Working Into an Inkblot Journal

Margaret Peot’s Guest Blog, Post 2

While surfing around on Pinterest, I ran across the idea of making a dollhouse in three-ring binders. Each binder is two walls of a room, the walls are decorated with small print scrapbook paper, framed pictures, a trompe l’oeil bookshelf. Its a really neat idea for a dollhouse, and got me thinking about how sketchbooks and journals can be places–not just repositories of ideas for future reference, or diaries, or works of art, but also destinations in which we can play and experiment.

Inkblot journals

The inkblot sketchbook, when filled with inkblots to respond to, can be like a palace of ideas: a place to wander, create, hang out.

This notion works well with the other thing I have been thinking of. In one of my Creative Center Classes at Gilda’s Club, one of my students, Isabel Duchanese, made a large, bilaterally symmetrical, folded inkblot that she saw as two steep, rocky cliffs, flanking a gorge with a river running below, and scraggly trees at the top. She had not set out to make a landscape, but that is what it looked like to her. In response to it, Isabel began to make lots of tiny inkblots that she drew into as creatures that she tipped onto the rocky cliffs with glue. It captured my imagination.

inkblot journal

Artist Isabel Duchenese’s wonderful inkblot landscape, with blown ink branches at the top left, and the beginning of her additions of tiny animals.

What if the inkblot journal could be a destination? Filled with landscapes, trees, the night sky–a whole world in a book? And I could work into any page on any day–each page would be like a room or landscape. So the sketchbook would not be a linear thing, but perhaps a palace of ideas to walk through, room by room, drawing on the walls…

inkblot journal

Inkblot birds meet and talk in a winter landscape…these were made by making the blot on a folded page of the sketchbook (as opposed to the spine of the sketchbook being the fold), and enhanced with an acid free black pen, and colored pencils. You can use the inkblots you make in your inkblot journal as visual prompts, of course, but also for writing prompts–what are these creatures saying to each other?

inkblot art

These long inkblots are sewn into the pages of the inkblot sketchbook with linen bookbinding thread. They handily cover up a couple of pages that were not as interesting to me to draw into, and also provide additional pages within the sketchbook on which I can write and draw.

Because I can mostly never stick to a traditional sketchbook format, this idea suits me. Sometimes I like to work on small pieces of Rives BFK on the subway–writing and drawing, or drawing and coloring into inkblots. And sometimes I like to stretch out and experiment with different textures and techniques on the pages of a sketchbook that I can go back and work into later.

Tiny, Undrawn Inkblots

I often have lots of scraps of my favorite paper, Rives BFK, that I tear to size and take with me in my bag to work into. Sometimes I make lots of tiny inkblots (these are about 4 x 5 inches). I have a pencil case (to be honest, it is a zip-loc bag) with an assortment colored pencils and black acid free pens, and draw into the inkblots on my subway ride to work.

Inkblot art

The little subway inkblots, cut out, and put into a swampy landscape in the inkblot sketchbook. On this page, on the far left, is a tipped-in pocket for inkblots that either go with the swamp theme, or ones to draw into later. This page is just a beginning: Ultimately, it can be filled with birds, alligators, cattails, writing, leaves, oat grass…any time.

inkblot art

A flying rabbit and friends…inkblots augmented with pen and colored pencils.

I will introduce the idea of an inkblot sketchbook being a palace of ideas at the inkblot workshop at the Creative Aging Conference (which has now been postponed until March due to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy) ( and is hosted by The Creative Center at University Settlement, which offers free art classes for people battling cancer and other chronic illnesses, with the idea, as they say on their website that “medicine cures the body, but art heals the spirit.”). Maybe, as one’s world gets smaller through infirmity, one can have a huge world of ideas inside a sketchbook.

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 and at She is the author of Alternative Art Journals and the host of two instructional art videos, Alternative Art Journals with Margaret Peot and Alternative Art Cards with Margaret Peot.




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