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Journaling Articles : Stay Creative with an Idea Journal

Stay Creative with an Idea Journal

By Kristine Kadlec

Journaling has become a very popular activity during the last several years and is used for a wide variety of purposes. Some people keep travel journals, wine journals and even Christmas ornament journals. Others keep a daily record of their activities along with their thoughts and feelings. Some artists prefer to create collages and photomontages in their sketchbooks to express themselves.

I keep idea journals which contain a wide variety of inspiration and information such as clippings from articles, drawings, color combinations and pretty pictures. I wish I could say I've been collecting my ideas in a journal for years but unfortunately I wasn't that smart. I started my collection in the fall of 1997 and have been adding to it ever since. Over the years, I've collected, stored and arranged the following:

  • Crude thumbnail sketches for possible collages
  • Clothing and wearable art designs
  • Inspirational quotations
  • How to market your art advice
  • Wardrobe advice
  • Specific information for an upcoming art project
  • Greeting card and ornament designs
  • Art career advice and encouragement
  • Fiber art ideas
  • Pictures and photographs from magazines
  • Collage composition ideas
  • Article ideas for possible publication
  • Excerpts from books
  • Goals, wishes and hopes
  • "To Do" lists
  • Accomplishments

I collect wardrobe advice because I believe if you are a professional artist, it helps if you can dress the part! I also record exceptional information from books that I want to read and re-read. The goals I wish to accomplish are also recorded. I enjoy reviewing these goals and feeling a great sense of satisfaction knowing that an important goal has been completed. It gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that I'm moving toward the completion of my ambitions. I also record specific information which helps inspire me to create my next paper-weave collage.

To start your own idea journal, discipline yourself to read voraciously — read, read and read some more. Read books, magazines, newspapers and newsletters to help you cultivate your own collection of ideas, inspiration and information. Attend museum exhibits or library lectures and record your thoughts, feelings and ideas. As soon as an idea pops into your head, write it down! You might want to carry a small notebook in your pocket or purse so that you'll always have a place to write. Then transfer those ideas into a larger notebook or sketchbook — one that you keep at home in your art studio. Your idea journal doesn't have to be anything fancy — just something where you can record thoughts, ideas and inspiration for a future project. This can become your on-going source notebook for ideas — something you can browse through and review.

You can use any kind of notebook or sketchbook, but I prefer to use the Bienfang NOTE Sketch™ Book because the individual pages are half blank and half lined. This allows me to draw art and record design ideas and provides a lined area for keeping quotes and other written information. You might want to add some visual interest when recording written information by using an assortment of colored pens. You'll also need a glue stick to attach article clippings and magazine pictures.

Germinate an Idea

Now that you have your journal full of ideas and inspiration, you might want to pick up a copy of an out-of-print book from your local library entitled The Technique of Producing Ideas written by James Webb Young who made his living as an advertising executive. This book discusses in very simple terms the five steps for producing ideas which can be easily applied to your artwork. The following steps should help you forage for ideas for your next creation:

  1. Brainstorm for an idea by flipping through your journal. Read and re-read all the information you've collected. Sit in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and become inspired!

  2. Spend some time playing with your unfinished ideas — draw several thumbnail sketches or have fun with new color combinations. Schedule some play time in your art studio.

  3. Sleep on it! Go see a new movie or a play, visit your favorite museum and let the idea take root in your subconscious mind. Maybe you could plan a short travel weekend. Don't actively think about it for a few weeks. Just let the idea stew around in your mind for awhile.

  4. Magically, and when you least expect it, your fully germinated idea will appear. Always be prepared to write your idea down somewhere, on a napkin, on a restaurant menu, on a parking ticket. Write it down or it will be lost forever!

  5. Draw a sketch of your idea; add colors you plan on using and determine what art medium or technique is best — in essence, create a first draft. When you feel the idea is fully hatched, produce the real thing!

Once you start collecting ideas for your journal, it will become a very pleasant habit. Your sketchbook will become a repository for all the wonderful quotes you've read. And it can be reviewed over and over again whenever you need an uplifting saying or comforting encouragement. You will have a continuing collection of ideas to refer to when you plan your next art project. •

© 2005 Kristine Kadlec. All rights reserved.

Kristine Kadlec weaves paper and creates collages in Los Angeles, California.

Updated 1/6/14