Above: Page spread from my current visual journal which is a 7 x 9 inch journal I made with Strathmore500 Series Mixed Media Paper (which is available in sheets—Or if you don't bind books you can always buy their hardcover bound books featuring this paper). The background is prepainted with acrylic paints. The pen sketch (Staedtler Pigment Liner .3) is on a scrap of the same paper the journal is made of—simply because it was what was in the scrap pile I cut up to carry along in my purse. Read more about the dove below. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I've written posts before about using journal cards—prepared, precut pieces of paper or card stock that you keep in your pocket or bag and use for journaling. These are great for when you are traveling and don't know how many pages of a book you might fill, or when you want to create a portfolio of sketches (see my MN State Fair Journal from 2007 for one example).
But I think it is important enough to stress working whether you can carry your journal or not, so that's why I'm looking at that topic as today's Journaling Superstition. We can find lots of excuses to not do the things that we love, or need to do; the things that are healthy for us. The goal is to keep journaling no matter what. Don't let someone's ability to carry 100 pounds of book and art supplies give you pause about your own journaling. The point is to make your journaling work for you!
If you're a regular reader of the blog lately you've been seeing spreads like the one above for the last couple months—pieces of paper with sketches on them, stuck on my journal pages. (I even wrote a very short post about this on August 11, 2012, but I wanted to say more.)
That's because I've been having a recurring problem with my shoulder. Carrying anything heavy at all around my neck (such as a purse strap), or shoulders (like backpack straps) is beyond irritating. Wearing my travel fanny pack isn't really a good solution either as I have to take it off and on and swing it around with my arm every time I get into and out of the car. That causes wear and tear on my right arm (and probably contributes in some odd way to the imbalance in my left shoulder).
But I have to keep journaling. I never leave the house without pieces of scrap paper cut in a size that will fit the current journal. (I save my scraps from bookbinding for just this purpose.)
So on September 7 I was rushing about town and stopped to get my allergy shot. I didn't have my journal, but I did have a piece of paper and a pen.
The next evening I had still not stuck the slip of paper into my journal (usually I do that first thing when I return home). I debated on skipping this spread and gluing the sketch on the next spread, saving this one for a full-spread painting, but I loved the background so much that I thought it would be wonderful to have the white paper on top of it.
When I sat down to paint I put tape vertically down on the verso page to reserve space for the sketch from the allergist's office. I didn't want anything important from my dove study to go under the area where I was going to put the "scrap."
You'll also see at the top of the page there is a thin line of collaged paper just above the man's head. This is from the previous spread. It got wrapped over and then painted when I painted the spread a week before.
Left: The background of this spread had been painted during the previous week with no plan in mind. On this evening I put the strip of masking tape in place to remind me not to put "important" features of the painting beyond the masking tape where the pasted down sketch would go. I then used a round brush to paint the outlines of the bird. I laid in a bit of cobalt blue and Dark Indigo blue where there would be shadow areas as I wanted to blend those pigments up through the following layers. I'm not concerned about the corrections needed to beak and head top because I know I can "erase" the watersoluble line of gouache, and I know this paper is strong enough to take reworking. Once the outline was sketched I removed the masking tape before starting to fill out the painting. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I painted the dove using sketches and photos I'd made and taken while Phyllis was in the nursing home (there was an aviary there). I did a direct painting with a brush and some Dark Indigo Blue Schmincke gouache (my beloved PB60). When painting the bird, again with gouache, I left the breast area open to the background colors because I really liked the colors showing through at that point, especially the blue blotch of color. I used a 12 and an 8 filbert for all the painting except for final details on the eye, for which I used a number 4 round with a wonderful point (a Richeson synthetic brush).
When the painting was dry I glued the sketch of the man in place on the left-hand page.
Don't let the inconvenience of injuries or the compact nature of your purse or day pack keep you from journaling. Carry scraps with you for sketching and note taking.
You might decide to do them all the same size and make a portfolio for them. You might decide to paste them into your current journal and keep up the chronology of your days. You might decide to just throw them in a box and save them loose.
However you decide to keep them I recommend that you keep them. I also recommend that you date and time each scrap or "card" so that if they are loose you can order them and be reminded of the passage of time.
The important thing to remember is that if sketching and journaling matter to you keep sketching and journaling; whether or not you're able to bring your journal with you when you're out and about.