Monday, January 27, 2014

Sketchbooks, Journals, Notebooks ………....Collecting the Idea; Part II

I have had loads of if interest in the topic of artist's journals since I published Part I, so I am pleased to share with you several more artists on the topic "Sketchbooks, Journals, Notebooks…Collecting the Idea; Part II". I noted in the first post that it was dedicated to my students. I require a comprehensive approach to journaling and sketch booking in my courses, but I find most students resist the process and seem to view it as insignificant and unworthy of their time, a vantage not within my personal perspective. As I mentioned in Part I, journaling forms vary from artist to artist, but the collection, contemplation, research notes and visual thinking are consistent for us all. The act of recording the process is important to who we are as artists, and to the art we make. In many ways our journals and notes become our sounding board and assessment tool when we leave the cocoon of an educational system that students often take for granted with their daily access to peer comments and professor reviews.  So, in Part II we will look at several artists across the country who are well established in their studio practice and who rely journaling.

David A. Clark lives and works in Palm Springs, California. (Ahhh, warm sunny days in southern Cal, must be nice !!)  David's focus is on printmaking that includes traditional prints on paper, and installations where his iconic symbols emblazon environments. I love in his statement for this topic he said "Ideas are currency…to capture elusive bits of wonder..". So true. Capturing or recording ideas and bits of wonder are so very significant to growth and development of work.

David A. Clark uses Post-It notes grouped on his studio wall and diagrams and notations in books.
David told me, "Ideas are currency and when they get lost it's a terrible thing. I takes notes in many ways, both notebook and not. However the notes are manifested, they are an effort to catch thoughts and the golden nuggets before they drift back into the river where they have to be panned for again or float downstream to someone else. I keep notes in books, on cards (mostly to notate color) and I make hundreds of notes on Post its which litter the walls of my studio. They are my effort to capture the elusive bits of wonder that come drifting by and yet so easily flutter away if they are not in some way caught and recorded. Some of these written seeds lay dormant, germinating for many years before they have their day in the sun." David A. Clark

Eileen Goldenberg holds degrees in ceramics and glass and works extensively in encaustic wax. Living and working in San Francisco, Eileen is active in arts festivals and American Craft Council exhibitions across the country. Traveling and exhibiting work in these temporary presentation systems requires a high level of organization and discipline. In my observations Eileen is proficient in both and she has also developed strengths in marketing her work. Eileen is very grounded in drawing, and from her posts I see from time to time, it is evident she uses drawing as a practice like musicians use scales and as reference for surface patterns and configurations in her work. 
Eileen said, "I draw for my paintings, planning and trying concepts and I also create drawings that are a different thing. I have sold complete sketchbooks...the leather ones here are my favorites...and I have hundreds of different books…" Eileen Goldenberg.
Organization and detail are hallmarks of Eileen Goldenberg's journaling. She has sold completed
sketchbooks to collectors. The lovely leader bound ones are handmade by a bookmaker.

Friend and fellow artist Toby Sisson lives in Worcester Massachusetts where she is Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Clark University. When Toby saw my interest in journaling she was generous to share with me a PowerPoint of artist sketchbooks she uses with her students. Here are a few examples I found of interest:

A selection of artist books and pages Toby Sisson uses in teaching her students the importance of journals.
I like the tactile and visual qualities of the assemblage piece.
"I do know that it's been a crucial and constant part of my studio practice. My sketchbooks are where I can feel safe placing the barest glimmer of an idea, the faintest whiff of what may (or may not) become something real and possibly seismic to my work. I really cannot imagine not having a sketchbook near, always at the ready, just in case. you can quote me on that!" Toby Sission

Jeffrey Hirst is prolific in several areas with work in both two and three dimensions that often takes the form of installation. In Jeffrey's artist statement he says,  
" I create shaped abstract paintings that function as fragments and are often exhibited as installations where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. " Jeffrey Hirst
The selections of the working images he sent, directly reflect his statement about fragments and parts rendering something larger than the whole. Here I am showing a group of finished works in the first three images with a selection of working images below.
Finished panels by Jeffery Hirst.

Selections of working images  from sketchbook pages by Jeffery Hirst.

Ann Stoddard's journals accumulated on her bookcase.
Ann Stoddard, director of the Harper Gallery at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC, works in a variety media developing relief paintings, sculpture and installations. I have know Ann for many years and her interest in journaling parallels my own. She shared a photo of her sketchbooks assembled on a small bookcase. An avid collector, Ann notes in her artist statement, "I cannot help myself but create and explore and for some reason there is a common denominator that resurfaces; it is associated with quilts, with cutting, piecing, sections of memory, patterns…Ann Stoddard.  That idea of piecing, assembling, and seeing something develop from those parts is the thread that binds us all as artists.

There are thousands of journals and sketchbooks in closets, attics, garages and studios. They hold insights to their makers and maintain secrets that will never be deciphered. I hope this post has given you fresh eyes toward the collection of material we use to create, and might just spur you to get out your books and look back at the journey traveled.  

My thanks to the artists that were willing to share their personal sketches and journals.

Happy sketching !!


  1. Great examples of using journals and notebooks to "catch" and develop ideas.

    1. Thanks Terry and so glad you participated in this topic!

  2. Great post Jane….love the examples as I also like to keep journals to document all things artistic. They are often the most freeing form of art as depicted by the works of art you have included here. Warmly, Erica

    1. Erica, thank you for your interest and comment. I hope this will inspire others to look at their journals with a keener eye.