Using a large sketchbook to explore materials

Shaking things up is a great way to inject some new energy. Over the last year I have fallen into the habit of using smaller sketchbooks; usually ones that fit into the pocket of a waterproof jacket. So I deliberately bought a large sketchbook to expand the scale of marks and to challenge myself. This one is A3 with a soft cover and only 20 pages so it will fill quickly.

I find that my art practice is a constant struggle between wishing I had a more consistent process and being aware that too much consistency can easily lead to a habit and predefined way of working. My fear is that if my work becomes routine, the drawing loses freshness and I become an art-robot. No thank you!

The idea is to have a place to play and explore. To mix different media in a free-form way of drawing that is not about representing a place but that is led by the materials and listen to my instinct about what to do next.

BW sketchbook pink

I began with charcoal. My plan was to keep colour out and restrict myself to just black and white. Well, that didn’t last long as you can see! This page used willow charcoal and gesso which was whiter than the off-white of the page. I was thinking of branches and hedges in the mist. After the smudgy softness I needed some more precision and drawing the harder marks with charcoal and colour pencil let me create some focus and movement across the page.

BW sketchbook ochreWith this page I started using paint and my fingers so there was contrast between the texture and the trails of charcoal.

I’m finding that these are a good way to warm up at the start of each studio session. Almost like a mind-clearing meditation.

They have no purpose; no end result. It will be interesting to see what emerges.

 

 

3 replies
  1. Tara Leaver
    Tara Leaver says:

    Wow this is exactly what I’ve been doing recently! With a large-ish sketchbook, charcoal, gesso, and some colour. How fascinating to see it laid out here! This bit: “The idea is to have a place to play and explore. To mix different media in a free-form way of drawing that is not about representing a place but that is led by the materials and listen to my instinct about what to do next.” That is my exact premise too. 🙂 Really enjoying your blog Alice.

    Reply
    • Alice
      Alice says:

      So glad that you are enjoying it Tara – you must be full of creative exploration ideas already! I suppose it’s just a way of exploring the idea of abstraction and how it’s a cycle of working free from conscious pre-conceptions, and then pulling it back to something with balance… or imbalance! I would love to see your pages…

      Reply
      • Tara Leaver
        Tara Leaver says:

        Well they often end up on Instagram {as you know ;)} but you’ve given me the idea to do a blog post around them!

        Reply

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