I have a brand new category – Art Journal. This is for writing specifically about the practice of keeping and filling up small blank books. I usually refer to them as little books but art journal is the more commonly used desgination so I am using that. I don’t care about journaling, I care about making blank pages non blank.
It’s really super important to me to have a place of artistic freedom. If you have no art practice at all, then any art may feel like freedom. But if you have an ongoing art practice, you probably experience some sense of being hemmed in. It’s not bad, it’s rather necessary for most elaborate pursuits. If you are knitting a sweater, you need to follow the pattern or it’s not going to fit. If you are editing a documentary, you need to have a story structure or it’s going to be incomprehensible, if you are cooking dinner, you need it to taste good or what’s the point? Artwise, we follow certain rules to get desired results. That’s good. A useful rule is very handy. I love rules. Especially the ones I have made for myself. I wrote all about it here: Rules. Can’t Live With Them. Can’t Live Without Them.
But I also yearn for adventure. I want to wander the streets blindly, not knowing where I may end up. I need a place to do that creatively. Small blank art books are that place.
I’ve been keeping a small blank book for decades. I like them small enough to:
Fit in a bag or pocket without being a pain in the ass.
Not be intimidating (not too much surface space to deal with, not so cool looking I’m afraid to make a mark)
The number one rule of the personal blank art notebook is no rules! If you feel like doing it you can. If you feel like doing it you should! The weirder and worse the idea sounds, the more likely you should do it. Otherwise how will you know? It’s so easy for our minds to tell us no, to make us afraid of failure. This is the andidote to that. This is a pocketful of yes.
The stuff you do in the black book is not there to impress you. It’s there to entice you. It’s not a museum, it’s a workshop. When you look at it you should be think, why am I so wild? When can I hang out with myself again?