Art Journal Field Kit and Books

I was up at 8 a.m. and showered, dressed, and bejewelled in matching earrings because Brown is coming! That’s right, UPS is coming with an order.

I placed an order for an out-of-print book called Picture Your Pet in Cross Stitch that was supposed to take 2 months to get if I could get it at all, and they had it within a week. That’s unusual but since it contains cross stitch patterns I want for the cover of the memory book I am dedicating to my Labrador Retriever that just died, I am ecstatic they found a copy. Lower left corner…nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

I recommended that my library order the book Artist’s Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson and they did, and I have had it out for a week so far. I wish I had bought it myself but you can’t buy everything. I have another of Cathy Johnson’s excellent books on nature sketching called Watercolor Pencil Magic, but this one is specific to art journalling and is packed with ideas and examples and techniques.

After getting all fired up and seeing a painted example in Artist’s Journal Workshop of an artist’s field kit, I decided to revamp mine. I originally had two, one for wet media and one for dry, but I decided to pare it down to one and include some new markers and brushes and a water brush I recently bought with some money from my Dad. My husband brought me home a bag of odds and ends of Prismacolor pencils that people at work had thrown out, and the smaller stumps are good for a small kit like this. I arranged a small palette of colours and sharpened them all with a new sharpener.

I have two watercolour pans, one was a gift from the woman who made the Georgia O’Keefe Oracle for me and it is in an old make-up compact. It has a beautiful qunacridone red as well as a base triad of red, blue, yellow and a pan of brown. The other I made myself with an inexpensive plastic palette and my tubes of Van Gogh watercolours. I carry it in a plastic sleeve. In the kit is an old toothbrush for spraying colour, an eraser, pencil sharpener, J-Cloth for wiping, tortillon, 2B and 6B pencils, 3 brushes, water brush, ruler, thin line markers in sepia and black, and a black marker brush.

I have to carry the watercolour pans and the spritzer bottle separately, but it’s pretty light. If I want I can also carry my new set of O’Bon L’Artiste pencils too, I’m only going in my back yard and local woods and the cemetery. You can see what it’s like ready to go—not too big for my purposes. I always wonder if I should clean the mixing part of the pan. I prefer to let it dry so I can use washes of some of the colours I mixed previously. Is this being too cheap or merely practical?? Hahaha, maybe I need to learn to let things go!

I felt like burying myself in books and art after my dog died, so with more money from my Dad, I bought these three books. I have almost all the books available on bookbinding and after a while they begin to repeat themselves, likewise with books on journalling, but I got so much out of this recent Cathy Johnson book that I bought these others too.

The Complete Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn: I nearly bought Gwen Diehn’s previous books, but now they’ve put two of them together in one book so I figured it would inspire me and have some ideas that are new to me.

Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie is also basically for inspiration. she has a different style to Cathy Johnson—a somewhat raw treatment that is closer to my style, so I thought it might be good.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory. I find this one really inspiring and there are so many styles and different media used that I could look at it every day. I got the book from the library initially and had to buy my own copy, it meant so much to me I couldn’t let it go. I had another book by Danny Gregory that I gave away but this one is a keeper.

Buying art books can get out of hand. You can buy all the books, all the supplies, but at some time you have to sit down and start doing your own work and improving and learning. There is no getting around that.

I get very uptight about making art, very perfectionistic, but I am trying to loosen up and just have fun. A few weeks of getting over that hurdle and I’ll create a pleasurable habit. I have a very good track record with doing daily draws on my card blog, and I want to carry that habitual energy and pleasure into this. I certainly have enough sketchbooks to work with, and one more being made.


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