Along with my fake visual journal in April, I found I needed to keep working in a second journal or what I'm now calling my workbook.
Working in an actual visual journal has kept my sketching muscle in better shape. I can see how it is improving the trust I have in my hand-eye coordination. But sometimes in the evening (or the middle of the night) I just want to play with color.
Do you remember the time as a kid when you would just pick up a crayon and draw without thinking. I am slowly finding my way back to that free impulse. I am happiest when I am not planning or thinking about what I'm going to do, but just following my own eye around the page.
There are many invisible restrictions that I put on myself that I don't realize I have until I bump up against them. This year's IFJ helped reveal a lot of them (I'm sure there are more). One that I have always struggled with is 'not wanting to ruin' something. By adding to it. By trying another attempt at an idea/image. By not wanting to follow a sketch I like with something I'm afraid I won't. I have always bumped up against this and it was the first thing I had to confront when I finally decided I was going to sketch… no matter.
This whole book is flying in the face of the residue of that same problem. Again and again I would do a little sketch I actually was satisfied with - that I enjoyed (dare I say that). And then I turned the page and started again. Or added something on the facing page. Or added something on the same page. Sometimes I wasn't satisfied with the next bit, and sometimes it was better than the first. And then I did it again.
I also spent some effort in pushing through when I 'knew' I wasn't going to like something I'd started badly. The below sketch is an example of that. I was in (another) waiting room and really was looking at some blank walls so I just looked down and sketched the bag I'd brought. The angle was odd (the image below is rotated, the bag was beside the chair arm). I didn't think I would get the angle right or how to show the shading…. lots of negatives in my head. But I just stopped thinking and looked from one line to the next. And by the time I'd finished it was one of my favorites of the month.
The sketch above was similar in that I ended up sketching my pencil case, but it took a pretty stressful moment and made it very simple and released a lot of tension in me, just by looking and drawing one line at a time.
I am still absorbing what this challenge revealed to me. I have started another journal and am trying to keep the momentum going. I'll write about that soon, but it has been difficult to not revert to my invisible mental rules.
Things have been just crazy around this house. Totally and insanely crazy. Exhausting and more exhausting. I picked up a virus on our trip to Santa Fe and it has been weeks since I've been able to get some energy back. I think. I hope. And my frozen shoulder is still frozen. I am SO bored of physical therapy I can not say. Also we have three kiddos, so there is that. And. And. But today, today is a good day. My three chickadees are home, I don't need to drive anyone anywhere (for the moment) and I finally feel like I can take a deep breath, so...
So… I started this journal with a vague plan - mostly taking the idea of a person with a little OCD who uses their journal to work out anxiety. I never ended up feeling the need to hammer out the details about my character - I don't really care about their back story in the end - but the way I used the journal with small little half sketches and little notes on the day was so fulfilling and so suited to the way my life is actually constructed that I hope to continue with that journal style.
1) I loved the look of the pages. It was a pleasure to flip back and forth through the journal as it was built. That bit of enjoyment helped keep me moving.
2) I did half sketches at the edges of the pages and I have no idea why but I found that very liberating. I could end up putting several bits together without preplanning or hedging or considering.
3) I've spent a lot of the month in transit and/or in offices. Having something to do in the bits of time that actually kept me focussed and yet relaxed made my days better. Waiting time flowed quickly and spent less time ruminating about things I can't control anyway.
4) I was able to get down to a limited number of supplies that have considerable flexibility (watercolors, colored pencils and ink) and yet are light enough to haul around. That has been especially important with my exhaustion and sore shoulder.
I have filled a lot of journals at this point, and the styles have flipped all over the place as I get inspiration from books, magazines, blogs and everything else. My confidence as a sketcher has grown and my interests have shifted as I am attracted to different media. But in the five years I've been playing in sketchbooks, I have never enjoyed a single journal the way I have enjoyed this one. It was so satisfying!
I am posting all the complete pages at my other blog Paint by Numbers. They are not electrifying. They are not innovative. They are not even pretty sometimes. But for me, this journal was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it.
This post is a little disjointed and I know I'm not hitting all the notes I wanted to mention, but got to start somewhere. Tomorrow I will be posting some more sketches from the journal, but full pages are visible on my other blog. Don't bother trying to read the words. Completely not worth it. Really. Just boring. Boring to read, but helpful to write.
I hope that your art is giving you what you need. Thanks for stopping by.