Book Review: Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures

Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures

By Cathy Johnson

This is a beautiful book. It is in the vein of recording the moments of your life with illustrations, and Cathy Johnson makes the distinction of using an “artist’s journal” rather than an art journal. It is a personal journal kept by you as an artist, but don’t think you need to be an accomplished artist because that is not what she is saying at all. This is merely a book for recording your life, elevating the everyday aspects that contribute towards the whole of our lives, whether that be the way the light catches a flower in the garden, our shopping lists and numbers we collect, to the way our child looks when they are sleeping. All ideas and experiments welcome!

Cathy’s use of pen and paint is stunning. Her pen work is beautiful. There are also other artist’s pages scattered throughout the book.

There are boxes of “tips” and ideas to try, but mostly this book is just fill of inspiration that makes you want to begin recording your own life. There are no step by step projects, but she does go through all sorts of potential materials at the start of the book with a commentary on how to get the most out of your art supplies.

The book has 5 chapters. Chapter one is devoted to the basics including potential supplies and you figuring out what sort of journal you want to keep and what the purpose will be. Chapter 2 is about testing out different supplies and experiments you can do in the pages to see what your supplies can do and work out what supplies call to you. It also covers some design and composition ideas.

One of the most genius common-sense things I got out of this book is the experiment she did with an artist grade watercolour set and a student set, and the difference it makes prewetting your palette. The colours, no matter what set was used were so much more vibrant with just a quick spray of water a minute before you are ready to get started.

Chapter 3 looks at the different potential journals you can have including daily journals, travel journals, memory journals, nature journal, dream and imagination journals, and reportage journals. Chapter 4 covers making journaling a habit and ideas for integrating journaling into your daily life. This chapter asks a lot of questions of you to get to the heart of what you want your journaling experience to be. This chapter includes ideas for different spread layouts and how you can begin.

Chapter 5 is titled ‘Pulling it all Together’ and it does!! She considers questions of style, favourite techniques and subjects of the featured artists and herself, and also recognising what doesn’t work for you. It also contains ideas for going forward and new things to try.

There is also a good resource spread in the book, with featured artist information, books and classes you may want to look at.

The book is really well written and is very clear, the information is very fulsome, and complete.

As well as Cathy’s work which I loved, (her portraits of her husband are beautiful), I was particularly inspired by the work of these artists that were featured in her book:

I really recommend this book, it has something to inspire beginners to more experienced painters and good ideas for sparking your creativity and developing your skills.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures

  1. Nice and it sounds really good. This is really very nice book and it contains unique images. In addition, it is a good resource spread in the book and it can really inspire the beginners to more experienced painters. It can also give good idea for sparking ours creativity and developing our skills.

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