Ways Your Journal Reflects Your Life—Unfinished Tests, Unfinished Sketches

August 16, 2019




I hear from a lot of blog readers and students that they work on their journal sketches later, if they can’t finish them when they first set out to sketch.

I believe a journal needs to reflect your life.

That puts me in the “move on” camp if a page isn’t finished because I get interrupted.

So just as I had to move on from my soda pop tests (because the pop was stored for too long and went off), so I leave sketches if something interrupts me.

I think it makes for interesting pages that reflect my life.

You get to decide for yourself which camp you want to be in; and what reflects your life.

  1. Reply

    Great point! I have never gone back to a sketch, in fact I never consider it. Going back to “pretty up” a sketch would alter its immediacy and freshness. You’re not capturing that moment in time any more.

    1. Reply

      Toni, to me going back is like cheating on my timeline. When I look at work in the comfort of my home my editing eye is looking for things to do differently next time. And my planning mind is thinking about how can I streamline this process or that approach to maybe get more on the page. And then ultimately I am just all giggly that in the circumstances in which I was working anything got on the page at all. The journal kept this way really makes me happy.

    • Tina Koyama
    • August 17, 2019

    I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to finish or touch up a sketch once I’ve left the location. Once I leave, I’ve lost the immediacy of it. It’s probably the difference between process people and product people. Those intent on a product will want to finish. Those intent on process have gotten what they need from whatever was accomplished. By the way, I had no idea you liked root beer so much — or that there were that many kinds available! I don’t drink it, but if I ever come across an unusual brand, I’ll let you know.

    1. Reply

      Yep, Tina, I think that is the difference between process and product people.

      And I do love root beer but so rarely find any I can enjoy. It comes from an early childhood when having a soda meant a special trip to the Dog and Suds for a frosty mug (literally ice frosted onto it) filled with root beer.

      So please keep me updated on any brands you find!

    • Lydia
    • August 17, 2019

    Great Point, Roz!
    2019 has personally been a very bad year for me, and I just sketch. I sketch because it centers me. When I first “met” Roz in the strathmore journaling class 2010 / 2011, and began following her blog, I think, I did everything she said NOT to do.
    Since I am still dealing with my “bad year”, (not trying to be mysterious, I just don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of distraction talking about that), the IMPORTANT thing I’d like to share is that I remember noticing a change,
    a Before and After if you will.
    I’m not sure if I noted it in my sketchbook – I know I didn’t share in the comments.
    I noticed one day that “My sketchbook” became mine.
    I sketch for me. The missives and notes are for me.
    I love running across Post’s like Roz’s post today … do I touch up my sketches or move on? … great question … It stopped me in my tracks and gave me a moment to reflect on where I am.
    I learned to draw with a more formal approach, drawings that take time and require touch up and perfecting.
    Now, I savor my moments of sketching.
    I’m sketching, I’m learning. I am living. I’m recording.
    I don’t share much … no posts, few comments.
    I do love reading your thoughts and comments … its a refreshing redirect … Thanks everyone for sharing!
    But I do sketch.
    Yes! I’ve sketched today!
    And I’ll turn the page, and sketch another!
    Thanks Roz for a great post!

    1. Reply

      Lydia, I’m sorry to hear 2019 has been a bad year for you. I’m glad through it all you are still sketching!

      Whether you follow the advice on my blog or not doesn’t really matter. It’s offered as suggestions based on my own journal practice and teaching. I have students who do things differently than I do after taking a class with me and I encourage that—as long as you come up with a way to journal that suits you and keeps you journaling.

      For me what is important is that you have a sense of your sketchbook “being mine.” That’s key and I’m glad that has happened for you!

      Keep turning those pages and sketching!

    • Tina Gartlan
    • August 18, 2019

    I do both. Sometimes, if I’m flicking through my sketchbook and see something in pen, I might add some colour. It’s all about “playing” and “doing”. No one sees my sketches but me, and I’m happy to have a foot in both camps!

    1. Reply

      Tina, I’m glad that you have found a way to work that suits you and doesn’t move you away from playing and doing! Keep at it.

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