A new guest blog about art journaling by Margaret Peot
Art journals are a place where we collect and explore ideas, sometimes in a sketchy, shorthand-for-future-reference way, sometimes developing them into more fully realized visual thoughts. Many times, a traditional sketchbook works perfectly for this, but sometimes the things we collect for beauty and inspiration don’t fit into a sketchbook–so we collect them in different ways. Is a box of pebbles and sea glass a kind of an art journal?
I attended a show of Cabinets of Curiosity at the Grolier Club on East 60th Street in New York, Rooms of Wonder: from Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899. It was very inspiring, not only from the point of view of this idea of collecting-journaling (if a box of pebbles and seaglass and other ephemera be an art journal, then could a piece of furniture–an armoire–a whole room in your house be an art journal?), but also because the book structures were like Rooms of Wonder themselves–with tipped in, folding-out panels.
One of the images that interested me the most was of these embalming jars put together by the Dutch botanist Frederick Ruysch.
I did some additional research on Frederick Ruysch when I got home from the show and found additional images of his strange embalming jars on Public Domain Review:
Now, I am not interested in getting involved in embalming, I promise you, but the idea of these jars filled with things, these collections, captured my imagination. The made me think of tiny museums, aquariums, terrariums, snow globes, fireflies captured on a summer evening, a shelf of canning jars filled with fruits and vegetables preserved for the winter. So, lacking an official specimen jar, I got out a Ball quart canning jar and started fiddling around with it.
I am not sure where this is going for me–in a New York apartment, I don’t have rows of shelves on which I can make a hundred such jars and store them, gleaming, in rows–but wouldn’t that be neat?
The Wunderkammer show has closed at the Grolier Club, but there’s another lovely exhibition there through the middle of March, Through a Glass Clearly: The History and Science of the Microscope. The subject matter is interesting, and the old, letterpress-printed books with the tipped-in foldouts of scientific objects and observations are amazing.
Margaret Peot is a painter, printmaker and writer who has made her living as a freelance artist for more than 20 years in New York City. Margaret lives in New York City. Visit her website at www.MargaretPeot.com and at www.theinkblotbook.com. Margaret is the author of Alternative Art Journals, and the host of two North Light Instructional DVDs, Alternative Art Journals with Margaret Peot and Alternative Art Cards with Margaret Peot.
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