Saturday, June 25, 2011


It was quite a battle for me to actually get going with the commission I'm working on. This is not unusual! The angst I feel at the beginning of each commission almost takes the joy out of it but I know that if I soldier on the work begins to flow and I can't wait to wake up each morning to get back to it. This time I decided to journal my way through the resistance to help me focus on the task at hand.

I find artists journals about their day to day trials and triumphs very inspiring. I've been reading a self taught artist's blog for several years now and though there are times when I worry about Paula's struggles I am more often than not, spurred into action by her sheer guts and determination. You have to take your hat off to Paula ....... A few weeks ago she stopped the mayor in the street and asked him to display her art on his walls..... and maybe sell it (with commission of course). That story kept me giggling for the rest of the day.

Here are a few of the many inspiring images that have motivated me into keeping a record of my work day.

Notebooks by Jacque on Flickr. See more here.

Notebooks by Jacque on Flickr. See more here.

Tiempo al Tiempo IV by Argentinian artist Carlos Gallardo. See more of his art here.

Finale XV by Carlos Gallardo. See more of his work here.

My Secrets by Zea. See more on her Tumblr blog, Working Log, here.

My favourite artist at the moment is Sophie Cauvin. Though the next three images may not be old dusty artists journals I like to think that they are.

See more of Sophie Cauvin's work here.

......... and one more image I found on Tumblr.


  1. Good to see that you are happy healthy and best of all busy. Journals do help to work through problems and things perceived as problems. Sometimes when it is on paper it seems so simple.

  2. un reportage comme j'aime énormément..!!!!!! merci

  3. wonderful post!
    I find it interesting that you struggle when you first start. Why? The stress of trying to come up with something your client will like? I think your work is amazing! I really can't see you "goofing". ; )

    Journaling your process is an excellent practice. I do the same, but on a smaller scale. I journal my ideas- tho I find it funny that I can't sketch my ideas! If I try to draw what I'm thinking, I won't actually make what I thought of! lol... go figure. I just like to write a description, list inspiring words, jot quick ideas, etc. This seems to work for me. ; )

    have a great day

  4. smiling here, robyn... : ) i love the pic of your journal. maybe i'll try keeping a written journal about my creative process. ha! it would be an excuse to have another journal! i've kept written journals for years at a time (in the past), but never one about the process of creating. thank you for the idea...



    p.s. i love andy's quote. i don't think that anything could be more true.

  5. The answer is almost always "keep working..."
    Good for you to journal about your process will be interesting to hear if you think it gives you insight or in some other way aids in your process.
    Can't wait to see your new piece! You are one of my favorite artists!

  6. I'm telling you! For some of us, its Normal Birthing pains; I've learned that what i can "see" on the inside can't always transfer as perfectly to the outside--so much is lost--and sometimes It makes me ache, as if there is a "failure" or a loss of something divinely (uniquely)mine to carry.

    You made me grin so long last night! About the nails... The Universe has her own special ways of confirming to us our own creative efforts and heart. Its beautiful.

    Have in a pile of books beside me Dear Theo, letters of Vincent Van Gogh, which are full and poetic with struggles and doubt, he had no choice! Nor do I suspect do you (we)...

  7. So lovely to read your blog again, with its exquisite images of your work and your inspiration. I thought you had disappeared for ever.

  8. Hi Lisa, I always used to sort out my thoughts on paper but as I got busier with my carving business I gave it up but now I remember how much it helps to get all my ducks in a row.

    Elfi, glad you like the images :-)

    Thanks Lotus! Long time no "see" !
    I think its to do with leaving my comfort zone..... and yet most of my customers give me carte blanche to carve what ever I want within certain criteria. I tend to worry too much! When I saw your name pop up I thought immediately of your art journals and amazing doodles.

    Lynne, now that surprises me! I thought you would have a journal about your art process. Carlos Gallardo's pieces made me think of you though I don't think he uses plaster. xoxo

    Leslie, when I'm busy my thoughts tend to clog up and already I'm finding that writing about the process is clearing my head.
    ..... and you know that you are one of my favourite artists too. Thank you!

    Mansuetude, birthing pains... exactly!! .... and you are so right about confirmation. When I saw the image on Tumblr it felt like deja vu. I often think of Vincent when I have those pangs. He seemed to be more sensitive than most. Do you know that Theo spent some time in South Africa? I can't remember why but I think it was work related.

