I just picked this book up the other day, Drawing From Life: The Journal As Art by Jennifer New. I’m always inspired by the idea of keeping a sketchbook, as I have, religiously, since 1979, but this book has taken that inspiration to a new level. It shows many different kinds of people keeping many different kinds of journals: Artists, filmmakers, writers, scientists – all connected by their passion for keeping a visual document of their own creative or observational processes between the bindings of a book (or not, in the case of cartoonist Lynda Barry who “journals” on loose-leaf yellow legal pads, but journals nevertheless). It’s fantastic to see pages scanned directly out of these extremely personal books, to see the authority and command they have and the absolutely singular way each chooses to express himself or herself. It’s the kind of authority a person gets when he knows no one else is watching or judging the outcome. I couldn’t help but draw a mental connection to blogging when I looked at these various journals but the comparison quickly falls apart because 1. blogs are typewritten and usually formatted in a coherent manner, thanks to various html editing software, whereas these pages were all handwritten, most not even conforming to margins or the quaint notions of “up” and “down”; and 2. blogs are, by definition, meant for public consumption, whereas journals are the exact opposite: meant for the person creating it or a close confidant only. All that aside, judging the book visually alone, it’s a feast for the eyes and will inspire anyone – even people who don’t draw, because there are many examples of collaged and photographed and just plain interestingly hand-written entries – to go out and buy a blank journal and fill it up.
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