Learning Log 14-01-20

Having taken a bit of time between the actual work of Exercise 4.2 and posting about it on my website, I’ve had time to reflect on my experience with the exercise. I was very inspired and excited in the beginning of the session. I had researched my artist and learned a lot about his career, his methods and the individual piece I chose to examine. I also had the opportunity to learn about gouache and papers that are most definitely NOT intended for painting, especially not water-activated paints like gouache. 

I experienced frustrations such as the paint pooling in places I didn’t want it, the paper sucking up too much moisture before I’d made the marks I had wanted to, and the scale of the painting really limiting the effects I was trying to achieve but I also experienced adapting to the situation (media) by problem solving with tiny paint brushes, acrylic paint, and experimenting with the saturation/viscosity of the gouache. In the end I was thrilled with the results of my experimentation. 

Before I had started to work on the actual painting, I took the time to “meet” the gouache. I worked with the blue, white, and greet – the colours I’d be using to create the background. It was in these experiments that I came to learn how absorbent the paper was and it was in those moments that I had begun to consider solutions to this challenge. In doing these explorations, I was also able to overcome some of the “Paralysis of Possibility” that can hit when faced with new sketchbook pages. I was prepared to experiment, explore, and make marks using the gouache. 

Because of my extremely busy life, the only time I was able to do this exercise was at our off-grid, remote cabin. That meant that I had to anticipate my needs ahead of time and that if something came up while out there, I’d simply have to adapt. For the most part, I think I managed to do that just fine. When I was working against the super absorbent paper, I was sincerely wishing I had some white acrylic paint that I could use to prime the paper. But in the absence of that, as with every other challenge presented throughout the work, I managed to problem-solve it and achieve an outcome that I was satisfied with. 

I found learning about Twombley’s work and methods to be incredibly interesting and I enjoyed this part of the course tremendously. I think I chose a piece that lent well to this particular exploration and that it led me to make some very exciting discoveries about myself, about gouache, and about trouble shooting when presented with obstacles. This exercise was GREAT fun! 


Learning Log 13-01-20

What I know is that it’s a damned chore to carve out time to work. But having said that, I did get the better part of a day to myself at the cabin last weekend while George set up some new snares (50 of ’em!) in one of our wolf sets. So that gave me a bunch of very quiet hours in the cozy Bear Root Creek cabin. I packed a lot of supplies into my bags and managed to get everything there in one piece despite the -30 ish temperatures. There was sufficient light to do most of the work by the natural light at the window and I only had to use a head lamp for a few little bits. Overall, I was darned happy with the whole thing. 

I’ve just uploaded my concertina sketchbooks from Exercise 4.1 and I have to say that I had a lot of fun with most of that exercise. I didn’t totally love working with pencil crayons despite my familiarity with the media. I think I just really like working in monochromatic palettes but at the behest of my tutor, I’ve been trying to expand my palette to include actual colours. 

In exercise 4.1, I’m encouraged to reflect on how the two (or three, in my case) sketchbooks compare. I liked my first one the best. The one that tells parts of the story of our trip to the Bahamas last Valentines Day. Part music festival, part kayaking trip to a deserted island or five. I loved using the grey-toned markers, especially on the brush end. I love the way the brush tip allows me to vary the thickness of the lines and the range of grey tones allow me to play with depth and shadow in ways that I find colour illustrations to be challenging and easily over-worked.In the sketchbook where I illustrated the landscape of my desk using India ink and an assortment of brushes, this is my second most preferred book. I enjoyed varying the saturation of the black tones for reasons similar to the book I spoke of in the paragraph above. I also liked using brushes of varied thickness. I was able to experiment with tone and shape. This was a lot of fun and full of experimentation for me. I didn’t spend too much time considering my movements and definitely put more effort into spontaneous mark making. 

The third book was my attempt at exploring a varied palette while using coloured pencils. I was personally underwhelmed by the result but was happy that I tried something different which felt a little uncomfortable. It was definitely valuable to go into this sketchbook with a sense of uncertainty as to the potential outcome. I am pleased with the illustrations themselves, just not so much the unrestrained range of colours. But for me, the point was to explore the inclusion of colour. I stretched myself and while I don’t LOVE the outcome, I do love that I did something different and have incorporated tutor feedback into my work. 

