It's the last day of March and the last page of my journal for the first part of 2015. As I've written before, I keep a regular sketchbook journal, filling one 8 1/2 x 11" Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook every three months.
There are many reasons why these books are vital to my well-being, but I'm feeling this especially at the end of a short period where my work is in progress and where the same work has been interrupted a fair amount. Nothing dramatic here, just some family obligations that I need and want to fulfill. All is well still.
This morning I came across the phrase 'the track of the heart' in reference to an artist's characteristic style over a large body of work. And I thought that's also what my journal is, the track of my heart, and of my mind, my eye, my hand.
And then, one thing leading to another as they will, THAT phrase reminded me of a quotation by Frederick Buechner that I've scrawled recently on my studio blackboard:
Thus when you wake up in the morning [...] , if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.
Knowing who you are is obviously a good idea for all of us. As an artist completely devoted to making art that comes from who I am (making no claims whatsoever about the value of this work to others), I feel a deep and continual need to keep in touch with that inner self.
I see her in the little ink and wash experiments and sketches and to do lists I put in my journals:
I see her in the studies for my current painting series:
I had fun using black lava texture gel here. Would never use it in a finished piece, but it lent the proper spirit to these rough-hewn explorations.
I see myself in the little sketchy faces that appear on my pages, sometimes from the imagination, sometimes as studies for illustration assignments:
I see myself in the spontaneous sketches I make in my journal in the early mornings, before I'm fully awake, of obects in my surroundings:
I keep my old journals nearby, the last two years' worth on a bookshelf in my studio, older ones on a bookshelf in the next room. I consult them several times a week. I find recurring imagery, ideas that surface again and again and demand to be dealt with in time. I get inspired by old brushstrokes and compositions. I discover there are times in each year when my energy and moods are not at their best and this helps me get through those seasonal cycles with a feeling of compassion for myself. I said these books are vital to my well-being and they truly are.
So there. That's the story.
Even with interruptions and occasional strayings from the path, I have my journals to show me who I am, where I've been, and where in the world I might be going next.