Friday, May 7, 2010
Recap (or continuation?) of International Fake Journal Month
A few days ago I received a blog post from Roz Stendahl to give a recap of my experience of International Fake Journal Month. From my blog you can see that my author stopped journaling sometime around April 15th. In real life, a trip to Southern California to visit relatives for ten days put a real damper on my time and enthusiasm for the fake journal. Eventhough I had packed all the supplies to continue on, I found the inspiration and story kind of dried up under the stress of the trip. I tend to like to work on my journals in private and since no privacy was to be found…hence no journal pages. I intend to finish this particular sketchbook story, but at a somewhat reduced pace, as I really enjoyed the process. Some interesting things I learned from it…
1. When I discovered IFJM and Roz's website I had been looking at blogs of people who regularly do visual journaling because it was a practice I wanted to cultivate for myself. I do a written journal everyday for about a half an hour or 3 pages minimum. It's my way of clearing out the cobwebs, getting my petty gripes out and just clearing the decks for the day so I don't have a bunch of extraneous junk cluttering my mind. I also have a design sketchbook which is mainly just pen and ink drawings and notes for projects or future inspiration. But I wanted to add to that practice by starting a third purely visual journal in color. I've always loved looking at other people's journals and sketchbooks and decided it was finally time to try this on my own. The IFJM seemed a perfect way to commit to this process.
2. I found that a 'fake' journal relieved me from trying to write something witty or profound each day. I liked the idea that 'it was not me' therefore anything I did was OK. Consequently the narrative was at times a little awkward, but I was OK with that.
3. In the past, I have always labeled myself as a printmaker. My marks have almost always been with black ink on paper. In college I struggled with painting in acrylic and using color. So the decision to use watercolor was a real departure for me. I was so convinced that watercolor was difficult but I really wanted to go for that look I had so admired in others' journals. So I jumped in and found I really do enjoy watercolor. I think the 'fake' journal allowed me to make this rough transition and not be attached to the outcome of the illustrations.
4. I found I became engaged with the travel dialog. Every morning I spent time looking at Google maps and going through my own images to create a story for my traveler. Luckily I have some experience with this type of travel (in fact not enough lately!) so it was easy to get into the zen of the trip. It was an adventure to think about where my author might go next and what she might want to journal about.
5. I'd like to get the journaling and drawing/painting time down to 30 minutes a day. I was so enjoying the process that I found myself spending a lot of time working on my drawings and then the painting. I want to let the sketches be more loose and less literal and the watercoloring less controlled.
6. Upgrade the materials. I tried using different materials, some I liked, some I didn't feel worked all that well for the process. I used a Canson Field Sketchbook which didn't respond well to the watercolor process. The pages became quite distorted and after the first day I took to painting only every other page because the warpage was so bad. Also I found the spiral binding was a problem. I had initially thought that I would fold the book flat to work in it, but since it was only 5"x7" I found the single page not big enough to contain my author's thoughts. Next time I think I'll go for bound journal with real watercolor paper. I also used a KohINoor watercolor wheel stack pack as a way to replicate the concern for space when traveling on a motorcycle (ditto for the journal size). I don't know enough about watercolor yet to know the difference, but I'm planning on upgrading to better quality watercolors to see how that effects the outcome of the pages.
7. I was surprised at how much people enjoyed following the story and identifying the locations visited. The acceptance of the journal was beyond what I had expected. I had people asking where I was going next and what was I going to do with the 'finished' book.
All in all the IFJM was a great experience and has spawned a new appreciation for the visual journal. Plus it has taught me what is possible. I fully expect to continue this particular narrative until the book is filled and then will go from there. I've already got April 1, 2011 marked on my calendar. Thanks Roz for such a great idea!