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Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art
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Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,232 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art is an exploration ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Princeton Architectural Press
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Community Reviews

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Aug 06, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it
Very good look into the journals of 31 people whose journals fuel their creativity and work. Many of the contributors aren't artists per se - an engineer, a volcanologist, a gardener, travelers - but all the journal excerpts are highly individual and artistic. Also, the book's graph-paper themed pages give the impression that the book itself is a journal.
Dec 09, 2009 Vasilisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I've been planning out ways to dispose of my notebooks and notepads in which I've written random thoughts, quotations, reminders. Reading "Drawing From Life", I realize these too have significance. So I read through my old notebooks, and found that it seems I write better in these notebooks than in my more formal journals. The words are free flowing, unhampered by grammar. It is straight from the gut. I've changed my mind and currently looking for a place to store all my random journals, noteboo ...more
May 20, 2008 JayeL rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: someone working on visual journaling
Recommended to JayeL by: Pam Rubert
Shelves: quilt
The best quote I have come across in this book is one that says "the journal is the working stiff of creative life." This quote lends the journal (visual journal or art journal or text based journal) an air of humanity. It lends the feeling that it is ok to cross out bits and pieces, to rip pages out, to start over. It gives me the okay to just do whatever I need to in my journal and use it to work out ideas and improve my ideas. I finished this book and felt a sense of relief. Not relief that I ...more
Princeton Architectural
Mar 31, 2009 Princeton Architectural rated it it was amazing
Who hasn't, at one time or other, kept a journal? The impulse to record our daily lives on paper is nothing if not universal. Still, only a few of us have the discipline to make it past the first few entries, and fewer still manage to create diaries whose insight and visual beauty can inspire anyone but their authors. Drawing from Life: The Journal As Art is an exploration of these exceptions—books of obsessive wonder filled to their borders with drawings, sketches, watercolors, graphs, charts, ...more
Feb 08, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
If you keep a sketchbook, this book will interest you. Not a great book but it always interests me to see other people's sketchbooks. The best part of the read is learning all the various reasons people keep them and how they use them.
Jan 10, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book filled with wide-ranging examples of the way artists and others use their journals and sketchbooks as visual records of their lives (or portions thereof). I like to thumb through it for inspiration, but also enjoy reading the short essays about each person behind these volumes. I plan to recommend it to my drawing students as well.
May 10, 2014 Quinn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-how-to-s
This fat, heavy book with beautifully rounded corners and the look of a lab manual guides you through the journals of an unlikely group of unrelated people: sketchers, scientists, travelers, idea-generators. The journals are largely commonplace journals (meant to catch thoughts and ideas on a daily basis) and not beautiful books for display.

Of course, some of them are lovely, but I love the day-to-day books best. The ones that will still be meaningful years from now as identifiers of history, c
Leni D. Anderson
Aug 06, 2010 Leni D. Anderson rated it liked it
Shelves: art, non-fiction
I found “Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art” a very interesting read, and I have to say in some cases, inspirational. I enjoyed reading about why some of the people represented in the book keep a journal(s), especially the artistic & observational/scientific journal keepers. As an artist, I have a good number of journals and sketchbooks; a few are entirely text based (referring to the former), but the majority are notes and images of ideas I have for art projects I’m either working on, or ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Annie rated it it was amazing
This book struck me somewhere between 'prurient interest' in peeping in other people's sketchbooks and journals, and guidebook and affirmation that my scribblings and meanderings and doodles probably have some value, if for no other reason than to act as a touchstone to the person I was at the time.

If we have nothing to look back on, it's impossible to get a sense of how far we've come.

I really enjoyed this 'book' a lot.
Lisa Kemble
Jul 21, 2014 Lisa Kemble rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-journaling
Lots of examples of different sketchbook journals. Interesting contrasts because the artwork is so varied. Many different approaches to journaling.
Feb 27, 2016 Jamie rated it it was ok
Though this was interesting in many ways, it was too text heavy for my taste and many of the journal entries just didn't appeal to me.
Oct 14, 2010 Mycala rated it liked it
This was an interesting peek into the various kinds of art journals by all kinds of people from quilters to scientists and the guy who keeps track of how many eggs he eats and how they're done. I was expecting it more to be a book about techniques and ideas, but it was interesting anyway.

