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.
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.
With 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.
UPDATE: Many of you have got in touch to ask about which sketchbooks I use. For these kind of exercises I use fairly cheap soft cover books. I like to fill them fairly quickly and move on! The paper in these stands up well with a nice surface for drawing and for taking paint.