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We have been writing in notebooks for thousands of years and they have been the humble foundation of many aspects of human culture from science to song-writing to travel journaling.
Notebooks have been traced back to 55AD in China and 10th century Japan in the Far East and in the West there are examples of notebooks made during the Renaissance which have deep roots in the world as we know it today. Notebooks were the original records for iconic literature, inventions and philosophies, so it’s no wonder they are still so popular today, essential as a planner, a dedicated space for endless to-do lists and just to capture one’s thoughts that would otherwise be lost.
I wonder why the computer hasn’t taken over but I think a notebook is a precious object - a collection of thoughts, dreams, ideas, sketches and doodles. It’s portable and flexible too - a page of lists can be ripped out and tucked in a pocket. There is research that suggests that keeping a notebook is like having a dialogue with oneself and actually improves creativity with the opportunity to expand ideas. Regularly writing and maybe capturing fleeting thoughts has healing possibilities as a therapeutic activity. Recording a personal and reflective narrative is also beneficial in managing stress and contributes to a sense of happiness and well-being.
Old notebooks can serve as a glimpse back into the past (and not only in a personal sense, like when you read your diary from your teenage years and laugh at the awkwardness) but in a wider sense where a diary can capture the first-hand experience of famous events as well as significant discoveries like Marie Curie’s studies of radiation. It will be thousands of years until Marie Curie’s diaries can be read without protective gear due to the vast amounts of radiation on her notes and journals and especially in the binding but they are still there, held in lead-lined boxes in the National Library of France and the Wellcome Library in the UK for reference from one of the most influential scientists to ever have existed.
Frida Kahlo’s diary was composed over the last decade of her life and was filled with magical, energetic paintings and drawings that expressed her intense emotions and personal feelings throughout her life as well as poetry detailing her stormy relationships - a sort of a beautiful yet tragic notebook and a sketchbook combined to provide a catharsis for her turbulent emotions and her problems with her health.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a prolific writer - when he died in 1519 he left pages and pages totalling 6000 notebooks! Amongst his notes about engineering - such as building the first flying machine - he also wrote shopping lists, smutty jokes and displayed a keen liking for pink tights. He not only describes the movements of birds and of water but also his troubled emotions and his ambitious hopes for his career. He wrote his thoughts from right to left - instead of left to right - perhaps as a left-handed person he didn’t want to smudge the ink as his ideas flowed - he would quickly ‘jump’ from one subject to another.
One of our best-loved children’s authors - famous for her beautifully illustrated and delightful tales of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggywinkle - Beatrix Potter also kept notebooks throughout her life where she would write about her observations on nature and philosophy as well as sketches and notes about gardening. A selection of her entries from her notebooks which run over 200,000 words has been made into a book - ‘Beatrix Potter’s Journal’ and published by Warne.
“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not” - Martina Navratilova
“A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to become. It is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember, and dream” - Brad Wilcox
“I find the experience of keeping a journal much more creative on paper than on a computer” - Keri Smith
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart” - William Wordsworth
“I’ve always written. There’s a journal which I kept from about 9 years old” - Maya Angelou
"I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one's self and listening at the same time" — Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula by Bram Stoker
"I guess in my diary I’m not afraid to be boring. It’s not my job to entertain anyone in my diary" — David Sedaris
“I belong to this notebook and this pencil” - Ernest Hemingway
“Your subconscious mind is trying to help you all the time. That’s why I keep a journal - not for chatter but for mostly the images that flow into the mind or little ideas” - Jim Harrison
“In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself” - Susan Sontag
You may not reach the 200,000 words written by Beatrix Potter or the 6,000 notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci but the artistic notebooks at judigloverart.com are printed in the UK with covers inspired by nature and flowers to make a calming place to start scibbling and letting ideas flow. Each notebook has 120 pages and includes free UK mainland delivery, hopefully this has provided you with ideas and inspiration on what to use a notebook for.
Summer Flowers An inspiring and decorative notebook made from an original watercolour painting of summer flowers and features a coordinating gold enclosure.
Blue Hydrangea This pretty notebook features a dreamy palette of soft mauves and blues and is made from an original watercolour painting of a dried hydrangea head with a coordinating turquoise blue enclosure.
St Columba’s Bay This artistic notebook features scenes from the sea and sky and is made from an original painting of St Columba’s bay on the Isle of Iona with a coordinating navy blue enclosure.
Wildflowers Colourful and vibrant, this pretty notebook is made from a painting of wildflowers with an exciting and dramatic design and a pale blue enclosure to inspire ideas and projects or as an extra-special gift
Sunflowers This summery, beautiful notebook has bright, vibrant sunflowers on a pink background with an orange enclosure
Spring Daffodils A lovely design with sunshine yellow in this floral notebook from a painting of beautiful Spring Daffodils with a bright orange enclosure
Sheep Under the Stars A notebook set in the countryside made from an original painting of a little group of sheep in a field lit by the moon in a deep-blue sky. An extra special gift for you or someone else this cute notebook has a coordinating straw-coloured enclosure
Pink Lilies This pretty notebook has pink and mauve tones with accents of soft blues, created from an original painting of beautiful lilies, it has a magenta-pink elastic enclosure