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Perpetual Plant Journal

drawing ink and watercolor nature sketchbook watercolor Mar 23, 2020

This is a good time to begin a Perpetual Journal whether it be of plants ... or something else.


Transcript of video

A year ago I’d never heard of a perpetual journal.  I was introduced to the concept last April when visiting my friend, Jill Richards, in Wales.  Each week, over a period of three years, she added an entry, a flowering plant from her own garden.  I was both fascinated and overwhelmed by the idea of such a journal.  Upon returning home, I ordered two Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbooks as she had recommended.  I needed two because I wanted each week of the year to be a double page spread.  One sketchbook was for January through June, the other for July through December. 

To be honest, I was a bit terrified to begin.  I delayed the inevitable by researching Arts and Crafts fonts to use on my pages.  Calligraphy was the next weakness I planned to strengthen and I’d been inspired by the lettering I’d recently seen.  Charles Rennie MacIntosh used beautiful lettering on his architectural drawings that were part of The Glasgow Four Exhibition at Walker Gallery in Liverpool last year.

Working so carefully and slowly is not typical for me.  I prefer to let my pen and brush glide along the paper, swooping and dipping as in a dance.  Slowly, carefully observing and drawing as meticulously as I could was foreign to me.  I learned to choose a plant that I would be happy exploring for at least thirty, very concentrated, minutes … often longer.  I learned to draw the lettering in ahead of time.  The lettering alone took at least an hour to complete.  Though I’ve meditated daily since the age of fourteen, my perpetual plant journal introduced me to another form of meditation, one that I believe is quite useful to replenish optimism, awe and well-being during this challenging time of isolation as we attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Perhaps this is a good time for you to start a perpetual journal of some sort.  It might be plants, architecture, family memorabilia or objects in your home.  I suggest you work from the actual objects but if you prefer to work from photographs, that’s fine, too.

There is no rush.  Next year you’ll add something new to each week’s entry.  The challenge will be a bit different because you’ll work it around the drawing you have already done on that page.  Take your time.  You saw that I didn’t always complete the drawing I started.  That’s okay, too.  Sometimes I would draw it .. in one sitting and add color the next day.  I allowed the journal to become a new thread that I wove into the fabric of my week.

I look back now and I see that I’ve almost met up with the beginning.  I’ll be starting my second year in a couple of months. When I began, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the second month let alone make it through all four seasons of the year.  It’s been a joy and a rewarding experience that continues to challenge and delight me.


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