Friday, November 13, 2020

A Sketch Journal from My Head

11/9/20 Sketch journal page spread

Prompted by USk Japan’s weekly challenge back in May, I tried something that’s rare for me: I made a sketch journal page of an ordinary day. I enjoyed the documentation process, especially because USk Japan emphasized that everything should be drawn from life to follow the USk manifesto. I felt a mild pressure all day, however, to do things that would be visually interesting to sketch. I also felt a significant pressure to allow time to sketch whatever it was I was doing (preparing a meal, for example; I didn’t sketch any actual meals, since I don’t like eating cold food). Ultimately, as much as I appreciate seeing such journal pages made by others (such as Liz Steel), I knew it wasn’t a sustainable format for me to continue regularly.

Fast-forward to this week’s Sketchbook Techniques & Expression class, in which one of the assignment options was to make a sketch journal page. Since my personal emphasis for the class is to work from memory and imagination, I made a journal page spread that is probably more in line with the way most art journalers work, but it’s quite foreign to me: I did all the sketches from my head (above). I know these simple sketches don’t look particularly challenging, but I have worked so hard these past nine years to learn to draw from observation that drawing without something to look at is not easy for me.

Also challenging was making the pages look like a cohesive spread rather than two random pages stuck next to each other. I’m not excited by the composition, but I snaked the COVID statistics and text around the page with the hope that they would pull the various visual elements together. I also crammed my dinner plate into a space that was a bit too small for what I wanted to show, but my hope was that the sketch would act as a bridge across the gutter. (I see that Liz will be offering an online sketchbook design course next year. . . I might consider that for ideas.)

The dinner plate sketch was especially interesting to me from a process standpoint. All the other elements were sketched from that morning’s events that had occurred before I knew I was going to sketch them in the afternoon, so I wasn’t paying particular attention to remembering details. Since I intended to finish the spread with my dinner plate, but only after the meal, I paid closer attention to shapes and colors as I ate. Then a couple hours later, I made the sketch. I can see how keeping a regular sketch journal would encourage me to be more observant as I go about my ordinary day because I would want to recall more. (Bonus: I could eat my food while it was still hot!)

I enjoyed making this sketch journal spread more than I expected. All the time pressure was off to try to sketch everything I did as the events were happening. I don’t know whether this format is sustainable as a regular practice (or whether I’d want to continue it), but I do think it’s a useful way to make myself draw more from memory and imagination. I’d like to continue for at least a while longer, just as a memory/imagination exercise, if nothing else. If I do, I will definitely not want to spend as much time as I did on this one (about two hours, including class time).

Shown below is a fun class exercise from the previous week. We were given the suggestion to use a piece of art we had already made to make a new piece. I took a couple of old life-drawing sketches and dressed the model!

This reminded me of dressing paper dolls when I was a kid!


  1. I usually think my day is too boring for a sketch journal. lol I do like how you dressed the model to make a new piece.

    1. It was fun to put clothes on the nude drawings! It reminded me of playing with paper dolls!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...