My studio journal is a key object in that I use it to function. I sit and I keep track of these very nebulous ideas and threads in my thinking, pin them down, ask questions about them, and come up with small actions to take around them, to develop an idea further. The studio journal is sometimes a place where I take stock, or make lists of things I want to do, or where I ask questions and later answer them, or where I take notes on technical processes. They are a jumble of a lot of things, but what they don't include is personal life anecdotes or complaints. I have a separate journal for that. The studio journals become important documents to me because they include important moments of epiphany and revelation, including formulas for how to repeat a successful process I developed, and what if questions like 'what if I tried this...?' . These questions can lead to a whole new body of work.
The other way that my studio journal becomes valuable, is that when I come into the studio it's like a touchstone, a place I begin. I can open that journal and sit with a cup of tea, just read a few pages and immediately see where I was last time I was there, where I was, what I was thinking about. The studio journal is the essential thread that weaves through my creative work. Some of my work is very idea based and so when I'm writing statements and descriptions emerge, or an email emerges that I'm trying to articulate as a question or thought. Some of what's in there is simply visual observations like "that needs more red in the upper right corner."
For a while I discovered that having sticky notes was also helpful so that when I sat to respond to a particular painting or drawing I could make a note and put it right on the back or front of a piece and then know exactly what to do next with it. It's a similar thread to the journal that makes it easier to re engage later when otherwise I would walk in a just see a complete mess and feel demoralized or lost. For some reason in an art studio, there are existential moments when it can be hard to know what I was so excited about the day before, and to feel like nothing of import is happening anywhere, even if you're surrounded by evidence of projects, industry and activity. Having little notes to myself, little recorded thoughts, questions and ideas gives me something I can plug into -it's a little like passing a baton to myself day after day in an insane relay made for one.
Do you have something like a studio journal in your process?
I find that mine is simple and plain, nothing too fancy or elegant. What about for you?
THIS IS HOME
May 27 - June 26
Gallery B in Castine, ME
A four woman exhibition opening Feb 3 2023 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Curated by Thea Eck.
Janice Charach Gallery
West Bloomfield MI
Jan 15-Mar 1 2023
Works of pure abstraction by 18 artists including five new puffies!
Make your own hand sewn book from the papers left by a loved one.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused or just plain excited by what's afoot in your life, and would like some excellent clarifying space and tools, try a session with Hannah! She's been a coach for 15 years. First 30 minutes is just to see what it's like...
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.