Sketchbooks and Journals

Keeping Sketchbooks by Laura Bray

I've been keeping sketchbooks since 2007. Lately, I've been wondering if I'm utilizing them as much as I should. They generally seem to sit on a shelf. I occasionally pull one down, but not often. As I delve further into the idea of working on drawing and painting, I'm thinking I need to change that. I'm trying to build a portfolio of images and I'm wondering why I'm working to create new images when I have an entire shelf of images to pull from. Granted, some of my early work is rougher than what I can produce now but I can still take an image and use it as launching pad to create a collection.

Keeping Sketchbooks by Laura Bray

While mulling this idea over, I thought about my HUGE collection of written journals as well. I journal, in the morning,most days. I've been keeping journals since I was 10 years old (which is a long time!) but, like my sketchbooks, I finish the journal, put it away, and never look at it again. I'm wondering how many learning experiences are tucked into those journals that I have forgotten and could revisit? How many writing prompts are hidden in there? Even my journals from when I was 10 years old-what could I learn from my childish self as an adult? I know that when I was in my 20s I read one of my childhood journals. I was fascinated by a particularly dramatic entry about how a boy made fun me. My heart hurt for the little girl who wrote the passage, but that wasn't what struck me. What was amazing to me was that I had absolutely NO recollection of the event. I could have been reading another person's journal. I learned a lesson that day. I learned that things that seem terrible, that you think you will never live through, may not be that important in the grand scheme of life. In fact, today's "tragedy" could be tomorrow's forgotten memory.

Keeping Sketchbooks by Laura Bray

So I'm making an effort to revisit the past and learn from 10 year old Laura, and 20 year old Laura (God help, she was difficult!), and even 30 year old Laura. Those girls just might have been writing to 44 year old Laura. Sketchbooks, journals, they are meant to be used, not stored away. I'm going to try to make a habit of revisiting them.

What about you? Do you reread your old journals? How do you use your sketchbooks?

Keeping Sketchbooks by Laura Bray


2 Responses to Sketchbooks and Journals

  1. I love reading old diaries and looking through old sketchbooks, though I wish I had as many as you do. Most of my sketchbooks these days get the good stuff taken out to be scanned and filed and so the books themselves only have very rough sketches which is interesting, but not very inspirational. But it's lovely to flick through the ones before then. It occurred to me the other day that I was missing out by taking everything out of the books, so I've grabbed a basic one (with a beautiful cover – I love notebooks/sketchbooks with lovely covers!) and started using it as an journal – for art and words – and trying to do something in it every day (it's tending to be very few words at the moment, but I'm sure it will vary over time). 

    My sister and daughter also love looking through my old diaries and sketchbooks (I did have to censor some of them until my daughter's a bit older). I have always been very sporadic about keeping them, though. I'll write religiously for a few weeks and then nothing for months and months and then pick up again and so on. 

    Looking through some recently it struck me that I don't seem to draw many trees anymore, so I'm trying to address that, because I love trees! 

    Enjoy your journals, old and new!

    • Laura Bray says:

      I love the idea of scanning your good pages. Brilliant way to keep them organized and allow for easy access to them!

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