Day 1/100 of #the100DayProject. I want to feel more focused and confident when I experiment with my art materials, so I have set up #100DaysofSketchbookPractice as my challenge to play with materials and develop a daily habit of experimenting in my sketchbook. I am waking up at 6 am this week, before anyone else in the house is awake, to give myself time to play in my sketchbook. As I play, I am practicing being mindful about how I feel using the different tools and techniques. What do I prefer? My hope is that at the end of the 100 days, I will a better idea of what kind of marks and materials I like so that I can get closer to developing my own artistic voice.
I will post my daily progress on this blog so that I can reflect and write down my ideas and observations.
Day 1/100 Reflection
I was still sleepy when I walked into my studio, but I liked the sense of calm and quiet that filled the house. It was very easy to get started working. I've been thinking a lot about the practice of making thumbnails before making a painting.
When I write, I always start off writing a first draft and I use the time to mentally spill all my words out before I take another pass to edit and refine it. Using thumbnails to design paintings seems like a logical process.
Here's what I made from today's session. I'm using a Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal - I like that it can lay flat and the paper is strong enough to experiment with water-based media. I painted small thumbnail backgrounds using gouache and I experimented with using Micron pens, water-soluble crayons, and watercolor pencil on top.
A quick list of things I noticed:
Gouache Consistency - Gouache right out of the tube varies in consistency. I noticed that I had to mix varying amount of water to get it to be a creamy consistency. This produced a flat matte effect when it dried. Patting the brush in a paper towel before picking up more gouache helped limit the risk of previous layers of gouache from being reactivated.
Layering Layers - Wetting the paper with a brush and then applying a thin layer of gouache on top helped to spread the gouache more evenly. I liked using crayon on top of a thin background layer of gouache because the crayon picks up the texture of the paper. Adding water to the crayon softened the texture but maintained the color intensity.
Value Studies - In the blue thumbnails, I put a darker value layer on top of a midtown layer, which created a silhouette effect that I really liked.
Pen Drawing - I used Micron pen to draw on top of the backgrounds and then painted additional layers on top. It felt like filling out a coloring page and I didn't like it. It felt tight and restrictive. I'm not sure if that was because of the pen size or the thumbnail size.
Crayon Scribbles - My favorite tool and technique was using a crayon to scribble and then adding water to blend in areas afterward.
A List of Sketchbook Ideas to Try
Make a sketch of a scene from daily life.
Copy patterns. Experiment with mark-making and color combos and media.
Make marks to convey the feeling that you experience.
Take notes of the feeling or memories you want to convey.
Where was there light? What kind of energy did you experience.
Analyze artist work - composition, shapes, tone, direction, sizes.
Experiment with Ideas - low-risk!
Experiment with using different media and techniques.
Take notes on different experiments and techniques that you tried.
Draw a frame around a sketch to mockup how it would look in a painting.
Play with composition and format - square, landscape, portrait?
Think about how you hold the pencil. - Loose - not a writing group.
Develop - multiple drafts to solve problems before you commit to the big piece.
Use small thumbnails as an initial idea capture, then make a bigger thumbnail of you favorites to develop more detail.
When developing the thumbnail, don't just copy the sketch. Explore the feeling, the inspiration of the sketch.
Use strips of paper or board to find your composition and format. Mark the corners of your favorite composition design.
Take notes directly on your sketches of things to try.
Process Idea: Thin layers of ink or paint. Add drawing media on top to add important landmarks. Use white paint to add tones or water to lower intensity and value.
Process Idea: Explore tones in a figure thumbnail sketch. Use a limited palette. Play with the relationship between the negative shapes in the background and the subject.
Transferring the sketch to the big piece is not the end! The larger scale will change will make the piece evolve and grow. Be aware and respond as needed.