Use An Art Journal to Inspire Quilt Designs

Over and over I've heard fiber artists talk about the power of keeping a sketchbook or art journal. Keeping a sketchbook can help you develop quilt designs and quilting motifs, record patterns and textures you see on your travels, and jumpstart your creativity when your muse is on vacation.

art journal for quilt design
In Art Journaling Exposed you can see a slideshow of several different kinds of journals with close-ups on the details.
Embellished 'Dye Works' journal by Jen Osborn

Most artists use their journals to keep drawings and watercolor sketches. But quilt and mixed-media fiber artists I knowfocus on texture and pattern as well as line and colorkeep a more varied sketchbook.

Many artists I know sew or clip textile swatches to their sketchbook pages and always carry a glue stick so they can affix photos and ephemera. Some keep journals that have pockets so they can stash small found objects in them.

I love looking at these artist sketchbooks, because they are often works of art in themselves. Sometimes, I can see the quilt design process developing before my eyes. Other times, the journals have a more stream-of-consciousness quality that I also admire.

However, as beneficial as keeping a sketchbook can be, many artists I know are hesitant to start. Some don't think they draw well. Others worry about making a pretty picture on the page rather than focusing on the spirit of developing or recording ideas. Many just don't know where to begin.

If you want to keep an art journal but are hesitant to start, I discovered some helpful prompts from artists who participated in the new interactive eMag Art Journaling Exposed, from our friends at Cloth Paper Scissors.

Here are some of the prompts offered for sketching. They're particularly useful for fiber artists who don't normally draw:

  • Place a few interestingly shaped jars in a sunny window. Do a sketch of the jars, taking notice of the shadows that are cast by the jars.  Jacqueline Newbold
  • When you are feeling stumped, or convinced you can't draw, try contour drawing: Put the point of your pencil down on the paper; do not look at your drawing or lift your pencil from the paper until the drawing is finished. ~ Dea Fischer
  • Look at the object you intend to draw for one full minute. Turn away for 10 seconds and draw the object from memory for one minute. During the next rest turn the page and face the object again. Draw the object while looking at it. Rest. Turn the page, place your pen tip on the page, and draw the object without looking at your journal. ~ Melanie Testa
  • Look around you. What shape jumps out at you? Use only that shape to draw a pattern on your page. ~ Dawn Sokol 
  • Take a photo of tree branches or leaves and look at the lines and shapes in the photo. Use the photo to inspire your doodle or sketch. ~ Traci Bautista

Keep in mind that an art journal or sketchbook is really just for you and your personal growth as an artist. No one else needs to see it.

That's the spirit that Art Journaling Exposed captures in video, music, images, and text. Take risks, make mistakes, try new things. Be free and have fun.

P.S. Do you keep a sketchbook or art journal? How do you use it? Leave a comment below.

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