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Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art

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Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art is an exploration Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art is an exploration of these exceptionsbooks of obsessive wonder filled to their borders with drawings, sketches, watercolors, graphs, charts, lists, collages, portraits, and photographs. Jennifer New takes readers on a spirited tour into the private worlds of journal keepersan architect, a traveler, a film director, an archeologist, a cancer patient, a songwriter, a quiltmaker, a gardener, an artist, a cyclist, and a scientist, to name just a fewillustrating a broad range of journaling styles and techniques that in the end show how each of us can go about documenting our everyday lives. Excerpts from journals by such artists as Maira Kalman, Steven Holl, David Byrne, and Mike Figgis give us a peek at how creative souls observe, reflect, and explore. For those who already keep a journal, Drawing from Life will be an inspiration. For those who have always wanted toor tried and failedit might just be the motivation needed to get past that first week.


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Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art is an exploration Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art is an exploration of these exceptionsbooks of obsessive wonder filled to their borders with drawings, sketches, watercolors, graphs, charts, lists, collages, portraits, and photographs. Jennifer New takes readers on a spirited tour into the private worlds of journal keepersan architect, a traveler, a film director, an archeologist, a cancer patient, a songwriter, a quiltmaker, a gardener, an artist, a cyclist, and a scientist, to name just a fewillustrating a broad range of journaling styles and techniques that in the end show how each of us can go about documenting our everyday lives. Excerpts from journals by such artists as Maira Kalman, Steven Holl, David Byrne, and Mike Figgis give us a peek at how creative souls observe, reflect, and explore. For those who already keep a journal, Drawing from Life will be an inspiration. For those who have always wanted toor tried and failedit might just be the motivation needed to get past that first week.

30 review for Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Very good look into the journals of 31 people whose journals fuel their creativity and work. Many of the contributors aren't artists per se - an engineer, a volcanologist, a gardener, travelers - but all the journal excerpts are highly individual and artistic. Also, the book's graph-paper themed pages give the impression that the book itself is a journal.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vasilisa

    I've been planning out ways to dispose of my notebooks and notepads in which I've written random thoughts, quotations, reminders. Reading "Drawing From Life", I realize these too have significance. So I read through my old notebooks, and found that it seems I write better in these notebooks than in my more formal journals. The words are free flowing, unhampered by grammar. It is straight from the gut. I've changed my mind and currently looking for a place to store all my random journals, noteboo I've been planning out ways to dispose of my notebooks and notepads in which I've written random thoughts, quotations, reminders. Reading "Drawing From Life", I realize these too have significance. So I read through my old notebooks, and found that it seems I write better in these notebooks than in my more formal journals. The words are free flowing, unhampered by grammar. It is straight from the gut. I've changed my mind and currently looking for a place to store all my random journals, notebooks, and scrapbooks. I've been so inspired, that right in the middle of "Drawing From Life", I made my way to a bookstore and got a new journal. This book has also been informative in how many different ways people use journals, and not just of the whining about my-life-is-shit journals I'm all too familiar with. There's a dreams journal, journal detailing the progression of a garden, and other journals dealing with only one project. This makes a great coffee table book and an essential work for any journal writer.

  3. 5 out of 5

    JayeL

    The best quote I have come across in this book is one that says "the journal is the working stiff of creative life." This quote lends the journal (visual journal or art journal or text based journal) an air of humanity. It lends the feeling that it is ok to cross out bits and pieces, to rip pages out, to start over. It gives me the okay to just do whatever I need to in my journal and use it to work out ideas and improve my ideas. I finished this book and felt a sense of relief. Not relief that I The best quote I have come across in this book is one that says "the journal is the working stiff of creative life." This quote lends the journal (visual journal or art journal or text based journal) an air of humanity. It lends the feeling that it is ok to cross out bits and pieces, to rip pages out, to start over. It gives me the okay to just do whatever I need to in my journal and use it to work out ideas and improve my ideas. I finished this book and felt a sense of relief. Not relief that I had finished it, but a sense of excitement and a new beginning. Imagine letting out a huge sigh of contentment and that is how I felt. I was particularly enamored with the 1000 journals project and wished that New had had more of Denyse Schmidt's journals. I loved reading about the various artists, especially in the creativity section and felt very inspired by their work. Read this book, it is fantastic!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a gorgeous book filled with wide-ranging examples of the way artists and others use their journals and sketchbooks as visual records of their lives (or portions thereof). I like to thumb through it for inspiration, but also enjoy reading the short essays about each person behind these volumes. I plan to recommend it to my drawing students as well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    If you keep a sketchbook, this book will interest you. Not a great book but it always interests me to see other people's sketchbooks. The best part of the read is learning all the various reasons people keep them and how they use them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Princeton Architectural

    Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal As Art is an exploration of these exceptions—books of obsessive wonder filled to their borders with drawings, sketches, watercolors, graphs, charts, Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal As Art is an exploration of these exceptions—books of obsessive wonder filled to their borders with drawings, sketches, watercolors, graphs, charts, lists, collages, portraits, and photographs. Jennifer New takes readers on a spirited tour into the private worlds of journal keepers—an architect, a traveler, a film director, an archeologist, a cancer patient, a songwriter, a quiltmaker, a gardener, an artist, a cyclist, and a scientist, to name just a few—illustrating a broad range of journaling styles and techniques that in the end show how each of us can go about documenting our everyday lives. Excerpts from journals by such artists as Maira Kalman, Steven Holl, David Byrne, and Mike Figgis give us a peek at how creative souls observe, reflect, and explore. For those who already keep a journal, Drawing from Life will be an inspiration. For those who have always wanted to—or tried and failed—it might just be the motivation needed to get past that first week. Jennifer New is author of the best selling Dan Eldon: The Art of Life. She teaches at the University of Iowa School of Education and lives with her husband and children in Iowa City.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a fascinating look into how people creatively journal about everything from their dreams to people they see on the subway and everything in between. With profiles of each journal-keeper and a sampling of the actual pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Victoria Katherine

    It was interesting and illuminating to see the motivations and ways individuals keep journals. This has certainly made me think about my own journal keeping habits. I would be curious to see a second volume of different people.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jackeline64

    I have enjoyed this book for many years. The architecture is unique and it helped me look around more at unique buildings in my city so that was fascinating. Thank you. Jackeline64.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    A contradictory book. Almost pointless. A populist book without aim. A waste of paper. The author implies that somehow the journal of an important explorer to a land unknown back home is the same as the ramblings of an anonymous. This is the same mechanism as power tools adverts using half naked women with big prosthetic breasts. At the same time, the author glorifies the private nature of the journal and the visual qualities for the others, hence simultaneous private and an exhibition.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leni D.

    I found “Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art” a very interesting read, and I have to say in some cases, inspirational. I enjoyed reading about why some of the people represented in the book keep a journal(s), especially the artistic & observational/scientific journal keepers. As an artist, I have a good number of journals and sketchbooks; a few are entirely text based (referring to the former), but the majority are notes and images of ideas I have for art projects I’m either working on, or I found “Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art” a very interesting read, and I have to say in some cases, inspirational. I enjoyed reading about why some of the people represented in the book keep a journal(s), especially the artistic & observational/scientific journal keepers. As an artist, I have a good number of journals and sketchbooks; a few are entirely text based (referring to the former), but the majority are notes and images of ideas I have for art projects I’m either working on, or still mulling around in my head for (possible) future use, or to use as a clearing house for the chaos and cacophony bouncing around my cranium. I also have journals that are totally dedicated to research for projects that requires a singular/concentrated focus. “Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art” is a simple read with some wonderful images. I would suggest this book to anyone that is looking for a bit of inspiration (such as I was) or is just interested in journals as an art form (such as I am). .

