The Joy of Journals

I find journals a great way of organising my thoughts and different ideas.  I have several that I use on a regular basis.  Let’s start with what is a journal for me.  Well, it’s a place to collect things.  I have more than one because I like things to be in groups.  When similar things are together, I know where to look and I have more than one idea in the same place.  Here are my journals and what I do in them.

Inspiration Journal.  I think this is a must for any creative person.  It’s a place to store anything that attracts your interests.  In mine, I have pictures cut from magazines and encyclopaedias, pieces of vintage wallpaper, costume jewellery to name but a few items.   You can just stick them in a sketchbook but I use an A5 sized ring binder.  It has little pockets to store the difficult shaped items and sheets to attach the images.   I also break it into sections to make it easy to find specific things.  These include sections entitled, geometric, chinoiserie, nature, architecture and a few more.

Written Journal.  This one is pretty simple, it’s an A5 sized lined page journal. Every day I write at least a couple of pages in it.   I don’t censure myself and I do it every day, whatever I’m thinking goes in the journal.  Sometimes that means I write complete nonsense, others I work through criticism that has bothered me.   I write every day because when you do this it starts to show you things that restrict or bother you on a regular basis.  It also becomes a place where ideas that seem silly, flesh themselves out into projects.   Your written journal is just for you, not to share with anyone.  That way you don’t need to censure yourself and the truth will out.   

Pattern Journal.  This is a place I play with pattern.  I take an idea, sometimes from my inspiration journal, often from just walking around a new place and jot pattern ideas into the journal.    These are not finished ideas they are often just shapes and rhythms I like the combination of.   A spark to hold the idea.

Process Journal.  This is a place I play with new ideas, products and techniques. Sometimes the pages have no structure and I just want to see how a product responds to different papers or application methods. Other times, I just stick things on a page when I need to relax and get away from a deadline.  These can become fully formed images or just random pieces.  When I look back through the journal, I find little pieces or sections that I like and I take either the method or colours forward, into a piece of work. 

The key for me is to remember my journals are not places for finished work.  They are a place of ideas and possibilities.  They exert no pressure because of this and nothing they hold is ever wrong for the same reason.  They are part of my creative progression and my work benefits from them.  They bring fun and joy into the artistic process and that is always positive. 

This system work for me, you may be happier with one journal with everything in it.  There are no rules here, just options.

When I find something I like in my journals and I want to progress it into a piece of work I move the idea or ideas to a sketchbook. Do some research on the subject. I then play with these ideas considering size, layout and colour scheme. I always work on a minimum of three pieces to allow me to continue to play and explore ideas in the final piece.    Sometimes I’m lucky and they all work out sometimes I end up with one piece.