Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Visual Commonplacing in My Zibaldone

I've decided I don't like the words 'art journal' anymore. Art journals have expectations. They want you to fill them with beautiful works of art. Sometimes I'm okay with that but sometimes I'm not.

'Sketchbook' doesn't work for me because I don't sketch.

I don't do 'scrapbooking' because all those pictures of my family just got in the way of what I was trying to create. 

 'Notebook' isn't the word I want either. Those have lines in them and want you to write important stuff on their pages.

I think Strathmore made a wise marketing decision with their 'Visual Journals'. That phrase doesn't have the same expectations as 'art journal' or 'sketchbook. I can glue a picture of a dog wearing dentures into a visual journal.

But I'm still bothered by the 'journal' part of it. That word makes me think of a diary...a written account of thoughts, events, plans, dreams, etc. I journal on occasion but not regularly and seldom do I combine it with art. I just don't want to, it's not my thing.

And speaking of art...if I make an art journal does that make me an artist? Does scrapbooking make me a crafter? Where do I stand on the artist vs. crafter debate? I stand firmly planted on the I-don't-give-a-crap side of that debate. Sometimes I call myself an artist. Sometimes I call myself a crafter. Sometimes I'm a crafter who makes art. Lately I've been calling myself an arter or a craftist just so I can thumb my nose at the ridiculousness of it all.

Recently I stumbled upon commonplace books. These books are part journal, part notebook, part sketchbook, part scrapbook but not wholly any of those things. Early commonplace books from the 14th and 15th centuries contained medical recipes, poems, prayers, proverbs, notes on the best time of year for blood letting, etc.

The invention of the printing press started overwhelming people with information so they used commonplace books to keep track of it. By the mid 17th century everybody was doing it. Commonplacing was the Pinterest of the Age of Enlightenment. Since books were where it was at back then, most commonplace books contained literary quotes, thoughts, sketches, lists and similar marginalia related to the books being read at that time. I just learned "marginalia" today and wanted to hurry up and use it before I forget it.

Unlike a diary or journal, commonplacing is not chronological nor is it written as a narrative. Often times the writing is organized by categories throughout the book. A commonplace book is not a notebook because it may contain sketches or pasted in articles, receipts, letters, etc. It is not a sketchbook or art journal because it usually contains significantly more words than pictures. Although a commonplace book may contain photographs or ephemera, it is not a scrapbook because scrapbooks are "outward". They are meant to be shared or displayed or available for others to see. Commonplace books are "inward". They are for their creator only.

In 15th century Italy a new type of commonplace book was developed. It was called a zibaldone which means hodgepodge. Zibaldones contained the same type of information found in most commonplace books but they weren't as organized, the information was much more random or scattered. They also contained more sketches, poetry, and creative elements than the typical commonplace book.

Because of my newly acquired distaste for the words 'art jounal', I have decided to replace them with 'visual commonplace book' or 'visual zibaldone'. I haven't decided for sure which one I like better. Visual commonplace book would probably be easier to use since commonplacing is a legitimate verb that I can use with it, despite the dreaded red spell checker dots that usually accompany it. Since zibaldones were a form of commonplace book, I suppose it would be accurate to say I'm commonplacing when I'm working in my zibaldone since zibaldoning just doesn't really work at all.

So from now on I will be doing some visual commonplacing in my zibaldone instead of art journaling. How is that going to be different from the art journaling I was doing before? It's not. It's just a mental thing. But it does make me feel way cooler than everyone else.

Huge thanks to Google and Wikipedia for supplying me with all of this newfound useless knowledge that I spent hours and hours acquiring and will lose after one short nap.

27 comments:

Jan said...

I love that you found that information about commonplace books. That describes what I do much better than anything with the word 'art' in it :) I'm glad to know that our searching and hoarding and gluing and keeping in books is a THING (and not a sickness, as some husband types have suggested.)

Annette McCarty said...

I would really entertain the idea if only I knew how to pronounce it. But if you do it and lead, I am in!

Deborah said...

I feel so much better already! "Art Journal" just stymied me as I feel very inartistic. I am good at copying others work - sometimes with a teeny bit of my own showing through - but being really creative and artistic just isn't me. Commonplace, common book, or whatever sounds just more to my liking. I like the "inward" idea also. What I do, I do for me and that is satisfying.

ivy_Laine said...

I have a problem with "art journal" as well, the words terrify me and make me freeze up, even though this is something I really want to try. I like yours much better - or I think I will, once I figure out how to pronounce it.

Lujean Martin said...

Is it wrong that I call them my f...ing around books? And why does my spell check want to change it to "zibaldon r"? What the heck?!?! Thanks for the fine detective work and my daily dose of Shannon guffaws!

Shannon Green said...

Y'all, I couldn't even write about a zibaldone until I figured out how to pronounce it correctly! Fortunately, my BFF Google helped me out. If you go here and click on the little blue arrow, an Italian woman will help you out: http://www.forvo.com/word/zibaldone/

Thanks for taking the time to read my goofy meanderings and as soon as I start my zibaldone project you're all invited!

Lujean, it's okay with me if you want to call it your f***ing zibaldone. But you have to say it with an Italian accent.

Michelle LaPoint Rydell said...

Thanks for an awesome post! I love your idea of the zibaldone! I keep various types of journals and am always wondering what I should call them. Now you've got me thinking...

Uma's Garden said...

Thanks Shannon. You now have created Zibaldoneies!!!! We are those rebellious ones that refuse to be put into a box. We do whatever we want, and refuse to go by the rules. You have started a rebellion and you have a whole group of people following you. lol

Mary W said...

