I teach drawing and design and one of the first sketchbook assignments I give to the students is to pick a shape and draw it 50 times 50 different ways. This gets their imagination flowing and allows them to address different design concepts we’ve discussed; line,value,variety , etc.
I myself engage in this exercise often, making a several variations of a shape . I have posted the many variations on a shape….. there are definitely more I could come up with.. color being an additional aspect I have even touched yet. try it yourself with a shape of your own choosing.
Do you see the basic shape I started with and it’s variations throughout all the sketches?
” Visual journals are created in a secret language of symbols. Intentional or not,they are private maps only their makers can follow. No one else can look at a page and understand the specific meaning of a punching bag or a set of arrows. And no one else can remember the moment of its making. Joni Mitchell blaring on the stereo. Sage wafting in a hidden garden. The discomforting echo of last night’s argument.
That said, visual journals may provide stronger records of the cultural milieu in which they were created than their purely written counterparts. Rather than describing the stuff of the day, they are often made from it. Anyone who has used primary source materials for research knows this. The difference between reading about someone’s life and opening old, yellowed letters is startling. When pressed flowers and handwritten recipes escape from a tattered envelope, one can almost see hollyhocks growing in the garden and smell bread baking in the oven. Worn newspaper articles give a stronger sense of the day’s values than any historian-digested primer can.
Because of its largeness of purpose , a journal can include anything AND the kitchen sink. Serving as a collection point for life’s contradictions, moments of intense feeling, and factoids that compel but seem without obvious use is one of the jounral’s greatest virtues. In The Writer’s Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and Their Journals by Sheila Bender , Naomi Shihab Nye remarks, “I’ve heard someone say that notebooks are the kitchen drawers into which we place all the little scraps of things – bits of string, ragged recipes, nails and screws, half-used birthday candles, coupons. Where is it? Oh, it must be in there. Where else would it be? Or as illustrator John Clapp says of his journals , they ” are a collection of things I’m curious about, like the Smithsonian, ‘ the attic of mankind’. ”
from Drawing From Life – The Journal as Art by Jennifer New
” From bright colors, unique borders, layering and creative ways with text, there are endless concepts we can draw from Frida Kahlo’s artwork and personal diaries to use in our own journals.
Frida’s pages would often have two layers of writing-one on top of the other, ( the paler one underneath was impossible to read, but the one in black ink , on the surface was usually legible). She liked to begin many of her pages by spilling a blob of paint into her book and closing it. This makes for a great intuitive exercise, and one you could try yourself. A few of Frida’s pages bled through, but you could put a piece of cardboard behind the pages before spilling the paint to avoid this.
After opening the book, you’ll have an abstract blob that you can play around with. Frida would use a crayon and trace around portions of the shape. You can transform the abstract images into self-portraits like she did, or just pick up whatever is on your worktable, like the bottoms of paint bottles or a coffee cup, set it in the paint and make a print of it on the page.
Using a small paintbrush and acrylic paint, write on the background. Don’t try to get the letters even. Your handwriting is a reflection of you and says more on a page than a typed or hand-stamped phrase. Make mistakes and work loosely. Doodle around the edges.
Overall, if you find your work is too rigid and contrived, try all of these exercises with your non-dominant hand. I promise it works everytime”
Wide Open-Inspiration & Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge by Randi Feuerhelm-Watts
” One of my favorite people in history is Philo Farnsworth. Forced to move from their home in Utah, his family settled in Idaho, where Philo reluctantly spent his time helping his father plow their potato fields. Physically, he was on a tractor but mentally the teenager was up in the attic, reading science magazines, dreaming of inventions and trying to solve one specific puzzle that kept him up at night. One morning while plowing the fields, he turned to look behind him, and it clicked. The parallel rows of potatoes were the answer to his puzzle. He realized that moving images could be scanned line by line with electrons and painted on a screen line by line. He had finally solved the puzzle, and at that very moment television was created.
Line is an important element to any journal page. It’s often overshadowed by color and design, but the simplicity of a line can speak volumes.
