Sketchbook and Journal Fascimiles and Collections: Summer (or anytime) Reading

June 29, 2010

The following is a list of books which present artists’ sketchbooks and visual journals in a facsimile edition or collection and gallery format. I love reading (and viewing) this type of book because they give us an intimate look into the way an artist’s mind works. Whether you have kept sketchbooks and visual journals your entire life, or only 3 days, I recommend the following books as inspiration and assurance. These books inspire because of the wonderful work they contain, in all media, with all manner of approach and intention. They also provide assurance, if you are just starting out on your visual journal journey. The sheer variety of approaches should help silence your own internal critic and remind you that you are seeking the page that is uniquely yours.

First I’m going to begin with a book in which my work appears. Thereafter the selections are in alphabetical order by the author.

Gregory, Danny. An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers
Danny has collected selections from the journals and sketchbooks of 50 artists, all with a different take on visual journaling. The variety of approaches and artists’ description of their process will inspire you at the same time it will encourage you to follow your own path. I’m tremendously excited to be included in this group and have an opportunity to share with people some of my thoughts on journaling. Listen to a podcast of me and Danny talking about art materials and journaling. (It’s a two-part chat.) Listen to pod casts Danny made with some of the other artists included in his book. (Links to the pod casts of Danny talking with me are listed in the left column of this blog, under “Pod Casts.”)

The Alphabetized List

Beard, Peter. Beyond the End of the World
(1998 from Universe Publishing) As far as I can make out this book is out of print. If you find a copy and like Beard’s work (he influenced Dan Eldon’s work) I recommend you buy it. There are full page reproductions of his journal pages, so sumptuously photographed that the layered and textured nature of his pages comes clearly across. (I was fortunate to see some original journals on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and hear Beard speak, several years ago. He’s quite an interesting raconteur. I enjoyed the short documentary, Peter Beard: Scrapbooks from Africa and Beyond. It shows Beard interacting with people, but it also shows shots of his journals, and the production of his artwork.

Bell, Richard. Rough Patch
An interesting illustrated garden journal which imparts wisdom about life at the same time it casts a glance at vegetables and birds. I love this volume.

Brereton, Richard. Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators, and Creatives
Short biographical pieces about the artists are followed by pages from their sketchbooks. Another book that celebrates the variety of artistic visions.

Carloni, Alessandro. Sketchbooks
A show catalog of the artist’s wonderful brush pen sketches  of life around him. See my post about Carloni’s “Sketchbooks.” I hope he makes more of these volumes!

Crumb, R.
Anything—there are several sketchbook facsimiles printed now that you can choose from. Pick one and get started. Crumb has inspired artists and illustrators and graphic novelists for decades. He is a master with his pen. I recommend Crumb, the documentary about Robert Crumb.

De Sève, Peter. Sketchbook
We have to join with De Sève in thanking his wise wife who saved these drawings. Page after page of engaging characters (human and animal) who show the artist’s passion for shape and line and observation. There’s a master class in capturing character contained in this book: you just have to look at the pages.

De Sève. Peter. A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève
This is actually a rather large art book, rather than a facsimile, more of a collection—it is filled with sketchbook pages and roughs and thumbnails by this artist—a must have if you care about illustration.

Eldon, Dan. The Journey is the Destination
The journal facsimile of a young photographer, killed at age 22, which shows his passion for recording his life and process. (A wonderful book. Eldon was heavily influenced by Peter Beard’s work, but it is wonderful to see how he was working on his own process.)

Frazetta, Frank. Rough Work: Concept Art, Doodles, and Sketchbook Drawings by Frank Frazetta

The recently deceased Frazetta inspired and will continue to inspire generations of illustrators with his sure line, sense of volume and space, and his dramatic composition. This book allows you to see how sure the hand and eye really were. Frazetta: Painting with Fire is an excellent documentary about the artist, made while he was still alive.

Freeborn, Wil, See You Around
Wil Freeborn

is a designer and illustrator living in Gourock, Scotland, who has
published a facsimile of “two years of sketches by train, bicycle, ferry
and plane.” You can purchase a copy of “See You Around,” here.
I recommend it. I purchased the 8 x 10 inch version (which is the large
version). It provides an unimpeded view of a full Moleskine page spread on each page. (Read my post about Freeborn’s art coming out on August 6, 2010.)

Jean, James. PR3 The Hallow Seam
A stunning facsimile of the incredible journals of artist James Jean. You’ll want to look through these pages again and again, discovering new things each time.

Jernigan, Candy. Evidence: The Art of Candy Jernigan
A lovely book, both in content and physical design, if you have not met the artwork of the late Candy Jernigan you will want to look into this book. She has a quirky sense of “collection” and observation that has inspired many people. Her method is so natural and organic that I find the book a fresh delight every time I pack for a journal class and take it along for student inspiration.

Jonsson, Lars. Lars Jonsson’s Birds Painting from a Near Horizon
A gorgeous book which pears crisp reproductions of this his sketchbook pages with finished paintings. A must for anyone who does field work. Read my Roz Wound Up review of Jonsson’s Birds here.

Jonsson, Lars. Birds and Light
Less of a facsimile than the previous title by this artist, but you still get so many sketchbook pages that I have to include it here. The reproductions are large and gorgeous and the accompanying text is informative. Read
my Roz Wound Up review of Jonsson’s Birds and light here.

Kalman, Maira. The Principles of Uncertainty
Presented as a visual journal, whether or not it was created as one, this colorful volume looks at life, history, and destinations with the artist’s quirky and colorful illustrations and humor and insights. (Roz Wound Up post on Maira Kalman.)

Long, Cully. A Line
The subway/train sketches of artist Cully Long are strong and spare, and keenly observed. If you commute you must get this book. If you want to sketch people this book will inspire you.

Marlet, Nicolas. Sketchbook
A delightful facsimile I discuss in Fascimile Sketchbooks and other Wonders.

Moore, Henry, with Sir Kenneth Clark. Henry Moore’s Sheep Sketchbook
Do I really have to say anything more about this book? It is page after page, just as it was in his sketchbook—one he used to take out into the field around his home where he could sketch the sheep. He experiments with line and volume and shows us how to understand the figure and movement of these animals. This is printed by Thames and Hudson and I found it in a museum shop in the middle of Wisconsin. And of course snapped it up.

Nace, Don. Drawn Out
The quirky, often startling and discomforting, sketchbook drawings of artist Don Nace. The texture and energy leap off the page. You can see his almost daily drawings spanning several years at Drawing of the Day. (It looks to me like he’s finished doing the daily drawing posts.)

New, Jennifer. Drawing from Life: the Journal as Art
This book also provides brief biographical notes and background on the artists, before it launches into a display of journal pages. There is a great selection of artists here, with the work reproduced well and organized to advantage on the pages.

O’Donnell, Timothy. Sketchbook: Conceptual Drawings from the World’s Most Influential Designers
This is a great book for seeing how some people use their journals as working documents. You’ll see an architects rough sketches of buildings and then see the photos of the final structure. There are logo design and type design thumbnail sketches. It is great fun to see sketches and final designs from Nigel Holmes (formerly the informational graphics creator for Time Magazine, now working independently). There is also some interesting discussion of the illustration business which students in this field will find useful. I find it interesting how many Moleskines are being used—but designers do like an “iconic” design. I found this book great fun.

Ritchie, Charles. Suburban Journals: The Sketchbooks, Drawings, and Prints of Charles Ritchie
This is a show catalog from a show of Ritchie’s at the University of Richmond Museums. A thoughtful friend sent me his copy after he visited the show. (A big hug to you Steve!) There is no other way to describe this work except amazing. The reproductions are clear and show the edges and covers of the sketchbooks so that you can see the wear and use they have acquired. Thumbnail sketches are accompanied by studies on the next page, with final prints then being displayed. This book is a must f you love watching the artistic process. Ritchie is a master at handling values, allowing just enough light to illuminate his keenly observed subjects. Simple things take on great depth. This is the type of art that excites me. The images are accompanied by explanatory text by the artist. 

