To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My new Oregon High Desert Crossing Journal is up!

I finally DID it! The new sketch journal is up! But only after going through two interminable months of journaler's block. I couldn't write or sketch or even think about finishing my new Oregon High Desert Crossing Journal, no matter how hard I tried. Whew!

Here's what happened:
In May I drove across the entire state of Oregon, from where I live in Talent (near Medford and Ashland on the west side) to Eagle, near Boise, Idaho, where my brother lives. It was a great trip, 500 miles, with four days on the road and another exploring the high desert Owyhee Mountains in Idaho with David & Marcia (Marcia's my sis-in-law). I sketched and journaled the whole time, with ballpoint pen (mostly) and watercolor pencils, but when I got home......

Well, it seems I got the blues. I loved being with family so much, and went into withdrawal symptoms, I guess. Finally, after weeks of avoiding the sketch journal, filling up the time with building a new work desk, cleaning my storage shed, getting out and refurbishing my old 4-harness loom, and any number of other subterfuges and dodges, I got sick and tired of my shenanigans.

I uncoiled the coil from my journal, freed all the pages, and tacked them up onto a big corkboard visible from my computer desk (where I'd been whiling away much of the time). Now it was In My Face, and inescapable. Looking at them many times a day, I began to see little details I might be able to add, things I wanted to improve, tiny things that m.a.y.b.e. I could manage to creep through.... and I managed to scrape and shovel my way through my "journaler's block," finally emerging victorious last week....

... whereupon I got to work and finished adding text to some pages, color to a bunch, and adding sketches from photos I had taken to a couple of others. The result is a sketch journal I am very happy with. And it's a great example of how to turn an ordinary road trip into an adventure you can relive again and again. I've made that trip across Oregon many times. THIS one I'll remember.

Most people think journal pages, and indeed, entire trip journals, emerge as finished works of art at the end of the trip. Some people's do, I suppose. And some of mine almost do, but often pages need a little finishing later on: color, notes, another bit of writing, a haiku, etc. (here's me, journaling on my brother's patio). Sometimes I want to add a sketch from photos I took at the time. Sometimes I originally only have time for a sketchy little note or picture which I can finish or add to later. And generally a fresh cover is in order. The cover for this journal is a composite of elements from several different sketches, plus color and a border, all constructed in Adobe InDesign, a desktop publishing program.

Last week I was talking with a friend (via email) who thought it might be a good idea if I made Oregon High Desert Crossing into a kind of "workbook" sketch journal, with each spread having a facing page showing what I did to create the actual sketch page. For instance, I could show the page as it appeared, unfinished, at the end of my journey on the left side, and what I did (and why and how) to create the final journal page which appears on the right page of the spread.
It might look something like this (remember, you can click on an image to enlarge it).

Does that sound interesting? If it does, I can make a second version available with that sort of addenda. I'd love to get opinions on this to see if anyone is interested. I'd hate to spend the time and effort on it if no one would find it useful. Please, comment and let me know?

I've left the insanely low price for the travel sketch journals intact (only $5.95) so they'll be affordable. And all my other sketching workbooks (basic and intermediate drawing, watercolor pencil, journaling, wildlife sketching, etc.) are still available, too.

And now, I need to get back to my desk. I'm working on the design and layout (and illustration) of a trail guide for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, and the deadline is getting pretty tight.


jeanette, mistress of longears said...

Yes, I think it would be very informative to see how you put the journal pages together.

Sandy in Michigan said...

Your idea sounds wonderful -- I sometimes feel a bit jaded about making my journal pages and I'd like to get some fresh insights into how someone else approaches their blank pages! If you go ahead with this please announce it in the group so I'll know! Thanks!

Irene said...

I know I certainly get inspiration from what others do in their journals. I personally feel that mine aren't terribly imaginative, but my subject matter kind of makes up that. I've noticed that others tend to downplay their own achievements, so perhaps I'm doing the same....

I'm ALmost convinced the addenda would be a good idea, but I'd feel a lot more sure with a bit more feedback first. Thanks to both of you for commenting.


Cathy Holtom said...

It would be interesting to see how you work, I wouldn't know where to start!

winna said...

I am trying to order this book and another one of yours and all I can do is check that I want it and then there is no way to pay for download

Connie said...

You know I can't learn enough about "how you do what you do"!

Just now I learned that you sometimes take the journal apart and spread it out to get an overview and see what you want to add. See! You are teaching and don't even know it!

I going now to buy and download your new journal. YEA!

rroebuck said...

I really like your idea of teaching within the journal. I always learn from looking at other people's journal, but this would even be better! I really enjoyed reading how you finished this pieces....after a trip.
Thank you for sharing so much!

Irene said...

Cathy, to be perfectly, honest, I often don't know where to start either, so I just do the first thing to come to hand. I can always blend it in later -- of just leave it out if I get off to an awkward start. The big deal is to just start.

Winna, I'm glad it was your computer eschewing pop-ups instead of mine disdaining orders! Don't you love the word "eschewing?" It puts me in mind of a rather vigorous chomping and spitting out activity!"

Connie, yeah, taking apart my journals is really useful -- I got that insight from my years of doing thumbnails for illustrating books. Publishers wanted to know what was planned for the entire book, so I'd do a set of little roughs, 2" x 3" or so, to show them. But in showing them, I showed me, too, and often rethought things in the process.

Rhonda, I'm one of those people who often is conducting a silent running monologue in my head as I do something, explaining in detail to no-one at all what I'm doing, how and why. Weird! I've always been that way. So I might as well put it to use. And REALLY glad it's useful.

marbran said...


I think showing how you go about getting the finished page of a journal is a fantastic idea. Please JUST DO IT!!!


Irene said...

well, yes MAAM!

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