This week I found myself getting more confident and a bit more enthusiastic about stretching myself out of my comfort zone, at least a few times. A couple times I started a page planning to do something I was very comfortable with, and then I gained confidence or inspiration and branched out.
The first sketch of the week was a familiar subject, Chickadees– my favorite birds– done as a Chinese ink brush painting. I had never used an ink stick and stone before, and these had been my father’s, so that was a special but poignant addition to that day’s sketching. He would have loved to have seen what I sketched. He always wanted to carefully look through and comment on my sketchbooks.
Next I decided to travel by sketchbook to one of my favorite places– Schoodic Peninsula at Acadia National Park, and I sketched from a sunrise photo I had taken there. I don’t do a lot of sketching on toned paper, but I always enjoy it when I do, and I enjoyed both the process and the subject.
The next day I had a bit of a sketchbook accident that prompted me to add the “Story Sketch– Sketch your day in thumbnail sketches on a page” to my original plan to do the “Pathway” prompt. That was a fun way of redeeming an accident!
The following day I was busy all day and didn’t have a chance to pick up my sketchbook until evening, when Stephen was reading to me, so I decided to sketch my left hand. I’ve been reading Raphael: Painter in Rome, and one thing that stood out was how many, many sketches Raphael did to build his skill as a painter and also as an observer. I really want to do more studies and sketches of people, so hands fit right in. I’ve rarely been happy with the few hands sketches I’ve done, but I liked how these turned out. Not much page design that day; I was happy just to do some sketching after a full day.
After I had sketched my hand, Stephen was still reading (the Return of the King was at a gripping point, so we read much later than usual), and I decided to try sketching him with a white gel pen on black paper. That was marginally successful but definitely fun to do!
Drip painting is really outside my comfort zone! I started to feel frustrated when working on it on Saturday, but then I reminded myself that I was just learning and playing with it and not trying to create a masterpiece. That helped, and I ended up enjoying the process so much I think I’ll try it again, even though I know it’ll never be my forte. The one of Stephen (you probably couldn’t tell it was of him) was a real mess, so I took a palette knife to it and moved the color around, and in the end I kind of like how it turned out. After messing around with that, I decided to do my favorite black locust tree, and I actually like the loose, spontaneous feel of that one. I think I’ll be trying more trees using this strange combination of tar gel and acrylic paint.
After doing the drip paintings I decided to relax a bit and sketch trees, so I pulled out one of my photos of Meadowbrook Farm’s orchard and did a sketch of the apple trees in winter. I purposefully kept most of the paper white on this one. Sometimes I like the cleanness of open space on a page, although in this case I wonder whether a border would be a nice addition.
I stayed home Sunday morning and streamed our church service from my rocking chair in the kitchen, sketching the trees out the window during parts of the service. I almost always find sketching trees very meditative and conducive to prayer.
Later that afternoon I decided to use the “Patterns in Nature” prompt to study the bark of different tree species, and that was educational and also challenging as I tried to capture color and texture using various inks and methods of applying the ink. That page has a simple layout, but I like it. I’m still debating whether or not to add a border. If I were handy with Photoshop I would see how it would look with a border, but I am definitely not handy or happy with Photoshop, so for now I’m just trying to imagine what it would look like.
My final page of the week– “10 Minute Sketches of a Stump over 3 Years”– was another page for which my plan changed as I did it. I was planning to do three sketches of stumps– three different stumps, all with a light ink wash and a dip pen. But halfway through my first sketch I remembered that I had photographed the same stump on three different visits to Schoodic Peninsula at Acadia National Park, and I decided to sketch the gradual changes in the stump over the years and also to use a different approach with each sketch. I wasn’t altogether happy with one of the sketches, but I was happy with my page layout and also with the concept, so it was a good learning experience.
I spent acouple of evenings working on a sketch of the Bedford Oak, trying to keep track of where it’s twisting limbs crossed and crossed.
One big take away I’ve had so far during Holidays in Ink is the fun it can be to try new things, sometimes with success, sometimes not. I am becoming more comfortable with process and, while I am happier and happier with the layout of my pages, I am also starting to become more relaxed about the inevitable less than stellar results I sometimes get.
Have you been sketching in ink? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you’d like to see my sketches from earlier weeks of Holidays in Ink, click here to see my Holidays in Ink Week 2 Sketches and here for my Week 1 Sketches.