Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Starting a studio journal

I have just started my first online class, "Studio Journals: A Designer's Workhorse," with Sharon Boggon, offered through

For $60, I receive six classes with an internationally-known instructor. The classes arrive via PDF, and include written information and photos from Sharon, as well as exercises to complete within the week. There's an online forum where I can communicate with other students and with Sharon. There are people taking this class from all over the world; they range in experience level and type of artist, so this makes for an interesting and exciting mix.

I took this class because I'd been curious about online classes. There are some terrific artists teaching this way, and I think it may be an even bigger thing in the future. I've been teaching face to face, but teaching online might be a challenging and interesting experience... and I figured I better take a class before I taught one!

I also took the class because I have never kept a studio journal. Most trained artists keep sketchbooks and visual journals to record images they find interesting, work on new techniques, and as portable way of taking their work with them. The sketchbook is NOT in itself a work of art (although there are people making books that are pieces of art)... it is, as Sharon describes it, a workhorse.

Since my formal art training ended when I left high school, this concept is completely foreign to me. I wondered if it might be a good way for me to teach myself, and to improve my creativity and my technique.

I have only done a few exercises so far, and will post more about them later. I had heard that it could be intimidating to work on the first few pages of a studio journal, and thought that pretty silly, but it turned out to be true. So I decided to just have fun on the first few pages, and to sketch out some concepts for a new art quilt I'm working on involving water and trout. The photo above shows those pages.

So far, this is wonderful fun. Maybe too wonderful... I am spending lots of time playing and working and wandering in my sketchbook, and no time making art! I know this work will pay off in the long run, but I feel a bit guilty right now. Like I am eating my strawberry shortcake before my vegetables.

I guess I have always been "product" oriented. I like having something to show for my work. So this is a little weird for me.

If you are an artist who keeps a sketchbook, why do you do it, and what benefits have you seen? Leave me a comment and let me know. – Susan