spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
[personal profile] spqrblues
Like a lot of artists and writers, I have trouble with a blank page. Sometimes, that blank page is a beautiful, perfect sketchbook, an actual physical object I might ruin. I find having a new sketchbook to be encouraging at first--this or that paper or shape or size or heft looks inspiring, or the brand was recommended, or it was a gift...Then the sketchbooks lie in the art drawer for years. I don't have a nice little sitting room or atelier where I can display their prettiness to visitors, so the books stay unseen (plus I don't actually have visitors). Say someone asks whether I've used the gorgeous, lovingly selected drawing journal they gave me--I try to find a way not to say outright that, well, I did a little bitty drawing on the first page and the drawing wasn't worthy of the journal's beauty so I was too hesitant to sully more of the book's pristine perfection with imperfect nonsense.

Edepol! The cover's been creased and its perfection ruined! How will I bear to look at it now?

Therefore, I have a lot of empty sketchbooks. Many of them are made for watercolour, which I used to do a whole lot more of than line art but have kinda sorta forgotten how to do now. As it happens, I have a lot of watercolour paints. Last week/month/year I went to the art store for comicking supplies and saw there was a 50%-off inventory-clearance sale (old-formula-pigment Quinacridone yellow to be had for less than the day's coffee and morning cinnamon danish? I mean, who can say no to old-formula-pigment Quinacrindone yellow, amirite). But I realised that if I bought it, that too would go in the drawer with the supplies that aren't used up because I'm always, always afraid to DO ART WRONG.

So, to get past this, I assigned the sketchbooks a purpose: In January, once a day, I'll do variations of a subject in each of several sketchbooks; and not as an end in itself, not trying to do the Arting right, but to a technical and practical use--to determine the paper that best suits investing in more of the same. For the time when I might want to do a real sketch journal or go out for some for reals urban sketching or really use those fancy-palette watercolours in the way they deserve. It's not that I'm messing up sketchbook pages so they won't be inspiring carnets for others to see. This is specifically the task of figuring out which paper I like best. I'm trying spiral bound pads, and those economy watercolour paper blocks that are glued down on the sides and give you mad deep papercuts when you loosen a sheet, and softcover sketchbooks that come several to the shrink-wrapped package, and hardbound journals like what those urban sketchers use, and if the art is so-so--or so, so bad--so what. That's not what this is for. This purpose does not include "BE PERFECT" anywhere in the description.

The sketchbooks, at least, have found a meaning in life for 2017.

Yesterday I only used Sennelier paints, plus that of Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold. This is on Cotman Montval 300gsm cold press paper:

Things I don't plan to fret about just at the moment: perfect uniform details; perfect body proportions; perfect use of colour; colour theory (don't get me started; at least, not in this post). The sloppiness isn't bothering me at all, nope nope nope. I do need to care about skin tone--this particular paint sometimes dries paler than I'd expect, but I wanted to scan the drawing before I go back in with another glaze to fix Felix's pallor. Maybe adding a layer will mess up the drawing, but, hey, that doesn't bother me, nopey nope nopers, not at all I tell you.

On Arches 300gsm cold press watercolour pad, not going to get fussed about the wacky skin tone tests here either:

Pencils with washes, paint over waterproof ink, seeing how that works on the Arches paper:

This paper--Fluid 4x6-inch "Easy Block" cold press--I've deemed inexpensive enough to use for itty bitty test sketches and mixing and layering tests. Do I care that the sketch is completely wonky no of course I do not ha ha ha it's fine no really i am ok with this:

Next test piece in progress in a Strathmore 400 series 300gsm watercolour sketchbook:

Semi-Related Recommendation: If you love the love of history and archaeology and discovery, and are in the mood for a quietly (and sometimes outrageously) funny comedy, try Detectorists, created by actor/writer/director Mackenzie Crook (The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean). It's available in the US on Netflix. It gave me all the feels there are. It made me want to stick with something I love, even if it breaks my heart sometimes, even if it means ruining a perfect sketchbook cover. @detectorists

Date: 2017-01-02 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] palusbuteo.livejournal.com
I appear to be having a similar problem.

I have tons of ideas and designs, and 5-6 projects going on basically at the same time.

I have a bunch of loose/scrap papers littered with all sorts of doodles, half-worked sketches and ideas, and designs on
but can't seem to find any way to "stick" with one design and continue to flesh it out.
Much of it can be attributed to the "Do Not Fail" or "Perfect is not Perfect Enough" with the work.
Some of the work is a bunch of historical replica/inspired intaglio prints, so accuracy in detail is critical and I'm not yet fully confident
in my skills in replicating a specific style; and some ideas for "trade cards" or larger format business cards for myself and for
a living history group….I just can't seem to settle on a design.

So I spent most of my precious time at my studio staring at the work or thumbing through reference books and materials.
Then when I'm at my full time job (and soul-pinching, not quite crushing…yet), thinking about how the hell I'm going to get out of there
and focus on doing more art work. But when I actually get to the artwork, blaaah.
(and then driving back home I'm kicking myself and feel more miserable I haven't "produced" x number of pieces in the little time I have available)

The money/budget issue has become such an issue in its weird way: I don't want to spend money on yet another sketch/drawing paper book/pad, and have been using scraps of copier paper, and then start to worry about long-term "storage" or archiving because that paper isn't acid-free; yet I just threw down nearly $400 in picture framing for a few personal pieces (pieces I won't sell so won't reclaim that money anytime soon)

Soooo yeah.

