I have my very own morgue. I actually have a few, filled to bursting.
Do you have a morgue? If not, you should. Every artist should have a morgue of their very own...
No, not a collection of dead bodies, although the study of those served Leonardo da Vinci well; didn't they?
I am speaking of the sort of morgue many of us had to keep in various art classes- the sketchbooks we filled to bursting with reference images, postcards of paintings, quotes, bits of poetry, photographs we liked, photographs we made, scribbled sketches so we could recall some idea, something we saw, images clipped from magazines that drew in our eye because of the color palette, the aesthetic sense, the visual appeal, the intruiging idea... glorious visual fodder all jammed into a book.
The name, morgue, for these in a sketchbook or binder form that art, theatre, stagecraft, design people... and others keep as a reference file came our way via newspapers who kept extensive files, and sometimes rooms, full of reference materials, they called morgues.
(the one on the left is a handmade journal - with braile paper, and corrugated cardboard covers. It only has quotes and poetry inside and is full now. The center book is a graph paper lab book, and the right hand side is Michael's cheapest black hardbound sketchbook with some paint on the cover, and a good bit of gaffer's tape on the burst-open spine.)
I still keep these movable visual feasts, and I would guess that many of my peers do also. Since I'm not turning them in for review for a grade these days, I am broader in what I include: clothing, shoes, jewelry, book reviews, & musical performers that have caught my attention, websites I want to visit, apps for which I need to check out reviews, products to try, art supplies to research, paint cards from the home store done around various color palettes, pictures of stuff I wanted to remember that I've taken with my iPhone, ideas for activites to do with the littles, vacation dreams, things to look up at the library... You know, all that stuff you find and stuff into a manila file folder, that will never again see the light of day?
For a few years, I used books that were 6x9 or so, but I found the small size limiting sometimes. I had to fold stuff up to get it in there, so I moved to back to the 9x12-ish size I used in school. I kept far more notes, to do lists, grocery lists, phone numbers etc, in the smaller size ones- something I miss, and am trying to recreate digitally on my iPad.
I also browse magazines, pull articles I want to read, and staple them along one edge of a page, creating a sort of personalized, homemade magazine of my own. I like to go through the discard pile at the library, too.
If you are finding yourself in need of some visual input, but can't go anywhere to get it, having a book full of things you like to look at, things that struck your fancy, is a great way to have an artist date without leaving home, or while stuck, say, in a waiting room somewhere. I have been finding my morgues invaluable of late.
I pulled out my stack of things to go through - my torn out pages, my clippings, images, & magazines, and spent some enjoyable time sorting, tearing, pasting. Some old toy and kids' clothing catalogs, dog-eared children's magazines, safety scissors, and a dollar store composition book, entertained Sunny for an unusually long time.
I like to drop one in my tote bag for those times I am hanging out in the doctor's office waiting room; I use that time to read those magazine articles I've stapled into my morgue, and to make notes on the clippings that interested me, so I can remember why I clipped them to begin with (which can be strangely obscure sometimes), or what I saw in the image/product/object that attracted my eye (color, shape, texture, line, emotion, imagination...).
I didn't choose the most interesting pictures of the inside pages to show you. Rather than post my morgue pages for you to read and browse, I really wanted instead to give you the idea to make, or return to keeping, a morgue of your own.