Sketchbooks Vs. Art Journals

You may have noticed that we’ve been featuring mixed-media artist Pam Carriker this week. Pam has so many wonderful techniques to share that we made it “Pam Carriker Week,” and today we wrap up the week with inspiration from Pam’s book Mixed-Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces. In this book, Pam shares the responses from some talented artists on whether they use a sketchbook or an art journal, and why.

Mixed-media portrait by Cindy Silverstein |

Above: Your Eyes Reveal Galaxies (acrylic, paper and ink on canvas, 16×12) by Cindy Silverstein, featured in Mixed-Media Portraits. “It was about four years ago that I started paying closer attention to how I was creating my faces,” Cindy says. “This was a direct influence from Pam’s teaching. I began to challenge myself to draw faces with more depth and expression. This required greater focus, presence, and practice. Change and progress came quickly when I adopted Pam’s approach. Within a year, I saw a unique style emerging, seemingly spontaneously. I felt more confident putting my work in front of the public, who gave their most enthusiastic feedback to the paintings that included faces.”

Sketchbooks Vs. Art Journals from Mixed-Media Portraits with Pam Carriker

“I keep an ‘Idea Journal.’ The drawings are not perfect and often have little notes written all around them to remind me of what I had in mind when the inspiration struck. I often don’t remember what I drew the previous day until I look. That tells me that had I not drawn it at that exact moment, the idea would have been gone forever.” ~Sunny Carvalho

“I keep both. Sketchbooks keep me drawing, and that is by far the best discipline for artists. I have a journal, which helps me figure out techniques for paintings, but it is art only for me that I would never sell. It is my own artistic journey. ~Kate Thompson

“I keep a sketchbook. Sometimes my sketches are finished products and stand on their own; sometimes they are working designs for a final sculptural piece. ~Michael deMeng

“I keep a book with sketches, some writing, and images that speak to me from magazines or the Internet. Sometimes I keep a visual journal for days, and other times I may neglect it for months. When I do return to my journal, I wonder what took me so long.” ~Serena Barton

I hope that hearing from these artists helps to inspire you in your own mixed-media adventures. Comment here on the blog and share your preference–do you use an art journal or a sketchbook, and how?

And if you’ve been considering getting your own copy of Mixed-Media Portraits, now’s the time! It’s full of portrait techniques for artists of all levels, and it’s on sale in the Interweave store.

Keep making art,


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