Monday, August 29, 2022

Whatever Loses; Ugly Wins


Dissatisfaction noted on 8/9/22

Early this year I began a new sketch journaling process that satisfied several needs: My carry-everywhere Field Notes notebook became a receptacle for not only my usual memos, lists, ephemera and written observations but also my casual, fitness-walking sketches. Calling it my “whatever” journal, it became an ideal catch-all for skyscapitos, my 100-Day Project sketches and my 30-day challenge compositional studies. I loved the chronological continuity of things I recorded daily, either visually or with words, all in one book – something I had been wanting to do for a long time but never got the habit to “stick.” Finally, it was very satisfying to fill a 48-page pocket-size notebook in a couple of weeks and then move on to a fresh one.

I happily kept up my whatever journal from January through mid-July – and then everything turned Ugly.

Ahhh... so much Ugliness!

I don’t want to sing the praises of Uglybooks too highly; after all, they’re just stapled paper notebooks. How about if I just say that they have changed my life? As soon as I discovered them and started using a few of the brightly colored, 80-pound interior pages, I knew I couldn’t go back to sketching on white, 60-pound paper again. Like the red Field Notes Sweet Tooth books, which changed my whole perspective of toned paper, Uglybooks are everything I have always wanted in a pocket-size sketchbook – with even heavier paper than Sweet Tooth and slightly larger, too! And in more colors!

In fact, Uglybooks are so thin and light that I can carry a white one along with a colored one even in my small, fitness-walking bag (because you never know when you’ll be in the mood for color on the page or whether black and white are just right).

I made both this sketch and the one at right on the same
walk because I had both books with me.

Who knows when I'll feel like color and when I won't?

Sketcher's eye view of my small fitness walking bag's contents. Uglybooks are slim enough that I can carry two at a time. 

Initially, I tried using Uglybooks for my “whatever” process by writing notes and observations on the same page as sketches, just as I did with Field Notes. But with seven books currently in rotation (How could I possibly use only one color at a time? That’s a rhetorical question), the chronological continuity of a daily journal was instantly lost.

Seven Uglybooks currently in rotation! A showcase for two new stickers: Gabi Campanario's publishing company (bottom row, center) and an adorable mouse from Anne (bottom row, right). Other stickers credited in my 8/1/22 post. 

After Uglybooks came into my life, I continued to make a few half-hearted sketches in the whatever journal I was carrying, just to see how that felt. My disappointment was noted right on the same page (top of post).

Logo-drawing practice while waiting
for my takeout order. 
Diagram of a yoga studio's layout
that I was describing to someone.
I did finish up that notebook with the usual writing and a few visual notations (at left and right), but it’s clear that its purpose had changed. I’ll still continue to carry and use Field Notes for writing as I always have, but it’s obvious that it will no longer satisfy my needs for sketching.

It was nice while it lasted, but I guess I wasn’t meant to have a chronologically continuous sketch journal, no matter how much the concept appeals to me. Paper – its weight, color and size – matters to me. Especially when the paper is Ugly.


  1. Those Uglybooks have certainly made your blog pages look pretty (grin). Does this mean an ugly book will become your whatever notebook, or... I love the moniker "whatever." It's much better than "scribble book" that I use.

    1. Well, I don't think the Uglybooks work as my "whatever" because I have too many in rotation. I back to a random, scattered mess. ;-)

  2. I really like your sketches on the Ugly paper. The brightness of the color makes me smile...although the white paper does come in handy too.

    1. I'll never be able to go back to white paper for my casual sketching! ;-)


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