Category: Journaling

Meditative Sketch

(This is a recovered post from 2013 ~S)
I sat down to do a sketch in my favorite spot, the back porch. I noticed that the trees were beginning to yellow and lose some leaves. The late afternoon sunlight shown directly into the woody patch in front of my chair. Great place and view for some meditative sketching. I will walk you through the steps below:

(I didn’t take pics each step, because part of the benefit of this exercise is a detached focus on what you are doing.)

It is perfectly okay to use pencils or whatever your preferred sketching tools for this exercise. If you choose pencils, choose several of varying hardness…the harder the pencil graphite, the lighter the line. (You can get pretty cheap drawing pencil sets anywhere office or art supplies are sold.)

Since I prefer pen, that is what I used.

The main thing is that you set yourself down to REALLY put in the time/focus to work on this picture. Allow AT LEAST AN HOUR for this exercise.

Memory Walking Exercise

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited to remove some broken image links. I did find the full map, though!~S)

The Memory Walking exercise is one of those that I equate with meditating. It’s also the hardest to REMEMBER to do when I really need the mental break! I should do these more often. They are VERY SIMPLE.

All you have to do is:

1. Imagine a place from your childhood. Choose either a happy place or an everyday place (not a traumatic place).

2. Remember being a kid and going to that place. Close your eyes and walk there in your imagination. Remember very specific things. Not where everything is, just some details about the place and the stuff in it that caught your attention when you went there. Don’t let the adult you analyze what things really are. For example, if there was a vent that looked like dragon’s nostrils, don’t call it “stylized air vent screen” in your mind, call it what you did as a kid!

3. Now that you have walked there in your mind, it’s time to make a map. I do not mean a diagram of your place, but a map of details that you remember as you do your mental walkthrough. For example, do you remember the door? The smell? The mouse that used to live under the sink? Draw the first thing you remember and say something about it. You’ll probably start to remember LOTS of things as you go along.

4. Draw a curvy dotted line, then draw the next thing you remember and write a little something about it.

5. Keep going until you feel like quitting. If you find you want to go on for days, here are some ways to limit yourself: Set timer (about an hour), fill the page, turn off lights and work until you run out of daylight…

Sam notes: Don’t worry if the thing you draw doesn’t look like what you remember. Or if you totally mess up. Just roll with it. If your memory item is a complicated object, just draw a suggestion of it and move on. I have the perfect example of an art mess in my Memory Map below. I wanted to toss it and start over since I was going to share it with the world. But the main reason I am doing this has nothing to do with sharing, so I had to practice what I preach!

Also, I found I wanted to say more about the things I remembered than I did here. This exercise may inspire future entries about some of the items I remember.

This is me walking you through my memory walk:

The Camp Chair

(This is a recovered post from 2013~S)

I am continuing to make additions to my current journal. Here is a sketch I did yesterday while sitting on the back porch. (This is a photo, not a scan so your eyes aren’t going bad!)

Camp Chair

The sunlight was hitting the chair pretty strong. I am not confident enough to be bold about shadows… I really need to practice putting in the hard lines when there are hard lines. But that is a sketchbook workout. This was just a “field observation” in my journal, which only requires that I pay attention to the details of a thing and note them… not necessarily duplicate them.

My trusty Pilot G2 ball point. The green and gray are just cheapo watercolor pencils that I have handy. I do some pencil shading on the dark parts, then smudge with a wet finger to fill.

Field Observation Exercise

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited because it was a complete mess!~S)

Field Observation Supplies:

  • Your journal or paper to draw on.
  • A pen.

I photographed my journal entry and made some comments on each step, which you can see below the break (image heavy!), but here’s  a rundown of the Field Observation exercise:

Field Observation Exercise Steps:

Exercises for the Illuminated Journal

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited to take out broken links. I have tried to replace the pics as well!~S)

vase and lamp

I often ignore the fact that it’s a book… just pretend the middle crease isn’t there and draw on..

Now that you know some reasons for keeping a journal, and a little about my personal journal, you may be wondering what exactly to put into your journal.

It can be difficult to get started. This is why I have pulled out my old copy of Hannah Hinchman’s book A Life in Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal. The book is all about helping you get into the habit of keeping up an illuminated journal.

Hannah Hinchman suggests FIVE ICE-BREAKING EXERCISES to help you. Whenever I can’t come up with a prompt on my own, these are the things I fall back on. I am going to discuss each exercise separately (and do the exercises) for you to see in the coming week or two, but you don’t have to wait for me! Here are Hinchman’s Ice-Breaking Exercises and a brief description of how to do them:

Illuminating My World

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited to take out broken links. I have tried to replace the pics as well!~S)

Great artists have sketchbooks and great writers have journals. But you don’t need to be or have a desire to be great to enjoy journaling. There are so many benefits to journaling: health benefits, personal growth, memory keeping, skills exercises for creatives, planning, organization…And I have used my journal for all of those things.

You can tell this is an old drawing because it has a device called a “calculator” in it…

But one of the most unique things about working in an illuminated journal is that it is what I think meditation is supposed to be…I don’t know any other way to describe it. I understand there are huge benefits to meditation along the same lines as those for journaling in general. And I have tried meditation many times. But when I sit there trying to blank out my mind and be “relaxed” and “in the moment”…I feel like a complete idiot. But when I am opening up my senses to what is around me, documenting the sights and sounds and focusing on the minute details of something directly in front of me, I TOTALLY GET IT! I am one hundred percent IN THAT MOMENT. My mind is ONLY on the right here and right now…what I’m seeing, hearing, smelling. If I choose to, I can write about what I think of those things, but that comes later….afterward. For a few moments, your brain SHUTS UP and you can BREATHE!

About my Illuminated Journal

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited to take out broken links. I have tried to replace the pics as well!~S)

To get my creative juices flowing again, I have revived my daily (or at least several times a week) exercise of the illuminated journal. This means that I sit down with the specific intent to write and draw something in my world. This has always been a good exercise for me, as I have had a diary and/or a sketchbook of my own for almost as long as I can remember. But I only put the two together back in 1991 when I bought the book A LIFE IN HAND: Creating the Illuminated Journal, by Hannah Hinchman.


I was writing in my gratitude journal daily until the last two days. Work has been a bear and I was just too exhausted, for one thing. For another, I just wasn’t getting the benefits I was used to getting from my regular illuminated journal, where the gratitude list was a side note. It was hard to make myself write gratitudes down when I was just so exhausted. It felt like a duty rather than a release or pleasure. What was wrong?

New Year, New Journal

Got a new journal for 2017 and I’m doing something a little different. This year, I got a dated journal with lined pages for each day. Lined. Pages.

I did this for two reasons:

The first is that now that I’m working full time, I have just fallen off the sketching bandwagon. What time and energy I have after work has to be spent on other things to keep the household going. So I don’t really need the drawing room.