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A Most Unusual Artist Tool- Using a note book to develop my artist voice!


I spend a lot of time thinking about translating the landscape in ‘my way’. What I mean by that is that as a developing artist the techniques of those I follow and admire obviously affect how I work. I can feel that sometimes I channel artist A in some work, artist B in other work and so on, by using similar techniques or palettes for example.

As time goes on and I put the work in, I feel the ideas and techniques I pick up developing, changing and merging but it can feel like knitting fog- I think I’m onto something, and then it slips away.


For me writing down my thoughts helps to figure these things out - especially if I’m spinning too many plates and feeling overwhelmed or not sure where I’m going. I have a growing number of big A4 note books that I’ve filled with ramblings, plans and lists and find them to be one of my most valuable art tools I use. I’ve accessorised mine with labels, pen holders and developed my unique (as in, I know exactly what it means, but no one else will!) indexing system.


I don’t write everyday but certainly if my head is overspilling with ideas or I’m in a creative muddle, 20 mins writing what ever comes out of my head, really helps. Even if I don’t have a creative revelation I do get a great todo list, which helps take the pressure off. I use them to plan events, brainstorm ideas, social media posts, ideas for blogs, material lists, possible titles for work, things to do, exhibitions to look and so on. And because they are indexed with little sticky labels I can go back to them to remind myself of ideas and info anytime.


There are similarly useful digital systems - in fact I use the free Trello programme for lots of planning and scheduling, but I find paper and a lovely ink pen works better for me. I can also sketch out compositions if I need to, which digitally would not suit my practice as much.


My Note book is not a traditional artist tool but one I would not be without and I highly recommend trying it. If you're interested in learning more about journaling, a really popular book within the art community is Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way'. This is where I first heard of morning papers - daily journaling. I don't quite do it the way she suggests and tbh, I didn't finish the book 😬. Maybe one day! But following this introduction I have become aware of many artists who journal and write to help them solve the creative issues in their lives.


Do you have a journeying practice or note book system you would recommend? Let me know - I always love discovering new creative tips 😊


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