The Artist's Toolbox: An Artist Journal
|8 min read
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By FionaCreates   |   Watch
83 61 5K (1 Today)
Published: September 13, 2013






Another Month another Artist's Toolbox.

This time I'm pulling something rather more personal out of my arsenal of tools which is my own individual way of dealing with the infuriating issue of

I want to draw... but I don't know what.



There are a number of ways people go around dealing with this issue. Just doodling til something pops out. Working on a list of prompts. Asking people to help give them ideas. Doing an entry for a contest.... there are lots of ways of going about finding something to draw.


EH = Ernest Hemmingway


My own personal way of dealing with it, makes use of the opposite problem.

I have loads of ideas! But I have to go to bed/have no time/paper/drawing equipment.



When I have lots of ideas, as is common for me before I'm about to go to bed, or when I'm supposed to be doing something else, I write it down in my magical sparkly kitty book, AKA my Artist Journal. If I just shrug and go "I'll draw that later" I'll forget the idea and so when I do have time to draw, I'm back to the original problem of "I want to draw, but I don't know what."



A Journal is nothing special. It's just a book. The book I use was a gift from a friend, but it has lines inside and I'm not much of a writer, but it became the perfect vessel for a Journal. It's a beautiful book. It's got a little magnetic flap which discourages other people from opening it keeping my ideas private, it's the right size to transport around with me in my bag and not weigh too much, but have plenty of paper so I don't run out.

I like to think of it as my Henry Jones Senior book that perhaps one day will lead to my own personal Holy Grail


Stickman Indiana Jones saving my Journal from the bad guys.

Every idea I have goes down in this book. Usually just in a list. The good ideas, and the bad ones, but I write it down anyway. Unless I choose to show people this book will never be read by anyone so there's nothing to be embarrassed about.



And later when I have time to draw and I open the journal to find an idea, I just draw the good ideas. The bad ideas will forever be hidden away. ((And if an idea is too embarrassing even for me to read, I stick a picture over the top of it from an artist I like, that way I have something inspiring to look at and not have to read my bad idea every time I open my book.))


Doll by Marina-B

I have also dumped a number of quotes I find inspiring, interesting, or just funny, into my journal. This is something I like to do because I see a lot of amazing quotes from amazing people shared on the internet and this way I get to see them over and over again to continue to inspire me.



I would always recommend keeping a journal or inspiration book to anyone who is an artist. My book is never out of my reach, it goes in my handbag everywhere (even when I can't take a sketchbook) and that way no idea passes me by just because I forgot it later. I can also say I have not been without an idea since I started keeping it, because my ideas are always to hand, even if I can't remember them.



If you want to start your own journal, just get a book and start putting things in it. Do whatever comes naturally to you. If you want to write it in prose, do prose. If you want to stick a bunch of pictures from the internet or a magazine in there, do that! If you want to write long lists like I do, do that. Dream places to go visit, or maybe places you're going to soon and want to remember what you wanted to see when you got there.



The book you use doesn't have to be as fancy as mine, I personally like using a fancy book so it's very pretty and decorative sat on my desk, but you could use a plain book, or one you go out shopping especially for, whatever suits your tastes. (Or if you're like me and your friends and family always buy you tonnes of empty books for your birthday because you're an artist then you'll have plenty to choose from!)

I hope this article has encouraged you to perhaps start a journal, or if you already keep one I'd love to know how that works for you.

The journal isn't for everyone, but it certainly works for me.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the Artist's Toolbox week coming up at :devprojecreducate:






