Stories from my Sketchbook . . .
One of the (many) issues I have when sketching is knowing when to stop. If I am not entirely happy with where my sketch is going (and, let’s face it, I rarely am) I will inevitably end up tinkering and fussing with it, ad nauseam, in a vain attempt to ‘get it right’. Of course I never do get it right and, quite often, I make it worse . . .
Last month, in an attempt to get over myself in this regard, I took a short online Sktchy course called ‘Make Your Mark’ run by artist Joan Martin. The course appealed to me because I was told I would be using materials and techniques I had probably not used before and this would, hopefully, force my work to become looser and more expressive. It would also, I was promised, teach me to learn to accept the limitations of the materials I was using, and become more creative with my ‘mistakes’.
And, as far as I am concerned, the course delivered on its promises. Although I did use some materials I had used before (paints, inks, pencils etc ) I also used them in ways I hadn’t tried before. For instance, I have sketched with biros quite often but I had never sketched with a great big fat marker pen in one hand and a biro in the other—using both hands at the same time! That was trippy. It just about did my head in and the results were somewhat bizarre to say the least! In other exercises I moved paint around with the edges of credit cards or torn up cardboard and I painted with pipettes and feathers and string. I even used candle wax . . .
The sketch below began as an exercise where we were asked to scrub an ordinary white wax candle randomly across our paper. This formed a barrier of resistance (in varying degrees) across the page—and consequently did really weird things with the graphite and pens I tried to use over the top of it. (I nearly wore a hole in the paper trying to get doggo’s nose right!) However, as promised, it also produced some really cool, unexpected results . . .
Was I entirely happy with all (any?) of the sketches I produced while working my way through this course? Not even close (some of them were just plain awful) but there’s no denying I learned a lot. And it was fun to try out some new techniques and materials. I feel I’ve become a tad more adventurous and a little more accepting of my own abilities.
As to that ‘knowing when to stop’ issue—well, I’m still working on that. Perhaps this old dog and I can teach each other a few new tricks . . .