I am an avid art journaler – in books – with watercolor and I love that. But, to my surprise, I have found that my digital journals have also become a huge part of my practice.
It all started when my travel journals would come home with three pages completed and many details of the trip long gone from my memory.
I have often wished I could sit on a camp stool and do the quick sketching that all the Urban Sketchers do, but try as I might, that is not my style, and I don’t like my results.
There is no point at all to creating a travel journal if I am not going to revisit it for happiness hits later. And if I am looking at artwork of mine that does not please me, there is no happiness to be hit with.
I have been an artist all of my life and I have heard it all about forgiveness and permission and no rules and inner critics and blah blah blah blah blah.
When I don’t like something I have drawn, I don’t feel like a failure or a bad person or have doubts about my “artist-ness”. I just don’t like it. For this reason, I have always been a pencil and eraser gal until I have it right (according to me). Then comes ink and/or color. And I have to like that result too.
That all takes a LONG time, but it’s worth it, because when I revisit my watercolor journals, I LOVE the experience, and have, in fact, been caught actually petting some pages like you would a beloved cat.
This TIME thing only becomes a problem for my travel journals because I never carve out enough TIME on the trip to do the kind of pages I like. And when I get home, I can no longer remember what should BE ON the pages.
So, several years ago, I decided I would keep a parallel travel journal in my iPad – using the photos I took and lots of notes so there would be a complete itinerary anyway – to work from later.
I still do that, but the process has evolved – to include quick sketches, more elaborate sketches, and research info I can find right there on the iPad to add to my description of places and events.
Pretty soon, these were travel journals and sketchbooks on their own.
Did they replace the watercolor journals and sketchbooks? Absolutely not. I do both – taking the best visual materials from the iPad journal to create a watercolor journal with few words and lots of painting- which I can take all the time I need to complete.
This whole experience became light-years cooler when the big iPad Pro came along – with the fantabulous Apple Pencil. I would imagine the smaller iPad Pro is cool to, but I wanted the screen real estate.
Did I run right out and buy the iPad Pro and Pencil? You know I did. I am saved from being a complete Apple maniac only by the fact that I don’t sleep outside the Apple store the night before a new phone release.
I have LOTS of Macs and iPads and iPhones, but the iPad Pro with the Pencil is heaven on earth.
At long last, I can draw on the iPad exactly as I would with a pencil on paper, because there is no longer a problem resting your wrist on the screen, and Pencil point is sharp. This was an absolute game changer for me, and my collection of digital journals grew . . .
I might have more than I have hardcover journals at this point. And these can become real life journals very easily by exporting PDF files of them and printing.
It didn’t take long before I was adding quick sketches to the journals along with photos.
The pressure sensitive Apple Pencil allows for simple sketching . . . here I am creating a few sketches while reading an art book by Danielle Donaldson . . .
but more elaborate sketching is also easy . . .
And adding color with a reference photo right there on the page – which can be deleted later, of course.
There are so many apps to use, and I have my favorite tricks, but anybody, with any iPad and stylus can keep these digital journals.
Several people have asked me to do a workshop (or write an online workshop) on this topic. Either one would be a big time expense and would have to be worth it, and I don’t know what the interest level is out there.
Is this something that would interest you enough to invest in a workshop?
Anyway, I am loving the process enough so that I will probably be posting as many digital journal pages as real life ones soon!
I know the urge is to ask which apps I use and how I use them, but that is a big question with bigger answers, and is the fodder for a workshop.
If you have any iPad and stylus, or an iPad Pro and Pencil, experiment a little and see what you come up with.