Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: 1,000 Artist Journal Pages

1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations by Dawn DeVries Sokol is a unique and valuable book on art journaling.  The book contains hardly any text, apart from a few introductory pages where contributors provide journaling prompts and their motivation behind journaling.  The bulk of the book is taken up by images of 1,000 pages that artists from around the world (but mostly from the United States) have created in their journals.

Probably more of the pages represent the complex, multi-layered, painting + collage style that seems to be most popular among art journalers today, but a great variety of styles are presented, from abstract pen-and-ink drawings to watercolour nature sketches to boldly coloured paintings.  Most artists are represented by more than one page, allowing the reader to get a feel for each artist's individual style.  These are indeed "personal" pages: in their journal entries, the artists complain and worry and question the directions of their lives, cross things out, scribble over their work, and make "bad" drawings.  These pages are not "pretty," finished works of art, but raw glimpses into the personal creative process.

I do not recommend 1,000 Artist Journal Pages for those who have never kept an art journal before.  The extreme variety of journal pages and styles presented could prove very intimidating to complete beginners.  Instead, I would recommend The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn, which describes basic supplies and techniques for art journaling and is, I think, more approachable for beginners.  Diehn's earlier book, The Decorated Page, is also good, although not quite as detailed.

However, for those who have done some art journaling already, whether you've just completed your first journal or have been doing it for years, then 1,000 Artist Journal Pages is a great resource.  After flipping through the book a few times, I feel full of new ideas and ready to start creating some new pages in my journal.

Because so many different styles are presented in the book, it can help you to discover things about your own personal style.  For example, most of the pages that I have created in the past have been fairly busy, stuffed full of colours and images.  However, the pages I am most drawn to in 1,000 Artist Journal Pages are the spare, minimalist pages, with lots of white space and perhaps only one main image as a focal point.  I also noticed that while it is the colours and images that attract me to a page, it is the words that really draw me into the page and keep me looking at it longer.  My favourite pages had a nice balance of words and images, something that my own pages have often lacked, being either word-heavy or image-heavy.

Overall, 1,000 Artist Journal Pages is a great resource for art journalers, experienced or not, looking for further inspiration in their practice, although I do not recommend it for complete beginners who have never journaled before.  It is the kind of book that you could look at again and again and always receive more inspiration from.

4.5/5 stars

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