The Sketchbook Project – The Joy Diary

joydiary01.frontcover.2018.blogMy little sketchbook, ‘The Joy Diary’, is complete.  Tomorrow I mail it back to the Brooklyn Art Library, where it will become a permanent part of The Sketchbook Project collection for 2018.

As an unexpected result of doing this project, I learned something new about my creative identity.

When I started the sketchbook, I thought of it the way I think of a body of work for an art show.  In an art show, I choose a theme that becomes a starting point, and each drawing becomes a singular point of view related to that theme.

As I worked on the third drawing in the sketchbook, I realized my concept and understanding was shifting.  This was not an art show with 21 themed-but-separate drawings.  Instead, this was one long drawing that moved from page to page.  I was seeing the drawings as sequential, telling a story.

I was seeing my sketchbook as a book.

In a single realization, I shifted from an artist using words in her drawings, to a writer using images and words on an equal footing.  I shifted myself and my creative process from ‘either/or’ to ‘and/also’.

joydiary05.page4and5.2018For years I said I was both artist and writer, but I saw these identities as separate and distinct, two hats that I exchanged and wore one at a time.  In the process of creating this sketchbook, artist and writer merged.  I shifted into one identity wearing one hat.

I have been heading this direction for most of my art career.  There are words on my drawings as far back as 2003.  Funny how I did not consciously see this coming, yet when I look back, the progression is obvious.

So what am I now?  How do I call myself both artist and writer, giving my images and words equal footing, without having to use a phrase four words long?

I’m not a graphic novelist, although I can see this one coming next, in the way the third draft of my book is currently forming itself.  This next shift will not be a surprise.

For now I continue to call myself both artist and writer.  The word ‘both’ is important, making image and word an equal part of who I am and what I create.  I am okay with that.  More than okay.  This shift in seeing myself and my work gives me both clarity and joy.


In this post:

The Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Art Library,

See my entire sketchbook in page order on my art site at  Click on ‘Gallery’, and then click on ‘The Sketchbook Project – The Joy Diary’.

Everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Creating

What Gives Me Joy Nov 7 2016 (games)

There are eight new drawings on the gallery walls as of this past Saturday.  Big drawings. Thirty inches high and twenty-two inches wide each.  My favourite size.

I don’t do well with small drawings.  I love seeing other people’s small drawings or paintings or sculptures or prints.  They are lovely, perfect jewels.  I covet them.

I know, however, that small does not work for me.  When I try to work small, I end up feeling frustrated.  I can’t get enough of my idea onto that small piece of paper.  My marks and colours feel cramped, like I had to bend and break them so they fit.

I was this way all through art school.  When the assignment called for small format, I would do many, then butt them together so they could be big.  Small felt like whispering to me.  I was thirty-eight years old.  I had waited twenty years to go to art school and become Artist.  There was no way I was going to whisper.  And I didn’t.  My colours and marks and ideas yelled ‘I am here. Notice me.’

Mostly what happened is that I noticed myself.  Noticed what I loved and did not love in my artwork and creating.  Noticed who I was and was not as Cat the Artist.  Noticed how what was not authentically me fell away and was left behind for someone else to play with.

I learned I liked to create sideways.  I would look an art assignment in the face.  But then I’d begin turning it around and upside down and inside out.  I would find an interesting side door into the work, and that’s where I would begin.  My own point of view.  My sideways creation.

I still create this way.  It is how I see the world.

This past week and a half, I have discovered I am another kind of creator as well.  I am an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink creator.  I am using everything in the body of work I am creating this month.  The Joy Diary is pulling things out of me I did not know I could do.  I have discovered a way of marrying word and image that works for me.  I have discovered how to mix chaos and order.  I am matching up opposites and I like what is happening. This is double FUN, this chaotic order, this ordered chaos!

I am realizing here is the reason I have always loved comic books and graphic novels, have always loved Dr. Seuss books.  They tell stories on several levels and in several ways, all at once.  They are imagination and creation gone wild, pushed to the point of delight for both the creator and the reader.  They are sideways creations that allow in everything and the kitchen sink.

I am so glad I am a sideways-creating, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Artist and Writer.  This, absolutely and perfectly, gives me joy.


The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!