  12. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    This fat, heavy book with beautifully rounded corners and the look of a lab manual guides you through the journals of an unlikely group of unrelated people: sketchers, scientists, travelers, idea-generators. The journals are largely commonplace journals (meant to catch thoughts and ideas on a daily basis) and not beautiful books for display. Of course, some of them are lovely, but I love the day-to-day books best. The ones that will still be meaningful years from now as identifiers of history, c This fat, heavy book with beautifully rounded corners and the look of a lab manual guides you through the journals of an unlikely group of unrelated people: sketchers, scientists, travelers, idea-generators. The journals are largely commonplace journals (meant to catch thoughts and ideas on a daily basis) and not beautiful books for display. Of course, some of them are lovely, but I love the day-to-day books best. The ones that will still be meaningful years from now as identifiers of history, culture, food, and ideas. A book for inspiration and for finding out about artists you may have never heard of, because journaling is still the refuge for iconoclasts and introverts. I've had this book for years but had never opened it; I'm so glad I finally did. It will influence my journals considerably.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mycala

    This was an interesting peek into the various kinds of art journals by all kinds of people from quilters to scientists and the guy who keeps track of how many eggs he eats and how they're done. I was expecting it more to be a book about techniques and ideas, but it was interesting anyway. October 2010 - Amused to discover I've read this book before and I totally don't remember it. The same reaction, though. I wasn't as inspired as I'd hoped to be but it was interesting. I'll check back in another This was an interesting peek into the various kinds of art journals by all kinds of people from quilters to scientists and the guy who keeps track of how many eggs he eats and how they're done. I was expecting it more to be a book about techniques and ideas, but it was interesting anyway. October 2010 - Amused to discover I've read this book before and I totally don't remember it. The same reaction, though. I wasn't as inspired as I'd hoped to be but it was interesting. I'll check back in another three years to see if I've read it again. ;-)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This book struck me somewhere between 'prurient interest' in peeping in other people's sketchbooks and journals, and guidebook and affirmation that my scribblings and meanderings and doodles probably have some value, if for no other reason than to act as a touchstone to the person I was at the time. If we have nothing to look back on, it's impossible to get a sense of how far we've come. I really enjoyed this 'book' a lot.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The book was an interesting read. The idea of a visual journal is something that was quite new to me, but it was not really what I was looking for when I decided to read this book. I wanted to learn about various techniques and skills for writing and maintaining a journal, but I got none of them. But I have to admit that the book itself is very decent, with wonderful examples of visual journals from various types of professionals, ranging from an architect to a physician.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    A peek into the artistic journals of several artists. Truly one of my favorite books, if only for its inspirational value. I thumb through it anytime I start to believe I don't have time to make art. I so enjoy examining how people observe and document life, and this book is essentially a study of just that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ace Whatstheirface

    Beautiful book with pages of visuals from the journals of scientists, artists, architects, etc. the book tells about the processes of visual journaling for the selected people, which is no doubt interesting. I wish it had more analytic and theoretic information regarding the journaling and creative process as opposed to solely focussing on summaries of particular artists' journals.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was definitely an interesting read and I think it is a good reference for any artist but I don't know how valuable it was. It was just kind of fun to look through and read about some of the various processes.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    awesome!!! this had been a birthday present in 2005 and i had it more as a coffee table book. i finally read it cover to cover and found it so inspiring, and gave me a long list of artists to look up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeannen

    A fascinating look at an array of visual journals. I thought it would inspire to me want to start a visual journal of my own, but it turns out that I can be very interested in other people's visual journals without being in the least bit interested in creating one myself!

  21. 5 out of 5

    R.Friend

    Beautiful collection of diverse doodles, collage, and other methods of breathing life into ordinary blank journals. Anyone who has ever experienced The Journals of Dan Eldon owes it to themselves to check this out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Filled with inspiring, fun examples of journals that combine art and writing. Some of them from well-known people.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Callista

    This book made me feel good about my journaling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Yesica

    sounds interesting...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate Green

    It's alright, I suppose. Makes me a little envious of the people that have time to keep a sketchpad. And their artistic skills!

  26. 4 out of 5

    heartful

    Very inspiring.

  27. 5 out of 5

    bitchrepublic

    yummy! Kick start a journal today.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    such a wonderful book about drawing, fabulous if you are learning and fabulous if you can already draw

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    A great look into the life of the artist and their personal sketchbooks. Kudos to journals!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tiiu Ashcraft

    It is cool to see how other use their sketch books.

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