand lettering to better effect in our visual journals. We will also be viewing the entire set of Altered Book Journals from our first round robin. And as usual there will be time for discussion and sharing journals, to catch up on what we have been observing! The meeting is free and open to anyone of any skill level who is interested in keeping visual journals. I hope you'll join us.

Now About that Journal Spread

The journal spread shown in this post is one in my weirdo journal (which I just finished yesterday, so as soon as I have a moment to index it and take a video I'll show you the complete journal). The spread was built up over several days. First I added the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch of the man, which was done on Quattro graph paper and cut out. Just before I glued it down I smeared red metallic rubber stamp ink on the left side of the spread. On another day I added the foil strips (vertical and horizontal). Then after an errand to the post office I stuck in two stamps I wanted to save. In a desire to wrap up the page I stamped some dancing men, of various sizes, down the right edge of the spread. But I didn't like how that ended up, so that evening I painted a pear that was going bad (Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch with gouache) over that area at the right, allowing some of the stamping to show through.

All that remained was the middle area of the spread. I had thought I would paint or sketch more there, but when I needed to plan a strategey for tearing some paper, I just opened the journal and started making my notes and diagrams.

Sometimes my journals have process notes on the progress of a project or painting. Other times I may include swatches of color so that I can replicate it. When I'm making an artist's book I will also keep notes on any special features, make a diagram of the structure, break the construction process down in list form before I start (in the hope of catching "errors" before construction), make notes of my reasons for doing something a certain way, and also keep swatches of materials made and used in the process.

I find all of this helpful if I need to redo something, if later I want to build on a technique I just worked out, or if down the line I want to prepare class notes to teach a technique or structure. I also enjoy having a record of my various projects. When the work table is bare because all the work is taking place in the computer, and there might not be a painting on the easel, it's reassuring to look over at the journal shelves and know there are so many projects documented there. It's a great boost of energy propelling me to the next project. And best of all the journals then reflect a fairly substantial chronology of my days.

Think about how you use your visual journal. Is it working hard enough for you? Are you working hard enough in it?

Note: How do I retrieve information from my journals? How do I locate my structure and paper tearing diagrams for a book I want to teach? I index my journals. You can read about my process here.

    • Christina Trevino.
    • November 13, 2009

    Roz, I love that rooster in your “Indexing my journals” entry.
    It looks as if it is reading. It could be me, for I am a rooster, the Chinese say.

    • Roz
    • November 14, 2009

    Christina, thanks, that’s Gert, my rubber Chicken. She is my “life model,” now that Em and Dot are gone. She even has a necklace that says so. She goes to my demos with because I love sketching her—in fact she is often the first thing I sketch when I start a new journal, just to break the ice.

  1. Reply

    I love reading your blog, its also full of such useful information….thanks for sharing your art and journals…

    • Roz
    • November 14, 2009

    leekrek—thank you so much for stopping by. I’m glad it’s helpful.

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