Ten years ago, August 4, 2004 to be precise, I opened a Canson all media journal to a 9 inch by 12 inch blank page. I had been inspired to start what I titled a “Nature’s sketchbook”. The genesis for this journal was an experience I had as a substitute teacher in a kindergarten classroom in San Rafael. During the “centers” part of the morning I sat at the painting station where I took up a watercolor brush for the first time in many years. The kinders were fascinated. “Wow you’re good!”, “Are you a painter?” They watched as I drew and painted cartoonish characters with a ragged haired brush and a muddied pan of children’s grade paint. Shortly afterward I bought some pens, a Windsor & Newton watercolor set, and a Canson journal. Since that time in early August I have never stopped journaling. All events, both profound and mundane, have become fodder for my journals. In the past decade, so many of my life’s experiences have filled up journal pages to become a chronicle of a moment, an observation, a place, or an epiphany. While the desire to journal has not waned, I have traded the big 9 by 12 journals for the smaller Moleskine watercolor journals that can be easily transported in a backpack or a vest pocket. I originally went with a smaller journal for a 2008 trip to Japan. I needed something both portable and able to take watercolor washes. In the past ten years I have filled 32 journals and I currently average about three a year. My most treasured possession is whichever journal I am working on at the moment and I rarely leave home without it.
Back to the blank page that faced me ten years ago. It now holds a self portrait titled “The Artist as a Young Man Sketch’in”. I point out the various features of a sketcher like Peterson pointing out the fieldmarks of a warbler: adventure hat and pants, sketchbook, man purse, sturdy hiking boots, and a peaceful, slightly glazed look. This page gives me the strength to journal for another ten years and more, both because it shows me that I have come along way in my vision, design and skills, but also because I am essentially the same sketcher that I depicted ten years, just a little wiser and still continuing on the same journey to illustrate my life in the pages of my journals.