I have long been interested in the book,One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media (One A Day) and this week I bought the Kindle version. I want to take it travelling with me. I only wishhhhhhh (amazon, are you listening) that they also had the Kindle version of One Watercolor a Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity Using Watercolor, Pattern, and Design (One A Day). They have it in the shop up the road now, but I want it on my ipad. Amazon, you’ve got six weeks. Oh, wait, no, it’s five now.
My reason for sudden acceleration of interest in these books is my old bugbear, finding time to sketch while travelling. Because I am a painter originally, the tone is as important as the line, maybe more so. But the tone takes the time to get on paper. These exercises are designed for working quickly with different tools. I’m trying to be less precious, less critical. The ‘monster’ technique from Inma Serrano has helped a lot with that, but I want to take it further. (Read about that technique here.)
So the first exercise was with a fine pen. Semi blind contour. More looking at the still life than at what I am putting down onto my paper. I was also not supposed to rest my hand on the paper, but I kept forgetting that. I will have to do another one and concentrate on doing that. No control!
My still life was meant to be of things important to me, so ……it is my new benjarong pot from Thailand, a green glass bottle with a lovely stopper I bought in Arezzo, and a plant that Annie gave me for a gift. It’s a challenge to me to leave out the colour, and also a challenge not to put the tones and reflections on the bottle and the pot, but with that fine pen I would have been there all day.
As a January project I volunteered to join a collaborative portrait project as part of the SW Games Facebook Group. I had expected my section to contain a nostril, or a section of chin, but as you see what I got was far more complex. I used watercolour and my NEW purple Copic Multiliner pen.
Apart from the Rome Map we did recently, I haven’t done this type of project since 2004. My final year painting class at the Sydney Gallery School, Meadowbank did a collaborative version of a Cezanne still life. And here it is!
My section (A4 size) was part of the dark underneath the table. I did it in oils with acrylic underpainting. Many glazes. It was chosen by the other students for the invitation for our exhibition. Luckily these images were still hanging around on my computer.
So, this January 2014 collaborative project is MUCH more complex that the one ten years earlier. I haven’t the foggiest what the image will be like when it is all revealed. It will be any day now, and I will show you.
Sketching yesterday around Newtown. A little park with some lovely old houses around it. One row of very elaborate large houses had so much architectural detail that you could sketch there for a month and still do something different every time. The first sketch I was trying out the three-media technique (with a variation). I used a red Copic Multiliner to sketch it initially, then put my mid-tones on with pink and peach Tombow pens – a bit too similar to each other. I needed to do that before the light moved around. Then a purple Tombow to reinforce the main lines and the darks. A waterbrush to just wash some of the purple over the windows. Very quick, and even better…nothing to finish afterwards.
The second one was from a row of small simple, but still old houses on another side of the park. This is the two-media technique. Green Copic Multiliner and watercolour mix of Antwerp Blue and Paynes Grey.
I did enjoy doing the pink and purple one. I have been wanting to do something in completely unrealistic colours and now I have. It is the monster technique of course. Such fun to do, but perhaps I should get back to some serious stuff. I do enjoy trying new techniques though. Any suggestions?
Last week we went sketching at the Powerhouse Museum. I took watercolour pencils and used those inside the Museum. Also Copic Multiliner. It is quite dark everywhere in the museum so it was tricky trying to catch the different shades of grey from the shadows and the water in the tank and in the pump area.
We tucked ourselves away in a corner because there were some school groups visitng the museum, and we didn’t want to be in the way. However this water pump is able to be used, and most of the children who came by wanted to try. we had to reassure the parents that they weren’t blocking our view (well, not for long). Some little boys said it was really difficult to pump, but then two little girls came along and they really thumped at it and made it go fast. We didn’t try, ourselves.
As I am off again in a couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about travel sketching. And panicking. I am travelling with a friend who is not a sketcher, and I know I am not ruthless enough to impose sketching upon her (except sometimes). Last time I went to Europe I was in third year at art school but I wasn’t ‘a sketcher’. I took a little A5 spiral bound sketchbook and much to my surprise I filled it.
I started off by taking notes at the galleries I went to, just as I did at home. Tyler Print Institute, Singapore was the first one. All my notes came in very handy, as they were reference material for writing essays and reviews back at art school. After that I was staying with relatives in Switzerland, though we went to Barcelona and also to Italy. The first sketch here is from memory, of vineyards seen from the train on the side of a hill near Lausanne. The second was done on a hot day in Fiesole near Florence. Both these sketches were later turned into acrylic paintings on canvas. The Vineyards one was quite large and sold immediately.
In Basel, we came upon a Schwitters and Arp exhibition at the Kunstmuseum. I was inspired. From then on I made small collages in my sketchbook with the bits and pieces I picked up along the way. So I show you a ‘Bologna Schwitters’ and a ‘Gaudi Schwitters’.
So, though I doubt that I will be taking notes at exhibitions, I do plan to collage again. I do hope to fill my sketchbook…even if it is just collage and bullet points about my experiences. I learnt in Bali that I also need to spend time soaking up the scene and enjoying being there (even though I have been to Bali so many times.) I was looking at the Italian sketchbook of another artist, Leslie Fehling, and I do encourage you to read this post she has written about travel sketching. While you are there, have a look at her wonderful watercolours of Italy. I do so agree with her that sketching should not be an obligation.
I do have a strategy to help me get some stuff in my book. I don’t think I have the discipline to do more than finishing off and tidying up when I get home, so I am doing some preparation now. I’ll tell you about it in another post.
Finally back to my sketchbook to do another sketch from my Bali photos. Ever since I did the earlier drawing of the gate at Kalibukbuk I have wanted to do another in pencil. I decided to use the Derwent Light Wash and Derwent Dark Wash. I do love these pencils. Once I had completed the drawing I scanned it before I put the wash on. I wasn’t sure how successful it would be. I have used these pencils before but mostly to sketch the cats. I hadn’t used them for something where tone would be so important. The top one is the one with the wash.
It is amazing to think that someone designed this carving, and executed it from a two dimensional drawing. At least, I assume that’s how it would have been done. There are carvings everywhere in Bali, and I have seen them doing the bas-relief ones into concrete. I will pay more attention next time. At one hotel years ago, we had a huge verandah with the Ramayana carved around two sides. So many things to love about Bali.