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  • Helen English Artist

Thoughts from a journal...

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a sucker for a cool journal! By this, I mean the book itself. It’s a bit of an obsession. I go through style phases with them: lined or plain paper; A5 or A4; plain or decorated. I sometimes go for a search through the drawers in my studio because I know that I will likely find a journal which I bought and hid away to use after I’d finished the current ones and then forgotten about.


You’ll notice that I say “ones.” That wasn’t a typo. I don’t have ten on the go at once but often I do have a couple, if one isn’t hitting the spot. They can each serve a different purpose. It’s great to have one which is small enough to carry around and jot down random thoughts, sketch an idea, or even take to meetings where arty topics are being covered. It’s also good to have a larger one where you can plan projects and figure things out in more detail. Some artists I know use one for sketching visual ideas and a second one for writing plans. It doesn’t matter – you do you.


This is absolutely about skill development. Ideas give you a practice or research schedule. They give you the big picture from which you can figure out what you need to learn, or skills which you need to hone, in order to figure out your goals. Those journals are precious for direction and clarification.


I treat mine like gold and like to make them look unique. My current project journal was a plain black spiral bound visual diary but a precious piece of good quality wrapping paper and a bit of spray glue gave me a book which now looks like it’s mine and set for a purpose. I have also used thick acrylic paint on the front of a plain brown journal to give texture. You can stick beads on or create a pen and ink picture or pattern and attach it. If it is a non-waterproof covering or might get marks on it, you can cover it with clear peel-and-stick book covering or paint on clear enamel.



The most important thing is to use your journal though, and then go back and look through it every so often to see how your ideas evolve. Have fun!

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