Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Discovering Logbooks



I had a small revelation yesterday during one of my many laps around the indoor track at the gym. I love how those moments of epiphany can come at you, seemingly out of the blue, when really it's probably just a simple thought, like the strike of a match, that ignites them. So, there I was, moving along at a brisk pace, congratulating myself on my persistence in actually going to the gym consistently over the last month and looking forward to recording that day's workout activities in my little log book at home. In order to keep myself motivated and to create a history of what I've actually been doing to try to lose a little of my middle-age weight, I started an exercise log (see below).



It was then that I realized that "logging" is the idea behind so many things I do! It dawned on me all at once that I am engaged in all manner of activities that involve logbooks, of sorts. My daily drawing practice (the last three days of which can be seen in the top photo) is, at heart, a way of capturing moments of time, leaving a trace of the day in a small drawing...a kind of log, just not contained in a book. But, I have delicious moments of satisfaction by making notations in my many other logs, which are contained in books.


It may seem silly, but I find a little moment of bliss in recording in a tiny green log any book that I actually finish reading. I write the date, the title, the author and sometimes if I really love the book, I give it a few stars! I've been doing this for several years now and I look back in it sometimes to see how many books I've read in a given year. Reviewing the titles reminds me of the pleasure of reading each one of them. I do start and don't finish all manner of books and alas, they never get recorded in the little green "Books Read" log. But, I could start yet another log and record all the books I started and never finished....alas, that one might fill up first!


Okay, so now I am revealing my truly obsessive nature with the logbook above. Don't ask me why I do this, because I actually have no credible reason, except I love to document things....and more than I ever realized! The notebook above is a log I keep each day of the number of views on this blog. I record the date, the number and the time. Any time I create a post, I record the number of views at that point and the time I made the post. I know that there are online trackers and analytics for this kind of thing and I can look at those, but there is something very satisfying about the practice of making the notes myself. The information doesn't actually mean anything really, but I do it anyway. And, when you think about it, the blog itself is a kind of log.....the name "blog" is a truncation of web log. So, that little notebook above is a log of my blog.

When I came home from the gym, I wanted to investigate "logbooks" a bit more and of course, as many of us do, went straight to the Wikipedia entry:

logbook (a ship's logs or simply log) is a record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship. It is essential to traditional navigation, and must be filled in at least daily.

Of course, we all probably think first of ship's logs when we think of logbooks. I've always found them fascinating and now looking at that definition I can see it as a metaphor for my own practices. Each of us navigates the journey of our lives and a log helps us to document that voyage. Many of us do it through keeping journals, diaries, blogs, etc. What else was out there, I wanted to know....what did these other logs look like? I was enamored with so many, as I love books, even just the pages of writing I find beautiful. Here's a wonderful image of an illustrated ship's log:



Another image caught my eye, which was of a kind of visual journal....another kind of log.


This is an image from The Graphic Recorder, a blog by Doug Neill and was seen in his post, Starting a Visual Logbook. I read the post with great interest and had another epiphany! My obsessive nature aside, I have never been one to keep a sketchbook or a journal of writing in any consistent way. It just never seems to stick with me, despite my desire to want to want to do such a thing. But this.....this way of documenting the highlights and activities of the day in a delightfully direct way appeals to me. I could do this without feeling the burden of an actual journal! I happened to have a thin blank Moleskin within so I began to my log....not so visual yet, but I'm just getting warmed up!


But, true to nature of the world of cyberspace, reading this entry on Doug Neill's blog, led me deeper to the source of his own inspiration to begin the visual logbook, which was a post by the writer and artist, Austin Kleon. My next stop was the entry on Kleon's blog, On Keeping A Logbook, which provided yet more inspiration and validation. He reports that, like me, he was just too lazy to keep a regular journal, but a log was a different story....just the facts, a documentation of the day. That's what I'm after....my interest is the documentation and beneath that, the desire to capture and hold the time which continually slips through our fingers. It's a futile quest, I know, but the traces left behind by the attempt are satisfaction enough for me. Thanks to Doug Neill and Austin Kleon for the inspiration!