My artworkbooks

As you can see, I use my journals for a lot of different purposes, not only for sketching pleasure. As I’ve committed myself to doing more painting this year, I find that I’m reaching for it more and more as a practical workbook, not a chronological diary of my days. In fact, I have numerous workbooks with different paper in different sizes. I keep notes of ideas for paintings, I try out color mixtures. I paste in swatches of different kinds of paper and practice different drawing techniques. I work out designs for soft block carving. I carry it with me to museums and make notes about the artists. I even print out and paste in my sketches and paintings done in Photoshop or Painter.

This is my portable personal encyclopedia free of rules and concern about outcomes. The disastrous pages are as valuable as the “good” ones but none of them gets torn out and thrown away. It’s not an artists book destined to look pretty on its own. It’s a workbook – raw, spontaneous and full of scribbles and wrong turns. It’s where I map my “Creative Journey.”

Do you keep an art workbook for experiments and testing paint and such? Write and tell me about it.


  1. Big Harry H
    February 12, 2006

    God Karen, i could spend sooooooooo much time taking your books in. My sketchbooks have really changed over time. Honesly, i don’t keep books
    that contain practice sketches… i just do one of things and either tape it into a book or file it… I know i really need to keep formal books, but
    everything i do lately seems to be commissioned stuff or for my blog…

    anyhow, i just wanted to say i love your books. hopefully, i’ll see them in person some time…

    Big Harry =0)

  2. Marilyn
    February 13, 2006

    I just love your work. I also have several journals going, one I try to collaborate with my granddaughters, ages 7 and 12. I have only attempted drawing (after Danny’s book) for the past two months. I’m pleased.

  3. Agnes
    February 16, 2006

    All my sketchbooks are workbooks. I’ve never journalled in them; the paper isn’t very good for writing on, so I just jot notes. I used to keep a small one and a large one but found I filled the small one and rarely used the large one, so now I only keep the small one. I don’t usually remove pages. Once the ideas grows to useable size I switch to a larger surface.

  4. Donn
    February 21, 2006

    Hi Karen. Want to thank you for putting the photo up on your journals. I’m just beginning to start one and really didn’t know what all to put in it. Your sample sure helps a lot.

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