  9. Hi Weaver, lol.... I think I'm back. Thank you! I missed you all!

  10. Fantastic and wonderfully good timing on your part as I continue to work in my own journals as you've just been witness to over at my blog :-)
    Oh and I think I have discovered a fix with this whole comments fiasco! Let's see shall we? Anyway Robyn, I love your journal shots the most especially the one with that prickly see pod on it: fairly symbolic would you not think, considering to get to the seed of your artistic and creative potential you have to get past the prickly issue of motivation!

  11. Yay! My comment got through, i think i have the fix!!!

  12. hi robyn, it is good to see a post on art propelled again. journalling does help doesn't it? i've unintentionally been doing it for a long time within my yearly diaries. it is quite amusing and sometimes shocking to see the evolution years later.
    the pictures for this post are beautiful especially the first one and the links are very intriguing.

  13. Oh YES!....I like Sophie's work too!

    Nice to have a posting ...'s been a while...

    x Chris

  14. an increase in fans and followers and traffic, i knew something was up. YOU....checked sitemeter and see all these hits coming from your blog. (i'm awful that lately i'm not reading online much forgive my self absorbedness). thank you robyn for mentioning me (i'm curdling inside a bit thinking about my blathery blog)
    here is to YOU and your hard work and making it happen!
    i love you.

  15. For me there are times to journal and times to paint. I need to recognize that and get going.

    I like the Andy Warhol quote.

  16. wonderful... i often feel like beginning something is like going into labor - i just dread it and hedge around it... but as you said, keep pushing and it flows... and becomes a joy...

  17. So glad you are back.
    Here's one of my favorite quotes from Philip Guston:
    "I go to the studio everyday because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don't go and the Angel comes?"

  18. although i do not journal...I go through a similar process when i start a piece.. especially a commission...i think i have to get the right mindset..but once I get into the flow of the work it's so inspiring and enjoyable!
    I love the raw, organic and tactile nature of Sophie's work...thanks for sharing!
    the Warhol quote is priceless...
    Glad to see you back..can't wait to see your piece when you're ready to share!

  19. I love the Australian artist Bret Whitely's description of making art. He called it "difficult pleasure". Keep working is good advice. Thanks for all the links and great sites to explore.

  20. Great Warhol quote, and I love the pristine images at the top that flow into the aged, dusty qualities of the last few. Wonderful, thanks and good to hear from you again!!

  21. Debrina, after reading your post I actually did go and sit in the garden until the sun went down. Brrrrrr .... We're having such a cold spell here! I love Jacque's simple seed pod photos too. (Follow the link to see more).

    Thanks Priya, I hope I can keep up with the journaling because it is so interesting to look back a few years later. I was paging through my daily collage journals and was quite taken aback at the message threading through them all.

    Chris, it has been a while!!

    Paula, love you too! Please don't curdle .... I know you don't realize just how much your "blathery" inspires.

    Marilynne, I find I'm carving and then recapping in my journal during a coffee break. It is quite satisfying to acknowledge what I've achieved especially if I think that I've been taking it slow.

    Mairedodd, I was actually thinking about you yesterday!

    Thanks Don M, love the Gaston quote!

    Lisa, I have a quote on my noticeboard... "Just Begin!" ... but sometimes its the beginning that's so hard. No excuses... Just begin!

    Theresa, difficult pleasure indeed! ....and once we get into it we feel sheepish and wonder what the fuss was all about.

    Valerianna, you noticed! I did enjoy the pristine images flowing into the aged and dusty ones at the end, if I say so myself :-)

  22. R-great to be sharing a post and the journey of a new piece with you. Commissions are the hardest - when creating for ourselves we almost create without boundaries or expectations - but commissions - we don't question our ability but rather the ability to create what appeals to another - so all we can do it continue to trust in our ability. Create well. Thanks for the great imagers and quote. B

  23. I have been drooling over this work in your tumblr.

    Love the resin covered pages..

    and as far as commissions go.. they stress me out so much, I have decided never to do one again, so good for you!

  24. hurrah for the commisions. and journaling, well as a writer i have journaled since i was able to print at whatever age...5 or so. Dream journals, work process journals, life journals, list journals of all books read. Well, this was when i was young and full of passion. these photos a just gorgeous. i will go back and click on every link.

  25. Good to see you posting again and to know you're doing well. I love beautiful journals and pieces integrating/evoking them. However, I've never been able to effectively journal because I just don't want to "ruin" those beautiful pristine pages!

  26. Beautiful images as always. I always look forward to reading your post!

  27. Commissions can be an ach in my stomach... and a nice deposit in the bank. LOL Love the idea of writing every day in a art it possible? Truly? Now I'm inspired to chase down the town banker... LOL

  28. Oh I am so glad you are back blogging, I miss your posts and am not very good at the other things like tumlr (or whatever, dont have time but blogs I do keep up with)
    I always admire people who write their ideas before they do it, I tend to record it afterwards! An untidy mind I think, and not a very creative one, especially not at the moment.
    But I am enjoying the warmer day temps here in Qld, even tho the nights are still cool.
    By the way my verification word for you is entice, such a nice word with many connetations and connections to it.