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Traditional art techniques
Traditional art techniques I Traditional Art Week continues! This article will give you a brief overview of most commonly used physical media techniques and their characteristics, featuring beautiful examples found all over DeviantArt and tutorials. I sincerely hope this will get you inspired to try something new and experiment, why not pick a tutorial and see what you learn! Don't forget, whilst techniques has their own regulations and principles, they still can be combined, you have to be no wizard (just a little creative) to find a new way to express yourself through them. Let's take a look 1. Drawing media Drawing is one of the major f
Bump Up Your Color
Working with color can be difficult no matter what medium you choose, but it can be especially daunting for traditional artists. Learning how to mix your own colors is equally as important as learning how to apply them to your work. 1. No matter what your art teacher says, YOU CAN use black and white You've all probably heard that at one point: don't use black, black is bad (or white is bad). There is nothing inherently badabout using either color. The real caution should be in not using them exclusively in lightening or darkening a color. Both colors are very strong and can overwhelm the saturation of whatever they are mixed with. Rather th
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Comments (48)
citrancs's avatar
Wow! I have a paperblank journal book with similar design (from the same artist, so it has kitties on it too :D) And just a few hours ago, while reading those 'My dA story' journals, I had the idea to start a thing like this to write down tips I read on dA, for sketching and making story sketches for my OCs, but most likely to keep an eye on my improvement because I don't want to forget the things I go through. ^^
So that I found your tips about thismust be a sign xD Thank you for making it even clearer what I exactly want to do in this project! Heart 

(Too bad I already filled half of that fancy book with useless diary entries x'D)
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
This book was a gift and I didn't want to ruin it with something stupid, and a journal is the best way to totally not ruin it! I carry it everywhere and it's a bit bashed up but the content isn't stuff I'm like "ugh terrible writing" or such, rather inspiring and full of epic!

I love to put tips and all sorts in my journal even if i don't read them again, sometimes the act of writing them down helps you remember easily!
Reply  ·  
Harrisons-Forge's avatar
Harrisons-Forge|Professional General Artist
I hadn't considered myself a journal keeper until recently when I moved house and unpacked everything into an organised studio space and realised that I have enough notebooks, art journals and sketchbooks to fill a bookcase.
I have general notebooks for everyday stuff and a large diary to put appointments in (large family), but even that gets doodled in and ideas jotted down. I keep an inspiration notebook with phrases and sayings and  an ideas book for prompts and experiments I want to try. I have art journals for daily practice and fun, some of which are hand made, some of them bought. I have sketchbooks in all sizes and papers and these tend to be more specialised- pen and ink in one, mixed media in another, drawing in a third etc.
I also keep reference boxes with images and articles from magazines and a reference folder on my pc with stuff that I download or link to which can include anything from individual images to documentary programs to peer reviewed articles on practically any subject.
I also keep a large bound notebook on my desk to write down poetry when inspiration strikes.

Depending on which bag I go out with dictates the size of sketchbook and notebook I have with me, my current handbag has a pocket on the front which holds an A6 sketchbook and an A6 notebook and I can fit anything up to an A4 pad/book inside as well as my camera :D 

Until you start carrying one round with you, you don't realise the value they have and I wouldn't be without one now. I think I have to consider myself a journal keeper :rofl:
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
I think people get the idea of "journal" and "diary" mixed up.

I don't write a diary, I don't feel the need to prattle on about what happened in my life. But I do keep many journals, which organise my ideas and my art, so it is a kind of diary I suppose there's just no "I did this today" in it XD
Reply  ·  
Harrisons-Forge's avatar
Harrisons-Forge|Professional General Artist
hehe I know what you mean. I am much the same...I tried writing about daily happenings in my art journal...and failed miserably, I am not a diarist. 

Do you start a new book for a new topic? I think that is why I have so many...I like to try to organise things a bit so I know where to look for info, although it doesn't always happen lol
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
when I was at university I did. But now projects tend to sprawl beyond one book. I tend to scan or photograph everything anyway and organise digitally. As my end products are usually digital.

For huge projects like a comic I might keep an individual book, but for small projects I just doodle away in whatever book is closest to hand.
Reply  ·  
Chrissijulius's avatar
Chrissijulius|Hobbyist General Artist
I have one! It's not with me always though, I have it on my bedside table... All the god ideas pops up in the middle of the night :p good article, you write in a way that made me want to read it all :)
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
The good ideas appear when we're tired because our inhibitions are lowered, and we don't have the same "omg that's a stupid idea" reaction like earlier on in the day. Same as people feel they have more ideas when they're drunk. But when we're tired/drunk we often don't have the motor function to pull off the ideas hence why a book is good because then we can save the idea for when we are alive enough to do it XD