October 2010 - Amused to discover I've read this book before and I totally don't remember it. The same reaction, though. I wasn't as inspired as I'd hoped to be but it was interesting. I'll check back in another
Jan 06, 2015 Denzels rated it it was amazing
great book!
May 29, 2011 Eric rated it it was ok
The book was an interesting read. The idea of a visual journal is something that was quite new to me, but it was not really what I was looking for when I decided to read this book. I wanted to learn about various techniques and skills for writing and maintaining a journal, but I got none of them. But I have to admit that the book itself is very decent, with wonderful examples of visual journals from various types of professionals, ranging from an architect to a physician.
Ace Whatstheirface
Jan 19, 2013 Ace Whatstheirface rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Beautiful book with pages of visuals from the journals of scientists, artists, architects, etc. the book tells about the processes of visual journaling for the selected people, which is no doubt interesting. I wish it had more analytic and theoretic information regarding the journaling and creative process as opposed to solely focussing on summaries of particular artists' journals.
Oct 28, 2008 Natasha rated it it was amazing
A peek into the artistic journals of several artists. Truly one of my favorite books, if only for its inspirational value. I thumb through it anytime I start to believe I don't have time to make art. I so enjoy examining how people observe and document life, and this book is essentially a study of just that.
Jun 28, 2008 Jeannen rated it liked it
A fascinating look at an array of visual journals. I thought it would inspire to me want to start a visual journal of my own, but it turns out that I can be very interested in other people's visual journals without being in the least bit interested in creating one myself!
Aug 17, 2007 R.Friend rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design, art
Beautiful collection of diverse doodles, collage, and other methods of breathing life into ordinary blank journals. Anyone who has ever experienced The Journals of Dan Eldon owes it to themselves to check this out.
Mar 08, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: following-janine
This was definitely an interesting read and I think it is a good reference for any artist but I don't know how valuable it was. It was just kind of fun to look through and read about some of the various processes.
Jun 22, 2008 Kristin rated it it was amazing
awesome!!! this had been a birthday present in 2005 and i had it more as a coffee table book. i finally read it cover to cover and found it so inspiring, and gave me a long list of artists to look up.
Dec 17, 2010 Andrew added it
Fascinating look into the creative process of travelers, artists, architects, writers, David Byrne, and all sorts of other people through their journals.
Connie T.
Jan 11, 2012 Connie T. rated it it was ok
This book wasn't what I expected. It was interesting to look at but I didn't learn anything nor did I come away feeling inspired.
Jan 28, 2008 olivia rated it it was amazing
inspirational book. a window to how various people (artists, musicians, biologists, etc) keep a visual diary. highly recommended.
Kate Green
Nov 22, 2013 Kate Green rated it liked it
Shelves: vislit, artists
It's alright, I suppose. Makes me a little envious of the people that have time to keep a sketchpad. And their artistic skills!
May 26, 2016 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: creative-process
Filled with inspiring, fun examples of journals that combine art and writing. Some of them from well-known people.
Aug 02, 2012 Kim rated it liked it
I maybe would have enjoyed this book more had I found it when I was just starting out my journaling endeavors.
Mar 21, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft-and-art
such a wonderful book about drawing, fabulous if you are learning and fabulous if you can already draw
Feb 28, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
A great look into the life of the artist and their personal sketchbooks. Kudos to journals!
Apr 23, 2009 Cindy added it
Inspirational ; in the same way that Peter Beards journals are brilliant ......
Feb 22, 2008 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Still reading this a little at a time--fascinating!
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“Visual journals are created in a secret language of symbols. Intentional or not, they are private maps only their makers can follow.” 3 likes
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