Monday, January 30, 2006

Watercolor habits

As I like to hear what others use to make their marks on paper, I suppose there are others like me. So I thought I´d say something about what I use, starting with the watercolors. (If you´re not into watercolors at all, you sure are going to yawn your way through this text…)

Two years ago, I had two tin boxes of watercolors. I enjoyed buying new pans of colors every now and then to experiment with, but in the end I discovered that I never used most of them. They were mostly in my way, confusing the way I mixed my colors. I must have had around 35 – 40 different colors before I decided to go a bit more minimalist. I bought myself a box that limited the number of possible colors to twelve half-pans and started experimenting with the colors I had, eliminating one by one. I´ve had this box for two years now, and I haven´t really felt the need to buy any more colors.

I have made a few small changes to it, though: After a while I got tired of the tiny size of the half pans in it (kind of messy if you´re into large brushes), so I teared out the metal holder that´s supposed to hold the pans still inside the box, and glued 10 large pans and one small in there instead. I like the small sized box, in spite of it´s crowded contents. When a pan is empty, I tear it out and glue a new one in, or I fill it with tube paint and let it dry.

I´ve also replaced the Alizarin Crimson I used to have with Perylene Maroon. Alizarin is not lightfast, and I find it strange that in every book about watercolors you are still adviced to include Alizarin Crimson in your palette. The Perylene Maroon doesn´t give as clear purple mixes as the Alizarin, but I handled that by adding Schminckes “Echtviolett” in a half pan.

And, after much angst, I added an opaque titanium white. I´m a bit traditional when it comes to aquarelle, I don´t like to use white color and I don´t like to use black. I still don´t do that when painting in larger formats, but nowadays I sometimes use white in my sketchbooks.

Apart from my main box of watercolors, I have two smaller ones. One contains only sepia and lamp black and I use it for shading when I draw with ink. It´s easier to bring watercolor than a bottle of ink if you´re drawing away from home. The sepia gives nice warm shades of brownish gray, while lamp black is more neutral.

The other small box is a new experiment. I have sometimes felt the need for an ultra-small box of a few colors that I can bring anywhere, in a jeans-pocket or whatever. And then I found this guy, John Lovett, on the Internet and saw his six-color palette and thought I might try it. I kind of like his approach to the whole thing with watercolors - keep it simple, don´t buy a lot of gear, just find what you like and stick with it. The tiny palette works quite well, actually. Maybe my usual twelve colors is too much?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Conference doodling

I´ve attended a conference all day today, of course with pen and sketchbook in hand. Conferences often offer great opportunities for doodling. I like it when you have to concentrate on what´s being said – it lets the drawing kind of take care of itself.

This is the second and third page in my new small leather sketchbook (mentioned in my first post). The old one is finally full! A full sketchbook always feels like a victory, I tend to run out of patience when there are only a few pages left in one book and I´ve got a new one waiting...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Drawing in the cold no. 2

I´ve been out drawing in the cold again, it´s been one of those lovely winter days with sparkling sunshine and glistening snow. The thermometer said -9°C but it felt warmer than last time I went out (see earlier post). Today it was dry and cold – much easier to dress for than damp and cold.

I was sitting at a park bench while drawing the oak tree and since sitting on a cold surface seldom does any good if you´re trying to keep warm, I didn´t finish the shadowing there. I just took some notes and finished them at home. Then I went closer to home and drew the houses – they are on the street where we live. I drew them standing near a sidewalk, and I got a lot of glances from passers-by, but noone said anything. (About drawing in public: I´ve noticed that people seldom start talking to you while you´re drawing if you avoid looking at them. Eye-contact seems to be the key that makes people feel it´s okay to take a look at what you´re doing and start a conversation. If I don´t feel like talking, I just concentrate on my drawing and ignore the people around me.)

My new favourite tool for drawing when it´s cold is this cheap little bic pencil which I otherwise use only to do crosswords. It´s actually quite good to draw with since it´s 2B, and you don´t have to bring a sharpener for it. The eraser on it is crap, but I usually don´t use erasers anyway when I sketch outside. I kind of like to keep my mistakes on the paper and just keep drawing over them. By the time I finish my drawings the mistakes are often covered by five or ten new lines (or other mistakes), so no one will see them anyway. I hope.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My first EDM challenge ever

I decided to give the latest Everyday Matters challenge a try (info here if you´re even more new to it than I am) - to draw what I see when I enter my home. I love our home, it´s small but it´s got everything you need (unless you have a few kids and a dog...) Hard to draw the hallway, though, because it is so tiny. Whichever corner I choose to stand in, a wall and a doorway is two meters ahead of me and it´s hard to fit it all onto a page in my sketchbook. Unless I draw very small. Anyway, this is a small section of what I see when I come in.

Monday, January 16, 2006


It´s been a long time since I did any life-drawing but tonight I went down to the local cinema/theatre/café and took a two-hour session. It feels just like when you didn´t exercise for a year and suddenly go back to the gym. You feel like you´ve lost the whole thing since last time. I made perhaps… ten drawings this evening, and only this one turned out ok, the rest of them look like crap.
I couldn´t keep myself from putting some color on this when I came home. The skin tone is just a background color shining through – there is no better thing to do when you are going to draw something difficult than to mess up the white page a little before you begin. Splash some paint on it and you get less nervous about the result – the page is already ruined anyway!

I feel ok with the evening although most of my drawings turned out bad. If I keep up the good work and go back to those life-drawing sessions a few times I´ll be back in my good old shape again in no time! (Well, I have to try to be positive!)

By the way, this is the first page in my new big yellow sketchbook.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Drawing in the cold

Lately I´ve been feeling a bit frustrated because of the cold – I can´t go out to draw! Swedish winter is not good for drawing. I draw inside instead, of course, at home or sometimes at work, but I still miss the freedom to go out and draw wherever I happen to be. I miss the inspiration you get from just walking around and looking at your surroundings.

Today, though, the temperature isn´t that bad, around 0°C, so I decided to go out and give it a try. Went into town and ended up outside a parking house on a back street.
I drew this one with graphite pencil, since you can trust those no matter how cold it is. I didn´t stay long, I got cold really fast, but I ´m happy I did this. I´m going to try it when it gets colder too. Why should temperature stop me from doing what I love? I´m sure you can hold a pencil with mittens on your hands!

Friday, January 13, 2006

New year, blog and sketchbooks!

Phew! A blog! Writing at The Drawing Club blog has given me a whetted appetite for blogging, so I just had to try it for myself. Who would have thought... I´ve been trying to make Blogger show this blog on my homepage instead, but it doesn´t work. Or, yes, I can make it publish the whole thing on my site, except for the images. They don´t show. I decided to simply keep my blog here at Blogger instead. At least until I find a better solution.

I´ll start this blog by showing my new sketchbooks. The small one is made from an old leather cover of a book ("Runebergs samlade verk") bound with new paper inside. It´s small enough to fit into a bag or a pocket so this one will go with me all the time. The big yellow one is made following a description at (great inspiration for art journals there, if you ask me). The size (A4) is bigger than I´m used to, and I can´t wait to start ruining the pages of these two. I still have a few pages left in my old sketchbooks, and I promised myself to fill those completely before indulging in my new books. I will post images here as I start working in them.