September 26, 2005

Drawing from Life

Drawing From Life: the journal as art
Jennifer New


(September 26, 2005)

A richly illustrated examination of a wide range of professional journals by skilled visual artists. Jennifer New divides these instruments by general intent in four categories: exploration, reflection, observation, and creation. The range of styles and purposes is broad, as indeed is the terrific disparity of creators, from the morning-subway portraits of a Manhattan psychiatrist to the lovingly-sketched maps by a retired Hitachi engineer of his beloved Musashino countryside.

There's a terrific range of technique, from watercolor to digital photography. And there's a wide range, too, of artistic style. What I miss, alas, is the ability to read extended passages within the journal; we can look, but we seldom know much about what the subject was trying to record. But Jennifer New believes that journals are incomprehensible to all save their creator anyway, so perhaps this absence is a mirage.