Take yourself on a line study. Look for lines of birds on a telephone wire, in leaves, in shadows, and lines of lightning across the sky. Sketch them in your journal. Create your own lines with various materials. Blow ink throught a straw, paint with a stick, dip a fork in paint. Squirt soy sauce out of the package, use your finger in a stamp pad, or watercolor in an ink dropper. Creating lines on your journal page will begin a search for other unusual tools. Remember, a simple line has the power to change the lives of every person on the planet. You just have to look for it. Even in a potato field.”
Wide Open-Inspiration and Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge by Randi Feuerhelm-Watts
“Embark on a hunt, with no specific quarry in mind except that it should be an object, either human-made or naturally occurring, whose features in some fashion ‘speak’ to you. Don’t concern yourself just now about WHY the object speaks to you (or about what ); it is sufficient to simply take up what appeals to you. Wander about for awhile to this end, wherever you like. At some point something will catch your fancy,and when it does, nab it.
When this is done, set up next to you in handy fashion about a hundred sheets of paper – not large, eight by ten inch sheets will do – and plenty of simple drawing media: chalks, crayons, charcoal. Now spend a little while looking carefully at the object you have selected. Look at it, touch it, know it so well that it now belongs to your mind’s eye. Putting the object out of sight and allowing the experience of looking at this object to swirl around in your head, you will in another moment create images expressive of your reaction to ” meeting” the object to which you were drawn.
A key artifice of this exercise is the brevity aned frequency of your responses. The less time you allow yourself to reflect on how to approach the task, the less confined you are likely to be by old standard responses. The more rapidly you do this exercise, the more quickly you will exhaust your usual repetoire of image making and the sooner you are likely to wanter into new territory. Therefore , each new image will be given only sixty seconds to come forward before you then go on to the next work without pausing.”
No More Secondhand Art – Awakening the Artist Within by Peter London
” I was on a train in Europe homesick and craving two things. Pizza and somene who spoke English. It had been weeks since I had had a real conversation, and talking to people via my italian dictionary was getting very old… until I overheard the wonderful, sweet sounds coming from the next car. There stood this guy wearing torn blue jeans, carrying a large backpack, thoroughly engrossed in his conversation- his ENGLISH conversation. I wanted to throw my arms around his neck.
I heard someone say recently, I hang around with artists, writers, and musicians because that is where I live. ‘
And that sums it up. We all hang around with people who are like us.. If you play on a baseball team and live and breathe baseball, you don’t hang around with ballerinas-right? As artists, we can dry up and become stale if we stop hanging around like-minded souls.
One solution is to keep an artist-date once a week. Hang around with people or things that speak your same language. Some of my best artist-dates have been spent at a bookstore, jotting down notes on napkins.
Drive around and take pictures of doors. Take your sketchbook to a toy store and design a new dress for BARBIE. Go to a play or enjoy live music at a coffee bar…
When in the right environment, yniques for Art Journaling on the Edgeou may find that speaking the same language sometimes means not having to speak at all.”
from, WIDE OPEN – Inspiration & Techniques for art journaling on the Edge– by Randi Fererhelm-Watts
” Monumental carvings , otherwise known as totem poles, moved from houseposts to funerary containers to memorial markers. Since they were traditionally made of wood, most have deteriorated over time, so dating the ceremonial monuments is difficult. We’re not going to worry about dating them; we’re going to concern ourselves with making our own. Yor task is to create your own totem pole. While historically, totem poles evolved to represent social status, yours is going to tell the story of your typical day or week. On a sheet of sketch paper, create a design for your own daily or weekly emotional totem pole.”
CAFFEINE FOR THE CREATIVE MIND – Stefan Mamaw & Wendy Oldfield
“Why does a fine sketch please us more than a fine picture? It is because there is more life in it and fewer forms …Why can a young student, incapable of doing even a mediocre picture,do a marvelous sketch? It is because the sketch is the product of enthusiasm and inspiration, while the picture is the product of labour, patience, lengthy study and consummate experience in art.”
from, The Salon of 1767 by Denis Diderot
from, A Miscellany of Artist’s Wisdom, compiled by Diana Craig