And I'm glad you enjoy the way I write :D I'm much more self conscious about it than my art, so it's nice to know that I have achieved my goal and got people to want to read to the end :D
Reply  ·  
mel--mel's avatar
This was really inspiring!!
I used to keep journals during all my teens but then I stopped.
It didn' t appeal to me any more writing about my life.
I had never thought of my journal "evolving" into something like this!!
Thanks so much for the idea!!
I will definitely start one inspirational journal today!!
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
Yes I was never one for the teenage style "I met the new girl today, she was a bitch. I wish I could make friends who weren't assholes. And then I went to maths class. Mr Brown is so dull." journals.... I always started them then got bored. but this is a journal in the professional sense of the word and much more interesting.
Reply  ·  
Riemea's avatar
Riemea|Hobbyist General Artist
A wonderful article, thanks for sharing. :love: I am keeping a writing journal where every idea for poetry goes, but somehow it didn't occur to me that I could do the same for visual art, even though I'm primarily a visual artist. :lol: I'm definitely going to start an art journal now as well. :)
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
indeed you can have as many journals for each thing you do. I don't keep a personal diary or journal because I never find it interesting to do so but an art journal is logical for me. I hope your journaling goes well :)
Reply  ·  
Riemea's avatar
Riemea|Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed it it. Thank you! :)
Reply  ·  
Riemea's avatar
Riemea|Hobbyist General Artist
is*
Reply  ·  
KeyboardingChihuahua's avatar
KeyboardingChihuahua|Student General Artist
Ooh, I think I'll start an art journal now. I have quite a few empty notebooks in my room and way too many ideas swimming in my head.
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
I kept forgetting the ideas in my head the moment I had some free time to actually make them lol. I hope a journal will be useful for you.
Reply  ·  
leaf-iathan's avatar
leaf-iathan|Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for sharing this. This definitely sparked some inspiration and encouraged me to utilize one. I have a similar journal, but it's mainly a "gratitude journal", so I'll definitely put one aside for just art. With unnecessary stress, I very rarely have the time to finish a piece in one sitting. Despite how busy of a life I have, this will aspire me to work more at my art every day even if I'm not physically able to put pen to paper.  

Such a creative idea. Definitely sharing this with others. :heart:
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
thats what I like about my journal. I can work on my art even when I dont have time to actually draw. its so useful. ideas are just as important as how well you draw after all and they should be given time and care too.
Reply  ·  
Daenerys's avatar
I have had a blank paged notebook for years. I never manage to fill it :) But it is a nice way to also go back and see stuff you thought about doing at some point. There was a time I never left home without it tucked in my bag. If it wasnt for seeing my earlier sketches again the other day, I would not have gone back to drawing. I had convinced myself over the years that all I knew was pixel art dolling. But my younger self showed my I actually didnt do badly in drawing at all (which is so weird, because I have a painting hanging on the wall, that I am very proud of and that I know I made... it just became one of those blind spots).

So a notebook or journal is not just a neat way to write down and sketch out stuff now. It is invaluable to you in later years, especially if art becomes a forgotten hobby.

... and I love buying new notebooks and sketchpads.
Reply  ·  
Aonasis's avatar
Aonasis|Student Digital Artist
That's a pretty good idea! i'm buying art supplies today, so I think If I see some notepad that catches my eyes I will use it for this. Before I used to write an ideas in my phone as a text message but this seems more convenient.
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
I used to do the same, I'd write it in my phone's notes section but other than writing ideas in there I never actually looked at it therefor it was kinda useless XD
Reply  ·  
Aonasis's avatar
Aonasis|Student Digital Artist
Exactly, I only notice I wrote something when I'm writting something else, so there's no point.
Reply  ·  
FionaCreates's avatar
FionaCreates|Professional General Artist
indeed. Hence why a book is more cool cos it's always there, I can't forget about it.
Reply  ·  
BellaFillyLove's avatar
BellaFillyLove|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've started one in a little notebook with a dalmatian in a car.. :P Excited for this! :3

Thanks so much for this little idea! <3 Most brilliant thing I have ever heard of!
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