50 Before 50 Illustrated Journal Flip-through – Volume 1!
During the year before I turned 50, I did a “50 Before 50” project. In part, it involved a list of 50 very carefully thought-out and selected things to do and an illustrated journal in which I tracked the “doing” of those things and recorded the year. As part of the illustrated documentation, I also drew a self-portrait each week. The flip-through in this video is journal 1 from the year.
As part of the 50 Before 50 process, I did a weekly self-portrait, which I incorporated in my illustrated journal. I continued the weekly self-portraits for a second year after the first year ended, and now (June 2021), I am starting a third year of this weekly routine.
This “self-portrait” task has become a very important part of the week for me. At some point every week, I stop, snap a few selfies, and then need to fit a portrait into my journal. Having an illustrated journal in process and as a focus has also really helped. The weekly self-portrait fits into the flow nicely.
And, week by week, they accumulate. When I started this process, my hair hadn’t been cut in many months, and yet it was short. It was “growing out” again. Now, two years later, it’s been more than that since I’ve had a hair cut, so even in the concreteness of that, the portraits contain a record and tell a story.
The yearly record and collection of these portraits is profound when you look back. Flipping back through this first journal from that summer (2019), I am so glad that I decided to do this illustrated journal project (and 50 Before 50 list) and stuck with it. (It is easy to decide to do things and not stick with them.) Having a full year of these portraits and then a second year of them helps me feel more connected to the year that passed. It may feel like it was fast. It may feel like it already seems a bit vague. It may feel like it didn’t have the gravity or magic I hoped. But the journal reminds me of all of the bits of wonder the year contained.
Within that, the portraits are an anchoring point, a checkpoint each week, and a consistent throughline, no matter what the rest of the page looks like. It isn’t always easy to gear up to draw the self-portrait, but I am always glad later that I stuck with it and did it.
The illustrated journal process that I really started doing with regularity during this first 50 Before 50 journal continued that whole year and grew into the #illustrateyourweek project that I now do and lead. I have offered hundreds of prompts over the last year for people keeping illustrated journals.
I enjoy other kinds of art, but this kind of personal recording and documentation has become my favorite and most important creative project. When I do sit and flip through a book like this, I am reminded why. I only have this record because every day, I spent time drawing, writing, annotating, and recording life in these pages.
50 Before 50 Illustrated Journal 1 Flip-through
Tools I Have Been Using for Illustrated Journaling
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- Moleskine Art Sketchbook, Hard Cover, A4 (8.25″ x 11.75″) – I have purchased and used this one several times now
Moleskine Art Sketchbook, Hard Cover, A3 (11.75″ x 16.5″) – I have not used this larger size yet
Atrika Note Sketchbook https://amzn.to/3A1SVoK (I had high hopes for this and am trying it for the first time — unfortunately, fountain pen ink seems to be feathering and there is more ghosting and a bit of bleed (just in regular notes). I am super disappointed and will be going back to the Moleskine. If your media is different though, these pages are nice and white and thicker than other sketchbooks; white pages – 8×8)
Atrika Note Sketchbook https://amzn.to/3jmlWWn (10×10)
- Micron pens .01
- Micron assorted
- Fountain pens, especially Lamy Safari, Lamy LX, TWSBI, Preppy, and others
- Fountain pen ink, especially Platinum Carbon Black
- Fountain pen ink colors, especially inks by Diamine, Noodler’s, Pilot Ioroshizuku, Herbin, and Monteverde
- Circle stencil – an old “ring-sizing” template from when my son was in high school
- Pencil – mechanical
Learning Video Editing and Making YouTube Videos After 50
Note: in terms of video creation and my YouTube After 50 series, this video went more smoothly than most. I have a system now of making sure I’ve cleared enough space on my phone (always a challenge) and enough space on my computer hard drive (an even bigger challenge). After I record, I have to reinstall software to transfer the file to my computer and then delete the software again. It’s a kludgy process, but it works. Having gotten better at resizing the viewing in the video software, things felt smooth this time. My foldup table is too small to really get a good video shot, so I have to crop in on the resulting video, but it works okay. While I am careful to set up as much lighting as I can to brighten the video, I did go and look up how to control the brightness in Openshot this time, and I was able to bump the brightness just a little bit, which helped. I had forgotten how to access that feature, so I am glad I thought about it and looked it up.
You can do a lot with free software!