Wednesday, January 16, 2008
New year, new direction
Over the Christmas period, inspired by the illustrated carnets de voyage I bought myself (such as Madagascar by Claire and Reno Marca and Mali Secret by Stefano Faravelli), I got out my watercolours. News of a possible trip this year had spurred me into action - I'd love to be able to add colour to my sketches, if not this year then sometime in the future. However, the inspiration wasn't enough, it was still a struggle trying to get my brush, paint, water and paper to play nicely together and I felt a bit despondent.
So I went back to basics, back to what I used to do for many years - draw from photos, keep it small and don't practice, do it for real. Doodling, scribbling, making thumbnails, doing little studies, call it what you will, that never works for me and that's what I was doing with the paints. Using my cheaper paper, trying washes, mixing colours - it just wasn't working because I didn't have a real purpose, a 'final destination'.
So I want to do travel sketches, that's the purpose. I learned to draw using photos and I have a whole load of travel photos. I would use those and try to imagine how much time I might have, which situations would inspire me or give me time to draw and give it a go. I tried the watercolours to start with but pretty quickly found that the whole set-up, balancing paper, water and paints was not going to be practical for me even if I could get a decent result (which I couldn't!). So I tried my watercolour pencils and finally, a breakthrough, I felt at home with them! I guess they didn't work for me the times I tried before as I didn't really have a set purpose other than to use colour.
The first two drawings above were done with Caran d'Ache Museum watercolour leads. I like these are they are quite hard. However when I was drawing the quokka above (photo taken on Rottnest Island, Australia and contrary to the info on the Internet, the guides allow them to be fed or given a drink) I found that they go blunt and wear down pretty quickly so for the portrait of Alex I used Cretacolour Aqua Monolith as well. These pencils are even harder and feel like graphite sticks so they keep a sharp point.