Friday, 8 August 2008

Moley #5

... or #6? With being away, I haven't kept track of the consecutive numbering. In any case. The Eigg/Berlin travelog is pretty full. A few pages remain unused but it doesn't feel right to fill them now with having already left again. So, here's to a new one. Ordered it on Saturday, it arrived on Tuesday and now it's in full swing already.

It's just a year ago that I took up the sketchbook for everyday habit. And filling one within the space of two weeks is a new record for me. When I decided to use a sketchbook frequently I felt at loss at what to put in it - it's an important one, that one, don't you think so? It's similar to starting drawing/painting in general: where to find stuff to paint, draw, sketch in a world so full of stuff? It was similar with the sketchbook. And it's such a nice thing once everthing dull thing in this world seems worth a quick sketch.

I was keen on doing some abstract things, but sketchbooks just seemed for pretty illustration, and thus not for me. To counter that, I had planned to do some themed sketchbooks: one for a thorough investigation into different colours - or really: pigments; one to learn more about textures and mark-makings and one for travel. Somehow, only the latter got filled beyond the initial first pages; then I filled the textures one with everything, and now the one titled 'Colours' on its spine is really Eigg/Berlin July 2008.

Lesson no 1 to self: Have one sketchbook to take whereever and to do in it whatever. The media I've used expanded: from pencil/graphite/neo iis, they now also feature pastels, acrylics, oils and increasingly pen and ink; there's also plenty of notes on exhibitions, quick copy sketches of paintings/sculptures I like; a bit of general chit chat and my little attempts at word plays for seabirds, clouds etc.

Kalao Bird
Pencil and neo ii sketch in Moleskine, 13x21cm of
Great Kalao Bird, Wooden Sculpture
Museum Berggruen, Berlin

As a way of inspiring my sketchbook use I pre-treated plenty pages: with watercolour washes, and more often acrylics. Hm. That was such a bad decision. It really annoyed me throughout this last book: what on earth do I do with waves of raw umber when I want to sketch a Berlin skyline. Sorry. That was such a bad move. There were one or two lucky ones: e.g. lemon yellow underpaintings usually work with plenty of stuff. But grass green, and certainly a dark umber are completely different and most often did not work.

Lesson no 2 to self: don't do waves, splashes or anything in earth colours and green in any future sketchbook. EVER! A bit of lemon yellow is ok, maybe a pale grey/blue wash too. And if it doesn't fit, don't pretend it's not there, skip that page and go back to it. It does not look good, Gesa, seriously!

Just have a look here: yellow ochre's the culprit

Clouds over Rum
Clouds over Rum, ink and neo ii in Moleskine, 26x21cm


Anonymous said...

It looks fine to me
The thing about sketckbooks is that ypu look back and you can see changes. It is the feel and the the feel and texture that you cannot get in photos!

vivien said...

Interesting thoughts. I tend to organise them in a similar way - general do-anything-that-interests-me ones and themed ones.

I have books with just the coast in, others with the waterways, others with flowers

I have always liked working in sketchbooks for the freedom to experiment and play and it's purely for me.

I find the moleys a bit small, even the larger one and though I sometimes like to use them, I generally prefer larger books up to and including A3 - they are lovely to use.

I use oils in them as well - you don't have to wait for the paint to dry before closing them and they don't stick.

Sketchbooks have always been a very important part of my work.

Gesa said...

Yes - looking back at them is really useful. And I'm curious to see how this summer's sketches will look next to the ones done in December;

One advantage of doing some acrylics/ or even watercolour underpainting is that it roughens the texture of the moley which otherwise can be just a bit too strongly seized. I like that slight roughness both for pencil/graphite but also for the pastels.

Yes, Vivien - my thoughts behind the themed ones; but maybe I'm not organised enough, don't do enough sketches or similar - I felt that I didn't have the right one to hand when I wanted to do something themed, so I think for the meantime, I'll stick to one for everything.

Some similar thoughts apply to the size too: the large moley still fits into my bag without much problem - so I can carry it along and use it, even if I hadn't planned on sketching. Anything bigger would need a lot of preparation, fitting it around the other things I do etc, but maybe I find 2 A3 pages to be sketched on just a bit too daunting at the moment???

vivien said...

but you can use charcoal and paint and splash about more! A3 is lovely :>)

Gesa said...

okay, okay, okay... i see that my excuses are really a bit spurious. now charcoal... there's a thought, and i think of some of your glorious pieces... hm... let me think... :)