MASTER ARTIST'S VISUAL JOURNALS

DA VINCI | MUNCH | FISCHL | BELL 

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) carried a visual journal with him at all times so that he could record ideas, impressions, and observations as they occurred. His journals, of which seven thousand pages exist, contained observations and thoughts of scholars he admired, personal financial records, letters, reflections on domestic problems, philosophical musings and prophecies, plans for inventions, and treatises on anatomy, botany, geology, flight, water, drawings and paintings. For Da Vinci, the visual journaling process of recording questions and making daily observations visually and verbally in a sketchbook was one of great importance. Evidence of visual journaling throughout art history can also be seen in the visual journals of Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch.

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Edvard Munch (1863-1944) once stated, “Just as Da Vinci studied the recesses of the human body and dissected cadavers, I try to dissect souls” (Tojner, 2003, flyleaf). Munch used his visual journals to further develop ideas he had worked on in his younger years. For Munch, visual journaling was also the process of recording questions and daily observations, as well as a starting point for ideas and sketches that would later become paintings.

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Eric Fischl (1948- present) described visual journaling as an adventurous, shrewd, alert and relentless process where there are no rules. Fischl co-authored a book entitled Sketchbook with Voices, which provides glimpses into the complex workings of the creative mind while examining visual journaling as a potential key to the art-making process. For Fischl, the visual journaling process began in the sketchbook, but eventually grew into large-format visual journals created as glassine drawings. Each of these artists was from different generations and exemplified different aesthetic viewpoints, but possessed similar contextual approaches to visual journaling.

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Michael Bell (1971- present) Born April 10th, on his Mother's birthday, Michael Bell grew up with a magical gift and an intense passion for the visual arts. Michael experienced success early in his artistic career, winning 1st Place at the age of five in the first juried art exhibition he ever entered. As an emerging young artist Michael spent a lot of time in and around New York City, studying art with his maternal Grandmother, a self-taught artist in Lyndhurst, NJ. Michael began to explore life’s very personal and psychological issues visually first through his sketchbook visual journals, and later through his paintings. As a professional artist Michael Bell is nationally recognized, exhibiting in art galleries throughout the country. Michael Bell has painted some of the most powerfully famous and infamous people of our time, including: (1) the late John Gotti; (2) former Kodak Cover Girl and best-selling author Georgia Durante; (3) numerous actors from HBO’s The Sopranos, including Tony Sirico, Joe Gannascoli, John Fiore and Sofia Milos, also of CSI: Miami.

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