I thought I would tell you one of my dirty little art secrets …
I use scrap paper to sketch on.
All these beautiful sketch books I’ve acquired over the years and I still prefer a scrap of paper!!
When I first started coming to Italy I decided I needed a more methodical approach, 4 months of painting immersion and thinking time! Somehow I've ended up with a couple of softcover sketch and notebooks, maybe that's what I could get at the time - never again!! Most often I like to sketch/write with my book on my knee, if I'm standing, a hardcover book is essential. let's hope the lesson is learned!!
You just reminded me, Dad used to staple books for me and apparently, one day as he was finishing a new one for me, guests arrived and I announced to them "my Daddy's a bookmaker!" Mum just about had a kanipshin!!
I've changed my MO to compensate for my knee (which is a lot better btw!) and the heat. But I have to say that because of this blasted ginocchio problem my fitness is right out the window. I've done a few paintings on location but now I'm painting in my studio. My usual practice al momento is to have my colazione out and sketch while I’m partaking – not necessarily what’s in front of me but whatever’s on my mind or an idea I’m fooling about with.
I brought my usual A5 moleskin sketchbook to Italy and as usual I also brought a wad of Zeta paper folded up and jammed in my work bag. I’m amazed that this year, I’ve done more sketching (in and out) than ever before. I’m so pleased because it’s been a hard trip with bugs, knees and heat and all!!
The funny thing about the scrap of paper is that, when I had my business, I would walk into my client’s office with my PDA (I was on top of the technology game back then) but I would fish around in my bag for a scrap of paper to write my notes on. It got to a point where I would walk in and my client would automatically rummage in their waste bin and hand me a scrunched-up envelope! I tried so hard to up my game with the flashy PDA but back then they were very limited and nothing more than a piece of paper in disguise! Note to self, don’t upgrade until everyone else has tested them first and the upgrade model has been released!
It’s a bit of a shame to use scrap or loose paper. It’s harder to record and archive the action, that said, I can lay my hands on any sketch or working quite quickly, I know it will be in the nasty pile. However, a sketchbook is an easier, more methodical approach to record keeping ie dates and evidence that “this is my original work". If you don't want to show people the rough stuff, have 2 sketchbooks, 1 for the workings and nasty stuff and another for more developed work to show people.
I promise to be more organised with less rubbish bin fossicking!! Magari!!
ciao bei pittori!!
It’s great to be back in Lucca where there’s a painting on every corner and more! Hence I’ve been choosing colazione caffe’s for sketching out opportunities.
Yesterday’s sketch afforded me 2 discoveries for this subject, both based on chiaroscuro, a chequerboard if you like. Aka alternation = light/dark, light/dark, light/dark. Given that some of the dark might be not so dark and some of the light might not be so light – in other words, a full range of values is required – every shape should have a different value to it’s neighbour – this difference might only be a 1% variation.
So what were the 2 gems I discovered?
Even though the sketch and the painting will be contrejour, I will be able to use similar values to tell my story. Values make the impact, colour is just cosmetics.
Something more to think about, these shapes did not conveniently place themselves correctly for me, I made them happen, as I was sketching these wee ideas presented themselves to me so I pushed them into my painting concept – I’m the artist!!
non ferma cari amici!!
I'm still in my self-imposed "lockdown" with my continuing knee problem, It's a lot better but not better enough .. thwarted by my feeble attempts to "keep calm and carry on".
Something that’s really bugging me is my studio clear-out/tidy up/re-shuffle/reorganise started before Christmas. It was a good idea at the time but now I have 2 piles on the floor that are attempting to morph into 3 and I can’t get down there to do much about it. It’s making me crazy! PLUS while I’m nursing my poor wee ginocchio Dennis has now gone back to work, Amy’s back to work and there’s no-one here to entertain me!! YIKES!!
So now I find myself in this temporary situation of cabin fever - I'm desperate to get out and paint/sketch, so I've made myself a new plan for my coming escapades. in a feeble attempt to get back to normal, i went for a walk with Amy and the dog. I trailed far behind them, it was so nice to be out and hearing the birds and children playing, families and their picnics but, I have to say, I paid for it the next day ... mamma mia!!
It reminded me how dependent I am on my walking, it's my chief thinking time, my meditation and quiet time that allows my thoughts and ideas to run and play out. Another purpose for me is exploration, this is when I see things that inspire me, a fleeting light, shapes interlocking and overlapping, colours or some other interesting and diverting sights.
To get out of the house, I've been for a few outings in the car (bicycle is a no-go atm) to scope out some sketching locations but of course, even here in Auckland it's almost impossible to park close enough. So I've decided to go to cafes again, they have to be in the right place, scenic and comfy.
There are so many ways to enjoy sketching out, for me, its a totally absorbing experience. Although I love my little value thumbnail sketches, I learn a lot about a scene using this process, I feel the need to change things up a little, expand my sketching and bring more of it into my life. So!! I bought a new sketchbook and made a sketch kit that's always with me.
My new sketchbook has a soft cover, so a little lighter than a hard cover but I found an old light but rigid clipboard. My backpack is pretty old, so old it doesn't have a smart phone size pocket - urk! It has a great "book" pocket but without an easy small pocket, pretty much everything falls to the bottom. In my bag I also have a wee first-aid kit, a small professional pan-set, tramper's collapsible water cup, pencil case and a few other weird sketch tools to fun things up a bit!
In my pencil case, I have my standard soft pencils, a sharpener and eraser, tombow value brushpens, general’s sketching pencil, small view finder, calligraphy sketch pen, pastel and watercolour pencil, travel brush, small flat brush, water spritzer.
To protect pencil tips and brush points, I always place them in the case in the same direction and then “up” in my bag.
In Sketch class last week, Mary said “I can’t see enough detail, I’m too far away”. I agree, I need to see exactly what goes on, this helps me to build my story. Go for a walk to understand the lay of the land, what makes this place tick? How do those elements look close up? Always have your camera charged and set to hi-resolution and use a view finder to isolate your scene and cut out the overwhelming and extraneous, then you can just focus on what you want today.
PaintBox Tips, secrets, random thoughts,
Poetry in watercolour is made in the freedom of the here and now. Amanda Brett
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working - Pablo Picasso
There are no mistakes in watercolour, just some extra surprises!!
What my readers and viewers have to say
Your emails are so informative! I must confess I've watched a couple of your demos from beginning to end, and it makes me want to watercolor!!! I've only ever painted with oil or acrylics and haven't know how to begin with WC. Your content is excellent!
Thank you for your tips. They inspired me to practise and I realised I haven’t been loading the brush properly. I learnt about adding more paint, and not water, to washes. In today’s tips I like the idea of painting with purpose. Your tips are very helpful. I very much appreciate receiving them. Elizabeth
Hi Amanda I enjoyed your post and generous tips. Looked up Dan Burt I begin to see that you can colour any subject to give it pizazz so long as the tone and form is correct Certainly adding value now to my attempts Thanks heaps Annie
Yes very wise words. Agree with not fussing and agree with comments about good quality paint. Well written and inspirational as always. Cheers Janet xxxx
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