  29. Hi Robyn - stunning images - so warm and inviting, and comforting too. I love the AW quote - kind of just distract the masses and get on with what you are doing while they aren't looking! I have never journalled my way out of a problem phase but it makes a lot of sense - I do write note to myself a lot but have never managed the discipline of regular journalling - perhaps a challenge to take up? Always wonderful to see you have blogged - thanks again F

  30. Robyn....I appreciate your struggle with getting started. I'm sure there are a host of things to surmount internally...expectations, outcomes, etc. What a great idea to take up journaling as a process through....and of course those of us who know Paula, in the least, admire her pluck! These other journal/writing/book pieces you've posted also make me swoon! Thanks so much for the of luck to you in the creative process for this commission!

  31. Always a pleasure to visit with you here. Lovely journals...yes, I do love the last 3, dusty looking if not actually. And Andy's words speak truth...get it done. I am in the process of moving my studio my paints are packed. Feels a void. Good luck on the commission.

  32. something about that seed and seedpod is just magical to me...full of potential I guess, so it inspires me to grow:-)

  33. Robyn...a very inspiring post. The angst of creativity seems ever present and journaling seems a great way to understand that part of the process.....and it does seem to all boil down to those words, "get it done"....

  34. what a wonderful and inspiring post for me to come to today, after being away for so long!! thank you robyn, for always bringing me back to my roots as an artist, and being.
    love, karin

  35. Thank you for sharing. Finding the exact spot on the map where the magic door to muse's house is a bit of a challenge. Doubly difficult when one's life is going through a dramatical phase as is mine. But in the end it is art that saves the day. May inspiration and energy be yours.

  36. Glad to see you're still blogging and carving beauty.

  37. I'm so glad to hear from you again, Robin! It's nice to know you are working, although with some "help" - i.e. your journal!:0) Whether this idea is productive or not, you will find out during the process. It reminds me of my director's notebooks, where I write down my thoughts, ideas, questions, analysises, visions of the show before and during the rehearsals. It helps me, because I gather my thoughts when I have to put them down on paper and the next day, it's easier to talk to the actors and discuss, and argue, and give a try...
    Interesting sites of interesting artists in this post, as usual. I've missed your world!:)Hello!!!!

  38. Ah, thankyou for this. I know about the pre-work angst, I know.

    Writing it all down is a good way of processing stuff.

    Good to see you back here.

  39. Welcome back! Although I do not have commissions and I do not do any sort of journal work.. I do think the journal is one of the most personal ways an artist can be expressive, creative and work out the how, what and why before they begin their work.
    and you have some wonderful journal examples here.

  40. Barry, you are so right..... I question my ability when doing commissions but when just working for myself I don't even think of it.

    Grrl, I'm hoping to get over this phobia ..... The more I do the easier it will get?

    Sukipoet, if I had known about art journaling when i was a kid it would have opened up a whole new world for me. I was into writing reams and reams and actually wrote a steamy novel about Toulouse Lautrec whilst in my teens....... which i destroyed for fear my mother.... or anyone .... would discover it.

    Heather, the pristine page is always off putting. Why don't you try an old cheap notebook? My first idea sketchbooks were just typing pads and they are so great to page through, if I say so myself.

    Thanks romantic decay!

    PJ, I go through phases. Usually difficult times when I decide that I need to clear my head ..... but no I don't keep up with regular journaling. let me know if you have any luck with the banker :-)

    Penny, it's an untidy mind that drives me to plot on paper.

  41. Thanks Ayesha.

    Fiona, regular journaling is another matter! I have to admit, I don't keep up with it but it definitely gets me through the challenges.

    Patti, images to make us swoon .... What would we do without them :-)

    LauraX, the seedpod is a powerful symbol isn't it?! I've always been drawn to pods.

    Cynthia, "get it done" ...... or "nothing happens until it moves"

    Karin, You made my day!

    Thanks Jan, yes art does save the day over and over again. Hope your dramatic phase calms and you are able to enjoy your art.

    DJ, thank you! I have been thinking about you for days. Chat soon.

    Hello Rossichka, I imagine your directors notebooks are a great help. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Thanks HHnB, I see you :-)

    Donna, aren't there some amazing images?! I'm waiting for you to start a Tumblr blog.