So if I'm now a Zibaldoness, does this make you a Zibondonater? (Like instigator) If I was drinking this could take quite another journey. I did feel my brain cells expand with new knowledge.

CarolAnnTX said...
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Roz Willoughby said...

I enjoyed this post Shannon. I also shy away from being labelled as an artist or crafter. I'm me and I enjoy messing around with paint and paper and I love imagery. I'm definitely not into journaling my thoughts!
Thanks for being an inspiration.

mytherapyroom said...

THIS is exactly why i luv's ya!! I hated calling my 'books' art journals as well. I sound soooo much cooler saying Zibaldone anyway! (In my best Italian accent.....while moving my right hand in a rather awkward way trying to look more Italian). I'm off to go find my Zilbaldone so I can Zilbaldone to my hearts content.
Hugs,
Yvonne

Ladytruenorth said...

And when you really get going I suppose you could call it zibaldzoning

Ladytruenorth said...

And when you really get going I suppose you could call it zibaldzoning

p welch said...

this post is one of your best. I feel bad that I need to have someone else verbalize what I feel so I can accept that my feeling is all right. I never even understood "art" journal...what is that? I mean, "journal" is a book to write in...words....write....right? And "art" is ....not that. And I hate so much to use the word "journal" as a verb instead of a noun, which it most surely is. Who changed "journal" to mean "write"...used to make me so mad I could hardly look at the term. "Journal"..."book of pages to write in"...anyway, you said it all better. And I'm not mad any more.

Linda D. said...

I love this idea. I have run across that word in my search to collect old and wonderful books, and never thought to apply it to my work. That's it, though. Great idea.

Cali said...

Just discovered your blog today Shannon, you are simply delightful and a breath of fresh air...thank you!! Cali :)

Barbara Clark said...

I love reading your blog, Shannon. This was a great article, and I wanted to warn you that you may see your quote about scrapbooking show up in one of my future Zibaldone pages. I saved it into my evernote quote folder. I'm doing journaling by 5s, and I love getting out of my head and doing 20 pages at once with a timer, whether or not I obey the timer, which I don't. But my second one, clearly, will be more in the Zibaldone era of visual journaling. I'm prepping the book now.

MsShutterbugg said...

Thank you for all the newfound knowledge of a Zibaldone. It's sounds fascinating! Thank you for doing all the work of researching it for me!

Barbara Every said...

Hi Shannon from Newark in the UK.i am newly retired and just moved to the country from London. A big change from a city to a market town. Your witty videos have inspired me to start junk journals as I love to repurpose things. Just about to start sewing them together but can't get my head round the next process, so your flip throughs are just the thing.

SiNana said...

Girl, get outta my head! I am a fellow Texan, up here in Decatur!!i ran in to Tuesday morning to see if I could snag some bargains. My whole haul I could hear your Texas twang talking. $80.00 later, I told myself to quit listening to enablers on YouTube!!!
Just love your blog and videos. Happy 4 th to you!
Sandra Irish

Patricia Millan said...

You, Shannon Green, are a genius. Thanks a lot for many things. First, for describing exactly what I've been doing, or , I should say "not doing" : journaling. And feeling frustated about it...
Second, freeing me of the question/ feeling" Am I an artist?"...that sounds too pretentious, at least for now.
Third: giving me joy reading in English...I like to read in my language, Spanish. ?...but I am 100% sure I could improve a lot faster if I read in English more. I really enjoyed reading you.
Even I didn't even try JB5, I learned about its concept and I ghink is great.
looking forward for the Zibaldone project...may be you already started it anc I didn't realiza it yet. Lol

Robin Veysey said...

I recently made a notebook and added tabs to separate the different categories I wanted in it. Books to reserve at the library and the next book in the series to order, ideas for cardmaking, recipes for art, you get the idea. I love the idea of having instant access to all of this info. and a place to keep it all. Then I found out about commonplace books! There's a name for my book‼️ Now I'm finding out all the history about the book. I love it! It's like my little treasure book.

Jen X said...
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Jen X said...

I'm so thrilled to learn about this! I enjoyed your videos about big bertha. Love being able to incorporate my last name right into the word! I'm calling mine #JenzibalDaidone. I'll update when I have something to share! Jen Daidone

Crafty Divaz said...

hahaha, and here I was looking for excuses to stay awake! I had a hard time stopping from laughing out loud for real! My poor toddlers sleeping next to me... Here I'd recently started saying I create art/craft, er ... craft/art....? Now I can "try" to sound smart when my hubby asks what I'm doing next time I do some creative "commonplacing in my zibaldone"?

Margaret said...

Hiya Shannon: my only problem with "commonplace book" is that my pretentious college roommate was keeping one before you were born--hence before AARPA, DARPA, the Interwebs, scrapbooking that costs $50 a page, journaling except by journalists, art journaling except by artists, both sets of whom were all male; in fact when art was practiced by skin-clad savages using burnt pigments on cave walls in the Dordogne. Okay, maybe not that bad. It was the late 1960s. But I think I could bear "commonplace book" now. I like "zibaldone" too. Dang, Shannon, for a woman whose videos only get a few thousand views each (then again you have posted a few million of them) you must be one of the most influential people on YouTube, if not social media as a whole. I started seeing zibaldone a few days ago and was thinking "what the hell...?" I should've just come on over here and been enlightened, right? My goodness, on reading this over it sounds kind of snarky and I don't mean to come off that way. I've subscribed to your channel since forever and I love you to pieces, but I have to admit I didn't realize how purely smart you are until I read this blog entry. It's not the information, it's the writing. And here I thought it was Jennibellie who was going to pull out ahead in the long run. Nope: it's our own, our one and only, Shannon Green! YOU. GO. GIRL!!!