The Art of the Journal: Pierre Bonnard and Jenni Bick

Public Programming Intern Erich Brubaker on Bonnard Salon workshop host Jenni Bick and Bonnard’s relationship with journaling.

Local business owner Jenni Bick definitely has one thing in common with French painter Pierre Bonnard: they both love a good journal.

“I am captivated by notebooks of all kinds,” Jenni says. “To me they are a blank slate for us to record and reflect on ourselves and our experiences. The blank pages of a notebook are there to gather and contain our inner world – the ideas, images, data points, and notes that make up the story of our lives.” Jenni started making custom journals in 1991, and has been running her own store, Jenni Bick Journals, just down Connecticut Avenue from the Phillips, since 2017. In her store, you will find every journal and notebook is carefully chosen and crafted to help you fulfill your potential. While she imports gorgeous books from places like Japan and Italy, she also crafts journals entirely by hand, sewing and binding books together from start to finish.

Left to right: Founder Jenni Bick and her husband, Robby. Sewing pages of a handmade journal. Photos courtesy of

It is easy to imagine that Pierre Bonnard might have loved Jenni’s shop and agreed with her views of notebooks. In his lifetime, he filled various journals, sketchbooks, and diaries with the story of his life and his creative process, documenting daily weather conditions, musings about art, and sketches of people and things he encountered in his frequent walks: the inner and outer world that Jenni is also interested in, and the theme of the exhibition Bonnard’s Worlds.

Entries from Pierre Bonnard’s Journals, 1931. From an exhibition catalog for The Phillips Collection and Dallas Museum of Art, published by Thames and Hudson in 1984

Inspired by Bonnard’s intensive note-taking practice, Jenni Bick led a workshop on April 26 in the Phillips’s Art Workshop for a hands-on introduction to basic bookbinding techniques. Participants made their own small blank book for notetaking or sketching to take out into the world to write their own story and capture the world around them.

Jenni Bick leading the Bonnard’s Journals Workshop in the Phillips’s Art Workshop

This inspiring workshop was a part of the Bonnard Salon, a space that details Bonnard’s history with the Phillips and also hosts weekly talks and workshops for participants to engage with the themes of Bonnard’s Worlds. Join us for the May 24 Bonnard Salon workshop that entails a nature walk around the Dupont neighborhood with Carrie Vaughn, and the May 31 workshop about wildflower arrangement with Karen Massalley.

And, learn more about Jenni Bick Journals at Be sure to visit her just down the street from the Phillips on Connecticut Avenue NW, and pick up your next beautiful journal to capture your untapped potential.