Silverman, Burton. The Intimate Eye: The Drawings of Burton Silverman
This large volume contains reproductions of charcoal and chalk drawings down by this master artist whose work has appeared in countless publications, many Time Magazine covers—you name it. The drawings are accompanied with notes.

Sokol, Dawn DeVries. 1000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations
The sheer volume of journal pages here might be overwhelming to some, but I think the variety of approaches shown earns it the broad appeal I see it has with my students. The individual reproductions are of sufficient size that you can get a clear sense of the page as well as read most, if not all, of what the artist wrote. I miss the presence of biographical notes, but there is an artist index at the back of the book to help you locate the artist and search out more about him or her.

Someguy. The 1000 Journals Project
Constructed like the small black casebound journals used for the project, this facsimile shows selected pages from the journals that made it back to home base in time for the publication. There is a DVD about The 1000 Journals Project that you may find thought provoking. The book contains an introduction to the project and there are some pages of excerpted journal text sprinkled throughout the book amongst the art pages. The website 1000 journals attempts to follow the journals on their travels.

Ware, Chris. The Acme Novelty Date Book: Volume 1 and Volume 2
Now you can own not one but two volumes of selections from the artist’s sketchbooks. The 7 x 9.5 inch volumes are substantial and beautiful to behold, with illustrated covers and a lovely fabric spine. The interiors yield page after page of doodles, sketches, and gorgeous paintings that show us Ware’s skill, as well as let us have a bit of a peak at his thoughts. If you are interested in pen and ink work these volumes are a must because Ware clearly has a way with this medium.


Dover Publications prints a number of titles that are simply page after page of sketches and drawings by a variety of artists like the Impressionists, Sargent, Holbein, etc. All are reasonably priced and great for studying your favorite artist’s work.

Hill, David. In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England
This books marries explanatory and biographical text with reproductions from Turner’s sketchbooks.  An artist friend alerted me to this title and I was able to nab a decommissioned library copy (imagine culling this gem from the shelves!). Read what I think about Turner here.

Hinchman, Hannah. A Life in Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal
A slim paperback (at least my copy is paperback) book which showcases Hinchman’s lovely pen and ink illustrations of the items and scenes in her life, with her written philosophy and tips on keeping an  illustrated journal. I think this is an important book for its simplicity and directness. The book ends with a color section of painted pages, but her artwork is so delightful that you never feel the lack of “production values” in the rest of the book. After this book Hinchman wrote, A Trail Through Leaves. It is a colorful look at her journaling philosophy, with reproductions from her journals. It’s a lovely book.

Leslie, Clare Walker. Nature Drawing
Instruction on nature drawing with examples from journals and sketchbooks not only of the author (who is a talented nature artist) but well-know nature painters. It is a delight to see the journal pages collected here. Her later The Art of Field Sketching focuses on her own nature journaling and is amply illustrated with pages from her journals and sketchbooks.

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern No. 13—An Assorted Sampler of North American Comic Drawings, Strips, and Illustrated Stories, etc.
If you are interested in the form of Comic drawings, you really should pick up this book. There are historical and contemporary examples. Chris Ware is the editor and created a wrap poster dust jacket for this book that is worth the price of the book!

Paquette, Thomas. Gouaches
Oil painter Thomas Paquette also paints small landscapes in gouache and they are stunning. This show catalog provides exquisite reproductions for anyone not able to view his work in person, and everyone interested in gouache painting. The paintings are executed in the field and though they continue to be reworked over time, they have a sense of an artist’s journal.

Slive, Seymour. Rembrandt Drawings
A great collection of reproductions of many of this master’s drawings, accompanied by explanatory text by one of the leading experts on Rembrandt. The reproductions allow you to see how Rembrandt worked.

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