It’s time to start thinking about International Fake Journal Month. Yes, April is still more than a month away, but it’s time to keep your eyes open and antennae twitching for possibilities.
For the past few days, when I have a moment or two, I have been gathering the commercially bound journals I have on hand. While I usually bind my own books, the past two years a shoulder injury has prevented that and I’ve been using more and more commercially bound journals, while completing physical therapy so I can return to binding. Typically I complete my fake journal in a commercial bound journal because that’s the first and most obvious difference I can draw from reality to fake—but now that might not be the case. So along with a few commercially bound journals like the types found in this post from 2012.
I am pulling a few small journals that I hand bound several years ago, off the shelves as well.
Once the small selection has been laid out on the table I’ll start thinking about what medium I might want to devote 30 days to. I’ll ask myself what my subject matter might be, what I might enjoy creating with that medium, how I might seek out that subject matter, which of the books seems most friendly to these emerging plans, and then I’ll walk away from the table to think it all over.
If I get it in my mind that I want to work in gouache, I probably wouldn’t pick a book with paper I know is unsuitable for gouache. I love a challenge, but I also want to have some fun.
I also usually like to select a topic that I know will hold my interest for the entire month of April, and be doable—so detailed 9 x 12 inch portraits of people, that’s too much a time commitment. Value studies of fruits and vegetables I can set up on the table and execute in 15 minutes, doable.
For the first example I have to round up 30 people to sketch, or enough people that I can keep asking them to sit for me long enough that I can do a detailed portrait of them. That’s easily a 2 to 3 hour a day undertaking I wouldn’t impose on friends or myself.
Last year, because I wanted to make goofy people sketches, I requested animated photos from readers. I worked from photos, creating loose images that were all done very quickly (and the model didn’t have to sit for the portrait). But I prefer working from life so there were drawbacks to that solution. It did however give me ample time to work with acrylic inks and brush pens in a large scale (22 x 30 inches) during the month.
Since I’m just starting to paint again after a long hiatus (due to the same shoulder injury that limited my binding) there is something appealing about working in gouache for the entire month. Then even if I work with pen and ink all day, at least once a day the paints will come out.
Another consideration for me is whether or not my character will be mobile. If she (and 90 percent of the time I keep with a female character) is then I have to work out what sort of medium would be easily transportable and enjoyable and where she might take that medium, e.g., to the zoo, but not an art museum perhaps.
But I’ll wait to think on that until I’ve found the book. I have a sense that this year the answer lies in finding the book. Some years my character comes to me as soon as I pick a medium.
I would suggest that you start thinking about options and approaches yourself. Start taking stock of what books and supplies you have on hand. I think the project works best if you spend zero money on it—so use what you have on hand and push your creative response to those materials and see who pops up as a character and what theme or thread comes to the surface.
If you’re looking at books and supplies you have on hand and a character isn’t coming to you within two weeks of casual thought about this close you’re eyes and pick a book.
Then walk around for a week thinking about the media you can use in that book, on the paper it contains. Is that something you want to work with for 30 days?
Next think of a subject matter. By now it’s only about a week away and something is beginning to percolate. Once it does, take a moment to write a couple things down about your character—name, sex, habitat, likes, dislikes, that sort of thing. You can even make a list of friends’ names and a little bit about them if you want. REMEMBER once you start working you’ll be jumping right in and you won’t be explaining backstory because in the REAL course of events if I’m going to write about my friend Tom I don’t need to write all about him and how I met him and what he does and what he looks like when I mention him in April. I already know all that. Now I can certainly get at some of that information if it’s important to my character, for instance if she wants to indicate that he doesn’t look well she will describe how he looks different from NORMAL, but no more.
Think about those natural limitations to the journaling process as you move along. You can either just go merrily along or you can take a moment, before you start, to write a couple things down about your character so you don’t forget that her best friend is named Tom and start calling him Bill at the end of the month…
But whatever you decide it’s time to start deciding.
I hope you’ll all take a moment to consider joining in this year.
See the links at the top of the blog for an explanation of what a Fake journal is and what International Fake Journal Month is. Check out the Tips category for tips on keeping such a journal (though I’ve given you some good tips for starting in this post there are many more tips on the blog from past years).
As we approach April check back here to learn how to get on the participants list.
If you’re still on the fence check out “Thinking aboutParticipating in International Fake Journal Month?”
Remember this: Your fake journal doesn’t have to be elaborate—in fact it works better if it isn’t. Engineer a project that you can execute in a few minutes each day, a character you can get into with a minimum of fuss. Then you’ll be on your way.