 

Learning Log 01-01-20

I’ve spend this week working on researching and experimenting with elements of the first exercises in the unit on Sketchbooks. I’ve created a few concertina type sketchbooks and filled the pages using media such as India ink, monochromatic grey markers and sharpie pen, and pencil and pencil crayons. They were great fun and I’m looking forward to posting the summary of that work on the coursework part of the website. I can see myself using these small books for recording trips and holidays for their handy small size. I also really enjoyed using the grey markers. It’s sort of like viewing old black and white images. Your imagination gets to fill in the colours according to your own perspective and preferences. 

One of the other things I’ve been trying to do is to make one painting/drawing/illustration in my new Moleskine journal every day. I am prepared for it to be a real challenge on the weekends when we’re at the cabin but I’m going to bring along my supplies with the hopes that I’ll be able to still make it happen. 

The two illustrations I’m sharing in this post are ones I made on new year’s day and yesterday, Jan 2. 

I was so excited to make this page. I had brand new watercolour pens by Staedtler that I couldn’t wait to try. This was the perfect opportunity to see what they could do. Granted, I was a little hurried in making this page and didn’t give myself a chance to really explore the potential for the pens in terms of blending but just these tests using single pen colours told me a lot. My trusty water brush was put to the task and I’d say it did just fine. Having a paper towel handy is always wise whether using a water brush or brush with water jar/glass. Always important to be able to control how much water is going onto the page. 

This painting was created after we’d had a salmon and asparagus dinner. I’d never tried drawing asparagus before and since they had already been eaten, I took to the interwebs for visual inspiration. That was super handy as it gave me a chance to look at colours used in rendering but also in the technical elements of the rendering in terms of the sketching of the shapes to how to place the reddish purple bits for the leaves on the asparagus. It’s definitely imperfect but I think you can identify the image as being that of a bunch of asparagus. Also, having my hair dryer handy is pretty key to working with watercolours. 

What I’ve already found with using this sketchbook practice is that it forces me to try new things and do experiment. I don’t have a lot of confidence with pairing colours and so I use mostly greys in my work. I feel like it’s really easy for a piece of work to feel overworked when I incorporate colour and am looking forward to cultivating a better understanding of and greater confidence in using colour. Lots of materials around me these days to foster that learning. 

In the meantime, my work is getting done and I’m making progress toward my goal.

My next challenge is tonight’s sketch. We head out to the cabin aroudn 4:30 and will arrive in the darkest dark. My sketch will be done by headlamp so here’s hoping it’s at least another opportunity to learn something new. This could be a great time for a little blind drawing, maybe. 

Learning Log 01-01-20

sample pages ready for photographing and submission.

I’m actually writing this on New Year’s Eve day in preparation for starting the new year with momentum and a keen sense of gettin’ things done. I’ve assembled each of the twelve cards with my samples mounted and labeled for submitting to my tutor. 

There are a few things I do wish I’d done differently but am hopeful that they aren’t problematic when my tutor looks everything over. I slightly underestimated the number of pages I’d need so ended up mounting samples to the back side of two cards. It makes for a bulky page that is going to be a challenge to photograph because of its inability to lie flat. Also, when I printed the labels, I forgot to turn off the border function which led to most borders not quite aligning with the edges of the labels. I feel like the disrupted borders definitely takes away from the clean presentation that I was going for but am unsure as to whether I’m being too fussy. I’m sure my tutor will tell me.

**the following is written on New Year’s Day

So now that the festivities are behind us and regular life is resuming, I’m back in the studio to photograph the work and upload the assignment for Part 3. I’m frustrated that I have struggled with getting this completed in a timely manner. It would appear that I’ve perhaps taken on too much. 

However, that said, I have the work uploaded in Exercise 3.3 and am ready to write the assignment post. Part 3 done and after submission, I await feedback. In the meantime, I’ll start on Part 4 – Sketchbooks. I’m eager to explore this part and have a respectable collection of art supplies which will live in a zipper pouch that I’m going to attempt to have on hand as often as possible. My goal is to make one entry into the sketchbook every day. Nothing major and probably often quick and dirty sketches but let’s hope I can at least fill one of the two little books I bought. Yesterday’s sketch was a breeze – an illustration of my dress for the Scottish Hogmanay party we went to. A little gouache, some acrylic paint, and some Sharpie to bring it all together. I get it, I think. The point to sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are to visual artists like free writing is to authors. Just do a little bit every day. No matter what it is, just commit to it. Of course, it’s easy to say after just one day but let’s see where this takes us.