  42. You have so many comments Robyn - I'm not supprised, your blogs are just sooooooooo inspiring visually and to read! I love the teaser image of your commission expecially the nail punctured dome. Reminds me of my porcelain piece 'punctured'

  43. Robyn, I have been following your blog for a year now and I cannot begin to describe what a lifesaver it has been to me. I am a displaced Zimbabwean living in NZ and as a landscape artist, have struggled with coming to terms with the colours and shapes of the landscape here, how I miss the colours and energy of Africa! And so I am taking s different route and am searching out different ways of honouring my talent, and that has been good for me. But looking at your totems and all the other images you put up, has given me so much joy and excitement about being an artist, when I have had moments of desperation! Thank you for keeping me sane!!!

  44. wondeful post again:) I am just so inspired by the artists journal you have shown.... that I might work first on my diary to look old and inspiring BEFORE I actually start to write on it :)) thank you for your inspiration !

  45. Kim, I love the contrast between the metal nails and the white porcelain in your punctured piece. A few years ago I found buckets of those particular nails (which i LOVE) at a flea market. i thought they were such a good find and then walked into the hardware store to find shelves full.

    Sandydensem, your comment made my day, thank you! I know i would also miss the warm earthy colours and the typical buzz of daily life in Africa.

    Thanks Michele, there are some amazing journals out there including the wonderful work on your blog.

  46. Another tremendous post. I have never really thought of journaling the process of making art...but judging by the images you have shown, it is a good idea. And looks to me like the journals themselves are art!

  47. This is a cosy post to linger over. Who doesn't love to peer into an art journal!

  48. Hello again. Thought I'd come back to read your reply. Must apologise for not paying attention to the author/artist of the seed pod journal! I thought it was yours!!
    So nice to read that you sat out in your gets rather cold here in the early evening too.

  49. Dear Robyn, this is a very moving post, for me visiting you this morning has been like looking into the soul of each artist and seeing the beautiful quest that they are on.
    And I love Paula's art. I actually have a few of her pieces. And seeing your journal page, with the next page ready for words, and Jacque's pages are stunning. You have inspired me again. Thank you so much!!!

  50. Good idea to journal through your stumbling point, I bet the pages will become a great form of meditation for you. Lovely post, as always Robin!

  51. Hi Shayla, I've been meaning to return to your blog and leave a comment. Loved your recent posts!

    Debrina, frost on the lawn this morning .... brrrrr. Glad to see you came back to read the comment replies. I'm never sure if I'm writing to myself :-)

    Roxanne, so glad you are inspired! Your journals are always so beautiful and full of so many interesting embellishments.

    Thanks Lucky Dip Lisa, writing a few pages a day has become a meditation though I hadn't thought about it in that way until you mentioned it.

  52. The "angst" I feel at the beginning of each commision ......
    The word 'angst' is Zuid Afrikaans for fear??
    Terrific idea, doodling in the phonebook ;-)

  53. I'm with Andy; I'm trying to just get it done! I always have that "stuck place" right at the beginning of a new project, too. I think keeping a journal is a great way to work through this, though I have to say the ones you show here are true works of art! My sketchbooks are not so pretty! But these are so inspiring, i'm thinking of giving it another try. :~) Let us know how the journal thing works out for you. (and when do we get to see your new work?)
    many hugs, Robyn; I missed you!

  54. Andy Warhol says it all............

  55. Ooh you just find the best stuff, Robyn. I always come to your blog knowing I'm in for a treat. x

  56. Wim, I think angst was originally a German word for fear and anxiety.

    Thanks Sharmon, my sketchbooks are not that pretty either...... but then they are more idea books than anything else. I'll post photos of my latest piece soon :-)

    Oogleboops, exactly!

    Nice to know Jo :-)

  57. Teehee..oh now I completely know were you are coming from on this! I go into a stress melt down from the minute I get a commish all the way thru til I know it's on someone's wall..dunno why I do it really?! ;0)

    Lovely tantalising glimpse of your carving their madam and wise words from Warhol...I might yoink that for my desk top! ;)
    Big loves!! xx

  58. Love, love, love this post!
    Where did you find the amazing image of the Andy Warhol quote?

    I am your newest blog follower and look forward to upcoming posts! :)

    Mary C. Nasser

  59. Hi Mary, I found the quote somewhere on Tumblr. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  60. Hi Mimi, it would be a good quote for your desktop! Loves to you too xx

  61. The pieces you've displayed and thoughts conveyed here are absolutely lovely. My art is very colorful and for me those colors come through me authentically. Although the art here are all primarily the same earth tone shades your display of art is soul-shaking..I feel connected to the spirit of it. Thank you. I'll be back.