Quick, Name Your Favorite Journals That You’ve Filled…All of Them Are Favorites…

January 8, 2016

151128_Man-on-pinkCRBRLeft: I have been watching "Morse" in an effort to understand some things that I'll share another day. It means I end up sketching the actors, here the actor playing Morse's boss. Pentel pigment brush pen, on Nideggen with Montana Acrylic Marker background added afterwards. The brush pen LOVES this paper. That's all I can say. Sometimes you hit the lines so perfectly that you really can't think why there is any need to add paint.

In my 2015 year-end wrap up I wrote about my recent Nideggen journal:

But something great came out of this drive to finish. I painted more with watercolor and with gouache, spending longer than average on each page, while still doing more pages. I focused on my goals of working with watercolor while my work world was toppling in around me and the need to take the folks to this appointment or that cropped up every other day.

That made me think of a question someone asked me  the other day on Facebook. Did I have a favorite journal, or journals and if so which were they?

Close friends have been through the drill: if there is a fire, help me save my Dottie journals. They are my favorite because they really are about my relationship with a lovely dog and a testament to a majestic dog who selected Dottie for me, because she knew Dottie was just what I needed.

151031_SuitLeft: Another character actor from "Morse," it's actually a VERY young Martin Clunes! Pentel pigment brush pen and white Sharpie Poster Paint (watersoluble) on Nideggen with Montana Acrylic Marker (background and pocket square) added afterwards. I was having fun with the texture of his shirt and jacket.

But the Daily Dots are also favorites because I pushed the boundaries of what I was using for media and worked on my visual vocabulary. I maintained a project for almost five years, until the model's death forced an end to the project. Throughout that time I was experimenting and diving in, making huge messes, and some successes. (Let's be honest too, I had the most beautiful model who ever lived. The Helen of Troy of the dog world.)

Beyond those journals I suppose in someways there are too many journals filled in my lifetime to have favorites. I can look at any journal and find growth (which makes me happy), discovery (which makes me joyous), and mess (which makes me absolutely over the moon because it proves I’m trying and pushing myself).

If cornered to declare a favorite beyond the Daily Dots I think I would have to say that I am often happiest with journals I make on trips or take to the State Fair. I’m really focusing every moment of my time on getting something down on paper. I feel I have a mission. I feel like a well-oiled machine, capable to do anything in any amount of time. I feel I’m on an expedition, and the goals for pages or insights are higher.

But then I think about it a little longer and realize, that's how I feel every day of my life. I have always been on an expedition. This is a common feeling of Third Culture Kids, they are always observing they are always exploring. So if I look at the “regular” journals I see that’s all contained within them as well, except the growth, discovery, and mess emerges from the muck of “regular” life and duties.

Ultimately it’s those journals, full of the muck of life, that are my favorites—journals I created out of my regular life. Journals I filled by keeping myself open to the wondrous things around me every single day of my life—not simply special occasions. (The Daily Dots fit happily into this category as well. Almost as if I planned it.)

And of those journals I think the recent Nideggen journal, created at the end of 2015, is definitely one of my all time favorites.

See how I had fun working in monochromatic watercolor in it.

See how I had fun working with watercolor in it.

Both of those examples show how much I enjoyed working with the Pentel pigment brush pen in the journal, as do the images I've posted today.

See how I loved working in the journal with gouache creating crazy portraits of characters, and well, also creating crazy portraits of someone I love.

Even working in color pencil is fun on Nideggen.

When I showed the recent Nideggen journal to my friend Diane, who understands journals, sketching, painting, color, and paper in ways similar and different to me, she actually petted the pages.

We laughed because she knew that I’d done that too, and probably would do it again.

There is something marvelous about paper that has been touched by the human hand and given new content in the form of an illustration. Paper whose structure has been forever changed by what you put on it—warped by the moisture, scored by the emphatic pen stroke. This is what paper was meant for. Now there is something on that paper that wasn’t there before, that didn’t exist, that came out of my mind through my hand. The paper is no longer new and pristine. It’s used. It has lived.

I think that’s the biggest compliment you can give to paper, to step aside from your ego that may be telling you that you aren’t good enough to use the paper and actually use it. To make a statement.

Is it the best statement you’ll ever make? No, probably not, but you made a statement.

Tomorrow you’ll make another statement, and another.

And at the end of your life you’ll have pages and pages of those statements which testify to the fact that you observed, and you thought, and you were present in life.

Fill a lot of favorite journals in 2016!

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