Keeping an Art Clipbook

Writers often keep clipbooks or files where they can tuck away ideas for future stories — little scraps of dialogue they’ve overheard, notes about moods or emotions they’ve felt at different places, little thoughts about characters or those great what if  questions that can form the basis of an intriguing plot.

IdeasI really never thought about keeping an art clipbook though until I recently saw one. One of the women who belongs to our local HFAA art club showed me her idea book, and I was hooked.

Her book was a lot like a photo album with notes — not exactly an art journal, but a place where she had put reference ideas, such as photographs she’s taken or ones she’s clipped from magazines. I recognized many of her clippings from Missouri Conservationista  magazine that features recreational areas throughout the state. She adds notes to the entries, makes thumbnail sketches, and uses different landscape features to put together her own compositions.

“I liked this tree,” she explained, pointing to an old sycamore in a photo, “and I thought it would be a good addition to this scene,” she continued, pointing to another picture.

Landscape artists are encouraged to work with composing elements in a pleasing manner, not merely copying what we see. Having a clip book to keep ideas together sounds like wondrous fun to me. And I happen to have a lot of old magazines sitting around, including many issues of the conservation magazine.

I think it’s time to start clipping ideas!





  1. I have always clipped and saved ideas in every form since I can remember. Though it has been unorganized and my studio shows. This would be an awesome way to give my ideas direction. Thanks for reopening this thought for me 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I treat my instagram as a clip file. Every time I see a post that inspires me I add it to my file there is even a way to categorize what you save. I need to get more conscience of categorizing. There is so much beauty in our world.

    Liked by 1 person

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