As for the Sketch book thing, I have a similar problem, too, in that I'm not using the sketchbooks for what I'd intended (mostly a "travelogue" sort of idea where I take notes and sketches and doodles, and any future ideas for new pieces at the time)…And I have 2-3 sketchbooks still in the shrink-wrap.

Edited Date: 2017-01-02 11:33 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-03 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meritahut.livejournal.com
If splurging on nice frames for your work makes you feel good about putting it in the setting it deserves, so you can have it on display and enjoy it, I don't think you should regret it. You'd want someone who bought one of your pieces to do the same thing, right?

Nattering onward... What if you use up some of your current supplies to do loose versions of prints that, at some point, will have to be historically accurate? Or use the sketchbooks to play with the look and style without the necessity of being accurate...yet? Who knows, might get things flowing.

I know my Felix sketches are loopy and meh, but I've decided to focus on getting familiar again with painting. With the goal of not "make a good painting," but "get the feel of these paints" so that, in a while, I can do the "make a good painting" part. It's helpful just to work with the same materials I'd use for fancier work.

And I'm of the opinion that thumbing through reference books is always good, because the information is settling into the crevices of your brain. Even if you can't directly and consciously access it, it's om there processing; it'll inform what you do later. I spent a whole lot of December going way over my data plan watching YouTube reviews of watercolour paints and paper, while periodically kicking myself for wasting time and money. But along the way I reached a critical mass where I got tired of watching other people talk about the topic, and where I had collected so many new ideas and insights the only thing left to do was try them myself. In this case, the money for the materials is spent, so why not make use of them. Though I managed to justify buying those sale paints, too....

Pulling off the shrink-wrap is therapeutic--Go for it! :D (Plus you won't have the worry about using non-archival paper lurking in the back of your mind using up neurons.) The better-than-copier paper is already there, waiting, and...well, I'd look at it as the difference between practising Chopin on an electronic keyboard, an ordinary piano, or a top-of-the-line concert grand. The second two cases are going to be better to get you into the swing of it than the first, even if all the notes aren't in the right place to start.

Yes? Maybe? :)


Date: 2017-01-03 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carl huffman (from livejournal.com)
Testify, brothers and sisters! Pristine sketch pads are the devils toothpaste, or something equally silly. Draw a line, set that sketchpad free! After that you can improve, but while it's still pristine it's got that whole Vestal Virgin thing going for it. (Note to self - think about purchasing a sports team in Virginia and naming them the 'Vestal Virginians. Big money potential!)

I like the painting practice, there's really only one way to get better at this stuff. Likewise, mazel tov on all that nice framing! All y'all got it going on.

Sidebar - this comic caused me to buy something recently. A 'not really all that' accurate Gladius from a company called Cold Steel. They market it as a machete, and with that in mind - it's fine for hacking away at small treelimbs and so on. Anyway, I thought it was money well spent - one never knows when a bunch of punk Carthaginians may sail up the nearby creek and start trouble. https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Steel-Gladius-Machete-Black/dp/B004MMS0PE/ref=sr_1_3?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1483485718&sr=1-3&keywords=gladius+sword

Date: 2017-01-06 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sforzie.livejournal.com
I have two mostly unused sketchbooks sitting on the floor next to my desk. I doodle in them once in awhile, but it always feels really forced since I'm one of those scumlords who does mostly digital work. (Blame being a lefthanded smudgemaster. Or just lazy.)
When I do warmup sketches on the computer, it usually just ends up being a canvas of squiggles, eyes, and eventually just 'YAY BUTTS' written over everything.

Date: 2017-01-07 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meritahut.livejournal.com
I just read the quote below on Well-Appointed Desk (http://wellappointeddesk.com) and it made me feel a little less self-conscious about the dozens and dozens of spheres I draw all over my sketchbooks that sometimes do just turn into butts (and maybe I should try writing YAY BUTTS over them too because, honest to goodness I think that'd feel therapeutic!):

I always think of the story about how if you ask every child at age five if they are an artist, they’ll say yes but somehow, as we grow up, we stop thinking of ourselves as artists. And its just a word. A tag. A moniker. Take it, try it on. Own it. Even in the privacy of your own home even if it means you paint 100s of circles in copper watercolor and nothing else. It's art therapy, performance art or primitive art. Who cares what you call it? Just paint!

Date: 2017-01-07 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meritahut.livejournal.com
Also: I wish I could get a grip on drawing digitally! It seems like I get to a point where I like how it's looking after a few weeks of practice, then by the next week I've forgotten how I did that :)

Date: 2017-01-07 03:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sforzie.livejournal.com
From what I've seen, for a lot of people it's just the... reprogramming of instincts to look at the screen while drawing rather than your hand. Now, after drawing with a (wacom) tablet for fifteen years or more, it's completely intuitive.
Doesn't mean my art is uber-fantastic, but I still like using it. And I'm still regularly learning new tricks for the drawing programs I use, so that's fun, too.
(And you inspired me to do the 10k drawing challenge. I started June in 2015, and just crossed over 900 images this week. :x )

Date: 2017-01-09 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meritahut.livejournal.com

Hurrah! Once you get those first 1000 under your belt...then it's only 9000 to go :D :D


"There's nothing I enjoy as much as a jolly catastrophe"
—J. G. Ballard

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