Sketch Journaling

I’ve always loved sketch journals. Besides the sketches themselves, there’s a wealth of other stuff on the page to consider and enjoy: The writing often expresses personal viewpoints and feelings. Even mundane stuff comes alive just from the act of recording it. Sketch-collaging pages creates rhythm and emphasis that makes each page unique in flavor and in layout.

So why don’t I sketch-journal more? I think it’s because I’ve come to think of journaling as requiring the kind of patience I don’t have and to be about carefully built up pages, with exquisite calligraphy.

But then I did this page to record a big boo-boo last month and thought “that’s a journal page”. And I’m so glad it lives in my sketchbook and holds memories of that pretty disastrous and almost funny event. ( And maybe it’s funny only to me, because I wasn’t the one who spent 3 hours on cleanup!)


And that kinda changed what I thought of the process: there’s no fancy calligraphy on the page, just my regular writing. It was super quick to do. Plus, I got to record a whole bunch of stuff in little bits: my husband cleaning up the mess, and a closeup of the beautiful beets I was roasting, before I threw away the shard-covered beauties. Plus. some very important information and advice for all of you. (See the double-underlined DO NOT?)

So I’ve been doing more of these journal-style spreads and finding that they fit very well into my current schedule where I can work on the pages in little breaks throughout my day. I’m also finding that I am relooking at everyday stuff and recording it. And doing this makes me pay more attention to it.

Here’s a spread that started with a little vignette at San Jose State University with visiting urban sketcher, Joel Winstead. I then added my cup of chai and a mail in election ballot ( Please, please vote on November 6th!) later in the day. And then some thoughts on color choices in my current palette.

Here are some more pages…



I’m hoping to keep doing more of this and record more everyday stuff in my sketchbooks. And I have lots to look at for inspiration.

Among my favorite keepers of journals are Cathy Johnson, Brenda Swenson, Liz Steel, Nina Khaschina and Gay Kraeger. Some of them call what they do journaling, some don’t. But the all share the idea of recording information in both words and sketches on a page.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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14 Responses to Sketch Journaling

  1. annzcolorz says:

    I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now. This is my first comment. I really can relate to this post as I’ve been thinking about sketching images vs journaling about my experiences with words and sketches. I’m not sure why the second seems so much more difficult and at the same time richer. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do them both the more journal-like pages with writing and the more painting like ones all in the same book. It takes the preciousness out of it all and simplifies my life: any book is good for anything. I do carry more than one book around, just because it lets me start on a new page before the one I just worked on is dry.


  2. Oh wow, these sketchbooks are fantastic! Congratulations! Keep doing them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Betsy Angene says:

    Suhita, super sketches. A 23-hour cleanup? YIKES! What brand sketchbook were you using?


  4. Betsy Angene says:

    I meant 2 – 3 hour clean-up. A typo.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane says:

    Exactly what I think!
    My sketching journey has moved though trying to make all things beautiful to what I have finally settled in with, quick sketches and my everyday writing. I realized after many trys that I just do not have the patience for neat and beautiful. I truly admire the beautiful pages other people make and I do take online classes to try and improve my work. But for me life is short and there are so many things to do that when I get something down on the page and a few words to go with it I am satisfied.
    Also love your work!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dinahmow says:

    This is exactly what I meant when I said I should do more sketching! Loose and doodle-y and a good record of the every day stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. miatagrrl says:

    I really enjoy the look of your “messy” journaling! And so jealous that Joel came to sketch with you! And you may want to note that you also shouldn’t put that hot glass pan on a cold countertop (yeah, I know about that one)! (I guess reading other people’s journal pages leaves more opportunity for commentary 😉 )

    – Tina


  8. mayelalameda says:

    Those are wonderful spreads. I love to see the drawings and read the tidbits of information you wrote down. I started to do some “Sketching Journaling” during my recent trip to Italy and the Greek Islands and find it very useful to combine drawings with words I also add admission tickets, receipts, little pieces of ephemera.


  9. Love these pages! And I too have learned that hard lesson with cold water in a hot glass pan, only with a pork roast instead…sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A good reminder that there are all sorts of journal pages and no one right way to do them. Happy sketching!


  11. I think this is so good. The folks that can do great calligraphy can be intimidating, it is just not me. the sketch is the journal, and a few words to tell a story is what it is all about. Love your stuff, thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nice journals, I really like the Mulberry Tree one.

    Liked by 1 person

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