The Autumn in Japan edition diary. On developing a new book.

Welcome to this look behind the scenes at how we are creating a brand new edition – transforming a painted travel journal into another handmade book. If you have visited this page before, scroll to the bottom of the page for the latest updates.

The original “Autumn in Japan” journal is a series of painted images based on nearly a month of travel and painting throughout Japan during the Autumn of 2018.


The artwork foundation

Prior to any trip I select the format on which my painted journal will take shape. In 2018 I selected a three-panel foldout notebook. Every panel on the sketchbook would capture the memory of one day. And each combination of three panels would yield an impression of a particular area visited.

Each panel is approximately 12.5 cm wide by 10 cm tall. Slightly smaller than a traditional Japanese postcard size.

The three-panel format, or triptych sets a particular challenge. In my mind, every panel needs to be simultaneously an interesting stand-alone composition and an imaginary larger panorama view.

I painted many panels during the trip. But the complexity of this format requires hours of planning, tests and actual execution. Much of my travel photography is taken with a painter’s eye looking through the lens, for future reference at my desk.

It takes me nearly six months after the trip to complete the journal. Nine triptychs, or twenty seven panels. Which places us around mid-2019, around the same time the second edition of “One Moment, One Drawing” arrived on my doorstep. Many of you have accompanied this portion of the work already. You recognized many of the places I painted. However, you might not have noticed there was a master plan guiding the journey.

Towards the end of the trip, I know it is simply not possible to complete all paintings while in Japan. I had steadily built up a backlog ever since leaving Tokyo. So I map out the concept for every triptych in a single page black line ink sketch. Unfortunately it seems I only have corner view photos from this master plan page. I will have to dig it up again to add it here.

Paintings complete. What next?

Well, this is the stage when many of you suggest creating a new book. At that time, June 2019, I am almost on my way over to Japan again. By the time I return, it is too late to consider a holiday season release for a new book. And I know what I do not want – the easiest concept way out. This would be to simply replicate the postcard book format of “One Moment, One Drawing”. But what would be the fun, the learning in that?

For the remainder of 2019 I will be scribbling down notes on what the concept for a new book might actually look like. And I will continue to read Japanese literature and history books hoping for an inspiration breakthrough on the concept. It is waiting, percolating time. It is slow, and it cannot be controlled.

I had taken the time in Tokyo during the rainy season to scout some amazing papers. And with these paper samples in hand, ideas on the book’s design and format start taking shape on my notebooks in the coming months.

The 2020 diary

Towards the beginning of 2020, it is time to take the next step. I need high-resolution scans of the journal to move forward with whatever concept ends up being selected. And then… well, we all know what happens then.

I am lucky in getting a slot on a very busy schedule from the same team that supported “One Moment, One Drawing”. By the early summer all digital files are on my computer. No behind the scenes photos here though. Guests are not allowed in the scanning room this time around.

Early summer means yet another year lost on the release date. Once I am over the frustration, and rummaging through my edition concept pipeline, this project will be put on hold. I shuffle projects around and prioritise the development of the art card series “From Home” and “The Tea House Diary” instead. You can read all about the diary’s story and ultimate release at Introducing “The Tea House Diary”.

But fear not, and be not frustrated when you read this. Things are about to take a very positive turn from now on…

The winning concept emerges at last

To be updated shortly…

This is the first time I am logging a diary for a new book project. If you have particular questions about this project or have a comment on the format, leave a message in the comments section below. Let’s make this diary interactive!

Other editions you can purchase now:
Other content to peruse while waiting for the next update: