10. A Journal in the Manner of Lartigue

In my London rambles I came to know the Westminster Reference Library.  It’s tucked behind the National Gallery on an almost untrafficked one-lane street.  In the first floor (what would be floor 2 in America) are the photography and art books, and they’ve got a great collection – such as out-of-print Garry Winogrand books hard to find anywhere else.

Looking through a tome on Jacques Henri Lartigue, there was a facsimile page of the diary he was scrupulous about keeping.  In the upper left he described the weather.  In the upper right he rated the day from 1 – 20, then listed what he did that day.  In the center of the page he did a drawing, often of a photograph he had taken (but had not yet developed and printed).

I loved this format and adapted it to a drawing journal.  The idea was to use the diary as a way to discipline myself to do a drawing a day.  I started the journal on January 1, 2010 and kept it without a break for almost two years.  For a while Dot and Harry kept Lartigue journals too, and it was interesting to compare the number that we gave to the day.  We did our drawings at bedtime but then bedtime started getting too late and because I didn’t have a curfew, mine continued.

When Radio Mary went into production of course the drawings stopped.  And never quite restarted, in part because I felt like I had plateaued and wasn’t getting any better.  Or maybe it had begun to feel too much like an obligation, a job.

A couple of the journals had been completed and left in Santa Monica.  I pulled one out to show a friend, and the drawings were better than I remembered.  At least I enjoyed looking at them, and was glad they existed.  Maybe I’d had enough of a break, maybe I could start again and be a little less relentless about it (allowing myself to miss a day here and there).  And there was the pleasure and energy of returning to something after an absence.  As antidote to the computer I found that I craved creating with my hand.  I’m drawing again.

October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011