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Juicy Journals & Wild Words
Juicy Journals & Wild Words : Create an Artist's Sketchbook!

Juicy Journals & Wild Words

Create an Artist's Sketchbook!

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers

It is important to take our creative work into new, unexplored territory. This month, we will be creative pioneers, taking journaling a step beyond words. We will also discover new ways to combine your words with visual art to create an artist's sketchbook. I know, I know, you're a writer, not an artist. That's what you're saying to yourself. I'm here to tell you that you are dead wrong. Everyone I meet is an artist, even if they don't know it yet, or can't believe it. Take a deep breath, and try to suspend doubt and fear… then, dive in!

You'll need to start with a blank journal or book, with unlined pages and thick, luscious paper. Find something travel-sized, and portable, with a hard cover to add stability when you're creating on the go. Then, you'll need an assortment of artistic tools and materials, depending on the type of media you want to explore. I suggest a portable watercolor set, charcoal sticks or pencils, pastels, pens, colored pencils, and camera, to help you begin to discover photography, painting, and drawing.

If you are interested in creating collages, you'll need a glue-stick, glitter (always a must!), and found objects collected throughout your travels. This can include, but should not be limited to, objects found in nature like leaves, stones, and feathers; ticket stubs; subway tokens; coins; keys; cancelled stamps culled from junk mail; words or pictures torn from magazines; favorite quotes and poetry; a few scribbled words from your journal. Maps, doodles, photos, menus, postcards, and souvenirs can also be a fabulous addition to a collage. Don't forget a pretty yellow aspen leaf, a rose petal, a sand dollar from that trip to the beach. A fern, curled delicately and pressed between the pages, is an elegant and simple touch. You can collect these items in a pouch, your pocket, or even an envelope glued inside the back cover of your sketchbook.

Look at the world through artists' eyes. Find beauty in unexpected places. Take your sketchbook along to a favorite coffee shop; draw the customers, the mugs, the chairs. On your lunch break from work, take it to a park and paint. Go to a bar and sketch the sketchy characters and small-time hustlers you find there. Doodle at work, or when you're on the phone. Go wild! The point is not to be good, or even proficient, right away. The point is to do it, to practice. Nothing ever comes out just perfect the first time, unless you are supremely lucky — the rest of us have to work at it, to rehearse a few times before we take the stage with a top-notch performance. There is no shame in this; but it can be an almighty lot of hard work. That's what they don't tell you in school. That does not mean that it is drudgery, or back-breaking manual labor… it only means that it may take time and practice to draw, paint, sculpt — or do any type of creative work — well. Many times, I have finished a session of writing or painting and, at the end of it, felt as if I'd spent a few hours pushing a heavy rock uphill. This means I have worked hard, worked well. That I have been haunted by the Muse again. While I'm doing it, time flies; I don't notice the crick in my neck, or the cramp in my hand, or that I need a drink of water. But afterwards, as I stretch and ache a little, I smile. I have put many words to the page, created a collage, made a painting where before, there was only blank paper… and most days, the joy of that is enough to carry me through the darkest times. Don't be afraid of hard work. It is amazing what you can do when you really push yourself. We should all push ourselves a little further than we ever dreamed we could go from time to time. Dare to amaze and surprise yourself. When you draw a hand that actually looks like a hand, or paint a mysterious landscape you adore for the first time, all that work will have been worth it.

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