sketchbook project

you may have heard buzz around the internet of art house coop’s sketchbook project from last fall or “liked” them on facebook, maybe. it’s this deal where the art house coop sends you a sketchbook to fill, you send it back, and then it goes on tour around the country with a group of nearly 29,000 other participants sketchbooks, in its own little art show. when i heard about this project, i liked it, i clicked “like,” and i signed right up to participate in it. that was back in september.

about a week later, a great little moleskin sketchbook arrived, and i vowed to sketch and create and keep this visual journal with me for the next few months. (i had until mid-january to complete it and send it in.)  i encouraged some friends to participate, as well. i was psyched that i would be making my own art in it! finally – art time for momma! it was ripe with potential! i had to choose one of their “themes” for the book. i picked one i figured was the most general: a day in the life.

i took myself out for tea that day and began the book.

ahhh… that was nice. and then like 16 days later i made another page in the book. darn, have two weeks gone by already?” i wondered. 4 days later, another page. a month later, two more pages. i was slow to start. it was interesting to watch my own mind and my own process around taking the time to create my own art. it is logistically and emotionally challenging to invest in this sort of me-time as a mom of a young kid. but it is oh-so-important.

i was really wanting to do this in an altered book sort of style, but the really thin pages of the moleskin were a bit frustrating to work with… i think they must really have meant “sketch in this book.” i did a lot of pasting other papers into the book so i could use more wet media and saturated colors. and collage.

the holidays came and went, and my book was really quite empty. in the new year, i vowed to knock out some art work in that journal – BE CREATIVE NOW! hee hee… i laughed at the pressure of that, and relaxed a bit around it. i spent a couple weeks really just having FUN with different media.

then the me-time became we-time, as it often just does organically. i enjoy making art with my little lady, and she couldn’t resist helping with mommy’s sketchbook. so i enlisted the help of my favorite tiny artist who can crank out the creativity like no one else i know.

little ghost artist

she was honored to participate. we did a dialog drawing in the book together.

she made some pictures of her own on some of the pages. (thank you, N!)

N's mandala

the last few nights before the book was due were like a creative explosion on my dining room table. i loved it.

in the end, i submitted it in time. apparently it is being digitized by art house coop (in a way higher quality way than i’ve done here with the photos the morning before i headed to the post office in january) and will be available on their web site for viewing.

also my little book is now on a U.S. tour. i think it was in austin last weekend, and is now on its way to portland, maine. it has a tour schedule, like a little paper rockstar in a huge jam band of nearly 30K players. that’s kinda fun. i’m excited to see the exhibit when it hits san francisco in june. if the tour arrives in a city near you, i’m sure it’s a fun exhibit to attend — look my book up when you’re there!

tour image from

art house coop has some other projects currently going on that are open for participation. check it out. it’s good stuff.


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  • That is super neat. I really like your daughters pictures. What a cool project. Thanks for the information.

  • My little artist would adore this!

  • Just wanted to stop by to tell you I am loving all that you are doing. I featured your cardboard house project on our B activity week–lots of fun stuff there! Thanks! Gianne at

  • jen

    thanks laura & gianne! and thanks for featuring us on cows go moo and ducks go quack, gianne! i’m honored! 🙂

  • Love it! Do you get to keep it when it’s finished it’s rock tour? I think you’re right about it being important for mums to find time to be creative. Motherhood is such a creative state in its own way, but I really need to concentrate on finding time for my own expression sometimes!

  • How envious I am of your amazing creative talent. Only last week my husband laughed at me for drawing a duck for my son with 4 legs! Opps 🙂 I’m completely artistically-challenged. I do, however really love this idea. I love the idea of visual journaling. I think as this year progresses and my son gets older, I’ll start to introduce him to this idea.

    The project is great. How wonderful would it be though to see a travelling exhibition of children’s visual journals?

  • jen

    sarah – i don’t ever get the book back in paper form, but they are digitizing it on their web site, apparently in high quality scans, which feels okay for me. it will be archived at the brooklyn art library when the tour is finished. and i agree – it is SO important to nurture our own artist selves as mothers, yet finding the time and energy is so difficult when kids are young. here’s to hoping that the individuation process is a parallel one, where when she’s ready for more independence and space, so am i, and that is when i might have time for more art making…

    kate – thank you so much for your kind words. too sweet! i also LOVE visual journaling and the idea of altered books. i totally agree that i’d LOVE to see an exhibition of children’s visual journals, or some such kids’ art project. hmmm.. maybe we should collaborate on starting one? 😉 i love your blog, by the way!

  • Jen, I wonder how we would go about doing that? Could be fun 🙂 Kate

  • Oh My! I LOVE this. What an inspired project – i’m so envious of all those blank pages. Would just love some creative time for myself. THis has spurred me to do just that, thank you!