Thursday, March 24, 2016


Digital image from a sketch diary
      Sometime ago I added a note-taking app to my Ipad to collect all the little bits and pieces of information I come across online, in emails, talking to fellow artists and reading all sorts of books.  Prior to this app these were collected on little scraps of paper that I was forever misplacing.  Little did I know that I had just begun a practice digitally that I and millions of other people before me had been doing for centuries. 
      Called florilegia ( flowers of reading) in the Middle Ages, it actually goes all the way back to ancient Rome where Julius Caesar kept copious notes about his readings. During the Renaissance it became known as keeping a Commoplace Book, a place to keep a record of quotes, ideas, observations, theories or any other kind of random information that the writer might find useful at some future date.
      As artists, it has now become somewhat of a fad to keep an "Artist's Journal".  Regardless of what you call it, or whether you keep yours manually or digitally, a Commonplace is a terrific way to make connections among all of the thousands of bytes of information that we process everyday.  Here are some of what goes into mine:
  • Sketches of scenes I like
  •  Color Palettes
  • Quotes related to art or by famous artists                               
    Digital image of an art journal
  • Suggestions for topics I might like to blog
  • Unusual compositions that interest me
  • Descriptions of new art products and where to buy them
  • Art books I've read and want to revisit or ones I'd like to read
  • Names of artists with whom I'm not familiar but want to look up
  • Photos of places I want to plein air paint
  • Photos to use for reference
  • Descriptions of the order in which I've started a mixed media  piece so that I can use the same sequence again
  • Subjects that I love like Boats, any kind of boats
  • Places I want to visit
  • People who have interesting jobs
This list goes on and on -- what makes this process so worthwhile is the serendipitous new projects that often develop from the juxtaposition of these unrelated bits of information.  If you've never done this before (all in one place), NOW would be a great time to start, oh -- be sure to reread your snippits often!