Big Art Project: Recreating Joel’s Sketchbook from the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (NSFW)

Please don’t use any of these illustrations without my permission.

This post is inspired yet again by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you DON’T want movie spoilers, it’s best to skip scrolling down any farther.

It’s considered NSFW because of a risque image down below. You’ll know which one. View at your own discretion.


Joel Barish carrying the memorable watercolor painting of skeletal Clementine sailing on a ship in a bottle. (Screenshot from Netflix)

As I have mentioned earlier in my last post, I was planning to recreate Joel Barish’s sketchbook for Mike to carry around during Halloween.

I first saw it as a small, fun side-project to do and was really only going to imitate a couple of his more notable drawings. But the moment I placed a ball-point pen down on the first page, I was thrown into a crazy creative road and haven’t stopped drawing for the past six hours.

SCREW WAITING! I’m too proud of myself right now. I want to show these off ASAP.

Above was the first image I drew. I sketched all the drawings in lead pencil before the pens roll in. I didn’t have any watercolors for some of the paintings I recreated so I substituted them with color pencils.

Copying Joel’s handwriting was almost an art in itself. I had to alternate between print and cursive on the left page. I almost had to make up a word towards the end because the screenshots I was depending on didn’t show up very well.

My favorite image from the movie but boy, was it difficult. I kept messing up on the perspective of the train windows. Luckily Joel’s messy artistic style allowed me the liberty to hide mistakes.

He did a few simple doodles with some indecipherable scribbles which I replaced with quotes from the movie. Same for the one below as well.

Eh, it does look similar to the original but I wish it turned out better.

Another demented sketch of Clementine. His art is unique though a little depressing to look at.

The “daddy” part was made up. The screenshot didn’t show what it said after “psychotic” so I substituted it.

Another one of the lovebirds lying on top of the frozen Charles River.

This was actually a note that Clementine gave to Joel to remind him of the sweet things he said to her. I liked it so much I included it in the project.

I used a regular binder paper to write it on to make it more similar. I drew the photo of the rag dolls and added scotch tape around it as though it’s been attached.

Rag Doll Clementine had a speech bubble but since I couldn’t make out the words again, I added her most memorable quote:

“‎Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.

Then I folded and taped the love letter into the sketchbook.

With another binder paper I later taped into the sketchbook, I drew the raunchiest sketch of Joel’s collection. The comic came from the “Humiliation” scene in the movie.

I was fascinated by the combination of retro and depravity and actually had a lot fun drawing it. I realized halfway that the first row had three panels and not two. Since it was blurry in the screenshot, I redrew it with a snazzy title panel.

God, family, don’t hate me.

That dismembered arm thing was another one of Joel’s small doodles. To fill space, I included the quote from Alexander Pope’s “Eloisa to Abelard” which inspired the movie title.

Ah, finally, the biggest and most time-consuming piece of the bunch.

After a while of sketching, I outlined the rest with a fine point Sharpie and finished it with color pencils. Yes, I know, it’s supposed to be a watercolor painting — give me a break.

Phew, now I’m tired. And very satisfied to have done this. Thanks for sticking around, guys.


Please don’t use any of these illustrations without my permission.

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4 comments
  1. Tiffany said:

    This looks fantastic! Could you post pictures of your costumes? I’m curious to see how it all turned out 🙂

  2. sage said:

    It was great to see the sketches from a great movie, but don’t worry I don’t think anyone will steal them….and if they do, you put them in the public domain on the internet when you wanted to show off. It gripes me when artists are worried about people ‘using’ their art. When you try to hang onto something it loses the magic. When you share it, the magic spreads.

    • It takes very little time and effort and also basic HTML skills for someone to credit the original artist. It’s really the least they can do.

  3. Mirian said:

    oh ,I WAS SEARCHING FOR THAT!!! thanks a lot!!!

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