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As an artist—and this happens to me all too often—my head gets to swimming with ideas and I find myself wanting to try a million new things, all at the same time.

Initially I would wait it out until I felt calm or sane enough to work again. But I soon realized by doing that, I was losing all of those precious new ideas!

So I decided to maintain a book to keep my creative thoughts, sketches and artistic experiments in order. Over time, this gradually grew into four distinct books:

1. My “ideating” book

This is where I write down all my crazy ideas. They stem from dreams, movies, blogs, poetry, nature, man. . . anything around me.

I just make sure that I have this book by me 24/7, even while I sleep. Who knows when an inspiring nightmare might turn into a painting? Since it’s just ideas (and lots of them) I usually keep this book on recycled paper.

2. My sketchbook

This is my book for all my sketches, water media and ink pens. I use it when I want to work from life or when I am outdoors and want to sketch. I always carry it with me on “plein air” missions.

For this, I use a spiral bound book (so it’s easy to carry around) with 300gsm paper.

3. My Scrapbook

As you might expect, in this book I keep scraps of all my experiments and happy accidents.

It includes loose works on canvas, watercolor and ink experiments, acrylic gel attempts, collages, found objects, and anything else I like.

4. My reference book

Whenever I go for art walks or to exhibits, I pick up business cards and information from artists I like, be it musicians, painters, sculptors, installation artists, etc.

If I can’t find their card, I at least write down their name and something about the work. I put all this into my reference book, and then I have another list online as well, where I keep notes of all the work I like looking at.

The result?

Keeping these books gives me a clear head and a reference of all my ideas on days when I can’t find my “inspiration.”

Artistic techniques are usually a lot of happy accidents to begin with. You try an initial idea and something else develops. You hate most of what you come up with, but you like some and love one or two. Then you work on those you love until they are no longer accidents but very very deliberate.

These books help me do this, and it’s the best way (that I have found) to develop different skills while keeping your mind free from clutter.

To read more articles from Tulika, please visit her art blog.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

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